In a battle of undefeated Heavyweight Champions, International Boxing Hall of Famer “Iron” Mike Tyson unified the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, and International Boxing Federation World titles after winning a 12 round unanimous decision over Tony Tucker by the scores of 119-111, 118-113, and 117-112 at the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 1st, 1987. The 21 year old Tyson improved to 31-0, 27 KO’s, while the 28 year old Tucker dropped to 34-1, 29 KO’s.

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International Boxing Hall of Famer and lineal Jr Lightweight World Champion Brian Mitchell made the second defense of the World Boxing Association title after stopping Francisco Fernandez at 1:06 of round 14 at the Gimnasio Nuevo Panama, in Panama City, Panama on July 31st, 1987. The 25 year old Mitchell improved to 31-1-2, 17 KO’s, while the 26 year old Fernandez dropped to 24-11-1, 21 KO’s.

weber_mike_vsOklahoma_090917 (5) TOP UNITS

Ohio State running back Mike Weber

Each year Phil Steele releases his unit rankings in his College Football Preview and given that I write the Big Ten team previews, I thought what better time to share a little insight on the reason why the units are ranked where they are.

14. Illinois Fighting Illini – Mike Epstein was Illinois leading rusher when a leg injury ended his season after five games last year. Ra’Von Bonner is the power back, while Reggie Corbin is the slasher. Epstein is a combination of the two. All three must prove they can remain healthy in the physical Big Ten.

13. Iowa Hawkeyes – Iowa has to replace two 1,000 yard rushers this year and every tailback on the roster is an underclassmen. Toren Young started one game and has power at 220 pounds. Ivory Kelly-Martin saw action in all 13 games as a true freshman and is a good change-of-pace for Young. This is a vastly inexperienced unit.

12. Rutgers Scarlet Knights – Jon Hilliman was added as a grad transfer after starting 29 games for Boston College. Despite being 225 pounds, Hilliman has good speed. Raheem Blackshear averaged 6.1 yards per carry as a true freshman last year and is quick and explosive.

11. Indiana Hoosiers – Morgan Ellison broke his left leg as a Sophomore and his right leg as a Junior in high school, which hurt his recruitment. He led the Hoosiers as true freshman last year with 704 yards and is naturally strong. Cole Gest provides the change of pace with great burst and explosion, while Mike Majette is a combination of the two.

10. Northwestern Wildcats – Northwestern is replacing their all-time leading rusher in 2018. Jeremy Larkin averaged 6.0 yards per carry last year and John Moten averaged 6.0 yards per carry in 2016. Jesse Brown is similar in size to Larkin and provides track speed.

9. Purdue Boilermakers – Tario Fuller started the first three games in 2017 and averaged 6.1 yards per carry before an ankle injury ended his season. Markell Jones has rushed for over 500 yards in each of his three seasons and has excellent hands out of the backfield. DJ Knox returned from an ACL injury in 2016 to average 6.2 yards per carry in 2017.

8. Minnesota Golden Gophers – If this list only pertained to the starting running back, then Minnesota would be ranked higher. Rodney Smith followed up his 1,000 yard season in 2016 with 977 yards last year, battling thru a couple of concussions. With Shannon Brooks sitting this season out due to injury, Mohamed Ibrahim, Dominik London, and Jonathan Femi-Cole provide quality depth.

7. Nebraska Cornhuskers – Just how deep is the Nebraska running back unit? So deep that Devine Ozigbo, who has led the Huskers in rushing each of the last two seasons, will likely have three others in front of him for 2018! Greg Bell is the newcomer that was a two-time Juco All-American, Tre Bryant began last year as the starter before a knee injury ended his season after two games, and Mikale Wilbon is a multiple back that is also a receiving option.

6. Maryland Terrapins – After rushing for over 1,000 yards as a true freshman, Ty Johnson was the focal point for many defenses in 2017 as Maryland was devastated at the QB position. Lorenzo Harrison is elusive and powerful, while Anthony McFarland is fully healed from a high school injury that resulted in him taking a redshirt last year and has sprinter speed.

5. Michigan State Spartans – LJ Scott would’ve likely been an NFL draft pick in 2018, but opted to return to East Lansing for his Senior season. He’s a 230 pound bruiser. Connor Heyward is the son of the late “Iron Head” Heyward and has tremendous explosiveness and great hands. Weston Bridges brings a change of pace and has great vision, but can also run through would be tacklers.

4. Penn State Nittany Lions – Miles Sanders will have the difficult task of replacing Saquan Barkley as the feature running back, but is similarly built and is also a great receiving threat. True freshman Ricky Slade was ranked as the No. 3 running back in the 2018 recruiting class and has elite acceleration. Mark Allen is the veteran of the unit and will be the change of pace running back.

3. Michigan Wolverines – Michigan still ranks this high even after the recent news that Kareem Walker has decided to transfer to Juco. Karan Higdon earned Third Team Big Ten honors last year that can run inside or bounce outside. Chris Evans averaged over five yards per carry in 2017 and is the fastest of the running backs. O’Maury Samuels has great stop-start ability, and Berkely Edwards was added as a grad transfer that has excellent quickness.

2. Wisconsin Badgers – While Wisconsin just may have the Heisman Trophy winner for 2018 in Jonathan Taylor, this list is about the entire unit, not just the starter. Backup Bradrick Shaw is coming off an ACL injury, Taiwan Deal is coming off an ankle injury, and Chris James was limited to nine games last year and injured his ankle during spring practices.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes – No team in the Big Ten has more talent at running back than Ohio State. It can be argued that JK Dobbins and Mike Weber, who each has ran for over 1,000 yards in season, are the best combination in the nation. Add a pair of very highly touted true freshman to the mix along with Demario McCall, who will also play the H-Back position and it’s easy to see why this unit is ranked where it is.

International Boxing Hall of Fame member Dwight Muhammad Qawi won the World Boxing Association Cruiserweight title after stopping Piet Crous at 1:47 of round 11 at the Superbowl in Sun City, South Africa on July 27, 1985. The 32 year old Qawi trailed on one scorecard 96-98 and was tied on two at 95-95 and 96-96 at the time of the stoppage and improved to 24-2-1, 13 KO’s. The 30 year old Crous was making his third defense and lost for the first time, dropping his record to 23-1-1, 20 KO’s.

International Boxing hall of fame member Lupe Pintor made the sixth defense of his World Boxing Council Bantamweight Championship after stopping Jovito Rengifo at 1:21 of round eight at the Showboat Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 26th, 1981. The 26 year old Pintor trailed on two of the scorecards, 66-67 twice and led on the third 67-66 at the time of the stoppage and improved to 46-5-1, 36 KO’s. The 24 year old Rengifo dropped to 28-3, 14 KO’s.

International boxing hall of fame member and World Boxing Association Bantamweight Champion Jeff Chandler made the third defense of his title after stopping Julian Solis at 2:58 of round seven at Resorts International Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey on July 25th, 1981. This was a rematch from November of 1980 when Chandler beat Solis for the WBA crown. The 24 year old Chandler led on the scorecards 60-54, 59-57, and 58-57 at the time of the stoppage and improved to 26-0-2, 13 KO’s. The 24 year old Solis dropped to 22-2, 10 KO’s.

Photo Copyright: Matt Mitchell/MSU Athletic Communications

Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke

Each year Phil Steele releases his unit rankings in his College Football Preview and given that I write the Big Ten team previews, I thought what better time to share a little insight on the reason why the units are ranked where they are.

14. Minnesota Golden Gophers – Not so fun fact: Minnesota hasn’t had a QB selected in the NFL draft since 1972. Of the Gophers six quarterbacks on their roster, not a single one has ever thrown a pass at the FBS level. I’m not suggesting that the Gophers won’t get production out of the unit, however their inexperience gives me no other choice but to rank them here.

13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights – Not so fun fact: Rutgers has had NINE different offensive coordinators in NINE years! That’s no typo folks. The Knights will likely turn to Artur Sitkowski, a 6’5” true freshman with a cannon after Giovanni Rescigno and Johnathan Lewis combined to complete less than 50 percent of their passes last year.

12. Illinois Fighting Illini – Not so fun fact: Injuries and inconsistent play has resulted in Illinois using three QB’s each of their last two seasons. Cameron Thomas completed just 42 percent of his passes in four games late in the season as a true freshman last year, but showed promise and is a dual-threat. AJ Bush didn’t transfer from Virginia Tech for his final season to sit and will provide solid competition in fall camp.

11. Nebraska Cornhuskers – Fun fact: Tanner Lee was the first Nebraska QB to declare early for the NFL draft. Nebraska is shifting from a pro-style to an uptempo spread-option offense this season. While the quarterback room is inexperienced similar to Minnesota, the talent level is superior with true freshman Adrian Martinez, the No. 17 ranked QB in the 2018 class and redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia, the No. 9 ranked QB last year taking over.

10. Maryland Terrapins – Not so fun fact: In four of the last six seasons including three straight, injuries has forced Maryland to start three or more QB’s. Both Tyrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill showed playmaking ability in their brief stints last year before injuries ended their seasons. Veteran Max Bortenschlager showed improvement with each passing rep last year.

9. Indiana Hoosiers – Fun fact: Peyton Ramsey was the first Indiana freshman to throw for 300 or more yards since 2006. The aforementioned Ramsey showed he was more than capable to compete in the Big Ten last year. The Hoosiers also added Brandon Dawkins as a grad transfer from Arizona, who has 14 career starts with nearly 4,000 total yards (1582, 6.8 rush).

8. Purdue Boilermakers – Not so fun fact: Purdue has had a different QB start their opener for nine straight years. Not even a torn ACL could slow down Elijah Sindelar, who played thru the injury for final three and a half games last year. David Blough beat out Sindelar last year before an injury ended his season. He’s made 25 career starts.

7. Wisconsin Badgers – Fun fact: Wisconsin is the lone FBS school since 2000 with two QB’s that have completed 94 percent of their passes in a road game (Russell Wilson, Alex Hornibrook). Wisconsin QB’s are typically game managers. Alex Hornibrook is a perfect example of that and 2018 will be his third season as the starter. Jack Coan and Kare’ Lyles were both highly touted recruits.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes – Fun fact: JT Barrett was named the Big Ten’s QB of the year three times! It’s going to be weird watching Ohio State without JT Barrett under center, but Dwayne Haskins will allow the Buckeyes to throw the ball downfield more often with his rocket arm. Haskins proved more than adequate when he rallied Ohio State over arch rival Michigan in the Big House last year. Tate Martell was the No. 3 QB in the 2017 class and head coach Urban Meyer compares his running skills to Barrett.

5. Iowa Hawkeyes – Fun fact: Head coach Kirk Ferentz hired a full time QB coach for the first time in 2017. Nathan Stanley’s 26 touchdown passes last year were the most for an Iowa QB since 2002 and he joined Chuck Long as the only QB’s in school history with multiple five touchdown games. Peyton Mansell has shown steady improvement and true freshman Spencer Petras is 6’5”, 227 pounds and enrolled during the spring.

4. Northwestern Wildcats – Fun fact: Clayton Thorson increased his completion percentage from 50.8 percent in 2015 to 58.6 percent in 2016 and then again to 60.4 percent last year. Clayton Thorson flirted with declaring for the NFL draft before last years Music City Bowl before opting to return for his Senior season. He suffered a torn ACL in the bowl and was held out of spring, leading to more reps for Aidan Smith, Andrew Marty, and TJ Green.

3. Michigan State Spartans – Fun fact: Last year Brian Lewerke became just the third Big Ten QB in the last 20 years to throw for 400 or more yards in back-to-back games. Brian Lewerke is a dual threat and had the most total yards by a Sophomore in Michigan State history last season. Rocky Lombardi was said to be as far ahead mentally as any freshman QB in East Lansing and true freshman Theo Day was the No. 31 ranked QB in the 2018 class and enrolled during the spring.

2. Michigan Wolverines – Fun fact: Head coach Jim Harbaugh was the Big Ten Player of the year and finished third in the Heisman Trophy ballot in 1986. Shea Patterson was the No. 2 rated QB out of high school in 2016 and started 10 games in the SEC at Ole Miss the last two years. He was granted eligiblity this season and instantly makes the Wolverines a National Title contender. Backups Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffery, and Joe Milton were all very highly touted recruits.

1. Penn State Nittany Lions – Fun fact: Trace McSorley has thrown a touchdown pass in 28 consecutive games. This should come to no surprise, given my previous article stating that Penn State has the best QB room in the nation. McSorley is a bonafide Heisman contender and backup Tommy Stevens would be a starter at roughly 75 percent of the FBS programs.

International Boxing Hall of Fame member Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini made the first defense of his World Boxing Association Lightweight Championship after stopping Ernesto Espana at 2:59 of round six at Mollenkopf Stadium in Warren, Ohio on July 24th, 1982. A barrage of punches without any return fire led referee in charge Stanley Christodoulou to stop the contest. The 21 year old Mancini led on the scorecards 50-46 and 50-45 twice while improving to 24-1, 19 KO’s. The 27 year old Espana dropped to 35-5, 29 KO’s.

Tony Lopez won the International Boxing Federation Super Featherweight Championship of the World after winning a 12 round unanimous decision over Rocky Lockridge by the scores of 116-112 and 115-112 twice at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California on July 23rd, 1988. The fight earned Fight of the Year honors from Ring Magazine. The 25 year old Lopez survived a knockdown in round eight and improved to 30-1, 22 KO’s. The 29 year old Lockridge was making the third defense of his title and dropped to 43-6, 35 KO’s.

In a battle between two International Boxing Hall of Fame members, World Boxing Association Featherweight Champion Eusebio Pedroza made his fifth defense after stopping Ruben Olivares at 1:42 of round 12 at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas on July 21st, 1979. The 23 year old Pedroza led on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage 108-102, 108-101, and 108-100 and improved to 23-3, 16 KO’s. The 32 year old Olivares fell to 87-10-2, 77 KO’s and this was his final World Title bout.