BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
It must be something in the air: Every time I turn around there's sports news breaking involving fisticuffs! Quick updates here on three stories that have caught my interest on a late Tuesday afternoon:
Deontay Wilder, The "Bronze Bomber":
Just where will Wilder's mandatory fight be held come September 26? After the Wilder camp inquired into such venues as Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Montreal, it's now down to two cities likely close to you.
Two sources close to the Wilder camp tell me that the WBC heavyweight champ will fight Frenchman Johann Duhaupas either at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville or at Legacy Arena/BJCC in Birmingham.
Here's the deal: The folks marketing the Wilder fight have been a bit hesitant to put another Wilder fight in Birmingham so close to the last fight (Wilder fought at Bartow Arena in June).
While The Gene Dome appears to be out of the mix this time around as that venue is booked, Birmingham city officials are making a heavy play for the BJCC.
Why isn't Tuscaloosa in the mix? The UA campus will be full of football fans that day as Bama hosts La-Monroe--a fight at Coleman Coliseum does not seem feasible.
So it's either Huntsville (where the Wilder folks can draw from Nashville along with that well-to-do Huntsville fan base), or Birmingham, a city that has the power of Mayor Bell behind it.
And the wildcard in all of this? Deontay Wilder himself, who I am told wants the fight in Birmingham. What looked like a 50-50 deal between Birmingham and Huntsville on Monday now looks 70-30 Birmingham. After all, you don't want to mess with the champ!
Linebacker IK Enemkpali, "The Bruiser":
Certainly you've heard the line, "I went to a fight and the New York Jets locker room broke out."
Just when Jets coach Todd Bowles had his starting QB penciled in, boom! Linebacker IK Enemkpali reportedly sucker punched starting quarterback Gene Smith.
The result? Smith has suffered a broken jaw while Enemkpali has been sent packing. Smith is expected to miss 6-10 weeks of the 2015 season as the Jets now turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick and make calls to Rex Grossman (I don't make this stuff up).
Who is IK Enemkpali? He's a sixth round NFL draft pick out of La Tech, a young man who has had brushes with the law in the past. A few years back, Enemkpali was arrested after he punched an off-duty police officer. The linebacker was pepper sprayed and subsequently charged with simple battery.
Why the locker room punch on Tuesday? One report had Smith owing Enemkpali over $1,000, while another has Enemkpali being upset after buying a $600 plane ticket for Smith to attend his camp… Smith never showed up.
Jet's coach Bowles simply says, "It was childish, a problem a 6th grader could have solved."
Only in New York does a team's leader suffer such a horrific injury in the locker room rather than on the football. And Enemkpali? He's out his $510,000 Jets salary, all over a few hundred bucks. Go figure.
Quarterback Cam Newton, "The Battler":
You have to give the former Auburn quarterback credit: He showed up today at a weekly Carolina Panther's news conference wearing a Muhammad Ali T-shirt that sported the Rumble In The Jungle.
On Monday, Panther's defensive back Josh Norman threw a stiff arm at Cam's helmet and all heck broke loose.
On Tuesday, Newton attempted to put the scrum incident to bed, saying, "I have no regrets about what I've done. It's been whispered about the franchise quarterback doing this, doing that. What's the blueprint of a franchise quarterback? I'm not going to say, 'Hey, Josh, your cleats are cool.' No. You don't see when I talk to Josh in the dorm. Of course you guys are going to report Cam doesn't like Josh. I see a guy, No. 24, become better and better each and every year. And I know I have a feeling that this is going to be his best year yet. If this is his best year, it's going to make my job a lot easier. So let's not get this twisted about respect and disrespect. I'm not going to let anyone dictate how I feel. From afar I see guys having a family approach to the game. This is probably the closest team I've ever been on."
Give Cam Newton credit for meeting the media on Tuesday and addressing issue. The quarterback says it's time for him to head back into practice and battle to make his team better.
Like I said, it must be something in the water. Thanks for stopping by--it's time for me to go do some TV. And as always, I'll try not to pull any punches.