Archive - April 2015

1
The Legacy of Manny Pacquiao
2
The 2015 NBA Playoffs Have Arrived!
3
St. Louis Blues Game-Used Jerseys Arrive for the 2015 NHL Playoffs
4
The Legend of Number 42 – Remembering Jackie Robinson
5
Jordan Spieth Wins 2015 Masters Tournament!
6
Fanatics Authentic March Signings
7
Duke Blue Devils are 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions!
8
Final Four Features Games Most Legendary Teams and Coaches

The Legacy of Manny Pacquiao

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Answering to unending demands from boxing fans worldwide, Pacquiao will go up against Mayweather on May 2nd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. As the two boxing greats go head-to-head, only one will emerge as the winner and the best boxer of their era. After 20 years of professional fighting, the eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao is finally gearing up to take on the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. in “The Fight of the Century”, but let’s not forget the plethora of victories that earned the Pac-Man his storied reputation.

At only 16 years old and 4’11”, Manny Pacquiao fought in his first professional boxing match in the light flyweight division. Despite the required 105 pound minimum to be eligible to fight in the light flyweight division, Pacquiao was only 98 pounds but put weights in his pockets for a chance to compete. His impressive fight against Edmund Ignacio marked the beginning of a legacy as Manny Pacquiao took the match in a decision to mark the beginning of a dynasty.

As time passed, Manny Pacquiao got older and started gaining weight to compete in other weight classes. Pacquiao went on a winning streak, Pacquiao was matched up against Chatchai Sasakul in the Flyweight division for his first ever world title. Pacquiao took home his first major title by knocking out the defending champion.

Gaining continued national recognition, Pacquiao then fought Lehlohonolo Ledwaba for the Super Bantamweight title in June 2001. Pacquiao defeated Ledwaba in the fourth round via technical knockout, despite fighting just two weeks prior to win his second major world title.

Moving up to the Featherweight division in 2003, Pacquiao was immediately given the chance to take the title from Marco Antonio Barrera. Upsetting the defending champ for his third world title, Pacquiao became the first Filipino and Asian to become a three-division world champion and gave Barrera the only knockout loss of his career.

Manny Pacquiao continued to dominate the ring and moved up to the Super Featherweight division in 2005. Taking on Erik Morales for the title, Pacquiao fell to three-division champion in the twelfth round, but took the BC International Super Featherweight title later that year in a fight against Hector Velazquez.

3, Pacquiao was immediately given the chance to take the title from Marco Antonio Barrera. Upsetting the defending champ for his third world title, Pacquiao became the first Filipino and Asian to become a three-division world champion and gave Barrera the only knockout loss of his career.

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Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales quickly became rivals in the Super Featherweight division. The two boxers were matched up three times with Morales winning the first fight and Pacquiao taking the second victory. For a highly anticipated rubber match, an estimated 18,276 fans showed up to witness Manny Pacquiao emerge as the better fighter as he knocked out Eric Morales in the third round.

In 2008, Pacquiao got his long awaited rematch against Juan Manuel Marquez for the WBC Super Featherweight and The Ring Super Featherweight titles. Referred to as “Unfinished Business”, the fight was Pacquiao’s chance for revenge after a previous loss to Marquez in 2004. Defeating Marquez in a controversial decision, Pacquiao was named him a four-division world champion before he moved up to the Lightweight division.

With the WBC Lightweight title on the line, Pacquiao entered the division and was scheduled to fight David Diaz on June 28, 2008. After completely dominating Diaz the entire fight, Pacquiao took home his fifth world title for five different weight divisions. This Pac-Man victory also made him the only Filipino and Asian to become a five-division world champion, as well as the first Filipino fighter to ever win a world title at lightweight.

At the end of 2008, Manny Pacquiao entered the welterweight division for a highly anticipated fight against Oscar De La Hoya. Boxing fans eagerly awaited “The Dream Match” and tickets were sold out in less than one day. Although many wondered if Pacquiao’s heavier weight would prove to be a disadvantage against the larger De La Hoya, the Pac-Man won via technical knockout after eight rounds. With that fight, Manny Pacquiao recorded his highest earning for a fight in his career and seemed unbeatable.

Manny Pacquiao then fought in the light welterweight division for the first time in 2009 against Ricky Hatton in “The Battle of the East and West”. For the win, Pacquiao landed a left hook on Hatton that crushed his opponent and was awarded “Knockout of the Year” in The Ring Magazine. Pacquiao also became the second boxer in sports history to win world titles in six separate divisions, become a six-division world champion, and the first man to win lineal world titles in four weight classes.

In a fight titled “Firepower”, Manny Pacquiao was scheduled to face off against Miguel Cotto in the welterweight division. Pacquiao shocked sports fans as he effortlessly picked apart his opponent and knocked Cotto down in rounds three and four. Sealing the victory and his WBO Welterweight title in the twelfth round, Manny Pacquiao became the first boxer to win world titles in seven different weight divisions.

After winning back the Welterweight title from Joshua Clottey, Manny Pacquiao was given the chance win another world title in an eighth weight class in 2010. Only one fighter stood in the way of the Pac-Man becoming an eight-division world champion: Antonio Margarito. Even weighing in 17 pounds less than his opponent, Manny Pacquiao absolutely destroyed Margarito. Pacquiao fractured Margarito’s orbital bone and won the fight via unanimous decision to make him the first and only eight-division world champion.

The 2015 NBA Playoffs Have Arrived!

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With the conclusion of a thrilling 82-game regular season, the competition is getting even hotter as the 2015 NBA Playoffs get under way. All sixteen spots in the playoffs were up for grabs for the majority of the season and as the regular season play began to wind down, one final night of play would decide the two number eight seeds for the postseason. Facing a tie in both conferences, the New Orleans Pelicans and Brooklyn Nets just barely clinched a postseason berth to set the stage for another thrilling postseason.

For the eight seed in the Eastern Conference, the regular season came to a close with a showdown between the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets. Before a Pacers loss that eliminated Indiana from the postseason, both teams had 38-44 records, but only the Nets earned the chance to continue their season for what’ll likely be just four more games against the Atlanta Hawks. Cruising to the top seed, Atlanta is seven games ahead in the East and will coast through the first round, and maybe even the second. Regardless of the Hawk’s dominant lead, LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers are quickly emerging as the favorite to take the Conference Championship and advance to the NBA Finals. While the Cavs look to assert their dominance in the first series and will likely defeat the seventh seeded Celtics in a blown out, Boston has a bright future ahead considering their seven additional first round picks. The third seeded Chicago Bulls defeated the Hawks in the last game of the season to jump ahead of the Toronto Raptors, but may have been better off losing and ranking fourth rather than eventually facing the dangerous Cavaliers for a chance to compete for the conference title. Beneath the East’s big three players, the rest of the conference is fairly weak. In the fourth spot, the Raptors barely kept their home court advantage against the Washington Wizards, who would benefit from a first round exit and replacing their coach. Then there is a Milwaukee Bucks team that is using their trip to the postseason to integrate the hopeful new face of the franchise, Michael Carter-Williams.

The eighth postseason team to compete in the West Conference also came down to a tiebreaker between the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma State Thunder. After both teams finished the regular season with 45 wins and 37 losses, the Thunder made a surprising exit from the postseason and the Pelicans advanced to the playoffs for a rough first round beating from the dominant Golden State Warriors. Even with future NBA great leading the Pelicans into the postseason, Anthony Davis is not quite talented enough to take down the the number one seeded Warriors and the Splash Brothers. Closing out the regular season with a ten game advantage in the West, it’s going to be tough for any team in the conference to stop Golden State. Regardless, the two and three seeded, the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers will look to emerge as contenders. The Rockets and the Clippers are sure to move onto the second round with a depleting San Antonio Spurs teams and the mediocre Dallas Mavericks, standing in their way. After dropping from the second seed to the sixth seed due to a loss to the Pelicans, the defending champion Spurs will have to play exceptionally well on the road for the duration of their postseason run and fight their way back to the top for a shot at another trip to the finals. In a first round match-up between the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies, a fourth seed with a worse record than the six seed will face an injury ridden roster for a series that could fall in favor of either team.

Although the postseason is almost a week in and the first round is reaching Game 3, the NBA is still as the beginning of a very lengthy road to the 2015 NBA Finals. Basketball fans should gear up for a month of play that will keep them at the edge of their seats, because each of these sixteen teams wont let the crown slip through their fingers easily. With plenty of epic plays and shocking upsets to come, even a minute of the 2015 NBA Playoffs should not be missed.

St. Louis Blues Game-Used Jerseys Arrive for the 2015 NHL Playoffs

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Just in time for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Fanatics Authentic received a huge collection of game-worn St. Louis Blues jerseys. With jerseys for sale that were worn by every star on the Blues, from Vladimir Tarasenko to T.J. Oshie, fans can gear up for the long road to the Stanley Cup and commemorate their favorite St. Louis hockey moments from the 2014-2015 NHL season. Finishing the regular season as Central Division Champions with a 51-24-7 record and the fourth-best power play in the league,the St. Louis Blues took the second seed in the Western Conference and are a strong contender entering the postseason.

As the second-ranked team in the West, the Blues are projected to take down the Minnesota Wild in the first round and make a long postseason run. Check out the video below to see the shipment of St. Louis Blues game-used collectibles arrive at Fanatics Authentic and shop the selection of St. Louis Blues memorabilia to celebrate your favorite hockey players as the NHL postseason competition begins to heat up.

The Legend of Number 42 – Remembering Jackie Robinson

JackieRobinsonMythical baseball icons like Babe Ruth and Willie Mays may be credited as some of the greatest MLB players to ever take the field, only one athlete changed the course of America’s pastime; none other than the legend, Jackie Robinson. Remembered as a courageous sports hero, Robinson challenged the world, persevered through an unthinkable amount of controversy, and broke baseball’s color barrier during the height of United States civil unrest. The former Brooklyn Dodgers star not only reshaped the game of baseball forever, but provided MLB fans with some of the most incredible moments the field has ever witnessed.

After completing a historic college sports career at UCLA, becoming the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports, Jackie Robinson spent several years playing professional baseball across the country in the Negro Leagues. In a famous discussion with Brooklyn Dodgers president, Jackie Robinson became the first African American baseball player to sign with an MLB team in over half a century and began his journey in the Minor Leagues. Despite the many challenges posed by racial segregation in the Minors, Robinson continued to chase his dreams and finally got his shot in the Majors in 1947.

Although he faced endless racial slurs and ample disrespect from across the MLB, including players, managers, and fans, the Brooklyn Dodgers newest star would not let his critics affect his play on the field. Robinson capped off an extraordinary rookie season at first base with 175 hits for a .297 batting average and a league leading 29 stolen bases. Those spectacular numbers at the plate and stellar play in the infield earned Jackie Robinson the Rookie of the Year Award for the 1947 MLB season, as well as a top five finish in MVP voting.

Following his second-to-none rookie campaign, Jackie Robinson continued to dominate the baseball diamond and his best seasons were yet to come. The 1949 MLB season marked the year in which Robinson would take his game from above-average to legendary. In his third year as a member of the Dodgers, MLB’s first African American player since the 1800’s topped the league at the plate with a .342 batting average and a career high of 37 stolen bases. That season’s National League MVP reached the 200 hit milestone for the only season of the Brooklyn hero’s decade of play and was named to his first of six consecutive Major League Baseball All-Star Games.

Throughout his ten seasons of Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson led the Brooklyn Dodgers to six world championship appearances and finally took home a ring at the1955 World Series. The Dodgers second baseman also consistently led the league statistically in just about every MLB season during his career. Regardless of his extensive list of MLB achievements, Jackie Robinson’s most important feat from his entire illustrious career was successfully breaking baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Becoming the first African American player in the Major Leagues since 1880, Robinson faced a country full of critics at the peak of racial tension in the United States and fearlessly took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Jackie Robinson paved the way for many of the most outstanding players in all of baseball history to create their legacies in Major League Baseball. Without the determination and courage of Jackie Robinson, the game of baseball would not be what it is today. In honor of his contributions to sports history, Jackie Robinson’s famous #42 was universally retired by all Major League Baseball franchises for the rest of time and became the first professional athlete to receive such a high honor. As a man that completely reformed baseball forever, Jackie Robinson live on as a sports legacy for bringing a diverse group of people together to share their common love for the game.

Jordan Spieth Wins 2015 Masters Tournament!

After a weekend  of the 2015 Masters Tournament, there is a new face dominating the game of golf and it belongs to Jordan Spieth. Despite the tournament’s reputation for close competition and a weekend full of anticipation, the 21 year-old from Dallas established a lead early on and continued to defy all odds  on his way to an astonishing victory. Shooting one of the best tournaments that Augusta, Georgia has ever seen, Jordan Spieth finished at an astonishing 18 shots under par to win the 2015 Masters and take home the coveted green jacket.

Just a year ago, Jordan Spieth showed tremendous promise for his first appearance at the 2014 Masters Tournament, finishing under par during each of his four rounds and was the stand-alone leader on the final day of the tournament before Bubba Watson took the win. The 2015 Masters tournament would provide an entirely different story. From the first tee-off of the weekend, it was clear Spieth would not fall short of the victory again. Dominating the tournament from start to finish, Spieth shot a 64, 66, 70, and 70 in each of his four rounds to finish with a four shot lead over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose. Jordan Spieth’s heroics at the Masters not only earned the young golf sensation his first green jacket, he also made sports history. Spieth set a Masters record with his 28 birdies over four rounds and was the first player in tournament history to go 19 strokes under par. Jordan Spieth also became the second youngest player, at 21 years and eight months of age, to win a Masters, just behind none other than the legend Tiger Woods himself.

Although it may seem that Jordan Spieth emerged as a superstar after winning the Masters, but Jordan Spieth was deemed a prodigy of the game back when he first picked up a golf club. Before joining the PGA Tour in 2011, Spieth won the U.S. Junior Amateur tournament twice, which is a feat only reached by one other golfer before, Tiger Woods. The following year, Spieth competed in the adult U.S. open as an amateur and tied for twenty-first after an impressive performance. At the age of 19, Spieth then became the youngest golfer in 82 years to win a PGA Tour event in 2013, as he defeated Zach Johnson and David Hearn in a sudden death playoff for the win at the John Deere Classic. Seemingly unstoppable, Jordan Spieth was promptly named the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year and moved up in the world rankings to 22nd.

Now ranked No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings, sitting just behind Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth is already being compared to the likes of golf’s greatest athletes and is sure to have an extremely bright future ahead. As an athlete that clearly chases his goals relentlessly, Jordan Spieth will be a player to watch throughout the next year and can be expected to return to the Masters Tournament in search of a second title.

Fanatics Authentic March Signings

From the Chicago Fanatics Authentic Sports Spectacular to an assortment of private and public autograph signings, March was another exciting month at Fanatics Authentic. Despite hosting the first Fanatics Authentic show of the year in Chicago, we spent the month working with an array of remarkable athletes from across all major leagues and professional sports to bring fans the most premier autographed collectibles on the market. In addition to reuniting generations of Fighting Irish for a “Salute to Notre Dame”  at the Fanatics Authentic Show in Chicago, it also featured a full lineup of incredible professional athletes, including Colin Kaepernick and Randy Johnson. Throughout March, Fanatics Authentic also had the pleasure of hosting autograph signings with a multitude of successful athletes and sports stars, such as legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, highly-anticipated NFL Draft prospect Marcus Mariota, UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, Chicago Bulls superstar Joakim Noah, and many more. Check out the behind-the-scenes photos from Fanatics Authentic March autograph signings below, as well as our extensive online product offering to find featured products from each signing session.  FreddieFreemanSigningMariotaJersey Hammond-Smith II-Saunders-GaitherSigningCraigErickson13506_1040848465932466_5471781194374552358_nRomoSigningCarlaEsparza Hammond-Smith II-Saunders-GaitherSigning2 JoakimNoahSigning LukeKuechlySigning MikeKiddGilchristSigning PattyMillsSigning PeytonManningSigning RedSoxSigning ReggieJacksonSigningKaepernickSigningRouseySigning3

Duke Blue Devils are 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions!

Duke2015NationalChamps1After a month of true madness, the Men’s Division I Basketball National Championship pitted two of the sport’s most dominant NCAA teams against each other on Monday April 6, 2015 for a game that basketball fans will remember forever. In a match-up between the Duke Blue Devils and the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, the 2015 national champion finally emerged after a night of thrilling moments and nail-biting play.

Although the national championship did not present the highly anticipated Kentucky versus Duke match-up that many predicted at the beginning of the tournament, the Badgers and Blue Devils put on quite a show. As the first half got underway, it was evident that neither team was going down without a fight. Featuring 13 lead changes in the first 20 minutes, the game was extremely close all the way up to halftime that paused the game at a score of 31-31. The second half followed suit until the Badgers broke away for a nine-point lead, but Wisconsin’s dreams of the crown were short-lived after missing several shots and Duke began to close the deficit courtesy of superstar freshmen Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen. Putting up 23 and 16 points, respectively, Jones and Allen led the Duke Blue Devils to overcome the Wisconsin Badgers’ lead. With a final score of 68-63, the Blue Devils defied the Badgers of their first championship since 1941 and brought home the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship to add to its collection of four previous titles.

As both the fifth title for the Blue Devils and Coach Mike Krzyzewski, the 2015 National Championship redefined sports history. Duke University moved into third for most NCAA championships, while Coach K solidified his reputation as one of the greatest coaches in sports and the only college basketball coach to win a title in three different decades.

Commemorate the 2015 Men’s Basketball Champions and check out the unique collection of Duke Blue Devils memorabilia below:

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Final Four Features Games Most Legendary Teams and Coaches

Wildcats-Final-FourAn incredible assortment of 64 NCAA teams entered the month of March with the hopes of being crowned as the newest champions of Division 1 college basketball. Now, only four remain. After an entire month of thrilling competition, the stage is finally set for the Final Four in Indianapolis to host several of the game’s most historic programs and legendary coaches.

The top seeded Duke Blue Devils will tip-off against the seventh seeded Michigan State Spartans first in Indianapolis. For the Blue Devils, a trip to the Final Four has become routine. Under the reign of Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke has made a dozen Final Four appearances, including five in a row from 1988-1992. Coach K has led Duke to four NCAA championship victories, most recently in 2010 located, coincidentally, in Indianapolis. The Duke roster features a plethora of young talent, most notably freshman guards Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook, as well as the potential number one pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Jahlil Okafor.

Across the court from the Blue Devils will be Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans squad. Michigan State is the Cinderella story of the group and has made quite a miraculous run to the Final Four, after starting off the season losing three of their first nine games. As a matter of fact, it took the Spartans nearly three full months to take down their first ranked opponent. However, the Spartans got hot down the stretch and earned a seventh seed in the Big Dance after a tremendous showing at the Big Ten Conference Tournament. Much like their opponent, the Spartans owe much of their success to head coach Tom Izzo. This will be Izzo’s seventh Final Four appearance with Michigan State and he is seeking his second national championship.

Wisconsin-Final-FourThe second semi-final matchup will be between the University of Wisconsin and an undefeated Kentucky Wildcats team. The Wisconsin Badgers have been nothing short of extraordinary this season, posting a 35-3 record throughout the regular season and playoffs. Many of those 35 wins can be credited to the incredible play of senior center Frank Kaminsky. The seven-footer from Chicago averaged 18.7 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game throughout the regular season and looks like a favorite to win the 2015 Wooden Award given to the Men’s Player of the Year. The Badgers have breezed through the NCAA Tournament thus far, most recently posting a commanding 85-78 victory against the second seeded Arizona Wildcats. Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is heralded as one of the greatest coaches to ever take the sidelines as he has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year four times.

The road to history defining greatness is finally winding down for the Kentucky Wildcats. One of the most dominant college hoops teams ever assembled, the 2014-15 Cats look destined for the record books as they seek to cap off an undefeated season. Head Coach John Calipari is a masterful recruiter, as he was able to land some of the nation’s most talented players out of high school. Among these now-freshman superstars are forwards Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles. While UK is largely known for their wide array of “one and done” players, the Wildcats do have some veteran leadership this season. Seven-foot junior Willie Cauley-Stein has been a force down low for Kentucky this season while brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison are averaging 9 and 11 points per game, respectively.

With the potential for a Cinderella upset from the Spartans and the continued story of the undefeated Wildcats facing off against two very talented opponents with the ability to crush their highest hopes, the Final Four is sure to provide two epic match-ups. Gear up for plenty of can’t miss action heading into the semi-final round as the Final Four duke it out for just two coveted spots at the 2015 NCAA Championship.

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