Salary cap rises to US$69m
The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association say the salary cap for the 2014-2015 season is going up to US$69 million after a year of record revenues. In a joint announcement on Friday before the NHL draft, the sides said the cap is rising from the US$64.3 million upper limit that teams operated on during the just-completed season. As stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players, clubs must maintain a minimum payroll of US$51 million.
Panthers select Ekblad
Florida selected Aaron Ekblad with the first pick in the NHL draft on Friday, making him the first defenseman to go No. 1 since St Louis took Erik Johnson in 2006. Without a clear cut No. 1 on the board, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was open to trading the pick. In the end, he decided to take the 18-year-old defenseman from Belle River, Ontario. “I want that burden of expectation,”Ekblad said. “I want that feel for motivation and I want to succeed under that.” The Panthers had a top-three pick in the NHL draft for the fourth time in the past five years. The first three — defenseman Erik Gudbranson (in 2010), wing Jonathan Huberdeau (2011) and center Aleksander Barkov (2013) — all played significant roles last season. Florida also won the draft lottery in 2002 and 2003, but traded away those picks.
Zhang to make pro debut
A 1.98m Chinese boxer who won the super heavyweight silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics will make his professional debut in August. Zhang Zhilei is to fight in the heavyweight bout on Aug. 8 in Fallon, Nevada, on a card televised by ESPN. His opponent has not been determined. The Beijing Games also started on Aug. 8. Eight represents good luck in Chinese, and Zhang’s friends have asked if that’s the reason he is making his pro debut then. Zhang laughs at that notion. He says it’s “just the luck of the schedule.” Zhang is promoted by Dino Duva’s Dynasty Boxing. He has former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield as an adviser. “I can’t make him a champion. He’s got to want to be a champion,” Holyfield says.
Mormeck wins in comeback
Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck, the two-time former WBC and WBA cruiserweight champion, made a successful return to the ring on Thursday night, the referee stopping the fight against Hungary’s Tamas Lodi in the fourth round. Mormeck has not fought since being knocked out in the fourth round by Wladimir Klitschko in a WBO-IBF-WBA heavyweight title fight in March 2012 in Duesseldorf, Germany. However, after 27 months on the sidelines and at the age of 42, Mormeck made no mistake in his cruiserweight bout in a skating rink in Asnieres near Paris. Mormeck knocked Lodi down in the fourth for an eight count, the referee stepping in to stop the bout moments later. True to his previous ring form, Mormeck continually advanced on his opponent, making solid facial contact in the second round before setting about the Hungarian’s body. An avalanche of punches opened the third round with Lodi in obvious trouble, before the denouement a round later. The victory allows Mormeck to dream of competing in another world championship fight before the year’s end, as he previously stated he wished to do. Mormeck, from Guadeloupe, won the WBA cruiserweight titles in 2002 and 2005 and the WBA-WBC crowns in 2005 and 2007.