Malik “Iceman” Hawkins Ready To Resume Surging Career

In boxing, there is as much talk about fighters who are the next big thing as some current champions. One up and comer that isn’t being talked about enough is Malik “Iceman” Hawkins. The Baltimore born and raised fighter is 18-0 with 11 KOs and currently slated as the featured bout at the Mohegan Sun on October 10th. The main even pits Sergey Lipinets against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov for the IBF interim welterweight belt, but the matchup before with Hawkins taking on the dangerous Subriel Matias (15-1-0 15 KOs) is equally compelling.

Tall with a long reach, Hawkins has power and speed that pairs well with his natural physical gifts. With an every growing boxing IQ at 140 Hawkins is guy who is a fight or two away from the title conversation. We got a chance to chat with Hawkins, who spoke to us fresh off of a late-night training session.

You’ve got a fight coming on October 10th it’s got to be one of the more interesting times of your career coming out of a really long layoff coming off of you know a global pandemic does this one feel a little bit different than the preparation for a usual fight?

Not really, the only thing different was the pandemic really. I’ve been training, I’ve been working hard, trying to stay ready. It really hasn’t been a big difference. 

Did you have to spend much time training outside of the gym or were you able to get back in pretty quickly?

When the pandemic first started I was training in my basement. Not even really doing boxing stuff just a lot of calisthenics as far as push-ups and things like that just to keep my body in shape. I wanna say it was either early or late April when we got back to the boxing gym. As far as sparring we’re just getting back into boxing shape for real. 

In terms of having to work out at home since you’re a unique perspective because you’re a professional athlete but yeah boxing training is so much different than what we would you know or what people think you know like a baseball player football player would have to go through at home do you have enough to do what you need to do to stay in shape or how limited is that for you?

I don’t have everything at my house but me being an athlete and professional fighter I’ve been doing this since I was 9 years old. I’ve been in the game long enough to be able to train myself. 

You mentioned that you’ve been doing this since nine years old is that do you think boxing has that unique discipline that allows you to be able to get through this without you too many hitches in the training process? 

Yes definitely, in boxing you have to stay disciplined. You can’t go off the cliff eating or drinking anything too crazy. Weight is probably the biggest thing as a fighter. 

People have been trying to stay in shape at home as a professional athlete professional fighter what do you think is some of the best things that people can do while they’re stuck inside or while they’re maybe you know not feeling so comfortable going to the gym what would you recommend if you had to give somebody like two or three exercises that you can always do at home?

I would say regular things such as jumping jacks push-ups and basically just crunches. any type of sit-up you can do. When you’re in the house anything that’ll work my stomach. You can come up with any kind of situp drill. 

Why sit-ups why would you key in on those especially?

In boxing, once you get tired a body shot will stick with you longer. So you want to get your stomach tight you want to make sure your stomach is strong. That’s the main thing you want strong on you if you don’t got anything else on you that strong you know you want to have a strong stomach because you want to be able to withstand body shots. The person you might be fighting might be a really good body puncher so you want to be able to withstand that.

Hawkins bullying another opponent.

You tend to be the bigger and longer fighter in most of your bouts. That will be the same for this one. Is that something you think plays to your advantage and into your approach as a fighter? 

Yes, it does it plays a big role. I consider myself to be the bully. The big bully of the 140 division because of my size. I’ve just got to go in there and show the world that I’m the bully of my division. Go in there and showcase my skills. 

As far as being the big guy is something you’re going to have to deal with differently once you get to the venue weight cut week and all that heading up to this fight? 

No, not really. We’ve already started focusing on the weight cut now. We already started cutting weight, the camp is winding down and we’re taking our time. We’re still working hard, there are always things for me to work on and things of that nature. The work is never done. As far as everything I’ve just gotta go in there and showcase the work. 

This is your longest layoff or at least one of the longest layoffs of your career, has that been frustrating to you is that something that you can’t just wait to get back in there and it’s 20 days can’t go quickly enough for you?

I’ve been wanting to get back in there but I didn’t want to risk my opponent having corona so I wasn’t really in a rush. Of course I was anxious and wanted to get back in the ring but I wanted to wait until everything was safe. 

Your last fight was one of your highest-profile bouts to date, big crowd, are you looking forward to maybe having a unique experience with a crowd this fight is that something you think you’re going to actually be able to appreciate a later in your career?

Yeah yeah. Not having a crowd will make you appreciate the crowd even more. You know that people want to be there because of the pandemic and things they couldn’t. At the end of the day though the job still has to get done and I’m the fighter so I can’t worry myself about those types of things. 

Is it going to be different you know being able to hear not only your own corner but his corner probably a lot more clearly is that something you had to work on blocking out everything you hear from across the ring rather than just having the crowd buzzing in the background? 

No not really because when I’m in a fight my corner is the only people that I hear. I’m so focused it is like having tunnel vision. Once you’ve got something to get something you’re trying to do you you have to stay focused on it. My corner is there to help me reach my goals so they are the only things I hear at that moment. 

Getting back into your start boxing a little bit you say you start training it 9 years old a scene you have a decorated amateur career you 24 years old 18-0 it seems like in today’s boxing world a guy like you should have already been in the title conversation already have had a title fight but you’re doing it at a different pace it is that something you feel is been really beneficial to you and will be long term?

Yes, I’m not in a rush. When you’re in a rush that’s how you end up with a loss or end up getting hurt or things of that nature. You know I’m just taking my time letting my promoter and team pick my fights, letting them determine if I can fight this fight or if this fight makes sense for me but at the moment I’m completely happy with the way my career is going so far. 

Since signing with Mayweather promotions and in getting on Showtime you’ve been moving up on these bigger cards how does it feel to simile be that close to the fights with the belts, with gold is that something that you see sooner rather than later? 

Now that I’m signed I definitely see it happening. I see it happening very soon. They are putting me in the right fights and giving me making the opportunity. Big shout out to Mayweather Promotions for that for giving me the opportunity. Yeah, I definitely see it happening in the very near future. 

On the way up in your career you’ve gotten the chance to fight in Philadelphia I think probably like three or four times I saw through your record. how would you describe your experience into the Philly fight scene? 

The Philly fight scene is real. They’ve got a real big fight scene there. It’s a boxing city. I love it, I love everything about fighting in Philly. They treated me like I was home and this and that even though I was coming into there town. Even the first time when I was on the B side and I still came out victorious. I’m speechless about Philly, I love Philly.

Is ther something from your last fight you’ve been focusing on or just you know another day another fight another day at the office? 

More defensive techniques. Also staying more calm. Sometimes in my fights I can get a little riled up. Other than that really no changes. 

Getting riled up is that something that just happens is that just something that happens for you over the course of a fight or is that something that you can consciously trying to work towards sort of getting out of your style? 

It just happens over the course of the fight. Its just a mode I get into. I don’t know how I don’t know where it came from but once my mode gets going it’s on. I just get riled up.

Is that something that can happen to you outside of the ring is that something you can get going you know non boxing situation or is that something that just sort of only happens there?

Oh no it only happens in the ring. I’m very positive. I know what to do and how to be outside of the ring. 

In terms of you nicknamed Iceman that sort of breeds the idea of calm cool collected  how early did you get that nickname?

I was about 9 years old. When I first started boxing. One of the fighters at the gym started calling me that. It wasn’t even because of boxing it was because of a rapper. Paul Wall he said I looked like him. 

Speaking of looking like people, you do you watch in boxing who do you want to emulate, you do you think is really beneficial to your style and your education in the fight game? 

Of course Floyd Mayweather. Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whitaker. I mainly watch old fighters. 

When you’re watching guys like the Pernell Whitaker’s the Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns do you feel like since they length that you do a little bit and the height is that something that you really sort of worked in your game especially from watching them?

Tommy Hearns I watched him a lot. Tommy Hearns was the reason I started throwing my right hand more. I used to use my jab a lot more. As far as the speed that’s why I started watching Sugar Ray. Marvin Hagler is just an animal in the ring, that’s mainly why. And of course Floyd Mayweather, he’s just different. Smart outside, smart inside rolling his shoulders. 

How would you describe your style of fighting how would you describe your style of fighting? 

It depends on the fight. If I need to box you I’ll box you. If I need to brawl with you I’ll brawl with you.

With all of the anti-racism statements and being made in sports right now is that something that you feel like you’re going to have to do or you’re looking forward to doing once you get back on TV? 

Of course I want to. I want to do it for people everywhere. I want to do it for people in the trenchs, coming from the struggle. No matter what color you are. I grew up there. I’ve seen a lot of death murder and chaos so I’m doing it for people from there. People coming from the bottom. 

You were born and raised in the Baltimore area how is that influence or shape you were helped make you the person that you are today? 

It had a big impact on me. It help shaped me into the man I am today. Baltimore helped me maneuver in and out of situations and think about a lot situations. It taught me how to use my head, my thinking muscles. 

Do you put on for other Baltimore sports, other Baltimore athletes?

Of course. Anything Baltimore I’m very proud of. We could have a soccer team I’d be proud of it. I don’t care if we win 1 game and lose the rest of them I’m 100% Baltimore. 

Do you have any favorite restaurants you could recommend to anyone coming through the city?  

They gotta go to Moe’s Seafood. There’s a lot of other places too. One is Santa Maria’s carry out. There’s a ton of place in Baltimore you gotta go to. 

One last question do you with the fight coming up obviously you’re not going to look past it but are you hoping to maybe get a chance to fight early 2021? Do you want to make a quick turnaround depending on your performance? 

Of course I want to fight in 2021, I’m not sure about early though. It all depends on Mayweather Promotoins and my team. Once things get in order though we’re gonna be rocking and rolling.

You can catch Hawkins fight on Showtime on October 10th. He can be found on social media @MalikHawkins20 on Twitter and @iamfreezertime on Instagram. 

Sean Couturier Wins the Selke Trophy

The Flyers aren’t bringing home the Stanley Cup this year, and neither Oskar Lindblom nor Alain Vigneault was able to bring home any hardware, but Sean Couturier is adding to his trophy case. 

The 27-year-old center was announced as the winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy which is annually awarded to the league’s top defensive forward. The 9-year veteran had been a runner up to the trophy in the 2017-2018 season and has been considered one of the superior two-way players in the league for several years. 

Pretty nice trophy actually.

Couturier’s offensive production this season (22 goals 37 assists for 59 points in 69 games), as well as his nightly assignments against the opponent’s top line, made him a top candidate along with Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O’Reilly. Previously, Bergeron is a four-time winner and O’Reilly won last season. All three of these players have been perennial contenders for the award, and this season Couturier likely had the most noticeable season.

Bobby Clarke in the 82-83 season, in the sweatpants.

The Selke Trophy has been an interesting award for many years since it carries more subjectivity than who scored the most goals/points or who was the most valuable player? Rating a defensive forward, especially in recent years, means marrying play on the ice with modern analytics and advanced stats. Couturier was firmly entrenched as the Flyers top center and being one of the ice time leaders and playing on all special teams means that if he makes a mistake it will get seen. It also means that he’ll have plenty of data to track. By any metric (Corsi, Fenwick, PDO) Couturier had the best possession metrics of his career and did so while starting 48% of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Just Dave Poulin handling the Great One.

Next season will be Couturier’s 10th in the league and with the Flyers. He will turn 28 in December and seems to be firmly in his prime. Couturier is the 3rd Flyer to have won the award. Bobby Clarke won in 1982-83 and the most recent Flyer to win was Dave Poulin in 1986-87.   

Rounding 2nd: The Phillies Push For The Playoffs

The Phillies looked like a lame duck at the start of the season. Now they are squarely in the playoff race and might be even hunting down a division title. 

The Phillies’ shortened season has already managed incredible highs and low, and we’re only just into the 2nd half of it. It started with losing 2 of 3 to the Marlins and then having the start of the season paused thanks to the half the Marlins team testing positive for COVID. They had 7 games postponed and needed to be made up during the course of the already shortened season. They had 26 games scrunched into August and started off taking 2 of 3 from the Yankees and then splitting a 4 game set with the Braves.

That’s when the Phillies had what can only be described as a disaster. They blew a big lead to the Orioles and lost in extra innings, then lost a 1 run game the next day, and offered no resistance to the sweep, losing 11-4 in the final contest. Baltimore isn’t quite as bad as most experts assumed they’d be, but these were losses that seemed to suck any immediate hope out of the season. The bullpen was getting smacked around. The errors in the field were akin to Little League baseball mishaps, and not the ones that happen in the LLWS, but ones that happen in your local league. A sweep of the Mets thankfully stopped the bleeding.

Then a win against the Red Sox had the Phillies on a 4 game winning streak, which they promptly turned into a 5 game losing streak. This got Bryce Harper amped up. Already an emotional and vocal leader he stated that the Phillies had to win the next 9 out of 10 to have any hope for the playoffs. In addition to his math skills, he’s also been showing off his penmanship with his “Sign JT” celebration, a clear message to management to lock up the best catcher in baseball. After Harper’s statements, the Phillies reeled off wins in 10 of the next 11. The offense came alive and Matt Klentak made a few bullpen moves getting Heath Hembree, David Phelps, and Brandon Workman to help sure up the group. It is still the Phillies key weakness but it is markedly better as the Phillies have entered the back half of the season.

Both Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola have been the best pitchers for the Phillies, with Wheeler being 4-0 with a 2.47 ERA over 51 innings in his 8 starts. The Phillies will need a third starter to emerge for the playoff push, with the likely candidate seeming to once again be Zach Eflin. Pitching is not the story of this team though. The offense is. Helping fuel the most recent hot streak is Rhys Hoskins, who has hit 9 home runs and 25 runs batted in on 28 hits slashing .280/.400/.620 for an OPS of 1.020 in the last 30 days. Alec Bohm has become a lineup regular and has been fantastic in his first 24 games. As he’s stabilized third base, Jean Segura has moved to 2nd base and been on a hot streak since Scott Kingrey has been absent from the lineup. Combined with the offense coming from Didi Gregorius the Phillies are dangerous throughout the lineup. Bryce Harper has gone cold in the last few games, but through midseason, he was in some MVP talk and JT Realmuto leads the team in home runs and continues to be near perfect defensively.

The Phillies are currently 1 1/2 games back of the Atlanta Braves for the division lead and will make the playoffs as long as the are one of the top 2 teams in the NL East. The Marlins are only a game back of the Phillies and the two teams are starting a 7 game series. They will play 3 full games and 2 sets of 7 inning double headers. Whoever wins this series will likely be the 2nd team from the NL East. It’s the most important series of the year for the Phillies and this bizarre season could take a turn into October if they are able to come out on the winning side.

With the Flyers and Sixers making playoff runs and the Eagles season already here, it was easy to ignore the Phillies. It is time to stop that. This team has the offense to win any game and in the playoffs anything is possible. With Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler at the front of the rotation, a short series or play in-game becomes a very winnable affair, and a long series might set up in the Phillies favor. It’s time to start paying attention. We are.

Union Power Up Against The red Bulls

After a brief blip in their offense, the Union are right back to their goal-scoring ways. 

They were held scoreless by the Columbus Crew, the top team in the division, and came into their game needing a win to keep pace and have a chance to jump into 2nd place. The Union found their offense courtesy of 3 goals, two of which were homegrown and a fantastic effort on defense which gave Andre Blake a well deserved easy night. 

The first half featured some back and forth but not many chances. The Red Bulls were able to get some control but the Union’s defense didn’t allow them any clean chances. They held out until the 36th minute. Then Andrew Wooten ran the defense and allowed Alejandro Bedoya some room to operate. He found Brendan Aaronson with a pass who ripped into a shot that flew past the keeper just inside the far post. 

Sep 6, 2020; Harrison, New Jersey, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya (11) kicks the ball away from New York Red Bulls defender Kyle Duncan (6) during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The combination of Wooten and Bedoya would flip on the next goal, as Bedoya hit Wooten with a pass freeing him on the defense in the 2nd half. As Wooten went wide, he spun the ball back to the center to find Kacper Przybylko who drilled another one to the far side of the net.

The final goal comes from another homegrown. Matt Real came on as a sub later in the match and got a setup pass from super-sub Ilsinho. Real ran behind the backline and was able to put a left-footed shot across the frame and off the post. It was his first MLS goal and sealed any hesitation about the outcome of the contest.

There is one match left for the Union in Phase One of the MLS regular season as they resume more normal play after the MLS is back tournament. They moved into 2nd place and the will play again on PHL 17 on September 12 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Subaru Park against New England Revolution on Kick Childhood Cancer Night.

Flyers Finished: Drop Game 7 to Islanders

The Flyers seemed like they might be building towards a bit of magic, only to have it snuffed out. 

Their run against the Islanders saw them struggle in their losses, and have to scratch and claw for 3 overtime victories. Their Game 7 effort just wasn’t there. After overcoming a 3-1 deficit with back to back OT victories they seemed to lack the emotional energy and intensity you would come to expect from the situation.

This became especially apparent after the Islanders jumped out to a first period lead by virtue of a Scott Mayfield goal. A goal later in the period from Andy Greene would be an effective backbreaker, and a Brock Nelson tally started the processional march for the Flyers season. An Anthony Beauvillier empty-net goal was the backhoe dumping the dirt to bury them. The Flyers would whimper out of the playoffs after making so much noise to end the regular season and in the round-robin. 

There are many reasons why the Flyers lost. The one that will be overlooked is that the Islanders were far better constructed for playoff hockey. They are a team that can roll four lines that will forecheck effectively and has a defense that doesn’t back down from an attack. Fast and physical the Islanders were built to battle over a long series. Then add a defensively sound coach in Barry Trotz with the 4th most wins NHL history, 13 playoff appearances, and a Stanley Cup over his 21-year career and you’ve got a team that’ll be incredibly difficult to defeat. 

The Flyers had issues trying to defeat the Montreal Canadiens, another defensively strong team with solid goaltending. The Islanders got decent goaltending during the series and their forecheck allowed them to create offense from all of their lines. Apart from Ivan Provorov, the defense was not prepared or put in a position to succeed in the playoffs. Matt Niskanen looks as if 1st pair minutes are too much for him, and pairing the offensive-minded youths in Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers resulted in frequent mistakes which far outweighed any good they did on the ice. The physical talent is there for both players, but the regression in hockey IQ and the fact they were often physically dominated does not inspire confidence. Both will come into next year with serious questions to answer. Robert Hagg and Justin Braun were ok but with Braun being a UFA and Hagg’s position isn’t safe with Yegor Zamula lurking, plus nobody is ever sure what’s happening with Shayne Gotsisbehere. 

Another flaw was the Flyers’ goal scoring. It never showed up. Travis Konecny, leading regular goalscorer, managed zero. This made his role as an agitator far less effective. Subsequently, his cold streak, along with Jake Voracek’s made things difficult for Claude Giroux to set anyone up. Sean Couturier had a knee injury which made him miss Game 6 and played Game 7 with a sprained MCL but wasn’t a factor in the series. Kevin Hayes was the most productive of the top six forwards in the series but was also too often on the wrong side of the puck, not showing the escapability he typically does. Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk were both healthy scratches at times, and outright bad others. They showed up for Games 5 and 6 but more is expected from them. Joel Farabee was ok in his first playoffs, but the need for a boost in this strength and experience was evident as well.

The bottom 6 forwards like Tyler Pitlick and Michael Raffl continued their strong play from the regular season and were noticeable in most games. Nicolas Aube Kubel played well but didn’t have the same scoring punch as he did during his limited run in the regular season. Derek Grant flashed in the regular season, and provided some physicality in the playoffs that were few and far between for the Flyers, but didn’t gel with his linemates or find an offensive groove. Nate Thompson won faceoffs with the best of the percentage-wise but seems to just not have the foot speed to be an effective fourth-line forward anymore. 

Oskar Lindblom came back, which is a massive victory in its own right. If he’ll be able to return to the form he showed earlier this season remains to be seen but is much less important then him just being healthy and staying healthy again. Carter Hart almost joins Lindblom in the realm above criticism but falls just short of that. While Hart was brilliant at times and showed true resiliency at times. He needs to improve his puck handling and he had some softer goals go in than we’ve become accustomed to. 

Coaching also let the Flyers down. Alain Vigneault had some challenges go against him in the series which cost the Flyers. Mike Yeo’s once dangerous penalty kill seemed to become ineffective and each penalty the Flyers took put them at a serious disadvantage. Similarly, the powerplay run by Michel Therrien was putrid. At just 4 for 52 the squad was given chance after chance to right the ship but was never able to make it work. If you were going to rank reasons as to why the Flyers lost, the powerplay would be high on the list. They went 0-13 against the Islanders alone. One of their most effective guns from the regular season was filled with blanks these playoffs. 

For whatever reason, there was a belief that this Flyers team was truly a cup contender. They were ranked #1 after the round-robin but they weren’t the best team in the conference. They were a hot team at the time of the shutdown, but there was no way to keep that momentum going. Their fatal flaws came to light against a worthy opponent. The Flyers were treated like a true #1 seed when that simply wasn’t real, just in name only. 

Next season the roster will be different. Fan favorites might be gone. The coaching staff may change. There will be few constants but the Flyers team is taking steps forward. Next year might be the one where it is by leaps and bounds. We’ll find out then.