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Sam Gordon’s best for 2023: Canelo, LeBron plus a special Las Vegan

Review-Journal sports columnist and features writer Sam Gordon loves tracking the happenings of all the sporting events that pass through Las Vegas.

Here are his five favorite stories from 2023, along with perspective on each piece:

1. Gordon: 10-year-old boy lives dream with Raiders at Pro Bowl

Young Las Vegas-based NFL reporter Jeremiah Pennell, 10, covered the Pro Bowl festivities with the guile of a 30-year veteran. He blended poise and personality during entertaining interviews with the league’s premier players. His enthusiasm is infectious and endearing to players and colleagues alike.

2. Challenge accepted: Centennial girls coach thrives leading boys, too

Karen Weitz, one of the best high school coaches in the country in any sport, led the boys and girls basketball teams at Centennial for the first time last season. The girls team remains one of the nation’s best, while the boys improved throughout her first year on their bench.

3. Gervonta Davis found refuge and future under Calvin Ford

Trainer Calvin Ford, who inspired the character “Cutty” on the esteemed HBO series “The Wire,” has long been in the corner of boxing great Gervonta “Tank” Davis. Ford helped Davis realize his potential as one of the world’s best. Davis beat fellow superstar Ryan Garcia via seventh-round stoppage April 20 at T-Mobile Arena in one of the highest-grossing boxing matches in Las Vegas history.

4. Gordon: Canelo Alvarez has nothing — and everything — to prove

Following three consecutive lackluster performances, all-time boxing great Canelo Alvarez needed to prove his skills were still befitting of his billing as the sport’s top star. He did exactly that Sept. 30, putting together a dominant victory by decision over Jermell Charlo in front of a sellout crowd at T-Mobile Arena.

5. Gordon: Ever the showman, LeBron James personifies Las Vegas

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was masterful during the NBA’s first-ever In-Season Tournament, which held its semifinals and championship game at T-Mobile Arena. James, who has long said he would like to own a team in Las Vegas one day, displayed the kind of showmanship long associated with the Strip.

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on X.

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