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Oleksandr Usyk won his heavyweight debut but can he beat the big boys?

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Oleksandr Usyk, the cruiserweight champion turned heavyweight contender, is guided by two indomitable polar forces that he brings to bear with magnetic energy, a twinkle in the eye and a gap-toothed grin. He is part Conan the Barbarian, part Conan O’Brien. Both apex predator and Animaniac. Killer and comic relief. Usyk is the planet’s warmest, fuzziest bear trap.

He won gold for Ukraine at the London Olympics in 2012, turned pro, then pulverised the 200-pound division into particle dust, becoming the first cruiserweight to hold all four major world titles. Eleven months after his last fight as a cruiserweight – – Usyk (17-0, 13 KO) made his heavyweight debut in Chicago on Saturday against Chazz Witherspoon (38-4, 27 KO), a sloppy 38-year-old who took the fight as a last-minute replacement for Tyrone Spong, a third-rate opponent who returned an adverse doping test in the middle of last week.

The opponent was largely irrelevant fol Madrid president Florentino Perez insists there was no “pact” with Atletico Madrid preventing them from signing Antoine Griezmann.The France attacker left Atleti this summer for Barcelona in a record €120m deal.At Real’s General Assembly, Florentr the thousands of fight fans in attendance. The Ukrainian supporters would have screamed their throats raw for Usyk whether he had been fighting a muppet, a hologram or a YouTube flunky. This was a party.

Previously, Usyk was merely one of the greatest cruiserweight fighters in history and a theoretical pound-for-pound boogeyman. Yet his graduation to the heavyweight division means he must become something else: an attraction. To a large portion of mainstream sports fans, a transcendent 200-pounder might as well be a G-League heavyweight: talented, sure, but mostly irrelevant if he can’t play with the big boys. European gate money spends are pretty good, but it’s American subscriber dollars that elevate a fighter into his own financial gulfstream.

So it has become Usyk’s challenge to not only display his gifts – both pugilistic and charismatic – but to do so against men inches taller and dozens of pounds heavier. The world’s most significant heavyweights all have the capacity to floor world-class fighters their own size, let alone a puffed-up cruiser new kid on the block.

Witherspoon stands conspicuously outside that group, but at 6ft 4in and 242 pounds, even he posed a lumbering threat to the 215-pound Usyk. The Philadelphia-born former not-quite-contender came in having fought just twice in three years, and he signed on as the fill-in just four days before the bout – apparently cornered between buffet runs at the Golden Corral. Witherspoon may not have been in shape for Usyk, but he was a very large man with nearly 30 professional stoppages under his belt. Styles make fights, but size can end them.

Saturday wasn’t for spoilers, though. After taking stock in the opening round, Usyk got to work with the jab. The Daniel Sturridge in their bid for Trabzonspor pair Ugurcan Cakir and Abdulkadir Omur.The Karadeniz Gazette says Sturridge could help Liverpool land Cakir and Omur.The former Reds striker currently plays with the duo at Trabzonspor.And he has recommenquicker man by far, he parried Witherspoon’s power with nimble footwork and head movement. In the fourth round, Usyk had Witherspoon backing up, stinging him with occasional power left hands, driving him against the ropes and into corners to land quick-burst combinations.

Chants of “Ooh-seek, Ooh-seek” arose when the headliner paused the onslaught to size up his work and, by the seventh round, Witherspoon had been sufficiently tenderised. As he sat on his stool before the eighth round, the American let referee Hector Afu know that he’d had enough. Usyk had won his first fight as a heavyweight. Although there never seemed a moment when Witherspoon was at serious risk of being dropped, neither was there a moment during the fight when Usyk was not categorically in control.

The post-fight questions lobbed at Usyk were predictable. Was the impact of heavyweight power what you expected? Will you be able to withstand it against elite competition? How will your own arsenal match up against those of Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury?

One reporter decided to spar with Usyk, suggesting he would have to change his ad star Antoine Griezmann.Robert was still with Barca when the Frenchman infamously turned them down this time last year – via a Gerard Pique produced documentary.He told El Larguero: “I wanted to sign Griezmann two years ago, if I would sign him now,pproach to beat the top heavyweights. Usyk, who speaks through an interpreter except on occasional low-leverage situations when he flashes his lovably broken English, stared a hole through the reporter – who was sitting no more than a lunging jab away from him – before asking: “You serious?” The moment passed, the reporter’s soul was returned to his earthly body and, in an instant, Usyk was giggling and playfully nudging his manager and translator, Egis Klimas.

“Soooo hungry,” said Usyk, as the questions continued to pour in. He was famished. A good sign. Usyk will need to bulk up for what comes next — which promoter Eddie Hearn says is the winner of the rematch between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua. When asked which potential opponent he would prefer to face, Usyk did not hesitate: “Joshua.” He didn’t miss a beat a moment later, either, when he answered the night’s final question in thickly accented but perfectly constructed English – a potential marketing game-changer.

“Wait, why has he been translating for you this whole time?” asked one of the reporters, only half-jokingly. A pause. Usyk’s crazy eyes bulged cartoonishly, his hands hit his cheeks and, from the smile that creased his face, out popped that unmistakable gap. He’s taking apart heavyweights, he’s speaking English and he’s having a ball.

NBA 2019-20 predictions: The rise of Los Angeles and the era of the super duos

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This season will be defined by …

How things . The Lakers brought in LeBron James last season and still missed the postseason, so this time around . They had hoped to add Kawhi Leonard and become the new Golden State Warriors. Then the Clippers . Now the Lakers may not even be the best team in their own building.

The end of the superteam era means . The star-studded paradigm favored by the Celtics, Heat and Warriors over the last decade has given way to a two-star model co-opted by more than a dozen teams. Increased league-wide parity promises an improved nightly product and a much-needed injection of suspense at the business end.

The regular season will mirror the offseason, with the NBA’s best duos dominating the headlines in the same way they did this summer. Leonard and George with the Clippers, James and Davis with the Lakers and James Harden and Russell Westbrook with the Rockets are just a few of the superstar combinations that are sure to own the months to come.

. Every team is one bad spill away from watching their championship dreams swirl down the drain. Take the 2019 NBA finals, for example, when Golden State lost Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to back-to-back injuries, greatly interfering with their hopes of beating Toronto. Talent is nothing without health.

Rate the NBA’s handling of the China situation out of 10

If NBA commissioner Adam Silver is about resisting China’s demands to force Daryl Morey out from his role as GM for the Houston Rockets for in Hong Kong, feel free to bump this up to a 3/10 for taking at least one clear stand. Strike me as not giving the commissioner the benefit of the doubt on this one.

. The controversy has in many ways awakened the broader public to the scale of Chinese censorship – and the degree to which US corporations are willing to play along with it in pursuit of their bottom lines. The NBA has shown it’s no different than in recent years, but Silver has done an admirable job by standing steadfastly behind his players.

The NBA took a benign tweet and turned it into an international fiasco. Representatives at every level of the NBA overreacted, as LeBron, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and Silver all scolded Morey and created a media firestorm.

. The NBA learned that it can’t have it both ways. In Silver’s first statement he toed the line, angering many people who thought he was supporting a totalitarian regime which happens to generate huge revenues for the league. After the backlash, he released another statement clarifying that the league supports free expression, later adding that Money won’t be disciplined. With millions on the line, Silver was in a tough position – but he ended up doing the right thing.

Which team had the best off-season?

If were gettea have announced they recorded a loss of nearly £100million for the year ending June 30.The loss was revealed in the club’s latest financial results but, after two profitable years, the Blues insisted they are still compliant with UEFA’s Financial ing a healthy Durant alongside Kyrie Irving, they would have a case. But Durant’s likely out for the entire season, so it’s clearly the Clippers for luring Leonard and George to California.

could go down as the best summer for any NBA team since the Miami Heat signed Chris Bosh and James in 2010. The addition of a lengthy superstar wing player who can create for himself or his teammates off the dribble, make threes and play lockdown defense would have been enough to lift the longtime Los Angeles afterthoughts into the title conversation. Adding two of them, while managing to retain their depth, makes them overnight frontrunners in a loaded Western Conference.

It wouldbe utterly insane to argue in favor of any team other than . Leonard’s decision to skip town on the Raptors and link up with the Clippers’ veterans was a win from the jump. The surprise addition of George took things over the edge, separating their summer from the rest of the pack in one of the biggest off-seasons in recent memory.

secured the biggest free-agent on the market in Leonard and also acquired George. That’s enough to transform a team that have never made it past the second round of the playoffs in their 49-year franchise history into instant title contenders. Leonard led the Raptors to their first-ever championship last season, perhaps he could do the same thing this year with the former laughing stocks of the league.

One bold prediction

The than they did last year despite the losses of Irving and Al Horford. The Celtics won’t be able to replace everything Horford gave them but Kemba Walker could end up being a better fit for the Celtics than Irving, even if he’s somewhat of a downgrade at point guard.

. The No 2 pick in the 2017 draft has resurfaced with the Pelicans after a pair of injury-hit seasons with the Lakers and he should thrive away from the drama and pressure of playing alongside LeBron. New Orleans has some interesting pieces in place, and it all should add up to plenty of opportunities for Ball to shine in his natural point guard role.

Many are expecting the Nets’ newest member to cause a talented team to crumble from the inside out. But I think Irving learned a lot about himself and the potential pitfalls that leaders face in the locker room and in front of the media last season. Irving has close friends around him in Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan and a strong leadership in Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks. We can expect Irving to play just as well on the court and comport himself much better off it.

. Sure, Durant bolted and Thompson is out at least until February with a torn anterior cemouth captain Simon Francis has hailed the work ethic of manager Eddie Howe.Francis is one of those who have made the journey from League One with Howe.He told the Daily Express: “I did think I would love to be a coach and do it the way he managesruciate ligament, leaving the Warriors with a 47.5-point scoring hole. But Stephen Curry is in top shape and D’Angelo Russell is awfully talented too. Not to mention, the team needed a challenge after five-straight NBA finals appearances and three championships. No more going through the motions.

Rookie of the year

has this one locked up if – and it turns out this could be a big if – he’s healthy and doesn’t miss more time once he’s back from the knee surgery that has . Expect the New Orleans Pelicans to be extremely cautious with the Future of the Franchise, but here’s hoping that we aren’t denied what could be a rookie season of the ages.

Zion Williamson’s bully ball won’t immediately translate to the NBA, so I expect the No 1 pick to endure some growing pains as a rookie. He’s also surrounded by an intriguing mix of young and veteran talent, which could make it difficult for him to stand out even if he plays 30 minutes a night. Instead look to , who put up PlayStation-like numbers at Murray State and will get plenty of opportunity running the point for the rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies.

A rare lockhe’d like to sign Real Madrid youngster Vinicius Junior.Vinicius has battled for minutes this season, with Ronaldo making an attempt to sign him on-loan over the summer.He told Fox Sports Brasil: “He is a great player, he made a fantastic last season in a season that is otherwise impossible to predict. Williamson’s game is built for New Orleans, a team full of young guards who are sure to get up and down the floor. If preseason and Summer League serve as any indication, Williamson will be productive and efficient every night.

. causing problems down the line, Williamson should make an immediate impact on the league when he returns to action. He’s strong, agile and unstoppable around the hoop.

MVP

. If Zach Lowe , who am I to argue? The Bucks star’s main rival should be Davis, but it’s hard to get the votes when you’re on the same team as LeBron James.

. The best shooter in the history of basketball first earned the NBA’s highest individual honor in 2015, then became the first-ever unanimous winner in 2016. Only Curry’s willingness to accept a scaled-back role to accommodate the addition of Durant loosened his stranglehold on the trophy. But with Durant out of the picture and Thompson sidelined all or part of the year with an ACL injury, Golden State will be relying on Curry more than ever – and his numbers will reflect it.

The Lakers wanted as badly as he wanted them. The worst kept secret in the NBA paired Davis with one of the best passers in league history, LeBron James. While they have two of the most transcendent basketball players in history, the Lakers are still top heavy and they’ll need career years from Davis and James. If the Lakers are to make good on their lofty expectations, Davis must be the best player in Los Angeles – and the league.

. We all know the saying ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ Well, I believe that saying – gender notwithstanding – now applies to a certain 6ft 8in, 250lbs player from Akron. He missed the playoffs last season with the Lakers after eight-straight finals appearances. Not reaching the postseason was embarrassing for the four-time MVP, and you better believe he’ll be playing with a chip on his behemoth shoulders this time around.

Western Conference playoff teams

LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs.

LA Clippers, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder.

LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks.

LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs.

Eastern Conference playoff teams

, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic.

Philadelphia 76ers, , Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets.

Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors.

Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers.

Western Conference finals

LA Clippers 4-3 LA Lakers.

LA Clippers 4-2 Denver Nuggets.

LA Clippers 4-2 Denver Nuggets.

LA Clippers 4-3 Golden State Warriors.

Eastern Conference finals

Milwaukee Bucks 4-2 Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers 4-3 Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee Bucks 4-3 Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers 4-2 Milwaukee Bucks.

NBA finals

. The Bucks were the best team in the East last season but they lost to Leonard and the Toronto Raptors in the Conference finals. Leonard’s in the West now, which means their biggest challengers in the East are an oddly-constructed Philadelphia 76ers team and whatever the post-Kyrie Boston Celtics end up being. The bad news? They may end up facing Leonard again eventually. The Clippers will have a tougher road to the finals, but if they make it they will have a clear advantage over whoever comes out of the East.

. The superteam era may be over but Philadelphia may have the closest thing resembling one. The Sixers lost Jimmy Butler in free agency but added Josh Richardson and the still-underrated Al Horford to a lineup that includes Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. This is a team that’s built their identity around size, versatility and defense and one of the few outfits equipped to counter the Clippers’ two superstar wings. One year after pushing Kawhi and the Raptors to the limit in a , look for Philadelphia to go further and capture their first NBA title since 1983.

With the Warriors’ dominance drawing to a close, this season feels like one of the hardest to predict. The star power is heavy across the league but so are the issues. The Clippers, Warriors and Nets have injury issues, the Lakers and Bucks have short rotations and the 76ers and Nuggets are still green. Equipped with the best stars and the strongest supporting cast, the Clippers are essentially my pick by default.

. Leonard and George are going to be an incredible duo, and they’re going to be hungry. Coached by Doc Rivers, this team is going to go far. As for the 76ers, it’s quite tough to bet against a team that added Horford to a roster with Simmons and Embiid. It will be an exciting series, with the Clippers coming out on top.

Angelique Kerber’s title defence ends but Serena Williams rallies to victory

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It is well over two decades since any woman other than Serena Williams and Venus Williams successfully defended the women’s title at Wimbledon. Angelique Kerber, in such style 12 months ago, will not be joining them after she was ousted 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 by the American Lauren Davis in the second round.

Davis, at 5ft 2in one of the smallest players on the Tour, only got into the draw as a lucky loser. A brilliant mover, she chased down everything and made the usually rock-solid Kerber miss, with 31 unforced errors from the German telling their own story.

“I was trying to find my game the whole match, actually,” said Kerber, who will drop out of the world’s top 10 after . “I was not really feeling good from the beginning. I don’t know why. The energy was not there. I tried. She played well. She was going for it. She took the match in her hand. I was too defensive in the important moments. Of course I’m disappointed. It’s not the way I would like to finish here or to play here. But you have sometimes days like that. You have to accept it. You have to learn from it, try to forget this as soon as possible.”

Davis was ranked inside the top 30 just two years ago but injuries have dropped her down to her current mark of 95. Here, though, with Kerber off-colour, she took full advantage to take her place in the third round, where she will play Carla Suárez Navarro, the No 30 seed from Spain. Having lost in the final round of qualifying, it is almost like she’s playing with house money and she is enjoying the ride.

“It’s definitely been incredible,” she said. “I was super-disappointed, having lost last round of qualies. I found out less than two hours later that I got into [the] main [draw]. I was ecstatic about that. It’s honestly a dream being here. I played qualies last year, so I wasn’t able to come here. It feels amazing.”

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was there to watch in her second-round match against Kaja Juvan, an 18-year-old Slovenian who likes the philosophy of Socrates and Descartes. Her tennis wasn’t bad, either, as she took the opening set against a rusty-looking Williams but the American, trying to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slams, pulled her game together when she needed it. Her 2-6, 6-2,abao Cup semi-final is evenly poised after the first-leg finished 1-1 at King Power Stadium.”I thought we played well,” Rodgers told LCFC TV. “In the first half, we were too slow both in attack and when we pressed the game. We were too passive.”They 6-4 victory sets up a third-round meeting with the 18th seed, Julia Görges of Germany. “It was definitely coming together as the match went on,” Williams said. “I’m just low on matches basically. I could feel it. But I’m getting there.”

She will get plenty of matches if she keeps going deep into the second week as she partners Andy Murray . While the media might like to claim credit for putting the pair together, W-1 defeat of Bournemouth.The Magpies made it successive wins in the Premier League wins thanks to goals from DeAndre Yedlin and Ciaran Clark who helped cancel out Harry Wilson’s opener.Bruce admitted there was still room for improvement, he said: “Ifilliams said she and Murray had discussed it a few days before and were excited to get on the court together. “It made sendy on a six-month deal after he was released by Wolves.The 21-year-old Scot began his career with Rangers before moving to Spain with Real Murcia.He joined Bury in 2014 before a three-year stint at Molineux that included loan spells with Oldham, Ayr se for me because I really could use some matches at this point,” she said. “It made sense for him. We both want to do well. We both love Wimbledon. Playing with a British icon like Andy is going to be really exciting. I’m looking forward to sharing the court with him and maybe I can learn a thing or two from him.”

Petra Kvitova, meanwhile, continues to defy expectations as she battles the arm injury that forced her to miss the French Open. The Czech, whose two grand slam titles came here in 2011 and 2014, beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-2, serving a whole game of aces early on and saving three set points before pulling away for victory. She will play Mandy Minella, of Poland, a surprise winner over American teenager Amanda Anisimova, who reached the semi-finals at the French Open last month.

London franchise moves closer as NFL confirms first game at Spurs stadium

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The NFL’s international development manager believes the league’s “11-year tease” with London will lead to a permanent franchise, potentially as soon as 2021.

Speaking at the announcement of this year’s three games in London, Mark Waller, the league’s executive vice-president, said the economic case had been proven and it was now only a case of persuading any relocating team it would not be at a competitive disadvantage.

Having staged 21 games in London since 2011, Waller told Press Association Sport there was “no decrease in the enthusiasm for London” among the league’s 32 team owners and “they all know the numbers stack up”. The next task is finding solutions to any concerns a London-based team’s players and staff might have about issues such as accommodation, travel, tax status and schools.

Waller pointed out that the current collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union expires in 2020 and the league’s various broadcast deals run until 2021. “You could say it’s been an 11-year tease, but various strands would seem to be coming together,” Waller added.

Thursday’s announcement revealed that Tottenham’s new stadium will only host one NFL game next season, despite the Premier League club having a 10-year deal with the league to stage two games a season. The new White Hart Lane, which is under construction, will stage its first NFL game on 14 October, when the Oakland Raiders host the .

Having staged its first NFL game in 2007, Wembley gets its 19th and 20th games over the following two weekends – the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Los Angeles Chargers versus the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars have agreed to play one game in London until 2020.

Waller urged British NFL fans not to read anything into the fact that there will be only three games in London this year, after four last year. Waller added that both Wembley and Twickenham started with just one game per season, and that White Hart Lane would be able to host three games in a season “pretty soon.” London mayor Sadiq Khan has also moved to reassure fans over the lack of a second game at White Hart Lane.

With the NFL committed to holding two games a season at Wembley until 2020, that means London can expect to stage five games in either 2019 or 2020 – a move that would only increase the clamour for a full-time franchise in the UK capital.

Despite missing out on a second game, White Hart Lane will benefit from hosting two good teams. The Seahawks have reached the playoffs in six of the last seasons, and won the Super Bowl in 2014. The Raiders, meanwhile, have emerged from the doldrums in recent years and are in the process of relocating – although Las Vegas, not London, will be their new homns.The Brazilian midfielder has two offers on the table, reports Le 10 Sport, from Newcastle United and Genoa.Genoa have bid €7m for Maia plus 50 per cent of his sell-on fee.Newcastle, meanwhile, have proposed a loan with a superior salary offer foe.

“The announcement of the first game of the NFL’s 2018 London games to take place at our new home heralds the commencement of our 10-year pa Azzurri were knocked out of the Champions League at the gas with Fikayo Tomori’s new deal.The defender recently committed his long-term future to the club by signing a new five-year contract.”He’s been playing fantastically well since I had him at Derby and then this season he’s shown it in the Premier Learoup stage which included finalists Liverpool and were dumped out of the Europa League in the last eight by Arsenal, who will face Chelsea in Baku.Ancelotti said, “It is a small consolation rtnership,” said the Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy. “This is one of the cornerstones of our vision for creating a world-class sports and leisure destination that will make Tottenham a hive of activity 365 days a year, and drive the regeneration of one of the most deprived areas of London.”

Why the NFL can get away with dumping mediocrity on UK fans

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The National Football League to be played next year in London – more than ever before! – and is planning to keep ticket prices for the games the same as this year: £35 to £149 ($44 to $189) for general seating. And that pretty much ends the good news.

The not-so-good news is that the eight teams that have selected to play in the four 2017 games – two at Wembley, two at Twickenham – include the Cleveland Browns, who still stand a chance to lose all 16 games on their schedule, plus seven other teams who would not qualify for the playoffs if this season ended today.

The matchups, with dates to be finalized in the off-season, look like this:

24 September or 1 October: Baltimore v Jacksonville, Wembley

24 September or 1 October: New Orleans v Miami, Wembley

22 or 29 October: Minnesota v Cleveland, Twickenham

22 or 29 October: Arizona v Los Angeles, Twickenham

One problem: the aggregate record for the eight teams picked to play is now a lackluster 38-65-1. Already eliminated from playoff contention this year, but tapped to play in England next year, are the Browns (0-13), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) and Los Angeles Rams (4-9). Miami, at 8-5, is the best team, as of right now, to be playing in England.

The Jaguars, who have often been mentioned as a candidate to move permanently to London, perhaps in only a few years, have played in England in each of the last four years. The Ramspool boss Jurgen Klopp wanted more bravado from his players during victory at Sheffield United.Klopp saw the Reds beat Sheffield United 1-0 on Saturday lunchtime to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.The manager said, “You have to respec’ first season back in Los Angeles has been so disappointing that .

players have never hidden the fact that they are less than enthusiastic about playing in England, mostly because of the long flights to and from the United States. When the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants in a regular-season finale last year, the Eagles were delighted that their division rivals would have to play in England in 2016 and not them.

The slate of four games in 2017, an increase from three in each of the last three seasons, will probably still sell, because American football in England (and continental Europe, which draws in many fans for the International Series), by several metrics, has not lost any of its appeal. An appearance by the rotten Browns, who could become only the second team in NFL history to finish 0-16, might not even iktas.Although the Spaniard had one year left on his contract, he decided to depart the Turkish side after a very tough season which was dominated by the club’s financial issues, reports Marca.The former Real Madrid youth coach is now seeking a returtest that.

“The NFL is commendably dedicated to developing football at all levels within the United States and throughout the globe, and we share in that commitment to help make our game as great as possible and the opportunities to bring it to more people, both within our community and in other regions,” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a release.

Fifteen of the 16 regular-season games played at Wembley , have drawn at least 81,000 spectators. The Giants-Rams game this year was the first to be played at Twickenham, and it drew a healthy crowd of 74,121.

And this is the crux ofted the lid on his controversial departure from Arsenal last summer.The former Gunners captain angered many in London for the way he forced through his transfer.Koscienly admits he regretted signing a new contract with the Gunners and chose to quit f the matter – the NFL may be happy to keep sending mediocre teams over the Atlantic because the crowds still roll in. And in a season when the league has come under criticism for poor quality of play and TV ratings have slumped, it is in its interests to keep its big draws on home soil and in prime time.

Keeping the big teams away from Europe hardly seems to affect TV figures in the UK either. The NFL has said it is on pace to reach a record number of unique television viewers in Britain. The league’s internal research reports a fan base of 13 million fans, close to four million of which are considered to be “avid”. Additionally, the NFL said that participation in amateur football in the UK has grown by approximately 15% per year since 2007. Latest figures from Sport England show that 40,000 people age 14 or older play regularly, the NFL said.

Furthermore, a 61,000-seat stadium being built in north London primarily as the new home of Tottenham Hotspur when it is finished in 2018. It will include an artificial turf surface under a retractable grass soccer pitch for American football games.

But just because the NFL can sell out Wembley (which, given that England’s soccer team can do it, may not be as hard as it sounds), does that justify sending over poorer teams? While, it’s impossible to predict which teams will be great a year out from the schedule, it could be a sign of respect to arrange a game that is likely to contain two contenders – and that’s unlikely to be New Orleans v Miami. Besides the excuse that travel to UK disrupts a season isn’t compelling. Teams that play in England are given the option to have the next weekend off, but the Colts took on Chicago a week after losing to Jacksonville at Wembley this year – and beat the Bears, 29-23. (It also might have been a factor that the Bears, now 3-10, are lousy.) And it’s worth remembering that one of the teams involved in the first ever International Series game at Wembley back in 2007, the New York Giants, went on to win the Super Bowl that season. Maybe it’s time to put your money on the Browns for Super Bowl LII.

UFC 199: trash talk picks up before Rockhold-Bisping duel

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When Dana White stands at a dais to promote the , the organization’s charismatic president tends to leave an impression.

On Thursday, he didn’t – mostly because it wasn’t necessary.

As has become common among fighters engaged in the Octagon, a visceral lack of respect was on display at the beautifully restored Forum in Inglewood, California, which this weekend hosts the UFC for the first time in nearly 400 fight events at the building.

To the Whs six Premier League clubs are chasing Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson.Wilson, 22, has shone on loan at Derby Couill finish in the top-four this season.Chelsea have now won their last four games in all competitions and sit just outside the Champions League qualifications spots in fifth place in the table. Speaking to Betdaq, Johnson said: “If Chelsea can keep gnty from Liverpool this season.The Mirror says Bournemouth, Newcastle, Southampton and Brighton are the top-flight contingent asking foite’s right: champions Luke Rockhold and Dominick Cruz.

To the White’s left: challengers Michael Bisping and Urijah Faber.

Ready. Set. Go.

In the aftermath of Chael Sonnen and the midst of Conor McGregor, UFC fighters seem to let loose tirades designed to rile up fans as much as the person on the opposite side of the cage with regularity.

This can often be construed as insincere, yet the rampant hostility ahead of UFC 199 comes off as if it’s grounded in something more real than ticket sales or showmanship.

Rockhold, the 185lb champion, is genuinely chippy – perhaps the chippiest person on the UFC roster. A California surfer with model looks, Rockhold is perceived as annoyingly confident, so to stick it to the Eintracht Frankfurt away support during last night’s Europa League shootout victory.The away support tried their best put Chelsea’s stars off their stride as they attempted to put their penalties past Kevin Trapp.Frankfurt fans bome might say egotistical. One thing is certain, he maintains a high opinion of himself and his status among middleweights.

After Chris Weidman dropped out of the card’s main event due to a scary neck injury two weeks ago, Bisping, the wisecracking veteran from Manchester, England, who lives in Los Angeles, was picked to replace him and, no surprise, trash talk picked up.

Will it mean Bisping can produce a competitive fight? Most observers suspect not.

The British fighter has agonized over receiving a UFC title shot since his earliest days with the organization.

Both times Bisping had a chance to rise to top contender status he failed – Dan Henderson famously starched him at UFC 100, and Chael Sonnen won a tight decision three years later. So when a title opportunity presented itself, it didn’t matter that Bisping’s last loss, his seventh, came versus Rockhold in 2014 following a lopsided affair that saw the British fighter mounted and choked with one arm.

Bisping, a Manchester United supporter, rebounded from the Rockhold setback with three straight victories, including a five-round decision over aging all-time great Anderson Silva in February. This performance at the O2 Arena in London did nothing to make the 31-year-old champion cautious of Bisping in the short-notice rematch.

Rockhold claimed he nursed his left leg through much of his training camp because of an issue with his meniscus. After hearing this (despite the fact Rockhold said the same on his Instagram account weeks ago) Bisping was incredulous, as if the cocky champion maligned an unwritten rule among fighters not to disclose bumps and bruises before a fight.

“You’re just an average bloke,” Rockhold explained to Bisping. “I’m a fucking samurai.”

After taking pot shots at Rockhold, who earned the belt last year with an impressive stoppage of Weidman, Bisping (28-7) acknowledged the champion’s status and accepted the notion that despite his optimism at the age of 37 he’s supposed to lose.

Again.

“Fingers crossed I’ll get the job done and go back to England,” he said.

Bisping offers quality MMA in many areas, but nothing stupendous. He steps in against the tall, athletic Rockhold in good form, and could make a contest of it as long as he doesn’t make a mistake. One hiccup would be enough for Rockhold to make good on his promise of showcasing what he characterized as a widening gap between himself and competent fighters like Bisping.

In the night’s co-main event, Cruz and Faber will meet for the third time. The rubber match of two of California’s finest mixed martial artists is likely to settle their years-long feud inside the cage. Reconciliation of another kind feels like a lost cause, especially after Cruz and Faber hurled enough insults at one another at the Forum to make a fight night feel like professional wrestling.

Free from having to give a hard sell on this weekend’s UFC pay-per-view, White was able to enjoy the back-and-forth as he swiveled his shaved-and-polished head during the verbal volleys between fighters.

Rockhold and Bisping certainly entertained, but the real sparks were ignited by a pair of 135lb rivals.

Cruz, 30, has suffered one loss in 22 fights. That came against Faber at 145lbs in 2007 when he tapped to a guillotine choke. Four years later, at bantamweight, Cruz secured a unanimous decision and defended his UFC belt over Faber. By that time Cruz had developed into a much more complex competitor, adding layers of blistering footwork, off-angle movement and counter-striking to an under-appreciated wrestling game.

With or without his nemesis in action, Faber has remained an important fighter but never the breakout star he might have been had he captured a UFC title. A month after turning 37, this challenge could represent the California Kid’s last stand.

Cruz, a highly-regarded analyst for UFC on Fox events, said Faber (33-8) can’t touch him. And he was cocky about it, too.

“He fights exactly the same,” Cruz surmised. “Big shots, one at a time. He’ll go for a submission and conserve his energy looking for a finish. He’ll miss often. I’ll connect often. And I’ll beat him.”

Saturday’s pay-per-view also features an important contest in the featherweight division, as Max Holloway takes on Ricardo Lamas. Veterans Dan Henderson and Hector Lombard tussle at 185 pounds. And Dustin Poirier meets Bobby Green in a lightweight clash.

Athletes disappointed to find Pokémon Go inaccessible at Rio Olympics

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So the plumbing and electricity in the athletes’ village took several days to fix. Who cares?

But no ? That’s an outrage!

If there were ever a more “first world problem” for the Zika-plagued, water-polluted Rio Olympics, it’s Brazil’s lack of access to the hit mobile game, which has united players the world over.

Since to wild adulation in the United States, Australia and New Zealand this month, the game from Google spinoff Niantic Inc has spread like wildfire, launching in more than 30 countries or territories – but not Brazil.

For athletes and other visitors caught up in the wave, not having access is just one more knock against an Olympics that officials are racing to get ready. The opening ceremony takes place on Friday.

“I wish I could run around in the [athletes’] village catching Pokémon,” New Zealand soccer player Anna Green said. “I just can’t get it on the phone. It’s fine, but it would have been something fun to do.”

What will she do instead? “Train,” she replied.

Niantic didn’t reply to a request for comment on when the game might be released in Brazil. Ao Martinez says he deserves a shot at being their No1.Martinez has thrown down the gauntlet to team-mate Bernd Leno, after he claimed to be the more capable of the two keepers. Speaking to the Arsenal En America podcast this week, Martinez said: “He nd though social media rumours point to a Sunday release for the game, similar rumours in Japan resulted in heightened expectations and the sense of delay before its debut there last week.

This week, British canoer Joe Clarke – with a broken-hearted sad face – a screenshot of his player on a deserted map near the rugby, equestrian and modern pentathlon venues in Rio’s Deodoro neighborhood. The map was devoid of PokéStops – fictional supply caches linked to real-world landmarks. No Pokémon monsters to catch either: There was nary a Starmie nor a Clefairy to be found.

“Sorry guys no #pokemon in the Olympic Village,” French canoer Matthieu Peche, followed by three crying-face emoji. Getting equal billing in his Twitter stream was a snapshot of a letter of encouragement from French President Francois Hollande.

Players with the app already downloaded elsewhere appear to be able to see a digital map of their surroundings when they visit Rio. But without Pokéstops or Pokémon, the game isn’t much fun. It would be like getting on a football field – soccer to Americans – but not having a ball to kick or goals to defend.

Many competitors in the athletes’ village took it in stride, though. Canadian field hockey player Matthew Sarmento said it would give him more time to meet other athletes. But he would have welcomed Pokémon during downtime in competition, adding that “sometimes it’s good to take your mind off the important things and let yourself chill”.

Athletes might not get Pokémon, but they’ll have access to 450,000 condoms, or three times as many as the London Olympics. Of those, 100,000 are female condoms. Officials deny that it’s a response to the Zika virus, which has been linked to miscarriages and birth defects in babies born to women who have been infected.

In Pokémon countries like the US, Pokéstops are being used to attract living, breathing customers. In San Francisco, for example, dozens of bars, restaurants and coffee shops have set up lures that attract rare Pokémon, along with potential new patrons looking to catch them.

That’s presumably one reason why Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes – plagued by a host of bad news from player robberies to faulty plumbing – urged Niantic investor Nintendo to release the game in Brazil.

“Everybody is coming here. You should also come!” Paes , adding the hashtag #PokemonGoNoBrasil – “Pokémon Go” in Brazil.

His post generated responses such as this: “The aquatic PoJong says the players are still adjusting after a midseason change of coach.Quique Setien has been in the job for a couple of weeks now, having succeeded Ernesto Valverde, and De Jong was asked to compare the two.”There are differences,” the Dutchmankémon died with superbugs.”

Paes didn’t respond to requests for interviews.

One video circulating virally, with more than 3.5m views, shows one fan identifying himself as Joel Vieira questioning how Brazil can host the Olympics but not Pokémon.

“I can’t play! I am not allowed to know how it really feels to see the little animals on my cell phone,” he said . “Because we don’tl.The midfielder penned undisclosed terms this morning.Emery told Arsenal’s website: “Joe has progressed a lot in the last year. “He is technically strong and has shown the confidence to take responsibility and play his game whatever the occasion or have it in Brazil, yet. But we are having the Olympics.”

The Olympics kick off next Friday. Will Pikachu be there to witness it? The world is watching with baited Poké-breath.

er United defender Chris Smalling.Smalling’s perma

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outfielder mad a bit of history with teammate Troy Tulowitzki Wednesday against the Reds. Gonzalez hit three home runs and Tulowitzki added five hits and two home runs, the first time in major league history a pair of teammates has combined for those numbers in a game.

Gonzalez went 3 for 5 with three RBI and three runs scored in the game, his second career three-homer game. The Rockies won the game easaser Forster to leave on-loan for Celtic.Forster joined Celtimits he loved his time with Hamburg.So much so, that he admits he never wanted to leave the German giants.”Actually, I never wanted to leave Hamburg because I felt very good there,” he recalled to Spox. “That’s why the exit hurt so much.”Son left forc for the season in the summer and played out of his skin to ensure the Hoops beat Rangers in last weekend’s Scottish Cup final. Hasenhuttl said: “First, I am very happy that after a longily, 12-4. 

Gonzalez is now hitting .313 with 17 home runs, a mark that puts him second in the National League.  

More News 03/13/2020 • by RotoWire Staff 03/10/2020 • by RotoWire Staff drid ace Saul Niguez admits he grew up basing his game on Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.Saul also says it was dream come true when Fernando Torres returned to the club.He said, “With Torres at Atleti I started to love Gerrard and I thought I wanted 02/11/2020 • by RotoWire Staff 01/28/2020 • by RotoWire Staff 07/03/2019 • by RotoWire Staff 06/29/2019 • by RotoWire Staff

convinced they’re winning the race for Borussia D

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starter couldn’t pitch deep enough into Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee to be in line for a vient Alexander-Arnold believes that it is a very exciting time to play for the team.The Reds have emerged as FIFA Club World Cup winners after their brief visit to Qatar for the tournament.They defeated Monterrey inor his whizkids after victory at Norwich City.Tammy Abraham struck twice for the 3-2 win, with Mason Mount again influential.Lampard remarked: “I spoke to Tammy before the game today and I said to him that I felt today was the day.”A bit of kidology the semi final and Flamengo in the ctory as he lasted just 4 2/3 frames. Diamond had a lead through the first three innings before giving it all back in the fourth and fifth. Diamond settled for a no-decision in the start to keep his record at 3-4. He allowed four earned runs on eight hits and no walks over 4 2/3 innings with two strikeouts over 89 pitches. His ERA is now at 5.22 on the year. Diamond, 26, has really struggled Real Madrid ace Eden Hazard admits France tried to recruit him as a young player.France made their move for the now Belgium captain when he was coming through at Lille.Hazard revealed: “We talked about it a bit, especially when I started with Lille.”But I’m Belgian so I decided to play with Belgium.”Hazard was speaking to Real Madrid TV.lately and hasn’t earned a win since May 7 at Boston. He hasn’t finished six innings in four straight outings and has allowed four or more runs in three of those starts. Diamond will look to turn things around for Minnesota when he next takes the ball Sunday against Seattle.

er United.The Sun says the Spaniard, 31, agreed a

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manager Ron Roenicke said Monday that outfielder is dealing with a thumb injury and . Braun sat out Monday’s game against the Twins. 

Braun has gone 28 for 83 (.337) in May over 22 games with two homers and 12 RBI. He’s also struck out 16 times, but is slugging .530. 

More News 03/22/2020 • by RotoWire Staff 03/08/2020 • by RotoWire Staff 03/07/2020 • by RotoWire Staff ained the process of his Bosman switch at his presentation yesterday.Herrera said, “My agent called me to tell me that I had the opportunity to play for the biggest club in France. Paris Saint-Germain is a team that continues to progress, and who pla 03/01/2020 • by RotoWire Staff Manha says Tottenham have pulled back from a move for Fernandes.Furthermore, Spurs are reportedly undecided betweenan Shearer has opened up on the animosity he felt for Manchester United counterpart Roy Keane.The two clashed many times over their lengthy careers in the Premier League.One altercation particularly stands out from when Newcastle were beating United the 24-year-old and Real Betis star Giovani Lo Celso to fill their creative niche.Liverpool, meanwhile, are still in the mix thanks to 02/18/2020 • by RotoWire Staff 12/11/2019 • by RotoWire Staff

al manager Mikel Arteta admits setting ‘behaviour

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infielder was not in the sts of re-signing Leicester City winger Bartosz Kapustka next season.This past campaign’s loan was cut short late in the season due to a serious knee injury. The Pole is now doing his rehab back in England and Leicester’s Belgian partners accept he wonarting lineup Tuesday against the Blue Jays, and that day off seems to be just abou into a bidding war with Inter Milan to sign Lorenzo Pellegrini, claims Calciomercato.The Roma midfielder is a much wanted man this summer.The 23-year-old has 14 goals in 24 games this season, and has been touted as one of the top players in Serie A.t the only way to keep him from racking up hits recently.

Though Johnson did go 0 for 1 in a pinch-hitting appearance in Tuesday’s game, he still has hits in eight of his last 10 games, including four multi-hit games. Johnson is batting .483 in 29 at-bats over that stretch.

Johnson has credited his hot stretch with simply reaching a comfort level in his fourth major-league season.

“I feel good. I feel calm,” Johnson told .com. “Just trying to get a good pitch and not do too much with it, and it seems to be working. The first step is making sure you’re comfortable when you step up to the plate. I’ve been able to stay there for a little while right now, and things are going well.”

More News 03/21/2019 • by RotoWire Staff lub legend Gary Neville.The Crystal Palace right-back, 21, has reportedly been valued by his club at £70m. While the amount seems excessive, Neville thinks the Englishman is the sort of player the club should be looking for.”He’s a massive talent an 01/24/2019 • by RotoWire Staff 06/27/2017 • by RotoWire Staff 06/16/2017 • by RotoWire Staff 05/25/2017 • by RotoWire Staff 04/12/2017 • by RotoWire Staff

31-year-old was criticised for his wastefulness i

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The have arances for Everton since joining from Juventus in the summer, starting twice in the Premier League.But he is yet to score as he adjusts to life in say on the striker’s decision to join Borussia Dortmund. The former RB Salzburg striker signed for Dortmund ahead of rival interest from Manchester United, which had been regarded as faggled to celebrate his goal against Tottenham knowing the injury suffered by teammate Andre Gomes.Tosun netted a 97th minute equaliser as the Toffees shared the points with Spurs at Goodison Park.But the result was overshadowed by former Barcelona stvourites.It was suggested Haaland’s father Alf-Inge and his agentEngland.Calciomercato says Milan are monitoring his situation and aren’t ruling out a January move forrecalled catcher from Triple-A Omaha for depth after placing Salvador Perez on the bereavement list Saturday.Moore is hitting .190 with five homers and 12 RBI in 24 games in the minors. He is expected to be sent back down to Omaha once Perez returns.

n Wan-Bissaka and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are happy to

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outfielder hit his seventh homer — a solo shot off Brandon Morrow in the eighth — for his only hit. He was 1 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI in Thursday’s 12-6 loss to the Blue Jays.Jones is hitting .301 with three home runs and eight RBI in his last 12 games. He has a .315/.348/.497 line with seven homers and 31 RBI in 197 at-bats.

More News 12/11/2019 • by RotoWire Staff 09/29/2019 ving Arsenal.Gilmour has confirmed he will leave this summer as he comes off contract.The midfielder announced the development on social media:14 years.. from the age of 6 years old to 20 years old. I leave the club I have supported all my life. Than • by RotoWire Staff 09/29/2019 • by RotoWire Staff 09/25/2019 • by RotoWire Staff itic is one player who has been linked with an exit before the window closes, despite Valverde’s insistence that he is a player being counted on.”He’s very important for us,” Valverde said.”His work is there. Right now I don’t know if he’ll stay, but 09/24/2019 • by RotoWire Staff undergone minor surgery.Hasenhuttl has undergone a ‘minor procedure’ last week following a leg injury. An official Saints statement read: “First team manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has undergone a minor procedure on a leg injury in a local hospital and wi 09/23/2019 • by RotoWire Staff

iel Martinelli.The 18 year-old Brazilian scored a

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starting pitcher failed to go six innings for the second straight start and for the fourth time in nine starts Monday against the Padres. The right-hander continues to be plagued by high pitch counts.

Miller exceeded 100 pitches for the third time in four May starts and for the fifth time this season. d his job is safe.The Mirror says Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Burnley means £10million-a-year Pellegrini has now presided over a run of six games without a Premier League win – leaving the Hammers just two places above the drop zone.The last time the c

“Throwing 20 pitches every single inning is not what I’m here to do,” Miller said, per .com. “Facing a good hitting offense on a big league club, it’s not going to be easy to just throw it and have then swing at it every single time. Something I have to realize is to get the ball around the zone and hopefully things happen better.”

Outside of the complete-game shutout he threw May 10, Miller is averaging more than 17 pitches per inning in his eight other starts.

“There are some nights where they’re picking it up a little bit better and fouling it off,” manager Mike Matheny said. “They’re still not squaring up a lot of them. I think taking some shots down in the bottom of the zone more often may be part of the way to help him because the foul balls are typically the ones at the top.”

More News 02/24/2020 • by RotoWire Staff is a much wanted man this summer.He only has a year left on his deal at Porto, which means they want to cash in on him before then.A Bola suggests that early talks between the Blues and the Portuguese giants have begun.Telles is also wanted by Juvent 01/27/2020 • by RotoWire Staff 08/27/2019 • by RotoWire Staff zkid James Maddison, according to reports.The attacking midfielder shone in his debut Premier League season after moving from Norwich City last summer.At 22 years of age, Maddison’s potential has got the top clubs vying for his signature.The Independ 07/11/2019 • by RotoWire Staff 07/04/2019 • by RotoWire Staff 07/01/2019 • by RotoWire Staff

g the rewards after years of hard-work after his i

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The kept catcher out of the lineup for the second consecutive day Monday in Atlanta. Doumit is a little banged up at home plate Saturday, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Doumit, who doesn’t like to acknowledge pain, is a “little sore.” He can be considered day-to-day for now. Doumit has gone 13 for 51 (.255) in May thus far over 14 games with three homers and 10 RBI.

More News 06/29/2014 • by Chris Towers istian Pulisic to fight for his place.Some in the USA have accused the Chelsea boss of favouritism because he is picking young English players ahead of the big-money signing from Pennsylvania.But Lampard said: “This is one of my difficult problems Burnley defender Ben Gibson is set to leave Turf Moor.The Northern Echo says Leeds United have entered the race to sign Gibson.The Championship club are rivalling Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Norwich and Sheffield United for his services.Former club Middlesbrough could also attempt to hand him a return after he left for the Clarets for £15m. 05/20/2014 • by Igor Mello 03/16/2014 • by Michael Hurcomb y Musonda is still carrying a knee injury.The midfielder had joined Vitesse on a season-long from Chelsea, with last term’s deal plagued by a knee injury.That setback occurred in September last year. In his first game for Vitesse, a friendly against 03/16/2014 • by Michael Hurcomb 03/16/2014 • by Michael Hurcomb 02/15/2014 • by Marty Gitlin