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Fighting

Usyk vs Chisora: Live stream of countdown show on Sky Sports News

Oleksandr Usyk’s heavyweight clash with Derek Chisora is edging closer – and you can watch a live stream of our ‘Countdown Show’ on Sky Sports News.

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The Ukrainian pound-for-pound star battles Chisora on Saturday night at Wembley Arena, live on Sky Sports Box Office, with the winner remaining firmly in contention for a world heavyweight title fight.

Catch up on all the latest news on our ‘Countdown Show’, which will be streamed on the Sky Sports website and app, Sky Sports Boxing Twitter, Sky Sports Boxing YouTube, and Sky Sports Boxing Facebook.

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Chisora took centre stage at Thursday’s press conference as he appealed for a ‘fair referee’ at the weekend, raising concerns that he would be denied the chance to engage Usyk in a brutal battle.

“I need a fair referee, and fair judges, that’s all I’m asking,” he said.

“They took points off me and I thought I was behind and I lost my shape, and my fight. Just be fair.

“I don’t want to be dancing in the ring, like wrestling, I want both of us to work. I want the fans to enjoy this fight, that’s what I want.

“I have to just keep moving my head, keeping my hands up, and just keep marching forward. He will try to wrong-foot me, as all southpaws do, but we’re ready for that. It’s going to be a big surprise when we’re in the ring.”

Watch Usyk vs Chisora on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 6pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren’t a Sky TV subscriber, you can book and watch it here.

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MLB

Source: Pats’ Edelman out after knee procedure

  • Covered Patriots since 1997
  • Joined ESPN in 2009

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman underwent a precautionary standard knee procedure Thursday morning, a source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and is expected to miss Sunday’s road game against the Buffalo Bills.

The Patriots are practicing in the rain Thursday and Edelman is not on the field with his teammates. He practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.

Edelman has been limited all season due to his knee, and a source tells ESPN he is expected to be sidelined for “some period of time.” He leads the team with 21 receptions for 315 yards.

The Patriots could also be without receiver N’Keal Harry on Sunday, as he remains sidelined due to a concussion. That would leave the Patriots with just Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski at receiver, likely leading to the team promoting someone from the practice squad.

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Golf

New Zealand Open cancelled over coronavirus uncertainty

Organisers of next year’s New Zealand Open have cancelled the event because of uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament was scheduled to be held on two courses in the South Island town of Queenstown in February.

“We are extremely disappointed to have had to come to this decision,” organising committee chairman John Hart said in a statement on Thursday.

  • The Masters: Who is in the field?
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  • LISTEN: Sky Sports Golf podcast

“But the effects of the pandemic, borders being closed, and the financial risk associated with a potential later cancellation due to any further Covid-19 outbreaks means we have no other alternative other than to cancel this event now.”

Hart said they had expected up to 300 people from overseas to attend the tournament.

New Zealand has closed its borders to anyone but returning citizens or permanent residents and while overseas visitors can apply for an exemption, they must meet stringent conditions and are rarely granted.

All arrivals must also still undergo 14-days isolation with short-term visitors charged for their stay in government-run facilities.

The cancellation of the New Zealand Open follows that of Australia’s four major golf tournaments, all of which were also scheduled for February.

Gleneagles to host 2022 Senior Open

Gleneagles has been announced as the venue for The Senior Open presented by Rolex in 2022, the first time the Scottish course has hosted a senior major.

Gleneagles hosted Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at 2014 and Europe’s dramatic Solheim Cup success in 2019, with the iconic venue also previously playing host to 26 European Tour events since 1974.

The event will be one of three majors in Scotland that summer, with The 150th Open scheduled to be held at St Andrews a week earlier and the AIG Women’s Open that year taking place at Muirfield.

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Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director – Championships at The R&A, said: “This is another great ‘first’ in the history of The Senior Open and we could not be more thrilled to be staging the championship on The King’s Course at Gleneagles.

“With such a strong pedigree in hosting championships, The King’s is a fine test of golf and we know the players will relish the opportunity to play there.

“Adding another renowned venue to the roster is a clear indication of the continuing development of The Senior Open and I’m sure there will be a real sense of anticipation among the players and fans for our first visit to Gleneagles in two years’ time.”

Sunningdale Golf Club hosts the 2021 contest, a year on from the Championship being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the 35th edition then taking place on the King’s Course at Gleneagles from July 21-24, 2022.

LISTEN: Sky Sports Golf podcast

Ross McGowan’s Italian Open success, Bryson DeChambeau’s added distance and golf’s accessibility issues all feature in the latest Sky Sports Golf podcast.

McGowan joins Mark Roe, Zane Scotland and host Josh Antmann to reflect on his one-shot victory in Italy and discuss how he celebrated ending an 11-year winless run on the European Tour.

The 38-year-old goes through the key shots from his final round at Chervo Golf Club and talks about some of the tougher times he has experienced in his career before his return to the winner’s circle.

The rest of the panel look back at Patrick Cantlay’s win at the Zozo Championship and throw plenty of praise in the direction on Bianca Pagdanganan, who impressed during the LPGA Drive On Championship.

Listen or subscribe on:

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The guests look at DeChambeau’s social media post of him hitting a 403-yard carry and try to work out how his added distance could benefit him at the Masters next month, with plenty of debate about what can be done to limit the increasing hitting distances within the sport.

Scotland opens up about his experiences of discrimination in golf and offers plenty of solutions and ideas on how to make the game accessible for everybody, while the guests also offer their predictions for this week’s Cyprus Open and Bermuda Championship.

Download and listen to the latest Sky Sports Golf podcast and don’t forget to subscribe via Spotify or Apple Podcasts!

The Vodcast version is out now on Sky Sports On Demand, with the show also on Sky Sports Golf this Wednesday from 7pm and 10pm.

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Categories
Rugby

Alun Wyn Jones: Warren Gatland says age won’t harm lock’s British and Irish Lions captaincy chances

Warren Gatland insists age will have no impact on Alun Wyn Jones’ British and Irish Lions prospects as the race to lead next year’s tour to South Africa begins on Saturday.

Jones will become the sport’s capped player when he leads Wales in the final round of the Six Nations against Scotland, eclipsing Richie McCaw’s record of 148 Test appearances.

The 35-year-old lock is a frontrunner alongside Maro Itoje to skipper the Lions next year and Gatland insists Jones still has plenty to offer.

  • Warburton, O’Connell back Itoje for Lions captaincy
  • Gatland urges Premiership to release players

“Age is no limit because the thing is when you look at a Lions squad you’re not thinking about the future,” said Gatland.

“You’re not thinking about four years’ time, you’re just thinking about the here and now. You’re not developing a team for a World Cup.”So it’s about picking the best players and if his form is good enough. One of the things about Alun Wyn is that he’s incredibly honest about his own performance.

“He manages himself more as he’s got older – he wasn’t the best at it when he was younger because he was fresh every day and didn’t know when he was sore or tired.

“He’s done a great job, he leads from the front, he’s incredibly honest.”

Almost a decade younger and operating in the same position, Itoje is hoping to advance an early claim when England clash with Italy in Rome on Saturday.

“When Maro first burst on to the scene he was into everything and he was probably overplaying and using up energy that he didn’t need to be, hitting rucks that were lost causes and those sorts of things,” said Gatland.

“He has matured as a player. He’s a very articulate young man, carries himself extremely well, he’s proud of his roots and his upbringing and what he has achieved.

“He’s one of many who could potentially be a candidate but the bottom line is stay injury free and make sure your form is good enough – that’s the message.

“I want to reiterate that in a position with so much strength in depth you want to make sure that person is hopefully a player who you are confident that their form is hopefully going to be good enough to get a starting position.”

Warburton, O’Connell back Itoje to captain Lions

Former captains Sam Warburton and Paul O’Connell have backed Maro Itoje to lead the British and Irish Lions in South Africa next summer.

Itoje was one of the standout performers during the Lions’ drawn series with New Zealand in 2017 and remains in a rich vein of form for both Saracens and England.

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“Every game I see him play, he’s up for man of the match,” said Warburton, who skippered the Lions during the 2013 and 2017 tours.

“I spent two months with him on tour three years ago. I remember looking at him in training and thinking, ‘that guy can be captain on the next tour’. He strikes me as a very good leader as well.”

O’Connell was captain when the Lions last toured South Africa in 2009, losing a memorable series 2-1, and he expects Warren Gatland to again opt for a forward as captain.

“It probably hints towards Itoje,” said O’Connell. “That’s where the Lions have gone in the last few tours and it has been successful.

The British & Irish Lions’ three-Test series against South Africa, plus five warm-up matches, will be shown exclusively live on Sky Sports from July 3 to August 7 2021

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Basketball

Sources: NBA revenue dropped 10% to $8.3B

  • Host of The Woj Pod
  • Joined ESPN in 2017

    Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) is a senior writer for ESPN Digital and Print.

The NBA’s revenues dropped 10% to $8.3 billion for the 2019-20 season amid losses due to the pandemic, according to financial numbers shared with teams and obtained by ESPN.

The balance of the finances included an $800 million loss in gate receipts and a $400 million loss in sponsorships and merchandise, sources said.

The NBA’s losses included $200 million in deemed “net negative impact” from a months-long splintering of a partnership with China in the aftermath of the Daryl Morey tweet promoting Hong Kong freedom a year ago, sources said.

As the NBA and National Basketball Players Association discuss start dates and financial amendments to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the potential for a grim financial landscape without fans in the 2020-21 season looms over the league.

The 2019-20 season losses are slight in comparison to what awaits the NBA in 2020-21 if the season advances without fans and accompanying gate-night receipts, the league told teams — a projected 40% loss in overall revenue, or approximately $4 billion.

Talks about the salary cap and luxury tax levels for next season remain at the core of talks between the NBA and the NBPA. Had the league and players union followed the normal formula to determine this season’s salary cap — linking it to overall league revenue — sources told ESPN that it would have fallen to around $90 million — down from about $109 million in 2019-20.

Dropping to that level would have put almost every team into severe luxury tax territory, and it would have left very little available money for this offseason’s free agents.

The league and union are negotiating methods of artificially inflating the 2020-21 salary cap to keep it around $109 million, sources told ESPN. Those talks have centered around placing a larger percentage of each player’s salary into an escrow fund. If at the end of the season total player salaries exceed their mandated share of overall basketball-related income — about 50% — some or even all of that escrow money will go to teams.

The union is having its own internal discussion with its membership about what kind of escrow system is most fair to the full body of players. Taking a steep percentage this season — and returning to the normal 10% escrow system in 2021-22 — could disadvantage one subset of players compared to spreading the hit over multiple years.

For its part, the league is anticipating a revenue rebound in 2021-22 at the earliest. In inflating the cap in the interim, league officials and team governors are hoping to avoid a repeat of the salary cap spike of 2016, when a $20 million-plus leap in the cap enabled the Golden State Warriors to sign Kevin Durant away from the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency.

The NBA bubble in Orlando recouped $1.5 billion in revenue that would’ve been lost without restarting the season, sources said. Expenses for the bubble were $190 million — $10 million more than originally estimated, sources said.

The NBA is open to the idea of regional pods and intra-conference scheduling to lessen team travel and exposure to the coronavirus, sources said. The NBA hopes that it can play games with fans in home arenas in 2020-2021, but it has also been exploring the possibility of modeling a bubble environment similar to what Major League Baseball used to finish the season’s playoffs, sources said.

The NBA is pushing to reach an agreement with the National Basketball Players Association for a Dec. 22 start to the season and a 72-game regular season — with a play-in tournament for the playoffs — that would allow the league to finish its season prior to the Tokyo Olympics on July 23, sources said.

Another alternative — less palpable to the league — is starting the season around the Martin Luther King holiday in mid-January, which would push the completion of the season into mid-September — causing the NBA playoffs to compete on television with the Summer Olympics and the start of NFL and college football season.

The NBA is anxious to get its calendar back on track for the start of the 2021-22 season to be delayed, and a September finish to next season would make that impossible.

The NBA is considering releasing the schedule in halves to increase flexibility, allowing for postponements that are likely inevitable with coronavirus outbreaks. The NBA doubts an All-Game and All-Star Weekend — set for Indianapolis in February — makes sense and may use an extended mid-season break to offer rest for players, or to make-up games that might be lost due to the virus.

ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks contributed to this report.

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MLB

Cowboys DC feels heat after hot sauce mishap

  • Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003
  • Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins
  • Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children

FRISCO, Texas — When the Dallas Cowboys practice Wednesday, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan might be on the injury report. The reason? Tabasco.

Nolan had to step away from his weekly conference call with reporters on Monday because he got some hot sauce in his eye in the middle of answering a question about the effectiveness of pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence.

“He’s been active every week as far as, I think, disrupting the quarterback. He’s escaped several times to do that,” Nolan said. “Obviously, the frustration for him as well is — look, it’s when he misses them. Whoop, excuse me. I’ve got something in my eye. Just had some Tabasco on my finger, and it went in my eye. That wasn’t good. Ugh. Terrible, geez. I’m sorry.”

It has been that kind of season for Nolan.

The Cowboys are on pace to allow 555 points this season. They have given up 243 points so far, which is more than they have given up in 11 seasons in franchise history, not counting the strike season in 1982, and equal to what they allowed in 1992.

Nolan was able to clean out his eye and return to the news conference.

“My eye feels a lot better,” he said, “but it was burning.”

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Rugby

Jamie Shaul to be offered new contract by Hull despite serious knee injury

Hull say they will honour their offer of a new contract to full-back Jamie Shaul after he was ruled out for a lengthy spell with a major knee injury.

The Black and Whites confirmed the 28-year-old, who has scored 100 tries in 176 games for his hometown club, ruptured his ACL during last week’s 48-6 Super League victory over Castleford and will undergo surgery in the coming weeks.

Shaul, who will miss the rest of the 2020 season and could be out for much of next year’s campaign, was out of contract at the end of the season but Hull had already made him a new offer.

Come back stronger, Shauly! 💪❤️ pic.twitter.com/734PI81XD9

Hull interim head coach Andy Last said: “We are all really disappointed with the news, none more so than Jamie, but as a club we will ensure he gets the support and medical care he needs to help him through this period.

“I’m really pleased for him that the club have stood by their offer which will give him some peace of mind and security, which will enable him to focus fully on his recovery.”

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MLB

Wilson says ‘I have to be better’ after 3-INT night

Entering Sunday night, Russell Wilson hadn’t thrown multiple interceptions in a regular-season game since the 2018 opener. Only three times in his nine-year career had he thrown more than two.

His uncharacteristic performance led to an uncharacteristic postgame news conference after the Seattle Seahawks’ 37-34 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Wilson is rarely as down on himself as he was after the Cardinals picked him off three times, the last of which set up their game-winning field goal in the extra period.

“I thought we played a great game except for those three plays, honestly,” Wilson said. “Those are my fault. There’s so much that we can do, and we have so much confidence. Our confidence is not going to waiver. They’re a great football team, too. We knew it was going to be a battle. It always is down here and whenever we play. So nothing really changes except for the fact that we just have to tighten up some things. I have to be better, which I’m looking forward to.”

The clear front-runner for MVP through the Seahawks’ (5-1) first five games, Wilson had some brilliant moments Sunday while completing 33 of 50 attempts for 388 yards and three touchdowns. He also led Seattle with 84 rushing yards on six attempts.

Wilson’s three touchdowns give him 22 on the season, tying Peyton Manning’s record from 2013 for the most in NFL history through a team’s first six games.

All three TDs were to Tyler Lockett. The second, a 47-yarder in the second quarter, was another display of Wilson’s deep-ball proficiency. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, it had an air distance of 58.8 yards, and Lockett had 0.73 yards of separation when he caught it, making it the longest tight-window touchdown pass (less than 1 yard of separation) in the NFL the past two seasons.

Wilson’s third touchdown pass to Lockett gave the Seahawks a 34-24 lead with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter. But they couldn’t convert on a third-and-2 Carlos Hyde run after Arizona scored a touchdown on its ensuring possession. Seattle punted on its first OT possession after nearly reaching midfield, then had a game-winning touchdown pass to DK Metcalf negated by a penalty one play before Wilson’s third interception.

“We had some mistakes as a team, and just you can’t have those mistakes in close matchups like this,” Wilson said. “We had the lead and kinda lost it there in terms of just not staying on schedule, especially for us on offense. We had an opportunity to close out the game really kind of twice, and we just didn’t do our job as a team. So it’s a team effort, and it starts with me. I look at me first. I’ve got to be better, and I’m looking forward to being better.”

Of his first interception, Wilson said he was trying to zip a pass to Chris Carson, but the defensive end affected the trajectory of his throw. Metcalf saved a touchdown by chasing down Budda Baker in what Wilson called “one of the most remarkable plays I’ve ever seen.”

“Just the play, the effort by DK … I really respect him for that,” Wilson said.

Of his final interception, Wilson said he thought he had an angle to fit a quick throw to Lockett with a blitz coming.

The second interception, Wilson said, was the result of miscommunication with Metcalf, who broke off his route in the end zone.

“We do such a good job in those scramble situations, and I thought he was spinning out to go deep, and as soon as I threw it, he stopped on a dime,” Wilson said. “That’s just timing, and Patrick [Peterson] made a good play. But we’re confident in those. I don’t think you can be frustrated about those because we’ve made so many of those great plays in moments like that. That was just an unfortunate play, and that was on me.”

Lockett tied Steve Largent’s franchise record with 15 catches and became the only receiver in franchise history other than Largent with 200 receiving yards in a game. He finished with 200 even.

“We can always help him out more,” Lockett said of Wilson. “We can always get open more. We can always make those blocks more to move the chains more. It’s not on him. It’s on all of us. We put ourselves in a hole, and like I said, we could have won this game. We could have won this game at the fourth quarter if we got the third down. We wouldn’t have even had to go to overtime. But these are learning experiences, and it might turn out to be one of the best things to happen to us if you really think about it. We could have been 6-0, or we could have been 5-1, and sometimes you’ve got to have a wake-up call.”

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MLB

Reports: Wisconsin’s Mertz tests positive for virus

  • College football reporter.
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
  • Graduate of Northwestern University.

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz, who had a record-setting first career start Friday, tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, according to the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Both newspapers reported Sunday, citing sources, that Mertz had an antigen test come back positive. Mertz will take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result. If confirmed, Mertz would have to miss a minimum of 21 days, according to the Big Ten’s protocols for athletes who test positive.

Team officials did not immediately confirm the reports. Coach Paul Chryst is scheduled to speak with reporters Monday morning. A source told the Journal Sentinel that Wisconsin has had several false positives since beginning daily antigen testing last month.

Mertz, a redshirt freshman, was virtually flawless Friday in a 45-7 win over Illinois. He completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns. He set team records for single-game completion percentage (95.2) and touchdown passes. Mertz completed his first 17 pass attempts, matching a team record for consecutive completions.

No. 9 Wisconsin is scheduled to visit Nebraska this week, followed by games against Purdue (home) and No. 13 Michigan (road).

Mertz moved into the starting role after senior Jack Coan suffered a foot injury in preseason camp and underwent surgery Oct. 21. Coan, who started 18 games the past two seasons, is out indefinitely. Mertz, a native of Overland Park, Kansas, is considered the top quarterback recruit in Wisconsin history. ESPN rated him as the top pocket passer and No. 21 overall player in the 2019 recruiting class.

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MLB

Mayfield outduels Burrow as Browns nip Bengals

  • Covers the Big 12
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2011
  • Graduate of Washington & Lee University

Baker Mayfield’s first quarter Sunday against Cincinnati couldn’t have gone any worse.

But from then on, the Cleveland Browns quarterback was perfect.

Literally.

Mayfield rebounded from a 0-of-5 start, including an interception on his first throw, to break a franchise record with 21 consecutive completions, propelling Cleveland to a thrilling 37-34 comeback victory over the Bengals.

Mayfield finished 22-of-28 passing with 297 yards and five touchdowns, with three coming in a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter.

His final touchdown was a game-winning 24-yard strike to rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones with just 15 seconds remaining. His only incompletion after the first quarter was a spike to stop the clock on the final drive.

Mayfield passed Bernie Kosar (1989) and Kelly Holcomb (2003), who previously shared the Browns’ record with 16 straight completions. No other Cleveland quarterback in the past 30 seasons had tossed three touchdowns in a fourth quarter, either, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and none since Derek Anderson in 2007 had thrown five in a game.

Mayfield outdueled Cincinnati rookie quarterback Joe Burrow in a shootout of former Heisman Trophy winners and No. 1 overall picks.

Burrow completed 35 of 47 passes for 406 yards, the first 400-yard passing game of his pro career. Despite losing three starting offensive linemen to injury during the game, Burrow also threw three touchdowns and rushed for another. On fourth-and-1, he connected on a 3-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to running back Giovani Bernard with just over a minute to play, which set up Mayfield’s late-game heroics.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first game in NFL history with five go-ahead touchdown passes in a fourth quarter.

ESPN’s Ben Baby contributed to this report.

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