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Anthony Joshua’s title defence against Kubrat Pulev could be behind closed doors

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Anthony Joshua’s title defence against Kubrat Pulev could be behind closed doors

Anthony Joshua’s next fight could take place behind closed doors as the world heavyweight champion’s promoter Eddie Hearn said: “You can’t afford to sit and wait for what might be.”

Joshua, who drew in the biggest post-war British boxing crowd of 90,000 for his win over Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley three years ago, had been due to face Kubrat Pulev in June at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

That plan was scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic and it is understood December 12 at the O2 Arena has been pencilled in for Joshua to defend his WBA, IBF and WBO titles against his mandatory challenger.

Anthony Joshua, left, last fought nine months ago when he beat Andy Ruiz Jr in their rematch (Nick Potts/PA)

The ongoing public health crisis and a national spike in cases recently means the government’s initial plan to gradually allow spectators to return to sporting events from October 1 is currently under review.

However, as Joshua’s most recent fight was last December, when he regained his world titles by avenging his defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in their rematch in Saudi Arabia, it seems his date with Pulev will not be postponed again.

“Anthony hasn’t boxed for a year and the ultimate thing is he needs to progress his career,” Hearn told BBC Radio 5 Live. “He wants to learn, he wants to fight, he wants to be active and we live in a world now where you can’t wait.

“You’ve got two options: you either sit and wait – and that includes Anthony Joshua – maybe until next year, or you get out there and you fight, you earn your money, you learn your craft and you continue to battle through it.

Eddie Hearn would be reluctant to postpone Joshua-Pulev again (Nick Potts/PA)

“We hope that there is some sunshine over the hill with this whole nightmare.

“We are not prepared to sit tight and wait and we have said in these schedules, fans or no fans, our fights will be taking place.

“If you’re a business, if you’re a sport, you can’t afford to sit and wait for what might be.”

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Djokovic braced for unhappy Nadal and Roland Garros demons

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Djokovic braced for unhappy Nadal and Roland Garros demons

Novak Djokovic will renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown.

The only man to beat Djokovic in 2020 is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open.

The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome.

Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to become only the third man after Don Budge and Rod Laver to hold all four Grand Slams at the same time.

Not even Nadal, the holder of 19 majors, or Roger Federer, with a record 20 Slams, can match that staggering achievement.

Federer will miss the French Open as he rehabs his injured knee while Nadal has played just three matches since February, a ring-rustiness evident in his quarter-final exit in Rome.

However, Djokovic refused to get carried away by his chances at Roland Garros ahead of Sunday’s start in a wet and chilly Paris.

“It’s Nadal,” insisted the world number one when pushed on who is the favourite. “You just can’t put anybody in front of him.”

Djokovic is right to be cautious after experiencing numerous low points on the red clay of Paris.

In the 2012 final against Nadal, having won eight games in a row, he was up a break and pushing to level the match at two sets apiece when rain brought an overnight suspension.

Play resumed the following day but Djokovic’s momentum was lost and a double-fault on championship point completed his misery.

Twelve months later, Djokovic was poised for a semi-final win over Nadal with just a routine putaway required to help give him a 5-3 final set lead and a chance to serve for the match.

However, he chose a smash rather than a soothing touch. He tumbled into the net, losing the point and Nadal pounced to eventually take the tie after four hours and 37 minutes.

In 2018, he lost a quarter-final to world number 72 Marco Cecchinato while last year he was beaten in the semi-finals by Dominic Thiem.

That match took two days to complete, featured numerous rain stoppages and winds so strong that a courtside umbrella was sent flying across court.

– ‘Ball is dangerous’ –

Djokovic will start his tournament against Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, the world number 80.

Nadal, who skipped the defence of his US Open title due to fears over coronavirus, eyes a 13th French Open.

Since his title-winning debut in 2005, the Spaniard has only lost twice at Roland Garros in 95 matches – to Robin Soderling in 2009 and Djokovic in 2015.

The 34-year-old may appear to be under-cooked after his last-eight exit in Rome to Diego Schwartzman.

However, the last time he suffered such an early departure from the Italian capital was in 2017 — just weeks later he was lifting a 10th French Open without dropping a set.

Nadal cut an unsettled figure at a pre-tournament press conference on Friday where he admitted the cold and damp conditions forced him to face his “most difficult ever Roland Garros”.

He is also unhappy about using a new brand of ball.

“For the health of the players, the ball is super heavy and becomes dangerous for the elbow and for the shoulders,” he said.

Nadal begins his campaign against Egor Gerasimov, the 83rd-ranked Belarusian.

The unusual sight of Roland Garros being played in the autumn also means radically different conditions to those expected in its normal time slot of May and June.

– Murray v Wawrinka first round –

That could suit newly-crowned US Open winner Thiem who has lost the last two finals to Nadal in Paris.

The world number three Austrian has 17 career titles with 10 of those on clay.

Four of his five wins over Nadal have come on clay with three of four victories against Djokovic carved out on the sport’s most testing surface.

This year, Thiem will be in the same half of the draw as Nadal and starts against Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open winner and a former world number three.

World number five Daniil Medvedev has yet to win a match at the tournament in three visits while sixth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas made the last 16 in 2019, losing a five-set marathon to 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka.

Wawrinka faces fellow three-time major winner Andy Murray in the first round on Sunday in a rematch of their 2017 semi-final epic, a tie which Murray described as the clash which “ended his hip”.

dj/iwd

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Giants power past Padres for key win in doubleheader Game 1

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Giants power past Padres for key win in doubleheader Game 1

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Diego pitcher Chris Paddack expected the San Francisco Giants to swing for the fences with their playoff hopes at stake.

That’s exactly what happened.

Wilmer Flores hit a go-ahead homer in the fourth, Mike Yastrzemski returned from an injury to splash a two-run shot into McCovey Cove the same inning and the Giants beat the Padres 5-4 in the first game of a doubleheader Friday for a key victory in a crowded NL playoff race.

”A hungry team that’s trying to continue to make a little playoff run, I knew they were going to come into this game aggressive with a good game plan,” Paddack said.

The Padres clinched home-field advantage for the wild-card round next week with the Cardinals’ loss to Milwaukee in the first game of a doubleheader. San Diego secured the National League’s No. 4 seed headed to its first postseason in 14 years.

The Giants (29-28) bounced back – barely – after missing a key chance losing in 11 innings to Colorado on Thursday. Wild card-leading Cincinnati began the day 29-28 and was playing a night game at Minnesota.

Tyler Anderson (4-3) allowed five hits over six solid innings, striking out four and overcoming four walks. Tony Watson gave up an RBI single to Fernando Tatis Jr. in the seventh and made a throwing error past first baseman Brandon Belt for another run before Eric Hosmer’s sacrifice fly.

The Padres were to be the home team in the second game, which is the makeup of a postponement in San Diego on Sept. 12 after Giants outfielder Alex Dickerson received a false positive COVID-19 test result.

Yastrzemski hit his second career splash hit homer in the bay, also doing so July 29 against the Padres.

Tommy Pham hit an RBI double in the second before Brandon Crawford’s homer off Paddack (4-5) tied it in the bottom half.

Paddack was done after 3 2/3 innings and three home runs among his eight hits surrendered. He seems unconcerned about finding himself for the playoffs.

”We feel like he’s right there and really close,” manager Jayce Tingler said. ”I’m sure he’s frustrated because he hasn’t been able to grab the traction he wanted being able to stack a couple good wins back to back.”

San Diego (34-23) is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when the Padres lost in the division series for a second straight year.

REFRESHED FERNANDO

Tatis expressed feeling refreshed and well rested after he had a break Wednesday in the series finale against the Angels at Petco Park then a day off Thursday.

He went 1 for 4. Tatis is 5 for his last 31 the past seven games and 6 of 41 spanning the last nine.

”Just resting, seeing the game from a different side, seeing if I could learn some stuff … just enjoy the day off,” he said.

His father offered some encouragement.

”Right now it’s just trust it, when this game attacks this way sometimes players lose confidence,” he said. ”This game is hard for everybody.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Padres: RHP Mike Clevinger received a cortisone shot Friday for his troublesome elbow. General manager A.J. Preller said the Padres have not ruled out Clevinger making a start in the wild-card round next week. Clevinger left his start Wednesday after just one inning against the Angels. Tests showed he has a right posterior elbow impingement. ”I think we got really good news,” Preller said. Clevinger is expected to rest for 48 hours and then attempt to play catch. He was obtained in a blockbuster trade with Cleveland on Aug. 31. With questions around Clevinger, RHP Dinelson Lamet and RHP Zach Davies would be San Diego’s likely 1-2 playoff pitchers.

Giants: OF Yastrzemski, who had missed seven straight starts and six games with a mild right calf strain, returned to start the opener and the hope was he would play Game 2, manager Gabe Kapler said.

UP NEXT

RHP Jeff Samardzija comes off the injured list from a lengthy shoulder injury and rehab to pitch the second game as the 29th player for the doubleheader. He is 0-2 making just three starts this season and hasn’t pitched since Aug. 7.

”This is an opportunity he has been asking for, been pushing for,” Kapler said.

Lamet (3-1, 2.07 ERA) takes the mound for the Padres in the nightcap trying to win a second straight decision. He is 1-1 over his last seven outings.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Paul Pierce Says Players Today are Scared of LeBron James

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Paul Pierce Says Players Today are Scared of LeBron James

Paul Pierce is catching some slack on social media for saying that the current generation of NBA players are afraid of LeBron James, while his generation wasn’t.

“Players today are scared of LeBron,” Pierce said. “If they see LeBron standing in front of them, fear shakes in them. I know this. My era is out the league, we weren’t afraid of LeBron. But these guys today, he strikes fear into these guys.”

This is just the latest installment in Paul Pierce commentary around LeBron, a player who he has historically struggled playing against in the latter half of his career when James neared his prime in Miami. Fans were sure to point this out as well. Check out some of the jokes they cracked down below.

 

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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