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It’s hard to imagine there will be a more interested spectator in Saturday’s welterweight title pay-per-view bout between unified champion Errol Spence Jr. and former two-division champion Danny Garcia than a man who has shared the ring with both and could be in line to face the winner.

In addition to being a two-time welterweight champion, Shawn Porter (31-3-1) has also evolved into an accomplished broadcaster and will be on the call at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, when the two men he split disputed decisions against square off (Fox PPV, 9 p.m. ET) for the IBF and WBC titles. 

“The biggest headline is who are we going to see in Errol Spence Jr. on Saturday night,” Porter told “Morning Kombat” on Wednesday in reference to a scary car crash last October that Spence was lucky to survive. But Porter then echoed a statement just as important when he said, “And I think the headline right behind that is what is Danny Garcia going to do about it?”

Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs) will be a small, but firm betting underdog despite the fact that his only two pro defeats — to Keith Thurman in 2017 and Porter in 2018 — came in fights that some felt the 32-year-old had done enough to win. 

It goes without saying Garcia is talented and dangerous enough to give Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) trouble should the 30-year old show any lingering rust that comes from a 14-month layoff or any physical or mental side effects from being ejected from his vehicle after flipping his car at high speeds. The real question comes down to whether Garcia can make the proper adjustments to beat the very best of Spence. 

Although Porter, 32, came up just short in a split-decision loss to Spence last September, he succeeded in luring Spence into an all-action track meet and believes Garcia, despite being a completely different fighter than him, will need to do portions of the same. 

“The way I put it is simply this: Danny Garcia [needs to] start fast, don’t allow Errol Spence to figure out who he is [and] don’t allow Errol Spence to think he can show us who he is,” Porter said. “That’s the mindset I think he needs to have that he’s going to take control.”

Porter credited Garcia’s underrated body punching attack and his ability, as a heavy counter puncher, to potentially alter the fight with one punch given his two-fisted power. But Garcia’s power never became much of a factor when Porter used frenetic movement to disarm him in 2018 and he believes Garcia will need to be much more active to defeat Spence. 

“It’s just a conscious decision to be more aggressive that he and his dad [trainer Angel Garcia] have to make and have to learn from,” Porter said. “They lost those fights that were close because they didn’t do enough. They have to do more. If you aren’t smart enough to go back and make those adjustments, then maybe you aren’t as elite as you say you are.” 

Porter pointed to Garcia’s short and violent knockout of rugged journeyman Adrian Granados in 2019 as an example of DSG stepping on the gas more with pressure to apply his signature power. Granados had previously gone the distance with a number of top fighters, including Porter.

Garcia has, at times, believed too much in his power and waited too long to use it, according to Porter, with the reason being that Garcia lacks an elite skill when facing top competition.

“I think Danny’s biggest detriments in this fight and his career when he gets up against guys like myself, Keith Thurman and now Errol Spence Jr. is the fact that he does have slow feet,” Porter said. “In the welterweight division, we have speed and power. You have to be able to get in and get out and set those traps. When you are a literal step behind from the guy across from you, you may very well lose the fight. 

“He has those [power shots] in his back pocket and I’m going to believe in that punch until maybe 8 or 9 rounds in. I think after that, it will be too late for that type of fight.”

Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news.

It’s clear that if all things are equal and Spence is the same fighter following the accident that Porter agrees with oddsmakers in making him the favorite. But Porter did take umbrage with the way Spence has framed their 2019 bout, even going as far as telling “Morning Kombat” last week that he only engaged in a war with Porter because he decided to.

“He has publicly said he didn’t listen to his corner and that’s a mistake he will never make again, but this is the first time someone controlled him,” Porter said. “I made him fight when he didn’t want to fight and then there were times when I moved and counter punched him when he expected me to stay on him. I really controlled him in that fight and I forced him to fight the fighting styles that I wanted him to fight. 

“There were moments he had me up against the ropes and I switched him and put him on the ropes. Those aren’t things that he is used to having happen to him. I think I took him through some things he had never been through in the ring and I think he learned from it.”

Although Garcia is more well-known as a one-punch finisher thanks to his trademark “no look” left hook, Porter believes that Spence is the bigger puncher overall, which was evidenced by the knockdown that came when Spence forced Porter to touch his glove to the canvas to prevent himself from falling. 

“The thing about boxing and what makes it exciting is that any one punch can turn the tables and it can for Danny Garcia,” Porter said. “We can’t ignore that Errol Spence Jr. is coming off of a scary accident and we don’t know what he can hold up to. This fight is more interesting than a lot of people think it is. 

“That accident made him better in terms of who he is as a person but what I’m hoping is that his body hasn’t had to suffer because of it and the intangibles you take into the ring that people can’t see. I hope none of that follows him into the ring.”



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Browns’ Garrett wants to ‘leave an impression’ on Chiefs’ Mahomes

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CLEVELAND — Myles Garrett has only respect for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, a generational talent on another level from other players in the NFL.

Reverence aside, Garrett hopes to make Mahomes remember meeting him in the playoffs.

Forever.

“I want him to be able to go home when he has his kid or kids and tell them that he went against Myles Garrett,” the Browns‘ star defensive end said Friday after he and his teammates had their last full practice before facing top-seeded Kansas City in Sunday’s divisional playoff game.

”It is not just me versus him — it is the Browns versus the Chiefs,” Garrett said. “But individually, I like to leave an impression on everybody I go against.”

Garrett’s ready to take on the Super Bowl champions, and he believes the Browns (12-5) are as well.

Cleveland’s not being given much of a chance at Arrowhead Stadium, but that was the case a week ago when the Browns went into Heinz Field as underdogs and stunned the Steelers despite missing their coach and two top players because of COVID-19.

The Browns are healthier, and Garrett insists hungrier. Satisfaction hasn’t been attained.

“You have to prove what you are worth day in and day out,” Garett said. “Every time those lights are on and we are on the field, we have to show that we are a great team. Here is another opportunity to show that.”

It’s a monumental task for the Browns, who will be facing an offense with no weaknesses and a quarterback capable of turning the mundane into magical.

There is no one like Mahomes, who has 38 TD passes this season and can lean on playoff experience Garrett and the Browns lack.

“He is kind of regarded as the face of the league right now,” Garrett said.

Since coming back after missing two games with COVID-19, Garrett has played well but isn’t delivering the same game-swinging plays he did earlier this season, when strip-sacks and fumble recoveries were common place for the All-Pro.

Garrett’s been close. He wants to be closer this week against Mahomes.

“I’m due,” Garrett said.

Is now the time?

“Absolutely. This should be the game to do it,” said Garrett. “One of the best teams in the league, if not the best team in the league, but they have to go in there and they have to prove it, and we have to prove that we can battle with anybody.”

Garrett has done plenty of studying on Mahomes, and knows the Browns can’t take a play off. None.

The key to stopping the Chiefs is forcing mistakes, and Mahomes rarely makes any.

“The guy is great with his feet and he is great throwing off of the run,” Garrett said. “He can make plays in any part of the field so we have to be prepared for that. Do not jump for those ball fakes. If you take your shot at him, make it clean and try to take the ball away from him.

“The best place to be on the field with Patrick is with the ball in our hands instead of him because he is great with it.”

The Browns have gone further than anyone outside the team expected.

Garrett wants to keep going.

“We are here. We might as well be great,” he said. “Nobody is excited about just getting a ticket to the dance. Like I said, you want to dance with the pretty girl. You want to shoot your shot, and the worst she can say is no.

“As long as you go out there and you take your best shot, you will be proud of the result, but we are not satisfied until we see how far we can get.”



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Recent Match Report – Stars vs Strikers 40th Match 2020

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Adam Zampa picked up 5 for 17 in a match totally dominated by Melbourne Stars

Melbourne Stars 2 for 179 (Fletcher 89*, Valente 1-36) beat Adelaide Strikers 68 (Zampa 5-17) by 111 runs

Andre Fletcher has repaid Melbourne Stars’ faith in him with a stunning 89 not out before Adam Zampa claimed 5 for 17 to set up a huge 111-run victory over Adelaide Strikers at the MCG.

The Strikers were bowled out for just 68 chasing 180, their lowest total in BBL history, the third-lowest overall, and it was also the fourth-largest defeat by any team.

Fletcher had not passed 18 in the first nine matches in the tournament but he overcame a lack of strike in the first 10 overs to reach his first half-century in T20 cricket in more than 12 months before destroying the Strikers’ quicks in the Power Surge to set up a match-winning total of 2 for 179.

Fletcher revealed he received a phone call of encouragement from West Indies great Brian Lara a few days earlier, which inspired his innings.

He got good support from Glenn Maxwell (37 off 28) and Hilton Cartwright (30 not out off 17), though Cartwright’s innings possibly cost him a century. The Strikers attack lacked penetration without Rashid Khan and Peter Siddle, although Liam O’Connor and Daniel Worrall bowled tidily.

The Strikers then succumbed to the Stars’ spin trio as they raced through the overs with rain looming on the radar. Maxwell and Zahir Khan set it up in the Powerplay and finished with 4 for 31 from eight overs combined. Zampa then finished the job as the rain began to fall claiming his second T20 five-wicket haul.

Stoinis go-slow

It was a bizarre innings from Marcus Stoinis. He admitted to the media on Thursday that he had been struggling with how to build an innings under the new rules, having at times gone too hard in the four-over Powerplay and he even revealed he forgot about the Power Surge in the last game. Fletcher’s lean tournament has no doubt also played a part in his indecision. Stoinis faced 14 dots in total including 10 in Worrall’s first two overs. He has the confidence he can catch up but he never did, holing out to long-off to a borderline waist-high full toss from Danny Briggs for 13 off 26.

Fletcher faced just 15 balls and reached his highest total of the tournament of 22 while Stoinis was at the crease. Maxwell walked out at No.3 and avoided his third consecutive golden duck, but the Stars crawled to 1 for 57 after 10 overs with O’Connor stepping into Rashid’s enormous shoes and bowling and excellent four-over spell. However, he wasn’t able to take any wickets to expose the Stars’ middle order. Maxwell and Fletcher opted not to take the Power Surge despite both men being set at the start of the 15th over and Maxwell holed out to long-on at an inopportune time.

Spiceman runs hot

Fletcher hadn’t reached fifty in his last 30 T20 innings dating back to his century in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2019. Here, he got to his 50 off 36 balls at the end of the 16th and the relief on his face was palpable. The Stars took the Power Surge and Fletcher filled his boots. He torched Wes Agar and Worrall for four fours and two sixes as both quicks got their lengths horribly wrong delivering a mix of full tosses and length balls. Fletcher delivered a contemptuous no-look strike off Worrall over the long-on off the last ball of the Surge.

He was 82 not out with 12 balls left in the innings but only faced two more. Cartwright made 30 not out off 17 balls with two sixes, two fours, and three twos leaving Fletcher to watch at the other end. Fletcher finally got on strike last ball of the innings and deposited Briggs over the sightscreen. He was emotional as he walked off the ground and received a lengthy embrace from his skipper Maxwell. He later revealed that the emotion was for his late uncle.

Rain rush wrecks Strikers

With rain looming on the radar, Maxwell decided to race through three overs of spin in the Powerplay to get through five overs as quickly as possible. The gamble paid huge dividends as the Strikers slumped to 2 for 10. Alex Carey promoted himself to open with Phil Salt and both men fell cheaply. Salt gloved an attempted reverse sweep off Zahir to the keeper while Carey was clean bowled trying to launch Maxwell over long-on. Maxwell kept the spin attack rolling bowling just two overs of pace in the first 10 as the Stars defended just 57 to claim the Bash Boost point. Matt Renshaw and Jon Wells did not score a boundary off the spinners with Renshaw holing out to Zampa in the 10th over.

Zampa shrugs off shoulder concern

Zampa hurt his shoulder diving in the field and had to spend some time sitting on the dug-out when he wasn’t bowling. But it didn’t affect his legspin as he put on another masterclass. The damage had been done by Maxwell and Zahir but Zampa was still needed to close out the 10th over and secure the Bash Boost point. He was far too good for the Strikers tail claiming four of the last five wickets.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne

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Kaprizov’s OT winner lifts Wild past Kings in season opener

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LOS ANGELES — Kirill Kaprizov scored his first NHL goal with 1:13 remaining in overtime and finished with three points as the Minnesota Wild rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.

The 23-year-old Russian scored on a breakaway, putting the puck past Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. Kaprizov, who is the third Russian-born player to make his NHL debut with the Wild, also had a pair of assists. He was a fifth-round selection by Minnesota in 2015 before signing a two-year, entry-level contract last summer.

Minnesota trailed 3-1 after two periods before rallying. Jonas Brodin, Victor Rask and Marcus Foligno also scored for the Wild. Cam Talbot made 32 saves in his Minnesota debut.

Dustin Brown scored his 300th goal, Jeff Carter had a goal and an assist and Andreas Athanasiou also scored for Los Angeles. Quick stopped 23 shots.

Brown got his milestone goal with 2:55 remaining in the second on the power play with a wrap-around that put the Kings in front by two goals.

The Kings, who were one of seven teams that missed the playoffs, were playing their first game since March 11. They were the league’s hottest team with seven straight wins before last season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Minnesota was playing its first game since Aug. 7, after it lost to Vancouver in four games in the best-of-five qualifying round in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Talbot had a rough game in his Wild debut. Talbot, who signed a three-year contract last July, fell to 7-10 in 17 career starts against Los Angeles.

UNAVAILABLE

Minnesota G Alex Stalock, along with Los Angeles D Kurtis MacDermid, G Cal Petersen and Sean Walker

BUSINESS TRIP

The Wild remarked before the game how strange it felt walking through their largely empty hotel across the street from Staples Center, with no activity at the adjacent LA Live complex, either. There was no team meal, just grab-and-go food for coaches and players to take to their rooms and eat on their own.

“I packed a lot more recovery stuff this year,” Talbot said. “More sweatpants. Less jeans. You can’t really go anywhere, so it’s just comfy clothes and stuff to keep you entertained in the room.”

WHAT’S NEXT

The teams will meet again on Saturday night. Eight of Los Angeles’ first 21 games are against Minnesota and the season series will be wrapped up by the end of February. The Wild are one of four Central Division teams who are part of the reconfigured West Division this season.

“Adjustments will come into play on both sides but saying that these early games are more about us,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan about playing teams in back-to-back games for most of the season. “It is about doing things in our world before picking things apart about other teams.”



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