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You know the cycle. Boxing is forever in a rotation of “boom, lull, dead and boom” as stars rotate in and out of the sport’s landscape. That’s also the story of many fighters: booming early in their career, rising to the championship ranks and having their careers declared dead when they pick up a loss or two.

As boxing enters what looks to be the beginning of another boom — with heavyweight, lightweight and welterweight all loaded with talent and compelling fights — Danny Garcia is trying to revitalize his own career and return to the ranks of world champions for the first time since 2017 when he faces WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

After starting his career 33-0 and capturing the WBA crown at welterweight — including a lengthy reign as junior welterweight champ — Garcia lost a split decision to Keith Thurman in March 2017. The loss felt like something approaching karma after Garcia had arguably been gifted decision wins over Lamont Peterson and Mauricio Herrera. Two fights later, Garcia picked up a more decisive loss, dropping a split decision to Shawn Porter for then-vacant WBC welterweight belt.

In the wake of Porter’s win over Garcia, Errol Spence Jr. entered the ring and threw down a challenge to the winner, which Spence won in one of the best fights of 2019 by split decision.

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.

With Spence and Terence Crawford emerging as the top stars in the welterweight division, and Thurman, Porter and Manny Pacquiao all grabbing the spotlight, Garcia has felt like the odd man out in a crowded and competitive 147-pound scene.

Rebounding from the Porter loss with wins over Adrian Granados and Ivan Redkach didn’t drive Garcia back into the larger boxing consciousness, but he was the man Premier Boxing Champions tabbed to face Spence after Spence beat Porter, a fight complicated by Spence’s terrifying high-speed crash and a global pandemic.

“I picked Danny Garcia because he’s a tough opponent with a granite chin. He’s always in tough close fights. He’s going to bring the best out of me,” Spence said during a recent virtual media workout. “If I took a tune-up fight, I wouldn’t be as focused or dedicated as I am right now. I know Danny’s dad is pushing him to take my belts in my hometown. So I’m staying focused to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Garcia was once in position to be the man who did the picking. Now he’s become the picked. But he has the opportunity he’s been waiting for: the chance to get in the ring with one of boxing’s pound-for-pound elites and attempt to elevate himself to any number of huge money fights.

Furthermore, a win over Spence would possibly land Garcia in the discussion for 2020 Fighter of the Year. That’s the power of one big win in boxing, the chance to regain every bit of momentum and prestige lost in defeats to Thurman and Porter.

Of course, getting that win is a big ask. Garcia has never been as big of an underdog as he will when he faces Spence. Currently, Garcia is a +350 underdog at William Hill Sportsbook even with the questions surrounding Spence’s health following his car crash. Without those questions, it’s likely Spence would be even more heavily favored. 

Garcia says he isn’t focused on the odds, his losses or what shape Spence will be in for the fight. He is training for the best version of Spence, he said, and preparing for a big future.

“Everything I’ve done in the past, it doesn’t really mean anything any more,” Garcia told Yahoo Sports. “I have to go in there on [Saturday] and this is my new future.”



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Showtime Boxing: Angelo Leo vs. Stephen Fulton fight prediction, card, odds, start time, how to watch

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Undefeated junior featherweights Angelo Leo and Stephen Fulton were originally set to fight for the then-vacant WBO super bantamweight title this past August. Unfortunately, Fulton tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the planned scrap and Leo instead beat Tramaine Williams to capture the title.

Leo and Fulton are finally ready to face off on Saturday, meeting in the main event of a triple header from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut (9 p.m. ET, Showtime). In a sport that often keeps young, talented and undefeated prospects separate for as long as possible, it’s a refreshing change of pace to see the commitment to putting these two in the ring for Leo’s WBO title.

“I’ve known I was going to fight Fulton for almost a year now,” Leo told The Ring. “I’ve been preparing for him for a while. Now that it has finally come, everything we have worked on has come more naturally to me.

“It’s going to be a great match up. It’s what boxing needs: You’ve got two undefeated fighters, two fighters in their prime with similar records. What more can you ask for? All the way around, on paper, it looks like a great fight. But deep down inside, I know I’ll come out with the victory.”

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, including a preview of Showtime Boxing on Saturday night below.

The fight represents an opportunity for Fulton to become world champion after holding some secondary and fringe titles in his first 18 fights. It’s a moment Fulton says he’s ready to take advantage of.

“To me, it means everything to be a world champion from Philadelphia,” Fulton told ESPN. This is what I’ve been working for my whole career. To my city, it would show people from my neighborhood that there’s a way out. But I don’t feel any pressure because of it. This sport teaches us the discipline to perform in moments like this. The pressure is just a part of my job.”

Plus, Vic Pasilas and Raeese Aleem will square off in the co-main event with the interim WBA super bantamweight title on the line. Pasillas boasts an undefeated record at 16-0 with nine knockouts to his name. Aleem is also unbeaten at 17-0 with 11 knockouts. The winner will be next in line to challenge full WBA champ Brandon Figueroa.

Leo vs. Fulton card, odds

Stephen Fulton -160

Angelo Leo (c) +135

WBO super bantamweight title

Vic Pasillas

Raeese Aleem

Vacant interim WBA super bantamweight title

Rolando Romero (c)

Justin Pauldo

Interim WBA lightweight title

Prediction

Leo vs. Fulton is a very competitive fight on paper. Both men have a lot of skill and Leo easily handled a decent — though not great — opponent in Williams to win the WBO title last time out. Fulton isn’t likely to blow the doors off anyone with sheer power. He only has eight knockouts in 18 fights. But his skills are enough that he doesn’t require that kind of one-punch power. Fulton works well off the jab and has good hand speed to follow up that jab with straight shots that can connect before the opponent has even reacted to the initial shot. With neither man having that one-shot knockout power, it’s possible they have the confidence to mix it up a bit and there’s potential for an exciting fight to break out. All that said, Fulton’s edge in speed should be enough for him to get off first and control the action. Pick: Stephen Fulton via UD



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs England 2nd Test 2020/21

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Tea Sri Lanka 381 (Mathews 110, Dickwella 92, Dilruwan 67, Chandimal 52, Anderson 6-40) vs England

An ageless James Anderson bagged six wickets while delivering England the breakthroughs they needed against Sri Lanka on the second day of the second Test. The home side fought their way into a strong position, however, through impressive innings from Niroshan Dickwella and Dilruwan Perera.

By shortly after lunch, Anderson, the 38-year-old seamer playing his 157th Test, had doubled his tally from the first day, adding three more wickets to help end Sri Lanka’s innings on 381 and finish with figures of 6 for 40 off 29 overs.

They were important wickets, too, as he removed centurion Angelo Mathews with his sixth ball on day two and denied Dickwella an elusive Test century. Dickwella gifted Anderson his five-for, chipping to Jack Leach at mid-off for 92, his highest score in 41 Test appearances. Anderson then drew Suranga Lakmal into a poke outside off-stump and Zak Crawley took a sharp catch at gully.

It was Anderson’s second straight five-wicket haul in Tests away from home, following his 5 for 40 in Cape Town a year ago, and the 30th of his career – only Richard Hadlee has more among pace bowlers with 36.

Still, Sri Lanka’s performance represented further improvement with multiple contributors and a stubborn tail. Dilruwan made an impressive fifty from No. 8, taking to Leach in particular, dancing down the pitch three times to plunder fours through mid-on and mid-off and a six down the ground. He helped add 89 in partnership with Dickwella and then another 49 for the last two wickets to frustrate England.

Anderson picked up where he left off the night before but, where Mathews could not, Dickwella stepped up to keep Sri Lanka in an engaging tussle through the morning session.

Mathews added just three runs to his overnight score before a subdued England appealed for what appeared to be lbw, with the ball appearing to pass the inside edge and deflecting via the knee roll to Jos Buttler behind the stumps. Mathews was originally given not out but Joe Root called for a review and UltraEdge revealed a spike as the ball passed the bat to end Mathews’ fine innings and give Anderson his fourth wicket for the match.

Anderson continued in miserly fashion, conceding just five runs from his four-over spell.

Dickwella, meanwhile, shifted gears into drive, quite literally at times, as he assumed the lead upon debutant Ramesh Mendis’ arrival at the crease. Dickwella unfurled a series of well-timed boundaries, carving Sam Curran through backward point and punching Mark Wood through long-on.

A fantastic take by Buttler had Mendis out for a duck, a faint edge off Wood going down the leg side and finding Buttler’s glove at full stretch to his left.

Sri Lanka had lost two wickets for 11 runs in the space of 19 balls but Dickwella remained in excellent touch, piercing the covers with two beautiful drives, first off Wood then Anderson. He used Wood’s pace to guide the ball effortlessly to the rope at fine leg before bringing up his fifty with a single off Dom Bess, whom he then swept twice to the boundary.

Leach joined Bess in the attack as England opted for dual spinners after the first hour, to Perera’s delight. Bess was also on the receiving end of some harsh Perera treatment after lunch, spilling a return catch struck so hard it caused considerable pain to Bess’s non-bowling hand.

The spinners went wicketless as Wood’s hard graft was further rewarded with the wicket of Lasith Embuldeniya and Curran finally accounted for last man out Perera, who holed out to Leach at deep backward square leg.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Badgers’ third period rally falls short against Penn State

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After falling behind by three goals in the first period, the Wisconsin Badgers rallied late, but fell short in a 5-4 loss to Penn State on Friday night.

The Badgers pulled within one goal twice in the third, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

Dylan Holloway got the Badgers on the board in the second period, but Penn State restored its three-goal lead, scoring a few minutes later to make it 4-1.

Roman Ahcan scored halfway through the third period and Ty Pelton-Byce brought the Badgers within one at 12:02.

Penn State took advantage of an open net and regained their two-goal lead before Cole Caufield added a goal in the final minute of the game.

Cameron Rowe made 13 saves in net for the Badgers, while Robbie Beydoun, who entered the game in the first period, ended the night with 21 saves.



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