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Eighteen months after coming up short via disputed decision in the biggest opportunity of his career to date, Yordenis Ugas is looking to get another shot at proving he’s among the best 147-pound fighters in the world. 

Ugas (25-4, 12 KOs) dropped a split decision in 2019 many felt he had won against then-champion Shawn Porter. On Sunday, Ugas is looking to make a statement in his return, headlining a Premier Boxing Champions card on national television (Fox, 8 p.m. ET) against Abel Ramos (26-3-2, 20 KOs)

If Ramos’ name isn’t necessarily of the household nature, it would appear to be part of PBC’s plan in showcasing its big-name welterweight stars in comeback fights out of the quarantine — similar to Porter’s whitewashing of Sebastian Formella two weeks ago — to set up bigger matchups down the road.  

A 34-year-old native of Cuba, Ugas is hoping to be in those fights once again and enters on a two-fight winning streak thanks to victories over Omar Figueroa Jr. and Mike Dallas Jr. 

“Everyone knows the welterweight division is always loaded with the best fighters in boxing, and I consider myself as one of those guys,” Ugas said on Wednesday’s media teleconference. “I feel I beat Shawn Porter, so I know I belong with the elite boxers at 147 pounds. I must get past Ramos first, then I’m coming for everyone.”

Porter used the disputed victory over Ugas to launch himself into a pay-per-view unification fight against current IBF and WBC champion Errol Spence Jr., which Porter lost by split decision in a fight-of-the-year contender. Ugas will compete on Sunday for the vacant WBA title despite the fact that Manny Pacquiao is the current WBA full titleholder at welterweight and Jamal James holds the interim version. 

The 29-year-old Ramos, who fights out of Arizona, is a durable fighter riding an eight-bout win streak, including victories over Francisco Santana and Bryant Perrella.

“Ramos is a very tough fighter who has a tremendous amount of heart, as shown in his last fight when he knocked out Perrella in the final seconds,” Ugas said. “This will be one of those fights that the fans will be talking about for many years because we are not going to be backing up. I’m expecting an all-out war.”

Ramos echoed his opponent’s promise that, despite Ugas’ impressive advantage technically, he plans to very much make this a fight.

“I trained extremely hard and prepared myself for a tough fight,” Ramos said “I know that Ugas always comes to fight, and the fact that there’s a title on the line makes this fight even better. It’s every fighter’s dream to become a world champion. I’m prepared for war. Boxing fans can expect fireworks on Sunday.”

Ugas vs. Ramos card

  • Yordenis Ugas vs. Abel Ramos, vacant WBA “regular” welterweight title
  • Jesus Ramos vs. Esteban Garcia, junior welterweights
  • Omar Jaurez vs. Dakota Linger, welterweights

Ugas vs. Ramos prediction

Ugas proved with great success against come-forward fighters like Porter and Figueroa that he can maintain control of distance without getting swallowed up. That plus the wide gaps between them in everything from speed to experience makes it easy to understand why Ugas is as high as a -1800 betting favorite. 

Expect Ramos to fight the only way he knows how, which is aggressive and straight ahead. As long as Ugas remains smart in terms of when he looks to counter Ramos’ pressure with pinpoint power shots of his own, a late stoppage following a one-sided performance is well within reason. 

Pick: Ugas via TKO10

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One additional Badgers player, two staff members test positive for COVID-19

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The COVID-19 outbreak in the Wisconsin Badgers football program continues to grow.

The athletic department announced Thursday that one additional Badgers player and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 16 active COVID-19 cases in the program, including 15 positive tests since Oct. 24.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin canceled its Oct. 31 game against Nebraska after 12 people — six student athletes and six staff members, including head coach Paul Chryst — tested positive for the coronavirus.

All football activities have been paused for at least one week, slotting the team’s earliest possible return date at Nov. 4. Wisconsin’s next game on the schedule is Nov. 7 against Purdue at home. Based on CDC and Big Ten protocols, Chryst can potentially return to the Badgers in person on Nov. 7 following a 10-day quarantine period.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez received his results Thursday and tested negative for COVID-19.

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Terence Crawford next fight: Welterweight champ set to return in November against Kell Brook


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Terence Crawford is ready to return to the ring. After saying that he wouldn’t fight without a live gate unless he was compensated correctly at the onset of the global pandemic, Crawford will fight again on Nov. 14 against veteran contender Kell Brook on ESPN. 

Crawford was linked to some potentially exciting fights with Manny Pacquiao and Shawn Porter, which would seem to indicate some bridges finally crossed between Top Rank, who promotes Crawford, and PBC, who controls Pacquiao, Porter and the majority of the other top welterweights in boxing. Instead, the WBO welterweight champion will meet Brook, who has won three straight against lesser competition after being knocked out by Errol Spence and Gennadiy Golovkin in consecutive bouts.

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Crawford (36-0, 27 KO) is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but has run into issues in recent years with the top fighters being aligned with PBC and cutting into the most attractive possible matches. That left Crawford to display his talents against outgunned opponents Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Amir Khan in 2019 while rival and PBC fighter Spence Jr. had career-defining battles with Mikey Garcia and Porter.

A showdown with PBC-promoted Spence, who holds the WBC and IBF titles, is the long-discussed but seemingly unlikely biggest fight in the welterweight division. Potential bouts with PBC’s Pacquiao and Porter were supposed to serve as gateway bouts to making the Spence fight a reality, though Top Rank’s Bob Arum seemed more committed to the idea of Crawford vs. Brook, which was announced as a Crawford’s next fight during the ESPN broadcast of Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez.

Brook (39-2, 27 KO) is the former IBF welterweight champ. Returning to welterweight to defend his title, Brook was stopped in Round 11 by Spence. Three fights against middling competition between 2018 and 2020 lined Brook up to get another title shot, this time gunning for Crawford’s welterweight belt.

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Former CA chief James Sutherland heads multimillion-dollar deal to replace MyCricket

A company headed by two former Cricket Australia executives has won a multimillion-dollar contract to build a bespoke replacement for MyCricket, the much-criticised digital portal for community cricket in Australia.

PlayHQ, which boasts the former CA chief executive James Sutherland as chairman and the ex-CA manager of media rights and strategy, Sam Walch, as chief executive, had already picked up major contracts to run digital fixturing, scoring and administration of basketball and Australian football at community levels.

But the confirmation of the deal with CA, which will see PlayHQ provide the platform for cricket clubs and programs across the country to be, in the words of the head of community cricket Belinda Clark, “able to be run from a smartphone” and is believed to be worth more than A$5 million, will have a huge impact on the lives of around 300,000 club players registered with MyCricket across the country, plus many more junior and school program participants.

“This is a critical project for Australian cricket. We need to get the basics right first, and there is an immediate need to replace the legacy platform with a system that is modern and makes it easier to do all the tasks required to run local programs and competitions,” CA’s head of customer experience Kieran McMillan said. “Tens of thousands of volunteers give up their evenings and weekends for our sport, and we want to give them back some time to enjoy the best parts of getting involved in their club.

“Technology will play an increasingly important role in community sport and we have an opportunity to be leading the charge. Through the support of quality partners, the community can expect more digital innovation and increased functionality over time. Whether that be live streaming, or club management tools, or even micro-chips in balls – the products and services you will be able to access on your phone or laptop will make it easier to run the game and more enjoyable to play the game.”

Basketball provided the first means for PlayHQ to test out its capabilities, and early suggestions prior to the onset of Covid-19 were that its systems enabled faster and easier management of clubs and competitions, based in particular on a pilot program involving around 20 country basketball associations.

The AFL then announced a deal with Play HQ in June. Its head of states and game development, Sam Graham, described the project’s goals at the time as: “It’s about getting the admin done more quickly and easily, so there’s time to focus on the footy.”

Speaking about the cricket deal, Walch offered similar words. “PlayHQ’s vision is to provide a world class solution for the administration of grassroots sport, and to make it easier for volunteers, participants, parents, coaches and umpires to engage with the games they love.”

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