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The ECB has reiterated that the impact on cricket would be “severe” if fans were unable to return to grounds for the 2021 season, after the UK government confirmed that plans to reintroduce spectators to sporting events were being paused.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon, the prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed that a spike in Covid-19 cases in the UK had required a postponement of the proposed date of October 1 for a trial reintroduction of fans in stadiums.

The final rounds of the rescheduled T20 Blast had been set for October 1 (quarter-finals) and 3 (Finals Day), in an attempt to enable some spectators to return to watch the action. However, those plans are now on hold, following the rise of the UK’s Covid-19 alert level to 4, meaning that transmission is “high or rising exponentially”.

“We have to acknowledge the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen large sporting events,” said the prime minister. “We will not be able to do this from October 1 and I recognise the implications for our sports clubs, which are the life and soul of our communities.”

Earlier this week, 100 leaders of sports and fitness bodies, including the England & Wales Cricket Board and the cricket charity, Chance to Shine, wrote to the UK government to warn of a “lost generation of activity” if sporting clubs were to face financial hardship as a consequence of Covid-related measures.

According to a report in the Guardian, the government is braced to bail out eight sports facing a financial black hole as a consequence of lockdown measures.

ECB officials were among those to sit in on a phone call with the sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, in the wake of the prime minister’s announcement, alongside representatives of the Rugby Football Union, the Football Association, the British Horseracing Authority and the governing body for Formula One.

ALSO READ: ‘We can’t let this crisis narrow our ambition’ – Clare Connor

“Like other sports, the financial impact of Covid-19 on cricket has been severe,” read an ECB statement, “and we welcome today’s constructive call with the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport where we discussed potential ways to overcome the significant challenges facing sports across the UK.

“Through this crisis we have worked closely with the government to enable cricket to be played through the summer, and we will continue to work with the Government and other sporting bodies to see the safe return of crowds to stadia as soon as possible.

“The impact of having to stage cricket behind closed doors again next year would be severe. Many clubs will also face a significant financial impact if they are unable to host conferences and events over the coming months.

“Meanwhile, restrictions on indoor team sports will also mean a reduction in activity levels and could particularly hit those whose participation has been limited during the pandemic.

“We will continue to work with the government over the coming days and weeks to ensure the challenges facing our sport are understood and can be overcome.”

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Errol Spence Jr. vs. Danny Garcia: Fight prediction, undercard, odds, expert picks, date

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It seems the only person associated with the welterweight title bout on Saturday who isn’t pondering whether unified champion Errol Spence Jr. will still be the same some 14 months removed from a scary car accident is his opponent. 

Danny Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs), a former two-division champion, is very much expecting to see the best of Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) when the two face off inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (Fox PPV, 9 p.m. ET). Instead, he has spent his time figuring out how to beat Spence and believes there was something to learn from his opponent’s last outing.

Just two weeks before he rolled his Ferrari and was thrown from the vehicle while driving drunk at high speeds in Dallas, the 30-year-old Spence unified his IBF title with Shawn Porter’s WBC belt in a thrilling split-decision win that contended for fight of the year honors. The fight was action packed throughout and Garcia believes that Porter ultimately exposed flaws in Spence’s game.

“[Spence] was getting hit a lot and his defense [was exposed],” Garcia told “Morning Kombat” last week. [Porter] forced him into a tough fight. 

“I have a different style than [Porter] but I’m also more dangerous than him. He has that awkward timing and rushes you and tries to throw you off your game but I’m more of a dangerous fighter with better counter punching and better skills.”

Garcia, 32, has only lost twice as a professional and both have been disputed decisions against Keith Thurman in 2017 and the following year against Porter. Garcia proved able to discipline Thurman over the second half of their unification bout by using his power to lower his opponent’s output, which is something he proved unable to do against Porter, whose jerky-jerky style gave the flat-footed Garcia fits. 

Still, Garcia believes his one-punch knockout power — something Porter hasn’t shown — will be the difference against Spence. And when you are talking about Garcia’s power, the conversation typically centers around his finishing blow — the “no look” left hook that’s set up beautifully by a right hand to the body before the finishing punch comes looping through.

“No one can take the no look left hook because you can’t take what you don’t see,” Garcia said. 

Although Spence knows full well the threat Garcia brings to the table, he was anything but shaken when the topic of the “no look” left hook was presented to him on “Morning Kombat” last week.

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 complete preview and prediction for Spence vs. Garcia this weekend.

“Of course you have respect for a punch but I don’t react to it,” Spence said. “It is what it is. You can throw it all you want but you have to land it. We will see. He’s coming in to win and it just makes me train harder and stay focused.”

Spence also confidently revealed that the Porter was only as close as it was because he allowed it to be while hoping to make a statement. 

“Basically, I already knew [it would be close]. My game plan was to come forward and fight him and it was going to be what it was going to be,” Spence said “I already knew that was his game plan, but it was mine too. My coach wanted me to box but I wanted to fight and that’s what happened.”

Garcia wouldn’t budge when asked to commit to whether they felt this weekend’s bout would be more of a boxing match or slugfest. He said it came down to the type of adjustments both make and that he’s ready for either result. 

Spence, on the other hand, expects the bout’s identity to change as the rounds progress.

“It might start out with us feeling each other out but later on when we both get warmed up it’s going to be an all-out fight,” Spence said. “I expect a great fight with back and forth action and him bringing his all. I expect him trying to win. 

“I want this to be one-sided, either a massacre or an easy win.”

Fight card, odds

Odds via William Hill Sportsbook

Errol Spence Jr. (c) -450

Danny Garcia +350

Unified welterweight titles

Sebastian Fundora -1100

Habib Ahmed +700

Super welterweights

Josesito Lopez -330

Francisco Santana +260

Welterweights

Eduardo Ramirez -440Miguel Flores +340Featherweights

Prediction 

If Spence proves to be compromised, either physically or mentally, from the fallout of his life-threatening accident, Garcia is all kinds of wrong for him as a poised and patient counter puncher with fight-ending power and enough technical prowess to adjust. 

But what about if Spence is still Spence? What happens then?

The bad news for Garcia is that everything he does well, Spence can do just as good or better. Not to mention that Spence also has a great chin and willingness to walk through fire in order to win a fight. 

When Spence chooses to box from the outside, like he did against Mikey Garcia is yet another fight in which he was dead set on proving a point, he did so with ease given his length, speed and elite fight IQ. And it lends credence to the idea that should he have to do the same against Danny Garcia he could, even though Spence’s love for walking down and finishing fighters got him into quite a duel against Porter. 

Garcia’s Achilles heel has long been his lack of elite foot speed as a heavy puncher who sits down on his power shots. Everyone from Thurman and Porter to Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson have been able to use that to their advantage. Spence should be no different in the early going until he feels comfortable enough to step up his volume and close space. 

The danger with Garcia is that you can never get too comfortable given his power. Yet it’s in that mid-range game where the southpaw Spence does his best work of volume to disarm his opponents with heavy combinations. 

No matter which way the fight goes, Garcia is experienced and tough enough to make sure he never gets dominated and should be stubborn enough to make Spence have to work for everything he earns. But is Garcia dynamic enough to win a fight he isn’t supposed to against someone more talented on paper? The jury remains out on this one. 

Pick: Spence via unanimous decision



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Bangabandhu T20 Cup – Zakir Hasan leads Gemcon Khulna to victory over Fortune Barishal

Gemcon Khulna 173 for 6 (Zakir 63, Imrul 37, Rabbi 3-33) beat Fortune Barishal 125 (Hridoy 33, Tamim 32, Shahidul 2-16) by 48 runs

Scorecard

Gemcon Khulna rose to the second spot on the points table after a 48-run win over Fortune Barishal in Friday’s first game, left-handed opening batsman Zakir Hasan leading the way for them by storming the Barishal attack with ten fours in his 42-ball 63.

Barishal sent Khulna in to bat, and even got an early breakthrough when Jahurul Islam fell for two in the third over. But Zakir, playing his first game since Covid-19 stopped cricket in the country in March, added 90 runs for the second wicket with Imrul Kayes, who made 37 off 34 balls with two fours and a six.

Mahmudullah later struck four boundaries in his 14-ball 24 while Shakib Al Hasan added 14 runs in ten balls, which took Khulna to a competitive 176 for 5. Paceman Kamrul Islam Rabbi took three wickets while Taskin Ahmed took two wickets for Barishal.

Barishal started well with a 57-run opening stand between captain Tamim Iqbal and Parvez Hossain Emon. Tamim hit four fours and a six in his 32 off 21 balls, while Emon took a bit of time, scoring 19 off 26 balls with just one six.

Still, all wickets in hand must have given them confidence, but in the eighth over, Shuvagata Hom removed both openers. Only Towhid Hridoy made 33 among the rest of the batsmen as Barishal crumbled against Khulna’s big total. Hasan Mahmud also took two wickets later in the innings.

Gazi Group Chattogram currently lead the table with eight points, while Khulna have six points. Barishal are one off the bottom but only on net run-rate, as they are tied on two points with Beximco Dhaka.

More to follow…

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Minnesota United beats Sporting K.C. 3-0, advances to Western Conference Final

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kevin Molino scored twice in the first half and Minnesota United advanced to the MLS Western Conference finals, beating Sporting Kansas City 3-0 on Thursday night.

More Minnesota United FC coverage from FOX Sports North

Fourth-seeded Minnesota will play at No. 2 seed Seattle on Monday night for a spot in the MLS Cup finals.

Bakaye Dibassy also scored, and Emanuel Reynoso assists on all three goals.

Molino opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a run up the left side to finish a feed from Reynoso. Eight minutes later, Molino wrapped his right foot around Reynoso’s chip pass with just enough pace to get it past goalkeeper Tim Melia.

Dibassy made it 3-0 with a header to finish Reynoso’s corner in the 39th minute.



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