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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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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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