Fury: ‘Deontay Wilder, I want you next, bum’

Tyson Fury overcame a terrible cut and a stiff challenge from Otto Wallin to successfully defend his lineal heavyweight title via unanimous decision (116-112, 117-111, 118-110) in front of 8,249 fans at T-Mobile Arena Saturday evening.

Fury, cut from a punch in the third round, survived some anxious moments and rebounded to take control of the bout.

Wallin buzzed Fury in the 12th round with a left hand, but Fury weathered the last-ditch effort. Fury now has his sights set on a much-discussed early 2020 rematch with WBC world champion Deontay Wilder.

“Congrats to Otto – and God bless his father and let him rest in peace,” Fury said. “He would be very proud of Otto’s performance.

“It was a great fight I got cut earlier on the eyelid and changed the fight completely. I couldn’t see out of the left eye and there was a lot of clashes.

“Deontay Wilder, I want you next, bum!

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

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Popovich on Team USA: ‘I wish I could have gotten them closer, but it didn’t happen’

In its final 2019 FIBA World Cup game, the USA men (6-2) had five players score in double-figures and recorded 29 assists in an 87-74 win over Poland (4-4) on Saturday afternoon at Wukesong Sport Arena in Beijing, China.

The USA finished the tournament in seventh place and now is 129-29 all time in FIBA World Cup action. As one of the top two finishing teams from the FIBA Americas zone, the USA also qualified for the 2020 Olympics.

“There are wonderful teams and wonderful coaches all over the world, so there’s no surprise in any of that,” said Gregg Popovich (USA and San Antonio Spurs head coach). “You go compete, and you know the best teams win. I was thrilled with the group of guys that we were able to coach. They made the sacrifice. They worked hard. They let us coach them, and we got them to a certain point in a short period of time. I wish I could have gotten them closer, but it didn’t happen.”

Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz) was the USA top scorer with 16 points, including 4-of-4 from 3-point, and a USA men’s World Cup record-tying 10 assists.

“You know, obviously, we didn’t get the result that we had wanted, but to be able to go to war with a bunch of guys who really sacrificed not only their time, their bodies, there’s not a lot more you can ask for,” Mitchell said. “I’ve never been a part of USA Basketball, and this was an incredible experience. Obviously, with the game today we showed a lot of character, because even after losing some teams can go the other way and say whatever, and that wasn’t the case with these guys. I’m really happy and blessed to have this opportunity.”

Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets) finished with 14 points; Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) added 13 points and six assists; Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs) contributed 12 points and seven assists; and Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings) tallied 10 points.

“It was a good win here today,” White said. “We wanted to go out winning. I mean, obviously, we fell short of our goal, but overall I think it was special to play with these guys in the locker room, and we had a great group of guys. I think we all learned a lot from it.”

The USA got off to a strong start and shot 57.9% from the field in the first quarter, including 10 assists on 11 field goals, while its defense held Poland to 0-of-7 from 3-point.

With the USA leading 18-14, the Americans closed on a 10-0 run and went ahead 28-14 after the first 10 minutes.

Seven scorers contributed for the USA in the second period, which increased its advantage by three points and headed into the halftime locker room with a 47-30 lead.

The third quarter was Poland’s strongest effort, and they outscored the USA 25-16 in the period, including a 14-2 stretch that cut the lead to seven points, 54-47, at 4:07. The USA pushed its cushion back to 63-49 at 1:17, but Poland sank two 3-pointers and made it to 63-55 with 10 minutes to play.

Twice early in the fourth quarter, Poland again narrowed the gap to seven points, but each time the USA responded, outscoring Poland 24-19 in the fourth period to earn the 87-74 win.

“We came out here, and we checked a couple boxes, but we didn’t get everything accomplished,” said Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers), who collected eight rebounds to go with his seven points and four blocked shots. “We qualified this team for the Olympics coming up, but we didn’t get that gold medal – something that is going to stick with us for a very long, shoot, the rest of our lives. And, you know, it hurts a little bit, but we came out here, and I think we did the best we could, given the circumstances.”

For the game, the USA shot 50.8% (31-61 FGs) from the field and 48.0% from 3-point (12-25 3pt FGs), and it held Poland to 39.7% shooting (29-73 FGs) and just 25.9% from 3-point (7-27 3pt FGs).

Photo/courtesy: USA Basketball

Lorenzo Carter, Giants’ defense want to be better against Buffalo

Lorenzo Carter this week wishes he had a professional basketball player’s opportunity for rapid redemption.

The second-year linebacker and the rest of his defensive teammates on the Giants were dissatisfied with their performance in the season-opening loss in Dallas last week. They are eager to show they are capable of much better when the team plays its home opener tomorrow against the Buffalo Bills, whose quarterback is the mobile Josh Allen. But the seven days between games seem like an eternity.

“A lot of guys, we talk,” Carter said. “In the NBA, if they have a bad game, the next day they can go out there and play again. For us, we have a whole week to sit, let it marinate, watch film and soul search. I think that’s what we’ve been doing this week. We came out and worked hard this week in practice. Now we’re just getting ready to come out and get that taste out of our mouths. Everybody is ready to get that taste out of their mouths.”

Their performance will determine if they’re successful. While the run defense was strong against the Cowboys (who averaged just 3.0 yards a carry and did not have a run longer than 10 yards in 30 attempts), both the front and back ends of the pass defense were lacking. The D never did sack quarterback Dak Prescott and rarely pressured him, getting credited for just two hits. And the secondary had too many coverage breakdowns, resulting in seven completions for more than 20 yards, including gains of 62, 45 and 36 yards that weren’t touchdowns.

“We did not play, number one, as well as we expected to play and, number two, as well as we are capable of playing,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said.

“I think everybody is looking for the same answer, how are we going to get more pressure on the quarterback?’ outside linebackers coach Mike Dawson said. “Obviously, have to make him uncomfortable, we have to get the ball coming out faster, and we have to make him throw it under duress when he is going to throw it. Ultimately, we need to sack the quarterback when we get there. Something I think all the guys are hungry to get fixed, hungry to get answered, they came out and trained hard this week. We have to do a great job. Guys that can move, you have to have a good aiming point and good plan on those guys to be able to get to them.”

Perhaps the most critical question facing the defense entering the season was where the pass rush would come from. The players most often mentioned as potential suppliers of that valuable commodity were veteran linebacker Markus Golden, rookies Oshane Ximines and Dexter Lawrence and Carter. The quartet combined for five tackles (two solo) and one hit on Prescott (by Carter).

“We were disappointed, of course,” Carter said. “But it’s just on to the next week. There’s nothing you can really do about last week but watch the film, evaluate it and then just get ready for this week. We’re going to keep going.”

“When it comes down to whether you pressure (with extra players) or you four-man rush, it comes down to winning one-on-ones,” Bettcher said. “We have to do a better job of winning one-on-ones. I think coming out of Week 1 in terms of that specifically, you don’t sit back and say, ‘I’m surprised, I can’t believe this, I can’t believe that.’ I don’t live in that world. I look at it as here’s something we have to get better at, let’s go work to get better at it. We’re running to things, we aren’t running from them. We need to attack what the problem was and go work to correct the problem. Not just say we need to rush the quarterback better? The truth is how do you rush the passer better. What fundamentals and techniques do we need to improve with specifically with what guys and players.”

The same question could be asked about the secondary. Dallas’ strategy was to have Prescott throw the ball away from the Giants’ top cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, and toward the young corners on the opposite side, Antonio Hamilton (who started and played 36 snaps) and first-round draft choice DeAndre Baker (31 snaps). Prescott completed 25 of 33 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 passer rating and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

“It didn’t shake us,” said free safety Antoine Bethea. “It wasn’t the outing we wanted. We have to put the work in this week (to correct it).”

“It’s an opportunity for me to bounce back and show what I can do,” Baker said. “Show that I can fight through adversity. It’s not the best game that I wanted to have, but I can now bounce back and show what I can do.”

Coach Pat Shurmur and Bettcher all but announced changes are coming there for the Bills game.

“You can expect the young guys to play, just like they did the other night,” Shurmur said. “We’ll see how much. The rotation on that player (Hamilton) and maybe a couple others may change on defense.”

“We have to play better at that spot, we have to tackle better at that spot,” Bettcher said. “I think that’s what it came down to, some missed tackles at that position. Bake’s going to get a chance to play there and you’ll see Ham in situations and we will go from there. I think the plan will reveal itself like it did last week on Sunday. We just have to play better at the spot, just with the little things, it’s not about ability, it’s not what the guys are capable of doing, they just need to execute things that they know.”

The Giants’ secondary is an interesting blend of young players like Baker, Hamilton, Grant Haley and third-year strong safety starter Jabrill Peppers, and veterans Bethea (a 14-year pro), Jenkins (eighth season) and Michael Thomas (sixth). Every defensive back gives up big plays at some point. After a rough opening week, the more experienced players are schooling the youngster in letting those plays go and moving on.

“Just understand that this is the NFL,” Thomas said. “You have to continue to put in the work. The good thing about it for them is not just individuals, but teams make the biggest improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. Now you see it’s not like the preseason. You can have a great week of practice, but the results might not always be there. Come in, communicate way better than you did last week, run to the ball way better than you did last week, better than you’ve ever done before, and execute way better than you did last week. That’s going to give you a chance to have success.”

“You have to have a short-term memory when you’re playing cornerback,” Jenkins said. “You have to understand that you’re going to make plays, and you’re going to have plays made on you, because I get paid just as well as they get paid. You can’t go out there thinking, ‘Oh I’m going to knock every ball down, I’m going to stop every completion.’ Just go out there and play football. Understand that whatever happens between the snap, it happened. After the snap, (move on to the) next play. That’s all that matters.

“I’m going to tell them (Baker and Hamilton) that every day. Every day until they understand. Until they learn that it’s next play because they have to understand, like I said, they get paid just as well as we get paid. Everybody in the NFL is the best at what they do. You can’t go out there thinking this and thinking that. If you get beat, you line up on the next play and win the next matchup.”

The Giants’ defensive backs intend to do that tomorrow. It’s just too bad they have to wait a week for redemption.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

 

Marrone on Minshew: ‘I think he’s going to be defined by how he plays on Sunday’

Jaguars rookie QB Gardner Minshew was not expected to play much or at all in 2019. However, the unexpected happened. Last week against the Chiefs, in his first game as Jacksonville’s starter, QB Nick Foles suffered a broken left clavicle that will keep him out until at least November. Now, it’s Minshew’s show until Foles comes back or until the Jaguars decide otherwise.

The sixth-round pick out Washington State was impressive against Kansas City last Sunday. Minshew completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards, 2 TDs, 1 int. However, this week, Minshew will have to go on the road as the Jaguars(0-1) battle the Houston Texans(0-1) on Sunday.

When asked what his comfort level is with Minshew as the starter, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has this to say.

“I don’t know,” Marrone said on Friday. “I don’t think I said anything earlier in the week; you know what I mean? Like I said, he’s a unique guy, and I think he’s going to be defined by how he plays on Sunday.”

You wonder what the patience level will be for Minshew. The Jaguars did acquire another young QB in Joshua Dobbs from the Steelers last week, and while the third-year player does not have a lot of experience, he does have more experience than Minshew.

It would be nice if Minshew could have another solid performance, but based on his experience and what we have seen in the preseason, don’t be surprised if he struggles against the Texans on Sunday.

Stevenson-Gonzalez, Berchelt-Sosa, Herring-Roach Jr. highlight Top Rank’s Fall Schedule

Three world title bouts and a highly anticipated light heavyweight unification fight are on the docket for Top Rank’s fall schedule, which will be unveiled TODAY at 12 p.m. PT at a special kickoff press conference at the MGM Grand’s KA Theatre.

The fall schedule will kick off October 18 with the previously announced light heavyweight unification bout between IBF champion Artur Beterbiev and WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET). The entire undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

“This is a tremendous lineup of fights that Top Rank is bringing to ESPN and ESPN+ in the fall,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “You have young superstars and established champions in the toughest fights of their careers. It doesn’t get better than that. When it’s all said and done, new superstars are going to emerge.”

October 26: Stevenson and Gonzalez to Battle for Featherweight World Title

Shakur Stevenson is only 22 years old and 12 fights into his pro career. For his first world title shot, he’ll return to the sight of many of his greatest amateur accomplishments. Stevenson will face Joet Gonzalez for the vacant WBO featherweight title Saturday, October 26 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.

Stevenson and Gonzalez are the WBO’s top two contenders for the belt vacated by Oscar Valdez, who is now campaigning at 130 pounds.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Let’s Get It On Promotions and Golden Boy, Stevenson-Gonzalez and a co-feature will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The entire undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

“I have been working for this moment my entire life, and no one is going to stop me from becoming a world champion,” Stevenson said. “I had some of my biggest amateur moments in Reno, and I can’t wait to win my first world title there. This is my time to show the world that I am the best young fighter in boxing. The Shakur Stevenson era will officially begin on October 26.”

“It’s about time I got my world title shot,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been asking for this opportunity for a long time. Thanks to my promoter and manager, it is finally here. Shakur Stevenson has done a lot of talking. But I’ll do my talking in the ring with my fists on October 26.”

Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs), the fighting pride of Newark, New Jersey, turned pro in April 2017 following a standout amateur career that included a 2016 Olympic silver medal for the United States. He is familiar with Reno, having won four national titles in “The Biggest Little City in the World” from 2013-2015, including his triumph at the Olympic Trials. Stevenson returned to Reno as a pro, shutting out Juan Tapia over eight rounds in February 2018 to improve to 5-0. He has fought three times thus far in 2019, including a career-best performance April 20 against former world title challenger Christopher Diaz on the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan pay-per-view undercard. He followed up the unanimous decision over Diaz with a triumphant return to Newark, where more than 5,000 fans packed the Prudential Center for his third-round stoppage over Alberto Guevara.

Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs) is a seven-year pro who has the edge in experience, and at 25 years old, is three years older than Stevenson. Like Stevenson, he had a storied amateur career, nearly qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics and winning a U.S. Junior Olympics title. Gonzalez has won three consecutive bouts by knockout since a split decision victory over former world title challenger Rafael Rivera. He last fought July 13 in Carson, California, capturing the WBO Global and WBA Continental America featherweight titles with a sixth-round stoppage over Manuel Avila. Immediately following the Avila bout, he expressed interest in fighting in Stevenson, and the two have since been engaged in a social media back-and-forth. The talking will stop — and the fight will start — on October 26.

November 2: Miguel Berchelt Set to Defend Super Featherweight World Title Versus Jason Sosa

WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt will defend his world title for the sixth time against former world champion Jason Sosa in a can’t-miss battle Saturday, November 2 at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

Berchelt, who has won four in a row by stoppage, is the division’s longest-reigning world champion and is ranked No. 1 by both ESPN.com and Ring Magazine.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions and Peltz Boxing, Berchelt-Sosa and a world title co-feature will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT. The undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT

“On November 2, there will be another classic war between a Mexican and a Puerto Rican warrior,” Berchelt said. “I will prove once again that I am the best and most spectacular super featherweight in the world. This title ain’t going anywhere.”

“I can’t express how happy and grateful I am to Top Rank and Russell Peltz for once again working together to give me another shot at becoming world champion,” Sosa said. “I am training harder than ever. I want this so bad, and I am not going to let anything stop what God has planned for me. We are incredibly focused knowing the importance of this fight. Berchelt is a strong opponent, and we are not taking his talents lightly. We both throw a lot of punches so expect an action-packed fight that will be the next chapter in the Mexico versus Puerto Rico rivalry. It’s a rivalry that’s been ongoing for years, and I plan on making my island very proud. On November 2, I plan on becoming a two-time world champion.”

Berchelt (36-1, 32 KOs) has reigned as WBC super featherweight king since January 28, 2017, the evening he dethroned Francisco Vargas via 11th-round knockout in a Fight of the Year contender. He has maintained his reputation as an all-action star, besting Miguel Roman and Takashi Miura in dominant title defenses. He last fought May 11 in Tucson, Arizona, battering Vargas in their rematch until Vargas retired on his stool following the sixth round. A native of Cancun, Mexico, Berchelt has won 15 consecutive bouts and hopes a win over Sosa will move him closer to a world title unification bout.

Sosa (23-3-4, 16 KOs), from Camden, New Jersey, is in the midst of a career revitalization following a two-bout skid in 2017. Sosa has reeled off three consecutive wins since a controversial decision loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa in November 2017, and he is now ranked in the top 10 by two of the major sanctioning organizations. He last fought August 10 in Philadelphia, knocking out Lydell Rhodes in seven rounds to earn his shot at the title.

November 9: Jamel Herring Set for Ballpark Title Defense Versus Lamont Roach Jr. in Fresno

Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring, the U.S. Marine veteran who upset Masayuki Ito in on Memorial Day weekend to win the WBO junior lightweight title, is set to honor his comrades by returning on Veterans Day weekend.

Herring will make his first title defense against the undefeated Lamont Roach Jr. on Saturday, November 9 at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, home of the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. This is a return engagement for Herring, who fought at Fresno’s Save Mart Center last September and had more than 1,000 active, retired and aspiring service members in the crowd cheering him on.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Golden Boy, Herring-Roach and a co-feature will stream live beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on ESPN+. The undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

“Our camps have gone back and forth, and I’m just ready to get to work,” Herring said. “I have a great team, and Terence Crawford will also be in camp to make sure I’m at my best. Overall, the night means much more than trash-talking, since it’s the weekend of both Veterans Day and the Marine Corps birthday.

“I’m glad to be back in Fresno. I had a huge crowd supporting me last time I fought in the area. I know a victory here will lead to bigger and better things.”

“I know Jamel very well and he knows me,” Roach Jr. said. “I’m super excited, and I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life. This victory will be only the beginning of my legacy. I’m here for a reason, and I can’t wait to show the world why! I will be the WBO junior lightweight world champion on November 9.”

Herring (20-2, 10 KOs) served two tours of duty with the Marines in Iraq and captained the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team. His pro career stalled with a 1-2 skid from 2016-2017, but after signing with Top Rank and moving down to 130 pounds, he won three straight fights to earn the title shot against Ito. His September 2018 fight against John Vincent Moralde was a particularly special occasion, as dozens of Marines lined the Save Mart Center walkway as Herring made his entrance. He shut out Moralde as the ESPN-televised co-feature, and now he returns to California’s Central Valley ready to put on a clinic under the lights.

Roach (19-0-1, 7 KOs) is one of the best young fighters to emerge from the boxing hotbed of Washington, D.C. in recent years. His only hiccup as a pro — an April 2018 draw against Orlando Cruz in Cruz’s home country of Puerto Rico — was a minor speed bump in what has been an otherwise sterling run up the ranks. He is 3-0 since the Cruz fight, winning a pair of regional belts and putting forth his best performances on high-profile cards. He last fought May 4 on the Canelo Alvarez-Danny Jacobs undercard in Las Vegas, scoring a 10-round unanimous decision over former world title challenger Jonathan Oquendo. Roach is trained by his father, Lamont Roach Sr., who has been the head man in his corner for his past five bouts.

Canelo on Kovalev: ‘He’s naturally the bigger man, but that’s the kind of challenges and risks that I like’

Canelo Alvarez (51-1-2, 34 KOs), the face of boxing and the king of the middleweight division, will take on a new challenge as he moves into the 175-pound weight class in a 12-round bout against champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (34-3-1, 28 KOs) for the WBO Light Heavyweight World Title. The event will take place Saturday, Nov. 2 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas and will be streamed exclusively live on DAZN in all of its nine markets, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan.

Canelo, the 29-year-old native of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, became the face of boxing by taking on some of the biggest names in the sport. At 154 pounds, Canelo captured several world titles and defeated the likes of Austin “No Doubt” Trout, Sugar Shane Mosley, Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo, Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara and Liam “Beefy” Smith.

At 160 pounds, Canelo defeated Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs to establish himself as the king of the middleweight division. And, shortly after signing a groundbreaking partnership with global sports streaming giant DAZN, Canelo moved into the 168-pound division by stopping Rocky Fielding in three rounds to become the WBA Super Middleweight World Champion.

Canelo will now look to make history once again by becoming the second Mexican boxer to hold a world title in the light heavyweight division, a feat only done by Julio Cesar Gonzalez in 2003. The pound-for-pound king will at the same time join an elite group of four-division world champions from Mexico.

“The second phase of my career is continuing just as we had planned, and that’s why we are continuing to make great fights to enter into the history books of boxing,” said Canelo Alvarez. “That’s also why I’ve decided to jump two weight classes against one of the most feared champions of recent years. Kovalev is a dangerous puncher, and he’s naturally the bigger man, but that’s the kind of challenges and risks that I like to face.”

On November 2nd, Kovalev, 36, will participate in his 17th consecutive world title bout and the most lucrative fight of his career against the biggest star in boxing. A Russian knockout artist and three-time light heavyweight world champion, “Krusher” is no stranger to fighting in hostile territory. He captured the WBO Light Heavyweight World Title in 2013 when he traveled to Wales and scored a stunning knockout of Nathan Cleverly. Kovalev traveled to Atlantic City to meet future Hall of Famer Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins near his Philadelphia home to unify the WBO, WBA and IBF titles with a lopsided unanimous decision victory in 2014. As unified champion, “Krusher” successfully defended his titles twice against current WBA Interim Light Heavyweight titleholder Jean Pascal in Pascal’s hometown of Montreal, scoring a stoppage victory both times.

Kovalev suffered two controversial losses to former Olympic Gold medalist Andre Ward (in 2016 and 2017) and a surprise upset to Eleider Alvarez last year, but quickly regained his WBO Light Heavyweight Title each time. In August, the road warrior finally got the chance to fight in his own hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia, stopping undefeated mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde in a sold-out arena.

When asked about this fight, Kovalev said, “In order to be the best you have to beat the best. I have always tried to fight the toughest opponents in my division, but many have ducked me throughout my career. Canelo wanted to fight me; to step up to higher weight and challenge for my belt. I will be ready on November 2nd. Thank you, Main Events, Kathy Duva, Egis Klimas, DAZN and Canelo for making this fight happen.”

Marrone on Watson: ‘Probably competes for the MVP’

Even in a loss, Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson showed the league that he is special. Against the Saints on Monday night, the third-year quarterback accounted for four touchdowns, including one on the ground, and he put the Texans in position to win before Saints K Wil Lutz made a 58-yard FG at the buzzer as New Orleans defeated the Texans 30-28 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

In his short time in the league, the 23-year-old Watson has proven to be a play-maker, and as he demonstrated on Monday night, has shown the ability to be clutch. In 2018, Watson had five game-winning drives.

According to Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, whose Jaguars travel to Houston to face Watson and the Texans on Sunday, Watson could win MVP in 2019.

“(Watson)Probably competes for the MVP. I can’t say anything more than that,” Marrone said on Wednesday. “Last week, we saw the 2018 MVP in Patrick Mahomes who played like an MVP. We are going in and playing against another quarterback who has the same amount of skill, the same amount of ability, and I think it’ll be between those two guys who’s going to be the MVP. I’m sure someone else will start playing well down the road, but right now those guys just took it Week 1, but those two guys are playing really well.”

Last season, Watson threw for 4165 yards and 26 touchdowns, and he rushed for 551 yards and scored five touchdowns on the ground, and If Watson continues to play as well as he did on Monday, he would be in the running for MVP. However, Watson does take a lot of hits, and he was sacked six times against the Saints. All that must change if he wants to finish the season healthy, but for now, Watson is definitely off to a great start.

Pop on Team USA’s loss to France: ‘Any loss hurts, and this situation hurts more’

Physical play and a critical scoring drought in the final minutes spelled the end of a major streak for the USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Team.

The top-ranked USA lost to third-ranked France 89-79 Thursday in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals at Dongguan, China, snapping a 58-game winning streak in international competition using NBA players. It is the first loss in 25 World Cup games for the U.S. since falling to Greece 101-95 in the 2006 semifinals. The loss also means the U.S., which locked up a spot in next year’s Olympic Games in its previous game, will not medal at the World Cup for the first time since 2002.

“Any loss hurts, and this situation hurts more, but life goes on,” USA coach Gregg Popovich said. “This is very important. We would have loved to have won, just like any other team, we would have loved to win games in this tournament. But, we all have family and lives and life moving on.”

The U.S. (5-1), which was bidding to become the first nation to win three straight World Cups, won’t have any time to lick its wounds. The Americans will face a formidable Serbia (4-2), ranked fourth in the world, on Thursday in Dongguan (7 a.m. EDT) and will finish no better than fifth place. Meanwhile, France – which had been 0-9 against the U.S. in major international play – will face Argentina (6-0) in Friday’s semifinals in Beijing.

Donovan Mitchell was the go-to guy for the U.S., scoring 29 points, but none in the fourth quarter. Marcus Smart had 11 points and Kemba Walker 10. Evan Fournier, who plays for the Orlando Magic, had 22 points for France, which closed the game on a 22-5 run. Rudy Gobert – Mitchell’s teammate with the Utah Jazz and two-time reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year – added 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for France, while Nando De Colo had 18 points.

“I’m looking at the times there were guys open that I missed,” Mitchell said. “There were possessions on defense where I threw the ball in the backcourt when we were down six. I can care less about the 29 (points). To me what sticks out is the things I did wrong. That’s what’s on everybody’s mind. Anybody could have had a good game. Whether is 29, nine or zero, we lost.”

Added Smart: “We learned a lot. For a lot of us it was our first time (in a FIBA tournament) so we came out and gave it everything. I’m proud of every last one of my teammates. We got another game tomorrow so it’s not over with. We have to come out and compete.”

The U.S. trailed 45-39 at halftime. Fournier and Gobert each had 13 points in the half, with Fournier proving to be the more difficult matchup. Mitchell had 15 points for the U.S. France outscored the U.S. 12-6 at the free-throw line and held a 21-12 advantage on the boards.

In the third quarter, France held a 10-point lead twice, but Mitchell single-handedly kept the U.S. in the game by scoring 14 points. Smart hit three free throws to put the Americans up 63-62 with 1:40 left in the third quarter, their first lead since 29-27 with 6:03 left in the second. The U.S. took a 66-63 lead into the fourth quarter.

Walker, the Americans’ leading scorer at 14.6 points per game but who battled foul trouble Thursday, made his first field goal with 8:11 left in the game, his stepback jumper giving the U.S. a 72-65 lead. It was just his third shot of the game.

The U.S. maintained its advantage at 74-67 on a Khris Middleton layup with 7:39 remaining. But France chipped away and finally tied the game 76-76 on Frank Ntilikina’s 3-pointer with 4:35 left. Fournier added a go-ahead driving layup, Gobert had an emphatic slam and Ntilikina had a long jumper that made it 82-76 with 2:05 left. The U.S. was unable to sustain any offense the rest of the game.

“We knew it was going to be a (tough) game,” said U.S. forward Jaylen Brown, who had nine points and four rebounds. “We just didn’t do what needed to be done. At the end of the day, we came up short. France was better than us tonight unfortunately.”

Gobert was a key factor in the game as he controlled the paint. He drew two early fouls on Myles Turner, negating much of the U.S. inside game. Still, the U.S. had opportunities it did not capitalize on.

“It really wasn’t so much their size as it was our execution,” Smart said. “We were really stagnant on the offensive end and with that being said, they hurt us on the defensive end. They moved us and we didn’t do it on the other end. It bit us on the butt.”

After starting 10-of-10 from the free-throw line, the Americans made just 4 of 11 tries, including several key misses that thwarted a rally.

“That hurt. That hurt bad man, just to miss those free throws,” Walker said. “I really wanted to make those for my teammates. But sometimes that’s just the way the ball goes. Very, very unfortunate. But now it’s nothing I can control.”

Vikings’ Anthony Harris named NFC Defensive Player of the Week

Vikings S Anthony Harris has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Atlanta in Week 1. Harris had a career game versus the Falcons, intercepting a pair of Matt Ryan passes that led to two touchdowns by the Vikings. The Chesterfield, Virginia, native also recovered his third-career fumble in the second quarter that resulted in a scoring drive by Minnesota.

Overall, Minnesota scored 21 points off Harris’ takeaways, sealing the Vikings’ 28-12 win on Kickoff Weekend. He tallied five tackles (three solo) and three passes defensed against the Falcons altogether. Harris’ four interceptions since Week 11 of the 2018 season are tied for most in the NFL while his two interceptions to start 2019 are tops in the league.

The NFC Player of the Week award is the first of Harris’ career, and the fifth by a Vikings defensive back under Head Coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings have now had an NFC Player of the Week in four consecutive season openers.

Fury: ‘Otto Wallin is a tall blonde, just the way I like them’

Tyson Fury sure knows how to dress for the occasion. Fury, the lineal heavyweight champion, entered Tuesday’s media workout in a traditional lucha libre wrestling mask. Fury will defend his title against fellow unbeaten Otto Wallin Saturday at T-Mobile Arena as part of the Las Vegas’ Mexican Independence Day Weekend festivities.

WBO junior featherweight world champion Emanuel Navarrete will defend his title against Juan Miguel Elorde in the co-feature (ESPN+, 11 p.m. ET), while former two-division world champion Jose Pedraza will take on Mexican veteran Jose Zepeda in a 10-round super lightweight showdown.

The entire undercard, including Pedraza-Zepeda and appearances by Gabriel Flores Jr. and heavyweight sensation Guido Vianello, will stream live on ESPN+ starting at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.

This is what Fury had to say at the media workout

Tyson Fury

“I’m just enjoying life, taking one day at a time and inspiring people to do well in their life, too.”

“I wore a traditional Mexican mask because it’s Mexican Independence Day Weekend and the ‘Gypsy King’ is here in Las Vegas to put on a show for all the Mexican fans. Viva Mexico!”

“I can defeat all the heavyweights with one hand. As you saw today, lightning speed, lightning reflexes for a giant. I’m a giant of a heavyweight. There has never been a heavyweight like me. There has never been a man of my size who can move like that. I’m a natural freak of nature. I defy every law of gravity. It shouldn’t be possible for a man of my size or my weight to move like that.”

“I have no interest in future fights. One day at a time in my life. One fight at a time, one hour at a time. ‘Cause that’s all we have. We’re not promised tomorrow, so we live every day like it’s our last as our Lord tells us to.”

“You’re going to see a great fight on Saturday, a real Mexican, 6-foot-9, 260-pound giant.”

“Do I look like I’m enjoying life? One hundred percent. I’m ecstatic to be alive. A true blessing from God. I’m very thankful that I was given this life. I’m thankful to be here in Las Vegas and thankful for all the people that turned out.”

“Otto Wallin is a tall blonde, just the way I like them. We’ll see what he brings on Saturday.”

Photo: Mikey Williams