Bucs’ Barrett signs franchise tender

Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett has signed his franchise tag tender for the 2020 NFL season, the team announced on Wednesday.

The deadline to work out a long-term deal was today at 3 p. m. , and the two sides could not come to an agreement. Barrett will make around $15.8 million in 2020. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 27-year-old Barrett has filed a grievance with NFLPA to be tagged as a defensive, not a linebacker. There’s a $2 million difference between a defensive end and linebacker.

In his first season in Tampa Bay, the seven-year veteran led the NFL with 19.5 sacks, breaking Warren Sapp’s single-season franchise record (16.5, 2000) on his way to earning Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.

In addition to leading the league in sacks, Barrett posted career highs with 58 tackles, 37 quarterback hits, 19 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, and one interception.

2019 was Barrett’s biggest season by far. Before last season, his highest sack total was 5.5. Was last season a fluke for Barrett, or will he continue to put up double-digit sack numbers? If he has another big season, Tampa will have to pay him, but Tampa could get a discount if his play drops off in 2020. It should be interesting to see how this one plays out.

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Bandejas-Pettis headline Bellator card on 7/24 in Connecticut

Bellator MMA returns to action for the first time since the global coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year, bringing the sports world to a standstill. Next Friday, July 24 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., Bellator will deliver an exciting card headlined by two of the bantamweight division’s top contenders, as Ricky Bandejas (13-3) faces Sergio Pettis (19-5) in a three-round clash on Paramount Network at 10 p.m. ET.

On March 13, Bellator made the decision to postpone that evening’s event at Mohegan Sun Arena for the health and safety of the athletes, staff and everyone involved. Keeping the health and safety of all involved as the top priority, the event on July 24 will be held without fans in attendance.

Bellator 242: Bandejas vs. Pettis airs live on Paramount Network on Friday, July 24 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT. Preliminary action will stream on Bellator MMA’s YouTube channel at 8:45 p.m. ET/5:45 p.m. PT.

Hailing from Brick, N.J., Ricky Bandejas will return to the cage for the second time in 2020 and sixth overall since signing with Bellator MMA in 2018. Coming off an impressive KO victory over Frans Mlambo at Bellator 240, Bandejas is looking to extend his current winning streak to three and is no stranger to fighting elite competition. With nine of his 13 career wins coming by way of knockout or submission, including four in the first round of action, the heavy-handed 28-year-old will be looking to notch another highlight reel finish on July 24 and earn his shot at the 135-pound world title.

A longtime UFC-veteran, Sergio Pettis made his Bellator debut in January when he submitted Alfred Khashakyan via guillotine a mere three minutes into their bantamweight matchup at The Forum in Los Angeles. Training out of the famed Roufusport gym in Milwaukee alongside his brother, Anthony, and fellow Bellator athlete Emmanuel Sanchez, Pettis won nine of his 14 UFC appearances with victories over Joseph Benavidez, Brandon Moreno and John Moraga. Now, Pettis has his sights set on a world title fight, which is all but guaranteed with a win at Bellator 242.

The main card on Paramount Network also sees a co-main event pitting Jason Jackson (11-4) against Jordan Mein (31-12), who will be making his Bellator debut, in a welterweight contest, a 145-pound bout between the always-exciting Tywan Claxton (6-1) and undefeated Jay Jay Wilson (5-0) of New Zealand, while Aaron Pico (5-3) returns to featherweight against Chris Hatley, Jr. (8-2), who upset Bellator mainstay Gaston Bolanos earlier this year.

The preliminary portion of Bellator 242 includes a bantamweight affair featuring Roufusport’s Raufeon Stots (13-1) taking on Cass Bell (5-0) of Humboldt County, Calif., a heavyweight slugfest between Steve Mowry (7-0) and Rudy Schaffroth (6-1, 1 NC) and Logan Storley (11-0) putting his unblemished record on the line against Mark Lemminger (10-1) in a 170-pound matchup.

Bellator 242: Bandejas vs. Pettis Main Card:

Paramount Network

10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT

Bantamweight Main Event: Ricky Bandejas (13-3) vs. Sergio Pettis (19-5)

Welterweight Co-Main Event: Jason Jackson (11-4) vs. Jordan Mein (31-12)

Featherweight Feature Bout: Tywan Claxton (6-1) vs. Jay Jay Wilson (5-0)

Featherweight Feature Bout: Aaron Pico (5-3) vs. Chris Hatley, Jr. (8-2)

Completed Preliminary Card:

Bellator MMA’s YouTube Channel

8:45 p.m. ET/5:45 p.m. PT

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Logan Storley (11-0) vs. Mark Lemminger (10-1)

Bantamweight Preliminary Bout: Raufeon Stots (13-1) vs. Cass Bell (5-0)

Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Steve Mowry (7-0) vs. Rudy Schaffroth (6-1, 1 N)

Mayer: ‘We’ve been trying to get a world title fight for a while now’

Mikaela Mayer made history Tuesday evening, but more importantly, she earned the win. Mayer (13-0, 5 KOs) outboxed Helen Joseph (17-5-2, 10 KOs) over 10 rounds, earning a unanimous decision (100-90 2x and 99-91) at the MGM Grand “Bubble.” Mayer-Joseph marked the first female main event in Top Rank on ESPN history.

Mayer had been out of the ring since October 26, as she and Joseph were scheduled to fight June 9. A positive COVID-19 test for Mayer delayed the fight, but she scraped off the ring rust and put forth a dominating performance over the two-time world title challenger.

Following the bout, Mayer received a word of encouragement, and a promise, from Bob Arum.

“Bob said, ‘Great fight,’ and that the next one will be for the title,” Mayer said. “We’ve been trying to get a world title fight for a while now. I said, ‘Don’t let Eddie Hearn {outbid} us.’”

— The “Cassius” Clay Collard train rolled through Las Vegas once again, as Collard knocked out Lorawnt-T Nelson in the second round of a scheduled six-round middleweight contest. Collard (8-2-3, 3 KOs) improved to 4-0 on the year, including three victories over previously undefeated fighters. He knocked down Nelson (5-4, 4 KOs) in the opening round and twice more in the second before referee Celestino Ruiz stopped the fight.

“I showed my boxing skills in there tonight. I’m unorthodox, but I get the job done,” Collard said. “As soon as Top Rank wants me back, I’ll be ready. Next month on ESPN, let’s go!”

— Ruben Cervera (12-2, 10 KOs) picked up his second straight win, topping Clay “3rd Degree” Burns (9-9-2, 4 KOs) by six-round unanimous decision in a lightweight bout. Cervera knocked down Burns with a left hook in the opening round and prevailed by scores of 59-54 2x and 58-56.

— Middleweight Javier Martinez had a successful professional debut, shutting out Ryan “The Lion” Burrs (2-2) over four rounds by identical 40-36 scores. Martinez, from Milwaukee, inked a multi-year professional contract with Top Rank following a storied amateur career with USA Boxing.

Photo: Top Rank Boxing/Mikey Williams

Oscar Valdez-Jayson Velez set for 7/21 in Vegas

The first run of Top Rank on ESPN shows inside the MGM Grand “Bubble” will conclude with a certified boxing action hero ready for another toe-to-toe tussle.

Former featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, ranked No. 1 by the WBC and WBO at junior lightweight, will face former world title challenger Jayson Velez in the 10-round main event Tuesday, July 21, inside the MGM Grand Conference Center.

In the eight-round co-feature, super middleweight knockout sensation Edgar Berlanga (13-0, 13 KOs), who has knocked out 13 consecutive foes in the first round to begin his pro career, will look to extend the streak against Eric Moon (11-2, 6 KOs).

The card also will highlight the long-awaited return of Kim Clavel, the undefeated light flyweight who won the 2020 Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPYs for her work as an elder care nurse in Montreal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clavel, who is promoted by Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), will fight fellow unbeaten Natalie Gonzalez in an eight-rounder.

Valdez-Velez, Berlanga-Moon, Clavel-Gonzalez, and undercard bouts will be televised live on ESPN & ESPN Deportes beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

“Oscar Valdez wants to fight WBC world champion Miguel Berchelt, and I know Miguel wants nothing more than to fight Oscar,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Oscar knows Jayson Velez is a serious challenge that he cannot overlook. This is a great main event, and an incredible deep card, to close out our first round of shows inside the ‘Bubble.’”

Valdez (27-0, 21 KOs) has won three fights since his March 2018 war of attrition against Scott Quigg, when his jaw was shattered in the fifth round of a 12-round championship bout. He took nearly one year off following the Quigg fight and moved up to the junior lightweight ranks last year. In his last outing, November 30 in Las Vegas, he survived a second-round knockdown to knock out Adam Lopez in the seventh.

Velez (29-6-1, 21 KOs), from Juncos, Puerto Rico, nearly won the IBF featherweight world title from Evgeny Gradovich in November 2014, but he was held to a controversial draw. He has fought from featherweight to lightweight in recent years and March 2018 knockout victory over former world champion Juan Manuel Lopez. Velez was one half of a Fight of the Year Contender in February, as he knocked down Jaime Arboleda in the 12th round, only to lose a split decision verdict by a single point on two of the judges’ scorecards. He has never been knocked out in a career that’s spanned nearly 13 years.

Valdez said, “I’m ready for the best of the division. I want to be a two-division world champion, and the only way to do that is to beat tough fighters like Jayson Velez, who has challenged for a world title and possesses a lot of experience. Also, I’m very thankful to be fighting during this critical time where the sport of boxing is getting attention again.”

“We know there have been discussions about me challenging Miguel Berchelt for his WBC super featherweight world title, but Velez is first. I need to beat Velez first if I want to fight Berchelt, and I’m expecting a very tough fight. I want to dedicate this fight to all of the nurses and doctors who are working hard on this pandemic and to my father, Top Rank, and my manager, Frank Espinoza. I can’t wait to return to the ring.”

Said Velez, “Oscar Valdez is the greatest name I have ever had the opportunity to face. He is a young, undefeated fighter who was already a world champion and is hungry for another world title. At this stage of my career, I see each fight as if it were the last chance to achieve my dream. It’s now or never. We are going to make that dream come true.”

Berlanga, the brash Brooklynite nicknamed “The Chosen One,” took care of Cesar Nunez in 2:45 last December on the Terence Crawford-Egidijus Kavaliauskas undercard at Madison Square Garden. Moon has won four of his last five and has been knocked out only once since turning pro in July 2016. He has fought eight or more rounds five times.

Said Berlanga, “I’ve not really changed much about training because of the knockout streak. Training is all about improving as a boxer. I had a good amateur career, and that comes from being a good technical boxer. My focus in training has been to continue to improve my skills under my trainer, Andre Rozier, and Team Havoc.”

Clavel (11-0, 2 KOs) is coming off a career-best win last December, a decision over Esmeralda Gaona Sagahon that earned her the NABF light flyweight belt. The belt won’t be on the line against Gonzalez (6-0, 1 KO), a native of New Rochelle, New York, who was a two-time New York Golden Gloves champion as an amateur.

In undercard action:

Former junior featherweight world champion Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe (20-2, 14 KOs), on the comeback trail following back-to-back defeats to Emanuel Navarrete, will face two-time world title challenger Chris “The Hitman” Avalos (27-7, 20 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight battle.

Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez (7-0-1, 7 KOs), who is coming off a highlight-reel first-round KO July 2 against Danny Murray, will face Kenyan veteran Dennis Okoth (4-3-1, 2 KOs) in a six-rounder at junior welterweight.

Italian heavyweight destroyer Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello (7-0, 7 KOs) will aim to make it eight knockouts in as many fights against an opponent to be named in a six-rounder. Vianello, a 2016 Olympian, knocked out Don Haynesworth in one round June 9.

Raphael “Trouble” Igbokwe (14-2, 6 KOs), winner of two straight bouts, will fight Genc Pllana (8-1-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-round super middleweight bout originally scheduled for July 16.

Two NBA players test positive for COVID-19 in Orlando

Out of the 322 players tested for COVID-19 since arriving on the NBA Campus July 7, two have returned confirmed positive tests while in quarantine, the league announced on Monday. 

According to the league, those players never cleared quarantine and have since left the Campus to isolate at home or in isolation housing.

Since July 1, during in-market testing, 19 NBA players newly tested positive. These players will stay in their home markets and recovering until they are cleared under CDC guidelines and NBA rules for leaving home isolation and joining the Campus.

The NBA regular season is expected to resume on July 30.

Herring tests positive for COVID-19, fight with Oquendo is off

Tuesday’s Top Rank on ESPN main event between WBO junior lightweight world champion Jamel Herring and Jonathan Oquendo will not proceed as scheduled after Herring tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this morning. The highly anticipated Mikaela Mayer-Helen Joseph junior lightweight bout will be Tuesday’s main event (ESPN & ESPN Deportes, 9 p.m. ET).

Said Herring, “I’m extremely disappointed that I’m not going to be able to fight tomorrow night. As I’ve shared previously, I tested positive for COVID-19 on June 22 after exhibiting symptoms. I quarantined and recovered as directed by my doctor. I then retested on July 3 and my test was negative, so this result is a complete surprise. I was fully prepared to make my second title defense tomorrow night. I am hoping that my team and Top Rank can reschedule this fight soon. Thank you for all the support everyone has shown. I can’t wait to get back in the ring and perform.”

In addition, the Luis Melendez-Eddie Vazquez bout has been canceled due to Melendez testing positive for COVID-19.

The ESPN telecast will continue as follows:

Main Event: Mikaela Mayer vs. Helen Joseph, 10 Rounds, Junior Lightweight
Clay Collard vs. Lorawnt-T Nelson, 6 Rounds, Middleweight
Ruben Cervera vs. Clay Burns, 6 Rounds, Lightweight
Javier Martinez (Pro Debut) vs. Jonathan Burrs, 4 Rounds, Middleweight

Twitter reacts to Washington retiring the Redskins name

As expected, the Washington Redskins have decided to retire their nickname and logo, the team announced on Monday. According to the team, owner Daniel Snyder and head coach Ron Rivera will be working together to find a new name.

 

The pressure was mounting against the team to change the name after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Also, retail giants Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart all said they would stop selling Redskins merchandise.

 

According to the Washington Post, On July 2, FedEx — one of the franchise’s top sponsors and the holder of its stadium’s naming rights — released a statement asking the team to change its name, and it sent a letter to team lawyers saying it would terminate the naming rights deal and not pay the contract’s remaining $45 million if Snyder did not change the team name. Other sponsors, including PepsiCo, Nike and Bank of America, also made similar demands.

 

Here is how social media reacted to the news:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wizards’ Brown on Orlando: ‘This is a big opportunity for me’

The goal for the Washington Wizards in Orlando is to try to make playoffs. However, the players who will try to make that happen have changed. 

In the NBA, it’s next man up, and with Bradley Beal(injury) and Davis Bertans out, one of the next men up is Troy Brown Jr. The second-year player has a lot of versatility. He can play multiple positions, and at almost 25 minutes a contest, the 20-year-old Brown is averaging 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Without Beal and Bertans, Brown will have more opportunities to have the ball in his hands, and more of a chance to showcase his talents.  

“For me, I feel like it’s a big opportunity,” Brown said about playing in Orlando on Friday. “I’m fully trying to lock in for the minimal six weeks we have, so this is a big opportunity for me, and I want to take advantage of this, especially having this time, especially getting those three to four months off to focus on my body, and focus on things and get right, and get an opportunity to come back and make a statement, so I feel like this is a huge opportunity for me..

“You know how the NBA works. I’m sad for Brad’s(Beal) injury. It just sucks that he is not here with us, but at the end of the day, we have to go out and do our job. Brad is a big part for us, so it’s one of those things where we have a lot of guys through the age of 20 to 23. It’s a lot of opportunities here. With him(Beal) and DB(Bertans) being gone, we have to find people that can fill that role of scoring, so I definitely feel like it’s going to be a huge opportunity for a lot of us.”

The former 15th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, will get minutes, touches, and every opportunity to help get the Wizards to the playoffs. Brown has the ability and can get into the lane and finish around the basket. He still needs to improve from three-point range, which could develop in time. But in the end, the time is now for Brown to make his mark in Orlando. 

 

Haney talks Teofimo Lopez, Tank Davis, Loma, Ryan Garcia, Jose Ramirez, more

Undefeated WBC Lightweight champion, Devin “The Dream” Haney (24-0, 15 KOs), sounds off, putting the big names surrounding his weight class on notice as he awaits the announcement of this next fight. Also, Haney gives his thoughts on his next fight during the COVID-19 pandemic and the mental and physical benefits of being quarantined.

I’m excited to get back in the ring,” said Devin Haney. “This has been the longest time between fights in my career. My body received a well-deserved rest. I’m blessed.”

On working with and being compared to Floyd Mayweather:

“Lately, I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time with “TBE” Floyd Mayweather. Being compared to Mayweather is the ultimate compliment for any fighter in this era of boxing. I’m the most skilled fighter in the world right now, and I’m looking forward to an opponent I can make a statement against. I’m working diligently with Mauricio Sulaiman and the WBC to make the big fights happen. Every decision made by the WBC hasn’t went my way, but I have a genuine love and respect for the WBC family as a whole. I’m proud to represent the WBC organization.”

On Vasyl Lomachenko:

“Vasyl Lomachenko is a true professional and considered to be a top-five pound for pound champion. I challenged him for the WBC lightweight world title, and I didn’t get the big fight I wanted, but I got the belt I deserved by stopping Zaur Abdullaev and becoming Vasyl Lomachenko’s mandatory challenger to the lightweight world title. Ironically, the big fight never happened because Lomachenko and Top Rank petitioned the WBC not to fight me and award him the franchise title. I then petitioned the WBC to elevate me from interim champion to full world champion because Lomachenko chose not to fight me, and I had previously beat the highest-ranked fighter available. Let’s make this clear, you can’t win the franchise title, and you can’t challenge a franchise champion. I’m 21-years old, and I’m the WBC world lightweight champion, and I believe in fighting mandatory challengers. The 135 pounds unification runs through me. Enough said!

“At this point in my career, I don’t mind mandatories at all because it forces the best fighters in my division to get in the ring with me. They can run, but they can’t hide. Mandatory, for me, means mandatory cash. It’s good to be in a stacked division. If I can, I’m going to fight all of them. I hope Teofimo Lopez beats Loma and then fights me in a unification for all the belts like he promised Mauricio Sulaiman.”

On Ryan Garcia-Luke Campbell:

“To me, it looks like Luke Campbell is looking forward to the opportunity of getting beat up by me more than Ryan Garcia is looking forward to it. I’m guessing in Ryan’s defense, he’s never lost, so he’s moving a little different and trying to stay undefeated (lol), but I don’t think Eddie Reynosa and Golden Boy really don’t want him to fight me yet. Luke is accustomed to losing big fights. We know he’s come up short more than once. I think he has more of a… ‘I don’t give a damn attitude’ and I’m cool with that too!”

On Tank Davis:

“As far as Gervonta “Tank” Davis? I don’t like throwing water on a drowning man but leaving a stacked 135 pounds division, to take a fight at super featherweight kind of tells you where he’s at. It’s no secret I’m a problem at 135 pounds.”

On Jose Ramirez:

“I know Jose Ramirez ain’t sleeping good at night either, he got Haney at 140 pounds or Terence Crawford at 147 pounds problems to think about. I don’t wish that on anybody. Josh Taylor is an easier fight for Ramirez then me or Bud, but it’s still a tough 50/50 fight. Ramirez is out here looking like food on the low.”

On the COVID-19 Pandemic:

“This pandemic is something we’ve never seen,” Haney concluded. “It’s tough on everyone around the world. We’ve all been in quarantine for the last few months, including myself, and fortunately, staying at home is the best place to be. Similar in many ways to training camp. I pray to GOD things get back to normal soon. I’m anxious to get back in the ring as soon as the experts give the green light. I want all the smoke.”

Photo: Matchroom Boxing

Jaguars to limit capacity in 2020, fans required to wear face coverings

On Friday, the Jacksonville Jaguars announced that they would be limiting the number of fans that will be able to attend games in 2020. According to the team, TIAA Bank Field will be able to seat approximately 25 percent of its capacity. In addition to the limited capacity, fans will be required to wear face coverings.

Here is what the team sent out to their season ticket holders:

Dear Season Ticket Member, 

The health and safety of the entire Jaguars family, including our fans, remains our highest priority.  Alongside our stadium partners and national and local healthcare experts, we have and will continue to work diligently to develop new protocols to ensure our team can return to the field with a clear focus on winning and our fans can return to the stadium with peace of mind. 

It was our sincere hope to welcome a capacity crowd to TIAA Bank Field this fall and celebrate together with the First Coast community.  However, with the health and well-being of everyone in mind, the Jaguars anticipate reducing capacity this season.  In compliance with state and local authorities and following CDC social distancing guidelines, TIAA Bank Field will be able to seat approximately 25 percent of its capacity at each Jaguars home game in 2020.  Once the season begins, any future increase in capacity will depend on developments on the health and safety front.

As a ticket holder, here is what you need to know regarding tickets in 2020:

·       All season tickets will be returned, and funds paid to date will be credited to accounts.  Any payments scheduled for July have been canceled.  Season ticket members will have the opportunity to apply credited funds towards the purchase of tickets this season or in 2021. 

·       Full cash refunds will also be made available upon request. 

·       The Jaguars are working with Ticketmaster to develop a new seating chart that allows for six feet of distance between unaffiliated parties.  In early August, a new season ticket plan for 2020 will be introduced to existing season ticket members first. Access to tickets will be based on a variety of factors including account tenure. Based on demand, some single-game tickets may become available to the general public at a later date. 

·       Attendance at Jaguars games in 2020 will have no effect on existing season ticket member status. Regardless of your decision to attend Jaguars games in 2020, your account tenure will remain intact. All 2020 seat locations will be protected and offered for renewal in 2021.

The Jaguars and our stadium partners are also evaluating all aspects of our game day experience to ensure it is both safe and enjoyable for our fans.  Additional protocols, including parking and entry procedures, are still being developed and will be communicated prior to the start of the season, but will include the following:

·       Guests planning to attend games in 2020 will be required to wear face coverings as required by current guidelines.

·       TIAA Bank Field will transition to cashless payment for most exchanges including merchandise and food purchases. 

·       Additional hand sanitizing stations will be provided throughout the stadium along with increased directional signage to encourage social distancing. 

 In the coming weeks, you will receive instructions on how to purchase 2020 season tickets under the revised plan.  We will continue to provide you with timely updates that allow you to make an informed decision.