Fury: ‘I believe the fight with Wilder only helped my profile here in the United States’

Ten minutes before the press conference was set to begin, Tyson Fury waltzed onto the stage at the David Copperfield Theater and started the proceedings early. The Tyson Fury Show had officially hit the Vegas Strip.

Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) will defend his lineal heavyweight title against undefeated German challenger Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs) Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena, live on ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET).

He commented on his challenger’s good lucks and engaged in a pose-off with his adversary before the formal press conference got underway.

Here are some of things Fury had to say as he prepares to battle Schwarz:

On the response of the American people to him

Fury: “I feel like the crowd has warmed to me. Everyone has been very welcoming. The American people, all different types of people, have been coming up to me, people from all over the world here in Vegas. People who don’t speak English, people who don’t even watch boxing. It’s quite humbling, to be honest. It’s a very great experience to be here, Las Vegas, MGM Grand. It’s where all the great fights happen. Seeing your face on all the movie screens and posters is great.”

“I believe the fight with Wilder only helped my profile here in the United States, and here we are again, only a few days away from the biggest fight of my life.”

On his public battle with mental awareness

Fury: “I talk about mental health a lot because it’s very important to me. Only 18 months ago, I was in a very, very dark place. I just wanted to prove to people that there is a way back. You can come back from anything. Nothing is impossible, and if you’d seen me a time ago when I was very heavy and very unwell… I love to inspire people. to get better and change their lives as I did mine. And I’m living proof that anyone can change.”

“I was down and out. I have my family right here, and even those guys thought I was gone. There was no return for ‘They Gypsy King.’ No more. He was finished. I dusted myself off, got back on the road, got back mentally well, and me, {trainer} Ben {Davison} and the whole team, we worked very hard for a long time to get to this position.”

“I am living the dream. That’s why I’m so happy, so positive all the time. I’m one of the only people who is living what they want to do. There is nothing else that I wanted to do. As a kid, I wanted to be heavyweight champion of the world. So now, everything is a bonus. I wake up every day, enjoy life, and take life as it comes.”

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
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Quigley-Johnson set for July 18

Undefeated Irish contender Jason Quigley (16-0, 12 KOs) will return to the ring to defend his NABF Middleweight Title against battle-tested Tureano Johnson (20-2-1, 14 KOs) in the 10-round main event of the July 18 edition of the Golden Boy DAZN Thursday Night Fights at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. The fights will be streamed live on RingTV.com and on Facebook Watch via the Golden Boy Fight Night Page beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT. The series will also be available on regional sports networks around the nation.

Quigley is a 28-year-old contender who has an unblemished record after turning professional in 2014. The native of Donegal, Ireland has defeated the likes of James “The King” De La Rosa, Glen “Jersey Boy” Tapia, and Freddy “El Riel” Hernandez. In his last fight, Quigley fought for the first time in the U.K. since moving to the United States to start his professional career. In that fight, Quigley defeated Mathias Eklund via second-round technical knockout. After a year-long setback due to an injury suffered in his right hand against Tapia, Quigley has been making a comeback and is eager for a world title shot.

“I’m excited because getting in the ring with these good fighters is going to make me perform even better,” said Jason Quigley. “This is going to be a massive year for me so I’m looking to putting on a great performance. We are focused on climbing the middleweight ladder, and we’re on the road now to world titles. That makes me excited. Tureano Johnson is a great fighter. He’s a tall fighter, and he’s got the repertoire and the armory. I’m expecting a tough fight, and I hope he comes 110% prepared because I’m going to be 110% prepared.”

Johnson is a 35-year-old contender who hopes to fight for a world title despite some setbacks in his career. Johnson’s only losses were against Curtis “The Cerebral Assassin” Stevens and Sergiy “The Technician” Derevyanchenko. After a very tough battle against Fernando “El Huracan” Castaneda in February, the native of Nassau, Bahamas is eager to make his case for a world title opportunity by handing Quigley his first loss.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to fight Jason Quigley for the NABF Middleweight Championship on July 18 in Indio, California,” said Tureano Johnson.”Quigley is an excellent boxer with an excellent record, but I will come to the fight prepared to give and to take. I will give him his first loss and take his NABF Championship.”

In the co-main event, Alberto “Impacto” Melian (5-0, 3 KOs) of Buenos Aires, Argentina will defend his NABA Super Bantamweight Title in a 10-round fight against Leonardo Baez (14-2, 8 KOs) of Mexicali, Mexico.

Marlen Esparza (6-0, 1 KO) of Houston, Texas will fight in an eight-round flyweight fight.

Ricardo Sandoval (14-1, 9 KOs) of Rialto, Calif. will participate in a 10-round flyweight battle against Marco Sustaita (12-1-1, 10 KOs) of Oceanside, Calif.

Carlos “The Solution” Morales (18-4-3, 7 KOs) of Los Angeles will return in a 10-round lightweight fight.

Charles Huerta (20-6, 12 KOs) of Paramount, Calif. will fight in an eight-round super featherweight clash.

Cavaliers hire Lindsay Gottlieb as assistant coach

The Cleveland Cavaliers have hired Lindsay Gottlieb as an Assistant Coach, the team announced today, and according to ESPN, she is the first women’s collegiate head coach recruited to an NBA staff.

“Lindsay Gottlieb will be a great addition to Coach Beilein’s and Coach Bickerstaff’s group. She has an extensive track record of success and growth with her teams and players and has also been a strong culture-driver as a core part of that,” said Altman. “The more we researched and got to know Lindsay, the more we came to understand that she would be an impactful part of where we want to go as a team. Coach Gottlieb brings a depth of basketball knowledge, leadership, perspective and approach to her craft that will fit very well with our team and staff alike. We’re fortunate that she was willing to leave her role as Head Coach at such a solid and successful program at Cal.”

 “I am excited to have a coach with Lindsay’s experience as a part of the new coaching staff with the Cavaliers,” said Beilein. “Lindsay truly values and embraces player development and a culture of winning basketball habits. Her success at Cal Berkeley speaks for itself and her insight in our meetings, practices and games will hold tremendous value. After sitting with her, it was easy to see how she will connect quickly with our staff and our players, and we all benefit because of that connection. I’m looking forward to merging all of her years of experience and vision for the game with our current and future coaching staff.”

Gottlieb joins Beilein’s staff after serving eight years as the University of California, Berkeley women’s basketball head coach, where she led the Golden Bears to a combined 179-89 (.668) record (86-58, .597 in Pac-12) since taking over the helm in 2011-12. Her 179 wins are the second-most by any head coach in Cal women’s basketball history. During her tenure, Gottlieb led Cal to seven overall NCAA tournament appearances (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019), including the program’s first-ever Elite Eight and Final Four appearances in 2013 – becoming just the seventh NCAA women’s coach since 1990 to reach the Final Four within the first two seasons leading a program. That same year, she was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year by media and was a Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist, while also guiding the Golden Bears to their first Pac-12 Regular-Season Championship.

Gottlieb coached five Cal players to 10 total All-America seasons and saw six of her players become WNBA Draft selections during her time as head coach. She holds 11 overall years of Division I head coaching experience, posting a 235-128 (.647) overall record with Cal and UC Santa Barbara (2008-2011), where she led the Gauchos to two Big West Championships (2009, 2011) and was named Big West Coach of the Year in 2009.

“I am very thankful, proud and excited to be joining the Cavaliers as an Assistant Coach. After meeting with Koby Altman, Coach Beilein and Coach Bickerstaff, I knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of and a team I wanted to dedicate myself to,” said Gottlieb. “While this move provided a unique and special chance to move directly from Cal Berkeley and women’s college basketball to the NBA, it was really about being part of building and growing something special and adding value to a team and organization that is focused on doing things in a way that I believe strongly in.”

 “The vision for the Cavs’ future is compelling and I look forward to helping make it a reality. At the same time, on a personal level, I am honored to hopefully impact young girls and women to be empowered to pursue their own visions and to be inspired to turn them into reality as well.”

“I also want to thank Cal for what has been an amazing job, and really my home and family, for the better part of 15 years. It is very difficult to say goodbye. The university leadership, the athletic department, my fellow coaches, staff and, most of all, our players have been wonderful and inspiring to work with. The program is in great shape and I have no doubt it will continue to have a high level of success.”

Fury: ‘The only title that I care about is the lineal championship of the world’

The undefeated lineal heavyweight champion of the world— Tyson Fury AKA “The Gypsy King” — put on a show Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas at the media workout to promote Saturday’s title defense against Tom Schwarz at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

In the co-feature, former two-time super middleweight world title challenger Jesse “Hollywood” Hart will make his light heavyweight debut versus longtime contender Sullivan Barrera.

And, in the featured undercard bout, 2016 U.S. Olympian and top 130-pound contender Mikaela Mayer will look to extend her unbeaten record versus Lizbeth Crespo in a 10-rounder.

After working out at the MGM Grand, this is what Fury had to say:

“I box because I like to keep happy and it keeps me happy to fight. I plan to box until I can’t box anymore. I feel fantastic at the minute. Boxing keeps me really happy, and I’m very happy with where I am in my life at the minute. I want to box on. I don’t see myself retiring. I just turned 30 years old. I’ve got over 10 years left in this game, so you’ll have to keep seeing me for the next 10 years, I’m afraid. Keep entertaining, keep putting on great shows.”

“The only title that I care about is the lineal championship of the world. It goes back a long, long way, and that’s the one I’m defending with pride and honor.”

“If you look at the Ring Magazine ratings, I think they get it quite right. I think that’s the official ratings of today, the most fair, the most accurate.”

On rising from the Deontay Wilder knockdown in the 12th round

“I think it was a higher power that brought me to my feet to spread the word on mental health and to help other people. I hope it inspired many people as I enjoyed getting up off that canvas and fighting on. And it takes more than a punch to knock me down and make me stay down.”

Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph talks new contract

The Minnesota Vikings and TE Kyle Rudolph have agreed to terms on a contract extension, the team announced today.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a four-year deal worth $36 million.

When Minnesota drafted Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr. in the second round, many thought Rudolph could be traded. However, that did not happen, and Rudolph will be in Minnesota for the next few years.

On Monday, as the Vikings begin mandatory minicamp, Rudolph discussed his new deal with the club:

Q: When did it start to feel like a new deal was close enough to actually happen?

Rudolph: Over this weekend, and like he [Rick Spielman] said, last night we agreed to terms.

Q: You and many other players have chosen to stay in Minnesota despite the possibility of leaving to play elsewhere. How much of that is to do with the team’s win-now mentality here in Minnesota?

Rudolph: I think it certainly embodies the winning now mentality, but to me it just embodies the mentality of how much they care about winning, period. They [The Wilf family] came to this organization a little over 12 years ago with one goal, and that was to win a championship. All the stuff that they’ve done since is falling in place with that goal. Certainly we want to win now, that’s not going to change, but with their leadership, they’re providing us every resource imaginable to win now but also to win for a long time.

Q: Were there points during this process where you thought you wouldn’t be back in Minnesota this season?

Rudolph: No, not at all. Like I said, throughout this whole process rumors are spread, but my wife Jordan and I knew all along that we were going to end up back here. Like I said, Rob [Brzezinski] and my agents worked long hours to make sure that there was a way to get this done, and I’m excited it’s behind me. I mentioned last night that I have unfinished business, and that business is bringing the first championship here to this organization and to the state of Minnesota. That’s my only goal at this point. Being the best leader and best football player that I can be so that this team can win a championship, and we can do something that’s never been done in this organization.

Q: How difficult is it to balance the business side of things, like avoiding a contract that would be bad for you, and being a good teammate and a good employee of this team?

Rudolph: It’s difficult if you don’t have people in your corner that you trust. I mentioned it a couple of times, it was easy for me to come out here every day and focus on football because I have two agents that I trusted and I play for an organization that I trust. I knew that Rob had my family and my best interests in mind and I knew my agents had my best interests in mind, so that allowed me to come out here every day and just focus on becoming a better football player and helping this offense get a little better so we can win a championship, and knowing that at some point I’d be standing up here and it’d all be finished.

Q: With that said, it has to be a bit of a relief to get it done now.

Rudolph: I think the biggest thing I’m relieved of is that I won’t be all of your guys’ headlines for the rest of the summer. I’m not used to being that guy in the headlines, so I apologize, now you’ll have to have something else to write about for the rest of the summer. I’m certainly excited that this is behind us and now I can just focus on football. I can focus on being a leader of this football team and doing everything I can to make sure that we’re the first. That’s my only goal, I want to be a part of the first team to win a championship here. We got a taste of it two years ago. When we got close, you got a feel for how important that would be to this state, to this community, to this fan base. Certainly to every player and employee of this organization, but Rob and I were talking this morning, that as important it is for all of us to win [a championship] for us, it’s equally important to win it for this community and for this state, because they deserve it.

Q: Besides the football, how much of a factor do you think your leadership and off of the field involvement played in your contract extension?

Rudolph: Well I think the community, and I mentioned that this is home now for us, played a big part in it. I certainly could have just played out this year and tested free agency and maybe got more money, but that’s not what it was about. I want to be a part of this organization, and nine years ago a guy by the name of Jim Kleinsasser, who was in his 13th year here in Minnesota, talked to me about how throughout his career he had a couple opportunities to make more money elsewhere, but he stayed here because of this organization and because of the state of Minnesota. Now, nine years in and under contract through my 13th year, I hope I’m the same way. It’s important for us, although maybe we left a little bit of money on the table by not going to free agency, I don’t care about that. It’s about being here in the state of Minnesota, playing for this team, being in the color purple that I love and I’m comfortable in, and having my family here in this community.

Q: There also seems to be unfinished business for you personally, being that you’re under 30 years old and still can play. What was the groundswell for that?

Rudolph: Absolutely. I’m under contract for the next five years, and I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that the next five years are better than my last five. I feel like I have a lot of good football left in me, and I feel like this team is just starting to scratch the surface, especially on the offensive side of the ball. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen over the last 11 practices, and the way that these guys come to work every day, the way that our staff prepares us, the new system, the guys that we have in that locker room. There’s a reason why people come back to this organization. There’s a reason why Anthony Barr left more money on the table. There’s a reason why I had no interest in testing free agency. It’s because of the culture that we’ve established around here. Culture is what ultimately brings championships. In this league the talent level is so even across the 32 teams, and if you don’t have good culture then you don’t have a chance. We have the culture here, and I’m really excited for this upcoming season.

Q: How much do you think about how long you’d like to play, being that players don’t often get their wish in this league?

Rudolph: I feel better now from a physical standpoint now at 29 than I did at 21. You just learn how to take care of your body, you know what your body needs throughout the course of an offseason to become a better football player, but to also prepare yourself for that season. You learn week by week in season what your body needs to be ready to play on Sundays. I joked about it in the opening press conference this offseason, something about the golf analogy of not being on the back nine yet. Tony Gonzalez played for 17 years, and he set the pole. I’m going to try and play as long as I can, and like I said, at this point my focus is becoming a better football player now and doing everything I can to help this offense get a little better and bring that first championship to the state of Minnesota.

Q: How do you feel knowing that you signing this extension can help the Vikings from salary cap standpoint?

Rudolph: The numbers side obviously speaks for itself. I’ve lowered the cap number, and now we have wiggle room throughout the course of the season, which obviously everyone knows is necessary. I’m glad that worked out as well.

Raiders to be featured on “Hard Knocks”

HBO Sports, NFL Films and the Raiders team up for an unfiltered all-access look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League when HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE OAKLAND RAIDERS kicks off its five-episode season this summer. Spotlighting this AFC West franchise that has an intriguing mix of established veterans, highly regarded rookie hopefuls and free-agent acquisitions under head coach Jon Gruden, the 14th edition of the 18-time Sports Emmy® Award-winning series debuts TUESDAY, AUG. 6 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT). Other hour-long episodes of the first sports-based reality series – and one of the fastest-turnaround programs on TV – debut subsequent Tuesdays at the same time, with encore plays Wednesday nights, culminating in the Sept. 3 season finale.

HARD KNOCKS will also be available on HBO on Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and HBO partners’ streaming platforms.

“If you’re a fan of football or great storytelling, HARD KNOCKS with the Oakland Raiders is going to be must-see television,” says Peter Nelson, executive vice president, HBO Sports. “We are so grateful to this storied franchise for opening up its doors and allowing HBO and NFL Films to spend the summer with the Raiders in what promises to be a compelling and engaging training camp.

“Since the AFL-NFL merger, the Raiders have been a part of some of the most iconic moments in League history,” says NFL Films senior executive Ross Ketover.  “We at NFL Films have been thrilled and honored to showcase the mythology of the Raiders from the Holy Roller, Sea of Hands, Ghost to the Post all the way to today with Coach Gruden and this unbelievable cast of players and coaches. Needless to say, we’re very much looking forward to this season of Hard Knocks.”

Camera crews will head to the Bay area in the next few weeks to begin filming, with the action heating up in August when the cinema verité show focuses on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches. HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE OAKLAND RAIDERS will chronicle head coach Jon Gruden entering his second season leading the team, assistant coaches and players throughout training camp and the preseason.

The Raiders compete in the highly-competitive AFC West, where they maintain an intense rivalry with each of their opponents and have their sights set on ascending in the standings. Each week, viewers will get an inside look as players experience the daily rigors of an NFL training camp. Cameras will document hours of conditioning practices and meetings, while chronicling players as they compete for a roster spot and bond off the field.

“Everybody wants to be a Raider. Now they’ll find out what it takes to become one,” said Raiders owner Mark Davis.

A 30-person NFL Films crew will be in Raiders’ training camp in Napa Valley, shooting more than 1,750 hours of footage over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will have unencumbered access to players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.

No other sports reality series can match the production excellence, critical acclaim, awards and audience numbers posted by HARD KNOCKS, which has produced 67 memorable episodes and one anniversary special in its first 13 seasons. Episodes have averaged 3.9 million viewers over the past four seasons.

Winner of 18 Sports Emmy® Awards to date, HARD KNOCKS launched with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002, and resumed in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs, subsequently spotlighting the Cowboys (2008), Cincinnati Bengals (2009), New York Jets (2010), Miami Dolphins (2012), Bengals (2013), Atlanta Falcons (2014), Houston Texans (2015) and Los Angeles Rams (2016). The 2017 edition chronicled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and captured the Sports Emmy® for Outstanding Serialized Documentary. The widely acclaimed series on the Cleveland Browns in 2018 earned two Sports Emmy® Awards for production excellence. HARD KNOCKS has won a Sports Emmy®every year it has aired since 2008.

Seven of the last nine teams featured on HARD KNOCKS have equaled or improved their win-loss record in the regular season. The Cleveland Browns launched the transformation of their organization last summer on HBO and went from a winless season to coming within half a game (7-8-1) of a .500 campaign.

Jalen Ramsey: ‘I feel I have earned a new contract’

Jaguars corner Jalen Ramsey was hoping for a new contract this offseason, but according to Ramsey, that will not be happening this year.

In April, Jacksonville exercised the fifth-year option on Ramsey’s contract, which means he will be under contract until 2020. Ramsey is scheduled to make $3.6 million in 2019.

Entering his fourth season in the league, Ramsey, 24, has established himself as one the better corners in the league, and while Ramsey made the Pro Bowl last season, he was not as good as he was in 2017. However, he still one of the best corners in football.

Today, Ramsey addressed his contract situation as the Jaguars begin mandatory minicamp.

(On his contract)

Ramsey: “It is something that we have expressed of course and kind of got into. I let my agent talk to the [Jaguars] and they have had dialogue of course. As far as I know, I’ve been let know that I will not be getting a contract extension. I will not be getting a contract extension this year. You all take that however you may want to take that, but I’m excited to be … As long as I’m a part of this organization, as long as I’m part of Duval County, I’m going to give the city and the players all I’ve got. I think you all know that. I have fought through injuries. I have fought through everything. I have not missed a game. I think I am in a similar situation as Yann as far as I have outplayed my rookie contract, and I feel I have earned a new contract, but at the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world. I am tremendously blessed. I am so blessed that I am not down or anything like that at all. That is the circumstance. That is what I have been told.”

(On the Jaguars not having the money to extend his contract right now)

Ramsey: “The money is always there my guy. The money is always there, but like I said, that is all I will say about it. I am happy to be here. I want to be a part of the team, but [a contract extension] won’t happen this year. I will just say that.”

(On his expectations for the secondary with them having more time together) “Do we [have more time together]? What do you mean? It is my second year with D.J. [Hayden]. Me and A.J. [Bouye] will have played with each other for three [years]. This will be two for D.J. We have two new safeties, that will be secondary included. We have not played with them yet in a game. Corners, yes, but it is a whole collective thing as a secondary. We have to work with the safeties. It will be good though. We are early on in the year. It is June 11. We have a long way to go before September, even before training camp. We are going to have these couple days and then we are going to go on a long break. This is just the beginning. Today, I feel like it went good. This is just the beginning.”

(On if he has to have more of a leadership role with Tashaun Gipson Sr. no longer with the team) “I don’t. I think the [other players] are equipped to fill in and do their jobs well. To be honest, it’s my first day here. I do not know who will be in the secondary doing the speeches and breaking us down. I don’t know. It will not be. That is just not me. It doesn’t matter how much someone tries to force it on me. It is just not me. I have never done it since I have been here. It was ‘Gip’ in the past. Of course, I miss Gip. It will be somebody. Somebody will want to do that. Somebody will step into that role. I know Ronnie might. I don’t know. It’s my first day here.”

Claressa Shields aiming to become a three-division world champion

Undisputed middleweight world champion Claressa Shields will aim to make history by becoming the fastest fighter in boxing, male or female, to become a three-division world champion when she takes on former world champion Ivana Habazin Saturday, August 17 live on SHOWTIME.

The showdown for the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight Title headlines a SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast at 9 p.m. ET/PT from Dort Federal Event Center in Shields’ hometown of Flint, Mich. The vacant WBC Women’s Diamond Super Welterweight Championship will also be on the line in Shields’ first professional fight in her hometown.

The 24-year-old Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) is a two-division titlist who became the undisputed middleweight champion with a near-shutout victory over Christina Hammer in April on SHOWTIME. In doing so, she joined Terrence Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, Oleksandr Usyk and Cecilia Braekhus as the only fighters to have unified all four major world titles in any weight class (Katie Taylor has since joined the prestigious list).

Now, the Flint star seeks to make even more history in her sixth headlining appearance on SHOWTIME. With a win over Habazin on August 17, Shields would become a three-division champion in just 10 bouts, breaking the record of Vasiliy Lomachenko, who accomplished the feat in 12 fights.

“It’s hard to even put into words how excited I am to be returning home as undisputed champion and fighting in front of all my fans in Flint,” said Shields. “And having the opportunity to become world champion in a third weight division faster than any man or woman in boxing history will make August 17 a night I will cherish forever. It’s another big step forward in lifting women’s boxing on the road to equality.”

Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs), of Zagreb, Croatia, is ranked No. 1 by the WBO at 154 pounds. The 29-year-old, who will be making her U.S. debut, won the IBF Welterweight Title over Sabrina Giuliani in 2014. In her next fight, Habazin dropped a unanimous decision to Braekhus in a historic unification bout where Braekhus picked up all four major world title belts. Most recently, Habazin avenged one of only three losses in her career to Eva Bajic in Zagreb.

“I’m honored to fight on SHOWTIME and to be making my debut in the U.S.,” said Habazin. “It’s a dream come true and this is a huge chance for me to prove that I am one of boxing’s elite fighters. I will not let this opportunity pass. I’m not just coming to the U.S. to fight, I’m coming for victory.

“I’m actually a big fan of Claressa. She made history for women’s boxing and will be a great opponent for me. She’s very confident in herself, she’s aggressive, she can move, she has speed and good defense. But I have all of this too, and I can punch. I can’t wait to see what she is made of. They said her fight against Hammer was the biggest of all time, but I think this one will be the greatest ever.”

“I am delighted to promote another historic event featuring Claressa Shields, who strives to make history at a record-setting pace when she challenges herself to go down in weight to win a third division title against a very skilled and motivated fighter in Ivana Habazin,” said Dmitriy Salita, President of Salita Promotions. “Fans attending the fight at the Dort Center in Flint, as well as those watching the fight live on SHOWTIME, will be treated to another historic and exciting night of boxing featuring Shields.”

Shields was the first American boxer in history – male or female – to win consecutive Olympic gold medals. She turned professional following the 2016 Olympics and headlined the first women’s boxing main event in premium television history in just her second professional fight in 2017. Shields became unified women’s super middleweight world champion in just her fourth professional fight, and a two-division champion in her sixth professional contest. She was crowned the undisputed 160-pound champion in her ninth fight than three years after turning professional following the 2016 Olympics.

The undercard for the SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast will be announced in the coming weeks.

HOF English on Embiid: ‘I don’t know if he’s got the heart of a champion yet'(AUDIO)

The Philadelphia 76ers were very close to beating the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals. In Game 3, Joel Embiid was unstoppable. He dropped 33 points, collected 10 rebounds, and block five shots, and after three games, Philly was up 2-1 with an opportunity to go up 3-1 in Game 4 at home. However, Embiid would get sick; he was ineffective in Games 4 and 5. The Raptors would win both of those games and would win the series in seven after Kawhi Leonard’s buzzing beating, series-clinching jump shot.

Many point to Embiid’s health as one of the reasons the 76ers lost the series, and some pointed to his body language during Games 4 and 5. Embiid not only played sick, but he looked sick. It was written all over his face, and it looked as if the team was deflated because of it.

TNT’s Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal were critical of Embiid’s body language, and Hall of Famer Alex English noticed Embiid’s body language as well.

“I saw the very same thing, and that’s maybe why I’m saying and being as harsh as I am in saying I thought he looked really bad,” English recently said about Embiid on the Go4it podcast.  “I think that’s what it is; his body language, his hustle back on defense after he shot a shot, the effort that he put in a game. Those are the things that make me feel like I feel when I think of Joel Embiid.

“Before the playoffs, I said, ‘Hey man, this guy is the best thing since sliced bread,’ and after that, I’m like, ‘Well, maybe not.’ Because I don’t know if he’s got the heart of a champion yet, he’s still a young guy. It may take a while, but you’re in the NBA playoffs, you gotta give up more than what he gave.”

While he was critical of Embiid, English, like ESPN’s Mark Jackson, believes the 25-year-old center can be great, but he has some work to do.

“I think he will be one of the all-time great centers. I don’t think he will be the all-time great center,” English said. “It’s gonna be hard for anybody to top Bill Russell in my book, but I think he’s got potential. It’s parts of his game that he has to work on.

“There were times when he looked great out on the floor, and then, there were times he looked like a dog, and I don’t like that… He looked like he looked because of the way his health was at that moment. He was not feeling well; I only say that if you got the heart of a champion, you find a way to overcome. I remember Michael Jordan going into a series and just having one the greatest games of his life. Winning the championship being sick.(“Flu Game” in Game 5 of 1997 NBA Finals. Bulls would beat Jazz in 6) I know how it is when I played and I’ve been sick; I always picked it up and said, ‘Hey, I gotta focus even harder because of this.”

Embiid is special, and I think he learned a lot in these playoffs. The Sixers needed him to be at his best. In the Toronto series, the team was plus-90 with him on the floor, but they were minus-111 when he was off the floor, which shows that Embiid is a difference maker.

However, he has to get in better shape and do a better job of taking care of his body. If he can stay healthy, his name will be up there with great centers in the history of the game, but if he does not do what he can to stay healthy, we might be talking about what could have been.

Listen to the complete interview with English below. He talks Embiid at 08:46: