Crawford-Khan: ESPN PPV details

The undefeated pound-for-pound king, three-division world champion and reigning WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford will headline the inaugural Top Rank on ESPN pay-per-view broadcast against former unified super lightweight world champion Amir “King” Khan Saturday, April 20 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Madison Square Garden.

Crawford vs. Khan will be available via all major cable and satellite providers with a suggested retail price of $59.95 (SD) or $69.95 (HD).

All undercard bouts will air live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, beginning at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.

Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), the fighting pride of Omaha, Nebraska, unified all four super lightweight titles in August 2017 and moved up to the welterweight division intent on doing the same. In June 2018, he won the WBO welterweight title with a dominant ninth-round stoppage over Manny Pacquiao conqueror Jeff “The Hornet” Horn. Four months later, in front of a packed hometown house at the CHI Health Center Omaha, he stopped bitter rival Jose Benavidez Jr. in the 12th round.

Khan (33-4, 20 KOs), who captured an Olympic silver medal in 2004 for Great Britain at the age of 17, has long been one of boxing’s most captivating performers. He won his first world title in 2009 and has victories over Marco Antonio Barrera, Zab Judah, Marcos Maidana, Paulie Malignaggi, Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander. He is undefeated as a welterweight and is once again attempting to prove his greatness against boxing’s best.

In other action on the pay-per-view broadcast:

•    Lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez (12-0, 10 KOs) will face former world title challenger and two-time European lightweight champion Edis Tatli (31-2, 10 KOs) in a 12-round co-feature. Lopez is ranked in the top five by all four major sanctioning organizations and is coming off a savage seventh-round knockout over Diego Magdaleno.

•    In the other co-feature attraction, Shakur Stevenson (10-0, 6 KOs), the 21-year-old featherweight phenom who earned a silver medal for the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will face former world title challenger Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz (24-1, 16 KOs) in a 10-rounder.

•    Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo (24-1, 16 KOs), one of Puerto Rico’s most popular fistic attractions, will fight former interim world champion Bryan Vasquez (37-3, 20 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight duel with potential world title implications.

CRAWFORD vs. KHAN is a 12-round fight for the WBO welterweight championship of the world, presented by Top Rank in association with Matchroom Boxing and Khan Promotions. The event is sponsored by Geico. CRAWFORD vs. KHAN will take place Saturday, April 20, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT at Madison Square Garden, and will be produced by Top Rank and ESPN and distributed live by ESPN Pay-Per-View.


Tyson Fury, Queensberry Promotions agree to co-promotional deal with Top Rank/ESPN

Tyson Fury, one of the world’s most dynamic and popular heavyweight boxers, and Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren are joining forces with Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank. The agreement will mean that Fury will be a headline part of the boxing lineup under the historic, long-term Top Rank on ESPN relationship.

Fury, the undefeated lineal heavyweight champion, will have his bouts co-promoted by Top Rank and Queensberry Promotions. The deal calls for a minimum of two bouts per year in the United States.

You wonder if this will have an impact on Wilder-Fury 2, being that Wilder is with PBC, and Fury is now with Top Rank/ESPN, but I guess, we’ll have to wait and see.

Since announcing the landmark Top Rank on ESPN agreement in 2017, and expanding it in August 2018, the comprehensive alliance has showcased blockbuster Top Rank fights and content across ESPN networks and ESPN+, the multi-sport, direct-to-consumer streaming service in the U.S.

All the parties will work closely to set and announce the details of Fury’s debut soon.

BT Sport will continue to be the television home in the United Kingdom for all of Fury’s fights.

Top Rank, Fury’s management team MTK Global and Queensberry Promotions, worked seamlessly to close the groundbreaking deal.

“Top Rank is very excited to enter into the promotional arrangement along with Queensberry Promotions for the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury,” Arum said. “He is a generational heavyweight talent at the peak of his powers. We also look forward to our growing relationship with MTK Global, which represents so many world-class fighters.”

‘I’m delighted that Frank and Queensberry Promotions have teamed up with Top Rank to promote my fights in America,” Fury said. “With ESPN and BT Sport behind me, the biggest sports platforms in the world are now linked up with the best heavyweight in the world!”

“This is a great move for Tyson Fury and a great move for Queensberry Promotions,” Warren said. “By partnering up with ESPN and Top Rank in America, we’re giving our boxers, including Tyson, the opportunity to perform on the biggest and most powerful platforms on both sides of the Atlantic and become truly global stars.”

“MTK Global are thrilled to have played a role in what can only be described as a monumental partnership, no doubt the biggest one in the boxing industry, and we’re looking forward to working more closely with the teams at Top Rank and ESPN well into the future,” said Sandra Vauaghan, CEO MTK Global.

Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) won the lineal heavyweight title in November 2015 with a unanimous decision over Wladimir Klitschko, who at the time had made 18 title defenses during a nearly decade-long reign. While never losing inside the ring, Fury relinquished the WBA, IBF, and WBO belts while dealing with well-documented mental health and substance abuse issues. After more than two-and-a-half years away from the ring, Fury, whose weight had ballooned to more than 400 pounds, returned in June of last year.

A pair of wins over Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta set the stage for one of the most dramatic heavyweight title matches in boxing history. Against WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder on Dec. 1 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Fury put forth a boxing masterclass and survived a hellacious 12th-round knockdown to, seemingly, do enough to defeat Wilder. The judges, however, ruled the bout a split draw. Fury, still just 30, retained his status as lineal champion and realized an against-all-odds comeback story.


Doc Rivers on LeBron: ‘He’s far more Magic than Michael'(VIDEO)

Ever since LeBron James entered the league in 2003, he has been compared to Michael Jordan, but in reality, if you watch LeBron’s game, it’s a lot closer to another NBA legend, Magic Johnson.  To me, James is a more athletic version of Magic.

Throughout his career, James always seemed more comfortable facilitating than scoring, and according to Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, James has always been more Magic than Michael.

Rivers discussed LeBron and Magic today on ESPN’s First Take as LeBron prepares to make his Lakers’ debut tonight on the road against the Blazers.

Listen below:

Why Paul George’s ESPN series is bad for the Lakers

Coming into the summer of 2018, it seemed like it was a foregone conclusion that Paul George was going to the Lakers. We have been hearing about George to the Lakers for past few years. Even before he was traded to OKC, you thought George would end up with the Lakers.

Now, with reports that the Lakers are concerned that George may sign elsewhere; George to the Lakers may never happen.

Here is another reason why George to L.A. may not happen. The 28-year-old George, who is a California native, has a three-part series airing on ESPN’s SportsCenter, which is documenting his free-agent decision.

The last man to have something similar was LeBron James back in 2010. James had a show titled The Decision. On this show,  which aired on ESPN, James announced his free agent decision. As we all know, James decided to leave Cleveland and take his talents to South Beach.

James took a massive beating from many different places after The Decision show. In Cleveland, his jersey was burned, and he was ripped mercilessly by players, media members, and fans alike. James, who was loved by many, became a villain.

The kind of backlash James received would not have happened if he did The Decision show and stayed in Cleveland.

“If I had to go back on it, I probably would do it a little bit different,”  James said in October 2010.

George does not seem like a guy who would be comfortable being a villain, and that is what he could become if he announces he is going elsewhere on ESPN.

With that being said, don’t expect George to leave the Thunder. He saw the backlash LeBron received eight years ago. He knows what could happen when you publicly diss a franchise on national TV.

Expect Part 3 of  “Paul George: My Journey,” to end with the five-time All-Star returning to Oklahoma City.

Stephen A. Smith on Kawhi: ‘I don’t know what the hell is going on'(WATCH)

The Kawhi Leonard situation just keeps getting stranger by the minute. Last week, according to ESPN, Leonard traveled to New York to continue rehabilitation for his lingering right quad injury under the supervision of outside medical personnel.

This is the second time Leonard has spent time in New York trying to rehab his right quad. Leonard was in New York with his medical team back in February.

On Sunday, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had this to say about Leonard:

“I don’t know when he’s going to feel, he and his group are going to feel like they’re ready to go. If I knew, he’d be here. When he and his group feel he’s ready, he’ll be ready,” Popovich said.

At this point, it is starting to look more and more unlikely that Leonard will play again this season. The two-time All-Star has played in only nine games this season.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is confused by the whole situation. Here is what he had to say on ESPN’s First Take today:

Jalen Rose: ‘Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio'(Watch)

The San Antonio Spurs have been the model of consistency. With the help of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, David Robinson, and Gregg Popovich. The Spurs were able to win five NBA titles in the last 20 years.

Now, there seems to be trouble in San Antonio. According to reports, Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs are not on the same page regarding his right quad injury. However,  Leonard has returned to San Antonio to rehab with the Spurs, according to an ESPN report. 

Even with Leonard’s return to San Antonio, ESPN’s Jalen Rose believes Leonard wants out of San Antonio.

Here is what he said today on ESPN’s First Take:


Lamar Odom responds to Stephen A. Smith

Lamar Odom is not very happy with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith today. On Thursday, when talking about how bad Knicks president Phil Jackson has been as an executive, Smith had this to say about Odom on First Take:

On Friday, Odom fired back. Odom, through his attorney Saam Zangeneh, sent a letter to ESPN chastising Smith for his comments about Odom’s addiction, and called on ESPN to “actively voice their disdain for Mr. Smith’s inappropriate statement and take the proper action to support those that are fighting this disease.”

Odom called Smith’s comments “slander’ on Twitter.  The Knicks signed Odom in April of 2014. The team waived him in July of that same year.

Smith probably will apologize at some point. You wonder if Smith’s comments could lead to a suspension?

Report: Lakers and Pacers in trade talks

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers and Pacers are in trade talks for Paul George. George, who is from Southern California, is reportedly interested in playing for the Lakers.

Seems to be the perfect move for both teams. Lakers have some young talent(Randle, Russell) they can unload, and the Pacers need to rebuild.

Check back for updates!

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on LaVar Ball: ‘I think he should step into the background’

Hall of Famer and former Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gave his take on LaVar Ball. Kareem gave his opinion about Ball on the His & Hers podcast with Michael Smith & Jemele Hill:

“I don’t think LaVar Ball is doing his sons any good. He seems to be just somebody that’s just out there trying to bring all the attention that he can to himself, and I don’t know what the purpose is for that. His sons are good athletes; let them do their thing. I think he should step into the background.”

I don’t think LaVar Ball is going to the background just yet.