Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin title fight postponed

Wilder, who embraced going to foreign territory to defend his title, was upset that the fight was called off.

“I’m very disappointed that due to Povetkin’s failed drug test the fight is not going to happen on May 21 in Moscow,” Wilder said in a statement. “I had worked very hard to prepare myself for this important title defense, spending the last two weeks training in England to get accustomed to fighting in Europe. I wanted to give the fans a great show, but we understand the WBC’s position that the fight occur on an even playing field.

“This is a huge disappointment and a setback to my goals in boxing. I want to be an active heavyweight champion and it is still my goal to collect all the belts and become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.”

Meldonium is the same drug for which tennis star Maria Sharapova and many other athletes recently tested positive. It was approved to be added to the banned substance list by the World Anti-Doping Agency in September, and the ban went into effect Jan. 1. Meldonium is used to increase blood flow and carry more oxygen to muscles, thereby enhancing stamina, a trait boxers would want in a long fight.

“The guy tested positive for a dangerous drug and the health and safety of Deontay was paramount, so the fight could not take place on May 21,” Wilder promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN.com. “Deontay would have fought King Kong without any regard for what substance was being used, but Povetkin’s use of this banned substance and the breach of the contract deprived Deontay of an opportunity to defend his title on a fair playing field. As a result, Deontay has suffered significant damages.

“He has gone through his entire training camp and expended a tremendous amount of time and money and energy. It’s awful.”

Andrey Ryabinsky of World of Boxing, Povetkin’s promoter, said the fight would be rescheduled while the rest of the card will go forward. A cruiserweight world title unification bout between Russia’s Denis Lebedev (28-2, 21 KOs) and Victor Emilio Ramirez (22-2-1, 17 KOs), of Argentina, has been moved from the co-feature to the main event.

“Any talk from Ryabinsky of a rescheduled date is both unfounded and premature,” DiBella said. “We need to sit back and await further rulings from the WBC, but we will weigh all of our options.”

There is a lot of money at stake. Based on Ryabinsky’s winning purse bid of $7.15 million, Wilder was due $4,504,500 to Povetkin’s $1,930,500 with the remaining 10 percent — $715,000 — going to the winner. With no fight, the purses won’t be paid and a lawsuit is likely to ensue; Wilder’s purse is sitting in escrow in a United States bank, according to his camp.

If there is a lawsuit, Ryabinsky could have issues mirroring a 2014 situation he was in.

Lebedev, who is promoted by Ryabinsky, was due to face Guillermo Jones in a rematch in Russia, but with the fighters in their dressing rooms hours before the fight, Jones tested positive for a banned diuretic, which is typically used as a masking agent for steroids. The fight was canceled, and Ryabinsky later won a judgment against Jones promoter Don King for the money he and Lebedev were owed for the bout.

Ryabinsky said Povetkin’s levels of meldonium were very low and that the traces in his system were left over from when he took it in September, before the ban.

“He has not taken it since Jan. 1. The situation is ambiguous,” Ryabinsky told Russia’s TASS news agency before the fight was called off. “The blood sample was taken in April this year.”

However, Povetkin was tested by the VADA on April 7, 8 and 11, and each of those tests came back negative for any banned substances, according to two letters ESPN.com obtained in which the VADA disclosed those test results to both sides and the WBC. Those results indicate that meldonium apparently entered Povetkin’s system after the ban was in place.

Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs), 30, a 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was supposed to make his fourth title defense against Russia’s Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs), 36, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist. Povetkin loomed as Wilder’s most significant opponent, and the fight is one of the significant bouts that could be made in the heavyweight division.

TORONTO — Twelve days ago, Kyle Lowry was a humbled two-time All-Star, working late into the night to try to fix his broken jump shot.

But on Sunday afternoon, with everything on the line, the Toronto Raptors point guard was the best player on the court.

And when he exited for the final time, with the franchise’s first trip to the Eastern Conference finals already secured, Lowry received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd at Air Canada Centre.

Go figure.

“Hard work pays off,” Lowry told ESPN.com after posting a 35-point, 9-assist, 7-rebound, 4-steal performance for the ages in Toronto’s 116-89 blowout victory over the Miami Heat in Game 7 of their second-round series.

“It’s the dedication that I’ve put into this game of basketball for myself and for this organization. I just wanted to make sure I could be the best player I could be, at all times — especially on the biggest stage.”

“The word ‘na?ve’ comes to mind pretty quickly more than anything, especially now that I’m old and looking back on it,” said Raycroft, 36. “You don’t really feel the complete gravity of it, which is obviously a positive, especially for these guys jumping into scenarios where they weren’t really expecting it. I had a whole year to kind of expect it. I was probably gearing up for it a month or two earlier and I was really excited when it came. For these guys to jump in, I’m sure come August it’ll really click in, so being a little na?ve is a good thing and just going out and letting it fly.”

Current Penguins coach Mike Sullivan coached Raycroft and the Bruins that season, and it ended with a loss to the Canadiens in seven games. Raycroft said he felt the coach had confidence in him, but it was also the presence of veteran Felix Potvin — the former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie who had bounced around and was in his last season in the league — that had a calming influence on Raycroft, similar to the relationship between Murray and Fleury.

“I’m willing to bet that Flower has been a huge help,” Raycroft said of Fleury. “I know for the few weeks to have Felix with me and talking to him, he had been through the trenches many times and won many huge games through his career, so to have him there, and he was the kind of guy who would tell you, ‘It’s just another game.’ I remember him having that demeanor and basically saying that to me. He was helpful to me, so I would imagine it’s a similar scenario because Marc-Andre has a similar personality and he just goes out and plays and has fun with it. I would assume that helps.”

Secretary of Navy: Patriots could lose player to active duty for a ‘year or so’

“Right now, we do have a process. And it hasn’t got up to me yet to do it. But there are a lot of paths to both play and to serve,” Mabus said, later adding, “I’m confident that we can work something out for Keenan to do both — to serve his country and to play professional football.”

But, as the case with Cardona indicates, the Ravens could lose Reynolds at some point, assuming he even makes the team in the first place.

I tried really hard to justify taking Zobrist and Segura is having a ridiculous season with his change of scenery, but Murphy has continued his relentless approach from his historic postseason. He’s hitting .405 with 13 doubles, two triples and five homers. Only Zobrist has more RBI and runs here than Murphy’s 22 each, but that difference is mostly a product of teammates’ production.

Shortstop options: Asdrubal Cabrera, Zack Cozart, Brandon Crawford, Jordy Mercer, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Aledmys Diaz (write-in)

And here’s our biggest conundrum. Take note of what I said above about it being too early to go only on this season and how we need to kind of predict the next six weeks in addition to judging the past six weeks. Who is the “establishment” candidate, though? Crawford? Or are we ready to move onto Seager or Russell? There’s no good answer there. What we do know is that Story easily has the best power here and best, forgive me, story of the season so far. Diaz has the best offensive slash line and it’s not close, but am I really going to throw away my vote on a write-in? No, no I’m not.

So, yeah, I’m saying we’ll get to see what Kessler can do in 2016, which on its face sounds shocking given how far most believe he is from being an NFL quarterback. And if he is thrust into the fire with this cast around him, you have to wonder if he’s worse off for it down the line.

My crystal ball says: He will be starting at least four games. Gulp.

Brock Osweiler
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. The Texans play a pretty big-boy schedule this year — tends to happen the year after you win the division — and expectations are high.

This can’t be a situation like a year ago with the coach having the quickest QB hook in the history of the NFL. This is Brock’s team. He’s the guy (even if the head coach sounded ambivalent at best about that prospect in the intro press conference and never even met the kid before the owner had stuffed $40 million into the QB’s pocket).

The 2016 NFL Draft featured multiple trades among the first 10 picks. The top two picks both got dealt away. The No. 8 pick was traded twice. The final trade in the top 10 saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers move down out of the No. 9 spot. They sent No. 9 to the Chicago Bears in exchange for No. 11 and No. 106.

Why were they so willing to move down two spots? According to Bucs GM Jason Licht, he had a pretty good feeling that neither the Bears nor the Giants (picking at No. 10) would take their target, former University of Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Not only that, but he felt picking up an extra selection would help make another, later move.

It’s their world. We’re just livin’ in it.

But, alas, the calendar is changing and grown men are congregating back to practice facilities and football fields around the country. It won’t be too long before this quarterback class of 2016 — veterans and rookies alike — have to actually show what they can do. And that, my friends, is where things can and will likely get dicey.

What we don’t really know about of these dudes is if they can perform as legitimate starters. Even in the case of many of these guys on their second contracts, we really don’t know if they can command a team and be true leaders and make plays on a big stage and lift others around them.

We still have more questions than answers and for all of the money that has been spent on them — all the draft picks surrendered to acquire them, all of the hours of evaluation, scrutiny and background work done — the greater reality is that these passers are largely unknown commodities. Or, in the case of some, they just are exactly what everyone thinks they are, and what they have been. But desperation can make you see things in them that have never been there. (Yeah, Eagles and Bradford, I’m talking to you).

Cubs Tie Team Record With Win Thursday vs. Diamondbacks

The last time that the Cubs won a dozen games in a row away from home was in the 1945 season, which also just happens to be the last time that the team made it to the World Series.

During their current 12-game road winning streak, the Cubs have outscored their opponents 72-25, with 29 of those runs coming over their last three games. According to Christopher Kamka of Comcast SportsNet, that 29 run total is the Cubs’ best start to a season on the scoreboard since the 1954 campaign, when they racked up a staggering 41 runs in their first trio of games.

Friday’s game against the Diamondbacks will not only provide the Cubs with an opportunity to break the franchise record for longest road winning streak, but will also give the team a chance to join some incredibly exclusive company.

According to Baseball Reference, the Cubs are one of only 10 teams to win their first three games by five or more runs. If they do that again on Friday, they will join the 1976 Cincinnati Reds as the only teams to accomplish that feat in the first four games of a regular season.

Moments after NFL fans learned which teams would be playing in the Super Bowl, counterfeiters took notice of the winners and began sending knock-off NFL merchandise to Chicago.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a large number of fake NFL jerseys and other gear has been seized by trained officers since Sunday.

Zobrist and the Cubs couldn’t solve Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, losing 2-1 on Sunday in front of 40,814 fans at Wrigley Field.

It was the Cubs’ first loss to the Pirates in the last eight games dating back to last September.

Cole was absolutely brilliant, allowing three hits (one of which was a sun-aided double by Dexter Fowler in the first when Pirates infielders lost track of the ball) and didn’t walk a batter, striking out seven.

Lester admitted it was hard not to notice he had something special brewing, but “it doesn’t matter now,” he said.

Lawrie also skipped a throw in the first inning that Jose Abreu couldn’t scoop, which allowed the first batter of the game (Jacoby Ellsbury) to reach against Miguel Gonzalez. Ellsbury later scored on a Beltran sac fly that made it a 1-0 game.

Tyronn Lue calls it a ‘relief’ to finally learn conference finals foe

What Cleveland wouldn’t do was look back at its regular-season series with Toronto — which the Raptors won 2-1 — as any indicator of how the conference finals could go.

“We’re a totally different team than the regular season,” James said.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue echoed James’ sentiment. “Nothin’,” Lue said when asked what the Cavs could learn from their previous games with the Raptors.

Kyrie Irving followed suit, simply saying, “No,” when asked if he could draw anything from those meetings, with both of the Cavs’ losses coming at the Air Canada Centre.

Irving later changed his stance ever so slightly, allowing that the Cavs’ experience in those losses in Toronto — two games in which Cleveland held fourth quarter leads only to fold down the stretch — could help them when the series shifts north for Games 3 and 4.

After openly pining for the chance to play his old crew earlier in the postseason, James was mum on the subject of the reunion not happening when asked about it on Sunday.

“No,” was all James said when asked if he was lamenting the fact that he missed out on the chance to compete against his friend Dwyane Wade.

“I’ve always said anytime you get an opportunity to get some rest throughout the course of our season, it’s always beneficial for anybody,” James said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re a 31-year-old guy who’s played a lot of basketball or you’re a 19-year-old kid who just came into the league. It doesn’t matter; you get a couple days in the postseason, there’s a benefit.”

In two short days, the wait will be over.

Silver does, however, say he believes that having logos on jerseys makes more sense today than it did even five years ago, when the idea of selling the spot was broached.

“The media landscape is changing,” Silver said. “People are watching less live television outside of sports. People are watching fewer commercials. This will become an important opportunity for companies for connecting directly with their consumers.”

NBA spokesman Mike Bass declined to confirm the vote tally.

“They’re ready to play,” Lue said. “I think [Sunday], it was a relief. Now we know who we’re playing and now we can get focused and now we can lock in on what we’re trying to do.”

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will take place in Toronto this September, and today we got our first look at the jerseys, which are being made by Adidas.

The good news is that the jerseys aren’t bad. Even the worst of them are adequate, and the best ones are spectacular.

Bears Coach John Fox Recalls Sept. 11 Attacks: ‘It’s Kind of Embedded in Me’

A few hours into their video work, Fox’s wife, Robin, called and asked him if he knew what was going on.

Stunned by his wife’s alarming tone, Fox told her he didn’t know what she was talking about. The coaches then opened the drapes in their offices and saw the Twin Towers missing from New York City’s skyline. In their place, they saw billowing smoke.

Fox and the Giants were departing from their plane when the flight that went down near Pittsburgh was pulling out of the jet way at Newark International Airport in New Jersey.

When the whole team and coaching staff found out about the attacks, several of them discovered they knew someone who had died. For Fox, it was the man who built his house who was killed.

The Giants practice facility was set up as a morgue, but no bodies ever arrived.

Two days after the attacks, NFL games were postponed that week. Fox visited Ground Zero with a group of people from the Giants and witnessed first responders still searching for bodies, an image that stays in his memory to this day.

Fourteen years later, Fox is preparing to play the Packers again, but this time in Chicago. Now, 800 miles away and three teams later, he wears an NPYD cap to honor the first responders as he leads the Bears’ workouts in Lake Forest.

“It’s kind of embedded in me ever since,” Fox said. “I lost some close friends. It holds a special place every Sept. 11.”

Selling counterfeit merchandise is a serious crime, and the Super Bowl is a prime location for these criminals.

In a townhouse development in Glendale, Arizona, a team of federal agents had a sting for illegal merchandise.

Merullo played three games in the 1945 World Series and went 0 for 2. The Cubs lost in seven games to Detroit, and haven’t made it back to the Series since then.

Bears’ Matt Forte Leading NFL Jersey Sales In Wisconsin

In the Packer-crazy state of Wisconsin, which NFL player leads in jersey sales?

It’s not Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb or Clay Matthews. In fact, it’s not even a Packer. The leader in NFL jersey sales in Wisconsin is Bears running back Matt Forte, according to Dick’s Sporting Goods.

RGIII Shows Off No. 10 Browns Jersey

ormer Redskins quarterback and current Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III will wear No. 10 with his new team.

He announced as much in a tweet Tuesday morning, including a rendering of the No. 10 Griffin Browns jersey.

Browns receiver Darius Jennings relinquished his No. 10 jersey so Griffin could have his favored number.

It’s a weird site, that’s for sure, one that surely stirs up all kinds of emotion for the legions of Griffin fans still lingering around the Washington area.

After all, many thought the former Baylor star would wear a Redskins jersey for the entirety of his career.

Of course, it can’t be any more depressing than the infamous Browns graveyard jersey.

And it has to be a happier site for Redskins fans than the RGIII Dallas Cowboys jersey that made waves toward the end of season.