Tampa Bay Rays ace Tyler Glasnow blamed the MLB's crackdown on foreign substances for his arm injury.

MLB will enhance its enforcement of the rules that prohibit applying foreign substances to baseballs, with pitchers subjected to random checks and could face ejections, fines and suspensions of 10 games, starting June 21.

Glasnow was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and a flexor tendon strain after exiting the Rays' 5-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday.

Placed on the 10-day injured list, Glasnow is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines and the 27-year-old pitcher vented his frustration on Tuesday.

"I switched my fastball grip and my curveball grip," Glasnow said during an animated conference call with reporters. "I had to put my fastball deeper into my hand and grip it way harder. Instead of holding my curveball at the tip of my fingers, I had to dig it deeper into my hand.

"I'm choking the s*** out of all my pitches."

"In my mind that sounds dumb," Glasnow said. "That sounds like an excuse a player would use to make sure he could use sticky stuff. I threw to the [Washington] Nationals ... I did well. I woke up the next day and I was sore in places I didn't even know I had muscles in."

In 2021, Glasnow has an ERA of 2.66 with 123 strikeouts – second only to Shane Bieber (130) – and a 0.93 WHIP.

"Waking up after that start, I was like, 'This sucks,'" Glasnow recalled. "Something is weird here. That same feeling is persisting all week long. I go into my start [Monday] and that same feeling [is there], it pops or whatever the hell happened to my elbow. I feel it. Something happened.

"Do it in the offseason. Give us a chance to adjust to it. But I just threw 80 innings, then you tell me I can't use anything in the middle of the year. I have to change everything I've been doing the entire season. I'm telling you I truly believe that's why I got hurt."

"That's out of the window," he said of his old grips. "I have to develop something where I can't hold the ball light anymore. I have to dig it deep into my hand. I'm taking a fastball and squeezing it twice as hard.

"Me throwing 100 mph and being [six-foot-seven] is why I got hurt, but that contributed. I'm frustrated that they don't understand how hard it is to pitch, and to tell us to do something completely different in the middle of the season is insane. It's ridiculous."

"Sunscreen and rosin is apparently the same as Spider Tack," Glasnow said. "All right, I guess I'll adapt and learn. And the only thing I learned was that it hurts to throw a ball in the middle of the season from having something to not having something."

"I'm sitting here, my lifelong dream. I want to go out and win a Cy Young," he said. "I want to be an All-Star and now it's s*** on. Now it's over. Now I have to rehab and try to get back in the playoffs. I'm clearly frustrated."

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers slammed his side for playing "hero basketball" as the Eastern Conference top seeds surrendered their lead against the Atlanta Hawks in the semi-finals.

The 76ers squandered a 13-point advantage in Atlanta, where the Hawks rallied to a 103-100 victory in Game 4 in the NBA playoffs on Monday.

Atlanta levelled the second-round matchup at 2-2 after 76ers All-Star and MVP finalist Joel Embiid missed an open lay-up in the dying stages, before Seth Curry's unsuccessful buzzer-beating three-point attempt to force overtime.

The 76ers saw their lead whittled away as the Hawks overpowered the visitors, irritating Rivers post-game.

"We stopped passing. I thought we started the game off that way," Rivers told reporters. "Then we got back into the ball movement and went back to hero basketball. Basically everybody wanted to be the hero instead of trusting the team, trusting each other.

"When you do that you usually lose especially when the other team outworks you the whole f****** game and that's what they did today."

Embiid, who has been battling knee issues during the playoffs, finished with 17 points and a playoff career-high 21 rebounds, yet appeared hampered.

Philadelphia's Embiid sustained a small meniscus tear in Game 4 of the first-round series against the Washington Wizards, returning for the semi-final opener with the fifth-seeded Hawks.

Rivers was unable to provide an update on Embiid's injury status.

"I don't know. He went in the back [to the locker room]," Rivers said. "I know something was bothering him but I'm not sure what it was."

Rivers refused to criticise Embiid for his late miss at 101-100, nor his side's final play for Curry's tough shot on the buzzer.

"To me the game should never have come to that point," Rivers said. "We missed so many opportunities. My eyes told me we blew a golden opportunity tonight."

On the final play, Rivers added: "It's seven seconds, you've got to go the length of the floor.

"That's what we drew up but anybody could have been open. We got a decent shot, Seth had a decent look, thought he'd made it."

Rivers felt the Hawks were the "more physical and tougher team".

The two sides meet again in Game 5 in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Israel Adesanya successfully defended his middleweight title once again, beating Marvin Vettori by unanimous decision in their rematch at UFC 263 in Arizona. 

UFC star Adesanya – who defeated Vettori by split decision in April 2018 – navigated five rounds with minimal difficulty, prevailing 50-45 on all three judges' scorecards in his third title defence since taking the belt with a knockout of Robert Whittaker in October 2019. 

Adesanya's only potential trouble spot came early in the third round on Saturday when Vettori knocked down the Nigeria-born New Zealander, but he weathered that challenge and handled everything else the Italian threw at him. 

A rematch with Whittaker seems on the cards as Adesanya (21-0) called out the Australian following his win, demanding a showdown in Auckland, New Zealand.

"You don't get to decide -- I get to decide," Adesanya said. "Because I'm the mother****** king, b****!"

Whittaker responded with a tweet that read "rest up, see you soon." 

 

 

Moreno first Mexican-born champ

In the co-headline bout, Brandon Moreno dominated Deiveson Figueiredo to take the Brazilian's flyweight strap and become the first Mexican-born UFC champion. 

Saturday's fight was in sharp contrast to the pair's draw at UFC 256 in December, as Moreno (19-5-2) had his way with the titleholder from the beginning. 

The 27-year-old from Tijuana submitted Figueiredo with a rear naked choke at 2:26 of the third round and exulted in his victory.

"UFC released me," Moreno said. "I wasn't that proud of my life but watch me holding this belt. I feel so amazing."

Figueiredo (20-2-1) was gracious in defeat, saying Moreno was "the better man tonight."

 

Edwards holds off late Diaz flurry

Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz made UFC history with the first non-main event, non-title bout to be scheduled for five rounds, and Diaz nearly made the extended term pay off. 

Edwards had his way for most of the fight but had to survive a furious flurry from the bloodied 36-year-old American in the fifth to win by unanimous decision, 49-46 on all cards. 

The pair had been scheduled to face off at UFC 262 last month, but the bout was pushed back when Diaz got cut in training. 

Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers team-mates Davante Adams and David Bakhtiari threw their support behind the wantaway quarterback but denied any divide as his standoff with the franchise rolls on.

Rodgers has been absent from the Packers' mandatory minicamp, having already skipped organised team activities (OTA) practices last month, as the reigning NVP MVP seeks an exit.

The 37-year-old cast a shadow over the first round of the NFL Draft in April when it was reported he did not wish to return to the Packers.

The saga has drawn out since then, although Rodgers clarified his stance did not relate to the Packers trading up to select his heir apparent, Jordan Love, in last year's draft.

Packers All-Pros Adams and Bakhtiari offered their support for Super Bowl-winning QB Rodgers at the minicamp.

"I've got his back through everything so he knows that, at the end of the day, if there's ever a wonder if he's lost a teammate or something because of all that's come out, he knows where I stand," Adams said.

"I'll stand on the f****** mountain and scream on the mountaintop that I've got his back."

Wide receiver Adams was careful not to criticise the organisation, amid speculation the situation is dividing the franchise.

"I think that any GM [general manager], any president, any owner, they should want the type of guys that are backing their players, especially a player like that," Adams said.

"That's just a good trait to have. It's not like I'm saying, 'Forget the front office,' like I don't respect what they have going on."

Long-time Packers offensive tackle Bakhtiari added: "For me, I care about Aaron Rodgers from a friend perspective. Whatever he wants to do, whatever the situation that comes out, I will never hold any grudge against him. That is my friend. That is someone that I have appreciated, and he has done a lot for this organisation and a lot for me as an individual.

"Now, as a team-mate I would be idiotic to say that I don't want the MVP back. He's the MVP of the league last year. He's done amazing things as from the quarterback perspective, our quarterback position, but not only for the franchise. So absolutely."

In Rodgers' 2020 MVP season, he amassed 48 touchdowns, five interceptions and a completion rate of 70.7 per cent for the Packers – who lost to eventual Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rodgers' quarterback rating of 121.5 puts him second on the all-time list among qualifiers, behind only his 2011 campaign (122.5).

The Packers will commence their 2021 season against the New Orleans Saints on September 12.

Reggie Jackson paid tribute to Kawhi Leonard for instigating the Los Angeles Clippers' crucial Game 7 win over the Dallas Mavericks to secure progression to the NBA Western Conference semi-finals.

The Clippers were 126-111 victors on Sunday as they finally got the job done in the last game of the series, going some way to exorcising their 2020 demons.

Last year, the Clippers missed out on a spot in the Western Conference finals as they blew a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets, who eventually saw them off 104-89 in Game 7 in September.

The Nuggets became the first NBA team to overcome a 3-1 deficit twice in the same playoffs and had been used as a stick to beat the Clippers with practically ever since.

While the Mavs put the Clippers under pressure, with Luka Doncic setting a new Game 7 record for 77 points scored or assisted, it was not enough as two-time Finals MVP Leonard played a starring role.

Although he did not match 22-year-old Doncic's stunning 46-point haul – which made him the youngest player in NBA history to average 35 points each game in a playoff series – Leonard only just missed out on a triple-double, recording 28 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Almost half (13) of those points came in an emphatic opening quarter, which Jackson felt was vital in setting the tone.

"I think it all started with Kawhi," Jackson said. "Kawhi came in with a mentality that he was going to take this game today.

"He was going to come in and lead and wasn't going to be shy about his play at all. He really got it going early and once he got it going early, guys had to load up and defenses had to change their coverages."

As for the Clippers moving past the disappointment of 2020, coach Ty Lue seemed relieved to look past it.

"Last year was last year," Lue said. "We talked about it when the season started, that's over and we've got to look going forward.

"We can't keep looking behind and what happened in the bubble. That s***'s over."

On the other side of the coin, much like Leonard in last year's semi-finals, Doncic's brilliance came to nothing in the end.

The Slovenian was the star of the series, with numerous Clippers applauding his performances after Game 7, but he cut a dejected figure and feels he has not proven anything about himself because he is paid to win.

Asked what he felt he had proved, Doncic said: "I mean, nothing yet. We made the playoffs twice since I've been here. We lost both times. At the end, you get paid to win. We didn't do it."

The Clippers will go on to face top seeds the Utah Jazz in the semi-finals after they eased past the Memphis Grizzlies 4-1 in the first round.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. dominated but failed to beat Logan Paul as the YouTube sensation went the full eight rounds with the boxing great in their exhibition showdown.

All eyes were on Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, where all-time great Mayweather and YouTube-star-turned-prizefighter Paul sensationally shared the ring on Sunday.

The exhibition bout featured eight three-minute rounds, with no judges and no official winner, though knockouts were legal.

In the bizarre cross-over-fight, there were concerns for Paul – who had lost his only other bout heading into a blockbuster showdown with Mayweather, who retired with a flawless 50-0 record in 2017.

Mayweather – typically patient – controlled the fight against a visibly tired Paul, who had a huge height and weight advantage and managed to unleash a flurry of punches though they barely troubled the 44-year-old.

"I'm not 21 anymore but it's good to run around with these younger guys," Mayweather said afterwards.

"He's a tough competitor, it was good action, had fun, I was surprised by him. Good work.

"... I had fun, I'm pretty sure he had fun and hopefully fans enjoyed it."

Paul, 26, added: "I don't want anyone to tell me anything is possible ever again.

"The fact that I'm in here with one of the best boxers of all times proves the odds can be beat.

"... Floyd Mayweather it was an honour, I hate being a d******** I love you guys."

Bryson DeChambeau made reference to his potential financial gain through the PGA Tour's 'Player Impact Program' as his feud with Brooks Koepka continued at the Memorial Tournament.

Koepka is not playing at the event at the Muirfield Village Golf Club this week, but that has not prevented his rivalry with DeChambeau from escalating further.

A group of spectators were reportedly ejected from the tournament this weekend for shouting Koepka's name as DeChambeau lined up his shots.

Koepka responded with a video on his social media page promising free beer to 50 people who had their "time cut short" or faced "any trouble".

DeChambeau, for his part, appears keen to avoid an argument, explaining: "I think that's something that the tour needs to handle. It's something I can't control.

"I tried to take the high road numerous times, and I think that, from my perspective, I'll continue to keep doing so and people are going to do what they want to do. So, it is what it is."

However, DeChambeau also hinted at how he could benefit from the back and forth, which came to the fore after a clip of an unpublished interview with Koepka from the US PGA Championship went viral.

The clip appeared to show Koepka become distracted as DeChambeau walked past talking. He swore, cut off the interview and said: "I lost my train of thought hearing that bulls***."

DeChambeau said on Saturday: "If he keeps talking about me, that's great for the PIP fund."

The fund rewards 10 players from a $40million pot based on various metrics including their popularity on search engines and social media.

DeChambeau memes posted by legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady in the past fortnight should certainly help in that regard.

The interjections from watching fans in Ohio were less welcome, but DeChambeau praised the spectators following Saturday's third round.

"I wanted to say the fans were awesome today," he said. "They came out, supported me. Obviously, you're going to have people saying things, but it doesn't rile me up, it doesn't affect me or anything like that.

"It's great banter, it's fun, but the fans were awesome, the golf course is in great shape."

Charles Leclerc joked "it was quite a s*** lap" after he clinched pole position for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen.

In a qualifying session littered with crashes on Saturday, it was Ferrari's Leclerc who came out on top, recording a time of one minute and 41.218 seconds.

The frantic session on the streets of Baku saw four red flags raised, equalling the record for the most in qualifying, which was set ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2016.

Indeed, it was the fourth red flag which all but sealed Leclerc's pole, his second in a row after he started at the front of the grid in Monaco last time out – he is the first driver to take back-to-back poles this season.

World champion Hamilton struggled in practice, but was second when Yuki Tsunoda's crash into the barriers ended qualifying and came in a tenth of a second quicker than Verstappen, who had crashed out in the final practice session.

Leclerc was not best pleased with his efforts, but had no qualms about securing pole.

"It was quite a s*** lap I thought!" Leclerc, who set his fastest time with the help of a slipstream from Hamilton, joked to Sky Sports.

"There were like two or three corners where I did mistakes, but of course I had the big tow from Lewis in the last sector which helped me a little bit.

"But overall I think we would have been there or thereabouts for pole without the slipstream, so it's a good day. I did not expect to be as competitive as we were today. I was improving again [before] the red flag but it's like this, another pole, and I'm happy anyway."

Meanwhile, Hamilton was left to reflect on what he labelled a "monumental" result for Mercedes, with the team having struggled throughout the week – indeed, Valtteri Bottas will start in 10th on Sunday.

"We definitely weren't expecting that and this is such a monumental result for us because we've been struggling like you couldn't believe all weekend. You can see it," Hamilton said.

"We kept our composure. We've continued to have difficult discussions in the background and challenging one another, and just never taking no for an answer. We've moved around, made so many changes, over these two days. Just chasing our tail and it's been so difficult.

"It has been the biggest challenge in a long time. It has been a bit of a disaster."

Verstappen won in Monaco, with Red Bull aiming for consecutive race victories for the first time since 2014, but the young Dutchman could not hide his frustration with how the session panned out.

"It was just a stupid qualifying to be honest, but it is what it is," he said. "It's a street circuit so these things can happen, our car is strong so hopefully tomorrow we can score good points."

Pierre Gasly was in fine form during practice and took the momentum into qualifying, clinching fourth on the grid, while Carlos Sainz completed an impressive showing from Ferrari by coming in fifth.

The day ultimately belonged to Leclerc, who will be hoping for better luck than he had in Monaco, when a mechanical issue meant he could not build on his pole position and had to drop out of the race.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:41.218
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.232s
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.345s
4. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0.347s
5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.358s
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.529s
7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.699s
8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +0.993s
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.109s
10. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +1.441s

Kyrie Irving called out "underlying racism" and a "human zoo" environment in the NBA after a Boston Celtics fan threw a water bottle in the direction of the Brooklyn Nets star.

The Nets topped the Celtics 141-126 in Game 4 on Sunday for a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round series, but it was overshadowed by another unruly incident.

Ex-Celtics star Irving posted 39 points and 11 rebounds to help fuel the Nets at TD Garden in Boston, where a fan appeared to throw a bottle at the 2016 NBA champion as he left the court.

It comes after former MVP and Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook was showered in popcorn during a defeat away to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2, while a New York Knicks fan spat on Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young in Game 1.

Following the latest incident in a worrying trend of fan behaviour across the league, Irving – who spent two years with the Celtics from 2017 to 2019 – told reporters: "You're seeing a lot of old ways come up.

"It has been that way in history in terms of entertainment, performers and sports for a long period of time and just underlying racism and just treating people like they're in a human zoo.

"Throwing stuff at people, saying things. There is a certain point where it gets to be too much."

Irving added: "You can see that people just feel very entitled out here. They paid for their tickets -- great, I'm grateful that they're coming in to watch a great performance.

"But we're not at the theatre. We're not throwing tomatoes and other random stuff at the people that are performing."

"Fans got to grow up at some point," Durant said. "I know that being in the house for a year and a half with the pandemic got a lot of people on edge, got a lot of people stressed out, but when you come to these games, you have to realise these men are human.

"We are not animals; we are not in the circus. You coming to the game is not all about you as a fan. So, have some respect for the game. Have some respect for the human beings, and have some respect for yourself. Your mother wouldn't be proud of you throwing water bottles at basketball players or spitting on players or tossing popcorn. So, grow the f*** up, and enjoy the game. It's bigger than you."

On the court, the second-seeded Nets flexed their muscles to move within one win of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

A game-high 42 points from Durant, and double-doubles from Irving and Harden (23 points and a playoff career-high 18 assists) inspired the Nets.

Durant, Irving and Harden tied the playoffs record for most points scored by three team-mates (104), after John Havlicek (54), Jo Jo White (34), Dave Cowens (16) in 1973 and Dominique Wilkins (50), Randy Wittman (35), Spud Webb (19) in 1986.

Brooklyn duo Durant and Irving also became the first pair of team-mates in NBA history to each score 35-plus points while going 10-for-10 shooting or better from the free-throw line in the same game, according to Stats Perform.

On Irving's performance, Nets head coach Steve Nash said: "It's Kyrie Irving. He didn't have a great game last time out. My money's on him any time after a performance he had. I loved his will, to take some of this adversity and have a great game."

Harden – on what was most satisfying about the victory – added: "Defensively. That's going to be our key every single game. Offensively, that should be the last thing we're worried about because we have so many weapons, so many guys that can get it going.

"Defensively, we have to be engaged, to be locked in possession by possession. I think in Game 3 we weren't consistently locked in on the defensive effort and it showed. Tonight was a lot better and obviously offensively we're wrecking when we come down, the ball moves, and we play with pace.

"Defensively, our effort, and then our rebounding was great too. Ky did an unbelievable job with 11 rebounds. That's elite right there. That's winning basketball."

Russell Westbrook said he is eagerly awaiting the NBA's response after the Washington Wizards star was showered in popcorn by an unruly fan during Wednesday's playoff clash against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Westbrook had to be restrained after a fan in Philadelphia dumped popcorn on the former MVP as he exited the court with a right ankle injury in the 120-95 Game 2 defeat to the top-seeded 76ers.

Washington's Westbrook – who finished with 10 points, 11 assists and six rebounds before appearing to roll his ankle inside the final 10 minutes – was left seething at Wells Fargo Center.

"To be completely honest, man, this s*** is getting out of hand, especially for me. The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f*** they want to do, it's [wrong]," Westbrook said after the Wizards fell 2-0 behind in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

"Any other setting, I'm all for the fans enjoying the game and having fun. It's part of sports, I get it. But there are certain things that cross the line. Any other setting, I know for a fact they wouldn't come up, a guy wouldn't come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head because they know what would happen.

"A guy wouldn't come up to me talking about my family and my kids on the street because the response would be different.

"The arena's have gotta start protecting the players. We'll see what the NBA does, but there's a huge problem for us as players, and for me, where fans they say whatever and the consequences for me are a lot more [detrimental] for me than the fans in the stands because they're untouchable.

"They can say what they want at a sporting event and they enjoy the game. But what a lot of fans don't realise is this is my job. I don't just play, this is something I love to do, it's something I compete at. So, to get food thrown on top of me, it's just bulls***, really."

Wells Fargo Center president of business operations Valeria Camillio said in a statement: "This was classless, unacceptable behaviour, and we're not going to tolerate it at Wells Fargo Center.

"We're proud to have the most passionate fans in the country and the best home-court and home-ice advantage around, but this type of behaviour has no place in our arena."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James also weighed in via Twitter.

James wrote: "By the way WE AS THE PLAYERS wanna see who threw that popcorn on Russ while he was leaving the game tonight with an injury!! There's cameras all over arenas so there's no excuse! Cause if the [shoe] was on the other [foot]."

Donovan Mitchell expressed his frustration and unhappiness with the Utah Jazz's decision to hold him out of Sunday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, though the All-Star has been cleared to return for Game 2 of the Western Conference first-round series.

Mitchell was surprisingly absent as the top-seeded Jazz were upstaged 112-109 by the Grizzlies in Utah, where the guard had expected to play.

Utah's Mitchell has been sidelined since spraining his right ankle on April 16 and he addressed the decision ahead of Tuesday's game, which the 24-year-old is listed as available.

"For me, for my team, I was definitely frustrated and upset that I wasn't able to play," said Mitchell on Monday.

"I'm a competitor. I felt I was ready to go. I felt ready to go, and unfortunately, that wasn't the case. That was not how it happened. I was ready to go when I spoke [to media after Sunday's shootaround], and they came to the decision that that's what it was.

"The biggest thing for us is moving forward. We lost Game 1, and we've got s*** to handle. Excuse my language, we've got s*** to handle moving forward."

Mitchell has been averaging career highs in points (26.4), assists (5.2) and three-point percentage (38.6) this season.

"The biggest thing is I felt like I should have played," said Mitchell. "To be honest with you, it's no secret. We all know that. At the end of the day, the experts said no. We can disagree on those things, but that was the frustration.

"It was unfair to my team. I felt like, man, I let them down in the sense that you're not there for them in a playoff game. That probably hurts me more than anything else. It eats me. I barely slept because you think about that stuff. So that was really where it hit me, where it hurt."

 

 

Tyson Fury revealed he has signed a contract to face Deontay Wilder again in a trilogy fight, less than a week after announcing a heavyweight unification bout against Anthony Joshua was "100 per cent on".

Fury has a 30-0-1 record, only failing to win in an initial meeting with Wilder in December 2018.

However, Fury knocked out the American in February 2020 to claim the WBC title, with a clash against British rival Joshua an apparently obvious next step.

Progress looked to have been made on that blockbuster fight and, last weekend, the WBC champion even confirmed a date and venue – August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

A significant complication subsequently emerged, though, as Wilder won an arbitration hearing that stated he had the right to a third Fury bout.

This derailed plans with WBO, IBF and WBA strap-holder Joshua, and Fury instead penned an agreement to take on Wilder once more as he attended Saturday's light welterweight title fight between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez.

In a video posted on social media by Top Rank Boxing and shared by Fury, he said: "I'm going to sign the contract for the Wilder III fight, because Wilder's a p****, an excuse-maker and a s***house.

"Shall we do it and put him out his misery?

"[He is going to get] seriously smashed to bits. [I will] crack the other side of his skull, give him another shoulder injury, another bicep injury, another leg injury, a nutsack injury, the whole lot.

"Are you sure now, or shall we just hijack out of here, go to Saudi Arabia and fight someone else?"

The footage then showed Fury signing the paperwork, before he addressed the camera and his opponent: "Wilder, contract signed. You're getting smashed.

"When I say smashed, I mean smash, smash, smash, bang. You're getting knocked out. One round. You're going.

"I've got your soul, your mojo, everything. I own you. Super smashed."

The WBO has ordered Joshua to face Oleksandr Usyk, meanwhile, with any possibility of a Joshua-Fury showpiece now delayed at least until the defence of these titles.

Russell Westbrook has revealed how he inspired the Washington Wizards to turn their season around in a run to the playoffs that concluded with Thursday's play-in win over the Indiana Pacers.

The Wizards, who signed Westbrook in a trade from the Houston Rockets for John Wall last year, made a miserable 6-17 start to 2020-21.

However, that form was flipped on its head at the end of the campaign, with Washington 17-6 over their final 23 games to finish eighth in the East with a 34-38 record.

Westbrook and Co could not carry that momentum into the initial seven-eight play-in, going down 118-100 to the Boston Celtics, but the Wizards recovered to thrash the Pacers 142-115 and reach a first-round series against number one seed the Philadelphia 76ers.

It means Westbrook, who had 18 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds against Indiana, will appear in the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year, having missed the postseason only twice in a 13-season NBA career.

"We were struggling and everybody was doubting us on the outside and we had to figure out a way to knuckle up and make the playoffs," he said of Washington's regular season turnaround. "Simple as that.

"I didn't care what happened in the previous games. Moving forward, we had to figure ourselves out, look at ourselves in the mirror, starting with myself.

"I made it clear to the guys that we'll make it."

The Wizards still had work to do on Thursday, though, with Westbrook dismayed by his performance in the defeat to the Celtics.

Having averaged a triple-double this season – 22.2 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds – to pass Oscar Robertson's record with 184 career triples, Westbrook felt he could have offered more than his 20 points, five assists and 14 rebounds in Boston.

Asked about his mood after that loss, he said: "You should ask my wife, my mom, my dad, my brother, everybody, they're so annoyed with me right now.

"I was so p***ed at my performance. I just wasn't feeling the best when my team needed me the most, but everything happens for a reason.

"I knuckled down and took care of my body and made sure that my mind was right coming into tonight and made sure that my energy and effort was there and my team could follow me."

Bradley Beal led Washington on Thursday with 25 points.

The ninth-year guard trailed only Stephen Curry with his 31.3 points this season, yet he had played only 40 career playoff games heading into this postseason.

Although Beal insists he was always happy on the Wizards – his only team – it is a relief to return.

"It feels that much better knowing that you're playing for something and you're winning," he said. "Obviously, you always want to be on the other side of that and win.

"So, in that regard, it definitely feels great to be back in a playoff position, but it doesn't change my happiness one way or another.

"You're obviously going to be happy to be in the playoffs and be happy to win games. When you're losing, you're not going to be that way. So, I'm definitely happy we are where we are."

The 76ers are next and Westbrook added: "They're the number one team in the East for a reason.

"They've been playing well all season long. They're a good team overall, with a lot of different talent on the team.

"We've got to make sure we prepare the right way and go and win the series, taking one game at a time."

Mathieu Valbuena revealed he was not consulted by Didier Deschamps over the surprise recall of Karim Benzema to the France squad.

Real Madrid striker Benzema is due to stand trial in October regarding an allegation of complicity in the attempted blackmail of former France team-mate Valbuena over a sex tape.

The 33-year-old Benzema strenuously denies putting pressure on Valbuena to pay the alleged blackmailers, who were said to be threatening to release a video featuring the former Marseille and Lyon player.

Since the claims of blackmail emerged in late 2015, Benzema was dropped from the France squad and looked to have no future with Les Bleus, at least until his case was heard in court.

However, a surprise recall came on Tuesday when Benzema was selected for France's Euro 2020 squad, and he looks set for a key role in the team during that tournament.

Valbuena told RMC Sport: "Did the coach call me? No, and I don't expect anything from anyone. When you're at the top, everyone is talking about you; when you disappear a little from the radars, you expect nothing from anyone.

"I make my life, I enjoy myself on the pitch. I expect nothing from Didier or anyone else. If you want to know if he called me, I say no."

Now with Greek club Olympiacos, Valbuena, 36, also last played for France in 2015.

The 52-cap midfielder said he understood why Benzema was being brought back into Deschamps' squad.

"If he can bring more to the France team, so much the better for the Blues," Valbuena said.

"It will play out on the pitch. For me, Didier Deschamps comes out the winner in all cases. If the France team works, we will say that he had to adapt despite a difficult context.

"If France performs less, we will not blame him. That's what he knows how to do well, he knows how to make his squads. In attack, he has no guarantees, he made his choices. I think he will come out a winner either way."

Benzema scored a brace in a friendly against Armenia on his last appearance for France in October 2015.

His form for Real Madrid has often been exceptional in the years since, landing him three Champions Leagues and two LaLiga titles during his absence from the France squad.

Anthony Joshua has branded heavyweight rival Tyson Fury a "fraud" as their blockbuster unification showdown appears on the brink of collapse.

Joshua, the IBF, WBA and WBO champion, and Fury, who holds the WBC belt, have been in negotiations over a fight to crown the undisputed ruler in the division.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said he expected to announce an August 14 showdown, to take place in Saudi Arabia, this week, but Deontay Wilder – who Fury sensationally deposed last year – has derailed plans.

Wilder won an arbitration hearing on Monday that recognised his contractual right to a third bout with Fury, with whom he shared a thrilling 2018 draw before suffering a first career loss via seventh-round stoppage in February 2020.

Fury's promoter Bob Arum told ESPN that Fury-Wilder III has been provisionally booked at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for July 24, stating step aside payments were not an option.

"It's better to get rid of [Wilder] and go about our business. We can make the Fury-Joshua fight for November or December," he said.

Joshua, who might now face his WBO mandatory challenger and former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, expressed frustration that the Fury fight came so close to fruition before hitting a stumbling block, accusing his fellow Briton of using the whole episode as a publicity stunt.

He tweeted: "@Tyson_Fury the world now seen you for the fraud you are. You've let boxing down!

"You lied to the fans and led them on. Used my name for clout, not a fight. Bring me any championship fighter who can handle their business correctly."

Fury was typically strident in his response, proposing a fanciful bare-knuckle bout with Joshua for a combined £40million.

"Your (sic) more full of s*** that (sic) Eddie. Spouting absolute s****. Your team knew there was an Arbitration going on, it was out of my hands!

"But I tell you what if I'm a fraud let's fight this weekend bar (sic) knuckles till 1 man quits? Let's put up 20 mill each."

The barbs continued, with Joshua saying, "I'll slap your bad head and you'll do nothing" and Fury labelling his countryman a "dosser" a "bum" and a "bottle job".

Fury became a two-time world heavyweight champion when he stopped Wilder and remains undefeated in 30 professional fights, with 29 wins and a draw.

His first title victory came when he out-pointed long-reigning unified champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 before spending time away from the ring due to personal problems.

Joshua duly collected the IBF, WBA and WBO titles with wins over Charles Martin, Klitschko and Joseph Parker respectively.

He lost those belts in a shock stoppage loss to Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019, a sole professional defeat that he avenged in a rematch before the end of that year.

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