Jamaica's 2020 Olympic heavyweight boxer Ricardo 'Big 12' Brown has turned professional after recently finalizing a contract with United Boxing Promotions in Canada where he now resides.

Tyler Buxton of United Boxing Promotions, in announcing the signing, believes Brown possesses significant potential.

“Everyone loves heavyweights and at 6’7”, Ricardo is a massive heavyweight,” he said. “They call him ‘Big 12’ for a reason. He has knockout power in both hands. I’m excited to launch Ricardo’s professional career and build a platform for professional boxing in Jamaica with Big12 leading the way.”

When Brown qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics he became the first Jamaican to do so since 1996. The Pan Am Games bronze medalist said he is keen to begin his professional career.

“I’m very happy to be a part of the United Boxing Promotions. I’m humbled and I am looking forward to seeing what United Boxing Promotions have to offer me as I start my boxing career,” he said.

Brown said he hopes to inspire youngsters in both Jamaica and Canada, encouraging them, “Stay determined, disciplined, honest, and focused. You too can be in the Olympic ring one day or even have a professional boxing career.”

Born and raised in Spanish Town, St Catherine, Brown was introduced to boxing at an early age but now trains in Canada with Dewith Frazer.

Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Boxing Board Stephen Bomber Jones fully endorsed Brown’s transition to the professional ranks.

"Having witnessed first-hand the trajectory of 'Big12' Brown's career from a novice to elite national representative and medalist, I am more than excited about the possibilities this his professional future entails,” the boxing board president said.

“I am not only certain that it will be a bright one but I truly believe he has all that it takes to be a future world heavyweight champion and we look forward to him fighting as a pro here on home soil."

Canada took a giant stride towards qualifying for their first World Cup since 1986 after Cyle Larin's brace led them to a 2-1 win over rivals Mexico in frosty conditions in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Larin struck either side of half-time, the victory seeing Canada leapfrog the United States and Mexico into top spot in CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifying with 16 points from eight games.

The result condemned Mexico to back-to-back qualifying defeats, after Friday's 2-0 loss to USA, leaving El Tri third on 14 points.

USA are second on 15 points following their 1-1 draw in Jamaica earlier on Tuesday.

Canada went ahead on the stroke of half-time when Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa failed to hold Alistair Johnston's long-range effort, with Besiktas forward Larin swooping on the rebound.

Larin doubled Canada's lead in the 52nd minute, cushioning a right-foot volley from Stephen Eustaquio's free-kick.

Mexico pulled a goal back in the 90th minute via Hector Herrera's header, ensuring a frantic finish before Jorge Sanchez squandered a golden opportunity from point-blank range as Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan saved his chested effort.

A scoreless draw between Jamaica and Canada on Sunday at Independence Park in Kingston took Jamaica to a pair of points thus far in the final round of World Cup qualification, while Canada earned its second consecutive away draw and now sits on seven points.

After an even first half, things heated up in the second 45 minutes. Canada had a chance just after the ball started rolling again before a Jamaica free kick in the 50th minute taken by Kemar Lawrence was met by Junior Flemmings, who hit the post with a header.

In the 80th minute, Jamaica’s Kemar Roofe led a counter-attack and tried his luck from outside the box with a strong right-footed effort, but narrowly missed the upper 90 of Canada GK Maxime Crepeau’s net.

 Canada kept pushing for the breakthrough goal as well, with chances in the 84th minute when Alistar Johnson was unable to get his effort on target after a nice build-up, followed by an opportunity in the 86th minute when Alphonso Davies pulled a few tricks out of his bag, but ultimately ran into the Jamaican defence in the area.

Lawrence once again drew Crepeau into action as the match ticked into the final minute of stoppage time, but the Canadian shot-stopper made the save to preserve the point.

Jamaica now hits the road again, travelling to face Honduras. Canada will play its first home match of the October FIFA window on Wednesday, welcoming Panama to BMO Field in Toronto.

 

Jamaica Reggae Boy midfielder Anthony Grant has joined the team ahead of Sunday’s crucial World Cup qualification match against Canada.

 The Swindon Town player missed out on the United States game after a late call-up, following the decision of Preston North End's Daniel Johnson to pull out of the squad for what was reported to be injury precaution reasons.

Grant made his debut, alongside Devon Williams, for the team against Mexico in a narrow 2-1 loss before representing the team again in a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica.  The player’s return should be good news for the under-pressure Theodore Whitmore coached team who used veteran JeVaughn Watson in the position against the United States.  Watson’s recall, ahead of the Costa Rica game, had come as a surprise to many.  The player had been coming off a low level of inactivity having not been included initially for the qualifiers.  The inclusion of Grant should add reinforcement for the team in the defensive midfield area, as the Reggae Boyz look to clamp the brakes on a dangerous Canadian attack, which has been one of the best in the competition so far.  

The team is yet to win a match in the competition so far and is rooted to the bottom of the eight-team table on the back of one draw and three losses.

Mexico and Canada played out a 1-1 draw in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying as El Tri failed to beat their emerging North American rivals for the first time in 13 years.

Not since 2008 had Mexico been unable to defeat Canada, a run of five consecutive victories across all competitions.

Mexico were forced to share the spoils with fellow unbeaten side Canada at the Azteca on Thursday after Jonathan Osorio cancelled out Jorge Sanchez's 21st-minute opener before half-time.

The result left Mexico level on eight points alongside the United States atop the standings in the final round of qualifying on the road to Qatar 2022, two points ahead of third-placed Canada through four matchdays.

Tata Martino's Mexico opened the scoring through Sanchez, who controlled Hirving Lozano's pass beautifully before finishing past Maxime Crepeau.

Canada were not overawed away from home – Alphonso Davies almost restored parity in the 31st minute but the ball was cleared from the Bayern Munich star's feet at the last moment with the goal at his mercy.

Osorio did equalise for Canada three minutes prior to the interval, finishing expertly beyond Guillermo Ochoa having been played through by Davies.

The second half was eventful, with play halted momentarily due to crowd chants, while Canada defender Alistair Johnson headed the ball onto his own crossbar as Ochoa produced an important save 12 minutes from the end.

West Ham forward Michail Antonio has pulled out of Jamaica’s upcoming round of qualifiers after citing logistical and travel difficulties with the upcoming set of fixtures.

The in-form forward, who made his national debut against Panama in the previous round, was expected to be part of the team for three upcoming matches against the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

With the USA game expected to kick off on Thursday, however, the player has communicated via a brief release that he will not be joining up with the squad as planned.

“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week. Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the Club in London at this time. I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”

The news will come as a blow to a Jamaica forward line-up that will be somewhat shorthanded. The team will also be without Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey who remains unavailable due to injury and Philadelphia Union’s Corey Burke who suffered an ankle injury in training. Defender Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock and midfielder Daniel Johnson have also withdrawn from the squad.

 

Defender Liam Moore and forward Shamar Nicholson have overcome injury concerns to be included in a 23-man Jamaica Reggae Boyz squad for the upcoming round of qualifiers.

Moore, who plies his trade for English club Reading, was a serious doubt after suffering a bad-looking ankle injury a few weeks ago, with Nicholson suffering a fractured jaw while in action for Belgian side Charleroi.  Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey has, however, not recovered in time for the matches and will miss his second round of matches.

Queens Park Rangers forward Andre Gray and Bournemouth’s Jamal Lowe have been recalled to the squad, with in-form West Ham forward Michail Antonio also called back to the squad, after a difficult debut against Panama.

The Jamaicans will resume their campaign with matches away to the United States at home to Canada and away to Honduras.  Unlike the previous round, however, the squad should not be impacted by UK coronavirus travel rules, with none of the countries listed on the red list.

Full squad:

Andre Blake

Dillon Barnes

Dennis Taylor

Damion Lowe

Adrian Mariappa

Liam Moore

Ethan Pinnock

Alvas Powell

Oniel Fisher

Kemar Lawrence

Javain Brown

Daniel Johnson

Devon Williams

Je-Vaughn Watson

Bobby Reid

Junior Flemmings

Kemar Roofe

Jamal Lowe

Tyreek Magee

Michail Antonio

Javon East

Shamar Nicholson

Andre Gray

 

Jamaica international Leon Bailey is set to miss the country's next set of World Cup qualifiers after being diagnosed with a thigh strain.

The 23-year-old winger made a lively appearance for Aston Villa last weekend, playing an active role in two of the team’s three goals in a 3-1 win over Everton.  Among them was a net-busting volley to goal, which punctuated a quick counterattack.

Unfortunately, the player had to be substituted soon after but it was hoped that he would not miss much time off the pitch.  However, the club manager Dean Smith recently confirmed that the player would be out of action for the next few weeks.

"Leon has a strain which is likely to keep him out until after the international break," Smith told reporters.

 "We would be hopeful that he would be available for the Wolves game, but we'll need to assess him nearer the time and see how he progresses over the next 10 days or so."

Jamaica will resume its World Cup qualification campaign next month, with matches away to the United States, at home to Canada, and away to Honduras.  The player also missed out on the first round of the qualifiers with an injury last month.

The Jamaica international joined Villa from Bayer Leverkusen earlier this summer from a reported 25 million pounds ($US34m), is targeting a return to action against Wolverhampton Wanderers on October 16.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) petitioned the Jamaican government to allow some fans into the National Stadium for upcoming home World Cup qualifiers.

The Reggae Boyz will be back in action next month when they tackle the United States on October 7 and play their second home game of the qualifiers against Canada.  The Jamaicans had a chastening start to their home campaign, following a 3-0 home loss to Panama earlier this month.

Due to existing coronavirus protocols, the match was, however, played in front of an empty stadium.  The JFF, however, hopes to have at least some fans for next month’s second round.  Based on the local football body’s proposal only a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend the match, and they must provide proof of vaccination in order to be able to do so.

The Reggae Boyz, who are looking to get to the World Cup for the first time in over 23 years, find themselves at the bottom of the eight-team group after the first three games.  The Boyz opened with a 2-1 loss away to Mexico before the damaging 3-0 home loss to Panama.  The team, however, got the board with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts has said the organisation will consider playing the rest of the country’s home World Cup qualifiers on foreign soil, due to losses incurred from hosting the matches.

The JFF hosted its first home qualifier earlier this month and it’s safe to say things did not go as planned.  The team suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat to Panama, which led to questions surfacing regarding the stewardship of the national program.

In addition, however, the match was played in front of an empty stadium due to existing covid-19 protocols.  As such, the organisation has been unable to collect gate receipts or other revenue, while footing the expenses associated with hosting the game.  With seven home games left to go, Ricketts insists the issue could become a major one.

“We can’t afford to play games without making any money at all at the turn styles,” Ricketts said. 

“So we are looking at options and we will have to discuss it with some of our key players, then we will look at whatever options may present themselves,” he added.

The Jamaica national team will next be in action on October 7 when they face the United States, while their next home match will be against Canada three days later.

 

The United States' stuttering start to World Cup qualifying continued after they were held to a 1-1 draw by rivals Canada.

Brendan Aaronson's 56th-minute opener was cancelled out within six minutes by Canada forward Cyle Larin as the USA drew consecutive games on the road to Qatar 2022.

Chelsea star Christian Pulisic returned to the starting line-up on Sunday after missing the USA's Octagonal opener against El Salvador following a positive coronavirus test.

Weston McKennie, though, was axed from the squad following a "violation of team policy", while Giovanni Reyna sat out due to a hamstring injury.

Canada made a lively start on the road in Nashville, where Larin checked his run and got on the end of Alphonso Davies' pass, but Matthew Turner somehow pushed the shot onto the crossbar in the 14th minute.

USA went close to breaking the deadlock five minutes before the break when Pulisic's shot hit the post from close-range.

CONCACAF Gold Cup champions the USA, though, did open the scoring via Aaronson, who slid onto the end of Antonee Robinson's cross 11 minutes into the second half.

The lead was short-lived however as Davies showed off his incredible pace, driving towards the penalty area before teeing up Larin for a simple tap-in just past the hour-mark.

Despite the draw, the USA extended their unbeaten streak to 11 matches across all competitions.

The United States and Canada both have two points from their opening two fixtures.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) could be breathing a sigh of relief as the country remained on the amber list in the latest update of the United Kingdom’s Traffic Light System, which applies to travel to and from the country.

Earlier this week, the Premier League announced that, based on the current quarantine rules, it would not release players for the upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers to countries on the UK’s red list.  It was later joined by the La Liga and Serie A competitions and yesterday, England’s second tier, the EFL also joined the list of clubs.

The concerns stem from the fact that players returning from red-listed destinations would, based on the rules, be forced to quarantine for 10 days.  The leagues argue that those conditions would lead to players missing games, in addition to having to make up for fitness requirements.

Unless an agreement can be worked out the decision will impact the availability of several teams competing in the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which kick off on September 2.

At current, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica are the teams that have been placed on the red list.  The USA, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Honduras are all on the amber list, while Canada has been moved to the green list.

Individuals returning from red list countries are required to quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days and are subject to at least two COVID-19 tests.

Fully vaccinated individuals travelling to countries on the amber list would be subject to taking a COVID-19 test two days after arriving or before.  Non-vaccinated individuals returning from countries on the amber list would have to undergo the mandatory 10-day quarantine period.

Based on the interpretation of the rules and the club’s specific stipulation of not allowing players to travel to red list countries, the CONCACAF countries on the amber and green list could potentially have their players available.  Baring a change of circumstances, affected countries on the red list would be left short-handed.  However, vaccine stipulations, which it seems are required to exempt individuals from mandatory quarantine, could complicate things.

Jamaica has at least 10 players who ply their trade between the Premier League and England Football League (EFL).  Among the EPL players are Andre Gray (Watford), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), and potentially Michail Antonio (West Ham) who recently received official documentation after switching from England.  It is currently not known how many of the team's overseas players are vaccinated.

 

 

Stephanie Labbe was the penalty shoot-out hero as Canada took gold in their maiden Olympic final appearance following a 1-1 draw with Sweden.

Stina Blackstenius' first-half opener had the Scandinavians ahead but Jessie Fleming restored parity with a spot-kick after half-time when VAR intervened for a foul on Christine Sinclair.

Kadeisha Buchanan proved Canada's last-ditch hero with a clearance off the line to take the game to extra-time before Labbe's two saves secured a 3-2 triumph in the shoot-out.

Kosovare Asllani did the initial work for Sweden's opener, dispossessing Canada midfielder Quinn before rolling to Blackstenius, whose first-time attempt benefited from a slight deflection to find the back of the net.

Sinclair, whose 187 goals for Canada make her the all-time leading goalscorer in international football, nipped in front of Amanda Ilestedt and, after consulting VAR, Fleming levelled things up with a low spot-kick.

Asllani spurned a glorious opportunity to seal gold with a minute to go as she saw her effort cleared off the line by Buchanan, sending the final to extra-time and subsequently penalties with neither side finding a winner in the additional 30 minutes.

Sweden failed with their opening penalty, Asllani hammering into the right-hand post, before Fleming coolly slotted in Canada's first to gain an early advantage.

That lead quickly faded away, however, when Ashley Lawrence saw her effort saved and both Nathalie Bjorn and Olivia Schough converted for the Swedes.

Swedish veteran Caroline Seger had the chance to secure glory with the decisive strike, despite Labbe's save against Anna Anvegard, but she blasted over, sending the shoot-out to sudden death after Deanne Rose found the top right corner.

Labbe produced another stop from Jonna Andersson, teeing up Julia Gross for victory and she made no mistake, finding the bottom left corner to seal gold after consecutive bronzes in 2012 and 2016.

In the men's football, Mexico recovered from semi-final shoot-out heartbreak against Brazil to beat Japan 3-1 in Friday's bronze-medal match.

Sebastian Cordova netted the opener and provided the second for Johan Vasquez before Alexis Vega put the game out of the host nation's reach, despite Kaoru Mitoma grabbing a late consolation.

Hector Herrera scored a dramatic winner in the ninth minute of stoppage time to send Mexico into the Gold Cup decider against the United States after a tense 2-1 semi-final victory over Canada in Houston.

The Atletico Madrid midfielder fired in a low strike from the edge of the box after substitute Rodolfo Pizarro's cutback, clinching the win on Thursday.

Mexico defender Carlos Salcedo had seen his second-half penalty saved as Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau came up with some big stops.

The reigning champions had taken the lead with an Orbelin Pineda penalty on the stroke of half-time, but Canada levelled from Tajon Buchanan with a low 57th-minute finish.

Mexico will now have a shot to claim a 12th Gold Cup title when they tackle six-time champions the United States in Sunday's decider. El Tri have won four of the past six Gold Cup titles and qualify for the final for the 14th time.

Two-time winners Canada were chasing their first appearance in a Gold Cup final since 2000 but miss out.

Canada forward Stephen Eustaquio fired over the bar early before Alistair Johnston desperately blocked off a Jesus Gallardo chance in the 27th minute.

Mexico won a penalty in first-half stoppage time following a VAR review on Doneil Henry's foul, with Pineda coolly sending Crepeau the wrong way.

New England Revolution forward Buchanan equalised 12 minutes into the second half, ghosting into the box and sliding a low shot past Mexico goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera.

Mexico then had a chance to reclaim the lead from the penalty spot after another VAR review, but Crepeau dived to his right to block Salcedo's effort.

Theo Corbeanu tested Talavera with a curling effort, before Crepeau made a point-blank save from a Mexico corner.

Mexico would find a way, with vice-captain Herrera's late winner.

Shaq Moore struck after just 20 seconds as the United States beat Canada 1-0 in Kansas City to clinch top spot in Group B at the Gold Cup.

The tournament hosts withstood late Canada pressure to preserve a 100 per cent record, following the 1-0 win over Haiti and 6-1 thrashing of Martinique.

Moore's winning goal saw him sidefoot home from close range after Sebastian Lletget's low cross from the left rolled across the six-yard box.

It was the USA's fastest goal in Gold Cup history, tournament officials said, and it was Tenerife defender Moore's first international strike.

Gyasi Zardes glanced a header wide of the right post as the United States sought a second early goal, and Daryl Dike fizzed a shot a yard off target after a low cross from the right.

Canada began the second half with purpose, Tajon Buchanan drawing an early save from New England Revolution team-mate Matt Turner, but an equaliser proved elusive.

Jonathan Osorio, Buchanan and Richie Laryea all tried their luck without reward, and a late 20-yard shot from Lucas Cavallini that skidded off the surface and into Turner's arms was Canada's last chance at Children's Mercy Park.

Gregg Berhalter's United States side advance to a quarter-final against the runners-up from Group C, to be played on July 25 in Arlington, Texas.

Canada, coached by John Herdman, remain alive in the competition despite this loss, and they advance as runners-up from Group B to face the Group C winners.

Jamaica and Costa Rica, both with six points from two games so far in Group C, are certain to progress. They go head to head in Orlando on Tuesday to decide who finishes top and faces Canada and who comes second in that pool and takes on the US next.

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