Cuban’s plan: Tourney for NBA’s final 2 seeds

  • Joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009
  • Covers the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks
  • Appears regularly on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has suggested a plan to the NBA league office that would include all 30 NBA teams playing five to seven regular-season games before a play-in tournament to determine the final two playoff seeds, he told ESPN on Tuesday.

Cuban considers it a must for all 30 teams to participate in the resumption of the NBA season, tentatively planned to take place at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, because of the financial impact of fulfilling local television contracts.

In Cuban’s proposal, the top 10 teams from both conferences would qualify for the postseason and be reseeded based on record. There would be two play-in matchups — either single games or a best-of-three series — pitting seeds 17 vs. 20 and 18 vs. 19. The winners would advance to play the 15th and 16th seeds for the final spots in the playoff bracket.

The playoffs would then proceed with best-of-seven series.

A point Cuban emphasizes is that all but two teams — the exceptions being the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors — would have a mathematical possibility of qualifying for the postseason under his proposal. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks, the teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, are four games behind the 10th-place Charlotte Hornets.

“It’s fair. It’s entertaining,” Cuban told ESPN.

Cuban’s Mavericks would stand to have the most to lose in a play-in scenario under previously discussed terms, which would include the teams that are seventh through 10th in the conference standings.

The Mavs are seventh in the Western Conference standings with a 40-27 record, eight games ahead of the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies. Dallas’ record is better than all but four teams in the East.

Cuban acknowledges it would be challenging to schedule all the games required to make his proposal work. However, he believes it is the plan that would best address the league’s financial issues and desire for competitive fairness, as well as allowing playoff teams to ramp up for the postseason, hopefully limiting injuries after a long layoff.

Cuban’s concern with the reported World Cup-style group stage idea, aside from not including all 30 teams, is that it “throws away the value of the whole season.”

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Lee Bowyer confident Charlton can avoid relegation if Championship season resumes

Charlton manager Lee Bowyer is confident his side can battle their way out of relegation trouble, if the Championship resumes as hoped next month.

Players at Championship clubs were allowed to return to training on Monday, in the first step towards a potential resumption of the season, which was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Jenkins: Charlton takeover bid ‘in the balance’
  • Bassini wants Charlton takeover, Bolton also an option
  • What’s next for the EFL?
  • Championship players given coronavirus self-test option

Players trained in small groups and took part in non-contact sessions.

Charlton are currently in the bottom three but are only three points off 17th place in the table.

Bowyer is adamant the English Football League (EFL) need to find a way to ensure the season is concluded and he is optimistic about Charlton’s prospects if it does resume.

“Everybody signed up to a 46-game season. To finish it now would be wrong, especially now when we are back training,” Bowyer told Sky Sports News.

“Now that we are testing and everyone is spending this money, that will play a big part in it because otherwise it would all be a waste.

“The EFL have said that they want to finish the season. It is important that we do that and hopefully we will manage to finish.

“We have proven when we have got a full squad that we can compete with all the teams in this division.

“We were in a bad place at one stage but was just purely down to the numbers of injuries we had. Once we started to get a few back then we started to pick up results again.

“So we will be ready and, like I said, I believe in the squad that we have got to get us out of this.”

Former Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins is attempting to buy Charlton but revealed to Sky Sports News earlier this week his takeover bid “hangs in the balance” after his exclusivity period expired.

Five weeks of discussions with Charlton were concluded in the middle of last week when a provisional deal was struck to buy the club for £1m.

However, a 48-hour period for him to complete the deal has expired, and Jenkins is aware of three or four other interested parties who are in discussions with owner Tahnoon Nimer.

Despite the uncertainty, Bowyer insists he and his squad will remain focused on helping the club avoid relegation.

“Obviously it is a difficult situation but it is something that we cannot control,” Bowyer said.

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Lee Westwood, Marc Leishman, Thomas Bjorn guests on The Golf Show

Lee Westwood, Thomas Bjorn and Marc Leishman are among the guests in another busy episode of The Golf Show, live on Sky Sports.

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The trio are among the guests in a busy hour from 2pm, bringing you the latest news from the golfing world as we edge closer to the PGA Tour re-starting next month.

Westwood gives his reaction to professional golf resuming in the USA and whether his outlook has changed now the American government has relaxed restrictions on athletes travelling, while Leishman shares his concerns about tournaments returning to the schedule.

Wayne “Radar” Riley reveals how he has been keeping busy during the sporting shutdown and gives his verdict on how golf will look in the months ahead, with Golf Channel’s Damon Hack providing the view from the USA and giving his reaction to Sunday’s charity match involving Tiger Woods.

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Ricky Hatton: Training became my comfort blanket

Ricky Hatton has opened up about the mental health issues he has suffered since retiring from boxing says that training became his “comfort blanket”.

The four-time world champion retired from the ring in November 2012 but has struggled to cope with the void that was left in his life.

Speaking to former Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas as part of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup’s mental fitness charter, and before social distancing rules were put in place, Hatton admitted he had to face up to his demons.

  • ‘Speak up and share your vulnerabilities’
  • De La Hoya & GGG gym’s struggle for survival

“That was like the beginning of the end for me,” he said.

“I thought I’ve worked so hard to achieve all these things that I’ve got and Billy Graham my trainer is not here to share it with me, my mum and dad are not here to share it with me, and I haven’t got boxing any more. I don’t care whether I live or die and that was rock bottom.”

Hatton admits he found it difficult to reach out to others but sought solace back in the gym.

“I was isolating myself at first,” he added. “I started training boxers coming into the gym and training the lads and at least tried to fill my days with something to take my mind off these demons, this voice on my shoulder saying this and that to me.

When asked what “the voice” was saying, Hatton replied.

“[It was saying] ‘What do you need to be here for, nobody loves you, you haven’t got a mum and dad, you haven’t got your best mate – your trainer, anymore, you haven’t got boxing, no one cares about you.’

“So I started doing the boxing training, but it was still going on. The boxing training, coming into the gym Monday to Friday was like my comfort blanket.

“I would come on and force a few smiles and a few shakes and everyone on the surface would say ‘Ricky is doing okay’ but then I would go home and just be sat on the settee.

“And then I would be going to the pub but when I wasn’t going to the pub I was just sat on the settee on my own. Sometimes I wouldn’t even be sat with the TV on.

“My girlfriend at the time was saying ‘Ricky, please go and speak to someone’ and in my mind, at the time, I thought to myself I’m Ricky Hatton, I’m not going to someone and say ‘I’m crying every day, I’m sat in the dark’

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Philippe Coutinho: Bayern Munich let option to make loan deal permanent expire

Bayern Munich will not be taking up the option of making Philippe Coutinho’s loan deal from Barcelona permanent.

The Brazilian is on a season-long loan at the Allianz Arena, but has struggled to find his best form despite scoring nine goals in 32 matches prior to the suspension of the Bundesliga.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told German magazine Der Spiegel: “The option expired and we haven’t activated it.

  • ‘Coutinho would love Premier League return’
  • Chelsea offered chance to buy Brazilian

“We’re going to plan our squad for next season and we’ll see if he still has a role to play with us or not.”

Rummenigge’s comments will alert the Premier League clubs who have been monitoring Coutinho’s loan spell with the German champions.

Chelsea are one of the clubs that have been offered the chance to sign the 27-year-old who moved to Barcelona from Liverpool for £145m three years ago.

Coutinho came on as a second-half substitute when Bayern won 3-0 win at Chelsea in February year and while he was in London he told his agent Kia Joorabchian he would be interested in returning to the Premier League.

Everton and Arsenal are also interested in the playmaker who made 152 appearances for Liverpool from 2013-2018 scoring 41 goals.

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Murat Gassiev ‘better-suited’ to heavyweight than Oleksandr Usyk, says Abel Sanchez

Murat Gassiev is “as big a puncher as the best heavyweights” and wants revenge on Oleksandr Usyk, says his trainer Abel Sanchez.

Gassiev was IBF and WBA cruiserweight champion but his thunderous run was ended in the World Boxing Super Series final by Usyk in 2018 – both boxers have now joined the heavyweight division.

Asked if Gassiev is better-suited to the bigger division, Sanchez told Sky Sports: “Absolutely. He was killing himself to make weight for cruiserweight. That’s not an excuse – Usyk was the better man on the night.

๐Ÿคนโ€โ™‚๏ธ Juggling level: @usykaa ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ‘ pic.twitter.com/0E6cmXxpiD

“We look forward to meeting Usyk at heavyweight.”

Russia’s Gassiev hasn’t fought in two years but is still just 27 years old.

“I first started working with him when he was nearly 20 years old,” Sanchez explained. “He was 192lbs back then.

“I saw his frame and his hands – he has tremendously big hands. I said: ‘This young man will dominate the cruiserweight ranks then become a very good heavyweight’.

“It took a little longer to get to the heavyweights, but he will be good. I anticipated this when I first started working with him. His hands told me everything.

“He is as big a puncher as the best heavyweights.

“Like Evander Holyfield he has the speed of a cruiserweight. His speed and quickness will be the difference against heavyweights, the same as Oleksandr Usyk.

Quality @Usykaa wins on his heavyweight debut ๐Ÿ’ช

Here are the best bits ๐Ÿ‘‡ pic.twitter.com/qTWuunlfi7

“But will Usyk have the strength to handle heavyweights? He doesn’t have a big punch. In the heavyweight division you need to have something that keeps people back.”

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Countdown of the EFL play-off finals greatest games: 10-6

This is the weekend when the nation usually stops to watch some of the finest, most frantic and fraught matches on the English football calendar.

The play-offs rarely disappoint, and so – in their absence – Sky Sports has been speaking to many of those who helped make past games so memorable.

  • Play-off finals greatest games: 15-11

Here you can enjoy our countdown from 10 to six, featuring two last-minute winners, a teenage penalty-scoring hero, and another Wembley screamer.

Let’s begin…

10 – Bolton 4-3 Reading – Division One play-off final, 1995 – “You get nothing for finishing second”

Reading hold the unfortunate record of being the only team to finish second in England’s second tier and not get promoted. With the Premier League – then the Premiership – reducing from 22 teams to 20, only Middlesbrough gained automatic promotion in 1995.

That forced Reading into the play-offs and two goals in the first 12 minutes from Lee Nogan and Adrian Williams had them dreaming of back-to-back promotions and their first-ever season in the top flight. But when your luck is out, it is really out.

The Royals should have been home and dry when Stuart Lovell stepped up to take a penalty 10 minutes before half-time, but he missed and Bolton rallied.

Owen Coyle and substitute Fabian de Freitas forced extra-time and momentum proved key, as goals from Mixu Paatelainen and a second from De Freitas turned the game on its head.

Reading’s player-manager Jimmy Quinn did his best to lead by example and pulled a goal back late on, but the damage was done. It really was not Reading’s year!

9 – Rotherham 2-2 Leyton Orient – League One play-off final, 2014 – “I was hoping his trousers would drop below his kneecaps as he ran down the touchline”

This game had it all: A second-half comeback, a 30-yard Alex Revell lob against his former team, penalties and almost a flash of Steve Evans’ underpants.

So comfortable were Leyton Orient with their 2-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Moses Odubajo and Dean Cox, that Evans said some O’s players “thought they were already in the Championship, the way they were behaving”.

Evans fired his players up and within 10 minutes of the second half, Revell poked home to pull one back. If that was scrappy, his equaliser five minutes later certainly was not.

That sent Evans sprinting down the touchline, with his belt just about preventing an embarrassing Wembley wardrobe malfunction.

“I was so hoping his trousers would drop below his kneecaps, but he just managed to drag them up in time as he ran down the touchline,” then Orient boss Russell Slade said.

Embarrassment spared, Evans and his team regained their composure to win the resulting penalty shoot-out and earn Rotherham a second successive promotion.

8 – Charlton 2-1 Sunderland – League One play-off final, 2019 – “These Charlton players write their legend!”

Two play-off titans who are no strangers to each other. Twenty-one years on from their notorious 1998 meeting, they met again at Wembley, desperate for an exit from a league arguably too small for them. It was a gruelling season in England’s third-tier though, with Luton and Barnsley going up automatically.

Sunderland had been vying for automatic promotion all term following heavy investment, while Charlton won seven of their remaining eight regular-season games, setting the stage for a mouthwatering battle between the two former Premier League clubs.

The Black Cats faced their second trip to London in a matter of weeks following their agonising defeat to Portsmouth in the EFL Trophy final, played in front of a record crowd of 85,021. Anyone who has seen Sunderland Till I Die on Netflix knows exactly what happened next…

“These Charlton players write their legend!” screamed Gary Weaver from the commentary box, as Patrick Bauer won the game in the 94th minute. Two famous finals, two famous wins for the south London club.

“We just kept pushing and pushing and thankfully got that goal,” boss Lee Bowyer said. “My emotions got the better of me, but the fourth official told me there was only six seconds left and I knew they wouldn’t score in that time – so we could relax!”

7 – Crystal Palace 1-0 Sheffield United – Division One play-off final, 1997 – “David Hopkin looking to curl one… Absolutely amazing!”

With half a minute to go, it was more relief than joy for Crystal Palace when captain David Hopkin sealed a 1-0 victory to beat Sheffield United and win promotion to the Premier League. “I was relieved that it wasn’t going to extra time!” the Scotsman admitted.

“I remember the ball being cleared to the edge of the box, and running towards the ball and hitting it early. It was a fantastic finish on a fantastic day, on the back of a very successful season we were having.”

Hopkin had enjoyed a stand-out campaign in south London, also scoring a key goal in the semi-final second-leg defeat to Wolves, which helped them progress to Wembley. “I spoke to somebody at Palace, and they said ‘You have to remember you got two Player of the Year awards, you scored in the semi-final and then the final… and then you left!'”

He arrived at Leeds, who paid £3.25m for his services. But his heart still belonged to Palace, and just four years after leaving, Hopkin returned to Selhurst Park for a second stint. “It’s a fantastic club and I have fantastic memories,” he added. “It’s a club that will be with me and my family for the rest of my days.”

6 – Birmingham 1-1 Norwich – Division One play-off final, 2002 – “Steve Bruce had us replicating the walk to the spot!”

Darren Carter promoted Birmingham to the Premier League with his match-winning penalty against Norwich in 2002, writing himself into Blues folklore. The Solihull man always had his heart set on taking a spot-kick thanks to boss Steve Bruce and his meticulous planning.

After downing Millwall over two semi-final legs, fifth-placed Birmingham set up a Millennium Stadium final with sixth-placed Norwich, which went down to the wire in front of 71,597 fans. Luckily, Bruce had put extra emphasis on penalty taking in his pre-match preparations.

Reflecting on the win, and asked if he wanted to take part in the shootout, Carter said: “Yes – I always get asked that question and people are always astonished by my answer. We practiced them all the way up to the final, Steve Bruce had us replicating the walk from the halfway line.

“He wanted us in a routine. We were taking penalties after every training session and I always felt supremely confident. I had no nerves, even when we got to the shooutout. To this day, I have Birmingham fans coming up to me and asking if they can buy me a coffee or a drink, it’s the same for my dad!

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Mauricio Pochettino Q&A: Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and what’s next

Mauricio Pochettino sat down with Sky Sports News’ Paul Gilmour to reveal his plans for his next job in management.

Pochettino is the number one choice for Newcastle’s prospective new owners to be the next manager at St James’ Park and they are willing to pay him £19m a year to take charge of the club.

The former Tottenham manager, out of work since last November, is keen on a return to the Premier League.

In a wide-ranging interview, the Pochettino discusses:

  • Being open to managing a club outside the top six
  • His friendship with Jose Mourinho
  • Why the Premier League must finish the season
  • Getting to know Sir Alex Ferguson

You have been out of football since November. What have you been getting up to?

“When I left Tottenham, the first thing I did was travel to Argentina. I spent 10 days there seeing my parents and family, who I haven’t seen for five years. Then I watched a little bit of football in Argentina….. [Diego] Maradona, [Gabriel] Batistuta. It was an amazing time.

“Then I went to Qatar to watch the World Club Cup, and then back here. It went by too quickly. We went into lockdown in early March. The time ran very fast for us.”

Is the gardening leave period at Tottenham now over? If so, are you ready to return?

“I was ready before now. The most important thing in football is to move on quick, to adapt to the new reality. Of course it is painful when you leave a club after five and a half years, working so hard to develop and achieve objectives. But that is football. It goes by very quick. You need to move on. But we feel very well, that we have recovered from the not so good days. We are full of energy in our bodies, in our minds, to try and provide a new project with all our knowledge and show our passion in football.”

How soon will it be before we see you back in a dugout?

“I don’t know. In football, every minute counts. The most important thing is we are ready. We are open to listen and see what happens.”

How is coronavirus impacting on potential job offers?

“It’s difficult to know – there is a big question mark over how it is going to impact football. Of course, everyone can see how it is going to impact the economy, which massively affects the clubs. That is going to affect people involved in football – as little as possible I hope. The companies that provide football entertainment, they are suffering. Our responsibility is to understand the situation and show solidarity. In the end, we all participate in this business.

“I was listening to the chairman of the Bundesliga, he said that football was going to help the people to move on and distract them from this terrible virus. It has started to change the mentality in everyone, including mine. I was very scared at the beginning because the most important thing is your health and to protect our players, their families and all of the staff. That is why we have started to respectfully move on. I am very positive about finishing the Premier League and other leagues like La Liga and Serie A. We need to finish. That is going to benefit not only the clubs but also players and society, to begin to introduce ourselves into this new normality.”

Would you like your next job to be in the Premier League?

“I love England. My idea is to keep living in London but at the same time I am open to different countries, to listen and see what happens.”

It was your progression with Tottenham that saw you linked with Manchester United in recent years, and the potential Newcastle owners being interested at the moment. What factors are important to you for your next job?

“I need to behave in the way that I did on my first day as a coach. There are two things that are most important – one is the people, the fans that are behind every club. That is the structure that keeps alive all the companies that provide the entertainment that is football. The other is the ideas of the clubs. Every single club and company have different cultures, different philosophies, different ways of working. They all have different plans for success. To be successful at one club you need to win the Champions League or Premier League, but for others it is to finish in the top four or six.

“In the end, when we are waiting for a new offer, and we are capable of providing what a club expects from us, we are going to be very happy. Then the important thing is like what happened at Tottenham, that we create a unique philosophy together.

Daniel took the decision to part ways and find a different management, we can only be respectful. It did not change our perception or relationship.

Pochettino on Daniel Levy

“When you sign a contract, when you already have an offer from some club and are so happy, the people that offer the new contract – chairman, sporting director – they are your best friend. You are in love. But you know, we feel very proud because after five and a half years, I keep the same relationship with Daniel and all the people that were involved. Okay, we all feel disappointed that it finished like this, but that is football. We will always have a great relationship and be friends forever. The decision to sack me, to leave the club, it is not going to change the memories that we made together. This period was incredible – I was so happy to have the opportunity to share with it everyone working at the club.”

It sounds like you left on good terms. You said recently you’d go back at some point. Is that quite unusual in football – to leave a club but still have that feeling? Have you spoken to Daniel Levy since November?

“I spoke with him last Saturday but during the last six months we have always exchanged messages. He was very painful the day he took the decision, we were too, but like I told him from day one because maybe we will repeat the same conversion with the new people if any offer arrives. I need to behave in the same way when you sign me, when you show all your love, that maybe the day you believe we need to split. If in this five and a half years, the relationship was always building in respect and loyalty, that is football. Daniel took the decision to part ways and find a different management, we can only be respectful. It did not change our perception or relationship. We had some amazing memories. I am a person who holds onto my good memories and put the bad ones in the bin.”

Jose Mourinho said you would be welcome back any time. What have you said to him?

He is a good friend. We will keep a good relationship in the future.

Pochettino on Jose Mourinho

“We talked. He is a very good friend. He was always nice with me when I started my career with Espanyol and he was with Real Madrid. You always remember this type of act. I respect him like a professional, he is one of the greatest coaches in the world. And of course, now I wish him all the best. We will keep a good relationship in the future.”

Going back to the next job, at Tottenham you formed a reputation for playing an entertaining brand of football, but always on a budget. Is a job with more investment and money for transfers something that appeals to you?

“I don’t think too much about that. For me it is about the human capital, that you need to stick with us. After that all is possible, you can deal with everything. If we are going to talk about budgets or money, football is not about that. Of course it helps but when you start to work towards your objectives, you need to be clever in the way that you are going to sign this. If you want to win the Champions League and Premier League or be competitive, you need to be creative, clever and assign a philosophy that is different to others.”

Would you ever consider a job at a Premier League club outside the top six?

“The problem is which club are top six? It always changes. Today Tottenham and Arsenal are not in the top six. You need to respect all the clubs. They are all working so hard, investing and spending money. They all assign a new strategy each season to reach the top four, top six or top eight. You cannot underestimate any person, any institute or any club. That is why the Premier League is one of the toughest – all the clubs have the capacity to find a way to be competitive.”

What was it like being linked with Manchester United throughout your time at Tottenham and receiving praise from Sir Alex Ferguson?

“They are two different things. The rumours are there but we don’t listen too much. We try to be natural when living in this business. Of course when some coach is doing well, you take the headlines and people start to link you with different jobs. That is not interesting, it’s not important. The other thing is talking about a person like Sir Alex Ferguson, who I always admired from a distance. When you get to know him you admire him more and realise why he was very successfully. Not only in winning trophies but also in the way he managed people. That is the key point for him. What I want to say, he is a person who knows the human side is so important. For his strategy, to create an organisation so capable of winning trophies and being so successful.”

What were the North London derbies like, coming up against the likes of Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery? Was it strange that both you and Emery left around the same time?

“They were always special. I am a passionate person, my coaching staff are the same. We always lived the derby in a very passionate way. We enjoyed playing against Arsenal a lot. I have a lot of respect for Arsene Wenger. When we arrived at Tottenham six years ago the perception, feeling and input we received from our fans was, ‘please beat West Ham and not only beat Arsenal, but after 23 years we need to finish above them, and please reduce the gap to the top four because our dream is to play Champions League’.

“When you look back, maybe it’s not going to be a trophy, but to change this perception and reality was so tough. When we achieved that it was a big step in the mentality of the people at the club. Then after three or four years of playing Champions League regularly and being above Arsenal, the reality was there. We needed time to win titles and our aim was always the Premier League or Champions League. That didn’t happen but there was a lot of things that we feel very proud about. Maybe we were very close to winning a title.”

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Oscar De La Hoya and Gennadiy Golovkin’s iconic former gym in Big Bear faces a struggle for survival

To train in Big Bear is both beautiful and brutal – its great strength, its remoteness and the harshness of nature, is also what threatens its existence.

The gym up a mountain was made famous by Oscar De La Hoya and used as a springboard for Gennadiy Golovkin’s dominance but its trainer Abel Sanchez has become fearful of what the future may hold.

Golovkin’s departure robbed Sanchez of his prized asset and the one who would attract others to the same gym. The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the struggles that lie ahead for Sanchez and his fellow mountain-dwellers.


“I will be interested as long as my guys are interested, but the virus could retire a lot of us,” Sanchez, the trainer and owner of The Summit gym in Big Bear, California, admitted to Sky Sports.

“I have four champions in my gym but when those guys are gone?

“I don’t think things will be like they used to be. People forget that we need infrastructure to develop the next Joshuas, Furys, Golovkins.

“If we don’t have the Olympics to develop these kids then we will run out of quality fighters.

“I can’t see amateur shows going on because of all the tests that will be required. This will take its toll on the amateur programme and the four-rounders or six-rounders that are needed to develop talent. It will be difficult.

“The upkeep is not the problem, because my children can use it as a vacation house. It’s the fact that there may not be the fighters available to bring up here.

“I’m in a cocoon up here but eventually we will have to fly.”

Why do I like Big Bear? Because it reminds me of my home. Snow, frosting air and pine trees! pic.twitter.com/upxZRGEZMc

Mexico-born Sanchez was a construction worker who took to developing properties in Big Bear Lake, a town of just 5,000 people in California’s San Bernardino mountains. He stopped building houses and started building boxers but, in 2001, he suffered a heart attack and his newly-renovated gym went unused.

It was ‘The Golden Boy’ De La Hoya who, after first using the mountainous environment in the 90s, thrust Big Bear back into folklore when he flung open the gym doors in 2007 to prepare to face Manny Pacquiao. The 7,000ft altitude plus its lack of distractions were its selling point for fighters.

The media flocked, the sport’s attention was gripped and a timely reminder was dealt of how stunning the backdrop was.

But it was Golovkin who kept Big Bear thriving. Sanchez received a call about him in 2010 and, after feeling the whack of his punches on the pads, came out of a decade-long hiatus to become his full-time trainer. Sanchez wrote the numbers 1-12 on a whiteboard, wrote Muhammad Ali’s name next to No 1, and left No 2 blank. Stay in Big Bear, Golovkin was told, and the No 2 spot would become his.

“My facility was originally built as a resort for my children,” Sanchez explained. “I have two condos and a private gym in my garage.

“The houses above, the two condos, are where the fighters stay. I built it so that I would have an alternative if I decide not to continue.”

But the fighters came flocking to train alongside Golovkin who preferred the mountains instead of, for example, Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym because it reminded him of Kazakhstan.

Golovkin and Sanchez’s relationship ended in 2018 after 22 fights, 20 wins, 19 via knockout. It was blighted by the two controversial Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez fights, a draw and a defeat for Golovkin.

Tyson Fury passed by prior to the first Deontay Wilder fight but cut his stay short. Undefeated British heavyweight Joe Joyce left too.

“You have to be a special sort of person to stay there otherwise you turn into a grizzly bear,” Joyce’s manager Sam Jones told Sky Sports. “It’s hard work and only the strongest survive. You have to be a certain breed of human to stay up there.

“It’s an unbelievable place, the smell of the pine reminds you of Christmas, the air is amazing. It’s such a great training facility. But get your head around the fact that it’s eat, sleep, train, repeat.

“You’ve got to be mentally ready to spend eight weeks up there. You’ve got a PlayStation and that’s it. In Vegas we’d go and play games at the weekend.

“We were once in the car and boulders of snow were falling down the mountain towards us during a blizzard!”

Jones tells another story of being rescued by the local sheriff when his car broke down at midnight, halfway up the mountain, in pitch-black darkness.

It is clear that Big Bear’s remoteness also works against it.

“Getting sparring partners up there was our biggest problem,” Jones said. “We paid an Uber $250 to bobsleigh its way up the mountain to pick up a sparring partner!”

I even make the bears ๐Ÿป love me.๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ˜

A post shared by Tyson Fury (@gypsyking101) on

Sanchez’s current loyalists up the mountain are former unified cruiserweight champion and emerging heavyweight threat Murat Gassiev, undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus, WBA cruiserweight champion Arsen Goulamirian and super-welterweight title challenger Michel Soro.

The rag-tag bunch are dealing with lockdown as best they can – Gassiev is back home in Russia, but Norway’s Braekhus got stuck in the US and hasn’t left Big Bear in five months.

“My gym is private and the boxers here also live here,” Sanchez said. “We have thermometers, anti-bacteria wipes, we wear masks to go to the store. I always keep a clean gym but it’s obviously dangerous outside.”

Sanchez says of Gassiev, who he has tutored for seven years: “I saw his frame and his hands – he has tremendously big hands. I said: ‘This young man will dominate the cruiserweight ranks then become a very good heavyweight’.”

He says about Braekhus, the potential rival for Katie Taylor: “Her record indicates that she is one of the greatest female fighters ever but she is very humble and would say that she isn’t. We have a poster of Christy Martin in the gym and Cecilia said: ‘That’s the pioneer and we all have a debt to pay her’. I would say Cecilia is the best ever but she would say no.”

Had so much fun training on new stuff and evolving with @abelthesummit before this virus outbreak๐Ÿ˜• Can't wait to be back in the gymโค Stay safe everyone๐Ÿ™

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Sanchez is 71 but insists he will dedicate his life to boxing for however long his current crop demand of him.

“The four I have now will take me through the next four years.

“It’s not a worry. The only reason I haven’t retired already is because of the guys I have now, I won’t quit on them. When they choose not to continue, we will stop.

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Source: RB Hyde agrees to deal with Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks and running back Carlos Hyde have reached an agreement on a one-year deal, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday.

Hyde, who turns 30 in September, scored six touchdowns and ran for a career-best 1,070 yards on 245 carries for the Houston Texans last season and played in all 16 games for the second time in his career.

However, he and fellow back Lamar Miller both hit free agency and the Texans went on to acquire David Johnson from the Arizona Cardinals in a blockbuster trade for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

The Texans acquired Hyde from the Kansas City Chiefs last year in a trade on cutdown day in exchange for offensive lineman Martinas Rankin. Houston made the move a week after Miller tore his ACL in Houston’s third preseason game.

Over the past three seasons, Hyde has played for the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Texans.

He has 5,079 total yards and 35 total touchdowns in six seasons.

ESPN’s Sarah Barshop contributed to this report.

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