Tagged in: victory

Gabriel Flores defeats Josec Ruiz by unanimous decision

Blue-chip lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. continued his development with a one-sided unanimous decision triumph over Josec Ruiz on Thursday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

All three judges scored it 100-89 for Flores (18-0, 6 KOs), who started quickly and outboxed Ruiz (21-3-3, 14 KOs) the rest of the way.

In the second round, Flores, 20, stunned Ruiz with a counter left hook and followed with a right cross that sent him down. It looked as though Flores might score an eye-opening knockout, but he eventually had to settle for a decision victory.

While Flores dominated every round, it was a solid learning experience for him. He got some quality rounds while facing a veteran who had never been knocked down coming into this contest.

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Flores, who recently relocated to Las Vegas from his hometown of Stockton, California, is a young fighter with a high boxing IQ and has a keen understanding of ring generalship.

Blessed with quick hands and great footwork, he is relying on his skills from the outside to win fights. Now he is waiting for some physical maturity so he can finish fights more emphatically.

After Thursday’s victory, Flores, coming off a 117-day layoff, exposed that he had suffered a lower back injury during a training session.

“It happened in my last sparring [session],” Flores said. “My lower back, it hurts severely. I feel probably 50 percent, with the punches I could’ve thrown tonight. I wasn’t tired, at all.”

Despite the victory, Flores wasn’t totally satisfied with his effort.

“Tonight was the night to show everybody what a great performance was, and I didn’t get to show them,” Flores said. “Fifty percent of me, that’s what I showed tonight.”

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Berger wins tightly contested Colonial in playoff

Daniel Berger was playing some of the best golf that no one noticed. Three months away because of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow his momentum, and he made it pay off Sunday with a triumph at Colonial.

The PGA Tour made a healthy return to golf at the Charles Schwab Challenge with a somewhat sickly finish. Berger saved par from behind the 17th green on the first playoff hole and won when Collin Morikawa missed a 3-foot par putt.

Berger closed with a 4-under 66, his 28th consecutive round at par or better dating back to Oct. 11 at the Houston Open.

Even over the final hour, a half-dozen players were still in the mix. All that was missing was the sound and energy of a gallery, with the PGA Tour not allowing fans for the opening five events in its return. Berger won for the third time — all victories during this week on the calendar, just not in circumstances like this. It was the first PGA Tour event since March 12 when the spread of the new coronavirus shut down golf and other sports.

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From no positive tests to a dynamic end at history-rich Colonial, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sized up the week by saying, “This has been a phenomenal start to our return.”

Morikawa has been equally steady. Since graduating from Cal last year, he has won and made every cut, a streak now at 21 events, the longest streak by a newcomer since Tiger Woods.

He took a share of the lead with a 50-foot putt on the 14th hole. It was the short ones that hurt. Morikawa also missed a birdie putt from 6 feet on the 18th hole in a 67.

Berger was the only one who delivered, making a 10-foot birdie on the final hole that put him at 15-under 265. The last time Berger was in a playoff, Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him at the Travelers Championship. So he could feel for what Morikawa felt int he loss. “It’s going to hurt for a little while, but he’ll get over it and he’ll be winning again,” Berger said.

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Liverpool go 19 points up with win at West Ham

If Liverpool already had an ironclad grip on the Premier League table coming into Wednesday’s match versus West Ham United, it now has an almost unbreakable one.

The Reds got goals from Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bracketing halftime to skate past the Hammers 2-0 at London Stadium to go 19 points clear at the top and deepen the hosts’ relegation worries.

West Ham looked solid on the break, but they made too many individual errors to overcome against such a dominant side. It could have been even more, but Salah hit the post with 12 minutes to go and West Ham continued to wilt as the clock continued to tick down.

The Hammers’ closest effort was a near own-goal from Trent Alexander-Arnold who luckily struck his own post in the second half. The Reds no longer have their game in hand, but it certainly feels like they no longer require it.

With 14 games remaining, Liverpool has only dropped a staggering two points all year and certainly feels poised to put forth a historic season, whether it be undefeated, a record point total, or both.

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So far Liverpool has navigated this season brilliantly despite a number of injuries and fitness concerns to various players. Alisson has missed time, numerous defenders such as Joel Matip and Alexander-Arnold have spent time on the sidelines, and the midfield has been shuffled constantly.

Yet the attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah remained largely untouched outside of the occasional rest. So without Mane, it was interesting to see how the Reds approached a game versus a clearly inferior opponent in the absence of their most consistent attacker.

Liverpool has now beaten all 19 teams in the league at least once this season.

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Liverpool defeat Manchester United

Mohamed Salah ripped off his Liverpool jersey at a freezing Anfield after completing a 2-0 win over Manchester United in stoppage time on Monday morning and rousing fans on the Kop to sing: “We’re gonna win the league.”

It’s been a 30-year wait but there is no longer any trepidation from the Liverpool supporters as their team has moved 16 points in front at the Premier League summit.

“Now you’re gonna believe us,” they chanted.

The Reds mathematically need 30 points to secure the title but, as it stands, if they go undefeated they could clinch the Premier League with a win over defending champions Manchester City when they face off in a one-versus-two battle in early April.

It took Salah getting on the end of goalkeeper Alisson’s inspired long ball with the final whistle about to blow for the Liverpool title party to begin with four months of the season remaining.

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A 13th straight league victory since the sides last met at Old Trafford in October continues.

Liverpool’s relentless run towards a first league title in three decades, while United remain five points off the top four in fifth.

Liverpool have now taken 64 points out a possible 66 available this season, having only dropped points versus Manchester United when the teams drew in October.

Liverpool also have a match in hand to come on closest challengers Manchester City and could have been more comfortable winners after seeing two first half goals ruled out and a host of clear chances go astray.

United is the only team to take Premier League points off the European champions this season, but it rarely looked like lightning would strike twice once the hosts went in front on 14 minutes.

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Bucks hold off Timberwolves

The Milwaukee Bucks were happy to get another victory though they know they didn’t play up to their standards.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 17 rebounds, and the Bucks held off a strong challenge from short-handed Minnesota in a 106-104 victory over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

“Not paying our best but still finding a way to win is good,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “But this isn’t the formula.”

Antetokounmpo got his 30th double-double in 33 games this campaign and Khris Middleton added 13 points despite shooting 5 for 18 as league-best Milwaukee hit just 42.6% of its shots overall and only 9 of 36 from 3-point range. Brook Lopez scored 11 points and Eric Bledsoe had 10.

“We missed a lot of good shots and came out a little slow,” Middleton said.

Shabazz Napier had 22 points to lead Minnesota, and Gorgui Deng scored 15, Josh Okogie added 12 and Jarret Culver 10.

Minnesota was playing without its two best players as Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague sat with knee injuries.

The Timberwolves were also missing Treveon Graham and Andrew Wiggins, who were battling flu-like symptoms.

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“That presented a lot of opportunities for a lot of guys and I thought a lot of guys stepped up,” Napier said.

Milwaukee slumped out of the gate. The Bucks had just four points through the first six minutes and didn’t take a lead until Lopez converted a three-point play to make it 31-29 with 8:41 left in the second quarter.

They went into halftime with a 52-51 lead despite shooting 34% from the floor. Minnesota connected at a 41.7% clip but made only 3 of 14 3-pointers while the Bucks knocked down 8 of 26 from beyond the arc.

The Timberwolves mounted one last challenge in the closing minute as Dieng hit the first of two free throws to make it 1006-104 with 46.2 seconds left. Robert Covington grabbed Pat Connaughton’s missed layup, giving Minnesota the ball with 21 seconds left but after the Timberwolves used their last timeout, Dieng missed a 19-footer with 3 seconds remaining.

“We were hoping to get Shabazz on a quick catch and go or we liked going for a win with (Covington) getting to the corner,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said. “There is a reason they are arguably the best defense team in the league too, they blew it up.”

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