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[SPORTS] Everson Griffen ordered by Vikings to get mental health evaluation

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The Minnesota Vikings informed Everson Griffen and his agent last week that the star defensive end would not be allowed back with the team until he underwent a mental health evaluation, according to a police incident report obtained by ESPN’s Courtney Cronin.

Les Pico, the Vikings’ executive director of player development, told police in Minnetrista, Minnesota, that team management sent Griffen and his agent the letter on Thursday, two days before an alleged incident involving Griffen at a Minneapolis hotel.

According to the incident report, Pico told police that Griffen had been “explosive, screaming and yelling” at the team facility and that he had been struggling in recent weeks. Vikings director of security Kim Klawiter told police that the team told Griffen not to play Sunday and to “go get his head straight.” When Griffen reported to the team facility for practice Saturday, he was sent home.

Even though the Vikings want Griffen to undergo the mental health evaluation, Pico told police that Griffen has not done or said anything that led the team to believe that he is a danger to himself or others.

Griffen, 30, is being evaluated at a Minneapolis-area hospital, according to the incident report. A league source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that Griffen is “getting assistance on personal matters” and that the league is “comfortable he has a good support system around him.”

Pico told police that he intended to meet with Griffen on Saturday at Hotel Ivy, where Griffen had been staying. Pico told police that upon meeting Griffen at the hotel, the defensive end forgot why he wanted to speak to him and did not want to talk to him anymore.

According to a separate incident report obtained earlier Tuesday by ESPN, authorities from the Minneapolis Police Department were called Saturday to Hotel Ivy because an individual was threatening to shoot someone if he wasn’t allowed in his room.

Though his name was redacted from the Hotel Ivy incident report, sources told Cronin that the individual in question at the hotel is Griffen.

Following the incident at the hotel Saturday, Griffen allegedly attempted to break in to the home of teammate Trae Waynes before climbing into a stranger’s truck and being driven to his home in Minnetrista, according to an incident report.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Waynes, however, denied that Griffen attempted to break in to his home.

“To clarify, there was no attempted break-in at our home and at no point did my family or I feel unsafe. We are friends with the Griffen family and we are here to support them in any way possible during these trying times,” he said.

Minnetrista Police then met with Griffen at his home. Asked by police why he went to Waynes’ home, Griffen said that “God made me do it” and later agreed to go to the hospital. The reporting officer placed a health and welfare hold on Griffen “based upon his actions and information I had acquired about him.”

While waiting for the ambulance to take him to the hospital, Griffen reportedly told an officer about people trying to kill him. Griffen also jumped out of the ambulance, saying he was in fear of someone shooting him, before ultimately being calmed and taken to the hospital.

The report notes that no criminal charges are forthcoming.

The defensive end did not practice last week and was listed as having a knee injury. The Vikings ruled him out of Sunday’s game against the Bills because of the injury, and coach Mike Zimmer said after the game that Griffen was not in attendance because he was dealing with a personal matter.

 

Sources told Anderson that a number of Vikings players and coaches were not aware of Saturday’s incident, even at game time on Sunday.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said Monday night in a statement that the team was “currently focused on Everson’s well-being and providing the appropriate support for him and his family.”

At a news conference Tuesday, Zimmer at first referred to Spielman’s statement before saying that “the only thing I’m really concerned for Everson about isn’t anything to do with football; it’s about him getting better.”

“He’s always been a really, really good model for us, and obviously he’s going through some tough times right now,” the coach added.

Zimmer noted that Griffen would not have been able to play Sunday due to the knee injury.

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[SPORTS] Competition committee wants to discuss increase in roughing the passer calls

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The NFL’s competition committee is scheduled to speak on a conference call next week about the proliferation of roughing the passer penalties, two sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

The sources said the committee is concerned about the frequency of these penalties and has voiced those concerns to the league office.

“There’s some concern that the officials are going a little bit too far with some of these calls,” one of the sources said.

Through three weeks, there have been 34 roughing the passer calls. Through three games last year, there had been 16, and through three games in 2016, there were 20.

Part of the issue is that the league this year made a “point of emphasis” of a 23-year-old rule that prohibits defenders from landing on the quarterback with their full body weight or driving him into the ground with excessive force. The NFL says that rule has been on the books since 1995 (Rule 12 , Section 2, Article 9) and that it made it a point of emphasis this season after hearing complaints from coaching staffs that it wasn’t being enforced. The competition committee issued the following recommendation this offseason:

“The Committee recommends that the Officiating department emphasize that the defender is responsible to avoid landing on the quarterback when taking him to the ground. The Committee also recommended that video be shown to players, coaches, and officials during the offseason demonstrating legal and illegal plays. Examples of rushing defenders getting their bodies to the side during the contact and avoiding putting their body weight on the quarterback must be included so that coaches can teach proper technique.”

NFL officials visited all 32 training camps, as they do every year, to explain rule changes and points of emphasis. Video examples were shown of what the league describes as proper and improper technique.

That specific call has been a big part of the early-season controversy, though part of the issue the competition committee has is with hits that don’t fit into that category — for example, the controversial Clay Matthews hit on Kirk Cousins in Week 2 that led to the Vikings’ game-tying touchdown. That play was put on the league’s weekly teaching tape as an example of how not to sack the quarterback, but one of the sources said the competition committee was confused about whether that penalty should have been called.

“I don’t recall ever hearing the terms ‘scoop and lift’ before,” the source said.

The sources both said they don’t expect any major changes this season, though discussions are ongoing and could eventually include officials.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who is on the competition committee, addressed the penalties in Monday’s game against the Buccaneers. There were 21 penalties called total, including four roughing the passer penalties.

“I’m an appreciator of the game, somebody that’s in this ecosystem that understands the entertainment of the fan makes it all go,” he said. “I just say it from that perspective — not as a member of the committee or anybody in a title position in any form or fashion, just somebody who loves football. That probably wasn’t a fun game to watch.”

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[MUSIC NEWS] Cardi B May Perform During 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Show If She Gets Her Own Set

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The NFL has been catching heat for recruiting Maroon 5 for the 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Show in Atlanta, but rap fans will be happy to hear that it’s looking more and more plausible that Cardi B will join the band on stage.

According to TMZ, the NFL is in talks with Cardi B to perform her remix of “Girls Like You” with the pop-rock group for Super Bowl LIII. The only downside is that she wouldn’t have her own stage time, which may keep her from taking up the offer. She reportedly has other opportunities on the table around that time that would allow her to perform solo.

ast week, Billboard reported that the new mom, who just celebrated her one-year wedding anniversary with Offset, was already on the short list to perform at the event, though Travis Scott was also being considered. The NFL won’t confirm or deny the now-widespread rumors. XXL has reached out to Cardi’s publicist for a comment on the matter.

Both RZA and Waka Flocka Flame have spoken out for and against Maroon 5 performing at the Super Bowl, respectively. RZA reasoned, “If you gonna bring somebody like that, in these times, at least you got a guy like Adam Levine, who may bring out Drake for us.” Waka, on the other hand, feels an Atlanta rapper should be given the opportunity— himself included. “You’re coming to the biggest Black state in America,” he explained. “Why wouldn’t you let a Black artist perform and show the world that we’re progressing? That’s not cool.”

“Girls Like You”—which was recently sung by Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown—also made headlines today (Sept. 24) as it finally reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This makes Cardi B the first female rapper ever to have three No. 1 hits.

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[SPORTS] LeBron James says Lakers will have to work to be great

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Speaking with an all-business tone in his first press conference with his new team, LeBron James said the Los Angeles Lakers have “a long way to go” before getting on the same level as the Golden State Warriors.

James said he is excited to play alongside multiple ball handlers, but he understands the Lakers might have to take their “bumps and bruises” early with so many new pieces.

“We got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” James said when asked if the Lakers can challenge the two-time defending champs. “They can pick up right where they left off, starting with training camp. … We are picking up from scratch, so we got a long way to go. We can’t worry about what Golden State is doing. … They’ve been together for a few years now.”

 

“We are all new to each other; we have to take our bumps and our bruises,” James added. “There are going to be good times and bad times. If we continue to work the process and continue to sacrifice for one another and put in the commitment and time to being great, everything else will fall into place.”

While James was subdued during his press conference, he broke into a big smile later when asked about the health of his right hand, which he hurt following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ overtime loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals to Golden State.

“My hand’s great,” James told ESPN. “A hundred percent, back to a hundred percent.”

This was the first time James has spoken to the Los Angeles media since signing with the Lakers in free agency in July. He had a serious tone in his press conference, something Lakers head coach Luke Walton said he has seen from James at the practice facility this summer.

“He knows what time it is. … He’s setting the tone that it’s time to come to work,” Walton said. “… There is definitely that look that I’ve seen before with somebody else I have played with before that knows the season is coming up soon.”

Walton, who played alongside Kobe Bryant, was asked who that person could be.

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[SPORTS] LeBron James, producer Ryan Coogler to work together on ‘Space Jam’ movie

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Blown away by Ryan Coogler’s work on “Black Panther,” LeBron James is teaming up with the director/producer on the long-anticipated next “Space Jam” movie.

Coogler will produce the “Space Jam” project with Terence Nance — whose work includes “Random Acts of Flyness” and “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” — set to direct.

A source told ESPN that James was personally involved in recruiting Coogler. “Space Jam” will be Coogler’s first project since directing “Black Panther” — the groundbreaking Marvel movie featuring a black superhero with a predominantly black cast that grossed $1.34 billion worldwide.

James and longtime business partner Maverick Carter have been in talks to make a “Space Jam” film for more than five years, waiting for the right situation to come along, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

While the film shares the name with the popular franchise that originally starred Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny in a 1996 box-office smash, a source familiar with the production told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that James’ vehicle will not be considered a sequel to the highest-grossing basketball film of all time.

“I loved his vision,” James told The Hollywood Reporter of the acclaimed Coogler, who also directed “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station.” “So for Ryan to be able to bring that to kids, it’s amazing.”

While the premise of the latest installment of “Space Jam” being discussed is not rooted in the original story, there have been discussions of involving Jordan, with his level of involvement still to be determined. Filming is expected to start during the 2019 NBA offseason.

James’ Springhill Entertainment signed a deal in 2015 with Warner Bros. Entertainment, which owns “Space Jam.”

James, who had a supporting acting role in the 2015 comedy “Trainwreck,” has reviewed numerous scripts and met with various producers and directors in search of the right project, according to Windhorst.

James signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers in July, something that should only amplify and better facilitate his business team’s numerous ventures in entertainment.

“The ‘Space Jam’ collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie,” James told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s so much bigger. I’d just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don’t just give up on their dreams. And I think Ryan did that for a lot of people.”

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[SPORTS] Shawn Porter beats Danny Garcia by unanimous decision

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Conventional wisdom said Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, both former welterweight world titleholders with massive experience against many of the best fighters in their division, were about as evenly matched as one could hope.

And when they met for a vacant belt before a crowd of 13,058 on Saturday night in the main event of the 30th boxing card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, they indeed put on a highly competitive and exciting fight.

But it was Porter, thanks to his relentless pressure, who won a unanimous decision to claim his second 147-pound world title.

Judge Don Ackerman scored the fight 116-112, and judges Julie Lederman and Eric Marlinski each had it 115-113. ESPN had it 114-114.

“I tell people all the time I don’t make predictions. I made a prediction and a hard one to live up to. I said I wasn’t leaving New York without this belt, and I’m not leaving New York without this belt,” Porter said. “I knew he was going to be accurate. The game plan for me was to be accurate from the outside and show we could beat him without roughing him up on the ropes. This title means a lot to me. It meant a lot to boxing, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Garcia said he felt that he won but didn’t complain too vigorously.

“I thought I did enough to win. It was close fight. The judges didn’t give it to me,” Garcia said. “I busted my head on the inside, plus a couple head butts on my nose. It is what it is; this is boxing.”

With the victory, Porter set himself up for a possible unification fight with Errol Spence Jr., who was ringside and very much wants to unify.

“The same way that you called Danny out, I’m going to call you out,” Spence said to Porter in the ring after the fight. “I think I’m the best welterweight in the division. I’m the truth, and I guarantee you I come home as unified champion. I definitely want that fight against Porter.”

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) also has been linked to a possible pay-per-view fight later this year or in early 2019 against lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia, who is insistent on moving up two divisions to challenge himself against Spence. Spence has many options.

“It was a good fight. Shawn looked like himself. I didn’t see anything different in his style, so we should combine to make an incredible fight,” Spence said. “I’m ready for whoever next. Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter or [titleholder] Keith Thurman. I want any and all of them.”

Spence is who Porter wants next and told him so in the ring.

“I knew Errol Spence would be here tonight. I’m ready for the fight. This is going to be the easiest fight to make in boxing,” said Porter, alluding to the fact that they both have been fighting on Showtime, both are with adviser Al Haymon and both want the bout.

Porter first won a world title in 2013, also at Barclays Center, as he outpointed Devon Alexander, and he made one successful defense, before losing the belt to Kell Brook. Porter has been trying ever since to get another belt, and he had come close in 2016; but he lost a very close decision to Thurman, who also took Garcia’s belt by close decision in March 2017 in the same building.

Now Porter has another title after a grueling battle with Garcia.

Saturday’s fight began at a measured pace, and when they both threw right hands at the end of the first round, Garcia’s connected and Porter’s missed, drawing cheers from the crowd. The action soon picked up, and they put on a very crowd-pleasing fight.

According to CompuBox punch statistics, Porter landed 180 of 742 shots (24 percent) and Garcia connected with 168 of 472 (36 percent).

Garcia’s punches landed with thudding impact that could be heard at ringside, including a hard left hook in the third round. Porter, two inches shorter than Garcia, tried to jab his way in but had difficulties early on.

Porter, known for bull-rushing opponents, came straight ahead in the fourth round and belted Garcia with several good body shots and a right hand upstairs as he got his offense going.

Porter’s offense was not consistent, however. When he couldn’t get inside on Garcia, Porter tried to maul, but Garcia stepped back and landed his shots.

Porter is notorious for getting his head involved in fights, and after an accidental head butt in the seventh round, referee Steve Willis warned him to be careful with his head. Porter had Garcia in retreat later in the seventh round as he lashed him with right hands over the top.

Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs), 30, of Las Vegas, continued to take aim at Garcia’s body in the eighth round. Porter put his head down and bombed away inside, though he took a few right hands for his trouble in what was becoming an increasingly rough fight, especially on the inside as the fighters went toe to toe.

“He tried to outhustle me, mostly at the end of the rounds. He did a tremendous job,” Porter said. “It wasn’t necessarily about making it wild. My dad [trainer Ken Porter] wanted me to stay consistent with the body work and stay consistent with the pressure.”

Garcia had predicted a knockout win in under nine rounds, but the ninth came and went without either man being in any serious trouble. So many of the rounds seemed close that it was hard to pick a winner, especially late in the fight when they traded back and forth in the center of the ring — including in the 10th round, as they fired away with abandon.

“He was throwing a lot,” Garcia said. “I had my defense tight, so it wasn’t effective. I thought I landed the clearer shots. I thought I won this fight. I have to sit back, relax and see what’s next for me.”

Porter, who earned $1 million to Garcia’s $1.2 million, continued to pressure Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs), 30, of Philadelphia, in the 11th round, and Garcia answered counter shots in yet another close frame. With the fight seemingly on the table in the 12th round, they exchanged punches at close range over the final 30 seconds, save for one clinch, and the crowd rose to its feet in appreciation of the tremendous battle.

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[SPORTS] Cardinals RB David Johnson got paid

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The Arizona Cardinals running back signed a three-year extension Saturday, the team announced.

The deal is for $39 million, including $30 million guaranteed, and can be worth up to $45 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Johnson’s $30 million in guaranteed money is the third-highest figure among active running backs.

Earlier this week, he said he wanted his deal done as soon as possible.

“Every player wants to have a contract done and know that they have a contract,” Johnson said.

Now he does.

Johnson made it known this summer that he wanted a new deal. He held out of Arizona’s minicamp in June but reported to training camp. However, his impending contract was a topic every time he spoke publicly.

Johnson’s extension came the night before he was about to enter the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, which was worth $2.9 million. He was scheduled to earn $1.9 million this season.

His new deal doesn’t come without questions, however. Johnson, 26, has gotten injured in his past two games. He suffered a fractured wrist in Week 1 last season that forced him to miss the final 15 games. He also suffered a sprained MCL in Week 17 in 2016, which put a damper on an impressive season.

However, when Johnson was healthy in 2016, he was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler for the first time. That season, Johnson rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns on 293 carries. He complemented that with 879 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 80 catches. Johnson led the NFL with 2,118 all-purpose years and 373 touches in 2016.

Johnson’s 32 touchdowns from scrimmage since 2015 are the second most in that span. Todd Gurley and Devonta Freeman each had 35.

Johnson was a third-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Northern Iowa.

Keeping Johnson under contract through the 2021 season will pair him with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, whom the Cardinals drafted 10th overall this year, giving Arizona’s offense its foundation for the foreseeable future.

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[SPORTS] NFL not expected to implement new national anthem policy this season

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The NFL is not expected to implement a new policy on the national anthem this season, league sources told ESPN, no matter how many meetings and conversations occur regarding the topic.

The new policy is going to be no policy — at least for this season, according to sources.

Too many people have stances too strong to figure out a compromise, although talks will continue.

Players began sitting or kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest racial inequality, police brutality and other issues. The protests have become a divisive topic of debate, and the NFL and players’ union still haven’t said whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the anthem.

The NFL passed a new anthem policy in May, but those rules were put on hold to allow the league and union to further discuss the issue.

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[SPORT/ MUSIC] LeBron James & Kevin Durant – It Ain’t Easy

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For years, there was a myth that Kevin Durant and LeBron James recorded a song together during the 2011 NBA lockout. It had been reported about, talked about in basketball circles and about a year ago, a snippet leaked. While we’ve seen these two on the court together (even playing on the same team during pickup games and the 2012 Summer Olympics), this is the first time, and possibly the only time, we will hear them on a song together.

“It Ain’t Easy” is more of a light-hearted collaboration, and not the trap aggressive rap you’d expect nowadays, but then again, it’s about seven years old.

It’ll be interesting to see what the two say about the song when asked.

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[SPORTS] Crawford wins welterweight title in ninth round

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Terence “Bud” Crawford put the welterweight division on notice in a major way.

Crawford, already a winner of world titles in two weight classes, aimed to make a big impression in his first fight in the talent-rich 147-pound division that several of the sport’s best call home, and he did so by utterly dominating Jeff Horn.

Crawford punished Horn in a one-sided fight, stopping him in the ninth round to win a world title in his third division on Saturday night in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card before 8,112 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“Like I told you all before, I’m strong. I was way stronger than him. You all kept telling me how strong he was, so I had to go and show you,” Crawford said. “I just had to get in the ring and prove it. You saw what I did in there. My power carried up, my physicality. Now I want all the champions at welterweight.”

Crawford, of Omaha, Nebraska, came into the fight already universally considered one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. The near-flawless performance against Horn should only burnish his reputation.

Crawford had already won a world title at lightweight and then moved up to junior welterweight, in which last August he became only the third fighter of the four-belt era to unify the titles of all four major sanctioning bodies when he blitzed Julius Indongo in a third-round knockout to take his two belts and become the undisputed champion at 140 pounds.

Then it was on to the welterweight division that boasts fighters such as titleholders Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman, not to mention former champion Manny Pacquiao and former titleholders Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who has promoted fights for more than 50 years, was very impressed with Crawford and compared him to a legend.

“His future is unlimited. He’s a terrific fighter. It’s the highest praise I can give a fighter, a welterweight, that he reminds me of Sugar Ray Leonard,” said Arum, who promoted several Leonard fights. “That to me is a great, great compliment because I always thought Leonard was the best, and this guy is equal or better than Ray.”

Crawford, Horn’s mandatory challenger, put his name into the mix for major fights with any of them if they could be made, but first he had to deal with Australia’s Horn, who made his United States debut for the second defense of the world title he lifted from Pacquiao by controversial decision last July before 51,000 people at Suncorp Stadium in his hometown of Brisbane.

Crawford’s dominance was illustrated by the CompuBox punch statistics. He landed 155 of 367 punches (42 percent), while Horn landed 58 of 257 (23 percent), none of which seemed to do much of anything.

“He was hard to tag, and he just kept me guessing,” Horn said. “He’s a classy fighter who fought a great fight.”

The 30-year-old Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs), who came out immediately in a southpaw stance, caught Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) with a hard left hand in the first few seconds of the fight to knock him off balance. Crawford’s speed advantage was evident immediately in a round Crawford appeared to win easily.

Horn, aiming for another huge upset, had a big contingent of fans who chanted, “Hornet! Hornet!” but they couldn’t fight for him, as Crawford continued to land in the second round, including a straight left hand down the middle that rocked Horn.

Crawford was in total control the entire fight, including the third round as he landed right hooks, straight left hands and clean jabs that rocked Horn’s head back. Horn, who suffered a small cut over his right eye in the fourth round, had no answers for anything, and it didn’t get much better.

Crawford, meanwhile, looked like he was having fun. He stuck his tongue out and wound up with some punches as he nailed Horn with heavy shots from all angles, especially straight lefts, in what was easy work.

When Horn, 30, bulled Crawford to the ropes in the sixth round, Crawford got away after landing a left uppercut that stunned Horn.

In the eighth round, Crawford, who is adept at switching stances, turned right-handed and continued to find a home for his blows. He had Horn in big trouble as he lashed him with crushing punches that probably would have put opponents away when he fought in the smaller junior welterweight and lightweight divisions. But Horn, who earned $1.75 million to Crawford’s $3 million, sopped up the enormous punishment and showed a great chin to take the shots.

But he could take them for only so long. Crawford continued to pound him in the ninth round, landing two right hands and a left that hurt him badly and forced him to touch his gloves to the canvas for a knockdown. Crawford was all over him when the fight resumed, and as he blasted him with both hands, referee Robert Byrd jumped in to stop the fight at 2 minutes, 33 seconds.

The fight was originally scheduled for April 14 but was postponed when Crawford suffered a deep bone bruise on his right hand while training. But he sure didn’t appear to have any issues with the right hand, which he used liberally.

Crawford closed the show by landing 47 of 77 power shots in the last two rounds. Horn threw only 59 punches in the last two rounds.

Arum said Crawford is on his way to stardom and will stay active.

“One thing with this ESPN platform is we have the dates,” Arum said. “We’re going to have ‘Bud’ fight as many times as he and [trainer Brian McIntyre] want. If he wants to fight three times a year or four times a year, we’ve got the dates for him. It’s up to him how busy he wants to be.”

Crawford flashed a smile at Arum and said, “Let’s get that money.”

Glenn Rushton, Horn’s trainer, gave credit to Crawford for a fine performance but complained about the stoppage.

“Crawford was just sharp in there,” Ruston said. “He kept on countering Jeff’s shots one at a time. I thought there were some close rounds in there, and it was definitely a premature stoppage. He got hit harder by Pacquiao.”

But Byrd had called off the fight, and when it was over, Crawford ran to the ropes and climbed atop one of the ring posts, drinking in the cheers from the crowd as he pumped his fist.

The welterweight division was on notice.

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