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Joshua knocks out Breazeale to defend IBF heavyweight title

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LONDON — Anthony Joshua defended his IBF heavyweight title by knocking out Dominic Breazeale in the seventh round Saturday, ending his American challenger’s unbeaten record.

It was only the second time in the 26-year-old Joshua’s career than he has required more than three rounds to see off an opponent.

“I’m tired and I’m working hard,” said Joshua, who improved his professional record to 17-0 since winning the Olympic title in 2012 in London. “Now I can recharge my batteries and start afresh again.”

A devastating left-right combination early in the seventh round — similar to those that stopped many of the Briton’s 16 previous opponents — sent Breazeale to the canvas so heavily it appeared the fight was over.

Somehow Breazeale (17-1) got back to his feet, clinging to the last seconds of his undefeated professional record, before a further barrage dropped him again.

It left the referee with little choice but to wave the action over, one minute and one second into the seventh round at London’s O2 Arena.

Joshua was patient throughout the opening round, frequently landing left jabs and the occasional hurtful right, even showing a previously-unseen head movement to evade a Breazeale counter.

In the second Joshua displayed greater aggression. He punched through Breazeale’s high guard, and repeatedly sought — and often successfully found — his opponent’s resistant head with uppercuts, left hooks and straight rights. Significant swelling was already appearing around Breazeale’s right eye.

What followed was a demonstration of Joshua’s relish of combat. Breazeale’s impressive punch resistance ensured he remained on his feet, and when he fought back and landed, Joshua responded with greater malice.

His inexperience showed at one point with punches that missed wildly, while Breazeale continued to absorb heavy punishment in the rounds that followed, particularly a perfectly-timed left hook midway through the fifth.

The most impressive performance of Joshua’s career culminated with that combination in the seventh, and he clinically finished.

“It was a matter of timing and a process,” Joshua told British broadcaster Sky Sports. “I only had two weeks off after my last fight (against Charles Martin in April) and now I want to have a nice bit of time off.”

It is expected he will next face mandatory challenger Joseph Parker of New Zealand

Joshua is adjusting his plans after Tyson Fury was forced to postpone his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko after hurting his left ankle in training. Fury, who is also British, was stripped of the IBF heavyweight title last year but still holds the WBA and WBO belts.

“I was looking at Tyson Fury and I hope he gets better soon because I was hoping to get that in the winter,” Joshua said. “In the meantime, we’ll look at other opponents like Joseph Parker.”

Manny Pacquiao loses WBO welterweight title on points to Jeff Horn

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BRISBANE, Australia (AP) Manny Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight world title to Jeff Horn in a stunning, unanimous points decision in a Sunday afternoon bout billed as the Battle of Brisbane in front of more than 50,000 people.

The 11-time world champion entered the fight at Suncorp Stadium as a hot favorite but got more than he bargained for against the 29-year-old former schoolteacher.

Still, Pacquiao dominated the later rounds and the result could have gone his way.

Pacquiao’s long-time trainer Freddie Roach predicted the fight would be short and sweet but Horn – unbeaten in his 17 previous professional fights – applied pressure by winning some of the early rounds and Pacquiao needed treatment during the 6th and 7th rounds for a cut on the top of his head that resulted from a clash of heads.

The judges scored the fight 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113, with Horn immediately calling out Floyd Mayweather Jr., after the fight, declaring himself “no joke.”

Roach had said earlier in the week that he’d think about advising Pacquioa to retire if he lost the fight, but that would depend on how he fought.

Pacquiao’s camp had talked about a rematch with Mayweather if he got past Horn, hoping to avenge his loss on points in the 2015 mega fight. That seems to be a distant chance now.

Pacquiao, who entered the fight with a record of 59-6-2, 38 knockouts, was defending the WBO title he won on points against Jessie Vargas last November.

Mayweather vs. McGregor odds: Sportsbooks set betting lines, props for fight

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Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor stand to collect a massive payday whether their superfight is a charade or a combat sports classic, and there’s plenty of upside for bettors too.

With the bout set, Mayweather is a -600 moneyline favorite against the +400 underdog McGregor at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.  Mayweather will put a 49-0 ring record on the line in the August 26 bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, while McGregor, a UFC champion at two weights, might prove a point just by having a decent showing.

The moneyline has tightened considerably since the first rumors about the fight. Last November, Mayweather opened at -2250 and McGregor opened at +950. Evidently, many MMA fans found McGregor irresistible at that price, as it steadily dropped, falling to +450 by late April. That was also the point where the moneyline on ‘Money’ came down to -700.

The over/under on rounds is 9.5. A 10-round fight is uncharted waters for McGregor, but 13 of Mayweather’s last 14 fights have gone at least 10 rounds. Twelve have gone the full 12 rounds; the Mayweather-McGregor betting odds on whether the fight goes the distance pays +125 if it does, and -175 if it’s stopped early.

McGregor also pays +120 if he wins by decision, which is the standard outcome for his bouts against full-time boxers. McGregor’s method-of-victory props include +700 for a knockout and +3300 for victory by decision.

There is little in the way of past performance to go on here, since McGregor hasn’t boxed since he was a teenager in Ireland. Mayweather’s defensive skills should allow him to parry any early onslaught from McGregor, who is a knockout artist in the UFC octagon and rarely has fights go more than two rounds.

The round prices offer the most potential profit for Mayweather backers. One can assume that the skilled defensive fighter might dance around while McGregor goes out hard. It might be prudent to scale down expectations of a quick finish – +3300 for Mayweather winning in Round 1, +2500 for Round 2 – and look at the slightly later rounds. Rounds 4 through 6 are listed at +1600 and +1400.

While Mayweather’s round prices trace a reverse parabola, McGregor’s round prices are relatively stable. The Irishman offers +4000 for a win in Round 1, or each one from Rounds 4-7. There is a slight drop to +3300 for both Round 2 and 3.

Another way to bet on the Mayweather-McGregor fight is the 4.99 million total for pay-per-view buys. The over hitting would require beating the audience for Mayweather’s 2015 fight against Manny Pacquaio (4.6 million). McGregor also holds the UFC’s PPV record of 1.65 million, set at UFC 202 in August 2016

With boxing and MMA fans creating a larger fanbase and the event being scheduled for the dog days of late August – before the NFL and college football blot out everything else on the sports landscape – 5 million buys seems doable.