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Czech police detain 20 in football corruption probe

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Deputy football association head reportedly among 20 arrested in case centred on alleged match-fixing in second, third divisions.

Czech police have detained 20 people including deputy Czech Football Association head Roman Berbr over alleged corruption and match-fixing following a nationwide raid, news reports said.

“The police have launched criminal proceedings against 20 people today … regarding an organised crime group active in corruption to fix results of football matches,” High State Prosecutor Lenka Bradacova told Reuters news agency on Friday, confirming earlier reports by local media.

Czech Football Association spokesman Michael Jurman confirmed the raid.

“We can confirm that since the morning the police have acted, including a search at the association headquarters,” Jurman said. “We are providing the police with maximum cooperation.”

Local media said those detained included Berbr, a controversial deputy chairman of the Czech Football Association, but Bradacova declined to say whether the long-time official had been charged or detained.

Jurman also declined to comment on the news reports, and Berbr could not be immediately reached for comment.

The case centres on alleged match-fixing in the second and third tiers of Czech football, and officials are also investigating a number of referees, Seznam Zpravy news website reported.

Berbr has held his post since 2013 and according to local media has been pulling the strings in Czech football for years.

The 66-year-old former referee, who is married to the European Union member’s first-ever female referee, Dagmar Damkova, served as a secret police agent during the communist era.

Media have pointed to Berbr in relation to corruption cases and bullying at the FA, but he has never been charged.

His former boss Miroslav Pelta led the FA until he was detained in 2017 on charges of bribery and abuse of power. He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted in a trial currently under way.

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Pound-for-pound: Teofimo Lopez Jr. turns rankings upside down

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Teofimo Lopez Jr.’s impressive victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko earned him his first trip into ESPN’s pound-for-pound top 10.

“The Takeover” won a unanimous decision over Lomachenko to stay unbeaten. With the victory, Lopez unified the IBF, WBO and WBA world titles and the WBC “franchise” belt.

The win puts Lopez, 23, in good company, as he becomes the second-youngest boxer in history to win a third divisional belt (Mike Tyson holds the record, at 21 years, 37 days old in August 1987).

ESPN boxing commentator Joe Tessitore has Lopez at No. 2 in his list and noted that it’s time to reward fighters for taking — and winning — the toughest fights.

“I very much knew this would get people’s attention and bother people, by me putting Lopez at No. 2,” Tessitore said. “I believe boxing needs a massive paradigm shift, and Teofimo Lopez just delivered a sledgehammer blow to start creating that shift. We must reward results in boxing, not just status. The best fighters fighting the best fighters at the right time has to be rewarded greatly. Teofimo Lopez has the most significant current win in the sport — that’s undeniable.

“Pound-for-pound is a nebulous, strange mix of various subjective measurements, but I believe, currently on this day, that if everybody was at the same weight, and I considered skill, results, body of work, I’d have more reason to justify Crawford, Lopez, Inoue as the top three, even though others beyond Lopez might be more established and have a longer résumé.

“I clearly understand that my vote is an outlier, but we have to start rewarding and valuing big wins at big times, not just maintaining promotional or fan’s perceived status.”

Former two-division champion and ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr., who voted Lopez at No. 3, believes Lopez earned the right to be as high on his list.

“It was a historic event for both men Saturday night, and the one that persevered was a young 23-year-old with just 16 professional fights,” Bradley said. “In having limited big fight experience as well as making his first title defense against arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet, Lopez showed the world that he is beyond his years in skill, mental toughness and supreme confidence. Therefore, the new multi-belt holder deserves to be at No. 3, in my opinion.”

ESPN writer Cameron Wolfe’s explanation for voting Lopez at No. 5 is very clear: Lopez’s win over Lomachenko is probably the best victory that anyone on this pound-for-pound list has had in recent years.

“His win over Lomachenko, coupled with his early KO of Richard Commey back in December, earns Lopez a top-five spot in my pound-for-pound list,” Wolfe said. “His résumé isn’t as deep as others on this list yet, which is why he isn’t higher, but more wins while taking these sort of challenges could help Lopez challenge Crawford for the top spot within a year or two.

“Lopez’s time is now, and his next milestone could be becoming pound-for-pound best. He’s much more than just a power puncher. Lopez is showing a willingness to take extremely risky fights early in his career and not worry about protecting his record, which is something boxing has been severely lacking in.”

Showtime boxing analysts Eric Raskin was tempted to put Lopez higher than his final No. 4 spot but explained why he decided to hold that thought — for now.

“We have a bit of a conundrum atop the pound-for-pound list right now, with nobody forcefully staking a claim to No. 1,” Raskin said. “Crawford hasn’t been fighting elite opposition the last few years, Canelo is entirely inactive right now, and Inoue most recently struggled more than expected in his win over Nonito Donaire. Still, I can’t quite place Lopez ahead of any of them, as his track record is extremely limited.

“You could make a case for placing Spence above Lopez, but I lean toward Lopez, given the exceptional ability of the fighter he just defeated (cleanly, in my view, eight rounds to four). In pound-for-pound rankings, beating ‘the man’ doesn’t automatically make you ‘the man.’ It’s not a lineal title. It’s based on a combination of accomplishment and perceived ability, with an emphasis on recent performances, and for me, that all adds up to No. 4 — for now — for Lopez.”

Our ESPN panel members — Bradley, Tessitore, Wolfe, Raskin, Andre Ward, Teddy Atlas, Steve Kim, Nick Parkinson, Ben Baby, Bernardo Pilatti, Charles Moynihan and Salvador Rodriguez — share their lists.

Don’t forget to check out our divisional rankings, which are updated weekly, and ESPN’s women’s pound-for-pound rankings.

For a list of the current champions in all weight classes, click here.

Note: Results are through Thursday, Oct. 20.


1. TERENCE CRAWFORD     Previous ranking: No. 2

RECORD: 36-0, 27 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO9) Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Dec. 14
NEXT FIGHT: Nov. 14 vs. Kell Brook


2. CANELO ALVAREZ     Previous ranking: No. 3

RECORD: 53-1-2, 36 KOs
DIVISION: Middleweight (champion), super middleweight (“regular” titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (KO11) Sergey Kovalev, Nov. 2
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


3. NAOYA INOUE     Previous ranking: No. 4

RECORD: 19-0, 16 KOs
DIVISION: Bantamweight (unified titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Nonito Donaire, Nov. 7
NEXT FIGHT: Oct. 31 vs. Jason Moloney


4. ERROL SPENCE JR.     Previous ranking: No. 5

RECORD: 26-0, 21 KOs
DIVISION: Welterweight (unified titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (SD12) Shawn Porter, Sept. 28
NEXT FIGHT: Dec. 5 vs. Danny Garcia


5. TEOFIMO LOPEZ JR.     Previous ranking: NOT RANKED

RECORD: 16-0, 12 KOs
DIVISION: Lightweight (unified champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oct. 17
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


6. VASILIY LOMACHENKO     Previous ranking: No. 1

RECORD: 14-2, 10 KOs
DIVISION: Lightweight
LAST FIGHT: L (UD12) Teofimo Lopez Jr., Oct. 17
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


7. OLEKSANDR USYK     Previous ranking: No. 6

RECORD: 17-0, 13 KOs
DIVISION: Heavyweight
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO7) Chazz Witherspoon, Oct. 12
NEXT FIGHT: Oct. 31 vs. Dereck Chisora


8. TYSON FURY     Previous ranking: No. 7

RECORD: 30-0-1, 21 KOs
DIVISION: Heavyweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO7) Deontay Wilder, Feb. 22
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


9. JUAN FRANCISCO ESTRADA     Previous ranking: No. 8

RECORD: 40-3, 27 KOs
DIVISION: Junior bantamweight (champion)
LAST FIGHT: W (TKO9) Dewayne Beamon, Aug. 24
NEXT FIGHT: Oct. 23 vs. Carlos Cuadras


10. GENNADIY GOLOVKIN     Previous ranking: No. 9

RECORD: 40-1-1, 35 KOs
DIVISION: Middleweight (titlist)
LAST FIGHT: W (UD12) Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Oct. 5, 2019
NEXT FIGHT: TBA


The formula

The rankings are based on a descending points system, with a first-place vote receiving 10 points, a second-place vote receiving nine points and so on. A tie goes to the fighter with the highest ranking and then the one with the most votes at that ranking.


Others receiving votes: Manny Pacquiao (12), Artur Beterbiev (6), Josh Taylor (3), Jermall Charlo (3), Mikey Garcia (2), Miguel Berchelt (1)


How our writers voted

Atlas: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Inoue, 4. Lomachenko, 5. Spence, 6. Usyk, 7. Pacquiao, 8. Lopez, 9. Beterbiev, 10. Fury

Bradley: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Lopez, 4. Inoue, 5. Fury, 6. Spence, 7. Usyk, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Pacquiao, 10. Beterbiev

Ward: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Fury, 4. Usyk, 5. Inoue, 6. Spence, 7. Lopeze, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Estrada, 10. Beterbiev

Tessitore: 1. Crawford, 2. Lomachenko, 3. Inoue, 4. Canelo, 5. Usyk, 6. Spence, 7. Estrada, 8. Berchelt, 9. Golovkin, 10. Beterbiev

Kim: 1. Inoue, 2. Crawford, 3. Alvarez, 4. Usyk, 5. Lopez, 6. Lomachenko, 7. Estrada, 8. Spence, 9. Golovkin, 10. Fury

Parkinson: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Fury, 5. Lopez, 6. Usyk, 7. Lomachenko, 8. Spence, 9. Golovkin, 10. Taylor

Baby: 1. Alvarez, 2. Crawford, 3. Spence, 4. Inoue, 5. Fury, 6. Usyk, 7. Lopez, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Beterbiev, 10. Golovkin

Wolfe: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Spence, 4. Inoue, 5. Lopez, 6. Fury, 7. Usyk, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Golovkin, 10. Pacquiao

Raskin: 1. Crawford, 2. Alvarez, 3. Inoue, 4. Lopez, 5. Lomachenko, 6. Spence, 7. Estrada, 8. Fury, 9. Taylor, 10. Pacquiao

Moynihan: 1. Crawford, 2. Spence, 3. Alvarez, 4. Inoue, 5. Usyk, 6. Golovkin, 7. Lopez, 8. Lomachenko, 9. Garcia, 10. Fury

Pilatti: 1. Inoue, 2. Lomachenko, 3. Spence, 4. Crawford, 5. Lopez, 6. Alvarez, 7. Golovkin, 8. Estrada, 9. Pacquiao, 10. Fury

Rodriguez: 1. Canelo, 2. Crawford, 3. Inoue, 4. Usyk, 5. Spence, 6. Fury, 7. Lopez, 8. Estrada, 9. Lomachenko, 10. Pacquiao


ESPN experts’ poll

First place: Crawford (7), Alvarez (3), Inoue (2)

Second place: Alvarez (5), Crawford (4), Spence (1), Lopez (1), Lomachenko (1)

Third place: Inoue (5), Spence (3), Alvarez (2), Lopez (1), Fury (1)

Fourth place: Inoue (4), Usyk (3), Lomachenko (2), Crawford (1), Lopez (1), Fury (1)

Fifth place: Lopez (4), Spence (2), Fury (2), Alvarez (1), Inoue (1), Lomachenko (1), Usyk (1)

Sixth place: Spence (4), Usyk (3), Fury (2), Alvarez (1), Lomachenko (1), Golovkin (1)

Seventh place: Lopez (4), Usyk (3), Estrada (2), Lomachenko (1), Golovkin (1), Pacquiao (1)

Eighth place: Lomachenko (5), Spence (2), Estrada (2), Lopez (1), Fury (1), Charlo (1)

Ninth place: Pacquiao (3), Golovkin (2), Beterbiev (2), Lomachenko (1), Fury (1), Estrada (1), Taylor (1), Garcia (1)

10th place: Fury (4), Golovkin (2), Pacquiao (2), Beterbiev (2), Taylor (1), Berchelt (1)

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Ex-Wolverine Collins: Felt like ‘no-man’s land’

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Former Michigan star wide receiver Nico Collins said Tuesday that while it would be “bittersweet” to watch his former team open the season at Minnesota on Saturday, he was focused on getting ready for the NFL Combine.

On “The Adam Schefter Podcast” Tuesday night, Collins talked about his decision to opt-out when the Big Ten postponed the football season in August, after deciding to return for his senior season.

“Everything was going smooth, just as planned, until this virus outbreak,” said Collins, who is currently training in Pensacola, Florida.

“They canceled the season and that was heartbreaking for me,” he said on the podcast. “They were saying in the spring, Thanksgiving, it was too many unknown questions to be answering. Nobody really had an answer to it.

“I sat down with my family, and I just made a business decision because I felt like I was in no-man’s land for a minute, because I came back to play my senior season and they canceled it.”

Citing daily testing capabilities and a stronger confidence in the latest medical information, the conference announced an eight-game season in September. Collins said he considered opting back in, but that the timing wasn’t right.

On Monday, coach Jim Harbaugh said he didn’t have “a crystal ball” as to whether Collins would change his mind. “I know he’s not currently on the team.”

“Getting my mind right and prepared for the combine was the right decision for me,” Collins said Tuesday.

Still, he said, “it will be bittersweet” watching as No. 18 Michigan opens Saturday at No. 21 Minnesota.

“I want to be out there competing on the football field with my brothers, my teammates, going out and having fun with them. I’ll be rooting for them 100 percent. I’m excited to see, hopefully they win – they will win. I believe in them. The grind they put in throughout the summer. I know they worked really hard and I know it’s going to pay off Saturday.”

Collins had 78 receptions for 1,388 yards and 13 touchdowns over his three-year career. He had 37 catches for 729 yards and seven scores last year.

Losing Collins was significant for a team that also had to replace quarterback Shea Patterson, four starting offensive linemen, and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Harbaugh on Monday said his other receivers have been “really good” this offseason, specifically giving praise to Giles Jackson, A.J. Henning, Cornelius Johnson, Ronnie Bell, Roman Wilson and Mike Sainristil.

“One of the really good things about our offense’s growth has been the receiving group,” Harbaugh said, “their ability to get separation, to gain separation, create separation, and to catch the contested catches.”

The question is who will be throwing for Michigan.

While Harbaugh said Joe Milton, a redshirt sophomore, has been practicing with the first-team offense, he declined to confirm he would start on Saturday. Harbaugh said quarterback Cade McNamara has “closed all gaps as well.”

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Flores on QB swap: Move to Tua is best for Fins

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Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores confirmed Wednesday that rookie Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starting quarterback moving forward.

Flores said the Dolphins feel that starting Tagovailoa is what’s best for the team, citing the rookie’s performance in meetings, walkthroughs and practices.

“He’s gotten more comfortable — accuracy, decision-making have been good in practice. … We’re comfortable and confident that he’ll be able to competitive in those games when that time comes,” Flores said.

Flores also noted that he was disappointed that he didn’t address the QB change with the team before ESPN and other outlets reported Tuesday that Tagovailoa would replace popular veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Flores said he will talk to the team and apologize about that, noting it was not how he wanted the team to find out.

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