Kickoff for the game was originally scheduled for 9 p.m. ET, but it has been moved up to noon ET at Missouri’s Faurot Field.
“Due to the pending impact of Hurricane Delta on Louisiana and the surrounding area, it is in the best interest for the safety of everyone involved to move the game to Columbia,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement Wednesday. “It was critical to relocate the game to an SEC campus where SEC COVID-19 management protocols are in place and readily applied. I appreciate the cooperation of the schools who are working closely to make the appropriate operational adjustments in order to prioritize the health and safety of our student-athletes while accommodating this change in the schedule.”
The SEC on Tuesday said it continues to monitor the path of Hurricane Delta and remains in communication with conference schools to “evaluate its potential impact on other athletic events” this week.
Hurricanes and other storm issues have affected several LSU games over the years, most recently Hurricane Harvey’s forcing the 2017 season opener between LSU and BYU to move from Houston’s NRG Stadium to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. In 2016, the Florida-LSU game originally scheduled to be played in Gainesville, Florida, was moved to Baton Rouge a month later because of Hurricane Matthew.
How former NBA star Nate Robinson ended up boxing on Mike Tyson’s undercard
Nate Robinson’s alarm goes off before the sun rises. The NBA’s lone three-time Slam Dunk Contest champion rolls out of bed — no snooze button allowed — to get ready to train. The 36-year-old isn’t currently focused on returning to the basketball court but is instead pursuing a new endeavor that has him to the gym six days a week, twice a day.
At age 36, with no prior professional or amateur experience, Robinson is getting ready for his first boxing match. “It’s brutal. Waking up early, running six or seven miles, it’s something I’ve never done in my life and I’m doing it at 36, so it’s definitely making me feel young and energetic,” Robinson told ESPN. “It’s really tuning me in to another part of myself that I never knew I had.
“But I just want people to respect me as a person, as an athlete and as a boxer because I’m going through it,” he continued. “I’m not taking it easy and going through the motions. What they’ll see Nov. 28 is a Nate Robinson that really put in work to really get to this point, and I hope I surprise a lot of people because a lot of people think I’m gonna lose.”
Robinson will enter the ring that night for a six-round bout against famed YouTuber Jake Paul (1-0, 1 KO) on the undercard of Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. Robinson’s camp started at the end of August and is expected to wrap almost a week and a half before the fight date. His team includes strength and conditioning coach Chris Denina — who typically works with Robinson in the mornings — and boxing trainer Francisco “Paco” Reyes of Tenochtitlan Boxing Club in Renton, Washington, who oversees the evening sessions.
“We’re really pushing him and molding him to be more of an endurance athlete. And Nate’s a very explosive athlete,” Denina said. “There’s certain things, which are nice, that I don’t really need to work on. It’s mainly just his conditioning and making him use his body in ways that he’s never really done on the basketball court.”
When the idea of training Robinson was originally presented to Reyes, his initial reaction wasn’t positive.
“Hell no,” Reyes said, not wanting his gym to become some sideshow for an ex-NBA player whom he didn’t know much about. Eventually he was persuaded.
“I realized that he was serious about it when he came back after that first sparring session,” Reyes said. “Not a lot of people come back after the first sparring session, but he came back, he wanted more, he wanted to keep going, and that really got my interest. A lot of people will come and spar and are like, ‘Oh, no, I’m good,’ but not Nate. He has the heart.”
At 5-foot-9 and less than 200 pounds throughout his NBA career, Robinson developed a reputation for toughness and athleticism. In high school, he excelled in track and football, as well as basketball. At the University of Washington, he also starred on the gridiron and hardwood before deciding to focus solely on basketball. But boxing is something completely different, especially experiencing it for the first time at his age.
“It’s been a challenge learning how to breathe and fight while you’re tired,” Robinson said. “That’s been the fun part. Like Mike Tyson said, ‘Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the mouth,’ and then you have to figure it out. I never understood that until I actually got in the ring for the first time with sparring, and I knew exactly what he meant.”
Since his last stretch in the NBA in 2015-16, on a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, Robinson played basketball in the BIG3, the NBA Developmental League (now the G League), the Israeli Basketball Premier League and the Liga Profesional de Baloncesto in Venezuela. He also signed to play in Lebanon in 2018, before an injury scuttled those plans.
Off the court, Robinson appeared in the 2018 film “Uncle Drew” with Kyrie Irving, tried out with the Seattle Seahawks in 2016 and collaborated with former NBA player Carlos Boozer to launch the HOLDAT clothing brand.
These other pursuits have kept him busy, but the idea of entering the ring started over a year ago, when Robinson’s manager, Napoleon “Polo” Kerber, met Paul at an event. As he continued his search for new challenges post-basketball, Robinson agreed to fight Paul despite no professional experience.
What Robinson does carry into his fight is a longtime appreciation for the sport.
“I’ve been a fan of boxing my whole life. Me and my brother, we used to slap box and use boxing gloves in the backyard with my dad. So, it’s nothing new, it’s just real business now,” Robinson said. “I’ve played in front of thousands of people my whole life hooping, so just being able to step into a realm that I’ve never been in before is challenging for me, but it’s also fun to try to see how far I really can go with this.”
Robinson’s father, Jacque Robinson, was a legendary athlete at Washington, who entered the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame after being named MVP of the game in 1982 as a freshman. He also enjoyed a brief NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1987.
Jacque introduced his son to boxing through Muhammad Ali and, a bit coincidentally since he’s fighting on his undercard, Tyson. Growing up, if you stayed at Robinson’s home for a sleepover or just for fun, somehow the gloves would get pulled out as a teacher of life. Nate’s brother, Anthony “Chicken” Stewart — who also was a running back at Central Washington University — also wasn’t afraid to get busy, either.
“We had a heavy bag in our backyard. We had weights and we had boxing gloves and my dad was like, ‘At least y’all are going to know how to fight and y’all will know how to take care of each other,'” Nate recalled. “So my dad was like, ‘If you’ve got some homies that are coming around you, and guys are being around y’all and something happens, and they run or they’re not trying to fight or protect the crew, then y’all don’t need to hang around them.'”
Robinson got into a handful of fights over the years in middle school in high school, but that was the extent to which he used his backyard boxing experiences. Until now. These days he’s receiving advice from Floyd Mayweather Jr. via FaceTime, and although he couldn’t make it, was invited to train with welterweight champion Terence Crawford.
Robinson spent 11 seasons in the NBA, and hasn’t ruled out an NBA return if there’s an opportunity.
“I do. If it’s possible,” Robinson said. “I just want the chance to show a team, even at 36, I could still play and still ball out, still be a good spark off the bench. But times have changed, the NBA has changed so much. Naw, I will never say I’m retired. They retired me. I didn’t retire.
“Of course I would love to hoop,” Robinson added. “I would love to be able to finish my career playing the game I love and showing them that I really could still ball and be effective. Even if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, just being there helping out with whatever they need. Whatever they need me to do, I’m there. That’s what I’m here for.”
Whether or not he plays another minute in the NBA, Robinson’s connections to the league are still deep. Fellow Washington native Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls has gotten to know Robinson over the years, and has watched the transformation of Robinson’s body into a boxer. He will be tuned in to the bout.
“He is a supreme athlete. Realistically, he was one of UW’s best cornerbacks and probably could’ve been an NFL cornerback. Obviously, you know how good he was in the NBA, and right now he’s in the best shape of his life. The dude is built like a fire hydrant,” LaVine said. “I mean, like, he is stacked, so whatever he puts his mind to, I know he can get it done.
“Boxing is a whole different world, so he’s been training for the last eight or nine months,” LaVine continued. “He’s transformed his body into looking like a real boxer, too, so I don’t think anybody’s gonna be stepping to him in Seattle anytime soon.”
Outperforming expectations has become Robinson’s calling card, and that boils down to his determination and effort in everything he pursues.
“I hope I surprise a lot of people, because a lot of people think I’m gonna lose,” Robinson said. “They don’t believe in me and that’s cool. I told them, ‘S—, people didn’t believe I could make it to the NBA. People didn’t believe I’d be able to score 40 points in a game, to average 18 as a 5-foot-9 point guard playing with the Knicks. Nobody thought I was going to win three dunk contests.’
“People have been putting me behind the eight ball my whole life, but it’s something that I’m used to. I’ve been the underdog forever, and it’s just going to be sweet to know that so many people didn’t believe in me and I get a chance to show them again.”
Daniel Cormier: This is the Khabib Nurmagomedov I know
Editor’s note: Some content has been edited for clarity and brevity.
More than anything, Khabib Nurmagomedov and I are friends.
I’ve watched this guy grow from a young, Russian kid who didn’t speak English to a global superstar.
He came with a dream, not much money. American Kickboxing Academy teammate Shawn Bunch picked him up at the airport, took him to McDonald’s and fed him because he was hungry. And then he took him to the gym.
Khabib was undefeated at the time (18-0) and we would talk to him a little bit, because he couldn’t really speak much English. You saw how intent on getting better he was. You watch the kid, and then you see Luke Rockhold showing him something. And then Cain Velasquez would be showing him something. And then I would be showing him something. Everybody drew to him because he was different, like a kid who wanted to learn and was going to do whatever you told him. He never questioned anything.
Even today as the global superstar that he is, you’re a coach, he will not question anything you tell him to do. He will not question the way you tell him to do it. He’s a sponge for knowledge. I just remember him always being in there, trying to learn and everybody being drawn to him because of that real key part of his personality that made him want to learn.
One thing that I used to always enjoy, was before he was called “The Eagle of Dagestan,” he wasn’t just “The Eagle,” and he fought in the UFC, and he somehow copied the audio of Bruce Buffer introducing him, so he would just play that all the time. Go up to the locker room, and you’d hear “Eagle of Dagestan, Nurmagomedov,” and that was some of the first English the dude learned, was how to repeat Bruce introducing him in the Octagon.
‘Brother, I’m going to be world champion’
You know what he told me one time, years ago, “Brother, I’m going to be world champion, and I’m going to fight for $10 million every fight.” I promise you. Years ago, and we all go, “No chance.” Because nobody was making $10 million at the time. And I’m sure right now Khabib is fighting as the world champion at 28-0 for $10 million, straight.
He sure doesn’t need the money, but he told me that, because he said it was going to change. He was going to be so big that things would change. And now, it has happened. He has done all the stuff he said he would do.
Living in Dagestan, he doesn’t need much. It doesn’t cost much over there. We sent some kids to wrestle there in January, and Khabib paid for their hotels. He took care of them, because they were my little wrestlers. Hotels weren’t very expensive. He doesn’t need much, he does it because he loves it.
I think a lot of stuff about his background is very guarded, and it’s guarded purposely. He’s a guy who’s a bit of a mystery, and I think part of the intrigue to him is the mystery. So I’m not going to blow the top off that.
If I’m going to share anything, I think about his father, Abdulmanap, and the intensity his dad lived with. I could only imagine little Khabib growing up as that kid in that house. When I was light heavyweight champ of the world, one day I was cutting weight, Khabib’s dad jumped on me to grapple with me and the dude was actually trying to win. He was wrestling, trying to win. Just an intense man, very knowledgeable man. I know that he raised Khabib pretty hard.
‘I’m so nervous, I’ve never done an English interview’
Around 2015, 2016, Khabib came to Fox to do an interview. And I was doing “UFC Tonight,” and I was like, ”You can do it. Just try it.” He was like, “I’m so nervous, I’ve never done an English interview.” I thought he did well, but I remember, he would talk, but he would only talk s—. It was like all he did was talk trash, because we made fun of him all the time. We made fun of him for his little widow’s peak, we used to call him Eddie Munster. And he hated it. And he just learned to talk trash back. And now, that’s all he does is talk s— the whole time.
There have been times when Khabib was short on training partners, and I’ll go in there and spar him, light, I’m not going hard. I’m just kind of working, but honestly, you can’t go as light with Khabib as you’d want. He’s not the normal 155-pounder. He’s big and he’s strong. He can wrestle, so you kind of have to give him a little bit more than you would generally give a little guy, but that’s what makes him so special. He can be standing across the Octagon from me, and that’s when I was the heavyweight champion of the world, and I would go in there and spar with him a little and that dude had no fear. I kind of have to give up a little bit more than I would normally give a little dude, because this dude’s actually trying to win. He’s like his dad.
He grapples so much, it’s wild. He grapples more than anybody I’ve ever seen. He’s getting better at controlling, which is absurd, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy better at top control in my life. He’s better at chasing the finishes once he gets on top, because for a while, he was just beating up guys. He wasn’t finishing them as much as he wanted to. But now he’s getting finishes. All that control that Khabib does with his legs now, it wasn’t like that before. He was a wrestling guy, like me, and we were trying to control everything with our arms and squeezing, and over the years he developed the ability to control with his legs, and it completely changed the game.
Knocking down Conor McGregor, and eyeing Georges St-Pierre
Khabib takes a lot of pride in the fact he knocked down Conor McGregor. It was supposed to be the wrestler vs. the striker, and for him to be the one who scored the knockdown, was a big deal for him.
He doesn’t really say Conor’s name, though. I don’t ever think I’ve ever heard him say Conor’s name. It’s always ‘this guy.’ which I think tells you how he feels about him. And I try to trick him into saying it. He won’t do it.
I don’t think he’ll be around very much longer. I think you have to take it in right now. Obviously, he doesn’t need to fight. I’m sure he has enough money, living in Dagestan, for the rest of his life. I think he’ll fight for maybe a year or two, max. And then move on, spend time with his family. I know he does not like whenever he comes to camp because he misses his kids and his wife.
“I went into the locker room before he fought Conor and I couldn’t believe the stillness of the room. The room wasn’t filled with nervous energy. We walked in there, me and my son, and he started wrestling with my son, before the match.”
I think part of Khabib going away sooner rather than later, is part of the reason why we all love him so much. It’s that he understands that as long as he’s champion, his teammate Islam Makhachev can’t be. And he feels like Islam is the champ if he’s not fighting. Even if it’s for that, to give Islam that, he won’t be that long.
And it’s going to suck. It’s going to be a terrible day for all of us at AKA when Khabib walks away, because he brings a different vibe to the gym, a different feel. And he always has. Not just as the champion now. When he was a kid who didn’t know anything, everybody liked Khabib, because he just brought something different to our gym. He was like our Russian little brother who had a ton of potential. Now he’s our Russian little brother who’s a global superstar.
When he’s done, I think it will be over. I think you’ll see him on social media occasionally. But I think he’ll be gone. I don’t know if he’s one of those guys who loves fame. Some guys love fame. Maybe he will. I think he’ll be around with his teammates. But I don’t know if he’ll be a guy you see him randomly.
He loves the competition. He loves the ability to go out there and do something special, leave people talking. I think fight week, to him, means getting in there and being able to do something. I don’t know about all the interviews, and everything that leads up to it, but he has gotten really good at it.
I went into the locker room before he fought Conor and I couldn’t believe the stillness of the room. The room wasn’t filled with nervous energy. It wasn’t like I walked into a room with people so nervous because a guy was getting walked out to lose. It was still. We walked in there, me and my son, and he started wrestling with my son, before the match. I think he lives for those moments, to go out there and compete.
GSP will be the one he leaves on. If Khabib ever gets scheduled to fight GSP, know that will probably be the last time you see him. Because I know how much he respects him. He respects Georges, and wants to fight Georges for all the right reasons.
World Series ‘travel day’ roundtable: Everything we learned in Games 1 and 2
It’s a travel day in the 2020 World Series … just without any travel.
While they do, ESPN baseball writers Sam Miller and David Schoenfield answer some key questions so far this Fall Classic.
What has stood out to you most over the first two games of this World Series?
Sam Miller: How much deeper the Rays’ lineup looks when Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle aren’t helpless. Tampa Bay got through three playoff rounds behind good pitching and Randy Arozarena, but every inning seemed to start with slumping Rays hitters making two quick outs. Lowe, their best regular-season hitter/worst postseason hitter, broke out with two homers in Game 2. Wendle, in a similar slide, hit one oppo-rocket for a sac fly and pulled a double so hard that Mookie Betts took a bad route at it. Austin Meadows and Yandy Diaz each hit his hardest ball this postseason in Game 2, and Manuel Margot is showing that he might have actually turned into a star sometime in mid-August. The Kershaws and Buehlers of the world might still shut this lineup down, but the Rays should scare the rest of the Dodgers’ staff.
David Schoenfield: That maybe this isn’t going to be the low-scoring, grind-it-out, home runs-or-die series that we expected. With scores of 8-3 and 6-4, we’ve seen a little more offense than perhaps anticipated given the two pitching staffs. Also, that second-guessing in the World Series will forever remain a fun parlor game. Did Kevin Cash leave Tyler Glasnow in too long in Game 1? Did the Dodgers outthink themselves with a bullpen game in Game 2? Why does Dustin May not strike out more batters given his fastball? What is with all these “contact” plays by the runner on third base this postseason? OK, it worked for Mookie Betts on Tuesday, but it has failed several other times. Are 28-man rosters too many players? (Yes.) Are you tired off bullpen games? (Yes.) Is Corey Seager locked in right now? (Yes.) Do Dodgers fans want to see Joe Kelly in a close game? (No.)
What do the Dodgers need to do to win the series from here?
Miller: It sounds like the worst kind of cliche, but they just need to do what they do. The Dodgers are (no offense, Tampa Bay!) the better team here, and even in two split games it has showed: The Dodgers have 50 points of OBP on Tampa Bay so far in this series and 80 points of slugging. The regular-season Dodgers were only the 11th team in modern history with a winning percentage over .700, and so far in the postseason, against other postseason teams, they have the run differential of a .700 team. If they don’t make any gaffes and they just [serious cliche voice] play like they’re capable of playing, they’re going to win every seven-game series that isn’t beset by weirdness.
Schoenfield: Picking up where Sam left off, keep working those counts. They made Tyler Glasnow throw 112 pitches in just 4⅓ innings. Blake Snell was great in Game 2 through four innings, but in the end they drew four walks off him and knocked him out after 4⅔ innings. They’ve seen Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks now and the more they see of them, the better they will adjust. As good as the Tampa Bay pen is, Cash doesn’t really want to go too deep, and with three games in three days, reliever fatigue becomes a potential issue.
What do the Rays need to do to win the series from here?
Miller: Get Nick Anderson right. Anderson was the best reliever in baseball for the year prior to this month, and the Rays use him so aggressively that it’d be easy to see him being named MVP of this series. But arguably his four worst outings of the year — OK, probably four of his worst five — have come in his past four appearances. His rightness obviously carries extra importance, because he comes into the biggest moment of every close game. He doesn’t have the freedom to fail just a little bit. But beyond the direct impact his pitches have, the Rays’ trust in him sets the rest of the pitching plan. If you’re counting to 27 outs and you don’t have Anderson for four to seven of them, that has ramifications for Charlie Morton and Blake Snell, for Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo, for the whole story the Rays are trying to tell.
Schoenfield: Sam took my suggestion. Indeed, the dirty little secret for the Rays is that Anderson hasn’t actually been that good in the postseason. He has now been scored on in five straight appearances and in six of his eight games in the playoffs. After averaging 14.3 K’s per nine innings in his limited action in the regular season, he has only eight in 13 postseason innings. Anyway, let’s go with this: Ride Charlie Morton. Given Anderson’s struggles, it’s important that Morton shuts down the Dodgers in Game 3 … and then again in Game 7 if the series goes the distance. Morton is riding a streak of five straight postseason starts dating to 2019 where he has given up one earned run or fewer (including his past two). His longest outing in this stretch has been just 5⅔ innings, but if he gives up one run in five innings, the Rays will be in a great position.
Who is the MVP of the series through two games?
Miller: Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw took control of this series for the Dodgers on the fourth batter of the first game, when — with two on and one out — he got Hunter Renfroe on a checked swing for a huge strikeout. He then retired 16 of the next 17 batters as the Dodgers’ offense chewed through three Tampa Bay pitchers to first take a small lead and then build a big one. No, they couldn’t keep control of the series after Kershaw left, and we go into the first “travel” day tied. But nobody looms over the rest of this series quite so much as Kershaw, the pitcher Tampa Bay couldn’t hit, lined up for a Game 5 start and a probable Game 7 (if necessary) relief appearance.
Schoenfield: Kershaw is in the best shape to win it for the entire series since he’s now guaranteed a start in Game 5 since the Rays avoided the sweep. It’s hard for a pitcher to win MVP honors though. If it’s close — like Steve Pearce and David Price in 2018 — it seems as if the hitter usually wins. We’ve had 21 MVPs since 2000 (Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling shared it in 2001), but pitchers have won only six.
What have you noticed the most about the neutral site, limited fans World Series so far?
Miller: I haven’t noticed their presence very much, to be honest. I certainly haven’t noticed fans affecting the game the way 40,000 delirious partisans can. Maybe it’s different for the players in the middle of it, but if there’s a spectrum that ranges from “empty” to “full and Octobery,” it has felt closer to empty.
Schoenfield: Now, this wouldn’t have been a problem with a regular Tampa Bay-Los Angeles World Series since both are warm-weather cities and the Rays play indoors, but it has been nice that the entire postseason has been played in warm-weather locations — the way baseball is supposed to be played. No winter jackets. No heaters in the dugouts. No turtlenecks or ski masks. Am I advocating for a permanent warm-weather World Series? Well, it’s supposed to snow in Minneapolis on Thursday with a high of 35.
How will a travel day off — without travel — impact the rest of this series?
Miller: Probably a lot less than we would have guessed 36 hours ago! The break (and the break between Games 5 and 6) will let the Dodgers use Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin in relief during the games “in” Tampa Bay, which seemed important except that neither of them has looked very good lately. None of either team’s high-leverage relievers are gassed, thanks to the blowout Tuesday. I guess the day gives Tampa Bay a chance to reset its bullpen after Anderson’s and Fairbanks’ extended outings Wednesday, but neither threw that many pitches. Uh … it gives Kevin Kiermaier‘s wrist another day to get healthy, if that’s still a factor? Dave? Got something better?
Schoenfield: More time for the Dodgers to outthink themselves? I kid! I kid! The Dodgers will definitely make all the right choices in their pitching decisions, just like in the 2017 World Series and 2018 World Series and … OK, here’s the deal. They can play the next three games straight with Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and then Kershaw going. I think Dave Roberts has finally decided on who his top relievers are: Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen from the right side and then maybe Victor Gonzalez and Jake McGee from the left side. Trouble is, he had all those righties available in Game 2 (only Baez pitched in Game 1), yet he used the struggling May and then Joe Kelly and those two combined to give up four runs (he got away with using Alex Wood, the worst pitcher on the staff). This is the World Series. It’s not time to save your best relievers for only when you’re ahead. It’s important to hold down the fort at all times and … oh, wait, you were asking about the “travel” day, not the Dodgers’ bullpen. My bad.
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