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#pounditFriday, September 30, 2022

Stories by Aaron Mansfield:

The Rock to voice intro of Mayweather-McGregor fight

The Rock Raw

The most hyped-up fight in years is nearing its beginning. The Mayweather vs. McGregor undercard is in progress, and the pay-per-view on Showtime has just begun. The main event is expected to begin at roughly 11:15 p.m. EST.

The intro voiceover for the event will be provided by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, according to a post on the actor and former professional wrestler’s Instagram account Saturday.

“I connected with my boy Conor this week,” The Rock wrote. “His intentions go far beyond his extraordinary skill. Like Mayweather, not only does he want to put on an epic performance for the world, but there’s a real visceral, raw, warrior mana (spirit) that he has in his blood. There’s only one way you gain respect… by earning it. Let’s get after it boys and may the best man win.”

Mayweather would improve to 50-0 in his pro boxing career with a win. McGregor, the UFC star, has a 21-3 mixed martial arts record.

Though Mayweather remains a heavy favorite, the betting odds are trending in McGregor’s favor as the fight approaches.

Fans berating wrong Jon Jones on Twitter

Jon Jones

Jon “Bones” Jones was stripped of his UFC title earlier this week after he tested positive for the steroid Turinabol.

Jones had defeated Daniel Cormier at UFC 214. The title will now go back to Cormier, and Jones is facing a four-year ban because it was his second positive test.

Understandably, fans are fed up. They think Jones is a hypocrite. For the record, Jones’ teammate has said “I truly believe Jon is innocent,” and there are people out there who believe Jones was set up.

Unfortunately for game developer Jon Jones, who has had the @jonjones Twitter handle since 2007, there are a lot of angry UFC fans out there who have mistaken him with Bones.

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Young boy asks Brad Stevens why he traded Isaiah Thomas

Brad Stevens

A teeny-tiny little NBA trade went down this week, if you haven’t heard. The Celtics and Cavaliers, the East’s two best teams, flipped their starting point guards.

Yes, Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving are changing homes. In the deal, Boston received Irving and Cleveland received Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets first-rounder.

The loss of Thomas was particularly heart-wrenching for Celtics fans, so while they’re excited to welcome one of the best young guards in the league, they’re also sad that the trade went down. One young man didn’t hide his sadness when he got the opportunity to ask Celtics coach Brad Stevens a question.

During a Q&A session at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., the boy put Stevens on the spot and asked, “why did you trade Isaiah Thomas?” The crowd erupted with laughter.

Stevens, as you’d expect, had an eloquent answer.

“That’s an excellent question,” Stevens said. “Here’s what I’ll tell you, is that what he did in Boston the last two-and-a-half-years was incredible, I said earlier what he’s meant to me, what I think of him, how great he’s been in the locker room, what kind of teammate he’s been, and those are all really really hard decisions. That’s the hard part about being a professional basketball coach, I’ve stared at the wall many times and thought, man, having guys in college for three or four years and knowing exactly when they’re going is a pretty good way of doing things.”

Draymond Green, Paul George explain why they’re picking Mayweather

Draymond Green Quickie shirt

With the big Mayweather-McGregor fight taking place Saturday night, you can expect to see quite a few sports celebrities taking in the action in Las Vegas.

Count the Warriors’ Draymond Green and Thunder’s Paul George among the athletes who will be in attendance. Green and George attended the weigh-in Friday.

During appearances on Showtime’s Instagram and ESPN’s SportsCenter, the two shared why they’re pulling for Mayweather and what they expect to happen.

“I think Floyd is going to have a lot of teaching moments,” George said. “I think Floyd is going to pretty much dominate this fight. I don’t understand how people are riding with someone who never boxed beat someone who’s never lost at boxing. It’s gonna be fun … represent Floyd. Floyd is family. Floyd is a brother of mine. He’s been down with me in my corner since day one, and this is a fight of a decade. I’m here to be able to witness that.”

It’s not a surprise that Green is rooting for Mayweather. We learned as much during Green’s little tiff with McGregor on Instagram last month.

“I think it’s a great atmosphere,” Green said. “What I think will probably be Floyd’s last fight. I just wanted to take the environment in — see the weigh-in, see the fight. I’m excited to be here and see Floyd dominate.”

Chiefs RB Spencer Ware carted off with knee injury

Spencer Ware knee

The preseason hits keep coming Friday.

After New England lost Julian Edelman on a non-contact knee injury in the Patriots’ game against Detroit, the Kansas City Chiefs may also have suffered the loss of a key contributor. Running back Spencer Ware was carted off of the field in Kansas City’s game against Seattle.

He suffered a knee injury on a 6-yard pass reception from Alex Smith. Ware is listed as out for the remainder of the game.

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Phillies rookie Rhys Hoskins continues historic home run pace

If you don’t know the name “Rhys Hoskins” by now, get familiar. The Phillies rookie left fielder is absolutely crushing the ball and turning heads for his home-run proficiency.

Hoskins has hit nine home runs in his first 16 career games. He’s the first MLB rookie to accomplish that feat since 1913.

To put this into context, if Hoskins were to continue this pace for a full season, he would hit 91.13 homers over the course of the year. The all-time home-run record belongs to Barry Bonds, who hit 73 in 2001. That comparison is a stretch, obviously, but it makes clear how insane Hoskins’ performance at the plate has been.

Hoskins played A and AA ball in 2015 and 2016, and he played AAA for most of this season before being called up for the first time just two weeks ago.

Hoskins clubbed 93 homers in his four minor-league seasons. Needless to say, the 24-year-old doesn’t seem intent on going back to the minors.

Iman Shumpert calls out reporter who said he requested trade

Guillermo Iman Shumpert

Earlier Friday, we learned that apparently Kyrie Irving was not the only Cleveland Cavaliers player to request a trade recently.

Per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Iman Shumpert requested a trade from the Cavs at the end of the season.

Here is what McMenamin reported: “Lost in the attention surrounding Irving’s trade request is that Iman Shumpert also requested a trade after the season, multiple sources told ESPN. Cleveland was in talks to trade Shumpert and his $10.3 million contract to Minnesota or Houston, but both deals fell apart. Logic would tell you that the Cavs will remain motivated to find a team to take Shumpert.”

Shumpert was apparently unhappy with the report. He called out McMenamin on Twitter Friday night.

Shumpert insists he did not request a trade, and another report verified Shump’s account of the narrative. Shortly after McMenamin’s story was released, prolific news-breaker Shams Charania of The Vertical released a contradictory account on Twitter.

So, McMenamin and Charania are in agreement that the Cavs have attempted to trade Shumpert, but McMenamin reports it was at Shumpert’s request, whereas Charania reports it was unprovoked by the player.

Julian Edelman suffers knee injury while cutting in Patriots’ preseason game

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman is one of the most dangerous and frequently utilized weapons in the NFL. He’s the target of choice for the league’s best quarterback; last year he had 98 receptions for 1,106 yards — and, of course, one miraculous Super Bowl catch.

Losing Edelman would be a big hit to the Patriots. He suffered a non-contact knee injury during New England’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions Friday night.

As he entered Detroit’s red zone, Edelman attempted to make a cut to avoid Lions safety Tavon Wilson Sr.

Tom Brady was responsive to Edelman’s ailment.

Though it’s not clear yet how serious the injury is, you hate to see something like this happen at this time of year.

McGregor talks trash, Mayweather stoic at weigh-in showdown (Video)

Floyd Mayweather conor Mcgregor

The big fight — Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor — is, at last, only one day away. Friday, the two fighters went face to face at the official weigh-in.

Their dispositions were strikingly different. Mayweather, the 49-0 boxing legend, stood silently. McGregor, the UFC wunderkind, shouted vulgar trash talk right in Mayweather’s face.

Then the fired-up Irishman turned, slapped his chest, flexed and unleashed his screams at the crowd. Check out video of the face-off below.

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10 teams that improved the most this NBA offseason

Jimmy Butler

Though there was no single Kevin-Durant-to-Golden-State-sized splash in the NBA this offseason, teams made move after move to jockey with the Warriors in an attempt to interrupt their reign of terror.

The Rockets took a leap of faith and traded the farm for an aging Chris Paul. The Celtics used their cap space to reunite Gordon Hayward with Brad Stevens, then got rid of an asset in Avery Bradley to balance their checkbook. The Timberwolves suddenly became a legitimate Western Conference contender by ripping off the Bulls.

There were so many moves, in fact — so many trades and so many signings — that, now that the league’s transaction churn and burn has finally calmed, it’s hard to believe all that actually happened. To sum it up:

We’re going to see a lot of familiar faces in new jerseys come this fall (the preseason begins Sept. 30). But which of those players will make the biggest impact, and which teams will look the most improved? Which 2017-18 NBA squad will make the biggest leap?

It’s too early to know, of course, but below is my take on the 10 NBA teams that improved the most this offseason.

10. Denver Nuggets

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