Rory McIlroy acknowledged there is still plenty of room for improvement in his game after finishing off his work at the US PGA Championship with a final round of 72.

The world number seven came into the tournament with many fancying him to challenge, victory at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier in May suggesting he was returning to form at just the right time.

However, an opening 75 left him with work to do and he was never able to get into contention at Kiawah Island. A bogey at the 18th hole on Sunday saw him end on five over par, meaning the wait for a fifth major goes on.

For McIlroy, the key focus moving forward is finding greater consistency with his driver, having felt it has not been right "for a long time".

Asked to sum up his play on Sunday, he replied: "More of the same, very average.

"I couldn't really get anything going and it was a day where you had to get off to a fast start. The first few holes were playing a lot easier than they have done and I didn't do that, just sort of got stuck in neutral.

"I still have a way to go with everything. I just need to figure out a driver, as well. I just haven't driven the ball as well as I know that I can for a long time, and that's really the foundation of my game."

McIlroy won the US PGA Championship at the same venue in 2012, leading plenty to tip him to produce a repeat result nine years later, particularly coming after his recent success at Quail Hollow.

The man himself, however, was baffled at his status as favourite prior to the tournament, with his game "exposed" by the tricky conditions at the Ocean Course.

"I didn't understand those high expectations," he said. "It was good to win at Quail Hollow, a course that I've always played well on and am comfortable on.

"I didn't feel like playing well here nine years ago was going to automatically make me play well again, and I felt like coming in here there was still parts of my game that I needed to sharpen up, and obviously those parts were exposed this week in the wind and on a tough course."

Phil Mickelson remained on track to become golf's oldest major winner as he held a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of his final round at the US PGA Championship.  

The 50-year-old had ended Saturday's action at Kiawah Island with a one-stroke advantage over Brooks Koepka, who is seeking to win the tournament for a third time in four years.  

Mickelson's slender advantage disappeared with a three-putt bogey at the opening hole, setting the tone for an uneven front nine that saw him record just three pars but still reach seven under.  

The undoubted highlight was a wonderful chip from a tricky greenside bunker by the fifth green that found the cup, delighting a crowd that sensed they could be witnessing history in the making. 

Playing partner Koepka also had his struggles, following up an opening birdie with a double-bogey seven at the second. He sat at five under through nine, the same score as Louis Oosthuizen. 

Abraham Ancer had shown how it was possible to go low on Sunday, carding the best round of the week with a blemish-free 65 that owed much to a fast start.  

The Mexican birdied four of his opening six holes before picking up a further shot prior to the turn, seeing him go out in 31 strokes. While he cooled off on the way back in, it was still an impressive display.  

While his charge came too late to mount a challenge for the tournament, Ancer feels his superb score is a further sign of how he is getting close to making a major breakthrough in his career.  

"I usually like golf courses that are going to be tough, it's not just going to be a birdie-fest and you have to grind it out and have to hit the ball well where you are supposed to," he told Sky Sports.  

"It's not that I don't care about other events, I try to think about every event the same and try to win every time, but I do feel my game is better for golf courses that are tougher." 

Ekaterina Alexandrova booked her place in the last 16 of the Internationaux de Strasbourg after a straight sets win over Lauren Davis on Sunday.

Third seed Alexandrova claimed a comfortable 6-1 7-5 win in 80 minutes to setup a meeting with Clara Burel, who clinched a surprise 6-3 6-1 win over Varvara Gracheva despite being ranked 56 places below her opponent.

Kristyna Pliskova was knocked out following a hard-fought 7-5 6-4 loss to Alize Cornet.

Cornet's reward is a tie with eighth seed Magda Linette, who triumphed 6-2 6-0 in a one-sided match against Nao Hibino.

Charles Leclerc found it "very difficult to feel okay" after his latest failed attempt to finish a Monaco Grand Prix, in which he was unable even to take his place on the grid.

Leclerc had qualified fastest on Saturday but crashed in the process, giving the Ferrari mechanics work to do to get his car in shape to start from pole position.

The Scuderia announced three hours before the race they would not have to replace the gearbox, ensuring Leclerc would not face a grid penalty.

However, the 23-year-old quickly ran into trouble driving the car ahead of the start, as Ferrari identified "an issue with the left driveshaft" that meant he had to be withdrawn around 20 minutes prior to the grand prix.

The Monegasque was making his third Formula One appearance at Monaco having retired from the prior two.

But for this mishap, Leclerc might have produced the best result of a home driver in the principality, a feat that still belongs Louis Chiron, who came third at the first ever F1 Monaco GP in 1950.

"In the garage, it was very, very difficult to feel okay," Leclerc told Sky Sports.

"I guess now I'm getting used to this feeling here, unfortunately. I've never finished a race here. This year I don't start it starting from pole.

"It's a difficult one to take, but I also feel for the team, to be honest. The mechanics have done such a hard job yesterday to try to check everything.

"The mechanics were finally a bit happy this morning to see that everything seems fine and all the parts were fine, and then this happens. It's a shame for everyone."

Max Verstappen, who started from second but had a clear run with Leclerc's position vacant, won at Monaco for the first time, finishing ahead of Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari car.

Sainz delivered Ferrari's 54th Monaco podium, extending their record haul.

Lewis Hamilton is not confident Mercedes will quickly bounce back from a difficult day at the Monaco Grand Prix where he lost the lead in the drivers' standings.

The defending Formula One champion had a 14-point advantage over second-placed Max Verstappen heading into Sunday's race.

But Hamilton, who had to settle for seventh in qualifying, was never in contention as Verstappen triumphed to move four points clear.

The Briton might still have limited the damage, but Mercedes endured a particularly tough time in the pit lane.

Sebastian Vettel stole ahead of Hamilton and Pierre Gasly when the three pitted, pushing the Silver Arrows superstar down the field, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas had to retire from second when mechanics failed to remove his front-right wheel.

"We do all our discussions in the background. We'll work together and try to come out of this stronger," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"We underperformed as a team all weekend, from the get-go. We'll just put our focus onto the next race, and congratulations to Max and his team. They did a great job."

Although Hamilton is keen to look ahead to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, he does not expect the trip to Baku to see Mercedes' fortunes change significantly for the better.

"I would be guessing, but it's another street circuit, another one that's really cold, a very smooth circuit," he said.

"It's another one that we could easily struggle at again – similar to here. We're just going to have to try to work and see how we can minimise that loss."

This is the first time in Verstappen's career he has led the championship, but he agrees Mercedes are better suited to "normal tracks" and so is not getting carried away.

"If it [his name] is there at the end of the season, that would be great," Verstappen told a news conference. "There's still a long way to go.

"Of course it's great to bounce back after the last two races, where of course the gap got bigger. We still have to work hard because we know Mercedes, on normal tracks, are still the ones to beat."

Verstappen had never previously had a podium at Monaco – "I've always been quick around Monaco, I've just shunted a few too many times," he argued – but says this improved display is not reason to be overly optimistic in Baku.

"Baku is a completely different circuit," he said, adding: "You can't really compare with each other, but normally we should be competitive."

Federico Coria and Jeremy Chardy, along with Serbian Pedja Krstin, progressed into the second round in Belgrade on Sunday.

Coria came from a set down to win 4-6 6-2 6-0 in the first-round match in the Serbia Open against ATP Tour debutant Marko Topo.

Chardy overcame Tennys Sandgren 6-4 6-2. The Frenchman started the season well, and managed two semi-final runs, but has been out of form in recent competitions and was knocked out in the first round at the Madrid Masters earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Pedja Krstin made home advantage count against Kwon Soonwoo.

The trio will be joined in the second round by top seed and world number one Novak Djokovic, who received a first-round bye and is in the hunt for his third title in Belgrade.

At the Parma Open, American Tommy Paul reeled off a 7-5 6-4 win over Stefano Travaglia, and Flavio Cobolli beat Marcos Giron 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4).

Victor Campenaerts got the better of Oscar Riesebeek to win stage 15 on what was a quiet day for the Giro d'Italia contenders.

Following a gruelling Saturday climb up Monte Zoncolan that saw leader Egan Bernal extend his advantage in the overall standings, Sunday's 147-kilometre journey from Grado to Gorizia came down to a two-man battle as the big names focused on preserving their energy.

With steady rain and a finish across cobbles adding a little extra drama to proceedings, Riesebeek made an early move in the sprint for the line.

However, his bold approach failed to pay off, Campenaerts clawing back the gap comfortably enough before slipping around his rival to triumph on Slovenian soil.

"It was just an amazing day with the team," the Belgian, who made it three wins in five days for the Qhubeka-Assos team, said in his post-stage interview.

"We don't have the guys in the team that will do the uphill finishes, and the coming days are extremely hard, so we decided to go all in today."

There had been an eventful start to the stage, with an early crash forcing the race to be neutralised. The collision forced four riders to end their involvement, too, including one high-profile casualty.

Emanuel Buchmann was sitting sixth in the general classification, two minutes and 36 seconds back, but his campaign is now over following the injuries he sustained. As well as the German, Jos van Emden, Natnael Berhane and – eventually – Ruben Guerreiro also withdrew.

Bernal had no such problems to retain possession of the maglia rosa, the Colombian coasting home with the peleton well after Campenaerts had sealed his moment of glory.


STAGE RESULT

1. Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka Assos) 3:25:25
2. Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix)
3. Nikias Arndt (Team DSM) +00:07
4. Simone Consonni (Cofidis)
5. Quinten Hermans (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 62:13:33
2. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) +1:33
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) +1:51

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 135
2. Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) 113
3. Fernando Gaviria Rendon (UAE Emirates) 110

King of the Mountains

1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroen Team) 96
2. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) 57
3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 53

Max Verstappen went top of the Formula One drivers' standings for the first time in his career but admits he faces a huge fight to stay ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull star earned a maiden Monaco Grand Prix victory as Hamilton trailed in seventh, with the Mercedes team as a whole enduring a desperate day.

Valtteri Bottas was forced to retire from the race while running second when the pit crew were unable to remove a tyre, with Verstappen and fourth-placed Sergio Perez nudging Red Bull above Mercedes at the summit of the constructors' standings.

Neither Verstappen nor his team would be presumptuous enough to suggest this changing of the guard at the top of each championship is anything but potentially fleeting though, given the margins are so tight and this was just the fifth stop-off in a 23-race season.

"It's so special around here to win and to be for the first time on the podium here," Verstappen said. "It's an amazing race and you really have to keep your focus, but it's really cool.

"You never know what's going to happen, but it was all about looking after your tyres and finding a good stop gap of course. The others went earlier so that made it a bit easier for me, but it was pretty much in control.

"Of course you always want to win this grand prix. I remember when I was very little watching this grand prix and to be standing here of course I'm very proud.

"But I'm also thinking ahead. It's still a very long season, but this is a great way to continue."

Hamilton has won the last four championships and six of the last seven, while Mercedes are chasing an eighth consecutive team title.

They will have many better Sundays in the coming months, and a team statement on Twitter summed up their dismay at the Monaco outcome.

The statement said: "Tough one to swallow. This has been one of our hardest days as a team in a very long time. We have to accept it, own the failure, learn from it and move on from here."

Carlos Sainz finished second, with Verstappen keeping the Spaniard at a safe distance.

It was close to a nine-second gap at the finish, as Sainz delivered for a Ferrari side who had to stomach the pre-race blow of withdrawing pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.

Monaco native Leclerc majorly damaged his car with a heavy crash in qualifying, and despite subsequent assurances that he would be on the grid, Ferrari changed their minds just minutes before the race began, citing a problem with the left driveshaft.

As Leclerc licked his wounds, Sainz delivered a sterling drive for his first Ferrari podium finish. Even then, it felt bittersweet.

"It is a good result," said the 26-year-old Spaniard. "If you had told me before coming to Monaco that I would finish second, I would definitely have taken that.

"It's just the whole circumstances of the weekend, having Charles on pole, me missing out in qualifying yesterday on a good lap, it just maybe doesn't taste as good as it should.

"But if I reflect back in the week I will be very happy and proud of the weekend. And I think Ferrari as a team need to be proud about the team and the step they've done this year.

"When you see the other car not starting from pole, all of a sudden the responsibility relies on you, trying to salvage the weekend. I felt the team deserved at least a podium this weekend."

Third place went to Lando Norris, whose McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, a former winner in Monaco, could only finish in a lowly 12th place.

"I didn't think I'd be here," Norris said, at his post-race interview. "It's always a dream to be on a podium here.

"It's extra special, I didn't think it was going to happen. It's special here, so I'll cherish it."

Max Verstappen roared to victory at the Monaco Grand Prix and jumped above reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton at the top of the drivers' standings.

The Red Bull driver benefited from the shock withdrawal of pole-sitter Charles Leclerc ahead of the race, producing an immaculate drive to stay out of trouble and finish ahead of the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.

McLaren's Lando Norris completed the podium, securing his second third place of the season, with Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly all coming home ahead of Hamilton, who trailed in a distant seventh.

The outcome saw Verstappen, thanks to his first Monaco triumph, move four points in front of Hamilton after five rounds of the 23-race championship. He leads the championship for the first time in his career, a further sign that Hamilton could face a major battle to cling to his crown as he chases a record-breaking eighth title.

Just 20 minutes before the race began, Ferrari dropped the bombshell that Leclerc had been ruled out due to a driveshaft problem.

It was a crushing blow for the Monegasque driver, whose pole was secured in dramatic fashion on Saturday when he crashed his Ferrari in the final minute of qualifying, denying his rivals a clear track and the chance to set a faster time. Leclerc feared gearbox trouble but was initially given the all-clear to race, until he was pulled from the line-up.

What it meant was that Verstappen, second on the grid, had the chance to gain the early ascendancy on the tight circuit where he had never previously achieved a podium finish, and he demonstrated his prowess as a front-runner.

Valtteri Bottas was sitting second when the Finn pitted on the 31st lap, and he joined Leclerc in the bad-luck club when Mercedes were unable to remove his front-right wheel. After a desperate minute of waiting, Bottas climbed out of his car, his race over.

Sebastian Vettel managed to get ahead of Pierre Gasly and Hamilton when the three pitted, the Aston Martin going almost wheel to wheel with Gasly's Alpha Tauri as he completed a stunning overcut.

That moment imperilled Hamilton's leadership of the championship, putting him down in seventh place, as Mercedes suffered a miserable couple of minutes. 

It proved the last major twist of the race, with Hamilton securing a bonus point for a late fastest lap. Small consolation on a dismal day for Mercedes, as Verstappen and Perez's performance also saw Red Bull go ahead of the Silver Arrows in the constructors' standings.

Stefanos Tsitsipas teed himself up for the French Open in dominant fashion as he claimed his second title of 2021 with a straight-sets win over Cameron Norrie at the Lyon Open. 

Tsitsipas looked sharp throughout the week in central France and was in clinical form on Sunday, pouncing on some minor mistakes from Norrie to triumph 6-3 6-3. 

Norrie was by no means an easy opponent, but five double faults handed Tsitsipas an edge he duly made the most of. 

This year's Monte Carlo champion had to claw back three break points in the opening game of the match but was firmly in control from then on. 

A break to make it 5-3 enabled the Greek to serve for the first set – an opportunity he took at the first time of asking – and another clinical break put him 4-3 up in set two.  

Tsitsipas' third and final break came on the second match point on offer, with Norrie overhitting a forehand to seal the world number five's 33rd Tour win of the season.  

Having dropped just one set throughout his run this week, Tsitsipas will now switch focus to Roland Garros, where he reached the semi-finals in 2020.  

"I felt in a good shape from the beginning of the tournament, felt like things were going my way," he said in a post-match interview.  

"I'm proud of today's match. I knew it would be a difficult one against Cameron who has played great this week, winning against good players and showing what his left hand can do on clay. I had to handle the nerves and I'm proud of my performance and the way I stayed focused.  

"It's about getting there [Paris] as early as possible, getting in practice and getting in shape for the big Parisian grand slam which I adore and love. Hopefully, something good can come out of it." 

Charles Leclerc's hopes of finally succeeding at his home grand prix were ended for another year in late, frustrating fashion at Monaco on Sunday.

Leclerc set the fastest time in qualifying but then crashed, cutting short the session to secure pole position yet leaving his Ferrari damaged.

The Scuderia tested Leclerc's gearbox on Saturday and again on Sunday, attempting to avoid a change that would mean giving up their place on the front row with a grid penalty.

The Monegasque star was cleared to take his position on pole less than three hours before the race, but Ferrari's determination not to replace the gearbox seemed to have proved costly.

A driveshaft issue was revealed when running the car, which meant Leclerc was unable to start the race, leaving his precious pole position vacant.

The problem was "impossible to fix in time for the start of the race", Ferrari said just 18 minutes before the scheduled start.

Max Verstappen had a clear run from second on the grid, as Leclerc rued another painful weekend at his home event.

His previous two Monaco appearances saw him fail to finish, although he completed enough of the 2018 grand prix to come 18th. At no other circuit has Leclerc had to retire twice.

The 23-year-old was denied the opportunity to surpass Louis Chiron's result as the best from a Monegasque driver at their home race. 

Chiron came third for Maserati in 1950, the first ever Formula One Monaco Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc will be able to start from pole position at his home Monaco Grand Prix, Ferrari confirmed on Sunday.

The Monegasque qualified fastest on Saturday but looked like facing more pain at this event when he crashed dramatically, forcing the session to be halted early.

Although that incident ensured Leclerc remained at the top of the timesheets, he faced a nervous wait for an assessment of his gearbox.

An enforced change would have meant a grid penalty, denying him his first pole at Monaco, where he has retired in his only two previous Formula One appearances in the principality – albeit still finishing 18th in 2018.

But Ferrari reported no "serious damage" in initial gearbox tests on Saturday, and the team could report positive news following further checks on the morning of the race.

"Following further in-depth checks this morning, no apparent defects were found on Charles Leclerc's gearbox," a Scuderia statement read.

"Therefore, the Monegasque driver will start today's race from pole position, as per the qualifying result."

It means Ferrari equal McLaren's record of 11 Monaco poles and Leclerc could become the 10th Scuderia star to win the race, trailing 15 McLaren drivers.

Given his past problems at this grand prix, though, Leclerc might settle for becoming the 54th Ferrari man to finish on the podium.

That would see him at least equal Louis Chiron's third-placed finish at the first ever F1 Monaco Grand Prix, still the best result for a Monegasque driver at home.

Justin Burrowes extended his lead to 11 strokes on day three of the Alliance National Amateur Golf Championship on Saturday at the Caymanas Golf Club. He shot two under par 70 for a three-day total of 212 (73, 69, 70) and is poised to secure victory when play resumes at 7:30 today.

“Today (Saturday) was another pretty good day. (I) gave myself a lot of opportunities, which is really what I set out to do.  It didn't convert as much as I would have liked but still, all in all, I would say a lot more positives than negatives today,” said Burrowes, who started the day with a birdie and followed up with three more on holes 11, 12 and 15 while posting two bogeys on holes 14 and 18.

“In a good place to build on.  The course was definitely more inviting today with the softer conditions - no wind and no rain.  It was definitely more inviting. I played solid but I didn't hold enough putts today to go really deep so hopefully, I can build on today and do that tomorrow (Sunday)."

Meanwhile, defending champion William Knibbs posted his first under-par score of 70 but is still 11 strokes off the lead.  He has a combined score of 223 after posting 74 and 79 on days one and two, respectively.

 He expressed satisfaction with the round especially after day two, saying "After yesterday (Friday), I would say that it could have only gotten better today (Saturday) and obviously it was better. Two under but as with most of what I have done this week there were always shots that I felt that I could have done better with or putts that I could have made but I am just happy to have bounced back today."

 His scorecard showed one eagle, three birdies and three bogeys.

Dr Mark Newnham, who was in second place on day two, dropped to third after scoring six over par 78 for a three-day total of 228.

Mention must be made of 15-year old Aman Dhiman, who posted the lowest score of the championship so far, a four-under-par 68.  He sunk five birdies on holes 1, 2, 4, 7 and 16 before bogeying the 10th hole.

The perennial ladies’ national champion Jodi Munn-Barrow, who led from day one is again the national champion.  The female championships ran over three days and she posted scores of 72, 77 and 74 for a total of 223 to be leagues ahead of second-place Samantha Azan who shot 82 on the final day for a total score of 251.  Third place went to Winni Lau.  She shot 91 for an overall score of 271.

 "Happy with my overall performance today (Saturday). (I) was able to focus and just play the holes as they came, played a shot at a time and happy to finish with two over,” she said.

“Seven over for the three days so I am pleased with the overall performance and happy once again I was able to become the national amateur champion."

The Ladies 13 - 24 category went to Valerie Grant 102 (308) followed by Suzan White 108 (324).

The Men 7-12 category had two golfers with scores of 86 for Thajae Richards for a total of 252 and who still leads Richard White, who shot 89 and now totals 279.

There is a new leader in the Men Senior 0-12 category with former Cricket West Indies president Dave Cameron 81 (245), ahead of Tony Allison 83 (245) in second and Vikram Dhuman 78 (245) in third.

The Men Super Senior 0-12 also has a new leader in Mike Boyd 74 (235), followed by George Hugh with an 82 (240) and the day-one leader, former JGA president Wayne Chai Chong shot 81 (240).

The final male category - Men Super Senior 13 and over, with one occupant - Desmond Brown scored 93 for a three-day total of 282.

The juniors who competed over two days which ended on Saturday saw Sebastian Azan copping the Boys 14-15 category with scores of 78 and 81 for a combined score of 159.  Ryan Lue took second spot after posting 82 and 79 (161) while Trey Williams was third 87, 79, (161).

Michael Lowe topped the Boys 16-17 category.  He had scores of 85 and 87 (172).  Zaniel Knight was second with scores of 91 and 89 (180) while Justin Wainwright 116 and 124 (240) was third.

Josh Taylor is ready to "ride the wave" after becoming the fifth undisputed world champion of the four-belt era – and that could mean facing Terence Crawford and, he hopes, fighting at Edinburgh Castle.

A mammoth clash between Taylor and Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas on Saturday saw the Briton twice knock down his opponent.

Those blows were pivotal in a unanimous but tight points win that saw all three judges score the bout 114-112 in Taylor's favour.

The 30-year-old protected his WBA and IBF light welterweight titles and added Ramirez's WBC and WBO straps.

Since 2004, only four other boxers have held the four major belts at once – Oleksandr Usyk, Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor and Crawford – and Taylor could now face one of them.

Crawford was the undisputed champion in the same division in 2017 after beating Julius Indongo, before vacating his titles to move up to welterweight.

It is a move Taylor (18-0) could repeat in order to face the undefeated American, who now holds the WBO strap at 147 pounds.

"I think two undisputed champions going at it at 147lb would be awesome, would be amazing," Taylor said.

"I'm not going to be short of options now; every fight is going to be huge. We'll take it and see what comes my way. We'll just ride the wave."

The locations of potential future fights are as exciting to Taylor as the opponents, though.

'The Tartan Tornado' was born in Prestonpans but has not fought in Edinburgh since November 2017.

His place in history secure, Taylor, a Hibernian fan, would now be keen to arrange a title bout either at Easter Road or the "iconic" Edinburgh Castle.

"Now is the time to get that fight at Edinburgh Castle or Easter Road," he said.

"I know Easter Road are going to be up for having me there and they've said it to me a few times.

"But I'd love to fight at Edinburgh Castle. I just think that would be iconic with the castle lit up in the background."

Tyson Fury revealed he has signed a contract to face Deontay Wilder again in a trilogy fight, less than a week after announcing a heavyweight unification bout against Anthony Joshua was "100 per cent on".

Fury has a 30-0-1 record, only failing to win in an initial meeting with Wilder in December 2018.

However, Fury knocked out the American in February 2020 to claim the WBC title, with a clash against British rival Joshua an apparently obvious next step.

Progress looked to have been made on that blockbuster fight and, last weekend, the WBC champion even confirmed a date and venue – August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

A significant complication subsequently emerged, though, as Wilder won an arbitration hearing that stated he had the right to a third Fury bout.

This derailed plans with WBO, IBF and WBA strap-holder Joshua, and Fury instead penned an agreement to take on Wilder once more as he attended Saturday's light welterweight title fight between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez.

In a video posted on social media by Top Rank Boxing and shared by Fury, he said: "I'm going to sign the contract for the Wilder III fight, because Wilder's a p****, an excuse-maker and a s***house.

"Shall we do it and put him out his misery?

"[He is going to get] seriously smashed to bits. [I will] crack the other side of his skull, give him another shoulder injury, another bicep injury, another leg injury, a nutsack injury, the whole lot.

"Are you sure now, or shall we just hijack out of here, go to Saudi Arabia and fight someone else?"

The footage then showed Fury signing the paperwork, before he addressed the camera and his opponent: "Wilder, contract signed. You're getting smashed.

"When I say smashed, I mean smash, smash, smash, bang. You're getting knocked out. One round. You're going.

"I've got your soul, your mojo, everything. I own you. Super smashed."

The WBO has ordered Joshua to face Oleksandr Usyk, meanwhile, with any possibility of a Joshua-Fury showpiece now delayed at least until the defence of these titles.

Carmelo Anthony was shocked to face booing from Denver Nuggets fans – before he and the Portland Trail Blazers silenced the home crowd in Game 1 of the playoff series.

Portland scored a 123-109 road win to get the early upper hand in the best-of-seven series.

The Denver fans that once worshipped Anthony got on his back in Saturday's game, jeering the 10-time All-Star who began his career as a teenager with the Nuggets.

"It's cool man. I love them too. I love those guys too," said Anthony afterwards.

"It's been what, almost 10 years now since I've been here. The love is there man. They love me, they hate me. I can't do nothing about that.

"I've just got to go out there and smile, enjoy myself and have fun and play basketball. Whatever they have to say, let them say, it's not my concern."

Asked if he could explain the fans' reaction, Anthony, who scored 18 points, was stumped.

"I don't have that answer. I don't know what it is," he said. "I gave my all here for seven and a half, eight years.

"I never said anything bad about Denver, the fans, the organisation, the players, I never complained. It's like I was birthed here with the Denver Nuggets. I started my career here and this will always be a special place for me."

It was Anthony's first win back in Denver since he departed in February 2011 to join the New York Knicks.

Coming up for his 37th birthday next Saturday, it was high time he tasted that winning feeling back in his one-time home city.

"I didn't even know that, this is the first win since I got traded," Anthony said.

"It's not even something I ever even thought about, to be honest with you.

"Somebody told me that when I was in the locker room after the game but I'll take it. I'll take my first win being Game 1 of the Western Conference playoffs.

"It's a great time to make it happen, get that first win here in Denver."

James Harden said the Brooklyn Nets took "a huge step" by shaking off sketchy offensive form to overcome the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their playoff series.

Brookyln's big three scraped together sufficient points to make it comfortable enough in the end, the home team grabbing a 104-93 win, having trailed 53-47 at halftime.

Kevin Durant had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Kyrie Irving added 29 points and Harden weighed in with 21 as the Nets proved too strong for a Celtics side who had 22 points on six-of-20 shooting from Jayson Tatum.

Harden said: "We just engaged. Everybody that steps on the floor is engaged and pretty much knows what they have to do. So everybody had each other's back.

"No matter what happens offensively, defensively is where we show some improvement and tonight was a huge step for us."

With fans back in Barclays Center, Harden suggested their presence may have been a slight distraction, as might the pressure of starting a playoffs tilt.

But ultimately he settled on it being the players' failure to convert opportunities as the reason the Nets took so long to get going.

"We just didn't make shots. I'm sure if we made shots it would be a different conversation," he said.

Asked about Tatum, Harden said: "He's going to be better in Game 2 and we will too."

Durant reached a similar conclusion to Harden.

"We couldn't make shots, I felt like," Durant said. "When we tried to bust the game open seven or eight points, we got open threes we didn't make. We got our scorers in position, but I know I missed a lot of bunnies that felt good leaving my hand.

"But we stuck with our defense. We didn't let that get in the way of what we wanted to do out there. We helped each other and boxed out well. We've got to keep that same effort going into Game 2."

From 82-79 up, the Nets went on a scoring surge and pulled 99-82 ahead in the fourth quarter, before easing to victory.

Irving, prominent in that dominant run, said: "I just think we needed a little separation, just to settle in for the rest of the game. Fourth quarter, we've had the tendency of taking our foot off the gas pedal, of stopping attacking the rim or settling for jump shots or just not swinging the ball around and making easy plays for one another.

"Obviously we know we have all-world one-on-one players, but we make it a little easy when teams can just load up and our one-on-one game isn't working. You can see anything can happen at the end of the game. Kemba [Walker] hits two big threes, we get a flagrant foul. Anything can happen, especially against the Celtics.

"That lucky Irishman is always around the Celtics, so we've just got to be aware of anything against the Celtics. And I think we did a good job of kind of withstanding their runs down the stretch."

Damian Lillard is used to having the game in his hands, but the Portland Trail Blazers star found another level of control Saturday in a 123-109 playoff win over the Denver Nuggets. 

Lillard scored 34 points and had a career playoff high 13 assists to account for 54 per cent of Portland's points in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series. 

That assist total was the most for a Portland player since Damon Stoudamire had 13 against the Phoenix Suns on May 13, 1999. 

The sixth-seeded Blazers set a franchise record for a playoff game in hitting 19 three-pointers, five of them by Lillard, as they opened with a critical road win to boost their chances of taking the series. 

"Any time you start a series on the road, you're going into it thinking we need to at least win one -- heading back home we've got to have one of those first two," Lillard told reporters.

"It's a major statement to be able to get the first one." 

The Blazers heaped praise on center Jusuf Nurkic, who spent most of the night defending Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. 

Though Jokic matched Lillard's scoring output with 34, he had only one assist -- a career playoff low. 

Lillard told reporters he believes Jokic is the NBA MVP this season, but said the Blazers' focus was on letting him do the work himself rather than distributing to his team-mates. 

That formula worked in the series opener, though Lillard expects the competition is "only going to get harder from here." 

Added Carmelo Anthony, "I've been here multiple times. We don't want to get too high -- it's just the first game.

"We'll take it, though. It's a big win. Any time you can get Game 1 on the road in the playoffs it's a major win. 

"We don't look at it as a steal -- we came in here and we earned this win tonight."

Seven strong innings from Walker Buehler lifted the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-3 victory at San Francisco, pulling the defending World Series champions level with the Giants in the National League West. 

Buehler allowed one run while scattering six hits in seven innings of work, improving to 3-0 while lowering his ERA to 2.78. 

The Dodgers spoiled the first MLB appearance since September 2016 for Giants starter Scott Kazmir, who allowed only a first-inning solo home run to Max Muncy in four strong innings after being recalled from the minor leagues. 

Austin Barnes added a solo homer of his own in the fifth for the Dodgers, who put the game away with four runs in the seventh and eighth innings. 

The Dodgers' sixth consecutive win and second in a row against their northern rivals left Los Angeles a game behind the first-place San Diego Padres in the top-heavy division. 

 

Cole silences White Sox

Gerrit Cole was all but untouchable once again, allowing four hits in seven innings as the New York Yankees blanked the Chicago White Sox 7-0 for their fifth win in succession. Gleyber Torres had another big game at the plate for New York, driving in four runs. 

A day after hitting a walk-off home run against the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers sensation Adolis Garcia hit two more bombs to help the Rangers to an 8-4 triumph. The second shot tied the game and sparked a five-run seventh inning that provided the winning margin for Texas.

Garrett Cooper hit a game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as the Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets 3-1. 

Xander Bogaerts and Danny Santana had back-to-back homers to lead off the sixth inning for the Boston Red Sox in a 4-3 victory ove the Philadelphia Phillies. 

The Tampa Bay Rays rallied with runs in the eighth and ninth to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 for their ninth consecutive victory. 

 

Mariners' three errors boost Padres

The Seattle Mariners committed three errors in the fifth inning -- two of them by catcher Tom Murphy -- to help the Padres break open what had been a 1-1 game on the way to a 6-4 San Diego win. The first run of the inning scored when Murphy's throw to third on a Jorge Mateo steal attempt sailed into left field. Later, a bases-loaded single by Eric Hosmer brought home two runs, and a throw home by outfielder Jarred Kelenic went through Murphy's legs, allowing Fernando Tatis Jr to score from first base on the play. 

 

Hernandez gives Cleveland walk-off win

Cesar Hernandez hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th to give the Cleveland Indians a bounce-back 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins. 

 

Saturday's results

Boston Red Sox 4-3 Philadelphia Phillies
Washington Nationals 12-9 Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees 7-0 Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians 5-3 Minnesota Twins
Miami Marlins 3-1 New York Mets
Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 Cincinnati Reds
Atlanta Braves 6-1 Pittsburgh Pirates
Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 Toronto Blue Jays
Texas Rangers 8-4 Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals 7-5 Detroit Tigers
St Louis Cardinals 2-1 Chicago Cubs
Colorado Rockies 7-6 Arizona Diamondbacks
Oakland Athletics 6-2 Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Dodgers 6-3 San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres 6-4 Seattle Mariners

 

Rays at Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays (23-21) send ace Hyun Jin Ryu to the mound as they try to avoid a sweep and stop the Tampa Bay Rays' nine-game winning streak. Michael Wacha will come off the injured list to start for the Rays (28-19). 

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