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Vasiliy Lomachenko will put his WBO and WBA lightweight belts on the line against Anthony Crolla on Friday. We have a live blog of the action!
11 p.m.: We’re checking in for the live blog, which will get underway just as soon as the main card bouts get started.
Vasiliy Lomachenko is set to face Anthony Crolla in the main event of an ESPN+ exclusive main card on Friday evening. The card is backed up by prelims that will be streamed free on WatchESPN beginning at 8 p.m. ET, while the main card is set to start at 11 p.m.
Lomachenko was originally set to face Richard Commey after he took the vacant IBF lightweight strap, but Commey suffered a hand injury in that bout. Instead, Crolla is the WBA mandatory challenger. Lomachenko will put up hos WBO and WBA lightweight titles in the matchup.
In 13 bouts, Lomachenko has just one career loss, and it came in his second professional fight. He’s won 11 straight, including a unanimous decision over José Pedraza to unify the WBA and WBO belts. He’s won nine of his bouts by knockout and three by decision.
Most believe Lomachenko will run through Crolla, and preferred the Commey bout. But Crolla has fought some of the best and he’ll be at his best against Lomachenko. It could be a much more competitive fight than many expect.
The main card also includes a matchup between Gilberto Ramirez and Tommy Karpency at 175 pounds. Ramirez has his 168-pound belt, but is moving up a weight class. Ramirez is 39-0 and will not be putting his WBO super middleweight belt on the line. Karpency is a competent gatekeeper who has challenged for world titles multiple times.
Below is all you need to know to watch, including viewing information and the full fight card for Friday’s bouts.
All times Eastern
How to watch Lomachenko vs. Crolla
Date: Friday, April 12
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
Time: 8 p.m. (prelims), 11 p.m. (main card)
Lomachenko vs. Crolla card
Main Card (11 p.m.)
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Anthony Crolla (for Lomachenko’s WBO and WBA lightweight titles)
Gilberto Ramirez vs. Tommy Karpency
Prelim Card (8 p.m.)
Mike Alvarado vs. Arnold Barboza Jr.
Alexander Besputin vs. Alfredo Blanco
Janibek Alimkhanuly vs. Cristian Olivas
Guido Vianello vs. Lawrence Gabriel
Ruben Rodriguez vs. Ramel Snegur
Christopher Zavala vs. Sergio Antonio Gonzalez
Elvis Rodriguez vs. Kevin Alfonso Luna
It didn’t count, but it will live forever in the minds of weekend hackers who wanted to see a green jacket-wearer play Augusta just like they would.
Zach Johnson, a Masters champion and still a top-100 player in the world, did something you literally could have done yourself at Augusta National hole on Thursday:
Wow! Zach Johnson is all of us… pic.twitter.com/BvVWA1wBvU
— Fantasy Golf Podcast (@fantasygolfpod) April 12, 2019
Johnson was about to tee off at Augusta’s par-5 13th hole, making his way through Amen Corner as he’s done 100 or so times before. (He’s played every Masters since 2005 and won in 2007, along with untold dozens of practice rounds.) He launched into what he likely figured was a standard practice swing, but he had his alignment wrong and hit the ball off the toe of his driver, spinning it off the wooden tee marker at the start of the 510-yard hole.
Check out the trajectory on that firecracker:
It didn’t count, because Johnson apparently wasn’t trying to hit the ball
He lined up his club head well to the left of where the ball was teed, or at least thought he had, which indicates that he didn’t intend to hit the ball with his practice swing.
If the ball’s not already in play, there’s no penalty for just picking it up, re-teeing it, and playing your shot as planned in that circumstance. Had Johnson accidentally hit the ball once it was already, say, in the fairway, that would’ve been a different story. He’d have had to just play it, or replace it with a one-stroke penalty, as per the USGA rules of golf.
He proceeded to birdie the hole, because sometimes, ball does lie.
After Johnson re-teed, he stroked a 285-yard drive down the left side of the fairway, with exactly the kind of soft, drawing ball flight the 13th hole invites. That left him 196 yards to the pin, and he stuck an iron 30 feet out, then two-putted for his four on the par-5.
It moved him to 1-over for the week, still a ways from contention.
So, while Johnson’s moment will be unaccounted-for in the record books, it will hopefully never escape the annals of history.
For a brief moment, we all got to see a Masters champion play Augusta with exactly the level of competence we would play Augusta. Never let us forget it.
Has this happened to you before?
It has indeed happened to me, sort of. The difference between Johnson’s episode and mine is that I wasn’t taking a practice swing.
Some years ago, I was teeing off the par-4 second hole at Mt. Lebanon Golf Course near Pittsburgh, a nine-hole course a few minutes from my house. I was playing either the white or the blue tees, so there were a few sets of tee markers in front of me.
I topped the ball with my driver, and also sliced it enough that it ran forward and to the left. (I am a southpaw.) It bounced off the thing and flew back at me, and I had to duck to avoid decapitating myself with a bad golf shot. I lost the ball, because it flew into a backyard behind me, and I was not in the mood to climb the fence. But I retained my skull.
Hit me with your golf-shot horror stories in the comments.
Tiger is charging up the leaderboard and fending off unintentional attacks by security.
Tiger Woods is charging up the leaderboard late on Friday at Augusta National, playing through some rain that has forced players to adjust a bit on the fly. In addition to the change in conditions, Tiger is also having to deal with slide-tackling security guards. It’s all coming at him.
After playing from the muck right of the 14th fairway, Tiger began to walk back out of the trees and towards the fairway to make his way up to the green. As often happens at these golf tournaments, the crowd starts to move in around Tiger after contact on the shot. And as often happens in response, security guards and gallery marshals began to try and hold the line.
Only one overzealous security guard started hustling his way into the area to keep the “patrons” back and bit it right into Tiger’s ankle. Woods immediately grimaced in pain and started limping dramatically trying to gather himself. Everyone watching held their collective breath.
After his approach shot on the 14th hole, a security guard makes contact with Tiger Woods. pic.twitter.com/0DNpWn1AkI
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 12, 2019
One of the very firm and Masters-specific rules is that there is absolutely no running at Augusta National. If you’re seen moving even just a tick above a speed walk, the Pinkerton security guards immediately stop you. It’s oddly obeyed 100 percent of the time. You never see running. But it’s unclear whether that kind of rule applies to the ones enforcing it.
While Augusta may appear pristine on camera between the fairways, it’s sloppy outside the ropes with all the rain and traffic this week. There’s not much they can do, even with spreading this kitty litter type stuff all over the high traffic areas. So it’s not surprising a running security guard might bite it. But that he had to do on a slide tackle right into Tiger’s ankle does qualify as a near national disaster.
Fortunately for the guard, and everyone rooting on Tiger, the four-time Masters winner drilled the subsequent birdie putt on the 14th after that absurd recovery short, the quality of which was lost in the mayhem of Tiger’s ankle nearly being sheared off. Then Tiger backed up that birdie on 14 with yet another massive putt on the 15th, bringing him to just a shot off the lead.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 12, 2019
So we went from a complete scare of Tiger maaaaybe having to WD with one of the freakiest injuries in Masters history, to back-to-back birdies and a continued charge at the weekend lead. You may resume freaking out for the right reasons now.
There is beauty in the soloist. Within a shank, we see ourselves — the impermanence of anything, the tremble of uncertainty that shapes our march toward the unknown.
Below, you will find a video of Jon Rahm, a professional golfer, and a good one at that. Rahm is, in many ways, what we all are — young, alone, living life, having a blast. He’s at the fulcrum of golf — The Masters — high on the leaderboard. This is no matter, for the shank gremlins come at night, and you must pay them.
You will not find this on television, or on a highlight broadcast tonight. TV is in fact entertainment, sport is an escape. Life is arduous enough, and ESPN is not in the business of making the viewer confront the human condition. Perhaps, that is why this act is banned from television today. An act so powerful, a violent art so stirring — it needn’t be seen by the eyes of the public.
— leezo (@whatsupsports_) April 12, 2019
The shank is a toll, a tax on whatever greatness you’ve achieved, the ever-present reminder of the lien that the golf gods have placed on your self-worth. It exists to humble all and any, Old Tom Morris and Francis Ouimet and Walter Hagen sitting in whatever netherworld you believe in, sipping Bushmills, occasionally grabbing the spiritual controls of your swing plane and yelling ‘WATCH THIS’ . Whether from your local-club 40-handicapper to your middling collegiate player to your top-level tour pro, the bell tolls eventually for all — it is not whether you outrun it, or avoid it, just merely that it arrives at an opportune time.
But, in the wide landscape of sports calamity we celebrate today, the shank is unique. A Javier Pastore nutmeg, or a James Harden crossover, or a Bryce Harper batflip requires a two-party plot, a victor, and a victim. The pain, the distress, the self-reflection is lost in our celebration of greatness — overlooking the natural beauty and imperfection of the human condition seen in the victim.
And, perhaps, from that comes the beauty. Humankind has always been captivated, fascinated by the isolation of one. The majesty and emotion of a soloist filling a room with Ave Maria, the simple enjoyment of an airplane bathroom, the peaceful vulnerability of singularity. The shank is the fulcrum of such in sport. Within a shank, we see ourselves. We confront life’s fluid impermanence, and the solo act that is our long journey to an uncertain destination.
And just like that, it ends, as quick as it started. Beautiful and powerful, yet all too short. We are left uncertain, questioning, and humbled with regard to the world around us.