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MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — Somewhere in Miami, Floyd Mayweather is laughing.

A lackluster eight-round exhibition that went the distance with no official winner was an appropriate end for Sunday night’s Mayweather-Logan Paul showcase. Everything about this bout was a circus, and the redeeming hope of a viral knockout to make it all worth it proved to be for naught.

There were no knockdowns, no significant moments in which Paul was hurt, and even though Mayweather clearly outperformed his opponent, there will be criticism that he couldn’t put away a Youtuber with an 0-1 professional boxing record.

“I had fun. You’ve got to realize I’m not 21 anymore,” Mayweather said after the fight. “He was strong, tough and better than I thought he was. I was surprised by him tonight.”

As Mayweather left the ring, he smirked. He knows he got away with what he called “legalized bank robbery.” Mayweather says he already made $30 million in the buildup for the fight, just from the sponsors that were listed on his trunks, with a larger final purse expected.

The reason why Mayweather was able to cash in seems clear: boxing has failed in many ways to replace his presence. The sport still clamors for Mayweather and everything he brings.

Now 44 years old and retired from real fights since 2017 (and perhaps longer than that, depending on your view of Mayweather’s last pro fight against Conor McGregor), Mayweather clearly isn’t anywhere near the fighter he was at his peak. He certainly dominated enough of the fight to earn a “win,” if the bout was officially judged, but his performance overall was underwhelming. Sure, Paul likely outweighed Mayweather by 40-50 pounds on fight night — a viable factor — but it’s not an end-all excuse for why he survived eight rounds.

“It’s the best moment of my life,” Paul said at the post-fight news conference. “I don’t know what to make of it. I can’t comprehend it.”

Despite the lackluster nature of his performance, Mayweather remains boxing’s biggest showman. He remains the guy that makes people tune into a fight after not watching one for years.

Does that say more about him, boxing fans or the sport of boxing as a whole?

Many mocked the idea of this bout — a matchup so laughable on paper that you can barely call it a fight. Heck, even Paul said he laughed when he first heard the idea.

But a lot of people were interested — that was clear by the number of times boxing showed up in the top 10 Google Trends on Sunday night and the buzz on social media throughout the card. A fight everybody knew was somewhere between a joke and a spectacle still might end up having the most pay-per-view buys of the year.

Why? Mayweather explained it just days before the fight.

“I am boxing,” Mayweather said. “You look at all the young fighters — they want to fight like Floyd Mayweather. They want to get all the cars and jewelry, all the flash, that’s Floyd Mayweather. We’re not going to call it boxing anymore, we’re going to call it Floyd Mayweather.”

It’s nothing new for Mayweather to exude an arrogance and cockiness that makes him polarizing. People love that “Money” talks his talk and backs it up. No matter how you feel about him, positive or negative, you want to tune in to see him.

“I’m retired from boxing. But I’m not retired from entertainment,” Mayweather said. “Nobody has to watch. Nobody has to pay. Do whatever makes you feel good, and I’m going to do what makes me feel good.”

And while Mayweather didn’t commit to another exhibition bout and expressed his doubts of returning to the ring at all during his post-fight news conferences, this is a fighter that has returned multiple times from retirement in the past. As long as Mayweather is willing to put on a show, even if it’s not really a good one, people will watch.

So what’s next? Paul teased a rematch after the fight during his in-ring interview: “It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Floyd Mayweather/Logan Paul II? I don’t know. Maybe I can end it next time.”

Paul left with a moral victory because he went the distance with the greatest fighter of this generation. A rematch would probably do good numbers, too.

But the even more lucrative answer is Jake Paul, Logan’s younger brother and a more accomplished boxer with a 3-0 professional record. The revenge theme is already planted with the “gotcha hat” stunt Jake pulled when he snatched Mayweather’s cap at a promotional fight event in early May.

Jake told ESPN earlier this week that’s a fight he definitely wants.

But that is dependent on whether or not Mayweather decides he wants to do this again. His age showed in this fight. Though he told ESPN this week that he could beat Logan or Jake Paul with his “Z game,” it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mayweather leave the sideshow behind for the time being to turn his focus back towards his primary post-career pursuit — promoting boxing.

Ironically, in a sport that’s struggled to find Mayweather’s true successor, Mayweather hopes to find that fighter himself.

“The ultimate goal is to find the next Floyd Mayweather,” Mayweather said. “I’m not the type of fighter that doesn’t want to see my records get broken. I want to see these young fighters do it. I hope I’m around to see the next Mayweather.”

There are worthy candidates in boxing, but no firm takers yet. And until it finds the next Mayweather, boxing still clamors for any type of show the current Mayweather wants to put on, even ones like Sunday night. And if the pay day is right, history shows that Mayweather will show up and collect the check.

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Sources: Phils add RHP Walker for 4 years, $72M

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Sources: Phils add RHP Walker for 4 years, M

The Philadelphia Phillies and right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker have reached agreement on a four-year, $72 million contract, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Tuesday.

A day after reaching a blockbuster deal with shortstop Trea Turner, the Phillies add to their rotation with one of the top pitchers left on the free agent market.

Walker joins Philadelphia after one of the strongest seasons of his career in 2022, when he started 29 games for the New York Mets and posted a 3.49 ERA, 2.6 bWAR and a 1.19 WHIP in 157 innings pitched, striking out 132 batters while walking 45.

The Phillies mark the fifth team of Walker’s major league career, including the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays and Mets.

The 30-year-old righty served as a dependable back-of-the-rotation starter for the Mets throughout the course of the season before declining his $7.5 million player option for 2023, taking a $3 million buyout to explore free agency. The Mets declined to offer a qualifying offer to Walker.

Walker previously underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and missed the entire 2019 season. His 2022 campaign marked his most successful on the mound since undergoing treatment on a partial tear of a UCL in his right elbow.

Walker is the second pitcher to leave the Mets’ rotation, after Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers. New York subsequently responded by signing Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86 million deal.

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Pirates win 1st MLB draft lottery, right to pick first

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Pirates win 1st MLB draft lottery, right to pick first

The Pittsburgh Pirates secured the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft on Tuesday, during Major League Baseball’s first ever draft lottery. The next five picks, respectively, went to the Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics.

MLB and the MLB Players’ Association agreed to a draft lottery in the new collective bargaining agreement, whereby the 18 teams that did not reach the postseason would vie for the first six selections. Odds, based on 2022 winning percentage, ranged from 16.5% (for the Pirates, Nationals and A’s) to 0.2% (Milwaukee Brewers).

The A’s went in tied for the best chance at the No. 1 overall pick and finished with the No. 6 selection. The Twins took an even bigger step in the other direction, starting with the 13th-best odds and ultimately picking fifth.

The Nos. 7 to 18 picks in next year’s draft – slated for July from Seattle, site of the next All-Star Game – will be slotted by reverse winning percentage, followed by how teams finished in the postseason (the World Series-champion Houston Astros, for example, will pick 30th). Rounds 2 through 20 will navigate entirely in reverse order of winning percentage and postseason finish.

MLB placed more picks up for grabs than any other major spot in its first draft lottery. Only the first four picks of the NBA’s draft are attained through the draft lottery. In the NHL, it’s just the first two. The bottom three teams were all given the same odds for the No. 1 overall pick in an effort to disincentivize tanking for the worst record. Large-market teams (defined as those who do not receive revenue sharing) are prohibited from entering the draft lottery in back-to-back years; small-market teams can’t enter it three straight years.

MLB Network announced the results of the lottery inside a ballroom from the Hyatt hotel that is staging this year’s Winter Meetings, with executives from the 18 eligible clubs sitting at nearby tables and outfielder-turned-MLB-executive Raul Ibanez reading the results. But the process took place hours later, when a collection of sealed balls arrived in a suitcase and 1,000 four-number combinations were assigned to the 18 teams (the higher the odds for the No. 1 overall pick, the more combinations assigned to the team). Bill Francis, who helps run the MLB Draft, selected the six four-number combinations that determined the order. PricewaterhouseCoopers oversaw the process.

The top three players in next year’s draft, based on rankings from ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel in July, are: Wyatt Langford, a center fielder from Florida; Jacob Wilson, a shortstop from Grand Canyon; and Max Clark, a center fielder from Franklin Community High School in Indiana. This will mark the sixth time the Pirates select first overall. They did so as recently as 2021, selecting catcher Henry Davis out of Louisville.

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Haniger to Giants; 3 years, $43.5M, sources say

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Haniger to Giants; 3 years, .5M, sources say

The San Francisco Giants agreed to terms with outfielder Mitch Haniger, the team announced Tuesday, filling a hole in the Giants’ outfield as they continue their free agent pursuit of American League MVP Aaron Judge.

The deal is for three years and $43.5 million and includes a player opt-out after the second year, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Haniger, who turns 32 later this month, has posted star-caliber numbers in the two seasons he has been healthy, but has struggled with injuries throughout his major league career, most of which he spent in Seattle. With the Mariners last season, he hit .246/.308/.429 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs in 57 games, helping propel the team to its first playoff berth in two decades.

One season earlier, Haniger showed the sort of talent that led the Giants to consider a multiyear deal at $14.5 million a season. He hit 39 home runs, good for fifth in the AL, and drove in 100 runs while posting 3.9 Wins Above Replacement over 157 games, according to Baseball-Reference.

The Giants’ offseason began with outfielder Joc Pederson accepting a $19.65 million qualifying offer. It continues with Haniger and could include Judge, who last year spent a majority of his time in center field but has played most of his career in right. Along with Haniger and Mike Yastrzemski, Judge could be part of the outfield while Pederson spends most of his time at designated hitter.

Long a fan favorite and leader in Seattle, Haniger joined the Mariners in November 2016, when Arizona — which drafted him in the first round of the 2012 draft — traded him along with Jean Segura for infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte and pitcher Taijuan Walker.

Haniger immediately produced for Seattle, putting up an OPS of .843 in his first season. His best year came in 2018, when he played 157 games and hit .285/.366/.493 with 26 home runs and played well above-average defense in right field.

The next season, in 2019, Haniger suffered a ruptured testicle after a foul ball took an unfortunate carom. The injury kept him out for the remainder of the season, and he missed significant time with back and core injuries, not playing in 2020.

His 2021 return was hailed in Seattle, where Haniger helped steer the Mariners to the cusp of the postseason with a bevy of clutch hits. He’ll now slot into the middle of a Giants lineup that ranked 11th in baseball in runs scored but lost three-quarters of its infield — first baseman Brandon Belt, shortstop Brandon Crawford and third baseman Evan Longoria — to free agency.

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