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Boxing legend Leon Spinks Jr. dies after battle with multiple cancers

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Boxing legend Leon Spinks Jr. dies after battle with multiple cancers

LAS VEGAS — Former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks Jr. has died after battling prostate and other cancers. He was 67.

Spinks died Friday night, according to a release from a public relations firm. His wife, Brenda Glur Spinks, and a few close friends and other family members were by his side when he passed away.

Spinks won gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. But he rose in prominence when he beat Muhammed Ali for the heavyweight title in 1978.

Spinks had only seven professional fights under his belt when he got into the ring with Ali.

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Purdue vs. Penn State line, prediction: Take Boilermakers

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Purdue vs. Penn State line, prediction: Take Boilermakers

The Purdue defense has been one of the most rock-solid units in the nation in 2021, giving up 72 points or fewer in every game this calendar year. On Friday, the Boilermakers will visit a Penn State squad looking for revenge after an 80-72 defeat in West Lafayette, Ind., in January.

The Penn State offense has sputtered in February, scoring more than 68 points twice in their seven games, averaging 64.7 points per game. The Nittany Lions are shooting 31.6 percent from 3-point range in this stretch after making 36.6 percent from distance in their first 13 games, a problem considering Purdue is giving up the fewest points per game on 2-point shots among the 14 Big Ten teams in conference play.

Purdue ranks 21st in the country in rebound rate in true road games and should own the paint against a Penn State team that is allowing opponents to make 54.8 percent of its 2-point shots, which ranks 318th. Trevion Williams is the Boilermakers’ leading scorer at 16 ppg and also their top rebounder at 9.1 per game.

The Boilermakers have covered the spread in eight of their past 11 games, and with Penn State ranking 244th in country in points given up on a per-possession basis, Purdue’s covering ways should continue on Friday.

The play: Purdue, -1.

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Teams leaving Texans trade voicemails

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Teams leaving Texans trade voicemails

Maybe teams can try sliding into the Texans’ DMs.

According to a NFL Network report, the Texans front office is so dug in that they are not taking phone calls from teams interested in acquiring Deshaun Watson.

Tom Pelissero reported that some teams have even “resorted to leaving voicemails with trade offers.”

Watson has officially requested a trade and said behind that scenes that he will never take another snap for the Texans again.

Houston’s latest attempt to persuade him was a meeting with new coach David Culley, but Watson’s stance remains unchanged.

Watson signed a four-year, $156 million extension last season, but has felt disrespected by the Texans not consulting him on key decisions, such as hiring Nick Caserio as GM.

This could drag on for some time, though.

A separate NFL Network report stated that the Texans don’t view the start of free agency (March 17) or the 2021 NFL Draft (April 29) as any sort of deadline to deal Watson.

And the report added that the teams who are interested in Watson —  the Jets, Dolphins and Panthers have been most prominently mentioned in the rumor mill — “don’t expect” Watson to be traded. That could have something to do with their phone calls going unanswered.

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Mike King will start in Yankees’ spring training opener

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Mike King will start in Yankees' spring training opener

Observations from Thursday’s Yankees workout:

King for a day

Aaron Boone announced Mike King will start Sunday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The right-hander is fighting for a spot in the rotation.

Icy reception

Justin Wilson’s arrival to Tampa was delayed by the winter storm that hit Texas and crippled much of the state. He stayed with his wife and children while they were without power for 30 hours then attempted to drive to Florida. He was slowed by bad road conditions, which forced him to stay in a hotel in Louisiana before finally making it. “It was an interesting few days.”

Caught my eye

Mike Tauchman snapped his bat over his leg after flying out against Domingo German and then came back to homer off Gerrit Cole during live BP. Boone is confident the outfielder is healthy and will bounce back after a disappointing 2020 season.

Friday’s schedule

Workouts for pitchers, catchers and position players as the team prepares for Sunday’s Grapefruit League opener.

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