Cierra Porter, Sophie Cunningham and Jordan Roundtree

Missouri’s Cierra Porter, Sophie Cunningham and Jordan Roundtree are going dancing. The Tigers will face Drake on Friday at 3:00 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Shout out to the Mizzou women’s basketball team. The Tigers (23-10) team qualified for its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

Selection Monday was an interesting one for the Robin Pingeton’s team. ESPN accidentally leaked the tournament selections and seedings in advance of the official release. It meant that news of Mizzou’s disappointing seventh seed was well-known before the team’s 5 p.m. selection party. ESPN had projected the Tigers to earn a No. 5 seed for the tournament.

Much of the disappointment related to the seeding was overshadowed by the fact that the Tigers landed in the Greensboro Region. That means the team’s first-round game versus No. 10 seed Drake (27-6) will take place Friday in Iowa City, Iowa. Just a four-hour drive from Columbia, the Tigers can expect plenty of fans to make the short trip north to support the squad.

The Tigers team is led by senior guard Sophie Cunningham. Cunningham has averaged 18.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season. She was the SEC’s fourth-leading scoring this season and was one of 15 players named to the Wooden Award National Ballot.

Cunningham has had major help from junior guard Amber Smith (12.2 points, 7.0 rebounds) and senior forward Cierra Porter (7.2 points, 5 rebounds).

Last season, as a No. 5 seed, the Tigers team was defeated in the first round by Florida Gulf Coast. If the team hopes to advance past the first round this year, the ladies will need to come out fiery and focused.

Drake is ranked eighth in the nation in scoring and No. 21 in three-pointers made. The Tigers will have to do some serious defending to advance to the second round and beyond. Known as one of the grittiest players in the country, I have a feeling Cunningham and the crew will be up to the task.

Still no news on Deontay vs AJ

Boxing is one of the most maddening sports when waiting for blockbuster fights to happen. Unlike traditional sports leagues with one centralized association/league/organization running the show, boxing is rife with sanctioning bodies, state and country commissions, promoters, networks, etc. Each seems to have a sizeable influence on what, when and how matchups get made.

The latest carrot-on-a-stick for fight fans is the ever-elusive bout between Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua. Over the past few years, both men have made highly-public proclamations that they are dying to face off in the ring. Getting both fighters to sign an actual contract though, appears to be Mission Impossible.

Maybe boxing fans can mount a social media petition to get Tom Cruise to intervene, or Terry Crews, or Mayor Lyda Krewson – somebody!

The latest kick in the gut occurred when Wilder rejected a four-fight, $120M offer from DAZN that would have guaranteed him two fights with Joshua.

Wilder is banking on the idea that he can earn more than $120 million over four fights. It’s not an unreasonable idea considering that a $50M offer for one fight was rejected by Joshua’s team last year.

Wilder went on to fight lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in an epic showdown that resulted in a draw. An immediate rematch was expected (and contracted) but Fury ultimately decided to pass on the rematch to sign a lucrative deal with Top Rank.

Now instead of facing Fury or Joshua, Wilder is forced to make a mandatory defense against Dominic Breazeale. Breazeale sounds more like an R&B singer than a prizefighter. At 20-1, Breazeale isn’t necessarily a pushover, but the one time he faced an A-list opponent (Joshua), he nearly got his head knocked off in a KO defeat.

After his bout with Breazeale, Wilder and his manager Shelly Finkel will undoubtedly make another offer to Joshua’s team to try and set up a fight. But between networks, purse splits and future options, this could be another fight that happens well after its expiration date.

Garcia showed heart, Spence showed hands

Mikey Garcia showed plenty of heart in skipping up to welterweight to fight Errol Spence Jr. (25-0-0, 21 KO) for theIBF welterweight title. Unfortunately for Garcia (39-1-0, 30 KO), that was about all he brought in his bag.

Spence proved to be the bigger, faster, stronger fighter as he breezed to a unanimous decision victory over the four-division world champion. Spence out-landed Garcia 345-75 in total punches.

The victory vaulted Spence into consideration as one of the best pound for pound fighters on the planet.

Be sure to check In the Clutch online and also follow Ishmael on Twitter @ishcreates. Subscribe to The St. Louis American’s YouTube page to see weekly sports videos starring Ishmael and Melvin Moore at youtube.com/stlamericanvideo.

Ishmael H. Sistrunk is a columnist and the website coordinator for the St. Louis American and www.stlamerican.com.

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