Bud\’s Belts

August 9, 2023

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

A wild Wednesday edition is in store. The World Cup quarterfinals are set. There’s a new No. 1 in our MLB Power Rankings. And today’s Underdog boxing feature was one of my favorites yet (bottom of today\’s edition).

Plus, some bombshell news dropped late last night. We\’ll pick up the pieces in tomorrow\’s recap. 

  •  The Penn-ESPN SportsbookPenn National sold Barstool Sports back to Dave Portnoy and joined ESPN on a new $2 billion sportsbook venture, ESPN Bet.
  • The Youngest Pro Athlete: A 13-year-old soccer player, Da’Vian Kimbrough, signed a USL contract with the Sacramento Republic that makes him the youngest professional athlete in North American sports history.

Letter Rip!



Quarterfinal Questions

Photo: Brendon Thorne – FIFA / Getty Images

France Blasts Morocco (4-0); Colombia Ousts Jamaica (1-0) for 1st WC QF Berth as Quarterfinals Bracket Set

The final two tickets to the Women’s World Cup Quarterfinals are locked! France and Colombia round out the last eight after shutout wins on Tuesday morning. France was a heavy favorite against the underdogs from Morocco, and they showed it. Kadidiatou Diani (1 goal) was all over the field for Les Bleues. Colombia needed just one goal in the first half to hold off Jamaica in the battle for the Americas. The Colombians are the only remaining team outside of the top-12 in FIFA rankings, and it’s their first ever trip to the World Cup quarterfinals. They’ll have a tall task against England on Saturday. Let’s regroup now that the World Cup is down to eight remaining teams.

World Cup Highlights (Round of 16)

Colombia def. Jamaica (1-0)

France def. Morocco (4-0)

Quarterfinal Bracket & Schedule

\"🇪🇸\" Spain vs. \"🇳🇱\" Netherlands (Thurs. 9:00 pm ET)

\"🇯🇵\" Japan vs. \"🇸🇪\" Sweden (Fri. 3:30 am ET)

\"🇦🇺\" Australia vs. \"🇫🇷\" France (Sat. 3:00 am ET)
\"🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿\" England vs. \"🇨🇴\" Colombia (Sat. 6:30 am ET)

Remaining FIFA Team Rankings (23’ WC Performance)

3rd \"🇸🇪\" Sweden — 4-0-0 (+8 Goal Differential)

4th \"🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿\" England — 4-0-0 (+7 Goal Differential)

5th \"🇫🇷\" France — 3-1-0 (+8 Goal Differential)

6th \"🇪🇸\" Spain — 3-0-1 (+8 Goal Differential)

9th \"🇳🇱\" Netherlands — 3-1-0 (+10 Goal Differential)

10th \"🇦🇺\" Australia — 3-0-1 (+6 Goal Differential)

11th \"🇯🇵\" Japan — 4-0-0 (+13 Goal Differential)

25th \"🇨🇴\" Colombia — 3-0-1 (+3 Goal Differential)

Best Performance: Japan Has Outscored Opponents 14-1

Last Underdog: Colombia (25th)

Europe’s Dominance: 5 of Remaining 8 Teams From Europe

Top-10 Eliminated: 1st (USA), 2nd (Germany), 7th (Canada), 8th (Brazil)

Golden Boot Race 

\"🇯🇵\"  Hinata Miyazawa (Japan) — 5 Goals

\"🇳🇱\"  Jill Roord (Netherlands) — 4 Goals

\"🇫🇷\" Kadidiatou Diani (France) — 4 Goals

Read More

ESPN: 2023 Women’s World Cup Race for the Golden Boot

CBS Sports: France Dominate Morocco (4-0), Is It Finally Les Bleues’ Time to Win It All?



New Power Rankings: O\’ Baby!

Photo: Vaughn Ridley / Getty Images

It’s Finally Time — The Orioles Are the New No. 1 in This Week\’s Power Rankings for the 1st Time in 2023

We had to do it. It couldn\’t wait any longer. After a three-game skid for the Braves and a simultaneous four-game win streak for Baltimore, the Orioles are finally up to the top spot in baseball. The O’s have been hovering in our top-5 throughout the season, but there’s no denying this team their reward any longer. They’re young. They’re fun. And they’re balling out in the best division in the majors. Our top-6 teams remain the same with a slight shuffle at the top. The Rangers\’ win streak improved to eight games, and soon after we wrote this, the Astros hit a grand slam to beat the O\’s. The Phillies and Twins have ascended into the top-10, and the NL Central race is still crowded between the Cubs-Brewers-Reds at 11-12-13. Watch out for the Mariners as the Angels keep slipping in the AL West. We’re six weeks from Wild Card action. Here\’s how we see \’em: 

MLB Power Rankings

1. Orioles (70-43) | ↑1

2. Braves (71-40) | ↓1

3. Rangers (68-46) | ↑1

4. Rays (69-46) | ↓1

5. Dodgers (66-46) | — 

6. Astros (65-49) | —

7. Blue Jays (64-51) | ↑1

8. Giants (62-52) | ↓1

9. Phillies (61-51) | ↑1

10. Twins (60-55) | ↑6

Teams 11-20

11. Brewers (61-54) | —

12. Reds (60-56) | ↓3

13. Cubs (59-55) | ↑2

14. Mariners (61-52) | ↑5

15. Marlins (59-56) | ↓2

16. Red Sox (58-55) | ↓2

17. Diamondbacks (57-57) | ↓5

18. Yankees (59-55) | —

19. Padres (55-59) | ↑1

20. Angels (57-58) | ↓2

Teams 21-30

21. Guardians (55-59) | —

22. Pirates (51-62) | ↑2

23. Mets (51-62) | ↓1

24. Nationals (49-63) | ↑2

25. Tigers (50-63) | ↓2

26. Cardinals (49-65) | ↓1

27. White Sox (46-69) | —

28. Rockies (45-68) | —

29. Royals (37-78) | —

30. Athletics (32-82) | —

Home Run Race

1. Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 40 HRs

2. Matt Olson (ATL): 39 HRs

3. Pete Alonso (NYM): 34 HRs

4. Mookie Betts (LAD): 31 HRs

5. Luis Robert (CWS): 31 HRs

Read More

B/R: MLB Power Rankings: Have the Orioles Finally Overtaken the Braves?

FOX Sports: MLB Power Rankings: Cubs Still Scorching, Rangers Too



NFL Training Camp Clipboard




Astros Beat O’s (7-6) on Kyle Tucker 9th-Inning Grand Slam

Stellar Max Scherzer Pushes Rangers’ Win Streak to 8

Julio Rodriguez Robs Fernando Tatis Jr. HR, Then Shows Off

Kyle Schwarber Slugs 2 HRs, 5 RBIs in Phillies’ Win


Lynx Snap Sky’s 3-Game Win Streak (88-79)

DeWanna Bonner’s Big Game Earns 3rd Straight for Sun (81-69)

A’ja Wilson’s Birthday Double-Double Helps Aces Trounce Wings (104-84)



CFB Preseason Coaches Poll

The preseason USA TODAY Sports college football coaches poll is out. Here’s a deeper look at the teams that will start in the Top 25 and their outlook for the season. (USA Today)

Damian Lillard Trade Thoughts

Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo would relish the chance to team up with Damian Lillard, but trade talks have stalled. What’s next in the Lillard saga? (B/R)

Get Ready for the LLWS

The 2023 Little League World Series is here — and it\’s as jam-packed and exciting as last year\’s tournament. The Regionals are underway, but the big show starts Aug. 16. (ESPN)





The Must-Watch List


Marlins at Reds (12:35 pm ET)

Astros at Orioles (7:05 pm ET)

Padres at Mariners (9:40 pm ET)

Full MLB Schedule

Download The Sportsletter\’s Must-Watch Calendar



The Second Shot

Photo: Al Bello / Getty Images

How Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford Overcame Bullets, Bullies & Boxers to Reach 40-0

You might think you know Terence Crawford. Unless you’re one of the few boxing aficionados who follows the sport religiously, you might only be aware of his impeccable record (40-0), his lengthy career (15 years), or his welterweight belt collection (all of them). But you don’t really know Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford. Heck, I’ll admit I didn’t really either. Until I was tasked with researching and writing this story, and I’m glad I did.

In our sports underdog features, the athletes overcome setbacks, losses, traumatic or unfortunate events, and rise into the spotlight, sometimes for a brief moment. In rare occasions, they reach sports immortality. And while I believe the underdog spirit lives in all of us, Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford is the underdog, evolved. He’s Underdog+ — the premium version. And after last week’s 9th-round TKO against Errol Spence Jr. for the unification welterweight crown, he\’s due for the spotlight. If you don’t know Crawford, get ready.

The Early Life of ‘Bud’ Crawford

A tumultuous childhood in Omaha, Nebraska gave ‘Bud’ Crawford the nickname, resiliency and determination for one of boxing’s great origin stories. The nickname ‘Bud’ stemmed from the midwest rural moniker frequently given to a child — bud, buddy, etc. It stuck. But Crawford’s picturesque midwest family story stops there. His father was absent most of his life, and a chaotic relationship with his mother, Deborah, was often difficult and unwelcoming. Crawford was a fighter from the age of 7, getting in dust-ups at school and mingling with the wrong crowd.

He began boxing as a teenager and put his violent energy into something more constructive and organized. He lost more than a dozen fights as an amateur. But in 2008, Crawford turned pro, and an eye-opening moment changed his trajectory.

The Shot That Changed Everything

At 20 years old, Crawford reached a fork in the road. His career path would either lead him into professional boxing and a life away from Omaha, or he’d find himself stuck in a cycle. Or worse; dead. A matter of millimeters would decide the difference.

In September, 2008, Crawford was 4-0 as a budding pro and beginning to gain attention. In just a few short weeks, he would fight in the 140-pound division on ESPN. But instead of training, Crawford was shooting dice under a street light in Omaha, and winning, in the early hours of the morning. Once he was up big, he took his cash and called it a night.

Sitting in the driver’s seat of his 1986 Cutlass, he began to count his winnings when a stray bullet went through the rear window and into Crawford’s head, just above his neck and below his right ear. Had the bullet landed a fraction of an inch closer to his brain, the shot could’ve been fatal. The gun was fired by a man at that same dice game on the street, aimed at another individual. Crawford was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A few hours later, he laid in a hospital bed with his neck stitched up. His trainer, Bob McIntyre, was at his side. Contemplating life shifted his mindset, and there was no going back to the old cycle of immature decisions that could’ve ended his life.

\”When I got shot, it changed my life tremendously, and put me on the right path… And that\’s when everything started happening there for me with boxing and my family and just everything. My life just took a big turn and started going uphill.” (CNN Interview)

Shortly after, his son was born, and the legend of Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford — the father, professional, and business man — had a storybook opening. On November 8, less than two months later, he was back in the ring for his fifth pro fight. Another knockout (5-0).

40 Fights of Glory

After 15 years, 34 more fights, and an unblemished record (39-0), the 35-year-old went toe-to-toe last week with Errol Spence Jr. and cashed in a 9th-round KO. Crawford owned Spence Jr. all night before the referee mercy-ruled the 9th round. Now, he\’s 40-0 with 31 KOs. The prize? The unification that makes him the undisputed welterweight champion in all four categories (WBO, WBC, IBF & WBA). And 40-0… That’s special. Real special.

In the history of boxing, less than a dozen fighters have started a career with an unblemished 40-0 mark. Usually, the bludgeoning of 40 fights would end your career somewhere along the way. Only few true legends have fought much beyond 40 bouts. Those iconic names are synonymous with monuments, movies, and statues across the world. Here are a few in the pantheon of boxing\’s modern era, and the list could soon include Terence Crawford:

  • Muhammad Ali (56-5-0, 37 KOs)
  • Sugar Ray Robinson (175-19-6, 106 KOs)
  • Joe Louis (68-3-0, 54 KOs)
  • Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs)
  • Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs)
  • George Foreman (76-5-0, 68 KOs)
  • Evander Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs)
  • Lennox Lewis (41-2-1, 32 KOs)
  • Rocky Marciano (49-0-0, 43 KOs)
  • Joe Frazier (32-4-1)
  • Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs)
  • Roberto Duran (103-16, 70 KOs)

And now, Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) flirts with boxing immortality. Some obstacles in life make us fight harder, but harder isn\’t always the answer. In this case, a second shot at life pushed Crawford to fight for better. Better for himself, his family, his son… right into boxing\’s short list of the everlasting.

Fight on, Bud.