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Sports round-up

Boxing: The long-rumoured bout between undefeated American boxing champion Floyd Mayweather (picture) and mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor is halfway to becoming a reality after the Irish signed a deal for the fight. UFC President Dana White broke the news during a television interview for TNT following the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals matchup. “The McGregor side is done, I’m starting to work on the Mayweather side now,” White said. “I’ve got one side done. If we can come to a deal (with Mayweather) the fight will happen.”

Cycling: Colombian Fernando Gaviria claimed a hat-trick of victories in this year’s Giro d’Italia when he won the 229-km 12th stage yesterday. The Quick Step-Floors rider, back on his favourite terrain after a day in the mountains on Wednesday, outsprinted Italian Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestine) and Ireland’s Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) after a perfect leadout from his team-mates. Gaviria, who increased his lead in the points classification, also won the third and fifth stages. Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) retained the overall leader’s pink jersey.

Horse Racing: Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming drew the fourth post for Saturday’s 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore where he will seek the second jewel of US thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt, undefeated in four starts this year as a three-year-old, was rated an odds-on 4-5  favourite after the draw for the 10-horse field in the 1-3/16 mile race at Pimlico.

Rugby Union: Changes to the qualification process have been announced for the European Champions Cup competition. Tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby said that the top seven-ranked Guinness PRO12 clubs this time next year will qualify for the 2018-19 tournament. Those qualifiers will be regardless of country of origin, replacing the current format which requires that at least one club from each of Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales is included in the seven qualifiers. Based on this season’s finishing places, Italy would not have a team in the competition.

Basketball, NBA: The Cleveland Cavaliers continued their 100 per cent record in this season’s NBA play-offs with a series-opening win over the Boston Celtics. The Cavs have been inactive for the best part of a fortnight as they waited for the Celtics to finish their Eastern Conference semi-final with the Washington Wizards but they showed no signs of rustiness in a 117-104 success. LeBron James top scored with 38 points, with Kevin Love contributing 32 as their title defence is looking ominously strong.

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