Tag Archives: arena

Real Madrid 3 Galatasaray 0: match report – Cristiano Ronaldo scores

Real Madrid 3 Galatasaray 0: Classy Ronaldo and Co on course for semi-finals

PUBLISHED:

20:35 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 3 April 2013

Real Madrid took a huge step towards reaching the last four of the Champions League by strolling to a comfortable victory over Galatasaray at the Bernabeu.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring early in the first half before Karim Benzema doubled the hosts' lead.

Substitute Gonzalo Higuain's second-half header put the result beyond doubt, and made Madrid's task in the second leg at the Turk Telecom Arena next Tuesday look far easier.

Up and over: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu

Up and over: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu

Up and over: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu

MATCH FACTS

Real Madrid: Diego Lopez, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao, Khedira, Ronaldo, Ozil (Modric – 80), Alonso, Essien, Di Maria (Pepe 86), Benzema (Higuain 65)

Subs not used: Adan, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Kaka

Booked: Essien, Modric, Ramos

Goals: Ronaldo 9, Benzema 29, Higuain 73

Galatasaray: Muslera, Dany Nounkeu, Kaya, Eboue, Altintop (Bulut 78), Inan, Felipe Melo, Riera (Amrabat 83), Sneijder (Zan 46), Yilmaz, Drogba

Subs not used: Iscan, Balta, Sarioglu, Kurtulus

Booked: Dany Nounkeu, Felipe Melo, Yilmaz, Drogba

Referee: Oddvar Moen

Attendance: 80,000

Galatasaray's coach and players had
insisted before the game that they would try to attack the Primera
Division champions and would not settle for holding out for a draw. They
were loyal to their promise in the first half, but it left them very
exposed at the back.

Madrid, who have the reputation for
being one of the best counter-attacking teams in Europe, were given a
generous amount of space by their opponents and made full use of it.

They had their first attempt on two
minutes, Benzema heading just over the bar after a cross from Angel Di
Maria, and they took the lead after just nine minutes.

Xabi Alonso supplied the ball up to
Mesut Ozil from his own half and the German played a one-two with
Benzema, which allowed him space to deliver an excellent low pass into
the path of Ronaldo, who calmly chipped the ball over goalkeeper
Fernando Muslera and into the net.

Gala played pretty football but
struggled to penetrate the Madrid backline and were limited to shots
from outside the area. Didier Drogba turned Raphael Varane on the
18-yard line and shot just over the bar, while Wesley Sneijder also
missed the target from 20 yards.

In the goals: Karim Benzema got the second for the hosts

In the goals: Karim Benzema got the second for the hosts

Sea of red: Galatasaray fans lit a flare to celebrate the occasion

Sea of red: Galatasaray fans lit a flare to celebrate the occasion

Ozil could have doubled the lead when
a long Sergio Ramos header out of defence led to Madrid attacking, but
the midfielder, receiving the ball from Ronaldo, could not put his shot
past Muslera.

Madrid's second goal arrived just
before the half-hour mark. Michael Essien, a surprise inclusion in the
starting line-up at the expense of Alvaro Arbeloa, delivered a high ball
into the box which fell at the feet of Benzema, who was in space, took
one touch to control the pass and slotted home from six yards.

Galatasaray's best chance of the half
fell to Emmanuel Eboue just before the interval. The former Arsenal
player burst through on goal but hit his shot straight at Diego Lopez's
legs.

Sneijder, unimpressive in the first
45 minutes against his former club, was removed at half-time and
replaced by defender Gokhan Zan – a move which saw Fatih Terim's side
switch to a back three, with Eboue pushing up to right midfield.

Struggle: Didier Drogba led the line for the visitors

Struggle: Didier Drogba led the line for the visitors

Three and easy: Gonzalo Higuain scored the third with a glancing header

Three and easy: Gonzalo Higuain scored the third with a glancing header

Three and easy: Gonzalo Higuain scored the third with a glancing header

The tactical change did not help the
visitors' attacking ambitions, and they went on to pose even less of a
threat after the break as they had before it.

Madrid also dropped their intensity
in the second period. Ronaldo and Di Maria both had chances to test
Muslera, the better of which fell to the Argentinian, but the goalkeeper
had little trouble with either effort.

Higuain came on for Benzema on 65
minutes and seven minutes later made the triumph secure when he headed
in a free-kick from Xabi Alonso.

Rough and tumble: Sergio Ramos (left) drags Didier Drogba to the floor in the second half

Rough and tumble: Sergio Ramos (left) drags Didier Drogba to the floor in the second half

Rough and tumble: Sergio Ramos (left) drags Didier Drogba to the floor in the second half

Jose Mourinho's side rode out the
final minutes of the game with little trouble. Alonso and Ramos both
picked up yellow cards which mean they will miss the second leg.

Achieving victory was much lighter
work for Madrid than their two hard-fought games with Manchester United
in the previous round but, barring a complete collapse in Istanbul, they
can be confident of reaching their third consecutive Champions League
semi-final under Mourinho.

Putting out fires: Sami Khedira (right) and Ramos tackle Burak Yilmaz

Putting out fires: Sami Khedira (right) and Ramos tackle Burak Yilmaz

Over you go: Ronaldo hits the deck after Semih Kaya (centre) backs into the Portugal forward

Over you go: Ronaldo hits the deck after Semih Kaya (centre) backs into the Portugal forward

Australian Open: Andy Murray hails Novak Djokovic"s incredible record

Murray hails Djokovic's 'incredible' Australian Open record after four-set defeat

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

13:08 GMT, 27 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:08 GMT, 27 January 2013

Andy Murray paid tribute to Novak Djokovic after losing in the Australian Open final on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

The Serb was too hot to handle for Murray in the third and fourth sets as he ran out 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2 in Melbourne.

Djokovic sealed his fourth Australian Open title and Murray praised the champion's 'incredible' record Down Under in the post-match presentation.

Beaten: Andy Murray had no answer to Novak Djokovic's onslaught in the third and fourth sets

Beaten: Andy Murray had no answer to Novak Djokovic's onslaught in the third and fourth sets

'I would like to congratulate Novak – his record here is incredible,' said Murray.

'Very few people have managed to do what
he has done here. He is a very well-deserved champion.

'To his team… I know you can't do this on your own and he has great people around him.

'I'd like to thank my team – they've done a great job with me.'

Force: Djokovic was too good in the end for Murray as the Brit was forced to settle for the runners-up trophy

Force: Djokovic was too good in the end for Murray as the Brit was forced to settle for the runners-up trophy

Force: Djokovic was too good in the end for Murray as the Brit was forced to settle for the runners-up trophy

Djokovic, who lost the US Open final to Murray, responded: 'I have to thank Andy for his kind words.

'We have played so many thrilling
matches over the last few years. Bad luck tonight and I wish you luck
for the rest of the season.

'What a joy. It's an incredible
feeling winning this trophy again. It's definitely my favourite grand
slam, my most successful grand slam. I love this court.'

Champion: Djokovic claimed his fourth Australian Open title with the four-set win

Champion: Djokovic claimed his fourth Australian Open title with the four-set win

Champion: Djokovic claimed his fourth Australian Open title with the four-set win

Missed chances: Murray won the first set but failed to take three break points early in the second

Missed chances: Murray won the first set but failed to take three break points early in the second

Fighter: Djokovic was on the ropes in the opening part of the match but he eventually wore Murray down

Fighter: Djokovic was on the ropes in the opening part of the match but he eventually wore Murray down

Hampered Murray had treatment for blisters

Hampered Murray had treatment for blisters

Edge: Djokovic has won his last three matches against Murray since the US Open final

Edge: Djokovic has won his last three matches against Murray since the US Open final

Edge: Djokovic has won his last three matches against Murray since the US Open final


Repeat: It was the second time Djokovic played Murray in the Australian Open final after the Serb won in straight sets in 2011

Repeat: It was the second time Djokovic played Murray in the Australian Open final after the Serb won in straight sets in 2011

Winner: Djokovic also beat Murray in the semi finals last year

Winner: Djokovic also beat Murray in the semi finals last year


Too good: A Murray fan looks glum as the Scot couldn't live with Djokovic

Too good: A Murray fan looks glum as the Scot couldn't live with Djokovic

Mo Farah will run at the Birmingham indoor Grand Prix in February

Farah to run indoor 3,000m in Birmingham to thank British fans who flocked to see Olympics

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

20:10 GMT, 17 January 2013

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UPDATED:

20:10 GMT, 17 January 2013

Mo Farah will run the 3,000 metres at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham on February 16, his only indoor race in 2013.

The Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion finished fourth in the 3,000m at the World Indoor Championships last March and has twice won European indoor championship gold over the distance.

‘I always love running in Birmingham and have fond memories of celebrating my Olympic success with the British fans at Alexander Stadium last August,’ Farah said.

Mo Farah is now one of Britain's all-time leading long-distance runners

Class act: Mo Farah is now one of Britain's all-time leading long-distance runners

‘I always run well at the National Indoor Arena. I won this meet in 2007, 2009 and 2011 and that’s what I’ll be aiming to do for next month.’

Looking ahead to the defence of his world outdoor 5,000m title in Moscow August, Farah believes that competing in Birmingham is an important part of his preparations.

‘The big focus this year is the world championships. I’ve had a good winter training block and the British Athletics Grand Prix will be the first time that I compete this year, so I’m looking forward to getting back on the track in front of a home crowd.’

Farah has not forgotten all his British fans

World famous: Farah has not forgotten all his British fans

Amir Khan v Carlos Molina: Fans invited to exchange toys for tickets

Amir's toy story! Fans asked to exchange gifts in return for tickets to Khan fight in LA

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UPDATED:

13:22 GMT, 11 December 2012

Fight fans have been offered free tickets to watch Amir Khan's return the ring in Los Angeles this Saturday… in exchange for an unwrapped toy.

Ticket sales have reportedly been slow for the former world light-welterweight champion's comeback clash against Carlos Molina.

But Khan's American Golden Boy promoters want to make a full house at the 17,000 LA Memorial Sports Arena this weekend and have engineered a scheme that will see fans handed tickets – worth as much as 100 – to the the fight in exchange for a unopened toy priced as little as 15.

Golden Boy chief Oscar De La Hoya has come up with the giveaway idea to give to deprived families in time for Christmas.

Amir Khan makes his return to the ring in Los Angeles this weekend

You've got a friend in me: Fight fans are being encouraged to trade toys – like the ones from the film Toy Story (below) – for tickets to Khan's fight against Molina

You've got a friend in me: Fight fans are being encouraged to trade toys - like the ones from the film Toy Story - for tickets to Amir Khan's fight against Carlos Molina

'I am looking forward to distributing the toys to those families who need them most,' said De La Hoya, speaking to The Sun.

Khan, meanwhile, has vowed to reinvent himself as 'a totally different fighter' when he aims to bounce back from two successive defeats.

A year ago the Bolton fighter controversially lost his WBA title to Lamont Peterson, only to be subsequently reinstated when it emerged the American had been using synthetic testosterone.

However, he lost his next fight too when Danny Garcia knocked him silly in a fourth-round stoppage win in Las Vegas in July.

The Garcia defeat brought about much soul-searching before the Englishman made the tough decision to leave renowned trainer Freddie Roach and join forces with another Californian, Virgil Hunter.

Khan's questionable punch resistance and over-zealous attacking instincts point towards the need for a change in approach and the fighter himself admits there has been plenty to work on under Hunter, who boasts a stellar reputation having guided Andre Ward to pound-for-pound recognition.

'Training with Virgil's been going really well,' the 26-year-old said ahead of his scrap with undefeated Californian Molina.

Return: Khan is looking to bounce back following his defeat by Danny Garcia in July

Return: Khan is looking to bounce back following his defeat by Danny Garcia in July

'The gym is quiet, it's chilled, you can think about what you're doing.

'For example when I'm sitting in the gym, or warming up, I can think things through about what I want to do in the session or the sparring. I can think things through, whereas previous gyms I've trained at have been very busy with lots of people there.

'Sometimes it's a distraction because you can't really focus on what you need to focus on.

'Virgil is a great trainer. He breaks everything down and every day he reminds me what I need to do, what I need to work on and what mistakes I make which need improving on.'

Khan was in control against Garcia before leaving himself exposed and being taken apart by the Philadelphian's power shots. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist insists he will use that experience, combined with Hunter's input, to right those wrongs.

Change of plans: Khan (R) has prepared for his upcoming fight against Molina with new trainer, Virgil Hunter

Change of plans: Khan (R) has prepared for his upcoming fight against Molina with new trainer, Virgil Hunter

'We've sat down and watched the Garcia fight together and we've been working on some new stuff from that, including being more patient and waiting for the right shots at the right time and not over-committing myself,' he said.

'When I watch the Garcia fight, I can see that I'm like a totally different fighter. Virgil said to me when we watched it again “now you tell me what you're doing wrong in the fight and what you'd do differently now” and so I told him.

'It shows that the sparring I've been doing and the training I'm getting is helping me. I'm a better fighter by far because I would not fight Garcia the way I did. I've changed my fighting style a lot and proves I'm doing something right.

'We're ready for this guy.'

50 Cent"s rapping is small price to pay if he brings bling to the fight game – Jeff Powell Boxing Column

50 Cent's rapping is small price to pay if he brings bling to the fight game (just pass me the earplugs please!)

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UPDATED:

00:21 GMT, 11 December 2012

The future is loud. The future is garish. The future is bling.

So says the rapper who calls himself 50 Cent and is now investing considerably more than that in boxing.

Mr Half Dollar is offering to give the hard game of blood, sweat, pain, courage and not a few tears a glamorous makeover which he believes will attract a new generation of fans.

Is it a bird Is it a plane No it's 50 Cent! The rapper is lowered to the ring before the fight

Is it a bird Is it a plane No it's 50 Cent! The rapper in the ring before the fight

Is it a bird Is it a plane No it's 50 Cent! The rap superstar in the ring before the fight on Saturday

This involves theatrical ring entrances like the one he made prior to his fighter Yuriorkis Gamboa’s arrival on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard here in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Rapping away, 50 Cent was lowered on pulleys from the ceiling of the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

He was accompanied by pounding music, blinding light shows and strings of celebrities being paraded through the arenas to their ringside seats, defeated US presidential candidate Mitt Romney among them.

Gnarled old boxing followers are no longer enough, it seems. Not even when they bring their scantily clad molls with them to sex up the evening’s sport.

It is on condition that he can wrap boxing promotions in the trappings of rock concerts and movie premieres that 50 Cent is gambling some of his hard-rapped millions on the fight business.

Acrimonious ending: 50 Cent was originally involved in a deal with Floyd Mayweather jnr

Acrimonious ending: 50 Cent was originally involved in a deal with Floyd Mayweather jnr

The American boxing establishment are letting him come along for the ride, to see whether he can claw back some of the audience which is gravitating to the UFC.

That summit of mixed martial arts already packages its events in a similar youth culture.

While piggy-backing on Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s 81st birthday show at the MGM Grand, 50 Cent turned boxing’s attention to people a fifth of that age: ‘The audience demographic for boxing is 30 and up. The UFC’s key support is aged between 15 and 34. To tap into that future we need spectacular promotions.’

More from Jeff Powell…

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Jeff Powell: Hatton can take the Tyson track and head for a better future after comeback
26/11/12

Jeff Powell: Over to you, Ricky… Froch hands over British baton to returning hero Hatton
19/11/12

Jeff Powell: Cannon fodder will help Brits catch the big fish in the end
12/11/12

Jeff Powell: Fury on the campaign trail for a world title if Klitschko's political move disappoints Haye
05/11/12

Jeff Powell: Steward is gone but Hearns will fight for The Kronk to live on
29/10/12

Jeff Powell boxing column: So long, Ricky Fatton! Returning Hitman vows to quit boozing between bouts
22/10/12

Jeff Powell: Retired and broke, Holyfield still has hope… but it's help he really needs
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To emphasise his commitment, he added: ‘I’ve always loved going to the fights but now that I’m involved its going to be expensive for me and I’m determined to make it work by expanding the fan base.’

When first granted a license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission 50 Cent went into a partnership with the Money Man himself, Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

That ended in acrimony almost as soon
as it started and he has crossed the Rubicon of the ring to join forces
with Manny Pacquiao’s advisors with an eye to future deals with younger
boxers.

Arum invited him to participate on Saturday, saying; ‘I’m always open to new ideas from young people so let’s see if it’s time to freshen up the way we do things and open up a new market.’

The timing was peculiar, since Arum has just realised the biggest-money live gate ever for boxing in Vegas – $10.5million from a 16,000-plus sell-out – a figure which is providing Pacquiao with a minimum purse of $26m and Juan Manuel Marquez with $6m to take home to Mexico.

Not only that but with Pacquiao
pledged to fight on despite his shock one-punch KO, Arum not only
envisages an equally profitable fifth fight against the body-building
Marquez but still anticipates his PacMan meeting Mayweather in a $200m
bonanza.

It is tempting to offer a reminder of one of the oldest maxims in big business: ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’

But traditional prize-fighting in the US has become somewhat paranoid about the UFC with all its razzmatazz, even though the highest ratings for pay-per-view TV audience here have all been set by boxing.

Despite its fan profile, mixed
martial arts has not competed yet with the pulling power down recent
years of Tyson, Holyfield, Lewis, De La Hoya, Mayweather and Pacquiao.

New alliance: The rapper has now joined forces with Manny Pacquiao (left) over future promotions

New alliance: The rapper has now joined forces with Manny Pacquiao (left) over future promotions

Nor, when it comes to big nights like Saturday, does boxing have any problem pulling in the Hollywood set.

It is the smaller shows which struggle to make financial ends meet but those promotions do not appear to be on the radar of 50 Cent and his associates.

And in all honesty not even the most high-profile of celebrity promoters would be able to persuade the likes of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and the Twilight stars to turn up at non-title fights in small halls.

So the experiment with the sound-bite generation will have to be conducted in the glare of major events, which are already heavily hyped in showbusiness style.

Still, if 50 Cent can give the game a boost then the wearing of ear-plugs by the rest of us will be a small price to pay.

Big year ahead: Amir Khan is still just one convincing win away from title contention despite recent defeats

Big year ahead: Amir Khan is still just one big win away from title contention despite recent defeats

Khan must stay part of Brit pack for big year

Amir Khan sets about reviving his career in Los Angeles on Saturday but if he needs any further incentive to secure an impressive victory over the undefeated Carlos Molina it comes with all the announcements of big world title battles and final eliminators for his fellow British boxers early next year.

Kell Brook, Khan’s verbal adversary, gets his big chance against world welterweight champion Devon Alexander in Los Angeles in January.

Martin Murray travels to Buenos Aires in April to challenge middleweight king Sergio Martinez, a daunting prospect made even tougher in the Argentine’s home city but a thrilling one for all that.

Ricky Burns is being lined up to defend his world lightweight title against the fast-rising Adrien Broner in the US in February.

Nathan Cleverly has been pencilled in for the retirement fight of Bernard Hopkins, which will be a star-studded mega-night in New York in March.

A week later in the same city, Tyson Fury is being lined up for a final eliminator for a world heavyweight title shot – either against Vitali Klitschko or for the vacant championship if the elder of the big brothers of the game decides to retire into Ukrainian politics full-time.

Khan will not want to be left out and he knows that even after two defeats, a convincing win over Molina will propel him back into world title contention in 2013, which promises to be the year of living dangerously for British boxing… but excitingly.

Price is still right for Fury

Frank Maloney has called for a truce in the war of words with Mick Hennessy as these rival promoters steer David Price and Tyson Fury, respectively, towards world heavyweight title challenges.

Maloney admits the exchange of insults is unproductive. So while he is still asking Fury to meet Price, he accepts that the travelling man is likely to find a shot at a Klitschko preferable early next year.

If Hennessy can confirm the obvious about Fury’s priority they can go their separate ways for the moment without further rancour… while keeping alive the prospect of a huge British fight between the pair a year or so hence.

Come on gentlemen, you know it makes sense.

LA Galaxy Frank Lampard move in doubt as club target Kaka

EXCLUSIVE: Lampard move to LA Galaxy on the rocks as US glamour club target Kaka

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UPDATED:

23:03 GMT, 30 November 2012

Frank Lampard’s hopes of following David Beckham to the MLS could be dashed after it emerged LA Galaxy want to sign the Brazilian Kaka from Real Madrid.

Beckham plays his final game for Galaxy tomorrow when his team take on Houston in the MLS Cup Final here in Los Angeles.

The Galaxy have been exploring ways of bringing Chelsea midfielder Lampard to the club to fill the slot vacated by Beckham and revealed today that they have had talks with the 35-year-old, who is out of contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

Limbo: Lampard has fallen out of favour at Chelsea this season

Limbo: Lampard has fallen out of favour at Chelsea this season

But today the man who persuaded Beckham to come to the States at the young age of 31 six years ago suggested that his preference was Kaka largely because he would give the club a profile among the Hispanic community in Los Angeles.

American dream: Kaka wants to play in the United States

American dream: Kaka wants to play in the United States

Tim Leiweke – the President of AEG, the company that owns the Galaxy, – told the Sports Illustrated website: 'I’m very proud of the fact we have a lot of people that are interested in the Galaxy.

'I’m a huge Frank Lampard fan, and I personally have great respect for him.

'Ive gotten to spend some time with him, and he’s an unbelievably good guy. But is he the right fit for our team now for what we need

'Coach Bruce Arena and I happen to be on the same page about where we need to go next.

'This next person has to be able to not only fit what Bruce needs on the pitch, but more importantly, we’re an ever-changing demographic in this marketplace, and we have to pay attention to that.

'It’s critical that we do the one thing we have never been able to do yet with the Galaxy, although we’ve tried. There is a Hispanic Latino population base we have to go conquer, and we haven’t.

'We’re well aware of Kak’s interest in MLS, and we in turn have made it very clear to him that he’s aware of our interest in him.

'We have a great relationship with Real Madrid, and just as we worked through a player with them six years ago [Beckham], I’m absolutely convinced we could find the right deal this time, too.'

Andrew Flintoff weighs in for heavyweight boxing debut with Richard Dawson

EXCLUSIVE: Hatton's trainer to be in opposite corner as Flintoff weighs in for heavyweight boxing debut against Dawson

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 29 November 2012

Richard Dawson will have Ricky Hatton's trainer in his corner tomorrow night when he fights former England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff.

Bob Shannon stepped in at the last minute after the American's trainer was unable to obtain a visa to travel from Oklahoma for the bout at the Manchester Arena.

Flintoff, who has lost three-and-a-half stone for the bout, weighed in today at 216lb, considerably lighter than the slightly shorter Dawson who tipped the scales at 241lb.

Squaring up: Andrew Flintoff weighs in at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester ahead of his heavyweight debut against Richard Dawson

Squaring up: Andrew Flintoff weighs in at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester ahead of his heavyweight debut against Richard Dawson

Patriotic: Flintoff sported a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts as he stripped off and jumped on the scales

Patriotic: Flintoff sported a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts as he stripped off and jumped on the scales

Relaxed: Flintoff looked assured as he prepares to step into the ring for the first time at the MEN Arena on Friday night

Relaxed: Flintoff looked assured as he prepares to step into the ring for the first time at the MEN Arena on Friday night

Passing on a few tips: Still sporting a black eye from his defeat to Vyacheslav Senchencko last weekend, Ricky Hatton shows Flintoff some techniques at the weigh-in

Passing on a few tips: Still sporting a black eye from his defeat to Vyacheslav Senchencko last weekend, Ricky Hatton shows Flintoff some techniques at the weigh-in

Ricky Hatton passes on some advice to Andrew Flintoff

The 23-year-old American was
hand-picked by Flintoff's mentor Barry McGuigan and brings with him an
unbeaten record after three professional fights.

But Flintoff, 34, believes his gruelling training regime will give him the advantage in front of an expected crowd of 5,000.

'I've been working with Shane and
Barry and they've got me in unbelievable shape,' he said. 'It's a
different type of training to when I was playing cricket. I've done the
rounds in sparring and I'm looking forward to tomorrow night.

Andrew Flintoff during the weigh in for his Heavyweight bout with Richard Dawson

Richard Dawson during the weigh in at The Hilton Hotel, Manchester

Size difference: Flintoff tipped the scales at 216lbs, considerably lighter than Dawson at 241lbs

Mutual respect: An embrace and a handshake between the two antagonists after the weigh-in

Mutual respect: An embrace and a handshake between the two antagonists after the weigh-in

'The last four-and-a-half-months have been the hard work and I want to go out and enjoy it.

'It was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. I played cricket until I was 31 and wasn't ready to sit back and do nothing.

'It's had its moments, especially in
some of the training and sparring sessions, but I've never thought about
packing it in. I've asked myself why I'm doing it but the hardest
things you do are the most rewarding.'

Uncompromising: Dawson has pledged to turn the former England cricket captain's debut into a nightmare

Uncompromising: Dawson has pledged to turn the former England cricket captain's debut into a nightmare

Flintoff, who was not dropped during
his 300 rounds of sparring, insists he has not thought about whether his
new career will extend beyond his maiden bout.

'First and foremost my focus is on
tomorrow night and after that we'll decide where it's going. It would be
dangerous to look past tomorrow night.

'Richard has come over and my
attention is on that. It was the same with cricket in the last part of
my career, I didn't look too far ahead.'

Dawson, meanwhile, has promised to knock Flintoff out and enjoy an early night on first visit to these shores.

'I'm here to win and and Mr Freddie is here to win,' he said. 'I respect Freddie but I'm going to attack him.

'I put pressure on; pressure wins fights and I'm here to win and get it over with.'

Ricky Hatton fans receive apology from Primetime over blackout

Hatton shines on as Primetime apologises to hundreds of boxing fans after TV blackout

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 28 November 2012

Eye eye: Ricky Hatton still looks a bit bruised

Eye eye: Ricky Hatton still looks a bit bruised

Ricky Haton was still showing the war wounds from his comeback at the weekend as Primetime apologised to hundreds of fight fans who missed the action due to 'technical issues.'

Hatton had his retrun to the ring cut short in the penultimate round by Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko in one of the most eagerly awaited fights of the year.

Thousands turned up at the Manchester Arena to cheer on their local hero but many opting to watch the bout on the box were left disappointed.

People were unable to order the fight from the TV channel between the peak times of 7.10pm and 9.50pm and were cut off after trying to get though to the automated system.

Others were faced with a blank screen despite paying 14.95 to watch the fight.

Primetime has denied being understaffed on the night has promised to deal with every individual complaint.

Adam Taylor, Head of Sales and Customer Services for Portland TV, which owns Primetime, told the BBC: 'This fight was retailed on the largest number of outlets we've ever used so it was only Sky customers who may have had problems.

No more: Haton is hanging up his gloves for good this time

No more: Haton is hanging up his gloves for good this time

'At the moment we've experienced 700 complaints which we are working to resolve. Customers who we didn't send a signal to would not have been charged.

'We had our largest ever customer operations service on for this event and we will be hoping to get all complaints resolved by the end of this week.'

The channel also had problems during a 2009 broadcast of Carl Froch v Andre Dirrell.

The Hitman, back at his gym in Hyde on Wednesday afternoon, announced his retirement shortly after the fight and will now focus on his responsibilities as trainer and promoter as he guides the careers of the likes of Martin Murray and Scott Quigg.

Saturday was 34-year-old Hatton's first fight since he was brutally knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in 2009.

Ricky Hatton retires from boxing

I've not got it anymore… fairytale comeback ends in failure for battered Hatton

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UPDATED:

20:35 GMT, 25 November 2012

Ricky Hatton faced the final curtain with all the honesty and courage which not only hallmarked his uproarious career but also galvanised the most populous army of followers ever to muster behind a prizefighter.

The Hitman stepped into a small room in the concrete depths of the Manchester Arena, looked us in the eye through his own swollen visage and said: ‘It’s not there any more.’ That short sentence put an end to one of the briefest comebacks in the annals of the ring.

After just eight rounds, two minutes and 52 seconds of his return from more than three years in hell and rehab, Hatton called it quits for the second and last time.

Scroll down to watch Ricky Hatton's press conference (courtesy of iFilm London)

End of the road: Ricky Hatton in his dressing room after the fight with his girlfriend Jennifer Dooley

End of the road: Ricky Hatton in his dressing room after the fight with his girlfriend Jennifer Dooley

PAY-PER-VIEW CHAOS

Paying punters were frustrated when broadcaster Primetime had technical difficulties during Ricky Hatton’s fight on Saturday night.

The pay-per-view bout was priced at 14.95 but furious fans took to Twitter to complain, with some struggling to order the fight through phone lines or the Primetime website and many experiencing signal cut-outs.

The announcement came the other side of midnight. Win or lose, he had promised to wake up on Sunday morning, look at his face in his bathroom mirror and come to a decision about his life.

He brought the moment forward after seeing his reflection in the dressing room. It was not a pretty sight. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most truthful of them all The Hitman supplied his own answer: ‘This is the end of Ricky Hatton, fighter.’ Tears had flown inside the ropes and at his girlfriend’s ringside seat as Vyacheslav Senchenko destroyed him with a blow to the body from which it was impossible to rise.

Hatton was mortified. Jennifer was horrified. It was over and thank heaven for that, even though he expects to cry again at times in the coming days.

There will be knowing winks and nudges from those who ridiculed this 34-year-old, hard-living man’s attempt to reinvent his youth. Yet this was something Hatton had to put himself through, a brutal rite of passage which leads him from depression to a sane life.

Painful defeat: Hatton was floored by a brutal body blow in the ninth

Painful defeat: Hatton was floored by a brutal body blow in the ninth

The end of the road: Ricky Hatton has called time on his boxing career

He said: ‘I needed to put a few demons to
rest and a few ghosts to sleep. I had to find out if I still had it in
me to win world titles.’

That was why — against a Ukrainian who
is a past world champion and has lost only once — Hatton took on a
tougher opponent than he needed to restart his turbulent journey.

Miraculously, after all the wild
living and physical degeneration, he almost pulled it off. Almost
answered the impassioned pleas from a hardcore 20,000 of his believers
to clamber up and stagger on to the points victory which was almost
within his grasp.

He talked us through the countdown to
retirement as he heard it while writhing on the floor: ‘I could hear the
ref saying six… seven… eight. But I could also hear the crowd
singing, “There’s Only One Ricky Hatton” and shouting, “Come on, Hitman —
get up”. Hell I tried, but it wasn’t in this body to do it.’

On the attack: Hatton reels from a powerful right jab from Senchenko

On the attack: Hatton reels from a powerful right jab from Senchenko

That would be the body which used to balloon to 15 stones between fights and which he continued to ravage with booze, binge eating and drugs following the crushing defeat by Manny Pacquiao which knocked him out of the hurt business the first time.

It was a desire to redeem those ills which led Hatton to Saturday’s epiphany. To that extent it was worth the pain. He said: ‘I can go happily now. In fact, I have to. If I don’t draw a line in the sand after this I never will. Someone would have to put a gun to my head.

‘I believe I would have called it a
day even if I had scraped out the win after leading in the fight. But
this way there can be no persuading myself in a few weeks’ time that I
did well after the long lay-off, no excuses to be found under the sofa.
I’m not going to put myself, Jennifer and all my loved ones through this
torture again.’

Nor his fans. The capacity crowd
generated what Hatton described as ‘the most electric atmosphere for any
of my fights’. That, coupled with his sense of being on a mission,
launched him into battle with much of his old relentless aggression and
he stormed into an early lead. He rocked Senchenko several times and,
had they been fighting at Hatton’s prime poundage — light-welterweight —
he might have forced a stoppage.

End of the road: Hatton says he knows he does not have what it takes to carry on

End of the road: Hatton says he knows he does not have what it takes to carry on

But Hatton’s power has never been quite as potent at full welter and Senchenko began to punish the Hitman as his stamina faded.

Hatton became wide open to the raking punches of the taller man. The three judges had the Briton ahead by two points going into the ninth of 10 scheduled rounds but the signs were ominous even before Senchenko connected with that part of the body most vulnerable in any drinker: the liver.

The lifestyle he is now forsaking caught up on Hatton at that split second. Still he was able to say: ‘I’m happy now. Happy I am turning my life around so I become the best father, the best boyfriend and the best person I can possibly be.’

He can be content also with a place in history cemented by four world titles in two weight divisions. Now he is aiming to fill the void in his world by becoming the best trainer, manager and promoter, saying: ‘That’s my new passion.’

Fear: Hatton promised to quit in part for his girlfriend Jennifer

Fear: Hatton promised to quit in part for his girlfriend Jennifer

A promising stable of younger fighters await him. Not least the exciting super-bantamweight Scott Quigg who, on this undercard, became the WBA interim champion by inflicting a first knockdown on Rendall Munroe, ironically with a body shot.

Given his sense of humour, Hatton will smile in a week or two about how he was undone by a shot to his liver. He will know this is the only organ which can recover from damage and regrow itself.

The Hitman swears he will do the same.

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Ricky Hatton factfile

1978 – October 6: Born in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

1996 – Captures bronze medal at the World Amateur Championships.

1997 – September 11: Makes professional debut under the guidance of trainer Billy Graham and knocks out Colin McAuley in the first round at Kingsway Leisure Centre in Widnes.

1999 – Claims first pro title with a second-round TKO win against Tommy Peacock for the vacant Central Area light-welterweight title.

2000 – October 21: Beats Jon Thaxton on points to win the British light-welterweight title.

2001 – March 26: Wins vacant 'fringe' WBU light-welterweight title with fourth-round stoppage of Tony Pep.

2002 – June 1: Suffers first knockdown of his career in opening round against Eamonn Magee, but battles back to win on points.

2005 – June 4: Shocks the world by beating Kostya Tszyu, considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, in Manchester, winning the IBF light-welterweight title.
November 26: Overcomes nasty cuts to beat Carlos Maussa and add WBA crown to his IBF title.
December 21: Becomes first British fighter to receive the prestigious Ring Magazine 'Fighter of the Year' award.

2006 – Moves up to welterweight division and labours to victory against Luis Collazo, claiming the WBA title.

December: Awarded MBE in New Year's Honours list.

2007 – January 20: Knocks out Jose Luis Castillo, retaining IBO belt and winning WBC international light-welterweight title, which was later vacated.

June: Hatton's team agree terms with the camp of Floyd Mayweather for a December 8 fight in Las Vegas.

December 8: Knocked out in the 10th round by Mayweather in the first defeat of his professional career.

2008 – May 24: Retains IBO light-welterweight title by securing a unanimous points verdict against Juan Lazcano in front of 55,000 supporters at Manchester City's Eastlands stadium.

July 29: Announces split from long-time trainer Billy Graham.
September 3: Announces he will be trained by Floyd Mayweather Snr for his November fight with Paulie Malignaggi.

November 22: Wins light-heavyweight bout with Malignaggi in Las Vegas after the American's corner retire him in the 11th round.

2009 – May 2: Hatton's reign as light-welterweight world champion comes to a brutal end as Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao delivers a stunning second-round knockout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

August 11: Hatton confirms an all-British fight against Amir Khan is “a possibility”.

2010 – January 13: Hatton announces he will return to the ring in 2010.

September 13: A spokesman for Hatton confirms the fighter has entered a rehabilitation facility due to 'severe depression' and a 'drink problem'. The announcement follows News of the World allegations of cocaine use by Hatton.

September 23: The British Boxing Board of Control announce they have withdrawn Hatton's boxer's licence.

2011 – July 7: Announces his retirement from boxing, more than two years after his defeat to Pacquiao.

2012 – September 14: Confirms at a press conference that he is to return to the ring, with a November 24 bout at the Manchester Arena against an as yet unnamed opponent.

September 28: Confirms he will take on Ukraine's former WBA welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko in his comeback fight.

November 24: Stopped in the ninth round by Senchenko. Announces retirement.

Ricky Hatton retires from boxing for second time after defeat to Vyacheslav Senchenko

'I'm not putting myself through that torture again': Hatton retires from boxing for second time

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UPDATED:

14:11 GMT, 25 November 2012

It was five past midnight when, deep in the bowels of the Manchester Arena, Ricky Hatton appeared to face the media.

His right eye almost swollen shut and badly bruised from the stiff, robotic jab of Vyacheslav Senchenko, the Hitman announced his retirement from the ring for a second time.

Holding court in front of his girlfriend Jennifer and two of his closest confidants, Paul Speak and Richard Poxon, Hatton admitted that this was 'the end'. And this time, he meant it.

The end of the road: Ricky Hatton has called time on his boxing career

The end of the road: Ricky Hatton has called time on his boxing career

'A fighter knows when it's not there,
and it's not there,' he said. 'I've had too many fights and burnt the
candles at both ends

'I've lost four and half stone for this and my sparring was great but I'm not going to put myself through that torture again.

'I got the answers. I was crying in the ring and no doubt I'll be crying tonight but I'm happy. I had to go in there and find out and I did.

Painful defeat: Hatton was floored by a brutal body blow in the ninth

Painful defeat: Hatton was floored by a brutal body blow in the ninth

'I've no complaints. It's been three
and a half years and you all know the story. I needed to put a few
demons to rest and I said before the fight I felt I'd already won and
that hasn't changed.'

Just under two hours earlier, as the
final refrains of Blue Moon died away, Hatton began what he hoped would
be a second coming but what he prayed would be redemption. A brutal left
hook to the liver put paid to the former but by merely stepping into
the ring, he had achieved the latter.

On the attack: Hatton reels from a powerful right jab from Senchenko

On the attack: Hatton reels from a powerful right jab from Senchenko

'I had to find out if I could mix it at world level and I got my answer: I can't,' he admitted.

'I think I was four or five rounds up
but everything was heavy weather, everything was forced and what's it
going to take, someone holding a gun to my head It's not there anymore.

'I'm a happy man now. I don't feel like killing myself, I got the answers I needed.

End of the road: Hatton says he knows he does not have what it takes to carry on

End of the road: Hatton says he knows he does not have what it takes to carry on

HATTON ON TWITTER (@HitmanHatton)

Ricky Hatton took to Twitter on Sunday to confirm his retirement and thank his army of fans for their support. In a series of six Tweets, he said:

'Well, last night didn't go to plan I really wanted a happy ending but it wasn't to be. I would like to thank my team at Hatton promotions and Bob Shannon my trainer for everything they did for me on this long road back. If you're not aware last night at the press conference I retired once and for all from boxing. Last night I came to find out if I still had it at world level, I haven't. Redemption is what I wanted and that is what I got. I needed to find out. I am heartbroken but like I said before the fight, win lose or draw I can retire a happy man. The atmosphere the fans created last night was sensational again so I extend a huge thank you to each and every one of you. I am so so sorry. It isn't there anymore. But I can retire happy. I have the answer I needed '

'As upsetting as it is, it's right to say: “It's not there, that's the end of Ricky Hatton”.'

And as a boxer, it is. But this time, there will be no 'Ricky Fatton', no regrets and no wondering what might have been.

After his devastating defeat to Manny
Pacquiao in 2009, Hatton spiralled into a life of drink and drugs but
vowed this time to take a different path.

Earlier in the night, Scott Quigg and
Martin Murray took steps towards world title fights of their own with
impressive victories over Rendall Munroe and Jorge Navarro. Both are
represented by Hatton Promotions and their mentor will look forward to
plotting their rise to the top.

'I'm a different man now,' Hatton
concluded. 'I want to be the best father, the best boyfriend, the best
coach and the best and promoter I can be. It was so hard for me to
retire the first time; I landed myself in so much trouble but I'm not
going to do that again.

'I go into retirement a happy man.'

It isn't there anymore. But I can retire happy. I have the answer I needed.

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Ricky Hatton factfile

1978 – October 6: Born in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

1996 – Captures bronze medal at the World Amateur Championships.

1997 – September 11: Makes professional debut under the guidance of trainer Billy Graham and knocks out Colin McAuley in the first round at Kingsway Leisure Centre in Widnes.

1999 – Claims first pro title with a second-round TKO win against Tommy Peacock for the vacant Central Area light-welterweight title.

2000 – October 21: Beats Jon Thaxton on points to win the British light-welterweight title.

2001 – March 26: Wins vacant 'fringe' WBU light-welterweight title with fourth-round stoppage of Tony Pep.

2002 – June 1: Suffers first knockdown of his career in opening round against Eamonn Magee, but battles back to win on points.

2005 – June 4: Shocks the world by beating Kostya Tszyu, considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, in Manchester, winning the IBF light-welterweight title.
November 26: Overcomes nasty cuts to beat Carlos Maussa and add WBA crown to his IBF title.
December 21: Becomes first British fighter to receive the prestigious Ring Magazine 'Fighter of the Year' award.

2006 – Moves up to welterweight division and labours to victory against Luis Collazo, claiming the WBA title.

December: Awarded MBE in New Year's Honours list.

2007 – January 20: Knocks out Jose Luis Castillo, retaining IBO belt and winning WBC international light-welterweight title, which was later vacated.

June: Hatton's team agree terms with the camp of Floyd Mayweather for a December 8 fight in Las Vegas.

December 8: Knocked out in the 10th round by Mayweather in the first defeat of his professional career.

2008 – May 24: Retains IBO light-welterweight title by securing a unanimous points verdict against Juan Lazcano in front of 55,000 supporters at Manchester City's Eastlands stadium.

July 29: Announces split from long-time trainer Billy Graham.
September 3: Announces he will be trained by Floyd Mayweather Snr for his November fight with Paulie Malignaggi.

November 22: Wins light-heavyweight bout with Malignaggi in Las Vegas after the American's corner retire him in the 11th round.

2009 – May 2: Hatton's reign as light-welterweight world champion comes to a brutal end as Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao delivers a stunning second-round knockout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

August 11: Hatton confirms an all-British fight against Amir Khan is “a possibility”.

2010 – January 13: Hatton announces he will return to the ring in 2010.

September 13: A spokesman for Hatton confirms the fighter has entered a rehabilitation facility due to 'severe depression' and a 'drink problem'. The announcement follows News of the World allegations of cocaine use by Hatton.

September 23: The British Boxing Board of Control announce they have withdrawn Hatton's boxer's licence.

2011 – July 7: Announces his retirement from boxing, more than two years after his defeat to Pacquiao.

2012 – September 14: Confirms at a press conference that he is to return to the ring, with a November 24 bout at the Manchester Arena against an as yet unnamed opponent.

September 28: Confirms he will take on Ukraine's former WBA welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko in his comeback fight.

November 24: Stopped in the ninth round by Senchenko. Announces retirement.