Tag Archives: blockbuster

Robin van Persie says Chelsea v Manchester United FA Cup tie won"t be a "great game" because of tiredness

It won't be a thriller! Van Persie believes fatigue could affect blockbuster FA Cup tie

By
Simon Stone, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

21:05 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 30 March 2013

Robin van Persie has warned fans not to expect an FA Cup classic between Manchester United and Chelsea on Monday.

With Chelsea still involved in the Europa League and UEFA frowning on fixtures between England's top clubs on Champions League designated days, the FA were left with little option other than to schedule the eagerly-anticipated quarter-final replay just two days after Premier League fixtures.

Even the potential for an evening kick-off was ruled out as Fulham are due to take on QPR in the Barclays Premier League at Craven Cottage.

Influence: Robin van Persie helped Manchester United to a 1-0 win at Sunderland

Influence: Robin van Persie helped Manchester United to a 1-0 win at Sunderland

Influence: Robin van Persie helped Manchester United to a 1-0 win at Sunderland

It means United will be in action 48 hours after today's win at Sunderland, with Chelsea having marginally less time to prepare following their defeat at Southampton.

It is the kind of scheduling that has England's European counterparts scratching their heads in bewilderment.

And Van Persie points out it is difficult for the players to reach a high level of performance twice in such a short period of time.

Dejection: Chelsea's top-four hopes suffered a blow on Saturday as they were beaten 2-1 by Southampton

Dejection: Chelsea's top-four hopes suffered a blow on Saturday as they were beaten 2-1 by Southampton

Sublime: Rickie Lambert's beautiful free-kick proved to be the winner at St Mary's

Sublime: Rickie Lambert's beautiful free-kick proved to be the winner at St Mary's

'It is not ideal,' he told MUTV.

'Normally on the second day your muscles are quite bad but now we have to play at this certain time.

'It is a shame but we can't do anything about it because there are Champions League games in midweek and Chelsea are still in the Europa League.

'We just have to deal with it.

'People have to realise they can't expect a great game of football because it is not possible.

'If it happens I am glad, but don't expect it because these games are just too close to each other.'

Back from the brink: Chelsea came from 2-0 behind in the original tie at Old Trafford to force a replay

Back from the brink: Chelsea came from 2-0 behind in the original tie at Old Trafford to force a replay

Van Persie was speaking after United's 1-0 win at Sunderland, which maintains their 15-point advantage over Manchester City with just eight games remaining.

City will be the opponents for Monday's victors at Stamford Bridge, with Van Persie eager to get his hands on a trophy he won with Arsenal but United have not lifted since 2004.

'It has been a while,' he said.

'It has been nine years since we last won it and we want to win the double.

'We made a big step today but we want to go for both. We have a chance to reach the semi-final against City.'

Carl Froch v Mikkel Kessler agreed for summer in England

This is one for the ages! Froch lands mega summer fight with rival Kessler in the UK

By
Riath Al-samarrai

PUBLISHED:

12:28 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:18 GMT, 15 January 2013

Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler have agreed terms for a blockbuster summer rematch in the UK.

The date and venue have not yet been confirmed but the super middleweights are expected to clash on May 25 in London.

Froch suffered his first professional defeat and lost his WBC world title in their previous bout in April 2010, a contentious unanimous decision after a thriller in Denmark.

Scroll down for video

Home advantage: Carl Froch will get his chance to exact revenge over Mikkel Kessler in the UK this summer after losing to the Dane in 2010

Home advantage: Carl Froch will get his chance to exact revenge over Mikkel Kessler in the UK this summer after losing to the Dane in 2010

But after a run of fights against the best in the division, he has since picked up and defended the IBF belt, which will be staked in the rematch against the WBA (regular) champion.

‘This is the fight that I want more than anything in the world,’ said Froch.

‘I put Mikkel up there as one of the great warriors in boxing and I am so excited about this fight and the chance to set the record straight against him.’

‘I promised Carl we would meet again and here we are, getting ready to leave it all in the ring for a second time,’ said five-time world champion Kessler, who like Froch has only lost two fights.

Ready to rumble: Froch will be looking to celebrate what would be the biggest win of his career this summer with the support of girlfriend Rachael Cordingley

Ready to rumble: Froch will be looking to celebrate what would be the biggest win of his career this summer with the support of girlfriend Rachael Cordingley

‘I have the utmost of respect for Carl, I
feel we are very much alike. He is a great champion, a true warrior
that has fought the best opponents all over the world in some of the
most hostile places, just like me.

'Our first fight, especially the last round, showed what we are all about and I was to do it again.

‘Since that first fight, I have become even stronger. I am fresh, I am healthy and I am ready to defeat him once again. I dont care where we fight, I said anytime, anywhere. I plan to make my loyal Viking fans, as well as everybody else in Denmark, very proud once again. I am ready for war.’

Packing a punch: Froch was impressive in his comfortable victory over Yusaf Mack in his last ring outing

Packing a punch: Froch was impressive in his comfortable victory over Yusaf Mack in his last ring outing

Froch’s promoter Eddie Hearn added:
‘This is one for the ages. My hat goes off to both men for putting
everything on the line here in what can only be an epic battle. Too many
super fights fall by the wayside so to make Froch v Kessler II is a
dream come true.

‘Froch v Kessler I was a barnburner but I really feel Carl is a different fighter now, especially in the UK. These are the kinds of fights and nights that can cement the legacy of Carl Froch and no one deserves it more.

'We know what to expect from both men and either way it's going to be brutal.’

VIDEO Eddie Hearn is looking forward to the summer rematch

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David Price and Tyson Fury negotiations stall

Price and Fury still miles apart as negotiations between Britain's heavyweights stall

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UPDATED:

15:02 GMT, 3 December 2012

The latest round of negotiations to make a fight between David Price and Tyson Fury has reached a standstill.

The heavyweight pair both maintained their unbeaten records with straightforward wins at the weekend and hopes are high for a domestic blockbuster in the new year.

But a 650,000 offer from Frank Maloney, Price’s manager, was today laughed off by Mick Hennessy, who promotes Fury.

Unbeaten: Tyson Fury won on a unanimous points decision against Kevin Johnson

Unbeaten: Tyson Fury won on a unanimous points decision against Kevin Johnson

‘If David Price doesn’t step up to the plate on our terms, the fight won’t happen,’ Hennessy told the Daily Star. ‘I don’t think it will happen soon because he doesn’t want any of Tyson Fury really. Without Tyson there’s no story with David Price.

‘He’s just trying to get publicity by calling out Tyson. If Price and Maloney are going to put out offers, they need to make the offers serious.’

Fury has come under fire recently for a series of foul-mouthed rants and tweets about British and Commonwealth champion Price, while earlier this year Maloney enraged Fury’s camp by branding the 24-year-old a ‘coward’ after separate talks to make a fight failed.

Winning in style: David Price beat Matt Skelton with a second round knock out on Friday night

Winning in style: David Price beat Matt Skelton with a second round knock out on Friday night

Both men have moved towards a world title shot in the past year, with Fury in line for a crack at Vitali Klitschko’s WBC belt after winning an eliminator against Kevin Johnson on Saturday.

Price, meanwhile, maintained his unbeaten record on Friday by demolishing Matt Skelton on Friday.

Row: Price's promoter Frank Maloney called Fury a 'coward'

Row: Price's promoter Frank Maloney called Fury a 'coward'

Hennessy added: ‘Tyson has said he will do the fight but he doesn’t want anything to do with Frank Maloney after he called him a coward.

‘If the fight is to happen, Price needs to accept it will not be 50-50 because Tyson has a much higher ranking and profile.’

Tyson Fury on track if Vitali Klitschko disappoints David Haye – Jeff Powell

Fury on the campaign trail for a world title if Klitschko's political move disappoints Haye

|

UPDATED:

00:10 GMT, 6 November 2012

While one British heavyweight is begging Vitali Klitshcko not to retire, another could find himself fighting for a world heavyweight title if the elder of the giant Ukrainian brothers goes into politics full-time.

It will be famine for David Haye but most probably feast for Tyson Fury should Vitali hang up the gloves so as to put his hat into the ring of government.

Former world champion Haye, who is set to star in the new series of I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, keeps repeating that he will only box again if it is against a Klitschko……which in effect means Vitali since Wladimir thrashed him last year and sees no point in going through the same process once more.

Opportunity knocks: Fury (left)

Opportunity knocks: Fury (left)

More from Jeff Powell…

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
15/10/12

Jeff Powell: Tyson takes time to show Hatton and Haye the way back to the top
08/10/12

Jeff Powell: Sold out arena, tough opponent… all Hatton needs now is a TV station
01/10/12

Jeff Powell boxing column: Boxers are brave but none more so than Big Corrie
24/09/12

Jeff Powell: Interim bouts hamper prospects of blockbuster Mayweather v Pacquiao showdown
17/09/12

Jeff Powell: Nothing can prepare Flintoff for the shock of taking thunderous blows in the ring
11/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Fury, the young traveller journeying towards his title shot, will find the path less steep if Vitali abdicates the WBC crown.

Fury has been focused on fighting himself into position to challenge either of the Klitschkos, who hold all the heavyweight alpha-belts between them.

The next stage in that campaign comes on December 8 in Belfast when he takes on Russia's unbeaten contender Denis Boytson.

That event, to be televised live on Channel 5, is being billed as a final eliminator. But at the moment WBC president Jose Sulaiman is saying: 'It is a semi-final.'

That organisation has declared that the winner of a December 15 fight in Venezuela between Chris Arreola and Bermaine Stiverne will become Vitali's mandatory challenger, with the victor of that bout ordered to meet Fury or Stiverne next.

However, if Klitschko calls it a day then Arreola or Stiverne will be instructed to meet the winner of Fury and Boytsov for the vacant title.

On that basis, Fury could find himself a world champion as early as next spring.

Boytsov will come to Northern Ireland boasting an unbeaten record of 31 wins, 25 by knockout. But Fury is also undefeated and he, too, has a high KO percentage.

Most significantly Fury is significantly the taller man, as he is in the majority of his fights. While that would not be the case against either of the Klitschkos, both Arreola, the favourite, and Stiverne are also smaller.

Boytsov, with his pale imitation of Mike Tyson, is a crowd-pleasing slugger with the power to test Fury's questionable chin…..if he can connect cleanly.

The greater probability is that Fury will land first on the Russian. The incentive for him to do so could not be greater.

A week later his promoter Mick Hennessy will be hoping that Arreola prevails, even though the American is the more highly-rated protagonist in his eliminator.

If not, he could find himself plunged into negotiations with the most Machiavellian of all boxing promoters.

Political move: Vitali Klitschko is the leader of the Ukrainian opposition party UDAR

Political move: Vitali Klitschko is the leader of the Ukrainian opposition party UDAR

Reports of Don Knig's demise as a figure in boxing have been, as Mark Twain would say, exaggerated.

As Stiverne's promoter he won the rights to stage the Arreola fight with a massive $1.1million purse bid.

It is not only Fury who is one step away from a world title. Just as Haye is not alone in hanging on Vitali Klitschko's decision, which is vaguely expected next month but may not come until next year.

King, the extravagant showman who brought us the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla' in Manila among many of the ring's most famous fights, is on the brink of a sensational come-back of his own.

Froch will know to go for KO

Carl Froch was almost spared the obligation of an away re-match with Lucian Bute as the Canada-based Romanian flirted with defeat in Montreal on Saturday night.

Bute, from whom the Nottingham Cobra took the IBF world super-middleweight title in thunderous style earlier this year, needed a huge final round to be sure of a points victory over Russia's unheralded Denis Gratchev.

Two of the judges – and most observers – had it very close going into the 12th at the Bell Arena, where Froch will honour his promise of a return bout with Bute on March 30.

Bute, who had been rocked two or
three times in the earlier exchanges, dug deep for a blazing finish
which carried him to a unanimous decision.

However
the risible 118-110 margin logged by the third hometown judge in front
of a partisan crowd suggests it would be safer for Froch to repeat his
stunning KO victory over Bute rather than rely on the scoring.

The Cobra: Carl Froch will face Lucian Bute once more

The Cobra: Carl Froch will face Lucian Bute once more

Had Bute been beaten by Grachev the re-match clause with Froch would have been invalidated.

The Cobra's plans for two further re-matches in 2013 against the only two men to have beaten him have been complicated by the WBA nominating the winner of Mikkel Kessler's December clash with Brian Magee as the mandatory challenger to Andre Ward.

Froch is in negotiations for a midsummer spectacular against Kessler at Nottingham Forest's City Ground then a return bout with Ward, probably in America.

The WBA have acceded to Kessler's request that he be given a second shot at Ward if he beats Magee.

However, the Viking Warrior was much more soundly beaten by the self-styled Son Of God than was Froch, who will now petition the WBA to amend that decision in favour of sanctioning a fight between him and Ward as the real final eliminator.

Constantino update:

Readers intrigued by the item in a previous column about the one-handed boxer will be interested to know that he won his professional debut fight in New York.

Michael Constantino, who was born without a right hand but wears a glove on the end of that arm, knocked out Nathan Ortiz with a wicked left hook and thereby, at 33, realised his life-long dream.

Now he says: 'From here on I'm taking it one fight – and one hand – at a time.'

Good for him.

Jeff Powell: Emanuel Steward is gone but Tommy Hearns will fight for The Kronk to live on

Steward is gone but Hearns will fight for The Kronk to live on

|

UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 30 October 2012

They were taking down the garish red and gold sign over what would soon look like any other window-barred shop front on the mean streets of downtown Detroit.

Iniside, Tommy Hearns was sitting on the apron of the ring, which was due to be dismantled and taken he knows not where, along with the rest of the artefacts.

The Hitman alternated between wiping his eyes and smiling at the memories being shared among the old gang.

Remembered: Legendary trainer Emanuel Steward died aged 68

Remembered: Legendary trainer Emanuel Steward died aged 68

More from Jeff Powell…

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
15/10/12

Jeff Powell: Tyson takes time to show Hatton and Haye the way back to the top
08/10/12

Jeff Powell: Sold out arena, tough opponent… all Hatton needs now is a TV station
01/10/12

Jeff Powell boxing column: Boxers are brave but none more so than Big Corrie
24/09/12

Jeff Powell: Interim bouts hamper prospects of blockbuster Mayweather v Pacquiao showdown
17/09/12

Jeff Powell: Nothing can prepare Flintoff for the shock of taking thunderous blows in the ring
11/09/12

Jeff Powell: Fight fans warm to Hatton comeback… but De La Hoya rules out ring return
03/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

It was the day after Emanuel Steward finally lost his last fight, against chronic stomach sickness, and fears that his fabled gym might die with him were being realised.

The man being mourned as the greatest trainer of them all WAS the Kronk.

Manny was the genius, the life-blood, the spirit of this gritty academy of champions.

Now that he’s gone – too young at 68 – the family are protecting his legacy, apparently by closing the place down.

Not if the Hitman can help hit.

Hearns, the most iconic of all the Kronk’s world champions, is now dealing with his grief over the loss of his Svengali by trying to save one of the most famous emporiums of fisticuffs in the world.

‘I’m wholly committed to trying to keep the Kronk going,’ he says. ‘It’s what Manny wanted.’

According to the great trainer’s sister and family spokesperson, Diane Steward-Jones, her brother had asked her to protect his legacy, in the form of the gym’s valuable memorabilia.

That includes the door sign, the ring, the posters of historic fights and such motivational messages as: No Pain, No Gain.

Since looters stripped out Emanuel’s restaurant – cooking was one of his other loves – the day after it shut down, her concern is understandable.

But even as she issued instructions for the doors to be locked and the alarm switched on, she admitted to being uncertain about the future of the gym’s paraphernalia.

The location on Warren Street has only been a temporary relocation in the six years since the original gym, in the basement of a community centre in a nearby project, closed down. And it, too, has been shut intermittently because of financial difficulties.

Only Steward’s personal generosity has kept the Kronk alive and he was considering a shock cultural move to a more affluent suburb of Motor City in the hope of attracting not only hungry fighters but fee-paying fitness work-out customers.

Emotional: Tommy Hearns has been remembering Steward

Emotional: Tommy Hearns has been remembering Steward

Tribute: A wreath for Steward sits outside the famous Kronk Gym in Detroit

Tribute: A wreath for Steward sits outside the famous Kronk Gym in Detroit

Without its guiding light that is unlikely to happen now but Hearns has attracted powerful support for his campaign.

The Mayor of Detroit is proposing that the old, run-down community centre be refurbished and reopened so the Kronk can return to its spiritual home in the basement, partly as a tourist attraction.

Hopefully, this will be more successful than the attempts to save the old Thomas a Beckett pub on the Old Kent Road where the upstairs gym was home to countless London boxers, Henry Cooper notable among them.

Hearns knows there will be no replacing Steward but as he stood on the sidewalk he promised the gnarled old gym hands and the eager fighters around him that he would do his utmost to rescue their most inspiring of work-places.

A thousand stories: The Kronk walls are lined with pictures of Steward and his champions

A thousand stories: The Kronk walls are lined with pictures of Steward and his champions

One kid who would be a champ, with his kit-bag over his shoulder, said: ‘If this place is gone I guess we’ll have to move on…..but to where’

If the Hitman fails then the memorial service for Manny – which will be held on November 13 at Greater Grace Temple on Seven Mile Road in Detroit – may be the last time the Kronk Gym gang get together.

TOP FIVE TRAINERS

The passing of Emanuel Steward has produced a consensus that the master of the Kronk ranks as the greatest trainer of all time. Here is this column’s all-time top five:

1) Emanuel Steward: Hard to argue against the charismatic trainer of almost 50 world champions, some developed from boyhood at the Kronk such Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns, others elevated from champion to legendary status like Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Wladimir Klitschko, in whose corner he remained until his most recent fight.

No 1: Steward puts former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis through his paces

No 1: Steward puts former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis through his paces

2) Eddie Futch: Like Steward a Detroit amateur, Futch took charge of Joe Frazier’s professional career after Smokin’ Joe won Olympic gold and guided him through the epic trilogy with Muhammad Ali.

Futch famously retired Frazier at the end of the 14th round against Ali in The Thrilla in Manila, to save his man’s sight in the right eye. He also trained three of the other four men who defeated The Greatest – Ken Norton, Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick.

Dream team: Eddie Futch (left) steered Joe Frazier on his path to glory

Dream team: Eddie Futch (left) steered Joe Frazier on his path to glory

3) Freddie Roach: The comparatively new kid on this block as current mentor of Manny Pacquiao and Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr among many.

Like Steward and Futch, Roach is the trainer of multiple world champions – more than 20 – despite suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Respected: Freddie Roach trains Manny Pacquiao in his Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles

Respected: Freddie Roach trains Manny Pacquiao in his Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles

4) Angelo Dundee: If not quite the greatest, then the trainer of The Greatest. Took over Cassius Clay as a teenager and was still in Muhammad Ali’s corner more than two decades later.

Also worked with Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman but Ali was his masterpiece.

The Greatest: Muhammad Ali had Angelo Dundee in his corner

The Greatest: Muhammad Ali had Angelo Dundee in his corner

5) Cus D’Amato: Began life as a trainer by developing one world heavyweight champion, Floyd Patterson, and finished life by manufacturing another, Mike Tyson.

The peek-a-boo style of Patterson was a tactical innovation at the time, while the creation of Tyson as the youngest heavyweight champion was his piece-de-resistance.

TOP FIVE GYMS

Steward’s death has also brought the famous boxing gyms of the world into focus. Our top five:

1) The Kronk: Synonymous with the great Emanuel’s work and therefore tops the list. Not only the breeding ground of champions like Tommy Hearns but also a place of pilgrimage for fighters, trainers, promoters and boxing lovers from all over the world.

The archetypal grim gym and as such a place of hope and inspiration.

Biggest names: Prince Naseem Hamed during a session with Steward in The Kronk back in the day

Biggest names: Prince Naseem Hamed during a session with Steward in The Kronk back in the day

2) Gleason’s: Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) trained in the original New York sweat shop in the Bronx (opened 1937) for his first fight with Sonny Liston.

Jake La Motta, Sugar Ray Robinson, Benny Kid Paret, to name but a fraction, all worked at the old place and Gerry Cooney was among the first to make Gleason’s his home base when it moved to Manhattan.

Always buzzing with champion boxers and celebrities, Gleason’s became the film set for several movies. It’s latest home is under the Brooklyn Bridge and mirrors the changing times, with a dressing room for women boxers.

Hollywood treatment: Gleason's has been used in several films

Hollywood treatment: Gleason's has been used in several films

3) 5th Street Gym: The then-rundown art-deco building in Miami’s south beach is where Angelo Dundee trained Muhammad Ali. Enough said.

For years there was a sign outside the front door which read: Cassius Clay – Trains Here Daily.

At the time, the world – the Beatles included – climbed the stairs to the ramshackle room on the second floor.

The rotting premises closed down but the gym reopened last year and Dundee spent much of the last months before his death back there working with some new young talent.

Star attraction: Even the beatles popped in to the 5th Street Gym where Ali trained

Star attraction: Even the beatles popped in to the 5th Street Gym where Ali trained

4) Joe Frazier’s Gym: As with the Kronk, a campaign is under way to save Smokin’ Joe’s place in Philadelphia following his death.

Frazier lived above the rickety gym for many of the later years of his life. He lost the building to foreclosure four years ago and it now serves as the In and Out furniture outlet.

But the faded gym sign is still in place and the three-storey structure has been listed as an endangered national heritage site.

City officials are working to reclaim the property, re-open the gym and un-shutter the window on which Ali famously knocked to call out Frazier for their first fight.

5) The Wild Card: On one of the most famous street intersections in the world – Sunset and Vine in Los Angeles – the Wild Card occupies the first floor of the building at the rear of a scruffy mini-shopping mall.

It is here that Hall of Famer Freddie Roach trains Pacquiao, Chavez Junior, a bustling throng of other talent… and until recently Amir Khan.

Pacquiao’s favourite Thai restaurant, just across the courtyard, is where he plays host to not only his team but selected, lucky, boxing fans from the Philippines and elsewhere.

Ricky Hatton won"t booze and binge between fights – Jeff Powell boxing column

So long, Ricky Fat-ton! Returning Hitman vows to quit boozing between bouts

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UPDATED:

22:28 GMT, 22 October 2012

There will be no more boozing and bingeing between the boxing during Ricky Hatton’s comeback.

The Hitman makes that promise as he trains himself to the limit in readiness for his return to the ring three madcap years after being knocked cold by Manny Pacquiao.

Not only that but even if he loses to Vyacheslav Senchenko in Manchester on November 24 and retires again, he vows not to sink back into the debauchery which posed a greater threat to his life than any blows from even the mightiest of opponents.

Slim chance: Ricky Hatton insists he will not booze or binge between fights again

Slim chance: Ricky Hatton insists he will not booze or binge between fights again

More from Jeff Powell…

Jeff Powell: Retired and broke, Holyfield still has hope… but it's help he really needs
15/10/12

Jeff Powell: Tyson takes time to show Hatton and Haye the way back to the top
08/10/12

Jeff Powell: Sold out arena, tough opponent… all Hatton needs now is a TV station
01/10/12

Jeff Powell boxing column: Boxers are brave but none more so than Big Corrie
24/09/12

Jeff Powell: Interim bouts hamper prospects of blockbuster Mayweather v Pacquiao showdown
17/09/12

Jeff Powell: Nothing can prepare Flintoff for the shock of taking thunderous blows in the ring
11/09/12

Jeff Powell: Fight fans warm to Hatton comeback… but De La Hoya rules out ring return
03/09/12

Jeff Powell: Hitman Hatton fighting fit once more… but is ring return a healthy decision
28/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

'This comeback is about the way I want to be remembered,' says Hatton, 'but not only that. This is a permanent lifestyle change.

'I know that if I’m going to get all the way back to winning world titles I can’t blow up to 15 stones between fights and then train like crazy and crash diet to get the weight off. My body won’t take that any more.

'But I also know that the drink and everything else was killing me. The depression which followed not only that defeat by Pacquiao but all the bingeing took me to the brink of suicide. That won’t happen again. At 34 I’ve got my life under control.'

Hatton is doing that his way. Not by joining Alcoholics Anonymous, sacrificing every little pleasure and thereby driving his frustrated self to fall heavily off the wagon.

Contrary to reports that he never drinks now, he is monitoring his own behaviour.

He says: 'I've had about eight nights out in the last four months. Most of them have been for dinner with my girlfriend Jennifer.

'There’s been a couple of evenings with the lads but I've been able to enjoy those while having no more than a couple of beers. I've learned to exercise sensible restraint and that’s how it’s going to be from now on, whether I’m boxing or not.’

Hatton did take counselling when fighting the worst of his demons and says that he has psychologist 'on speed dial' in case he needs reinforcing in his new-found resolve.

The halo of health surrounding him speaks even more loudly than his words. On the May morning he woke up resolving to kick the excesses of drink, drugs and junk-food which were destroying him, Hatton weighed 14st 10lb.

Now, at 11st 3lb, he is down to within ten pounds of the welterweight limit at which he will fight Senchenko – with almost five weeks still to go before he steps back into the spotlight in front of 20,000 loyal fans at the sold-out MEN Arena.

Fat jibe: Hatton used to wear a fat suit to mimic his nickname from his rivals, 'Ricky Fatton'

Hatton used to pile on pounds in between bouts

Fat jibe: Hatton used to wear a fat suit to the ring (L) to mimic his nickname from his rivals, 'Ricky Fatton'

Taking off a couple of pounds a week is child’s play for someone who used to shed five stones during a seven-week training camp before his world title battles.

But just to make sure he does it right – and by way of another nod to a serious change in habits – the man who sometimes used to exist on gallons of lager and buckets of chips has employed a nutritionist.

He says: 'These days boxers have to get their diet and vitamins right and there'd be no point having this bloke and not doing what he tells me.'

As an archetypal one of the lads, can he be truly happy submitting to such a stern regime

'To tell you the truth, I’ve never felt better or happier in my life, physically or mentally,' he says.
'I’m fitter in body and mind than when I was winning my world titles.’

/10/22/article-2221383-1576F99A000005DC-340_634x443.jpg” width=”634″ height=”443″ alt=”Raring to go: Hatton is in training for his comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko ” class=”blkBorder” />

Raring to go: Hatton is in training for his comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko

'I feel sure that when I give this comeback a real honest go then even the Ricky Hatton haters will say fair enough.

'I don’t want to go out on my back as the chump who got knocked out by Pacquiao because he was making a wreck of his life.

'On November 24 I’m going to find out the truth of whether I've still got the fight in me. If it’s not there – and I’ll know it – I will walk away again. This time for good. But I’ll be doing so on my own terms and with pride. That’s why I’ve picked a tougher opponent than everyone in my team recommended.'

That rival is not well-known in Britain but Senchenko's surprising loss of his world welterweight title to Paulie Malignaggi in his last fight is the only defeat on his record.

Hatton beat Malignaggi immediately prior to his two defeats, against Floyd Mayweather and Pacquiao. A world title re-match with the native New Yorker has been pencilled in by Hatton for nest March, if all goes well next month.

An all-British block-buster against Amir Khan is also a possibility later next year and that fight would fill a football ground in Manchester, be it the home of his beloved City or the bigger house at Old Trafford.

Nor is Hatton ruling out return bouts with Mayweather and Pacquiao, complete with repeats of the trans-Atlantic migrations by tens of thousands of his army of fans from Manchester to Las Vegas.

But all those plans are on hold until the second coming tells him – and us – whether the Hitman still has the right stuff. Not that he is unduly worried by either the outcome of the fight with Senchenko or the critics questioning the wisdom of his comeback.

'Win, lose or draw in the ring, I’ve already won in my life,' he says.

For a man who not that long ago was close to slitting his own wrists, that is the most important victory of all.

Caffeine would not have passed the test in the ring

If Stevie G and the lads had been going out in Poland to box rather than play football for England, the levels of caffeine which the FA admit was pumped into their systems would almost certainly have resulted in failed drugs tests.

The disturbing revelation that caffeine is being dispensed to England’s players before matches came after their World Cup qualifier was postponed to the next day by rain and they had to be given sleeping pills to enable them to get a night's rest.

That admission throws into light an alarming difference between football's approach to doping compared with some other sports.

Robert Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, says: 'Caffeine is a stimulant and we treat it as such if it shows up in quantities bigger than would come naturally from drinking a couple of cups of coffee.

'We are now testing boxers more and more rigorously before and after fights and at random out of competition. If a high level of caffeine is detected we regard it as a positive drugs test and deal with it accordingly. We do this for the safety of that fighter, as well any opponent, because caffeine increases heart rates significantly.'

Danny Garcia defeated veteran Mexican Erik Morales during their WBC and WBA super lightweight title bout in Brooklyn

Danny Garcia defeated veteran Mexican Erik Morales during their WBC and WBA super lightweight title bout

Danny Garcia celebrates his fourth round knockout of Erik Morales

The use of Creatine and other supplements by footballers has also raised health concerns for young men at many leading clubs whose physiques have grown markedly more muscular and powerful in recent seasons.

Meanwhile, under Smith’s direction, British boxing is setting a worthy example. Several fighters have been suspended for using steroids and other substances. While some boxing commissions in the US are following suit, others are dragging their heels.

The IBF are shamefully allowing Lamont Peterson to carry on fighting even though he admitted having a pellet stuffed with synthetic steroids implanted in his hip before his highly controversial victory over Amir Khan.

Last Saturday, the New York authorities gave the go ahead for legendary Mexican veteran Erik Morales to fight on the card which brought boxing back to Brooklyn – despite failing steroids tests.

They did so on the dubious grounds that the amounts were small enough that they may have been ingested from contaminated meat.

Not that it did Morales much good. Danny Garcia knocked him out… further evidence that our footballers should be very wary of anything that is administered unto them.

Say it ain't so, Ho…

Alarmingly, Evander Holyfield has recanted on his promise to retire from the ring on his 50th birthday.
He reached that landmark last Friday only to decide to carry on boxing after all, no doubt to try to alleviate the financial distress which has followed his squandering of a $350million fortune.

He says: 'I woke up on Friday morning and decided not to quit after all, It now remains my ambition to keep boxing until I become, again, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.'

U-turn: Evander Holyfield has refused to retired despite turning 50 last Friday

U-turn: Evander Holyfield has refused to retired despite turning 50 last Friday

Since all those titles are held by the Brothers Klitschko, who have stated they will not fight their hero Holyfield at his advanced age, that is a most improbable goal.

Still, he says: 'I know how to beat Wladimir and Vitali and all I am asking is for the chance to prove it.'
Of his U-turn he says: 'A person has the right to change his mind, don’t he'

Yes a person does. Just as those who are worried about his health have the right to send this all-time great this message: Say it ain't so, Ho.

Brook will have to step up in class now

Not least for his own good, it is unwise to get as carried away just yet about Kell Brook as the 7,000 home-town Sheffield fans who turned out for Saturday night’s stoppage of Hector Saldivia… even though this victory is supposed to set up a challenge to Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title.

Very few final eliminators for world championships feature two boxers who have fought hardly any opponent of real note on their way up the rankings.

The records of both Brook and Saldivia are riddled with fairly easy pickings

Alexander, whose own Saturday night victory over Randall Bailey won him the IBF title, is not the most formidable of champions but he does represent a step up in class and technique.

Since, as champion, he is certain to insist on home advantage in America, a glance at Saldivia’s record is in order. The Argentine had fought outside South America only once before. On that occasion in Las Vegas he was knocked out in the first round by Said Quali, a thirty-something Moroccan journeyman who had arrived in the US via Belgium.

Exciting times: After beating Hector Saldivia, Kell Brook and his promoter Eddie Hearn will be planning for bigger fights

Exciting times: After beating Hector Saldivia, Kell Brook and his promoter Eddie Hearn will be planning for bigger fights

Brook took three rounds to achieve the same result and the manner of it – by a straight-forward left jab – raised more questions about Saldivia’s commitment than it provided answers about the English contender’s power.

Brook's physique did look remarkably more muscular, growth attributed not just to his new nutritionist but his raised level of dedication to training.

If he is to challenge Alexander in the spring, he will need to maintain his healthier lifestyle through the intervening months.

Brook may well be a world champion in the making. But just in case there is any wavering in his devotions to the hard old game – or the match with Alexander cannot be made – his promoter Eddie Hearn is wisely continuing to call out Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton for possible big pay-days in 2013.

Amir Khan and Kell Brook fight is inevitable

Talks open between Khan and Brook ahead of 'inevitable' all-British clash

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UPDATED:

12:42 GMT, 12 October 2012

Amir Khan and Kell Brook are heading for a British blockbuster next summer after promoter Eddie Hearn admitted talks have taken place between the two camps.

The domestic rivals have long baited each other over who would come out on top and tensions rose again when the pair appeared on Sky Sports’ Ringside last week.

Brook faces Hector Saldivia in the final eliminator for the IBF world welterweight title next Saturday while Khan bids to get his career back on track against Carlos Molina in Los Angeles on December 15.

On the up: Kell Brook (right) is closing in on a world title fight next year

On the up: Kell Brook (right) is closing in on a world title fight next year

Should Brook come through against the Argentine, he will face Randall Bailey or Devon Alexander for the belt early next year.

Victory in that fight would pave the way for a showdown with Khan who has long promised to step up a division.

‘I first spoke to Asif Vali, Amir Khan's manager after the (Danny) Garcia fight, thinking about a potential Brook versus Khan fight in the winter or early next year,’ Hearn told Sky Sports.

‘Those discussions continued after their recent appearances on Ringside. I think this fight is inevitable, it's too big to be ignored. It's what the fans want to see, it's what the public want to see and I believe both fighters want the fight.

Up for it: Amir Khan returns to the ring in Los Angeles in December

Up for it: Amir Khan returns to the ring in Los Angeles in December

‘Amir Khan believes he can deal with Kell Brook and Kell Brook certainly believes he can deal with Amir Khan.

’We've got business to take care of next week in a packed Sheffield Arena, a final eliminator against Hector Saldivia to become mandatory for the IBF title.

‘We hope he will go on to face either Devon Alexander or Randall Bailey very early next year and then look at a Khan fight in the future.

‘It's getting closer and closer and the first indications are coming from their team that they really want this fight.’

BBC hope for more Wimbledon night matches after viewing figures soar over summer

BBC hope for more Wimbledon night matches after viewing figures soar over summer

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UPDATED:

10:08 GMT, 27 September 2012

BBC’s head of sport, Barbara Slater, hopes to put on a greater number of night matches at Wimbledon after the corporation’s viewing figures skyrocketed during the later games this summer.

With the heavy rain this summer, the roof on centre court was deployed more than ever, and a number of matches were delayed until the later stages of the day.

Among the evening matches were Rafa Nadal’s shock defeat to Lukas Rosol and Andy Murray’s third round win over Marcos Baghdatis.

More of the same Eight million people tuned in to watch Andy Murray beat Marcos Baghdatis under the roof on centre court

More of the same Eight million people tuned in to watch Andy Murray beat Marcos Baghdatis under the roof on centre court

More of the same Eight million people tuned in to watch Andy Murray beat Marcos Baghdatis under the roof on centre court

Murray beat the Cypriot on the first Saturday of the tournament just before the clock struck 11pm – Merton Council’s agreed curfew – with an incredible eight million people tuned in to watch the Scot progress

Slater is keen to get more night matches in future tournaments to match the high viewing figures.

She told The Telegraph: ‘Inevitably, when play moves into the peak evening, audiences are higher.’

‘It’s safe to say that of course we as a broadcaster would love more tennis, and for that tennis to extend, but we are very aware there are constraints on the club.’

Among those constraints is the fact that when the roof was first built, it was given permission under the proviso that it would be used as an emergency incurred by bad weather, not as a means to keep the show going into the night.

A Wimbledon spokesman said: ‘At this stage there are no plans.’

Blockbuster: Millions tuned in to watch Lukas Rosol knock out Rafael Nadal (above)

Blockbuster: Millions tuned in to watch Lukas Rosol knock out Rafael Nadal (above)

Kell Brook targets Ricky Hatton showdown

Brook eyes British blockbuster against Hatton after snubbing Bradley showdown

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UPDATED:

14:03 GMT, 25 September 2012

Kell Brook has paved the way for an all-British world title showdown with Ricky Hatton next year.

The Sheffield welterweight, who
faces Hector Saldivia in Sheffield on October 20 in the final eliminator
for the IBF world title, comprehensively outpointed Ricky's brother
Matthew in March.

Impressive: Kell Brook is unbeaten in 28 fights

Impressive: Kell Brook outpointed Ricky Hatton's brother Matthew

And with the senior Hatton making his comeback in Manchester in November, Brook admits he would jump at the chance to complete the double.

'I will be watching Ricky Hatton's comeback with great interest as a fight against him next year would be an absolute blockbuster for British boxing,' he said.

'When I fought his brother Matthew you could see that the Hatton name still means a lot in boxing and we would fill a big stadium fighting for a world title.'

Brook, who is unbeaten in 28 fights, also revealed he turned down the chance to fight Timothy Bradley for the American's WBO title.

Blockbuster: Brook wants Ricky Hatton showdown

Blockbuster: Brook wants Ricky Hatton showdown

Bradley won a contentious decision against Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in June and was prepared to defend the belt against the Brit.

But the 26-year-old opted to continue his journey towards the IBF strap.

'The Bradley fight was put in front of me but I believe the mandatory position in the IBF is the right move,' Brook added.

'Eddie [Hearn] has worked hard to get me into this position and providing I beat Saldivia, I'll be fighting for a world title at the start of 2013 and it will be on my terms.

'I would love that to be in Sheffield too and I know Eddie would do his best to get it here as it would be an amazing event.'

Wimbledon 2012: Petra Kvitova to face Serena Williams after beating Francesca Schiavone

Reigning champion Kvitova survives scare to set up last-eight showdown with Serena

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UPDATED:

14:41 GMT, 2 July 2012

Defending champion Petra Kvitova set up a blockbuster Wimbledon quarter-final against Serena Williams by coming from a set down to beat Francesca Schiavone.

The Czech looked in real trouble at a set and a break down but she dug herself out of it in tricky damp conditions to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Kvitova had been a little patchy in her first two matches, but she did not drop a set and then thrashed Varvara Lepchenko in round three for the loss of only one game.

Going through: Kvitova celebrates after coming from a set behind to beat Schiavone

Going through: Kvitova celebrates after coming from a set behind to beat Schiavone

Schiavone, meanwhile, lost the first set to Britain's Laura Robson in her opening-round match and was looking to reach the last eight at Wimbledon for only the second time in 13 attempts.

The former French Open champion began well, though, breaking Kvitova early and, despite the Czech's best efforts, she could not bridge the gap.

Throwing in the towel: The Italian looked on course to upset the defending champion

Throwing in the towel: The Italian looked on course to upset the defending champion

The 22-year-old had four chances to break back with Schiavone serving for the set but she could not take any of them and then netted an easy forehand on the Italian's second set point, flinging her racquet to the grass in frustration.

Schiavone made the first breakthrough against serve in the second set as well to lead 2-1, but double faults were proving her achilles heel and her ninth of the match allowed Kvitova to hit straight back.

Next up: The defending champion will take on Serena Williams in the quarter-final

Next up: The defending champion will take on Serena Williams in the quarter-final

The Czech, who beat Maria Sharapova in the final last year, was still struggling for consistency, but she kept her nose in front. Schiavone did well to save a set point serving at 6-5 behind with a forehand, despite slipping, and the 32-year-old then got her way when play was briefly suspended because of the drizzle.

When they resumed, she immediately found herself facing a second set point, and this time she could not find the answer, sending a forehand long.

Schiavone was clearly unhappy about the conditions but, after another break, she was made to continue, and her mood did not improve when a much-improved Kvitova reeled off five games in a row before clinching victory.