Tag Archives: challenger

Darren Barker beats Simone Rotolo to win IBF Inter-Continental middleweight title

Barker makes light work of Rotolo to take middleweight title at Wembley Arena

By
Declan Warrington

PUBLISHED:

23:10 GMT, 9 March 2013

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UPDATED:

00:15 GMT, 10 March 2013

Darren Barker secured a routine victory over Simone Rotolo and the vacant IBF Intercontinental title after the Italian was forced to withdraw before the start of the fifth round.

The middleweight, fighting for the second time in a matter of months after a cruel run of injuries, needed to make a statement with his domestic rivals also progressing and would have been underwhelmed that the opportunity to do so was taken away.

Barker is one third of a rivalry with world-title contender Matthew Macklin and next month’s WBC challenger Martin Murray and impressed with a relaxed approach at the start but soon after fought more raggedly.

Strong showing: Darren Barker knocks down Simone Rotolo during their IBF Inter-Continental Middleweight bout

Strong showing: Darren Barker knocks down Simone Rotolo during their IBF Inter-Continental Middleweight bout

Fine fettle: Barker took Rotolo to task with a flurry of punches in the first round

Fine fettle: Barker took Rotolo to task with a flurry of punches in the first round

Rotolo was knocked down after a flurry
of punches towards the end of the first round when caught against the
ropes but instead of stopping his opponent there and then, Barker lost
any real polish and instead messily pursued the knockout which
ultimately never came.

Edging each round if not dominating
them as a more polished Barker perhaps would have done, the middleweight
tested his opponent occasionally if not convincingly and was in the
midst of another flurry of punches when Rotolo significantly backed off,
avoiding the fight and shaking his hand in obvious pain until the end
of the round came and the Italian’s corner announced his withdrawal
almost instantly after.

'Macklin and Murray [who fights WBC
champion Sergio Martinez on 27 April]' are looking busy now, so I’d like
a fight with Andy Lee,' he said afterwards.

He told Sky Sports 2: 'I'm ready to push on now. There's the obvious domestic fights
and world title fights – I'm game, I'll fight any of them. It just takes
two of us to get the ball rolling and it could be rematches, trilogies,
whatever.'

Pushing on: Barker is looking ahead to his future which could involve 'rematches' and 'trilogies'

Pushing on: Barker is looking ahead to his future which could involve 'rematches' and 'trilogies'

Billy Joe Saunders beats Nick Blackwell to keep Commonwealth middleweight title and win British belt

Classy Saunders beats Blackwell to add British belt to Commonwealth title

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UPDATED:

02:54 GMT, 16 December 2012

Billy Joe Saunders retained his Commonwealth middleweight title and added the vacant British belt to his growing collection with a unanimous points win over Nick Blackwell.

The former Olympian, who remains undefeated after 16 professional contests, was forced to dig deep during the middle rounds but his class was reflected by scores of 117-112, 116-113 and 115-114 on the judges' cards.

Blackwell, who was fighting for the British strap for the second time, provided a stern test for the 23-year-old, but faded in the second half of the fight.

Champion: Billy Joe Saunders celebrates with his belts after victory over Nick Blackwell

Champion: Billy Joe Saunders celebrates with his belts after victory over Nick Blackwell

Saunders, 22, was fighting for the fourth time in a busy 2012 but only once had he been pushed, when winning a unanimous decision over Bradley Pryce in June.

In winning the vacant Commonwealth strap in April, Tony Hill was brutally dispatched in just 30 seconds at the Royal Albert Hall.

Unbeaten Australian Jarrod Fletcher last slightly longer when he made the trip to London but only until the second round when he too was stopped.

Blackwell's only previous defeat meanwhile came against world title challenger Martin Murray who faces WBC champion Sergio Martinez in Argentina next spring.

The 22-year-old emerged via the unlicensed circuit, winning all 18 of his fights before turning professional in 2009.

Since losing to Murray last summer, Blackwell had stopped his four subsequent opponents, most recently Mikheil Khutsishvili in May.

After a tense opening to the first round, Saunders began to exert control, landing with several flurries while Blackwell struggled to manoeuvre himself into position with his jab.

Saunders' pressure punching looked to be
taking its toll but Blackwell began to find his range towards the end of
the third stanza as he took advantage of Saunders' low right hand to
land several effective jabs.

Growing in confidence, the Trowbridge fighter began to move downstairs with his left hand and by the fourth round, an evenly-matched contest had developed.

And as a thrilling fight reached the
halfway stage, Blackwell was producing the more eye-catching
combinations as Saunders was forced on to the ropes and his right eye
began to redden.

Resistance: Blackwell put up a strong defence but Saunders deserved to take the fight on points

Resistance: Blackwell put up a strong defence but Saunders deserved to take the fight on points

Saunders' rod-like right jab proved effective in keeping Blackwell at bay in the seventh but the challenger was intent on stalking his opponent around the ring and had no hesitation in trading toe-to-toe.

Having boxed just one round since March, Blackwell began to tire in the eighth session as Saunders regained control of the bout. Although the ninth round was punctuated by solid jabs from Blackwell, it was the champion who stretched his lead on the scorecards with ever-more punishing combinations.

Aside from sporadic attacks to the body, Blackwell was also second best in the tenth round and was repeatedly beaten to the punch in round 10 while missing with shots of his own. Saunders took his foot off the gas in the penultimate round, perhaps aware that hearing the final bell would assure him of victory.

But Blackwell threatened to spoil the party in the last round as a punishing body shot momentarily stopped Saunders in his tracks but a barnstorming final two minutes failed to deliver a knockout blow.

Saunders was pleased to have been taken 12 rounds.

'Nick was very, very game and those rounds will hold me in good stead for the future. I've moved on to the next level,' he said.

Earlier in the evening, Liam Smith and Steve O'Meara both played their part in an enthralling contest for the vacant Commonwealth light-middleweight title, with Liverpudlian Smith winning by unanimous decision.

One of four boxing brothers, the 24-year-old looked set for an early finish when a left hook to the body had O'Meara, 28, on the canvas as the bell went for the end of the opening session.

The home favourite beat the count and showed no ill-effects but Smith's superior work rate and punishing blows saw him open up a commanding lead.

Despite trailing by large margins, O'Meara was far from outclassed and had plenty in reserve to contribute to a thrilling final round in which both boxers went toe-to-toe.

But having been unable to land the knockout blow, O'Meara lost for the third time in his career by scores of 112-116, 110-118 and 112-116.

Tough test: Blackwell impressed in defeat as he took Saunders to the final bell

Tough test: Blackwell impressed in defeat as he took Saunders to the final bell

Tony Conquest lost his unbeaten record, and his WBO International cruiserweight belt, when he was knocked out in less than two minutes by Neil Dawson.

Conquest started brightly but just as the contest was warming up, he was floored by a sharp left-right combination to the head and failed to beat the referee's count.

Bradley Skeete delivered the best performance of his career to win the Southern Area welterweight title with a fourth-round stoppage of Chas Symonds.

Skeete struggled to a laboured points victory over journeyman Peter McDonagh in September but produced a vastly-improved showing against Symonds.

Boxing behind the jab, the 25-year-old floored his opponent in the second round courtesy of a vicious left hook to the body.

Symonds, 30, had no trouble beating the count but Skeete began to land his right hand with alarming regularity and by the fourth round, Symonds' left eye was almost closed shut.

The doctor cleared him to continue but yet another right hand delivered Symonds to the canvas for a second time and although he again rose quickly, the contest was waved off.

Crowd favourite Frank Buglioni enjoyed yet another early night when Ciaran Healy retired on his stool with an injured back at the end of the second round.

The rising star from Enfield enjoyed his fifth stoppage from seven fights – a left hook to the body doing the damage, sending the Irishman to the floor before his corner called it a day.

Finally, Mitchell Smith needed less than four rounds to stop Estonian Igor Chuev in his fifth super-featherweight contest.

Smith, 20, had his opponent on the canvas in the third session but Chuev beat the count and although his corner threw in the towel seconds later, the referee opted to continue the contest.

But he did wave it off towards the end of the next round as Smith extended his unbeaten record.

Martin Murray interview ahead of Jorge Navarro fight

Murray puts Martinez talk on the backburner as dangerous Navarro awaits

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UPDATED:

19:01 GMT, 21 November 2012

Martin Murray is determined to take 12 months of frustration out on Jorge Navarro on Saturday – and grab his golden ticket to a world title fight with Sergio Martinez next year.

The 30-year-old middleweight faces the unbeaten Venezuelan for the vacant interim WBA belt as chief support to Ricky Hatton in Manchester.

And Murray, who has fought just once since drawing with then WBA champion Felix Sturm last December, has vowed to come through a potentially tricky night unscathed.

Head to head: Martin Murray (left) takes on Jorge Navarro in Manchester on Saturday night

Head to head: Martin Murray (left) takes on Jorge Navarro in Manchester on Saturday night

He is then expected to take on recently-crowned WBC champion Martinez on April 27 in Argentina

‘My preparation has gone well and I’m just looking forward to getting back to business,’ he told Sportsmail.

‘We’ve only managed to see a two-minute clip of him [Navarro] and it shows him knocking someone out in the first round. It told us what we already knew, that he can punch and he lets his shots go.

‘He looks powerful and plants his feet. He’s young, ambitious and unbeaten so it’s going to be a dangerous and hard fight but it’s one I’ve prepared myself for.’

Hard at work: Murray has been out of action since a points win over Karim Achour in June

Hard at work: Murray has been out of action since a points win over Karim Achour in June

Navarro fights outside of the
Americas for the first time in his 12-fight career but Murray won’t be
treating his challenger lightly.

‘No-one knew much about Breidis Prescott and he came over and knocked out Amir Khan,’ he added. ‘Someone who is unbeaten and unknown is always going to be dangerous and that’s how I’ve got to treat him.

‘He’s highly ranked for a reason. He’s unbeaten in 12 and knocked 10 of his opponents out so he can clearly punch. We won’t know properly what he’s like until he’s in the ring and I can feel him out.’

Close: Murray held world champion Felix Sturm to a draw in Germany last Germany

Close: Murray held world champion Felix Sturm to a draw in Germany last Germany

Murray’s sole bout in 2012 came when
he out-pointed little-known Frenchman Karim Achour in June, a far cry
from fighting Sturm in his backyard.

‘I wouldn’t say I wasn’t motivated for the fight but I wasn’t motivated for the opponent,’ he admitted.

‘I never cut corners in training and the day I do is the day I retire but every time I thought of fighting Sturm I got butterflies and thought “wow, I’m going to be in a world title fight”.’

‘I went from that to fighting a French lad who no-one knew anything about; he wasn’t at world level.’

Up next Murray could face Sergio Martinez

Up next Murray could face Sergio Martinez

The St Helens fighter only faced
Achour after a proposed date with Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr was scrapped
when Murray was denied a visa having spent time in prison when he was
younger.

‘I was training in
January and we had a date in April but that was pulled because we signed
for the Chavez fight so we didn’t want to take any risks,’ Murray
explained.

‘I wanted to fight and have a sharpener but I was advised against it so I went on holiday with my wife and kids and it was while I was there that I got the news the fight wasn’t going ahead.

‘I was gutted. I thought I was in a world title fight against a fighter I could beat. I signed for it and it was taken away.

‘I didn’t look at in terms of being punished again, I blame myself. Everything I did as a young lad was my own fault so not getting that fight was no-one’s fault but my own.

‘I’m a fighter and I want to be out all the time. I thought my career would take off after Sturm but I’m looking forward to a bright future.

‘I’ve got the fight on Saturday then I’m looking to get straight out again after Christmas. While I was frustrated earlier on in the year, I’m in a good place because I can see where my career is going.’

Wladimir Klitschko faces taller, heavier Mariusz Wachin in heavyweight showdown

Wladimir Klitschko faces taller, heavier Wachin in heavyweight showdown

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UPDATED:

19:16 GMT, 9 November 2012

Wladimir Klitschko will fight a man
almost two kilos heavier and four centimeters taller when he defends his
WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts against Mariusz Wach of Poland on
Saturday.

Klitschko weighed in at 112 kilos (247 pounds) on Friday, while the 32-year-old Wach registered 113.8 (251).

Head to head: Wladimir Klitschko, left, and Mariusz Wach

Head to head: Wladimir Klitschko, left, and Mariusz Wach

The unbeaten Wach will be the first opponent Klitschko has faced who is taller than he is, despite the 36-year-old Ukrainian's height of 1.98 meters (6ft 6ins). Wach is a formidable 2.02 meters (6 ft 7ins) tall and the two-time Polish champion also has a longer reach.

Klitschko goes into his 22nd world championship fight with a 58-3 (51 KOs) record, while Wach has won 27 bouts, 15 by knockout, since turning pro in 2005.

Tall order: Klitschko (left) faces a bigger opponent for the first time

Tall order: Klitschko (left) faces a bigger opponent for the first time

Wladimir Klitschko (top) and Mariusz Wach

Wladimir Klitschko (top) and Mariusz Wach

It will be Klitschko's first bout since his longtime coach, Emanuel Steward, died last month, and his third defense this year after knockout wins over Jean-Marc Mormeck of France in March and American challenger Tony Thompson in July.

Actor and director Sylvester Stallone, famous from his role in the Rocky series of films, will attend the bout, part of the promotional campaign for the Rocky musical.

Klitschko and his older brother Vitali, together with Stallone, had a hand in the production of 'Rocky: Fight from the Heart,' which opens in Hamburg on November 18.

Kell Brook and Devon Alexander must fight next

Alexander must fight Brook for world title, warns IBF as negotiations continue

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UPDATED:

18:31 GMT, 29 October 2012

Devon Alexander has been ordered to defend his IBF welterweight title against mandatory challenger Kell Brook or risk losing his belt.

The 25-year-old American won the strap when he outpointed Randall Bailey on October 20, just hours after Brook, 26, knocked out Hector Saldivia in the final eliminator.

And the IBF now expect Alexander and Brook to fight before the end of February.

Champion: Devon Alexander (right) must fight Kell Brook next

Champion: Devon Alexander (right) must fight Kell Brook next

Both camps are holding out for home advantage with Brook's promoter Eddie Hearn keen to bring the bout to Sheffield.

But if an agreement cannot be reached, the clash will go to purse bids by the end of November.

'They (Team Alexander) have not been given a deadline. If things go as planned the two should fight within about 135 days,' IBF Championships Chairman Lindsey Tucker told World Boxing News.

'The fight would then go to bids if the parties cannot come to an agreement as Brook is his mandatory and Alexander can’t fight an optional.'

Alexander's trainer Kevin Cunningham insists his charge wants to fight on home soil.

Bidding war: Eddie Hearn (right) wants Brook to fight in Sheffield

Bidding war: Eddie Hearn (right) wants Brook to fight in Sheffield

'I don't see anything special about Kell Brook,' he told ESPN. 'He can be next if he comes to the US We plan on defending the title and we will fight Brook anywhere in the US.'

But Hearn remains confident he can bring the title fight to Sheffield.

'We will be doing all we can to try and make this fight in the UK,' he said. 'I read Kevin Cunningham's comments and, with all due respect, it's not up to him or Devon where the fight is.

'We have now entered an official negotiation period with his team, and if we can't find a middle ground, then we will go to purse bids. If I win the purse bids, then Alexander has no choice but to come and fight in England or vacate the title.

'I know we can easily fill the 12,000-seat Sheffield Arena, and we also have significant domestic and international TV backing. If we are in a purse bid situation, I am confident we can be very competitive.'

Kell Brook dismissed by Devon Alexander

Who the Kell are you Champion Alexander dismisses Brook challenge

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UPDATED:

22:54 GMT, 24 October 2012

World welterweight champion Devon Alexander has delivered a stinging riposte to mandatory challenger Kell Brook – claiming he doesn’t even know who he is.

Sheffield star Brook knocked out Hector Saldivia inside three rounds in the final eliminator for the IBF title last Saturday.

He hopes to lure Alexander to Britain early next year but the American insisted he is unfazed by the challenge.

Champion: Devon Alexander (right) has taken no notice of Kell Brook

Champion: Devon Alexander (right) has taken no notice of Kell Brook

‘I didn’t see the fight and I barely know Kell Brook,’ Alexander told World Boxing News.

‘We will see what my advisor Al Haymon and my trainer Kevin Cunningham come up with. Right now, I’m not even worried about Kell Brook because I barely know him and who is he anyway

‘I never saw him fight before so I can’t rate him, but maybe he can be used as a tune up. Right now there are a lot of options and I’ll just leave it up to my trainer and advisor to deal with.’

Down and out: Brook beat Hector Saldivia in Sheffield on Saturday

Down and out: Brook beat Hector Saldivia in Sheffield on Saturday

Brook took just 28 seconds of the third round to end the challenge of Saldivia having also had his Argentinian opponent on the canvas in the opening session.

The 26-year-old admitted afterwards that he would be open to fighting British rival Amir Khan ahead of a bout with Alexander.

Kell Brook one win away from world title shot

On the verge of greatness: Brook knows he is one win away from world title shot

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UPDATED:

16:39 GMT, 19 October 2012

Kell Brook will climb through the ropes at the Sheffield Arena on Saturday night knowing he is a win away from a shot at a world title, just 14 months after quivering with nerves ahead of an innocuous bout at a leisure centre.

The 26-year-old self-styled 'Special One' was under the management of Eddie Hearn for the first time against Lovemore Ndou at Hillsborough Leisure Centre in June last year, and told his new promoter in the build-up that he did not know if he was up to it.

He would see off the Australian on points, though, and has since grown in both confidence and reputation, so much so that if he beats Hector Saldivia in what amounts to a semi-final for the IBF welterweight title tomorrow, he will be on the brink of ruling the world.

On the brink: Kell Brook and Hector Saldivia go head to head before they face each other on Saturday night

On the brink: Kell Brook and Hector Saldivia go head to head before they face each other on Saturday night

'Fourteen months ago, Kell Brook had his first fight with us, this will be his sixth,' said Matchroom Sport boss Hearn.

'We had a plan straight away to become a mandatory challenger for the title, that was all we wanted to do. We didn't want a small purse or to give away options. We wanted to control our own destiny.

'We started off at Hillsborough Leisure Centre against Lovemore Ndou and he (Brook) was shaking. He was asking me what I thought, whether he'd get a good reception. He sold out with eight weeks to go – people had said he couldn't sell a ticket.

'We went from there to Ponds Forge, then we took the ultimate gamble by moving to Sheffield Arena where we sold 10,000 against Matthew Hatton. We haven't taken a backwards step. People believe in Kell Brook, he's breaking records on Sky and he's a superstar in the making.'

Fully focused: Brook knows he is one win away from a world title shot

Fully focused: Brook knows he is one win away from a world title shot

Unfortunately for Brook, his last outing was anything but super. He clung on for dear life against the well-travelled Carson Jones, taking a majority decision that belied his broken nose and blood-stained shorts.

The close shave has proven to be a wake-up call for the unbeaten Brook, though, who has sculpted his body to new levels in order to preserve his 28(18)-0 record against Argentinean Saldivia.

With a crack at the title, which will be held by either Devon Alexander or Randall Bailey who also fight tomorrow night, on the line early next year as a reward, Brook has left nothing to chance in an intensive 12-week training camp and he admits that a new regime has sharpened his body and mind ahead of Saturday.

Fighting fit: Brook made the weight ahead of the Sheffield showdown

Fighting fit: Brook made the weight ahead of the Sheffield showdown

'I'm in the best shape I have ever been in. It's the best I have ever felt and the easiest I have made the weight. I'm feeling strong and I can't wait for Saturday night,' he told said

Brook had previously thought he was in tip-top condition, but added: 'It's a big eye-opener, you never stop learning and I have taken my body to places it's never been before.

'It's been crying in pain, not wanting to be there but it's had to go there because that's what I have been told to do. I'm now benefiting from the recovery, my heart rate is back down and everything is superb.'

Standing in front of him is 28-year-old Saldivia who himself has an enviable record of 41(32)-2.

'He's no easy pickings,' said Brook.

'He's earned his right to be ranked where he is, he's no walkover and is going to be very tough, you can tell he is and I am going to have my work cut out. I wouldn't want it any other way, I want to excite the fans and they are going to go home with a smile on their face.'

On a stellar card, Brook will be supported by fellow South Yorkshireman Jamie McDonnell, who is also going through the mill of an IBF title eliminator at Bantamweight.

The Doncaster man takes on late call-up Darwin Zamora, the Nicaraguan seconded after Vusi Malinga pulled out, while there is a tasty-looking all-British tear-up between Robin Reid and Kenny Anderson.

Former world champion Reid, now 41, and Anderson will face-off for the vacant British super-middleweight title.

Carl Froch: I have it all to lose against Yusaf Mack in Nottingham

Froch admits he has it all to lose against underdog Mack at Nottingham homecoming

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UPDATED:

14:26 GMT, 11 October 2012

Carl Froch admits he has 'everything to lose' when he defends his IBF super-middleweight title against unfancied American Yusaf Mack next month.

The Nottingham veteran defends his belt for the first time on November 17 after becoming a three-time world champion by obliterating Lucian Bute in May.

Froch was a betting underdog against Bute but finds himself regarded as the overwhelming favourite against Philadelphian Mack, who has never beaten an elite fighter and is dropping down in weight for the bout.

Homecoming: Carl Froch (right) and his next opponent Yusaf Mack at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham

Homecoming: Carl Froch (right) and his next opponent Yusaf Mack at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham

Even the self-styled 'Cobra' admits he knows little about the low-profile challenger but is well aware he cannot take Mack lightly when they meet at Nottingham's Capital FM Arena.

'I've got nothing to win and everything to lose,' Froch, 35, said. 'From that point of view I've got to keep myself focused and keep that determination and desire strong to make sure that when I'm in the gym I'm doing the work and when I'm hitting the punchbag, really gritting my teeth and putting in the work.

'I could have stayed in bed this morning and not bothered because I've had this press conference today and I'm in the gym later today.

'But I got up and did my five mile run at a good pace to make sure I'm on the case, because I need to be.'

World class: Froch beat Lucian Bute in May to win the IBF super-middleweight title

World class: Froch beat Lucian Bute in May to win the IBF super-middleweight title

Froch, (29-2, 21KO wins) added: 'I've had a little look at him and some of his fights. I know what he does, I know what he gets up to. He looks like a decent, tidy boxer-fighter. He's got fast hands and has only ever lost to the best in the world, really.

'You've got to say they're the best in the world – Tavoris Cloud, who is the IBF light-heavyweight champion, Glen Johnson who is a big, strong, tough, hard fighter. I know all about him because I fought him.

'So I've got to give this guy respect and take him very seriously because this is his world title fight and his big opportunity to come over here and cause an upset so I know that he's going to be training and running harder than ever for this. Whatever you've seen of him before, add 20 per cent for this fight. So I've got to be ready, and I will be.

Face off: Froch (right) and Mack go toe-to-toe in Nottingham to promote their forthcoming fight

Face off: Froch (right) and Mack go toe-to-toe in Nottingham to promote their forthcoming fight

'It looks like he's in good shape. He's not as tall as I thought he was, we seem to be about the same height. He's a big lad, with a very muscular upper body, so I can see why he's a light-heavyweight. But he looks like he can do super-middleweight quite easily so he may be at his best in this division. We'll see, but I can't take any chances.'

Mack (31-4-2, 17KO wins) has no concerns about dropping half a stone to secure his shot.

'I'm going to stick to my gameplan and do what I've got to do,' he said. 'Nothing's changed due to coming down in weight, it's just about keeping it basic and replicating what I'm doing in training when the time comes in the ring.

Fighting fit: The Nottingham Cobra insists he is working hard to be in the best possible shape for the fight

Fighting fit: The Nottingham Cobra insists he is working hard to be in the best possible shape for the fight

'I'm still able to eat what I want despite having to drop the extra weight.

'Froch is an A-grade fighter, he comes to fight. But on November 17 he's going to be in front of a real fighter who isn't going to fade.'

Racing: Solemia wins Prix de l"Arc de Triomphe

Camelot misses out as Solemia beats favourite Orfevre in thrilling Arc finish

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UPDATED:

15:06 GMT, 7 October 2012

Solemia denied Japan a first victory in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as the filly got up in the last strides to beat Orfevre in a thrilling renewal at Longchamp.

Camelot, Aidan O'Brien's 2000 Guineas and dual Derby winner, was given every chance by Frankie Dettori and briefly threatened but emptied out close home.

Everything appeared to have gone to plan for Orfevre, who carried the weight of a nation's hopes.

Thrilling finale: Olivier Peslier steers Solemia (R) past pre-race favourite Orfevre (L) to win the Qatar Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp

Thrilling finale: Olivier Peslier steers Solemia (R) past pre-race favourite Orfevre (L) to win the Qatar Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp

Edged out: Olivier Peslier and Solemia (R) catch Orfevre and Christophe Soumillon (L)

Edged out: Olivier Peslier and Solemia (R) catch Orfevre and Christophe Soumillon (L)

Christophe Soumillon dropped the Far East challenger right out at the back, but he came cruising through in the straight and went at least two lengths clear of Solemia, even trading at 1-100 at one stage on the betting exchanges.

However, Carlos Laffon-Parias' four-year-old showed incredible guts under Olivier Peslier to give the rider his fourth win in the race. Masterstroke was third.

Neck and neck: Solemia makes up the ground on Orfevre to celebrate victory

Neck and neck: Solemia makes up the ground on Orfevre to celebrate victory

Solemia was last seen finishing third behind Shareta in the Prix Vermeille but that one never showed up at all in the testing ground.

Orfevre had broken from stall 18 and made up a tremendous amount of ground but became yet another agonising defeat for Japanese racing after El Condor Pasa, Deep Impact and Nakayama Festa.

Hat's something special: Female punters at Longchamp racecourse show off their costumes

Hat's something special: Female punters at Longchamp racecourse show off their costumes

Stunning setting: Racegoers enjoy the day at Longchamp racecourse in Paris

Stunning setting: Racegoers enjoy the day at Longchamp racecourse in Paris

Fernando Alonso warns Ferrari: I can"t win title if our car stays this slow

Alonso warns Ferrari: Our car is too slow to win the title ahead of Vettel and Hamilton

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UPDATED:

13:38 GMT, 25 September 2012

Fernando Alonso has told his Ferrari team they must step up their efforts if he is to win the drivers' title this year.

Alonso finished a creditable third in the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend, and could have been forgiven a grin within his helmet when he saw nearest championship challenger Lewis Hamilton retire early with a malfunctioning gearbox in his McLaren.

But the Spaniard has gone four races without taking the chequered flag, and with Red Bull's Vettel winning the Marina Bay night race, another formidable challenger replaced Hamilton in second place in the standings.

Concern: Fernando Alonso (right) is worried about the pace of his Ferrari

Concern: Fernando Alonso (right) is worried about the pace of his Ferrari

Third time's a charm: Alonso is hoping to win his first world title with Ferrari

Third time's a charm: Alonso is hoping to win his first world title with Ferrari

'In the end it went well but we definitely can't go on like this,' Alonso said.
'It can't always be the case that my closest rival retires, as has happened in the last two races, and we can't think of carrying on to the end of the season with qualifying sessions like (Saturday) when our performance was almost a second off the best.'

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali agreed that improvement was necessary, particularly given the nature of the tracks in the remaining six races, with South Korea and Abu Dhabi requiring similar car set-ups.

'Clearly we need to make a step forward in terms of performance, because we cannot rely purely on the misfortune of others,' Domenicali said. 'Having said that, we mustn't over-react as it's better to bring a few updates that work rather than bringing too many. This is the area where we need to improve and it will be one of our priorities in the coming days.'

For Vettel, the Singapore win provided renewed hope of becoming just the third man – after Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher – to win three straight drivers' championships.

It was only his second win of the season, but with the remaining circuits tailored toward a more nimble car, and not requiring the outright speed the Red Bull lacks, the German now looms as Alonso's chief rival.

Looking dangerous: Sebastian Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix

Looking dangerous: Sebastian Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix

Title hopes: Lewis Hamilton stuttered in Singapore but is not out of the race

Title hopes: Lewis Hamilton stuttered in Singapore but is not out of the race

'It's looking better than before,' Vettel said. 'We have a lot of races left, the car seems to be competitive and we just have to use the momentum and keep pushing for these last races and see what happens.'

Hamilton's season is continuing on its feast-or-famine pattern, with his past five races yielding two wins and three non-finishes. The Briton was not distracted by ongoing rumors about the possibility of him leaving McLaren for Mercedes, and showed that by setting pole position and comfortably leading the race until the gearbox failed on lap 23 of 59.

That non-finish meant Kimi Raikkonen retained his third place in the standings, despite the Lotus driver not having won a race this season. No man has ever managed to take the title without winning a race, but if he keeps totting up the points while those above him fail, the Finn can keep his chances alive.

McLaren's Jenson Button kept a pulse in his faint title hopes by taking second place in Singapore, while Red Bull's Mark Webber is above Button in the standings but had another disappointing weekend, crossing the line in 10th and then being dropped out of the points to 11th as a penalty for an overtaking move off the limits of the track.

The next race is at Suzuka in Japan on October 7.