Tag Archives: freddie

Arsene Wenger reveals Arsenal will never discover next Lionel Messi

Fans expect me to discover the next Messi… not just promising young players, reveals Wenger as he sets his sights on Holtby

Wenger reveals he snubbed Ba for Giroud last summer

Gunners boss says Michu was never on the club's radar

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

22:30 GMT, 3 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:04 GMT, 4 January 2013

As time ticks on in the January transfer window, Arsene Wenger offered a fascinating insight into modern-day recruitment methods on Thursday.

Stressing that the job was tougher than when he arrived at Arsenal in September 1996, he admitted that the pressure is always on ‘to find the next Lionel Messi’.

Wenger’s exceptional record in the transfer market, especially in his early years as Arsenal’s manager, is up there with the very best. Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Petit, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Edu, Lauren and Kolo Toure were among his finest acquisitions.

One-off: Don't expect a Lionel Messi clone at Arsenal any time soon

One-off: Don't expect a Lionel Messi clone at Arsenal any time soon

Mastermind: Wenger's scouting network uncovered the likes of Patrick Vieira

Mastermind: Wenger's scouting network uncovered the likes of Patrick Vieira

When they were winning trophies he was the supreme talent-spotter, well ahead of the rest in England.

Wenger said: ‘People want to see the next Lionel Messi – they don’t want to see a promising guy. The name of the player gives people hope, but when they haven’t heard of them people are already sceptical.

‘It’s much more difficult for us now. The competition is higher. We are trying to diversify a bit more because we are limited in England. A new market that is very interesting is Japan – it’s very competitive.

‘The country where we were really competitive in the past was France, but they produce less top players than they did, say, 15 years ago.

‘The emerging countries look to be Germany and Spain – they have taken over from France and they have many good, young players.’

One of them, Lewis Holtby, plays in Germany for Schalke 04 and Wenger admitted on Thursday that he is interested in signing him.

On the radar: German international midfielder Lewis Holtby

On the radar: German international midfielder Lewis Holtby

Holtby, 22, has made it clear that he will not be signing a new contract at the Veltins-Arena and will be leaving at the end of the season on a free transfer. Wenger added: ‘We have looked at him, yes,’ but that is as far as he would be drawn on the Germany midfielder.

He also admitted that Chelsea’s latest recruit, Demba Ba, was a target last summer, but he opted instead for Montpellier forward Olivier Giroud.

Wenger said: ‘It was Giroud or Demba Ba in the summer — they are very similar players. I was a bit cautious about the noises on Ba’s knee injury, but someone told me the problem he has is manageable and can be prevented.’

Wenger has other targets in January, but Arsenal are being out-manoeuvred by Manchester United in the chase for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.

In terms of trophy-winning potential, Arsenal cannot compete with United and they are aware that Zaha is right at the top of Sir Alex Ferguson’s wishlist.

Second favourites: Arsenal are behind United in the running for Zaha

Second favourites: Arsenal are behind United in the running for Zaha

With Theo Walcott expected to sign a new contract with Arsenal in the coming weeks, it may be that Wenger’s interest in the Championship’s best young player fades.

Instead he will turn to the Continent again, reminding his scouts that the demand at Arsenal is to sign only the best talent.

Wenger conceded on Thursday that although he was aware of Michu before he signed for Swansea in the summer, he didn’t realise quite what a threat he would prove in the Premier League.

Over the Ba; Wenger declined the chance to sign the Newcastle striker last summer and instead chose Olivier Giroud

Over the Ba; Wenger declined the chance to sign the Newcastle striker last summer and instead chose Olivier Giroud

On Sunday the Gunners will come across him again when they travel to the Liberty Stadium for their FA Cup third-round tie against Swansea.

Wenger added: ‘Honestly, Michu was not on our radar. You needed to have really deep knowledge of the market in Spain to do that. Michael Laudrup did because he has the connections.

‘We keep our scouts alert, but when you are a big club like Arsenal your scouts are a little bit more cautious about players.

‘Naturally they are less likely to look at players with smaller clubs. But what Michu is doing is not accidental. He is a really good player.’

Freddie Flintoff wants to open chip shop in London

From battering boxers to battering fish: Flintoff intends to open a chippy in London

By
Sunni Upal

PUBLISHED:

10:37 GMT, 3 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:07 GMT, 3 January 2013

Freddie Flintoff is so unhappy with the quality of fish and chips shops in London that he wants to open his own.

The former England cricketer is in talks with TV producers about a news series, potentially on Sky One, where he runs a chippy in London with wife Rachael.

A source said: 'Freddie isn’t impressed with the quality of fish and chips shops down south and wants to open his own up in London selling market-fresh fish.

What's this garbage Flintoff is said to be unhappy with the quality of chippys down south

Enlarge

Fishy Flintoff

What's this garbage Flintoff is said to be unhappy with the quality of chippys down south

'He would be front of house but the business would be run by his wife Rachael, who has a background in catering and events.'

The move would be the latest in Flintoff's post-cricket career after he won on his professional boxing debut in Manchester last year.

Flintoff has been a regular on Sky's A League of Their Own as well as starring in ITV4 series Freddie Flintoff Versus The World.

Enlarge

King of the ring: Flintoff celebrates beating Richard Dawson

King of the ring: Flintoff celebrates beating Richard Dawson

Experience: Rachael has worked in the catering industry

Experience: Rachael has worked in the catering industry

Ex-England and Yorkshire cricketer Chris Old opened a fish and chip restaurant in Cornwall

Ex-England and Yorkshire cricketer Chris Old opened a fish and chip restaurant in Cornwall

Ronaldo v Zinedine Zidane charity friendly sees star-studded teams face off in Brazil

Ronaldo and Zidane in re-run of 1998 World Cup final head-to-head for charity match

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UPDATED:

11:03 GMT, 20 December 2012

A slimmed-down Ronaldo captained his side to victory as he went head-to-head with Zinedine Zidane on Wednesday night in Brazil.

Both players were in charge of star-studded squads in the Ronaldo and friends v Zidane and friends annual charity match.

Scroll down for videos

Elite: Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane lead out their men for the charity match

Elite: Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane lead out their men for the charity match

Star line-up: Brazilian favourites Ronaldo (fifth left), Neymar (fourth left) and Lucas (third left) were among the players involved

Star line-up: Brazilian favourites Ronaldo (fifth left), Neymar (fourth left) and Lucas (third left) were among the players involved

Payback: Neymar is the middleman as Ronaldo faces up to Zidane (but it's all in good spirits)

Payback: Neymar is the middleman as Ronaldo faces up to Zidane (but it's all in good spirits)

How's that Bebeto celebrates scoring the opener with Neymar (right)

How's that Bebeto celebrates scoring the opener with Neymar (right)

'Fat' Ronaldo no longer!

See how former Brazil superstar Ronaldo shed his weight HERE

The Brazilian's team emerged 3-2 victors, thanks to a late strike by Tottenham target Leandro Damiao.

Legendary Italian referee Pierluigi Collina came out of retirement to officiate the game which will raise funds to support projects to reduce poverty in Brazil and Africa.

In Zidane's side were former greats including Deco, Freddie Ljungberg and Fernando Hierro, as well as futsal star Falcao.

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Before and after: Ronaldo shed a remarkable 37lbs in three months

Drastic action: Ronaldo before and after his weight loss

Little magicians: Zico takes on Deco with Ronaldo watching on

Little magicians: Zico takes on Deco with Ronaldo watching on

Trampled: Santiago Solari takes a tumble during the well contested friendly

Trampled: Santiago Solari takes a tumble during the well contested friendly

Rough and tumble: Goalkeeper Dida smiles as Sorin goes rolling by

Rough and tumble: Goalkeeper Dida smiles as Sorin goes rolling by

Have you lost weight Argentinian Pablo Guinazu gets a grab of Ronaldo at the final whistle

Have you lost weight Argentinian Pablo Guinazu gets a grab of Ronaldo at the final whistle

Still got it: Zinedine Zidane tries to shield the ball from Brazilian player Amaral

Still got it: Zinedine Zidane tries to shield the ball from Brazilian player Amaral

Veteran: Michel Salgado appears to let Zico get the run on him during the UNDP-organised match in Porto Alegre

Veteran: Michel Salgado appears to let Zico get the run on him during the UNDP-organised match in Porto Alegre

Ronaldo's squad included Zico, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Romario and Neymar.

It was all too much for one mascot, who broke down in tears as he got to meet the Santos star.

Neymar played in Bebeto to open the scoring for Ronaldo's team before Falcao levelled things up.

Zidane
led by example as he fired in a fine volley to put his side ahead, but
Caca Ferrari and Damiao made sure it was Ronaldo who ended up smiling.

Good cause: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) banner in the crowd

Good cause: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) banner in the crowd

Celebration time: Bebeto (second right) after scoring his goal alongside Ronaldo and Neymar

Celebration time: Bebeto (second right) after scoring his goal alongside Ronaldo and Neymar

Sky high: Leandro Damiao marks a goal during the match at the Arena Gremio

Sky high: Leandro Damiao marks a goal during the match at the Arena Gremio

Collision course: Ronaldo and Fernando Hierro go in for a 50-50

Collision course: Ronaldo and Fernando Hierro go in for a 50-50

On the noggin: Zico tries to leap for a header

On the noggin: Zico tries to leap for a header

Meeting of legends: Ronaldo tries to steer the ball away from Zidane in their charity match

Meeting of legends: Ronaldo tries to steer the ball away from Zidane in their charity match

Famously an off-colour Ronaldo could
not help his side during the France 1998 World Cup final, with Brazil
going down 3-0 to the hosts.

But tonight the Samba star, who has slimmed down considerably in recent weeks, had the last laugh.

VIDEO An overwhelmed and tearful child hugs Neymar at end of charity match

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VIDEO: Then Neymar sets up Bebeto to strike

VIDEO: But futsal star Falcao equalises

VIDEO: Zidane puts his side 2-1 up

VIDEO: Then Caca Ferrari levelled proceedings at 2-2

VIDEO GOAAAAL. Leandro Damiao grabbed the winner late on in the match…

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FULL SQUADS

RONALDO & FRIENDS TEAM

Danrlei, Dida, Caf, Serginho,
Rver, Junior Baiano, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlos, William, Lucas,
Juninho Paulista, Zinho, Djalminha, Roger, Zico, Denilson, Ronaldo,
Neymar, Leandro Damio, Bebeto, Cac Ferrari, Romrio, Edmundo,
Paulinho.

Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira.

ZIDANE & FRIENDS TEAM

Vitor Baa, Juliano Belletti,
Diego Cavalieri, Emerson, Fernando Hierro, Mchel Salgado, Fernando
Couto, Juan Pablo Sorn, Paolo Montero, Carlos Gamarra, Hidetoshi
Nakata, Zindine Zidane, Deco, Santiago Solari, Fredrik Ljungberg, Juan
Romn Riquelme, Christian Karembeu, Alex de Souza, Pedro Pauleta,
Sebastin Abreu, Hulk, Falco, Mrio Jardel.

Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Amir Khan v Carlos Molina LIVE

LIVE: Amir Khan v Carlos Molina – round-by-round coverage of the big fight

Amir Khan goes head-to-head with Carlos Molina in what is a make or break fight for the Bolton boxer. After successive defeats to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia, Khan sacked trainer Freddie Roach and teamed up with Virgil Hunter. He will be expected to kick off the new era with victory in Los Angeles.

Email your thoughts to [email protected] or via Twitter @martin_domin

Back on track: Amir Khan celebrates

Back on track: Amir Khan celebrates

6.15am: That's all from me. Stay with us for all the fall-out from LA and in the New Year when we will continue to bring you the best boxing coverage at home and abroad.

6am: I wouldn't want anyone to get carried away with this result, just as people shouldn't have gotten carried away with the Garcia defeat. Molina was a hand-picked opponent who only stood standing because he is pretty tough. Khan's hands were fast, as they always are, he looked sharp and he put his punches together well. But he was helped by the cut around Molina's eye and the gulf in class.

Read the full report here.

5.50am: That was a sensible stoppage from the corner there and it could have come a couple of rounds earlier.

In his post-fight interview, Khan says he wants a rematch with Danny Garcia who was ringside tonight.

ALL OVER ! AMIR KHAN BEATS CARLOS MOLINA

Round 10: Molina does come out with more fight in the 10th as he tries to land shots of his own but Khan can almost move in slow motion and still avoid them. The referee is over to the corner again at the bell and this time Molina is pulled out.

Round 9: Blood is pouring from Molina's eye and surely he won't be allowed back out after this session He can't get close to Khan despite charging forward and Khan picks him off with ease. The referee talks to the corner and makes it clear the home favourite must show something else he will call it off 10-9

Round 8: Molina may not be stopped but the gulf in class is apparent in every round. Khan dances around the ring, landing at will with his sharp one-two-three punch combinations. The Mexican-American's eye is examined at the break but he's OK to continue 10-9

Round 7: I didn't think we'd get to the second half to be honest, but here we are. There is very little coming back from Molina now. He tries to land with the odd left but all the good work is coming from Khan. He connects with strong right hand in the final minute of the round but otherwise, he is content to keep Molina at bay with the jab 10-9

Round 6: Another quieter round as Khan fights in bursts. Coming in off the jab, he lets his hands go and then gets out. Nice work once again. The ridiculous thing is that whenever he is hit, the crowd seem to think he's going down. A huge over-reaction after Garcia 10-9

Easy pickings: Khan landed with increasing regularity against an outclassed Molina

Easy pickings: Khan landed with increasing regularity against an outclassed Molina

Round 5: Credit to Molina, he keeps coming forward, taking his punishment and then marching on again. He does manage to land a left flush on Khan but the response is another flurry of fast punches which will be catching the eye much more than the home favourite's solitary jabs. The pace slowed in that round but another one to the Brit 10-9

Round 4: Big session for Khan as he switches from head to body before peppering Molina with a barrage of shots. His speed is incredible at times. Molina stands up well though and is nothing if not tough. He fights back a little towards the end of the round but the stoppage is surely coming 10-9

Round 3: A quiet start to the round but Molina catches Khan again with a swinging right only for the Brit to land several flurries of his own. He then gets the better of an exchange on the ropes, finding the target with the uppercut. Molina's eye is getting worse and won't help him see Khan's fast hands coming at him. 10-9

Round 2: Molina comes out swinging with the left, and misses. He has a reach disadvantage and is repeatedly out of range as Khan lands his combinations with relative ease. The Brit also moves downstairs with the right hand though but is caught flush on the face by Molina. Just as well he's not a bigger puncher or that might have been serious 10-9

Round 1: Khan doesn't waste time in getting to work, rushing at Molina from the first bell. Khan takes a right but there is already bad markings around his opponent's left eye. Khan controls the centre of the ring and uses his speed well, doubling up on the jab as Molina struggles to throw anything back. His eye is already a mess. My score (Khan first): 10-9.

Flush: Khan was on top from the first bell as Molina found himself overwhelmed

Flush: Khan was on top from the first bell as Molina found himself overwhelmed

5.05am: Khan is in the ring. This is his first non-world title fight for well over three years when he fought Marco Antonio Barrera .

5am: Here we go, it's ring walk time…

4.45am: It's all over! Wilder keeps up his remarkable record as a huge overhand right sends Price to the canvas and he does not recover. Now it's time for Khan.

4.40am: So far, so uninspiring from these two. Neither seem too willing to open up just yet. Boos from the crowd already.

4.35am: Both boxers in this next fight are unbeaten. Wilder has won all 25 of his bouts inside four rounds which is some record. Price meanwhile has won six of his 13 inside the scheduled distance.

This contest should tell certainly tell us more about Wilder. Is he really the next big heavyweight hope for the US

4.25am: Angulo has won the decision over Silva but Khan won't be next. Heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Kelvin Price are due in the ring first.

Hard fought: Alfredo Angulo (left) on his way to victory over Jorge Silva

Hard fought: Alfredo Angulo (left) on his way to victory over Jorge Silva

4.20am: Ward has had the following to say about Khan: 'I've seen an improvement. He's listening and willing to learn and that has been his first step. I think he's going to pull through in a big way. He only knows one way to fight, he's very eager and very zealous but [under Hunter] a little more patient and you're going to see a better Amir Khan.'

4,15am: We should have Khan in the ring within the next 20 minutes. Alfredo Angulo's bout with Jorge Silva are in the eighth of 10 rounds and the Brit is next.

4.10am: Meanwhile, in Texas, Nonito Donaire has beaten Jorge Arce inside three rounds to retain his WBO super-bantamweight title. The 'Filipino Flash' would be a daunting prospect for either of Britain's rising stars in the division, Carl Frampton or Scott Quigg.

4.05am: As I also said, assuming Khan wins this, and wins it well, I don't think we can read too much into it, unless there is a marked difference in the way he fights.

Yes, Andre Ward is among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world but how much of that is down to Virgil Hunter and if the answer is a lot, how much of that coaching is transferable to Khan

Khan's problem has been ignoring instructions, choosing to go for the spectacular win and impress the crowd.

Well, there isn't much of a crowd to impress in LA… but regardless, he needs to start using his brain.

4am: Two things I'd like to point out. One, I think Khan lost to Peterson although the failed drugs test changes that a lot. And two, I don't believe he has a particularly suspect chin. The first punch from Garcia would have scrambled anybody's brain and lets not forget that Khan stood up to the best Marcos Maidana had to offer.

We don't seem to be calling Manny Pacquiao's chin weak just because he was KO'd last weekend.

Bludgeoning: Nonito Donaire (left) stopped Jorge Arce in the third round

Bludgeoning: Nonito Donaire (left) stopped Jorge Arce in the third round

3.50am: I am aware, of course, that Molina is unbeaten but he hasn't fought anyone with the calibre of Khan or his opponents. Khan doesn't need to have improved markedly to win this fight and I expect him to do so inside six rounds.

3.45am: Back to Khan, who we expect to make his ring walk at around 4.25am, and there is no doubt Molina has been put in front of him to get his confidence back and go into 2013 on a high.

A light puncher who is moving up a division… if Khan doesn't look good winning this then there is something wrong.

P.S. Andre Ward has just told Sky Sports that he wants a rematch with Carl Froch next year.

3.35am: In other news Stateside, Adrien Broner, considered by many as the heir to Floyd Mayweather Jnr's throne, has said he wants to face Scotland's Ricky Burns in a unification fight.

Broner is expected to be back in action on February 16 and Burns could be in the opposite corner in Atlantic City.

'I'm ready for Ricky Burns,' Broner said. 'He's a world-class fighter and I respect him for what he's done.

'I wanted to fight him for the WBO title, but he moved up. I hope he doesn't try and avoid me again.'

Down and out: Khan was sent crashing to the canvas by Danny Garcia earlier this year

Down and out: Khan was sent crashing to the canvas by Danny Garcia earlier this year

3.25am: Before I focus solely on Khan, there were some cracking fights in London last night as George Groves defended his Commonwealth super-middleweight title against teak tough Glen Johnson. Also in action was Billy Joe Saunders who beat Nick Blackwell for the British and Commonwealth middleweight titles.

You can read my reports from the Excel Arena here.

3.15am: As a result of suffering the defeat to Garcia, Khan split with trainer Freddie Roach and hooked up with Virgil Hunter who has guided the career of super middleweight world champion Andre Ward. We will see if the relationship has had time to develop over the last couple of months.

3.05am: It's fair to say it hasn't been the best of years for Bolton's Khan. After losing to Lamont Peterson last December, the American failed a drugs test in the build-up to the rematch. When that fight was shelved, Khan faced Danny Garcia but a huge left hand left the Brit in all sorts of trouble from which he couldn't recover.

3am: Good morning and welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of Amir Khan's make-or-break fight with Carlos Molina in Los Angeles.

Face off: Amir Khan (left) takes on Carlos Molina as he bids to get his career back on track

Face off: Amir Khan (left) takes on Carlos Molina as he bids to get his career back on track

Amir Khan"s former trainer Freddie Roach reveals wrist injury

Amir's chin is fine (…but his right hand is an issue): Former trainer Freddie Roach reveals Khan's wrist injury

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UPDATED:

19:56 GMT, 13 December 2012

The problem with Amir Khan is not his chin, it’s his right hand.

Freddie Roach, the world renowned trainer sacked by Khan after the knock-out which has put his career in jeopardy, has revealed the injury which has to be overcome on the climb back to the boxing summit.

As if regaining world titles is not tough enough, Roach spelled out the extra degree of difficulty confronting Khan as he goes into his rehabilitation fight against local hero Carlos Molina here tomorrow night.

With Khan no longer in attendance and Manny Pacquiao back in the Philippines licking his wounds after his shock KO by Juan Manuel Marquez, the fabled Wild Card gym in Hollywood was relatively quiet as Roach explained why Khan’s move up in weight divisions, to light-welter, is not the reason for his apparently reduced punching power of late.

Wounded: Roach believes Khan's right wrist injury could cause him problems

Wounded: Roach believes Khan's right wrist injury could cause him problems

Roach said: ‘Amir’s hitting as hard as ever in sparring because he knows that if something goes wrong its not as important in the gym as if it happens in a fight in the ring. The problem is that he’s a little wary throwing his right hand now.

‘He suffered some damage to the right wrist a while back and once any fighter gets hand trouble it’s with him for the rest of his life.

'That’s part of boxing and you have to live with it. He doesn’t want it to go again in a fight. It often stops him punching properly with the right as well.’

Amir Khan sparring

Amir Khan sparring

Must win: Khan knows he can't afford another loss after losing his last two contests to Garcia and Peterson

Roach talks about Khan with genuine concern, even though the young man from Bolton chose to move up the California coast to join rival trainer Virgil Hunter in the San Francisco bay area.

‘You get hired and you get fired in this game,’ says Roach. ‘It doesn’t bother me. Amir said he wanted me to make him my priority but as Manny Pacquiao’s trainer I couldn’t do that.

'What did surprise me was when he came out with that stuff about my Parkinson’s affecting me. If there was a problem with me as his trainer why ask me to put him before Manny

‘Was I disappointed Yeah. But I don’t care. I don’t wanna be angry with Amir. He’s a good boy. Works hard. I wish him well. We had three good years. He was never a problem.’

What Roach does not believe is Khan’s insistence that Hunter has already changed him into a more mature, better defensive, smarter boxer.

Khan was knocked off his world championship perch by Danny Garcia’s thunderbolt left hook earlier this year and Roach, who saw Pacquiao suffer an even more devastating shock from Marquez on Saturday, says: ‘Of course when Amir came back to the corner I told him to use his jab for a round or two and stay out of trouble. Then he could have gone back to beating up Garcia the way he was before he got caught by that strange punch to the neck.

‘But that’s not his instinct. He likes to exchange. He’s a fighter. When he gets hit and hurt his instinct is to hit back. No trainer in the world can change that. Amir will always fight that way and he can do it most of the time because I don’t believe he has an especially suspect chin.'

Khan was brutally punished by Danny Garcia in Las Vegas last time out

Khan was brutally punished by Danny Garcia in Las Vegas last time out

He added: ‘He made the same mistake as Manny, instead of continuing to dart in and out he stayed in the pocket too long when he sensed he was close to winning and got caught by a huge shot. That’s also boxing. But I will always be an offensive trainer because that’s the way to win fights.

‘I don’t know how good a trainer Virgil Hunter is. I know he’s got a great fighter in Andre Ward but however good he is Amir will box aggressive whenever he fights.’

Khan accepts he cannot afford a third successive defeat now but Roach says: ‘He should be okay, even though he should still be a little careful.’ He passes on that warning from his own unbeaten prospect Frankie Gomez, who fights on the undercard here.

Roach says: ‘Frankie fought Molina in the amateurs and tells me he punches harder than his record suggests. Still, Molina is small and Amir should win. You never know what psychological damage may have been done by a big knock-out until the fighter gets in the ring. But I don’t see Amir troubled. And I don’t see that in Manny either.’

Far from splitting from Roach, Pacquiao has invited his trainer to spend Christmas with him in the Philippines as they plot the return of the PacMan.

But if they do go ahead with a fifth Marquez fight Roach will insist on Olympic standard drugs testing. Eyebrows were raised at the muscular transformation of Marquez and his elevated punching power, not least because he recently hired as his physical conditioner one Angel Heredia, who confessed to supplying shamed American Olympic athletes Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery with steroids. Both he and Marquez deny any wrong-doing.

Fourth time lucky: Marquez finally got the better of Khan's former gym-mate Pacquiao

Fourth time lucky: Marquez finally got the better of Khan's former gym-mate Pacquiao

Juan Manuel Marquez celebrates after defeating Manny Pacquiao by a sixth round knockout in their welterweight bout

Roach reveals that he asked for random blood testing prior to Saturday’s shock, adding: ‘The Marquez people refused. I went to the (Nevada) commission but it is their practice not to do that unless both sides agree. If not, they just take a urine test on fight night. But that can be too late.

‘I’m not saying anything specific about Marquez but its not good for boxing if cheats win. There is too much stuff going on now about drugs. We had it with Lamont Peterson being on steroids before he was adjudged to have beaten Amir. It’s not right.’

Pacquiao’s chin is not his problem, either. Roach explains: ‘That punch from Marquez would have knocked out anyone. The issue with Manny will be that even if we don’t get agreement on drugs testing in our training camps, Manny will fight him again, anyway.’

Roach would still prefer that fourth re-match – and, yes, then the big one against Floyd Mayweather – to having Pacquiao start taking on ‘the young guns like Brandon Rios.’

Mayweather After that KO

‘Floyd has got the perfect excuse not to fight Manny now,’ says Roach. ‘But I say why not do the fight. Mayweather is talking about having two fights next year. The first looks like being against Tim Bradley (the beneficiary of a scandalous decision over Pacquiao). Then they are talking about Canelo Alvarez. But that’s too early in Canelo’s career. He needs to continue developing.

‘Canelo is already a bigger star than Floyd in many places so it makes financial sense, also, to let that build towards a mega-fight in 2014. So why not fight Manny after Bradley’

Roach remains convinced of this: ‘I still believe that there are only two men who can beat Mayweather. And they are Pacquiao and Khan.’

Wrap those wrists tight! Roach warns Khan to wrap his hands properly to prevent any further damage

Wrap those wrists tight! Roach warns Khan to wrap his hands properly to prevent any further damage

If Khan is to get that opportunity in the future, he must win in the historic Los Angeles Arena here and now.

To help ensure that victory, his immediate past trainer gives him one reminder, for free: ‘I hope he doesn’t forget to wrap his hands properly. I always wrapped them really stiff because he needs that to protect that right wrist.’

David Price would beat Tyson Fury – Thomas Stalker

Price beat Fury before and I'd back him to do it again before taking on the Klitschkos

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UPDATED:

22:54 GMT, 12 December 2012

Thomas Stalker captained the Team GB boxing squad at the London Olympics and reached the quarter-finals in the light-welterweight division.

Here, in his first column for MailOnline, he discusses the latest news from the ring and his own future in boxing.

Talking point: Thomas Stalker at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield where Team GB boxers are based

Talking point: Thomas Stalker at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield where Team GB boxers are based

Tyson Fury has been slagging off David Price on Twitter.

I
can understand Tyson building the proposed fight up to put bums on
seats and earn a big pay day but David Price will beat him and beat him
well.

I fought on the same
card when Pricey beat him last time. There was a great atmosphere. It
was in the ABA North West Counties finals in Wythenshawe Forum,
Manchester in 2006 and the place was ram packed to the rafters.

Repeat performance: Heavyweight David Price (right) hopes to face rival Tyson Fury

Repeat performance: Heavyweight David Price (right) hopes to face rival Tyson Fury

There
were two big crews of fans from Liverpool and Manchester and I think it
was almost as tasty outside the ring as in. Pricey totally outboxed
Tyson that night and he will do the same. He may be 6ft 8ins tall but
Pricey moves like a middleweight, he's lean and he's got great
technique. Tyson is good but I think Pricey is the best equipped to take
on the Klitschkos if they hang around.

Flintoff deserves respect… but should quit while he's ahead

Freddie Flintoff has been getting some stick off the boxing fraternity.

He's been called a sideshow and I know many fighters thought Freddie's fight with Richard Dawson would be disrespectful to the sport but I disagree. I've been watching Freddie's documentaries on his training and build-up and for me he's been good for boxing.

I don't agree with him grabbing the headlines as if he was top of the bill at Manchester but I suppose with the hype that was inevitable.

Respect: Freddie Flintoff won on his professional boxing debut in Manchester last month

Respect: Freddie Flintoff won on his professional boxing debut in Manchester last month

To me, he took it seriously. He showed heart and courage to take that on. It was like Ricky Hatton's fight the other week, the end result wasn't the important factor. Ricky wanted to answer questions about himself in the ring and Freddie did the same. And you have to say he did well.

Everyone knows he's not going to be a contender for the world heavyweight champion, it was a one-off and he and Barry McGuigan spoke sensibly about it afterwards saying 'That's it now. Finished'. But I was impressed. He showed no fear and he handled his nerves on the day of the fight really well. I know how difficult that is. Now he has seen how hard it is to get into that ring.

You'll always have fans in the street thinking they can do it but until you punch the bags, step in to take that first punch, do that first spar or do the training, you don't realise how hard this game is.

It's a tough business and I think now Freddie should just keep up his training but retire.

Decision time

I've got a big decision to make over the next few weeks.

I have offers to turn professional and have held talks with Khan promotions, Matchroom and a couple of others.

If I go it's a big step because it would mean leaving the Great Britain Olympic set-up and that would be a very sad day.

Devastated: Stalker lost at the quarter-final stage of the London Olympics

Devastated: Stalker lost at the quarter-final stage of the London Olympics

I've done everything with this team bar win a medal. The group is like a second family. We train together, eat together, even live together in a flat in Sheffield so these are people I have a great affection for.

If I turn professional I can't have UK Lottery funding any more, I'm on my own. If I stay I have the funding, the lifestyle and the offer of a coaching job once my fighting days are over.

It's a big risk but I know that if I don't turn professional I'll always be asking 'what if' It's something that may haunt me. I want to test myself, see how far I can go and that is where I am leaning.

People may know I was bitterly disappointed not to win a medal in the summer and it still hurts me every day. If I'd won I wouldn't be thinking of turning professional. The nature of the Olympics has meant those who won medals have had doors opened, great commercial offers and I could have used that while also doing TV work. It would have given a regular income and I could have stayed with the GB set-up.

Weighty issue: Stalker must decide whether to turn professional or remain with Team GB

Weighty issue: Stalker must decide whether to turn professional or remain with Team GB

Weighty issue: Stalker must decide whether to turn professional or remain with Team GB

Whatever happens I will be fighting in February. That's the target whether pro or amateur. It could be in Bulgaria or Hungary or wherever the promoter's bill. I don't know the opponent yet but I have to be ready, that's the business I'm in.

Hopefully, I'll make the right decision in time for Christmas.

One to watch

I saw Hughie Fury who is Tyson's younger cousin fight the other day. He won gold in Armenia in the Youth World Championships as a super heavyweight, beating Narender Berwal from India and that's a great achievement.

The guys from these countries are all improving now and they're tough opponents. Hughie's big but looks a real thinker as well as a hitter and mover. He will be a good bet for gold at Rio or maybe the Olympics after that.

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.'

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez prepare for fourth and final fight

This is it: Pacquiao vows knock out Marquez and end long running rivalry in fourth and final fight

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UPDATED:

15:13 GMT, 6 December 2012

Having shared the ring for 36 rounds over their careers there is not too much that Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez don't know about each other – yet they are prepared to go head to head for one final time.

Officially, the tally stands at two Pacquiao wins and one draw, though many fans and boxing writers believe Marquez could legitimately have won all three encounters.

Saturday’s fight is likely to be another close encounter and Filipino Pacquiao believes this will be the last time the two set foot in the ring together.

Fourth and final time: Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez prepare for their fight on Saturday

Fourth and final time: Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez prepare for their fight on Saturday

'I think this is the last fight with him,’ Pacquiao said.

'Last time,’ agreed trainer Freddie Roach. ‘We're going to knock him out. End of story.'
Pacquiao lost his last fight to Timothy Bradley – albeit in controversial fashion – and Roach says his fighter is hungrier than ever to succeed, especially if he is ever to get Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring.

'The fourth fight could be the same as the last three, but Manny's hungrier now,’ Roach said. 'I don't think Marquez has seen the best Manny yet.’

The final showdown: Pacquiao and Marquez both say this will be the last time they fight each other

The final showdown: Pacquiao and Marquez both say this will be the last time they fight each other

But in the opposite corner, Marquez says his sole motivation for Saturday's non-title welterweight clash is the prospect of finally being able to celebrate victory over the Filipino.

'I want them (his corner) to raise my hand (in triumph),’ Marquez said.
'People tell me, 'You really beat him', in the last three fights, a lot of people feel I beat him.

'But I want to have my hand raised. I want the judges to really look at what they're doing and get it right this time.’

We've met before: Pacquiao and Marquez go head-to-head before their fourth fight

We've met before: Pacquiao and Marquez go head-to-head before their fourth fight

For his part, Pacquiao appears to be growing increasingly frustrated by the Mexican's insistence that he was the deserved winner of their previous three contests, particularly because of the counter-punching style favoured by Marquez.

'He always claims he won the fights,’ said Pacquiao. ‘So he needs to prove something.

'You cannot say, 'Yes I won the fight' when you are always backing off. It's contradictory. If you're claiming you won the fight, then you have to press the action.’

Nice and relaxed: Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach laugh during the press conference

Nice and relaxed: Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach laugh during the press conference

The four-fight rivalry between the two boxers almost failed to last one round. Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the opening round of their first encounter in 2004, but the Mexican rallied to outbox his opponent and eke out a draw.

In their second meeting four years later, Pacquiao knocked down Marquez in the third round, which proved the difference after he won a close split decision.

Their third bout was adjudged a majority decision victory for the Filipino southpaw, despite Pacquiao's surprisingly unimpressive display.

Game face on: Marquez looks serious as he bids to finally get a win over his rival

Game face on: Marquez looks serious as he bids to finally get a win over his rival

'I thought Manny won that fight,’ Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach said on Wednesday. “But the booing was very loud and very vocal.

'Someone said, 'Why aren't you smiling You won the fight'. And I said, 'It's very hard to smile when you're being booed that bad'.’

Pacquiao acknowledged that his series of fights with Marquez had been the defining rivalry of his career.

Capturing the imagination: A blackjack table at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas promotes the fight

Capturing the imagination: A blackjack table at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas promotes the fight

'When you say 'Muhammad Ali', you think 'Joe Frazier',’ the Filipino said. ‘And I think when you say 'Manny Pacquiao', you think 'Juan Manuel Marquez'. And when you say 'Marquez', you think 'Manny Pacquiao'.’

But neither man is expecting a fifth fight, whatever happens in the ring on Saturday. The fourth bout, they insist, will be the last.

'This is the last fight with Manny,’ said Marquez. ‘I don't know what will happen in the ring, but this is the last time.'

Pacquiao v Marquez is live on Primetime from 2am on Sunday morning

Freddie Flintoff ranked 594th in heavyweight world standings

Onwards and upwards! Flintoff 594th in world heavyweight standings – just 522 places below Audley

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UPDATED:

12:31 GMT, 3 December 2012

Watch out Audley, Freddie Flintoff is coming after you!

The former England cricket captain has entered the world heavyweight rankings at No 594 after winning on his professional debut against Richard Dawson on Friday.

That places him one spot immediately below Dimitar Taskov, a Macedonian with two wins and two defeats, and one above America's Kalven Jenkins, who has won one, lost one and drawn two, in the BoxRec website's respected rankings.

Winning debut: Andrew Flintoff was celebrating after beating Richard Dawson

Winning debut: Andrew Flintoff was celebrating after beating Richard Dawson

Spirit: Flintoff bounced back from an early knockdown to beat Dawson

Spirit: Flintoff bounced back from an early knockdown to beat Dawson

It also leaves the 34-year-old a slender 522 places below free-falling Audley Harrison, who intends to fight on after his 82-second humiliation against David Price on October 13.

Price, incidentally, is ranked at 12, behind notable rivals Tyson Fury (7) and David Haye (5).

Flintoff recovered from a second-round knockdown to win a points verdict over Dawson in front of 6,000 fans in Manchester last week, but will not make a decision on a ring return until next year.

Stats official: Andrew Flintoff is ranked 594th in the heavyweight standings

Stats official: Andrew Flintoff is ranked 594th in the heavyweight standings

'Every time walking between the ropes has been an effort,' he said. 'The physical aspect is one thing but the mental aspect is another thing completely.

'I take my hat off to boxers and I give every credit to the hard work they put in.

'I put myself out to a degree but if I'd have been knocked out in the first round, everyone would have said, “Oh, he's just a big cricketer”.

'On a global scale, this comes nowhere near to my cricket career. I've had a novice heavyweight fight but I've had the chance to play for England in the Ashes and been successful.'

England reckoning looms in India – Paul Newman

Out of the frying pan into the (Ring of) Fire… England reckoning looms in India

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UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 21 November 2012

It is unlikely that England will summon up the spirit of Johnny Cash to motivate them in the second Test, as they did when they won here six years ago, but they are certainly in need of something as they approach a game they dare not lose.

Ring of Fire was the theme tune for Andrew Flintoff's greatest captaincy hour and the heat will certainly be on England's under-performing stars if the alarming slump that began with the one-day whitewash in India this time last year continues on Friday at the impressive Wankhede Stadium.

This is not quite make or break for the players who took England to the top of the cricketing world but it is not far off. Lose the second Test, and with it any chance of winning this series, and some tough questions will have to be asked.

Ring of fire: England captain Cook could use the same inspiration as Freddie Flintoff - Johnny Cash

Ring of fire: England captain Cook could use the same inspiration as Freddie Flintoff – Johnny Cash

Andy Flower, understandably, wants to wait until the end of the series before judgments are made. But he might soon have to confront the harsh reality that England are not as good as we all thought they were in the heady days when the Ashes were won both home and away and India were thrashed last year.

Okay, it is in Asian conditions that England have most struggled but they were also convincingly beaten by South Africa at home and Flower needs to see evidence here to show that this team have not already peaked and are in decline.

It was intriguing that Hugh Morris, the man in charge of the England team, sat in on Flower's press conference here on Tuesday and hung on every word but there is no question that there is any pressure on the team director for his job.

Morris, and ECB chairman Giles Clarke, rightly want Flower to be at the helm of England for a good while yet but they know that a man who had to bear the brunt of the Kevin Pietersen affair could only be wearied and hastened towards the exit door by the continual failure of his team.

Drink it in: Flintoff leads the celebrations after England beat India in Mumbai six years ago

Drink it in: Flintoff leads the celebrations after England beat India in Mumbai

Drink it in: Flintoff leads the celebrations after England beat India in Mumbai six years ago

A GOOD TOSS TO WIN

Amid rumours that the Indian Cricket Board have asked for a spinning track to assist their slow bowlers, the likeliest scenario is that the pitch will have something in it for everyone.

The seamers should enjoy more bounce and carry on the first day than at Ahmedabad.

But the pitch will turn, probably more than during the first Test. If Alastair Cook wins the toss, he should have no hesitation in batting first.

Flower handled his inquisitors in his
usual impressive, articulate manner, as Morris's words of encouragement
to him afterwards confirmed, but elsewhere within the England team there
are signs of a siege mentality taking hold.

First we had Stuart Broad questioning the rights of the likes of Sir Ian Botham to give his opinion on England and then came one of those bland press conferences that Broad apparently hates featuring Jonathan Trott.

Most of an uneventful 14 minutes is not worth repeating here but there were a couple of comments that betrayed a prickly mood within the camp.

Trott interpreted one reporter's smile as he asked a question as evidence of him enjoying England's misfortune (the truth is that he was just trying to be cheery) while there were mutterings about old players 'thinking the game was better in their day.'

When something goes wrong it is always the media's fault.

In a spin: Ojha took nine wickets in the first Test

In a spin: Ojha took nine wickets in the first Test

Thankfully, the media will not be going
into battle for England here but Eoin Morgan might be. The thinking is
that a left-hander is needed in the middle order to combat Pragyan Ojha
and that could hand the Irishman another chance to prove that he can
succeed in Test cricket in these conditions.

Jonny Bairstow was unlucky not to start
this series after his 95 in the last Test of the summer but he looked
all at sea against spin in the Indian one-day series last year so he may
apparently miss out again even though he scored a century in a warm-up
game ahead of the first Test.

England could go with both Morgan and Bairstow but that would be harsh on Samit Patel who, in my opinion, deserves at least one more chance to prove that he is an accomplished player of spin even though there would be less need for his slow left-arm if Monty Panesar is in the team.

Panesar will surely play here at the ground where he spectacularly dropped and then caught MS Dhoni six years ago even though there should be more in the Mumbai pitch for the English seamers than in Ahmedabad.

A word of caution, though. Monty averages 55 per wicket in India and on previous visits has gone at more than three runs an over, figures that he will have to improve if he is to have the same impact here as Ojha did in Ahmedabad.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the first Test is that India had the quickest bowler in Umesh Yadev and the best practitioner of reverse swing in Zaheer Khan. It was indeed worrying that, as well as outbatting and outspinning England, they had the better seam attack too. Broad and Jimmy Anderson are in just as big a need of a big game here as Pietersen and Trott are.

In many ways the famous line of the man from the Independent who, on covering his first Ashes tour more than 25 years ago, said that England had only three problems – they couldn't bat, bowl nor field, could have applied to the first Test where five chances went begging too.

The biggest problem now is clearly first innings runs. If Alastair Cook wins the toss and England finally get a big total on the board tomorrow then everything else might just click into place. Things can only get better.

Test essential

VIDEO: And it burns, burns, burns…