Tag Archives: garden

American Grand Prix preview

F1 is back on the menu as stars head to Austin, but will America bite

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 15 November 2012

An entrepreneurial bond trader, Formula One’s leading circuit designer, the favoured lieutenant of an octogenarian Texan billionaire, and a few locals lunch together in a boots-and-cowboy joint called Wild Bubba’s.

Today’s special: road kill chili, comprising antelope and wild boar.

The restaurant is situated amid scrubland in Elroy on the unfashionable south-eastern fringe of Austin, close to the airport. When the owner, Bubba no less, heard that the American Grand Prix was coming to the area he immediately took himself downtown to see the bond trader, aka Bobby Epstein, chairman of the whole enterprise, and introduced himself as the mayor of Elroy.

Big weekend: Wyman Gilliam, owner of Wild Bubba's in downtown Elroy, Texas

Big weekend: Wyman Gilliam, owner of Wild Bubba's in downtown Elroy, Texas

‘Really You’re the mayor of Elroy’ exclaimed Epstein.

Bubba’s deadpan response: ‘Self-proclaimed, sir.’ Bubba, a laconic 55-year-old wearing a red cap bearing the Circuit of the Americas insignia, saw the potential in a 250million project that brings Formula One back to the United States for the first time since 2007. He is now counting profits that are 80 per cent up in the past year.

‘I’m not buying a new boat,’ he said, ‘but I am paying the electricity bill.’

Perhaps exaggerating a touch, he added: ‘Maybe 99 per cent of people have totally embraced what’s taking place. There is some opposition from people who want to keep a quiet situation. But we could have got a new city dump out here or a new state prison. I am happy to say we have got Formula One.’

Bubba has even renamed his beer garden the Tilke Biergarten in honour of Hermann Tilke, the circuit designer from Germany who has used the natural undulations of the land to confect one of his more promising tracks.

Promising much: The track in Austin has been praised ahead of the race on Sunday

Promising much: The track in Austin has been praised ahead of the race on Sunday

Promising much: The track in Austin has been praised ahead of the race on Sunday

The short sprint up to the first left-hand corner and down again is instantly impressive even when you are riding in a truck driven by the affable Rad Weaver, the aforementioned lieutenant to the 85-year-old car-dealing, sports team-owning, oil-drilling, real estate-developing mogul Red McCombs, who along with Epstein and the acrimoniously discarded former racer Tavo Hellmund, is a founding father of Austin’s Formula One gambit.

There is an infectious pride among Bubba’s lunch crowd. They love the circuit. They take you to see the enviable number of turns visible from certain vantage points. Their welcome is warm.

Yet the local newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, reports unrest among the 800,000 Austinites. ‘Keep Austin weird’ is a self-styled slogan in this defiantly hip, liberal, green, unglitzy, student city known for the University of Texas and officially declaring itself ‘The Live Music Capital of the World’.

Epstein counters that Formula One leads the way in developing green technologies. He also believes the circuit, which is due to host other series including Moto GP, could annually generate 500m for the city.

Looking at the hotel prices, they may do that in one weekend. Seriously, it is 700 a night at the Hilton, where the McLaren team are staying. That larceny is mirrored across downtown.

Race is on: Sebastian Vettel (right) and Fernando Alonso will resume their title fight again

Race is on: Sebastian Vettel (right) and Fernando Alonso will resume their title fight again

All 120,000 tickets are sold, at between 100 and 300. Another 200,000 visitors are expected in town for the party. Streets have been cordoned off for 70 live acts, including Aerosmith and Enrique Iglesias.

Talk to taxi drivers and they fear congestion. We Londoners remember that refrain from 99 out of 100 cabbies before the Olympics. But speak to most folk here and they are either positively excited or faintly open-minded about the extravaganza. In truth, they are not totally sure what they have got themselves into.

Take Epstein. He wanted to know what Bernie Ecclestone, who has agreed a 10-year deal with Austin, would have his eyes on when he arrived for Thursday’s inspection. I told him neatness, straight lines, no litter. Not easy because the grass was still being laid this week and some of the apparently temporary hospitality units needed further work.

Take America’s relationship with Formula One. The country has traditionally preferred the belching, muscular saloons of Nascar. That championship’s final round falls on Sunday and is sure to attract more domestic TV viewers than the Grand Prix, that unloved, occasional caller from Europe.

Two wheels better than four Jenson Button takes a look at the track

Two wheels better than four Jenson Button takes a look at the track

Incidentally, nobody in Austin has yet been well-versed enough in the sport to have talked to me about the title fight between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, a year-long struggle that could be resolved here.

On Formula One’s last venture into this vast land, the Indianapolis Star asked locals what they knew about life over the pond. ‘Who is the British prime minister’ they inquired.

‘Albert Einstein,’ came the response.

‘That’s not bad,’ said Epstein on hearing the story. ‘We are such an egotistical people that 50 per cent of us would not know who the vice-president is. Formula One is opening Austin up in so many ways.’

Some teams arrived here to find the garages smaller than usual. That quibble makes little difference to Formula One’s chances of survival in a market crucial to manufacturers of cars and, in Red Bull’s case, drinks. But what will be more damaging is if punters get soaked. There is a 20 per cent chance of rain on Sunday, and that makes front-page news in a desert like this.

Another fear concerns how the public roads suddenly go down to one lane on the approach to the circuit. Old Silverstone-style traffic jams would be just the road kill that Bobby, Red and Rad do not want or deserve.

David Haye boxing clever and Helen Flanagan a real soap star in I"m A Celebrity

Haye boxing clever and Bristow on target as Flanagan proves she's a true soap star

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UPDATED:

09:25 GMT, 12 November 2012

I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here

Stick with Sportsmail Online for daily updates about what is happening in the jungle

Even now, after 10 series of ITV's I'm A Celebrity… Get me Out Of Here, there may still be a few people out there wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to spend up to three weeks in the garden feature from hell

True, in some (okay, perhaps many) cases, the answer is in that question. But that is surely not the whole truth.

After all, if you were going to not wash for days, eat animals' unmentionables and make small talk with someone from a reality show that you've never heard of, would you want to do it under the unblinking gaze of the British telly-viewing public

Soap star: Helen Flanagan has swapped the Coronation Street cobbles for the Australian jungle

Soap star: Helen Flanagan has swapped the Coronation Street cobbles for the Australian jungle

More from Mark Webster…

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Okay, once again a lot of the answer is in the question, but there is also some method in that madness.

The perfect reminder of that was live on ITV on Friday when Phil Tufnell appeared on a special I'm A Celebrity… Who Wants To be A Millionaire.

Sitting alongside fellow 'King' Joe Pasquale, the current One Show reporter and Question Of Sport captain told Chris Tarrant he'd been at the US Embassy until four in the morning for the Presidential election.

'It was a good party. Last to leave as usual', laughed the irrepressible Tuffers, but do you imagine any of that would have happened if his biggest claim to fame had been a seven for 42 against Leicestershire at Grace Road, rather than becoming King Phil in 2003

No, for those few of you who hadn't noticed, I'm A Celebrity is a golden ticket to a whole new kind of fame and the sport folks competing to be this year's Charlie in the Chocolate Factory are David Haye and Eric Bristow; with affiliated support – and almost certainly, more shower scenes – coming from Scott Sinclair's actress girlfriend Helen Flanagan.

And it didn't take long for the two Londoners who usually let their fists do the talking – obviously, In Eric's case, while clenching his tungstens – to tell us why they have both excelled in their respective sports.

'I usually deal with confrontation with a right hook. I can be cocky. Arrogant. And I have a phobia of losing,' the Hayemaker informed us, clearly deciding that the Christopher Biggins approach to jungle glory was not for him.

Mind you, The Crafty Cockney was just as bullish.

'I fear nothing. I'm arrogant. Confident. You like me or you don't. Whatever it takes, I'll do it', he told us.

Clearly our superstar d'artist believes a good game of killer is just as much fun away from the oche.

Of the two, the south London heavyweight champ earned early bragging rights when his team won the helicopter ride in to their camp.

Squaring up: Former heavyweight champion David Haye (left) was against Made In Chelsea's Hugo Taylor

Squaring up: Former heavyweight champion David Haye (left) was against Made In Chelsea's Hugo Taylor

Hitting the bullseye: Darts legend Eric Bristow is on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here

Hitting the bullseye: Darts legend Eric Bristow is on I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here

Eric's team contained former Time Lard Colin Baker, who couldn't escape a dalek with a flat tyre these days, which meant they got an actual, as well as metaphorical, sinking ship to arrive by.

Of the initial challenges though, it was Helen who got the first serious welcome to the jungle for our sports folks.

Taking on a rope bridge across a ravine, Helen told us 'this is the most scared, like, ever' she's ever, like, been as she set out on her precarious endeavour.

Then many tears, a possible throw up and 47,000 'oh my Gods' later, she was across!

It took less than a couple of minutes to watch. However, judging by the changing light and the fact Brian Conley had grown a beard since she set out on her quest, it may have actually taken a tad longer.

Dream team: Presenters Ant (2nd right) and Dec (right) are the stars of the show

Dream team: Presenters Ant (2nd right) and Dec (right) are the stars of the show

As ever, presiding over the fun, fear and frolics are Ant & Dec who remain the sharpest, most endearing talents in light entertainment.

These two are the barometer of the series, judging perfectly where to go with the humour, the angst, the drama and the melodrama.

They welcomed David to the first Bushtucker trial of the series, competing against one Hugo Taylor from Made In Chelsea, who very quickly realised he wasn't in the Kings Road any more.

Challenge: David Haye was tested early on in the new series of I'm A Celebrity...

Challenge: David Haye was tested early on in the new series of I'm A Celebrity…

'That took real endurance and strength' said Ant in the pouring rain.

'Telling me. Nearly forty minutes we had to hold that umbrella up' deadpanned back Dec as Haye came out the resounding, and not entirely unexpected winner.

So for the first few nights, we'll be watching Team David versus Team Eric, which at the moment is looking like Barcelona against Billericay.

But obviously it's still early days, so join me here every morning to find out just how the jungle is rumbling.

Dirty work but somebody's got to do it: Helen Flanagan was snapped taking a shower

Dirty work but somebody's got to do it: Helen Flanagan was snapped taking a shower

St Louis Rams cheerleaders visit Abbey Road

Abbey days as NFL cheerleaders Come Together to visit famous Beatles landmark

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UPDATED:

14:07 GMT, 24 October 2012

Anyone walking down the world-famous Abbey Road on Wednesday morning would have been left in no doubt that the NFL is back in town.

The glamorous St Louis Rams cheerleaders were spotted, like many a good tourist before them, walking in the footsteps of The Beatles across that iconic zebra crossing.

The Rams and the Patriots will go head to head at Wembley on Sunday in a regular-season game – the fifth time two American Football sides have crossed the Atlantic to do battle in London.

Look familiar The St Louis Rams mascot and cheerleaders cross Abbey Road on Wednesday

Look familiar The St Louis Rams mascot and cheerleaders cross Abbey Road on Wednesday

World famous: The iconic album cover for the Beatles' 1969 album, Abbey Road

World famous: The iconic album cover for the Beatles' 1969 album, Abbey Road

To celebrate their arrival on these
shores the Rams' cheerleaders were pictured aping the front cover of one
of the most celebrated albums of all time.

It was a fine way to Come Together
with their British cousins but were the girls heard exclaiming 'Here
Comes the Sun' In these grey October skies there's as much chance of
that as spotting an octopus in a garden.

Mystery tour: The St Louis Rams cheerleaders follow in the Beatles' footsteps

Mystery tour: The St Louis Rams cheerleaders follow in the Beatles' footsteps

Look familiar The St Louis Rams mascot and cheerleaders cross Abbey Road on Wednesday

Meanwhile, the Rams' players were
spotted further north stepping up their preparations for the big game at
Arsenal's London Colney training base.

And they had one particularly
interested spectator overlooking their training in the form of Arsenal
and England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Football, but not as they know it: The Rams prepare for the game at Arsenal's training ground, London Colney

Football, but not as they know it: The Rams prepare for the game at Arsenal's training ground, London Colney

Football, but not as they know it: The Rams prepare for the game at Arsenal's training ground, London Colney

Football, but not as they know it: The Rams prepare for the game at Arsenal's training ground, London Colney

Since 2007, nine teams have played in London since the first annual game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants.

And if the early signs are anything to go
by, London's NFL fans are guaranteed to enjoy a Fab Four quarters' worth
of rough and tumble, American style, on Sunday.

Star man: Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (second right) talks tactics with his team-mates

Star man: Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (second right) talks tactics with his team-mates

Catch it if you can: Running back Terrance Ganaway in action during training at London Colney

Catch it if you can: Running back Terrance Ganaway in action during training at London Colney

Interested observer: Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) watches the NFL stars train

Interested observer: Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) watches the NFL stars train

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez will have fourth bout

Destroy the doubt! Pacquiao wants to show who's boss in fourth bout against Marquez

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UPDATED:

08:26 GMT, 18 September 2012

Manny Pacquiao wants to put an end to any doubts regarding his superiority over Juan Marquez and claims he is aiming for a knock out when the two meet for a fourth time in December.

Three bouts in eight years have not resolved the rivalry so they meet again on December 8 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.

'I want to erase the doubt of the last three fights,' Pacquiao said. 'There's so many people still asking if I won the fights. I think to myself, “Something is wrong. I have to do it again.”

Big plans: Manny Pacquiao wants to KO Juan Marquez (right)

Big plans: Manny Pacquiao wants to KO Juan Marquez (right)

'This time, I will train hard to put this fight up in the history of boxing. I want to make this fight short. I want to knock him out.'

Although they are extending a rivalry to rare lengths in modern boxing, the fighters and promoters believe fans will warm to the matchup when they remember just how good the first three fights were.

Pacquiao and Marquez fought to a draw in 2004, while Pacquiao won by split decision in 2008 and again by majority decision last year. The bouts featured knockdowns, wild momentum swings and fascinating contrasts in technique – but Marquez and many fans still believe he won all three fights, while Pacquiao says he clearly won the last two.

'It's been an incredible ride,' Top Rank promoter Todd duBoef said. 'People ask me whether it's going to be hard to sell a fourth fight. Did you see the first 36 rounds There wasn't a dull moment.'

Laughing mattter: Pacquiao with his trainer Freddie Roach

Laughing mattter: Pacquiao with his trainer Freddie Roach

With a combination of unfinished business and unmatched financial reward, Pacquiao and Marquez both had plenty of incentive to get together again. They have fought at 125, 130 and 144 pounds, and their fourth fight will be a straight welterweight contest at 147.

Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) is coming off his first loss since 2005, a wildly disputed decision to Timothy Bradley. Still stinging from that embarrassment, he says he is going back to the ferocious, relentless style of fighting that made him an eight-division champion. Pacquiao hasn't stopped an opponent in more than three years, a once-unthinkable drought for a relentless puncher.

'I want to be the other Manny Pacquiao, like when I was 24, 25 years old,' Pacquiao said. 'I want people who watch this fight to be satisfied. I don't care about a belt. I don't care about the money. I want the win.'

Arguments: Debate still rages over who won certain fights

Arguments: Debate still rages over who won certain fights

Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) has tested Pacquiao more than any opponent, with counterpunching skills and comprehensive boxing knowledge that can negate many of Pacquiao's strengths. But Pacquiao also is a nightmare matchup for Marquez, whose relentlessness hasn't been enough to overcome Pacquiao's once-in-a-generation combination of speed and strength.

While Pacquiao has a plan to recapture his best form, Marquez believes the only way to be sure he'll finally get his hand raised is to stop the Filipino congressman. Marquez swore off the rivalry and nearly retired in frustration immediately after Pacquiao's victory last fall, but agreed to return after a few months to cool down.

'I won all of the last three fights,' Marquez said. 'I would like the referee to raise my hand. Everybody knows I won the fights, and I don't know what happened with the judges. I have to take it out of the judges' hands this time.'

Settle the debate: In December we may get a resolution at last

Settle the debate: In December we may get a resolution at last

Pacquiao will not train in Baguio, the high-altitude northern Philippines city where he has traditionally started training camp before heading to trainer Freddie Roach's gym for the final few weeks.

Instead, Pacquiao and Roach will be in Hollywood for their entire training camp, dramatically reducing the number of distractions for the Philippines' most famous person.

Pacquiao and Marquez will join the short list of rivalries that couldn't be contained by a mere trilogy, including Sugar Ray Robinson's six fights with Jake LaMotta and Robinson's four bouts with Gene Fullmer. More recently, Israel Vazquez's sensational rivalry with Rafael Marquez, Juan Manuel's brother, extended to four fights, concluding with Marquez's third-round stoppage of Vazquez in May 2010.

'I never thought it would go to four fights,' Pacquiao said. 'It's a first for me.'

Julio Cesar Chavez against Sergio Martinez has the makings of modern classic

Sin City awaits a modern classic as Chavez and Martinez prepare for battle

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UPDATED:

23:26 GMT, 14 September 2012

So powerful is the sense that ring history is in the making that not even a rival world championship promotion less than two miles down The Strip could prevent Julio Cesar Chavez versus Sergio 'Maravilla' Martinez selling out the biggest arena in town.

So strong is the urge to be able to say you were there the night these men hewn from the highest tradition of prize-fighting elevated themselves to the pantheon of middleweight boxing that attendance records at the Thomas and Mack Center are being shattered.

Tens of thousands of Mexicans – and not a few Argentinians – have responded to the potential of this fight to compare with the magical middleweight battles of the past.

Ready for battle: Julio Cesar Chavez and Sergio Martinez go head to head for the final time before the meet in the ring

Ready for battle: Julio Cesar Chavez and Sergio Martinez go head to head for the final time before the meet in the ring

This is an annual pilgrimage from south of the border in celebration of Mexican Independence Day but an unprecedented 50,000 are estimated to have made the crossing this year.

So even as 19,186 tickets have been sold for Chavez-Martinez, it is likely that the overflow will fill the 16,000 seat MGM Grand Garden Arena, at the same televised hour.

There another Mexican prodigy, the quirkily red-headed Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, will defend his world super-welterweight title against Hispanic Californian Josesito Lopez.

In normal circumstance this confrontational scheduling between Bob Arum’s Top Rank, who represent Chavez, and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy, who handle Chavez, should have cut off the noses of both promoters and left egg on the faces of them and their television pay-masters.

Pulling the crowds: WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr signs autographs

Pulling the crowds: WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr signs autographs

Yet the explosive potential of Chavez Jnr and Martinez, nine years his senior, has HBO predicting high pay-per-view sales and Showtime confident of a substantial spin-off viewing audience of their own.

Can they live up to the hype Their pedigree suggests.

Chavez, of course, is the same-name son of an iconic father. Julio Cesar Snr is here confident that his 26-year boy is ready to step out of his shadow and become a legend in his own right.

To do that, even though he already holds the lineal WBC world title, he must defeat now the successor to perhaps the greatest Argentine boxer , even though Martinez is a different animal from his own idol.

Carlos Monzon, who ranks among the best middleweights of all time, was a Bull (of the Pampas) by nickname and a bull of a fighter.

Mobbed: Martinez arrives in Las Vegas

Mobbed: Martinez arrives in Las Vegas

/09/14/article-2203464-14E8D7A1000005DC-243_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Chance to shine: Matthew Macklin fights Joachim Alcine in a world-title eliminator on the undercard” class=”blkBorder” />

Chance to shine: Matthew Macklin fights Joachim Alcine in a world-title eliminator on the undercard

If so Martinez, at 37, will be giving away not only those nine years but more than 20 lbs.

So you pay your money at the sports book at the fight-hosting Wynn Hotel and Casino and you make your choice between youth and crunching size or speed and dazzling technique. You also have to decide that even though last year would have been too soon for Chavez, whether Saturday might be a few months too late for Martinez.

As if that equation is not tricky enough, we also have genuine anger and resentment mixing spite and venom into this cocktail.

Martinez, a charming gentleman by nature, has been riled by his conviction that Chavez was manipulated to the world title at his expense, So he has accused the champion of disrespecting boxing and his fabled mentor Freddie Roach with his erratic training pattern and alleged drinking habits.

Chavez, very much in his famous father’s idiom, has labelled Martinez a liar who has prospered on easy fights.

Undefeated: Chavez is the slight favorite

Undefeated: Chavez is the slight favorite

Each has threatened to seriously harm the other.

The plot thickened when Jose Sulaiman, Mexican president of the WBC and godfather of Chavez the younger, was heard betting an expensive dinner on Julio Cesar Jnr winning.

Martinez joked: ‘I wish he had made the bet with me. Then I could have had a fine meal to go with the title I am going to win.’

Then, seriously in view of the recent results controversies in Las Vegas, he added: ‘I don’t want a gift from the judges. Only justice.’

The odds, marginally in favour of Martinez a the start of the week, are expected to close to dead even as more Mexican money comes in.

Personally, I was inclining towards Chavez until his team kept predicting that body shots would slow down the older man. Since Martinez’s otherwise dangerous habit of carrying his hands low by his sides should offer him protection against that plan, he can win with a typically late stoppage.

Still, it is a desperately close call. More importantly for boxing, it could be a middleweight classic.

Chavez-Martinez and Macklin-Arcine is live on Primetime from 2am via Sky Ch. 498 and Virgin on Demand, 14.95 and Alvarez-Lopez live on BoxNation from 2am via Sky Ch. 437 and Virgin Ch. 546

Kell Brook prepares to face Carson Jones

I can be a superstar! Brook targets world domination after taking care of Jones

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UPDATED:

15:01 GMT, 6 July 2012

Kell Brook believes he is on the verge of becoming British boxing's next superstar as he edges towards world title glory.

The unbeaten Sheffield welterweight has seen his profile soar in the last year as his slick and powerful fighting style has captured the public's imagination.

The 26-year-old is biding his time for a title shot as he works his way into a mandatory challenger position and he can move a step closer with victory over dangerous American Carson Jones at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena on Saturday night.

Looking sharp: Kell Brook during the weigh in at the Winter Garden

Looking sharp: Kell Brook during the weigh in at the Winter Garden

The two meet in an eliminator for the IBF title with the winner moving to within one final step of a crack at the belt. Brook knows an impressive win against Oklahoma native Jones will give his reputation across the Atlantic a real boost too.

'The Americans are starting to hear about me now and so I want to be making a statement in this fight and taking care of Carson in style,' he said.

'They are talking about me along with their elite fighters over there and saying “this English kid, he's a force to be reckoned with”.

'It's looking like I could be British boxing's next superstar. Sky love me and it's all there for me.

Fighting fit: Carson Jones looks ready to go during the weigh in

Fighting fit: Carson Jones looks ready to go during the weigh in

'It's up to me to get that title and do Britain proud, to go over there to other people's backyards and really take them by storm.'

Jones is perceived in Britain as another stepping stone towards Brook's world title shot but the heavy-handed Oklahoma man is ranked higher by the IBF and has just as much reason for optimism.

Whereas Brook has won all of his 27 fights, Jones' record is far from unblemished.

The American suffered eight defeats earlier in his career but after coming up the hard way, has won his last eight by stoppage.

And while Brook dislikes the 25-year-old, he respects his fistic achievements.

'This is a chance to earn even more recognition by beating a guy who is well respected even if he isn't well known over here,' he said.

'He's been sparring with top fighters, he's had the training, he's turned his career around.

'He's above me in the ratings and we know he is probably going to be my toughest fight to date.'

Head on: Brook and Jones square up after the weigh in

Head on: Brook and Jones square up after the weigh in

Brook is fifth in the IBF ratings while Jones is third. The winner at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday will then square off with number four Hector Saldivia for the right to challenge for the title, recently won by Randall Bailey.

Jones insists his defeats will actually prove to be the making of him in the long run.

He said: 'I've come through the hard way and I know the ins and outs and what it takes. I know I'm getting in his head and I think that has something to do with his maturity levels.

Fighting talk: Brook and Jones trash talk ahead of the bout in Sheffield

Fighting talk: Brook and Jones trash talk ahead of the bout in Sheffield

'I'm a better fighter because of the hard times. You learn more from losses than you do from wins. He's been hand-fed all of his opponents while I've had to come through the hard way. As a result, I've learned a lot and am a better fighter and a better man for that.'

At the weigh-in at the Winter Garden in Sheffield, Brook came in at 10 stone 6 lbs 10 ounces while Jones registered 10st 6lb 6oz.

A stellar undercard sees Welsh success story Kerry Hope defend his European middleweight title against the man he won it from, Poland's Grzegorz Proksa, and countryman Gavin Rees puts his European lightweight belt on the line against Derry Mathews.

Former Olympian Kal Yafai makes his professional debut at bantamweight against Delroy Spencer.

VIDEO: It's going to be one Kell of a fight

London 2012 Olympics: Athletes" Village pictures revealed

'Risque' artwork, private cinema, pub garden (but no booze!) and 16,000 beds… A glimpse inside the Olympic Athletes Village

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UPDATED:

09:30 GMT, 30 June 2012

A pink metal three-piece suite in a park and day-glow 1950s-style signs in the chill-out lounge are among the shape of things to come for the world's top athletes at the London 2012 Games.

The Athletes Village in Stratford, east London, which will be their home-from-home during the Games, opens for business on July 16.

Around 17,000 Olympic and 6,000 Paralympic athletes as well as officials from 203 nations are set to be based there.

Place to eat: Facilities at the Olympic and Paralympic Athletes' Village have been revealed

Place to eat: Facilities at the Olympic and Paralympic Athletes' Village have been revealed

It is meant to be bright and fun but most importantly functional so that the athletes can concentrate on the business at hand, according to London 2012's chief executive Paul Deighton, speaking on a tour of the village.

He said: 'It is meant to be a place where they can get on with their everyday lives and this is a stress-free environment.'

The village was put through a mini-dry run of how it will cope using a 600-strong group of invited guests.

There might be a cue for these: Pool tables are sure to prove popular in the athletes' downtime

There might be a cue for these: Pool tables are sure to prove popular in the athletes' downtime

Sponsors, media and officials, plus representatives from sports federations and governing bodies were the guinea pigs.

They got a tour of the grounds, a sleep-over in the athletes' apartments and were also put through the airport-style security that anyone entering the venue faces.

Landscaping in Victory Park, the green space linking the 11 blocks of flats the athletes will live in, also includes large scale pieces of art.

There is a slightly risque one called Olympic Spirit showing a twisting tower of three people seeming to hold and balance each other. The hand of the person on the base is in a delicate and private position.

Road to success: Will the street names inspire British success at the Games

Road to success: Will the street names inspire British success at the Games

There are also giant metal animals including a tortoise and a gorilla.

Then there is the dusky pink and worn-in three-piece Chesterfield suite on the grass.

Mr Deighton said: 'It is just one of the things that is just there to make it feel like home. It is a bit of fun.

'I think that what surprises everybody is when you see the village from outside and there is this massive green plaza in the middle.

Risque Artwork in the Athletes Village

Risque Artwork in the Athletes Village

'Each of the blocks have their own courtyard and it helps create their own sense of space and peace.'

The village is split in to three zones based around typical British scenes. There is seaside because it is near water features and especially cultivated wetlands. Heritage and countryside are the others.

Figuring out who goes where is like a 'giant puzzle', Mr Deighton noted, and the answer as to which nation will live at which site is a closely-guarded secret.

Road signs in the village have the E20 postcode on them which previously only existed in fiction as part of the setting for the BBC soap EastEnders.

On their way to and from the giant communal dining hall, which can seat 5,000, or to the post office, the Lloyds Bank or the on-site dry cleaners the 2012 athletes will find themselves striding down Champions Walk, Medals Way and Celebration Avenue.

New routemaster buses, not the traditional ones, will take the athletes to their competitions.

There should be no reason why any athlete should get bored. Lots of distractions have been put in place to fill the time once the hard work involved in training for their events and their individual competitions are over.

A nail bar and hairdressers are on site where free styling and wet shaves are on offer.

If previous Games are anything to go by it is where the athletes will get the Olympic Rings shaved in to their hair, according to Emily Brett, London 2012's athletes services manager.

She said: 'P and G (the household product company who are backing it) have already ensured they have the colours of every national flag to help meet all the requests that might come in.'

There is a big chill-out zone in the village. It is adorned with lightboxes which say things like 'fun fun fun', 'Wow' and 'Boogie'.

Busy: Around 17,000 Olympic and 6,000 Paralympic athletes will be based at the Village

Busy: Around 17,000 Olympic and 6,000 Paralympic athletes will be based at the Village

It includes a private cinema, stage, bar, music studio, pool and football tables, a computer gaming area, pin trading, facility to exchange clothes, TVs and Blu-ray and a pub garden – but no alcohol will be served.

Ms Brett said: 'It is going to be the buzziest place in the athletes village.'

Up to 3,500 guests are expected daily, including press, broadcasters, athletes' friends, VIPs and dignitaries at the village plaza.

The nitty-gritty detail of the internal fit-out of the 2,818 apartments on the north-east boundary of east London's Olympic Park has been explored by London 2012's athletes committee.

Top of the athletes' shopping list were things that would help them get a good night's sleep.

Extendable beds for some of the very tall athletes, such as the basketball players, and black-out curtains that hit the floor and actually work have been installed.

At London 2012 there are pegs to hang kit and sports accessories in the bedrooms, under-bed storage for sports gear and suitcases plus movable rails inside the wardrobes which are particularly useful when the venue becomes a Paralympic Village.

Chilled: The Globe entertainment lounge

Chilled: The Globe entertainment lounge

This must be Usain's seat! The Globe entertainment lounge has some positive messages on the walls

Among the flat-pack furniture, which has been delivered, built and installed since October, are more than 16,000 beds, 9,000 wardrobes and 11,000 sofas.

Menus have been checked but athletes also wanted things to be grilled, minus a sauce.

None of the rooms has a kitchen because there is a massive communal dining hall. Grab-and-go carts will also be in place for those occasions when the team is running short of time. There will also be a cafe and informal dining spot where barbecues will be available.

An Olympic broadcast channel showing the action but no commentary from the different competitions will be available on televisions in each apartment.

Fibre optic broadband is installed and there is a laundrette in the basement.

The Village is a high security area and all luggage is screened just as at an airport.

Athletes can bring four large pieces of luggage with them such as javelins.
As the bus carrying the tour group moved in to the security zone surrounding the village, it was stopped and checked with a mirror and a sniffer dog.

Next stop was the welcome centre where ID was checked.
Scottish Paralympic cycle champion Aileen McGlynn, who gave some input in to the venue, said: 'There has been a lot of detail gone through with the accommodation.

'At the end of the day we have got to remember why we are there.

'In the dining hall for example which has a lot of different types of food, just like at other Games, you will tend to stick with your own team.

'Some people will over indulge but you have just got to remember why you are here.'

Manny Pacquiao loses title on controversial split decision to Tim Bradley

Was this the biggest robbery in boxing history Sport stunned as Pac Man loses title on points

|

UPDATED:

22:22 GMT, 10 June 2012

Not even George Clooney and his boys would have dared attempt a movie heist in Sin City as big as the real crime perpetrated under cover of darkness here.

A cool $200million disappeared in the most expensive robbery in boxing history.

While Floyd Mayweather was kicking his heels in a jail cell a few miles down this neon strip, Manny Pacquiao was adjudged to have suffered the defeat which has cost the pair of them that bonanza from their mega-fight which will never now take place.

World champion: Bradley celebrates after defeating Pacquiao to win the WBO welterweight championship

World champion: Bradley celebrates after defeating Pacquiao to win the WBO welterweight championship

In truth, they delayed too long the collision which would have decided who is the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter.

Not only are their skills beginning to wane, ever so slightly, but there was always the danger that something untoward would over-turn the golden apple cart.

So it came to pass in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday as Tim Bradley was given the benefit of a decision not so much split as severed from reality.

What next The hotly anticipated fight with Mayweather may not happen now

What next The hotly anticipated fight with Mayweather may not happen now

What next The hotly anticipated fight with Mayweather may not happen now

Jeff Powell score card

Pacquiao’s world welterweight title
was pilfered in full view of thousands of fans in the arena and a global
television audience of millions. Behind the distraction of the jeering
uproar which greeted that verdict, the casino strong room was plundered.

However you scored the fight — and I
was more generous to Bradley than many — there was only one winner and
it was not the brave but outclassed American. Pacquiao was often close
to taking the matter out of the judges’ hands. A pity he did not do so
as results like this hurt boxing.

Promoter Bob Arum used words like
'unfathomable' and 'shameful'. Amir Khan and Lennox Lewis cried foul, with
the latter describing the scoring as ‘worse than the draw they gave
Evander Holyfield against me’. But it was Holyfield himself who hit the
spot: ‘Manny was the world champion and Bradley did nothing like enough
to take it from him.’

Holyfield had the PacMan ‘half a
dozen rounds ahead’, while Pacquiao and his Hall of Fame trainer Freddie
Roach believe they were eight points clear.

On a hope and a prayer: Pacquiao has recently devoted his life to religion

On a hope and a prayer: Pacquiao has recently devoted his life to religion

On a hope and a prayer: Pacquiao has recently devoted his life to religion

All queried the eyesight of the two
judges, Duane Ford and CJ Ross, who gave it to Bradley 115-113. They
even thought that the one who favoured Pacquiao by the same margin,
Jerry Roth, was somewhat myopic.

For the record, I also scored it to
Pacquiao by two but from a position where he had the fight comfortably
won and could afford to drop a few of the later rounds.

Controversy: Many spectators believed Pacquiao won the majority of the rounds and should have retained his belt

Controversy: Many spectators believed Pacquiao won the majority of the rounds and should have retained his belt

Controversy: Many spectators believed Pacquiao won the majority of the rounds and should have retained his belt

The collateral damage to the hard old
game was limited by the dignified reaction of the combatants. Pacquiao,
always the gentleman, set his disappointment aside to congratulate
Bradley, saying: ‘You will be a great champion.’

He added: ‘Whatever we think of the result, we have to respect the decision. That’s boxing.’
Bradley had no hesitation in confirming he would abide by the rematch clause in the contract, saying:

‘Manny is a great fighter. I have to
give him the chance to win back his title. He has great punching power
and I have to be honest and admit he hurt me a few times.’

Belt up: Bradley and Pacquiao share an embrace after the result was announced

Belt up: Bradley and Pacquiao share an embrace after the result was announced

Belt up: Bradley and Pacquiao share an embrace after the result was announced

Hurt him so badly, in fact, that
during the second round he staggered under the barrage, twisting his
left ankle so badly he needed a wheelchair to take him to hospital after
the post-fight media conference.

The dispute is tough on Bradley, now
the undefeated world welterweight as well as light-welterweight
champion. Before the fight he brandished a giant mock-up ticket for the
rematch which would be required of him if he won. The date printed on it
is November 10, with the MGM Grand again the venue. However Arum, who
was critical of the selection of all-local judges by the Nevada State
Athletic Commission, may move the bout away from Las Vegas.

Disbelief: Pacquiao's hordes of fans in Marikina City, east of Manila cannot believe the result

Disbelief: Pacquiao's hordes of fans in Marikina City, east of Manila, cannot believe the result

Disbelief: Pacquiao's hordes of fans in Marikina City, east of Manila cannot believe the result

Pacquiao said: ‘Wherever we do it I will have to be sure to finish it before it goes the full 12 rounds.’
Ironically, it was here that Pacquiao was accused of robbing Juan Manuel
Marquez in the third fight of their trilogy late last year. Roach
pondered ‘whether that preyed on the minds of the judges this time’.

They were not helped, either, by
Pacquiao’s tendency to coast through the first minute of several rounds
before opening up. Judges are not always swayed by an eye-catching
flurry near the end of a stanza.

Although in the case of the two who
voted for Bradley there is no telling what they thought they saw. It was
a different fight from the rest of us, the one in which Pacquiao
frequently pounded Bradley with combinations.

As for Mayweather, he will be out of
prison well before the rematch but confined to the role of spectator.
The safe door is hanging open and the contents gone, with no prospect of
finding enough money to satisfy the demands of himself and Pacquiao.

Those two judges may never be forgiven — but they knew not what they did.

Timothy Bradley takes swipe at Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan

Bradley takes swipe at Brits ahead of Pacquiao world welterweight clash

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UPDATED:

00:17 GMT, 9 June 2012

At the big religious convention here – correction, world welterweight title fight – the milk of human kindness is in short supply for British heroes past and present.

Timothy Bradley, who shares Manny Pacquiao's belief in God if not quite the Damascan conversion of lifestyle which the PacMan has undergone, is talking disparagingly about Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan.

Up for it: Manny Pacquiao (centre) and Timothy Bradley at the official weigh-in

Up for it: Manny Pacquiao (centre) and Timothy Bradley at the official weigh-in

At the climax of a week dominated by
Pacquiao's Biblical rejection of human temptation, the rhetoric suddenly
sounds more typical of Sin City. Before venturing into the MGM Grand
Garden Arena this evening to face arguably the best pound-for-pound
fighter on the planet, Bradley took time out for sideswipes at Hatton
and Khan.

When told that Pacquiao's Hall of
Fame trainer Freddie Roach had characterised him as The Hitman Mark 11 –
which many would consider a compliment – Bradley said: 'Hell, this guy
is supposed to be the best trainer on earth and he analyses me like
that. Holy crap.'

Hatton retired after being knocked
cold by Pacquiao in this very ring and Bradley argued: 'How can Freddie
compare me with the only guy Manny has taken out with one clean hit If
that's their analysis of me they're in deep trouble here.'

Manny Pacquiao (L) and Timothy Bradley

Khan, as he stops by at ringside
tonight en route to next month's world light-welterweight title fight
with WBC champion Danny Garcia, is issuing reminders that he twice
offered to fight Bradley.

The American hit back: 'Before I die
I'm gonna fight this dude Khan. That's a promise. I've got a bigger
fight here but once I've kicked Manny's ass I'm going to kick his.'

Khan would welcome that opportunity, while for Bradley to fulfil his first part of the deal is easier said than done.

The Americans are straining to make a
case for a major upset, one based on everything from Pacquiao's
sluggish and disputed victory over Juan Manuel Marquez last time out to a
suspicion that his deepened spirituality may dull his ferocious warrior
instinct.

Their man buys heavily into that
optimism and, to be fair to him, his remarks about Hatton and Khan are
not consistent with a most likeable character.

Bradley is a quick-witted,
articulate 29-year-old who generally conducts himself in a courteous and
respectful manner and is grateful for the life-altering benefits which
boxing is bestowing upon himself and his young family.

Pac-ing a punch: Freddie Roach (left) and Manny Pacquiao prepare for Bradley test

Pac-ing a punch: Freddie Roach (left) and Manny Pacquiao prepare for Bradley test

He recalls his early working years as a dishwasher and a waiter respectively at cafes called Coco's and Mimi's.

When pressed he confirms the stories
of how, even though he had little or nothing himself, if he saw an old
lady struggling to pay a modest bill in one of those establishment he
would pick up the tab.

The winning of the WBC and WBO world
light-welterweight titles – the first at the expense of our own Junior
Witter in Nottingham four years ago – lifted Bradley out of the poverty
trap.

Defences against the likes of Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander and Joel Casamayor secured his financial future.

Now he collects the most enriching, seven-figure purse of his career.

He says: 'I used to be one of the guys who are like rats trapped in a maze but boxing has lifted me out of that maze.'

Peterson, of course, controversially
interrupted Khan's reign as a world champion and Bradley takes heart
from having outclassed the man from Washington when they met.

However, Peterson was pumped up
against Khan by steroids from a pellet implanted in his hip. Not that
any such drug abuse by an opponent would seem to worry Bradley.

Using my religion: Pacquiao and Bradley promoting clean-cut living

Using my religion: Pacquiao and Bradley promoting clean-cut living

When reminded of Floyd Mayweather's
insinuations about Pacquiao's dope testing, he said: 'It wouldn't bother
me. Manny would have to be on something very good to beat me.' Bradley
lives a vegan lifestyle while in training camp and has had organic food
brought here from his favourite restaurant in Palm Springs.

He says: 'My dietician told me that
350-pound gorillas of enormous strength eat grass, plants and
trees….not meat. Good enough for me.'

Pacquiao's nutritionist, Alex Ariza,
caused a disturbance in his camp when he left the Philippines to help
another client, Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr, prepare for a fight.

That also gives hope to team Bradley,
although the storm in a green-teacup has been resolved since Roach
admonished Ariza and allowed him back into the corner.

Media frenzy: Pacquiao confident ahead of the superfight with Bradley

Media frenzy: Pacquiao confident ahead of the superfight with Bradley

While Bradley expressed vehement
belief that he can overturn the 5-1 betting odds against him, Pacquiao
simply says: 'I am very confident.'

His only concern is with Bradley's notorious habit of lunging in with his head and the risk of cuts that brings.

Bradley promises to 'keep the head out of the equation because I don't want to hear any excuses after I win.'

But a renowned cuts man, Miguel Diaz,
is joining Roach and Ariza in the PacMan's corner. Pacquiao accepts
that he needs to 'put on a show' to reassure his millions of worshipful
Filipinos around the world as he prepares, as a Congressman already, to
run for state governor next year.

He also needs a convincing
performance to ensure that Mayweather will be thinking about their
potential mega-fight when he comes out of the nearby jail-house a few
weeks from now.

He also needs to reassure Roach that
reports of his decline are premature, at 33, and that retirement is off
the agenda for another year at least Bradley is a muscular specimen who
vows to thwart those ambitions with some cute footwork as well as a
cocked right hand but a low KO ratio – just 12 in his 29 fights thus far
– does not suggest that he has the power to deter the iron-jawed
champion from throwing his typical high volume of punches to put a
points win beyond doubt.

Not that it is certain to go the full 12 rounds.

A late stoppage by the PacMan would be no great surprise.

Manny Pacquiao focused on Tim Bradley fight

Living on a prayer! Pacquiao ditches drinking and gambling to focus on Bradley bout

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 7 June 2012

The pop concerts have become a regular if eccentric post-fight event for Manny Pacquiao, drawing almost as many thousands of fans as his exploits in the ring, but there will be no singing after the slugging on Saturday night.

Not with his band, anyway.

Instead, boxing's only eight-division world champion will lead his followers in Bible study 'and maybe some worship songs.' Presumably in thanks for another victory.

Firm focus: Pacquiao's faith has helped him concentrate on boxing

Firm focus: Pacquiao's faith has helped him concentrate on boxing

The PacMan, already a devout Catholic, has turned yet more deeply into religion to stabilise his family life and intensify his focus in the ring.

Pacquiao's marriage to the charming Jinkee is firmly grounded once more following, as he puts it, the 'removal of distractions like drinking, gambling and girls.'

Nor does he sees any paradox between his faith and the gladiatorial violence of the business he has mastered to brutal perfection.

He says of his young challenger for the world welterweight title: 'I love Tim Bradley as a person and like a brother, as I have learned to love everyone. That does not alter just because our job is to hurt each other.'

Pacquiao expresses similar Christian fellowship for the man the whole world wants to see him engage in boxing's first $200million fight.

Mr Floyd Mayweather regrets he is unable to be at ringside at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here. He is unavoidably detained in a jail cell some four miles away along the fabled Las Vegas Strip.

Pacquiao is undecided whether to pay a prison visit to his rival for the mythical title of best pound-for-pound fighter on earth but says: 'I will pray for him, as I pray for Bradley and all my opponents.'

Prayer meetings have become a staple of Pacquiao's life since he sold his bars, his casino and even the farm in the Philippines on which he reared the birds for what was until recently his second favourite sport, cock-fighting.

Final countdown: Pacquiao and Bradley came face-to-face at the pre-fight press conference at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas

Final countdown: Pacquiao and Bradley came face-to-face at the pre-fight press conference at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas

Final countdown: Pacquiao and Bradley came face-to-face at the pre-fight press conference

His now total subservience to the teachings of the Bible has led him into some controversy.

Although some of his remarks which have infuriated the gay community – many of his fans included – appear to have been exaggerated and distorted he still says: 'I have no problem with speaking the truth. The First Book of Corinthians, chapter six, verse nine says clearly that homosexual offenders cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.

'The choice is Heaven or Hell. I don’t want anyone to suffer eternal torment. I love everybody and I want all people to go with me to Heaven.

'As a Catholic I always expected to go to Heaven but now that the Bible is my manual of life I know I will go there as long as I always follow the Commandments of God.'

Ironically, his master trainer Freddie Roach believes that the transformation in lifestyle will enable Pacquiao to prolong his eminence in an old game so hard that it would seem to conflict with his spirituality.

Freddie Roach, who will be inducted into the boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday, says: '/06/07/article-2155998-137C622E000005DC-460_468x327.jpg” width=”468″ height=”327″ alt=”Just the ticket: Bradley's ready to take his big chance” class=”blkBorder” />

Just the ticket: Bradley's ready to take his big chance

'He realised that at 33 he was trying to do too much. As a result I believe he is now in the best shape of his career.'

The one extra-curricular activity Pacquiao will not give up is politics. A Congressman in his own country, he intends to run for the Governorship of his home state next year.

A future Presidential campaign then beckons for an idol worshipped by the Philippines masses, whose poverty he is pledged to eradicate.

But he says: 'Now when I am approaching a fight my concentration is entirely on boxing.'

Pacquiao's religious re-conversion should help him reassert his dominance over the prize-ring and he further reconciles the conflict between faith and fighting when he says: 'I have peace of mind now. I am in a better place. But once the first bell rings the mood changes, I flick the switch and all my ferocity is re-charged.'

Roach sees it slightly differently: 'Manny has always been a compassionate person. Always has been, always will be. I have seen him ease up on opponents late in fights when he knows he has them beaten.

'I don't think that will happen here because Bradley is strong and durable and always keeps coming to the end. But Manny's desire is to win, not to permanently harm anyone.'

Pacquiao is anxious, also, to erase the memory of his turgid and somewhat disputed victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in his last fight, the third in his trilogy with the Mexican legend.

Bright lights: Pacquiao has vowed to remove all distractions from his life

Bright lights: Pacquiao has vowed to remove all distractions from his life

He admits: 'I am under pressure to put on a good show. I want to make the people happy and excited.'

He knows, too, that the world will be watching for signs that his powers may be waning: 'I feel good, like I am 26 again. I feel my key assets, my punching power and my speed, are still the same. I want to keep on training and training. My team have to stop me doing more, more rounds.'

Nevertheless, he has put his trainer on notice to warn him of the first hint of any decline, to advise him when the time for retirement approaches.

Roach says: 'There is no sign of that in training. This has been one of our best ever camps. He is hitting with the same power and is as fast as ever. Bradley is the younger man (by just over three years) but if it goes to the later rounds Manny won’t be the one slowing and tiring.’

That is what Bradley – a personable and button-bright young man – is hoping as he goes into the 30th fight of his undefeated career so far.

But there could be no more relevant location than Sin City for Pacquiao to prove that a God-fearing life will be rewarded this side of Heaven.

Pacquiao-Bradley is live Saturday night on Primetime at 14.95. Go to www.primetimelive.co.uk or call 0871 200 4444