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Tony Bellew fights through the blood to step closer to world shot

Bellew fights through the blood to step closer to world shot

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UPDATED:

23:09 GMT, 17 November 2012

Tony Bellew survived a nasty cut to
jump a step closer to a world title shot with a unanimous decision win
over Argentina's Roberto Bolonti in Nottingham.

The fiery Liverpudlian was seeking
to build on his recent win over Edison Miranda as he looks to earn a
second bid for world honours.

Bellew had shown his world title
credentials in a premature and unsuccessful shot at Nathan Cleverly's
WBO light-heavyweight title last year and has been rebuilding towards
another crack since then.

Stepping stone: Tony Bellew celebrates his victory over Roberto Bolonti

Stepping stone: Tony Bellew celebrates his victory over Roberto Bolonti

He continued that progress at the Capital FM Arena with a solid win over Bolonti despite suffering a nasty third-round cut above the right eye which had initially looked potentially catastrophic to his hopes.

Tonight's scrap with Bolonti was essentially an eliminator of sorts for the WBC crown, with the body's inconsequential 'silver' belt on the line.

Evertonian Bellew, 29, had a record of 18-1 (12KO wins) heading into the bout while 33-year-old Bolonti (30-1, 19KO wins) was boxing outside Argentina for the first time.

Bellew provided the early pressure and landed a left which wobbled Bolonti mid-round.

Through the gate: Tony Bellew throws a punch

Through the gate: Tony Bellew throws a punch

A right to the top of the head then put Bolonti down, though the South American may have lost his footing.

He beat Victor Loughlin's count and survived the round as Bellew failed to capitalise, despite landing a big right.

The second round was all Bellew until a cheeky right from Bolonti gave him food for thought.

A left hook put Bolonti down in the third but again he rose quickly with a clear head.

He was certainly more wary as a result but things threatened to turn when Bellew suffered a bad cut over the right eye, thought to be from a Bolonti left hook.

Down and out: Tony Bellew knocks Roberto Bolonti down

Down and out: Tony Bellew knocks Roberto Bolonti down

The wound was far from superficial as blood flowed into the Englishman's right eye but Bellew at least had Mick Williamson, a renowned cutsman, in his corner.

A left hook to the body by Bellew punctuated a quieter fifth round with the Briton remaining patient safe in the knowledge Williamson had worked his magic on the cut.

Bellew landed a left uppercut in the ninth which was the best shot of the middle rounds while a left hook to the mid-section was correctly adjudged to have been too low.

A right uppercut seemed to hurt Bolonti and Bellew piled in, landing combinations for the first time in several rounds.

Tough test: Roberto Bolonti gets a shot in against Tony Bellew

Tough test: Roberto Bolonti gets a shot in against Tony Bellew

While the pace was slow and the action fractured, Bellew was winning the rounds with relative ease.

Another uppercut in the 10th led to another aggressive flurry but again Bolonti held it together.

At the final bell the fighters embraced, with both men claiming to have won. But the victory was clearly Bellew's, with scores of 120-106, 119-107 and 120-106.

Maritimo 0 Newcastle 0: Pardew frustrated after misfiring Toon are held

Maritimo 0 Newcastle 0: Pardew frustrated after misfiring Toon are held

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UPDATED:

19:22 GMT, 20 September 2012

Shola Ameobi came agonisingly close to firing Newcastle to an opening
Europa League victory as the woodwork and Maritimo keeper Romain Salin
combined to thwart him.

The 30-year-old, captaining a much-changed side at the Estadio dos
Barreiros, hit both the post and the crossbar and saw Salin block
another effort on a frustrating evening for the Magpies in Madeira.

So close: Shola Ameobi (centre) hits the post

So close: Shola Ameobi (centre) hits the post

Match facts

Maritimo: Salin, Briguel, Joao Guilherme, Roberge, Luis Olim, Rafael Miranda, Joao Luiz, Heldon (Fidelis 54), David Simao (Goncalo Abreu 75), Sami, Danilo Dias (Adilson 82).

Subs Not Used: Lima De Oliveira, Joao Diogo, Marcio Rosario, Igor Rossi.

Booked: David Simao.

Newcastle: Elliot, Perch, Williamson, Steven Taylor, Santon, Obertan (Marveaux 80), Bigirimana, Gosling, Amalfitano (Ferguson 76), Shola Ameobi, Vuckic (Sammy Ameobi 53).

Subs Not Used: Harper, Tavernier, Abeid, Campbell.

Booked: Bigirimana,Amalfitano,Santon.

Att: 4,000

Ref: Robert Schorgenhofer (Austria).

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Midfielder Dan Gosling was also denied by an upright after Alan
Pardew's men bounced back from a less than impressive start to their
Group D campaign.

They were indebted to keeper Rob Elliot, playing just his second game
for the club, for two early saves, and he got down well 20 minutes from
time to keep out dangerman Sami's skidding strike, but he also needed
the help of the bar when full-back Davide Santon headed Valentin
Roberge's late header against it.

But having gone into the game with only two members of what would be
considered his strongest starting line-up – Steven Taylor and Santon –
Pardew will have been the happier manager with a point banked and key
men rested ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with Norwich.

Newcastle turned in a poor first-half performance at Everton on Monday
evening before staging a concerted fightback, and they were little more
impressive during the early stages of tonight's encounter.

They might have been behind with less than two minutes on the clock when
David Simao found space on the left to send in a dangerous cross which
was only just too strong for Heldon as he slid in.

S close: Dan Gosling fires his shot against the post

S close: Dan Gosling fires his shot against the post

Maritimo, who went into the game unbeaten in seven matches in all
competitions to date this season, were simply too good and too slick for
Pardew's weakened side during the opening 25 minutes and, had it not
been for Elliot, could have been in serious arrears.

The former Charlton keeper pulled off a fine reaction save to keep out Sami's 11th-minute volley and then blocked with his legs after the striker had run clear of the visitors' defence.

But having endured a difficult start to the game, the Magpies gradually started to find their feet and went close to the opening goal on four different occasions inside four minutes.

Gael Bigirimana saw his 27th-minute corner tipped over by keeper Romain Salin as it threatened to dip under the crossbar and then French midfielder Romain Amalfitano had a goal-bound volley blocked after connecting with another Bigirimana corner.

But it was the woodwork which came to the Madeira side's rescue twice in quick succession with the Premier League side turning the screw.

Central defender Mike Williamson found the ball at his feet inside the penalty area and, when his shot was deflected, Shola Ameobi dived in to head the ball towards goal where it hit the post and was bundled away by the recovering Salin, who had initially been wrong-footed.

Gosling was denied by the opposite upright on the half-hour when his 25-yard drive thumped off the foot of the post with Salin beaten.

Ouch! Dan Gosling clashes with Maritimo's defender Joao Guilherme

Ouch! Dan Gosling clashes with Maritimo's defender Joao Guilherme

Feet first: Maritimo's Brazilian midfielder Joao Luiz

Feet first: Maritimo's Brazilian midfielder Joao Luiz

The game settled down as both sets of players regrouped, although the
first half ended in controversy when Sami stumbled having looked to have
got the better of Williamson and Steven Taylor.

And in the melee which followed, the ball was stabbed back to Elliot
prompting fury from the home fans as their side appealed in vain for a
close-range free-kick for a back-pass.

Shola Ameobi was desperately unfortunate not to score just two minutes
after the restart when he capitalised on an error by Joao Guilherme to
charge into the box and side-step Roberge before curling a shot past
Salin, but on to the bar.

Heads up: Newcastle's Sammy Ameobi climbs above the defence

Heads up: Newcastle's Sammy Ameobi climbs above the defence

High jump: Gosling, top, avoids Luis Olim

High jump: Gosling, top, avoids Luis Olim

The striker was joined on the pitch by younger brother Sammy when he
replaced Haris Vuckic after 53 minutes, and the pair combined well to
set up Amalfitano within four minutes, although his shot was wayward.

However, the home side perhaps should have gone ahead with 59 minutes
gone when Sami ran into space on the left and crossed for substitute
Fidelis to blast a first-time effort just past the post with Elliot
helpless.
But the senior Ameobi went close at the other end five minutes later,
forcing another decent save from Salin after bamboozling Guilherme with
his turn on to Santon's pass.

Maritimo became increasingly careless in possession as time ran down and
it appeared that if there was to be a winner, it would be the visitors
leaving with the points.

But the Magpies enjoyed a major escape eight minutes from time when
Roberge connected with Rafael Miranda's flick-on and Santon somehow
managed to smuggle the ball away with the help of the goal-frame, and
Elliot saved unconvincingly from substitute Goncalo at the death.

Missed it: Newcastle's defender Mike Williamson

Missed it: Newcastle's defender Mike Williamson

London Olympics 2012: Dressage is not the people"s sport – Des Kelly

Olympic diary: Welcome to the people's sport (As long as the people are millionaires or holiday with the King of Morocco)

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 2 August 2012

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The equestrian sport of dressage is
constantly battling accusations that it is somehow the preserve of a
privileged elite. This is clearly unfair.

Anyone can participate in dressage,
just as long as they have a top hat, tails, white gloves and a 1million
horse that can do ballet.

To suggest otherwise is to pander to
the kind of lazy, stereotypical prejudice the horsey fraternity quite
rightly wish to counter.

Huge advances are being made every
single day to make this sport more inclusive. If the sight of the
Queen’s granddaughter winning a silver medal this week wasn’t enough,
the presence of Prince Abdullah al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Alvaro Affonso
de Miranda Neto, husband of Athina Onassis, and Princess Nathalie Zu
Sayn-Wittgenstein of Denmark in the saddle at these Games should clinch
it.

Horse play: Carl Hester on Uthopia

Horse play: Carl Hester on Uthopia

Then there are the 500,000 trailers
the horses are transported in, complete with luxury living quarters, and
the horse treadmills. Yes, treadmills. And the horse spas. Don’t forget
those.

So dressage is for everybody. The
wealthy just get to do it better. Wealthy people like American
multi-millionaire Mitt Romney, the Republican currently bidding to
unseat Barack Obama.

After declaring he was ‘disconcerted’
by London’s attempt to stage the Games before a diplomatic visit, Mitt
showed the common touch again by revealing his family’s love of dressage
in the midst of his White House campaign.

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It’s a sure-fire vote-winner. If it
were not for baseball, basketball, gridiron, ice hockey, lacrosse,
overeating, drive-by-shootings, and every other known American activity
right down to ‘soccer’, there is little doubt the USA would embrace
dressage as the ‘people’s game’.

With her husband back at home, Romney’s wife, Ann, watched as Rafalca, the horse she co-owns, set out to make a mark at the Olympics. Rider Jan Ebeling even dismissed the idea that he was engaging in some rich man’s pursuit, despite the high-profile backers of his trusty steed.

‘Dressage can be done with a normal budget,’ he said, before declining to elaborate on exactly what a ‘normal budget’ might be.

Since Romney’s estimated worth is 200million, with offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, Switzerland and elsewhere, and he is currently refusing to release tax returns that allegedly show he received a 50,000 tax break from owning Rafalca, ‘normal’ may look very different to Ebeling and Romney than it does to you and me.

Mrs Romney was still ‘thrilled to death’ with her horse’s 70.24 per cent score, which is markedly better than her husband’s campaign approval ratings. But the Americans were a distraction to the main event: a traditional battle between Germany and England, with Holland squashed in the middle.

All expenses paid: Rafalca's owners, including Ann Romney, left, purr at the horse's performance

All expenses paid: Rafalca's owners, including Ann Romney, left, purr at the horse's performance

The Germans excel at dressage. This is
no great surprise since one of the main elements appears to be
persuading a horse to goosestep across the arena. They have won every
Olympic team gold since 1945. Correction, since 1984.

However, this is merely one of the disciplines horse and rider must master when they perform on the raked sand of a dapper Greenwich Park, London’s oldest Royal Park.

Dressage dates back to the Renaissance when it was used as a system to train horses, and basic tests have apparently changed little since then.

The trademark move is the piaffe, where the horse jogs on the spot. There are also ‘flying changes’, skipping on alternate legs, the zig-zag, where they zigzag, and the passage (pronounced the same way as dressage).

After two controlled rounds, where judges mark disciplines out of 10 and award a percentage, the horses then ‘freestyle’ to music in the third. This finale happens next week, but I’m hopeful the routines may include the Lambada and the hokey cokey.

The dancing horses brought out the eternally passionate British public in vast numbers. There was barely a spare seat to be seen in the 21,000-capacity arena and the audience, a mix of curious townies and the country set, were engrossed.

London has been notable for the unbridled enthusiasm of this Games. But at the dressage it is well and truly bridled. The announcer tells the predominantly female audience to refrain from clapping, cheering and applauding when the competitors enter the arena for fear of frightening the horses.

Grand surrounds: Jan Ebeling and Rafalca compete

Grand surrounds: Jan Ebeling and Rafalca compete

This is an alien concept. I was at the weightlifting yesterday where the appearance on stage of judges from every nation was met with polite applause, apart from the Brits who now appreciate how JLS must feel at the O2 Arena.

But day one in Greenwich provided the home crowd with plenty of encouragement as 45-year-old Carl Hester led the pursuit of Britain’s first dressage medal.

The 45-year-old, competing in his fourth Olympics, scored 77.72 per cent on his horse Uthopia, the highest of the opening session.

Hester, who learned to ride on donkeys while growing up on the car-free Channel Island of Sark, afterwards hailed his horse: ‘He was as cool as ice. If I say “Walk”, he walks. If I say “Stop”, he stops. He’s a bit like a computer with a furry body.’

Team-mate Laura Bechtolsheimer, grand-daughter of German billionaire Karl-Heinz Kipp, is in second place, while Charlotte Dujardin — the last of Britain’s European Championship trio — competes today.

Of monied stock: Laura Bechtolsheimer

Not short of a bob or two: Laura Bechtolsheimer

Team scores from these grand prix rounds are combined with those from next Tuesday’s grand prix special to decide the team medallists, with the individual gongs awarded 48 hours later.

Japan’s dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu intends to be there. But at the age of 71, the oldest competitor at London 2012 doesn’t take anything for granted. Asked how he felt when he made his debut at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, he replied: ‘Er, I don’t really remember . . . ’

The day also marked Africa’s first entry into Olympic dressage with Morocco’s Yassine Rahmouni, riding Floresco. And how did all this come about

The 27-year-old revealed: ‘I actually met the King of Morocco on a jet ski when I was on holiday and he helped.’

Not that the sport is elitist or anything, of course.

Daily moan

New Zealand Herald writer Troy Rawhiti-Forbes complains: ‘In London the smell of sewage hangs in the air in a way I have only experienced in the worst-affected parts of Christchurch after the earthquakes.’ Someone get that man a sheep to use as an air freshener.

Daily X-ray

No problems strolling in with my new corkscrew. But what possible need is there for one at the dressage They don’t serve my favourite plonk, which is a nice bottle of Chateau Frere Jacques. Everyone makes do with champagne.