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Ricky Burns to face Mexican Miguel Vazquez in world title unification match in March

Burns eyes Wembley glory! Champion set for world title unification fight with Vazquez

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

11:25 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

00:07 GMT, 15 January 2013

Ricky Burns will take on Mexican Miguel Vazquez in a mouthwatering lightweight world title unification clash at Wembley Arena on March 16.

The Scotsman has been out of action since brutally knocking out British rival Kevin Mitchell in Glasgow last September and turned down the chance to face American superstar and WBC champion Adrien Broner in Atlantic City next month.

But Burns, 29, will instead bid to add Vazquez's IBF belt to his own WBO strap in what will be the toughest fight of his career to date.

Fully focused: Ricky Burns will return to the ring in March against Miguel Vazquez

Fully focused: Ricky Burns will return to the ring in March against Miguel Vazquez

'The last time I boxed down at Wembley against Michael Katsidis, the crowd were excellent,' Burns said. 'I'm really looking forward to it.

'This is a dream come true for me. Any boxer would be happy winning two world titles at two weights and retire, but for me I want to continue winning more world titles, unifying them and stepping up the weight divisions. Vazquez is a top fighter and one that I’ve been after a long time so I’m over the moon that it’s happening.'

Burns also denied he was avoiding American superstar Adrien Broner after turning down the chance to fight the unbeaten 23-year-old in Atlantic City.

'Anybody that knows me, knows I'm a fighter,' he added. 'I want to fight the best. i didn't feel seven weeks was enough time to prepare [for Broner], I need 12 weeks.'

Having won the WBO
super-featherweight title with a shock victory over Roman Martinez in
2010, Burns became a two-weight world champion the following year, first
winning the interim WBO lightweight belt against Michael Katsidis
before being awarded the strap outright when Juan Manuel Marquez
relinquished the title.

Fight club: A Queen Elizabeth look-alike poses with Nathan Cleverly, George Groves, Dereck Chisora and Burns

Fight club: A Queen Elizabeth look-alike poses with Nathan Cleverly, George Groves, Dereck Chisora and Burns

Burns made a successful first defence
against Ghanian Paulus Moses last March before his stunning
fourth-round victory over Mitchell in front of 10,000 passionate home
fans.

He was due to face Liam Walsh at the
ExCeL Arena in London in December but his opponent pulled out after a
car accident. His replacement, Jose Ocampo, then withdrew just days
before the fight after his trainer died.

Vazquez, meanwhile, has lost three of
his 36 fights but only to the highest calibre of opponent. He suffered
defeat on his debut by compatriot Saul Alvarez in 2006 and was also
beaten in a rematch two years later.

Title showdown: Burns celebrates his victory over Kevin Mitchell in September

Title showdown: Burns celebrates his victory over Kevin Mitchell in September

Sandwiched in between came a unanimous
defeat by Timothy Bradley, who has gone on to become a two-weight world
champion with a controversial victory over Manny Pacquiao last year.

Also on the Wembley card will be
Nathan Cleverly's mandatory defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title
against Robin Krasniqi, George Groves' European super-middleweight clash
with Mohamed Ali Ndiaye and Dereck Chisora's return to the ring,
assuming he is granted a licence by the British Boxing Board of Control.

John Mitchell quits Sale Sharks

Sale shock as Mitchell quits just a month into job at Premiership's bottom club

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UPDATED:

20:50 GMT, 29 December 2012

On his way: Mitchell has quit Sale

On his way: Mitchell has quit Sale

Sale's turbulent season took another turn for the worse yesterday when coach John Mitchell resigned after just a month in the job.

Friday night’s narrow Aviva Premiership win over Worcester seemed to have signalled the start of a resurgence, but the 48-year-old on Saturday shocked owner Brian Kennedy by announcing he was standing down with immediate effect.

‘John has had to return to South Africa for personal reasons, which we respect,’ Kennedy said. ‘We are grateful for his valuable and insightful contributions, albeit for a shorter term than envisaged.’

Danny Cipriani recalled by Sale Sharks

Reprieve for Cipriani as Sale recall fly-half for clash with Worcester

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UPDATED:

14:13 GMT, 28 December 2012

Sale Sharks have recalled Danny Cipriani, presenting the former England fly-half with a surprise chance to restore his reputation at the club.

He was dropped from the side which lost to his former club Wasps Adams Park last Sunday, and felt the brunt of co-owner Brian Kennedy’s stinging attack, who challenged his commitment.

Despite this, and in the wake of a relatively improved performance during the 25-18 defeat, Cipriani will start tonight against Worcester, in place of Nick Macleod who has a back injury.

Back in the fold: Cipriani has been recalled by Sale

Back in the fold: Cipriani has been recalled by Sale

Kennedy blasted the 25-year old, saying: ‘If you’re not prepared to put your body on the line for this club, who pay your wages and give you the chance to play at the highest level each week, then you won’t be in the squad, will you’

The club’s director of rugby, John Mitchell, also had some cold advice for the player, who has been accused of laziness.

'Danny knows the situation and what’s going on and he knows that there needs to be an improvement in performance,’ Mitchell said.

'He has to improve his defence. Last week against Toulon he defended for 35 minutes and then chose not to do so.'

The onus is now in Cipriani who, blessed with world-beating talent, has failed to prove he can show focus and dedication for Sale.

They currently sit five points adrift at the foot of the Premiership table and have only recorded one win, against London Irish, in their 11 league games.

Australia set down Ashes marker… but should England be worried?

Awesome Aussies set down Ashes marker… but should England be worried

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UPDATED:

11:32 GMT, 28 December 2012

There's no getting round the fact: the second Test between Australia and Sri Lanka at Melbourne was not so much a game of cricket as a demolition job.

Australia won inside three days by an innings and 201 runs, while Kumar Sangakkara had his left hand broken by Mitchell Johnson and two other Sri Lankans stayed in the pavilion, absent hurt.

With back-to-back Ashes series lying in wait in 2013, this result was what you might reasonably call a statement of intent.

Star man: Mitchell Johnson (centre) was in fine form as Australia hammered Sri Lanka in the second Test

Star man: Mitchell Johnson (centre) was in fine form as Australia hammered Sri Lanka in the second Test

But how concerned should England be After all, the Sri Lankans have always been poor in Australia: this was their 10th defeat there in 12 Tests, four of them by an innings.

And Australian pitches could not be further removed from the slow heart-breakers routinely found in Sri Lanka.

Alastair Cook may also comfort himself with the thought that, more than anything, the MCG appears to have hosted the rebirth of Johnson, who returned match figures of 6 for 89 and hit an unbeaten 92.

If anything was designed to dispel the post-Christmas blues in soggy England, it is the thought that Johnson – a figure of fun during the 2010-11 Ashes – will be taking the field at Trent Bridge on July 10. The Barmy Army will be exercising their vocal chords.

Take that: Johnson punished the Sri Lankans with the bat as well as the ball in Melbourne

Take that: Johnson punished the Sri Lankans with the bat as well as the ball in Melbourne

The success on Test debut of Sydneysider Jackson Bird may be more significant, for Australia are compiling a stock of apparently interchangeable seam bowlers – the must-have accessory for any team aspiring to regular success in the fixture-heavy modern era.

Their problem, though, is fitness: everyone keeps breaking down.

As things stand, it is fairly pointless trying to predict which of their seamers will play at Nottingham. As for their batting, Michael Clarke remains in the form of his life, with Mike Hussey not far behind.

England's best hope here is that the law of averages kicks in, as it has done for every batsman in Test history bar Don Bradman.

Solid start: Jackson Bird can be happy with his Test debut for Australia

Solid start: Jackson Bird can be happy with his Test debut for Australia

And, although there were half-centuries at Melbourne for David Warner and Shane Watson, England will also be quietly confident about getting the better of Australia's top four.

Warner and Phil Hughes, who is being rehabilitated at No 3, may be too keen to play their shots to prosper regularly in English conditions, while Ed Cowan looks no better than steady, and Watson is yet to demonstrate he has the capacity for big hundreds required at No 4.

Having said all that, Australia are now 2-0 up with one to play against a team England beat only 1-0 at home in 2011, then lost to at Galle earlier this year.

And yet a better gauge of where the two Ashes sides are will be Australia's four-Test series in India, starting in February.

England are still luxuriating in their 2-1 win. The pressure will be on Clarke's side to match them.

Australia rip apart Sri Lanka in Boxing Day Test in Melbourne

Aussies run riot on Boxing Day to rip apart Sri Lanka in Melbourne opener

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UPDATED:

09:01 GMT, 26 December 2012

A brilliant display of pace bowling allowed Australia to assume control of their second Test with Sri Lanka on its opening day in Melbourne.

Having been asked to bowl first in the traditional Boxing Day encounter, Michael Clarke's men skittled their visitors for just 156 midway through the afternoon session, before closing up just six runs shy of that total for the loss of three wickets.

Festive fun: Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

Festive fun: Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

In the swing of things: Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson mark the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara

In the swing of things: Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson mark the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara

A reinvigorated Mitchell Johnson was the standout performer in the Baggy Green, with the often-maligned quick taking a four for 63 that was ably supported by two each from Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon and debutant Jackson Bird.

David Warner then smashed a 46-ball 62 to get Australia up and running in their pursuit of a first innings lead, something that now looks a certainty, despite Sri Lanka taking three wickets before the bails were flicked.

Had their own score been a better one that would have been respectable but, with such a failure on the board, they already look up against it, but only have themselves to blame.

The Australia pace attack got a bit of movement out of the pitch during the first session, but Sri Lanka were let down by a series of poor shots and Kumar Sangakkara was the only batsman to look comfortable.

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

That was until Wade combined with Johnson to pull off a brilliant catch with the veteran on 58.
Sangakkara had not played a false shot all day, but was tempted into hooking a short Johnson delivery that bounced higher than expected and could only collect the top edge.

The ball flew straight over Wade's head, but the wicketkeeper kept his eyes on the ball and sprinted over 30 metres towards the sightscreen, before producing a dive to pull off a tremendous catch that dismissed the man who became the 11th in history to register 10,000 Test runs earlier in his innings.

Sangakkara's patience at the crease and ability to punish anything loose was the only highlight of a poor batting performance from the tourists as questionable shot selection led to many of his team-mates' demise.

Bird (two for 32) had his first Test victim with the 22nd delivery of the morning when Dimuth Karunaratne (five) came forward to a ball on a good length, but was only able to edge one through to Wade behind the stumps.

The usually reliable Tillakaratne Dilshan (11) was guilty of the worst shot of the day as he attempted to hit a booming straight drive off Johnson, only to inside edge it onto his off stump to reduce Sri Lanka to 19 for two.

Siddle (two for 30) made it 37 for three shortly after when Mahela Jayawardene (three) nicked one through to Wade, before Sangakkara combined with Thilan Samaraweera to take the score through to 79 for three at lunch.

Gone: Phillip Hughes is run out by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara

Gone: Phillip Hughes is run out by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara

Bird, who had bowled intelligently during his first stint in the morning, had his second wicket with the third ball after lunch when Samaraweera (10) lofted a short one and Angelo Matthews (15) came and went moments later as the wickets continued to tumble around Sangakkara.

A Prasanna Jayawardene (24) cameo gave Sri Lanka some hope, but when he got a ripper from Johnson and Dhammika Prasad fell the very next ball for a duck, the tourists were 134 for seven and in all sorts of trouble.

Lyon (two for 23) came in to clean up the tail with ease and Australia – with captain Michael Clarke having passed a fitness test before the start of play – set about making hay.

Warner and Ed Cowan raced out to 95 before the former found the hands of Prasad at mid-wicket off the bowling of Andrews, with Phil Hughes then doing little to enhance his credentials as a number three by getting caught out of his ground by Dilshan when on 10.

Another wicket followed when Cowan nicked Prasad to Mahela Jayawardene at second slip, and Australia looked to be reeling when Shane Watson edged the same man to Prasanna Jayawardene, only to see a one-handed attempt at a catch go to ground.

The reprieve stopped the slide and Watson (13no) and Clarke (20no) saw things through to the finish.

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on day one of the second Test

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on day one of the second Test

Adrien Broner offered Ricky Burns world title fight in London

Broner claims he offered Burns world title fight in London… with just TWO days notice

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UPDATED:

14:37 GMT, 13 December 2012

American world champion Adrien Broner has sensationally challenged Ricky Burns to a unification clash at just TWO days notice.

Burns was due to defend his WBO lightweight title against first Liam Walsh and then Jorge Ocampo but both pulled out, leaving the Scot without an opponent for Saturday's show at the Excel in London.

Ready to rumble: Adrien Broner claims he wanted to fight Ricky Burns with just two days notice

Ready to rumble: Adrien Broner claims he wanted to fight Ricky Burns with just two days notice

But Broner, who won the WBC belt against Antonio DeMarco last month and is regarded by many as boxing's successor to Floyd Mayweather Jnr, claims he would fly to London to take on the Scot.

'I found out, Burns doesn't have an opponent so I told them: “Fly me out today, I will make weight and I will beat that guy”,' he told ES News.

Broner previously replaced Burns as the WBO super-featherweight champion before failing to make weight for his defence against Vicente Escobedo in July.

The 23-year-old has long claimed that Burns vacated rather than face the rising star of American boxing but Burns insists he gave up the title as he could no longer comfortably make the weight.

He subsequently won the interim version of his current belt by beating Michael Katsidis at Wembley Arena last November before successful defences against Paulus Moses and British rival Kevin Mitchell.

Burns' original opponent for his third defence, unbeaten Walsh, was ruled out after being involved in a car crash before Filipino southpaw Ocampo withdrew at the last minute over contractual issues.

Burns turned down a 10-round exhibition bout and is instead expected to return to action on January 26 in Glasgow while Broner is being lined up to co-feature alongside Johnathan Banks' rematch with Seth Mitchell the following month.

Without an opponent: Ricky Burns was due to headline Saturday's bill in London

Without an opponent: Ricky Burns was due to headline Saturday's bill in London

But, assuming the American does not make the unlikely last-minute dash across the Atlantic, Burns could meet Broner as early as February, according to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.

'I am trying to do the Burns fight [with Broner,]' he told ESPN. '[I'll be] talking again with [Burns' promoter] Frank Warren. I am going to try and convince him to go directly to Broner for February 16.'

Burns' trainer Billy Nelson meanwhile believes Burns would relish the chance to unify the division.

'If a unification fight can be made up at lightweight, we’d snap their hands off,' he said last month. 'That’s the fight we want, trust me. Broner has an act but acts don’t hurt you. Words don’t hurt you.

'Punches hurt you, as Broner will discover if ever he gets inside a ring with Ricky. Whatever happens, I don’t think we’ll be watching anything Ricky will lose sleep over. Neither could cope with his range, speed or body shots.

'He’ll get the fright of his life when he sees the size of Ricky then has to cope with his industry, speed and strength.'

Ricky Burns fight: Jose Ocampo withdraws from ExCel clash

Burns night chaos as second opponent Ocampo pulls out of fight against lightweight king

PUBLISHED:

09:38 GMT, 11 December 2012

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UPDATED:

09:39 GMT, 11 December 2012

Ricky Burns will be fighting in London on Saturday but not against Jose Ocampo after the 23-year-old Filipino pulled out of their WBO lightweight title fight.

The Coatbridge champion was due to make the third defence of his belt against the fighter ranked 14th in the world, who was himself a late stand-in for Liam Walsh, who was injured in a car crash.

Third time lucky WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns is waiting to discover who his opponent for Saturday will be

Third time lucky WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns is waiting to discover who his opponent for Saturday will be

However, promoter Frank Warren had it confirmed that Ocampo has also dropped out of the bout at the ExCel Arena in Docklands although the reason is not yet clear.

While the search for a new opponent for Burns is under way, a spokesman for Warren said: 'Ricky's opponent pulled out this afternoon.

Last time out: Scottish hero Burns destroyed Kevin Mitchell in Glasgow earlier this year

Last time out: Scottish hero Burns destroyed Kevin Mitchell in Glasgow earlier this year

'But Ricky will still be fighting on the show as planned and we are looking for a replacement now.'

The 29-year-old Scot, whose last outing was a fourth round stoppage of Dagenham's Kevin Mitchell at Glasgow's SECC in September, is aiming for a unification fight with WBC champion Adrien Broner.

Ricky Burns to face Jose Ocampo

Ocampo lined up for Burns night! Filipino in for injured Walsh to take on champion Ricky

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UPDATED:

12:26 GMT, 29 November 2012

Ricky Burns will face Jose Ocampo in his latest world title defence after the Filipino was drafted in as replacement for the injured Liam Walsh.

Burns had been due to defend his WBO lightweight belt against Walsh next month until the Norfolk-based fighter hurt his back in a road accident.

Ocampo, rated 14 in the world by the WBO, will now face Burns at London's ExCeL on December 15.

Great Scot: Ricky Burns (right) celebrates his victory over Kevin Mitchell

Great Scot: Ricky Burns (right) celebrates his victory over Kevin Mitchell

The 23-year-old challenger has suffered five defeats, but most of them came in his teenage years, and 12 of his 17 victories have come inside the distance.

Should he win, Burns has been lined up for a unification fight with unbeaten American Adrien Broner, who added to his growing reputation by securing the WBC lightweight title this month.

The Scot, who swept aside Kevin Mitchell in four rounds in September, said: 'I'd say that this is going to be the hardest fight of my career so far against a young hungry challenger who will be looking to take my title.

Too good: Scot Burns beat Mitchell in four rounds in Glasgow

Too good: Scot Burns beat Mitchell in four rounds in Glasgow

'Filipino fighters are as tough as they come, just look at (Manny) Pacquiao and Nonito Donnaire, like the Mexicans and Africans they come to have a fight and Ocampo will do just that.

'If he fights like those two, as people say he does, then I'll be in for a tough night.

'It's unfortunate that Walsh had an accident and had to pull out of our fight, but I'm a world champion and I have to deal with these changes and I'm confident I'll deal with Ocampo.'

Bad luck: Liam Walsh (left) was forced to pull out of his fight with Burns

Bad luck: Liam Walsh (left) was forced to pull out of his fight with Burns

Promoter Frank Warren added: 'It's going to be hard for Ricky, he's been training to face Walsh and in an ideal world he would have had more time to prepare for the different style that Ocampo will bring.

'He can't afford to slip up, though, we are virtually there with the fight against Broner for next year and that will only happen if he comes through against Ocampo.'

Frankel goes to stud at Banstead Manor Farm

What a stud! 125k-a-time Frankel settles into his new home as he prepares for his career change

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UPDATED:

17:18 GMT, 22 November 2012

It is not often a horse commands a stud fee of 125,000 so Banstead Manor Farm have every right to show off their prize possession.

Unbeaten Frankel was paraded round the grounds before he goes to work.

Rated as the greatest horse in the world, Frankel was expected to stand for around 100,000 after retiring on the back of a 14-race unbeaten career — but his fee was announced last week as 125,000.

A real stud: Unbeaten racehorse Frankel in his new home at Banstead Stud in Newmarket

A real stud: Unbeaten racehorse Frankel in his new home at Banstead Stud in Newmarket

He will be based in Newmarket at owner Khalid Abdullah’s Banstead Manor Farm, where he is pictured in these photos.

Juddmonte Farms general manager Philip Mitchell said: ‘We believe our stallion roster is the best we have been able to offer breeders – and we are very excited with both of our new arrivals.

‘The fee for Frankel reflects his merits as being perhaps the greatest racehorse we have ever witnessed. He is by Galileo, who is now recognised as the best sire in the world, and out of Kind, a winner of six races (from five to seven furlongs) and herself a daughter of one of the most influential stallions in the history of thoroughbred breeding, Danehill.

Expensive business: Frankel will command a stud fee of 125,000

Expensive business: Frankel will command a stud fee of 125,000

Getting used to new surroundings: Frankel settled in his new home

Getting used to new surroundings: Frankel settled in his new home

‘Bated Breath (8,000) will give breeders the opportunity to use a most genuine sprinter who was placed second in four Group One races. Ironically, his father Dansili started his career at the same fee and he also just failed to win a Group One race.’

Dansili and Oasis Dream, Juddmonte’s two previous standard bearers, will stand for 80,000.

Mitchell added: ‘We have made minor adjustments to the fees of our two major stalwarts Dansili and Oasis Dream as we believe both of these world-class sires to be equally successful.’

Frankel settling into new home at Banstead Manor Stud

Frankel's back at start as world's greatest settles into stud where he was born

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UPDATED:

16:18 GMT, 8 November 2012

Feline fine: Frankel meets his new friend at Banstead

Feline fine: Frankel meets his new friend at Banstead

Frankel, the world's highest-rated racehorse, has begun settling into his new home after he left Sir Henry Cecil’s stable and returned to his birthplace, Banstead Manor Stud.

The Newmarket stud, just a few miles from Cecil's stable, will be where Frankel's new career as a stallion for Juddmonte Farms will start next year.

Philip Mitchell, the stud's general manager, said: 'In the foaling unit on February 11, 2008, at 11.40pm, little did we realise that we were witnessing the birth of a phenomenal racehorse.

'The rest as they say is history. And it is now extremely exciting that Frankel will be returning to the Stallion Unit at Banstead, some 500 yards from where he was born.'

Frankel is retired to stud as the winner of all 14 of his races, 10 of which came at Group One level. His glittering racing career came to end when he won the Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 20.

Paying tribute to his champion, Cecil said: 'There is no doubt Frankel has been a brilliant racehorse. I am pretty certain that there has never been a better or more talented thoroughbred.

Greatest: The unbeaten Frankel has been retired to stud back at his birthplace

Greatest: The unbeaten Frankel has been retired to stud back at his birthplace

Greatest: The unbeaten Frankel has been retired to stud back at his birthplace

‘He had the speed to be a champion sprinter and then, once he grew up and settled, he got a distance with a turn of foot that makes champions.

'Today is a sad day in some ways for us as he has given us so much pleasure over the last three years. But I want to thank Frankel for so much – for being such a very special part of my training career. Thank you, Frankel.'