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Godsmejudge wins Scottish Grand National for Alan King

Godsmejudge delivers Scottish Grand National glory for King and Hutchinson

By
Jonathan Powell

PUBLISHED:

15:47 GMT, 20 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:08 GMT, 20 April 2013

Scots-born trainer Alan King was overcome with emotion after his smart novice Godsmejudge gave him his first triumph in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

King, who was brought up near Glasgow, admitted: 'This means as much to me as any of the wins I've had. It is like coming home.'

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

But for another Scotsman, Ryan
Mania, and his mount Auroras Encore, this proved one National too many
after their shock success at Aintree a fortnight ago.

The pair were soon struggling towards the rear as they sought to emulate Red Rum's famous double in 1974.

Though they briefly made progress at
halfway, they were out of the race long before the end. Mania was
clearly thrilled to be riding again so soon after a heavy fall at Hexham
the day after the National that saw him airlifted to hospital by
helicopter.

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Godsmejudge, a 12-1 shot, won with eye-catching ease after jumping to the front early on the final circuit.

Big Occasion threatened briefly
early in the straight, but was never going to catch the leader. Jubilant
jockey Wayne Hutchinson, gaining the biggest win of his career, said:
'For a little horse, Godsmejudge is like a rubber ball, so enthusiastic.
He's relentless with his jumping and galloping and soon got into a
great rhythm.

'Once we led, it seemed awfully quiet behind us.'

King spent many years as a hard-working assistant to legendary trainer David Nicholson.

He briefly took over the licence
from Nicholson before sending out a conveyor belt of winners from his
current base at Barbury Castle, Wiltshire.

This has been a testing season for
King, with several of his best horses out of action, but he is finishing
it with a flourish with the able assistance of the ever-reliable
Hutchinson.

Michael Norgrove death: Boxer becomes first to die from injuries sustained in a British ring in 18 years

Norgrove tragedy a sad reminder after fighter becomes first to die from injuries sustained in a British ring in 18 years

By
Jeff Powell

PUBLISHED:

00:02 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:10 GMT, 8 April 2013

The tragic death of Michael Norgrove comes as a reminder not only of the dangers of boxing but of the strides taken towards making the hard old game as safe as humanly possible.

Norgrove has become the first boxer for 18 years to die from injuries sustained in a fight in a British ring.

That remarkable statistic will do nothing to ease the grief of Norgrove’s family and friends but it will defend the sport he loved against the inevitable howls of the abolitionists.

Tragedy: Michael Norgrove (left) collapsed after his fight with Tom Bowen was stopped

Tragedy: Michael Norgrove (left) collapsed after his fight with Tom Bowen was stopped

Tragedy: Michael Norgrove (left) collapsed after his fight with Tom Bowen was stopped

While the British Boxing Board of Control’s strict medical procedures ensure that fighters here are among the best protected in the world, many other sports have higher fatality rates.

While mountaineering is the most hazardous sporting activity,a runner has died in successive London marathons and numerous boys are killed every year when struck by baseballs in the US junior leagues.

Norgrove is only the third British-based boxer to die as a direct result of a fight since 1986.

At 31, the Zambian-born Norgrove became a late starter in the ring after his family moved to north London. The fight after which he lost his life was only his sixth as a professional. He passed away on Saturday night, nine days after suffering bleeding in the brain during a light-welterweight bout in the historic Ring at Blackfriars.

Green and gold: Norgrove boxed for Repton Boxing Club in Bethnal Green, east London

Green and gold: Norgrove boxed for Repton Boxing Club in Bethnal Green, east London

He was winning that contest against Drew Docherty and did not appear to have taken any significantly hard punches. But as soon as Norgrove started behaving abnormally the referee stopped the fight and called the doctors.

'Paramedics went to work immediately and an ambulance on stand-by sped Norgrove to hospital, where trauma treatment by a neuro-surgeon is reported to have commenced well inside The Golden Hour, the first 60 minutes during which brain damage can be restricted to a minimum.

If such urgent practices had been in force years earlier, it is reasonable to speculate that Michael Watson would not be in need of a wheel-chair today and Gerald McClelland would not be in a permanent vegetative state back in the US following his dramatic battle with Nigel Benn.

Unusually, and sadly, Norgrove’s condition was too severe for him to be saved. But Board general secretary Robert Smith is right to point out that their exhaustive medical examinations and the safety precautions they demand at all promotions now reduce risk to the minimum.

James Murray, after a British bantamweight title fight in Glasgow in 1995, and Steve Watt, after a defence of his Scottish welterweight title in 1986, were British boxing’s two preceding fatalities.

Sunderland v Manchester United live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Sunderland v Manchester United – as it happens from the Stadium of Light

By
Alex Horlock

PUBLISHED:

04:00 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

12:13 GMT, 30 March 2013

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Sunderland host Manchester United at the Stadium of Light to kick-off the weekend's action. Sir Alex Ferguson has set the target for his side, who are likely to regain the Premier League title, to reach the record mark of 95 points ahead of the trip to the North East.

By contrast Martin O'Neill's team have been sucked into the battle against relegation and will be desperate to pick up a positive result following a run of just three points from their last 21 available.

SUNDERLAND v MAN UNITED

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Bramble, O'Shea, Rose, Johnson, Gardner, N'Diaye, McClean, Sessegnon, Graham

Subs: Westwood, Larsson, Wickham, Kilgallon, Colback, Mangane, Mandron

Man Utd: De Gea, Da Silva, Vidic, Smalling, Buttner, Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Young, Kagawa, Van Persie.

Subs: Lindegaard, Evra, Evans, Nani, Welbeck, Cleverley, Powell.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

12.11: In the little green box on the right are the full line-ups for this afternoon's match. Rooney, Ferdinand and Giggs aren't even on the bench as Nani, Danny Welbeck and Nick Powell are Ferguson's attacking options, should he need them.

12.07: That said, by Robin van Persie's remarkably high standards, he's going through something of a barren spell. He hasn't scored for United since United's 2-0 win over Everton on February 10. I wouldn't rule him out of getting back to scoring ways domestically today, though. He scored three times in Holland's two international matches during the break…

11.56: Sir Alex obviously has one eye on Monday's FA Cup replay against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. He's starting top goalscorer Robin van Persie but is without Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney in attack. Instead Ashley Young and Shinji Kagawa will have to create the openings for the Dutchman from the off.

Stephane Sessegnon was an injury doubt for Sunderland, but he makes the starting XI for Martin O'Neill. There's no time like the present if misfiring new boy Danny Graham is to get off the mark. He hasn't found the back of the net since leaving Swansea for the Stadium of Light in January.

11.55: And Manchester United's team: De Gea, Rafael, Buttner, Smalling, Vidic, Carrick, Valencia, Anderson, Young, Kagawa, Van Persie

11.54: Here is Sunderland's starting XI: Mignolet, Bardsley, Rose, O'Shea, Bramble, N'Diaye, Gardner, McClean, Johnson, Sessegnon, Graham

Pain: Manchester United saw the title snatched from their grasp at the Stadium of Light last season

Pain: Manchester United saw the title snatched from their grasp at the Stadium of Light last season

11.51: Early team news. United will be without Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs this afternoon. Full teams to follow.

11.45: Good morning one and all. We're an hour away from kick-off in this one and Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping to be heading back to Manchester with his side 18 points clear of rivals City at the top.

Last time United were here in the Premier League it was the final day of the season. Phil Jones, Sir Alex and Co were on the pitch after the 1-0 victory over the Black Cats, applauding the travelling fans and believing they had won the club's 20th league crown. We all know what happened back at the Etihad though, when Sergio Aguero wriggled clear in the QPR box to hit the title-winning goal for City.

United's players will remember that. And now that they are on course to win the league, their players will be keen to avenge the Sunderland fans who performed City's trademark Poznan celebration after City clinched the title last May.

Comfortable winners: United cruised to a 3-1 win over Sunderland at Old Trafford earlier in the season

Comfortable winners: United cruised to a 3-1 win over Sunderland at Old Trafford earlier in the season

Audley Harrison Prizefighter return, Ricky Hatton on Let"s Dance for Comic Relief: Jeff Powell boxing column

Big mouth Audley is BACK but vows to let his fists do the talking, Price ready for Thompson and how Hatton entertained us

-Jeff-Powell-Ricky-Hatton-Manny-Pacquiao-more.html”>Jeff Powell's review of 2012, with Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao and more
24/12/12

JEFF POWELL: De La Hoya on his way as Golden Boy applies for British license
17/12/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Harrison has returned to London from his Los Angeles home to take part in the Prizefighter tournament at York Hall, Bethnal Green on Saturday.

But he has told promoter Eddie Hearn: 'Don't expect a word out of me before the night. I won’t be saying anything at the pre-fight media events.

This time I will be doing my talking with my fists.'

To which we can only say: Hear, Hear.

Harrison has kept us entertained down the years with his ego-centric monologues but after his collapses against David Haye and David Price the time really has come for him to throw punches,
not phrases.

Hearn says: 'Audley loves talking so it will be interesting to see if he can go through with this. I might help him by bringing some tape to the press conference and sticking it over his mouth.'

Promoters normally expect the boxers to help them market their shows and in that sense there are few better salesmen than Harrison. But Hearn is happy that the biggest name in his eight-man Prizefighter line-up has already sold out York Hall in record time.

Hearn says: 'We regularly sell out Prizefighter, usually with the last batch of tickets going in the week before the event.

'But this time the tickets all went within three days of the announcement that Audley is taking part. Maybe some fans want to see him knocked out but whatever the reason he still draws a crowd.'

Last time out: Harrison lasted just 82 seconds in Liverpool last October when David Price knocked him out

Last time out: Harrison lasted just 82 seconds in Liverpool last October when David Price knocked him out

A-farce: British boxing fans were left feeling short-changed after David Haye cruised to a three-round box office win over Harrison in 2010

A-farce: British boxing fans were left feeling short-changed after David Haye cruised to a three-round box office win over Harrison in 2010

Golden hour: Harrison was triumphant for Great Britain at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games

Golden hour: Harrison was triumphant for Great Britain at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games

Whether, at 40 now, this will be his last chance to do just that will depend upon how he fares on Saturday.

The winner has to win three three-round fights – quarter, semi and final – and if Harrison fails as spectacularly as he did against Haye and Price he could be forced into reluctant retirement.

However, a heavyweight Prizefighter triumph rescued his career once before and Harrison is such an enigma that it could happen.

The biggest dangers to him appear to be Martin Rogan, another former Prizefighter champion, the experienced Essex-based Pole Albert Sosnowski and American knock-out artist Travis Walker.

Ready to rumble: Martin Rogan

Hard-hitting: Travis Walker

Huge threats: Martin Rogan and hard-hitting American Travis Walker (right) are also in action at York Hall

The evening will also see the professional debut of Tom Stalker, the captain of Britain's successful boxing team at the 2012 Olympics.

Stalker's four-rounder against Kristian Laight will fill the gap between the second Prizefighter semi-final and the final.

Hearn says: 'It has seemed a bit unfair that the winner of the second semi has had so little time to recover. So we would like to fit in an attraction like this at every Prizefighter.'

Show time: Tom Stalker will make his professional debut on the Prizefighter card in Bethnal Green

Show time: Tom Stalker will make his professional debut on the Prizefighter card in Bethnal Green

Stalker fell angrily short of a medal at the London Games but his style would appear to be more suited to the professional game.

Nevertheless – be it morbid curiosity or not – Big Audley is the main attraction.

If this is to be his swansong, it would be churlish not to wish him well.

Prizefighter will be live on Sky Sports on Saturday night.

Price is all right and ready for Thompson fight

Contrary to a bizarre flurry of tweets suggesting that the fight is off, David Price is scheduled to continue his steady ascent towards a world heavyweight title shot by fighting American Tony Thompson in his home city of Liverpool on Saturday night.

Promoter Frank Maloney has condemned the rumours as a mischievous attempt to disrupt Price's progress but says: 'Although this has cost us a couple of days of ticket selling we still expect another big night in Liverpool.'

Thumbs up: David Price, who watched his beloved Liverpool thrash Swansea 5-0 on Sunday, will fight Tony Thompson this weekend

Thumbs up: David Price, who watched his beloved Liverpool thrash Swansea 5-0 on Sunday, will fight Tony Thompson this weekend

Maloney is guiding Price along a similar path to that by which he led Lennox Lewis to world heavyweight domination and the fight with Thompson – who is threatening to ruin those well-laid plans – represents another step in the right direction.

Two of Thompson's three defeats in a 39-fight career came at the fists of Wladimir Klitschko, who Price hopes to challenge for the majority of alpha-belts late this year or early in 2014.

Price v Thompson is live on BoxNation Saturday night via Sky Ch 437 or Virgin Ch 546.

Murray out to ruin the party for Martinez in Argentina

Martin Murray's audacious attempt to relieve Argentina's Sergio Martinez of the WBC world middleweight title in Buenos Aires will be screened live on BoxNation on April 27.

This is a fight which merits a wide audience and Murray deserves his chance to shine on international television.

Martinez is the world's outstanding middleweight and one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in boxing today. But he is in his late 30s and Murray is hoping that this will be the night when he slips slightly into decline.

Tough nut: Martin Murray will travel to Argentina later this Spring to fight Sergio Martinez

Home favourite: Martinez will be hoping to give the people of Argentina cause for celebration when he puts his world title on the lone against Murray

Showdown: Martin Murray faces a daunting task in Argentina when he collides with Sergio Martinez (right)

Argentina's president is promoting the event, in a football stadium, as part of a national day of celebration.

Murray must also expect increased hostility from the large crowd at a time when the dispute over the Falkland Islands is heating up once more.

But if they were looking for a no-risk festivity they could have picked an easier oppnonent.

Murray is a hard man and at the very least he will put Martinez through a fierce physical test.

Thanks for entertaining us, Ricky

Ricky Hatton was almost as big a hit in his first performance on Let's Dance for Comic Relief as he used to be in the ring.

Sinisterly clad as a member of the group Kiss, the Hitman threw himself into his routine with all the gusto which characterised his fights.

His choice of tune was appropriate – the Robbie Williams hit Let Me Entertain You. Hatton has never failed to do that.

Scroll down to watch the video

Let's dance: Ricky Hatton performs on BBC's Let's Dance for Comic Relief

It's a knockout: Despite a brilliant routine to 'Let Me Entertain You', Hatton was voted off by the judges

It's a knockout: Despite a brilliant routine to 'Let Me Entertain You', Hatton was voted off by the BBC judges

His appearance drew a large TV audience – just as his big fights always sold out.

But the most encouraging sight for his legion of followers was that he looked in good physical condition and very happy three months after his retirement.

Hatton promised he would not revert to his binge-boozing and junk eating after his one-fight comeback and the signs are that he will keep his word.

VIDEO Hatton enacts Robbie's Let Me Entertain You for Comic Relief

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Alexander passes up Money offer to hand Brook title shot

Despite a tweeted approach from Floyd Mayweather, Devon Alexander has promised to rearrange his world welterweight title defence against Kell Brook.

Despite the extra money he could make from fighting Mayweather, Alexander says: 'I owe this to Kell after postponing our fight because of my bicep injury.'

Brook will be even more encouraged to redouble his efforts in training if, as expected in the next few days, Mayweather confirms Robert Guerrero as the opponent for his comeback fight in Las Vegas on May 4.

Alexander versus Brook is being re-scheduled for late April or May.

Defending his title: Devon Alexander

Up for the fight: Kell Brook

Change of date: Devon Alexander (left) will re-arrange his postponed title fight with Kell Brook for April or May

Manchester United stars wear Bugs Bunny pyjamas

What's up, doc United stars wear Bugs Bunny pjs on team-building flight to Qatar

By
Tom Sheen

PUBLISHED:

23:14 GMT, 20 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:31 GMT, 20 January 2013

Manchester United stars prepared for their long-haul flight to Qatar by wearing matching pairs of Bugs Bunny pyjamas.

Sportsmail is, so far, unable to verify the reasons behind the decision, but with five members of the United team wearing the uniform, we can only speculate there has been a radical breakthrough in Manchester United's sports science department.

United are in Qatar for warm weather training, much-needed after their 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane was played out in the driving snow.

Chilling with Bugs: Robin Van Persie (left) and Alexander Buttner (right) lounge in their Bugs Bunny pjs on the flight to Qatar

Chilling with Bugs: Robin Van Persie (left) and Alexander Buttner (right) lounge in their Bugs Bunny pjs en route for a team-building trip in Qatar

When in Doha, the team are planning to focus on team-building exercises at the $1.3billion Aspire Academy.

They hope the trip will also aid recovery for the likes of Ashley Young and Jonny Evans, who are suffering from injuries.

United went in front with Robin Van Persie grabbing his 18th Premier League goal of the season, but were pegged back by a Clint Dempsey goal in the 92nd minute.

Ferguson was disappointed that Chris Foy did not award his team a penalty.

'It was a clear penalty,' he said. 'It was definitely a penalty. He has put his leg right in there.

'The linesman is facing it, I thought he had a very poor game, the linesman. I thought he was disappointing.

Breakthrough Andreson (left), Patrice Evra (right) and Nick Powell (behind) were also wearing the night wear

Breakthrough Andreson (left), Patrice Evra (right) and Nick Powell (behind) were also wearing the night wear

'We have got that history with him. He never gave offside with (Chelsea striker Didier) Drogba at Old Trafford when he was three yards offside.

'Everyone remembers that, I certainly do.' The Drogba incident came in a 2-1 win for Chelsea at Old Trafford in April 2010.

Ferguson felt his side had been let down again, with Rooney seemingly fouled only moments after replacing Shinji Kagawa.

'For me it was a poor performance from him, why he never gave a penalty I don't know,' Ferguson added. 'I think he had a shocking game today, he's had a bad game and we never got anything from that side of the pitch.'

Overall, though, he is happy with the way his team is performing so far this season.

'We have been to all the top teams' grounds so far,' he said. 'We just have Arsenal left and we think we can be pleased with the outcome of them all.

Sub-zero: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was disappointed his side were not awarded a penalty

Sub-zero: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was disappointed his side were not awarded a penalty

'We have got a healthy points total from them and it's another game out of the road.

'I wanted the game to go ahead today because we don't want a backlog and as it was, it proved I was right.'

United next play on January 26th in the FA Cup Fourth Round tie at home to Fulham.

League One round-up: Tranmere go top after Sheffield United slip-up

League One round-up: Tranmere go top after Blades slip-up

PUBLISHED:

21:30 GMT, 29 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 29 December 2012

Tranmere went top of npower League One by a point as they claimed a 1-0 victory over struggling Scunthorpe.

Cole Stockton grabbed the only goal of the game just before the hour mark at Prenton Park as Rovers took advantage of a slip-up by Sheffield United.

The Blades lost 3-2 at home to bottom club Hartlepool, who picked up just their second win of the season.

Top dogs: Tranmere beat Scunthorpe 1-0 to leapfrog Sheffield United

Top dogs: Tranmere beat Scunthorpe 1-0 to leapfrog Sheffield United

Steve Howard put the visitors ahead only for Michael Doyle to level.

But a Ritchie Humphreys strike and Howard's second put Hartlepool clear, and Harry Maguire's late effort was not enough for United.

Doncaster are now level on points with their second-placed Yorkshire rivals after a 3-0 win at Preston.

David Syers opened the scoring inside the first minute, with David Cotterill and a Billy Paynter penalty completing the scoring.

Surprise: Harry Maguire's injury-time goal wasn't enough for Sheffield United as they lost to bottom club Hartlepool

Surprise: Harry Maguire's injury-time goal wasn't enough for Sheffield United as they lost to bottom club Hartlepool

Brentford dropped to fourth after a goalless draw at Shrewsbury while Bournemouth were 3-0 victors over Crawley thanks to a Gary Alexander own goal and further strikes from Brett Pitman and Eunan O'Kane.

Portsmouth remain in the bottom four after a 2-1 home defeat against Yeovil.

Dominic Blizzard and /12/29/article-0-16AF9EB1000005DC-948_468x362.jpg” width=”468″ height=”362″ alt=”Comeback: Coventry came from behind twice to beat MK Dons” class=”blkBorder” />

Comeback: Coventry came from behind twice to beat MK Dons

Daniel Powell and Ryan Lowe netted for the Dons but Franck Moussa and Stephen Elliott pegged them back before the Irish striker bagged the winner.

Moses Odubajo struck three minutes from time to help Leyton Orient beat Walsall 2-1.

David Mooney put Orient ahead only for Sam Mantom to level for the visitors. But Odubajo popped up the claim the points for his side.
Two early goals were enough to give Carlisle a 2-1 win over Bury.

A Lee Miller penalty and a Matty Robson effort put Carlisle in control with Stephen Schumacher getting one back for the visitors.

The games between Colchester and Swindon and Stevenage and Notts County were postponed due to waterlogged pitches.

Boxing review of 2012, by Jeff Powell, with Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao and more

Jeff Powell's review of 2012, with Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao and more

|

UPDATED:

21:40 GMT, 24 December 2012

'Tis the season to put on a few pounds, let the stitches heal the wounds, to soothe the swollen hands, take the weight off the feet without every second counting… and confer the annual awards.

Anno Domni 2012 began with Muhammad Ali further defying Parkinson’s by reaching his landmark 70th birthday. It ended with Manny Pacquiao being knocked flat out of contention as pound-for-pound king by the anatomically reconstructed 39-year-old Juan Manuel Marquez.

Between those ring-posts, history was made…

BOXER OF THE YEAR

Sergio Martinez achieved, at last, the recognition and the world title of which he had been deprived for too long.

The Argentine matinee idol, having begun his year by knocking out our own Matthew Macklin, went on to beat Son of Chavez and thus overcome the boxing politics in which he had been unfairly entangled.

He did so with a master-class for 11 rounds of dazzling style against Julio Cesar Jnr, capped off by his courageous recovery from a 12th round knock-down. The classic middleweight division found its latest successor to Sugar Ray Robinson.

Champ: Sergio Martinez recovered from a late knockdown to claim victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr

Champ: Sergio Martinez recovered from a late knockdown to claim victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr

BRITISH BOXER OF THE YEAR

Carl Froch, the outstanding fighter of his UK generation, gritted his teeth to come back from last year.s disappointing Super Six Final defeat by the accomplished Andre Ward.

He did so in commanding fashion, putting an end to the fancied Lucien Bute's unbeaten record to regain a world super-middleweight title.

A similar stoppage blitzing of Yusaf Mack not only gave the Nottingham Cobra a rousing homecoming but served notice on Ward and Mikkel Kessler that he intends, in 2013, to avenge the only two defeats of his warrior career.

Pride of Britain: Carl Froch was back to his brilliant best in 2012, especially against Yusaf Mack

Pride of Britain: Carl Froch was back to his brilliant best in 2012, especially against Yusaf Mack

WOMAN BOXER OF THE YEAR

Nicola Adams took her indelible place in the record books by becoming the first female to win Olympic gold in the boxing ring.

The wee lass from Leeds lit up London 2012 with her sunshine smile and lifted the roof off the cacophonous ExCel Arena by decking Chinese legend Can Can Ren en route to winning her historic final.

FIGHT OF THE YEAR

Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez*.

The asterix is there because the veteran Mexican idol had turned to a self-confessed former Olympics steroid provider to build him up physically in his desperation to secure a result against the legendary PacMan at the fourth attempt.

Marquez consistently denied using drugs to turn himself into a mini Arnold Schwarzenagger. So while there is no boxer of the year accolade from me, there is no denying that the Las Vegas night in its own right, with both men floored before Marquez landed his Hail Mary punch as Pacquiao appeared to be on the point of sixth round victory, was the thriller of 2012.

A broken man: Juan Manuel Marquez finally got the better of his old foe Manny Pacquiao

A broken man: Juan Manuel Marquez finally got the better of his old foe Manny Pacquiao

TRAINER OF THE YEAR

Rob McCracken not only brought Froch back from the professional brink to a third world title but also guided Team GB’s boxers to a rich medal haul at London 2012.

The first part of that double act has set up Britain's top prize-fighter for block-busting world super-middleweight title re-matches against Kessler and Ward in the coming 12 months.

The second part delivered not only Olympic glory but increased funding for this country’s amateur boxers.

SWANSONG OF THE YEAR

Ricky Hatton returned to the stage of pain for one last hurrah… and hurrah it was even though he over-matched himself after more than three years' absence by taking on an immediate past world champion.

We still love you: Ricky Hatton gave his fans once last chance to see him action, but was defeated

We still love you: Ricky Hatton gave his fans once last chance to see him action, but was defeated

The Hitman paid the price in the form of a crippling blow to that part of his body rendered most vulnerable by his past life of hard-boozing, his liver.

But he was ahead on the score-cards at the time and remains dear to the hearts of his army of fans, a sell-out 20,000 of whom sang him out of the ring for the last time and into a future as a trainer and promoter.

The sound of bells ringing in the ears – rather than the church steeples at this time of year – has stopped for the moment, but the memories linger on. Happy Christmas.

Sheffield Wednesday X Charlton X – match report

Sheffield Wednesday 2 Charlton 0: McCabe and Helan make it two on the spin for Owls

PUBLISHED:

17:32 GMT, 22 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

17:32 GMT, 22 December 2012

Rhys McCabe struck his first senior goal and Jeremy Helan was also on target as Sheffield Wednesday climbed out of the bottom three of the npower Championship with a second successive win.

Scottish midfielder McCabe, a summer signing from Rangers, slammed home a superb volley from the edge of the penalty area midway through the first half and Frenchman Helan marked his final game for the Owls before his return to parent club Manchester City with the second in the fourth minute of time added on.

Charlton, who lost their first league game in eight at Bolton last week, turned in a disappointing display and mustered only two efforts on goal throughout the match.

On the rise: Rhys McCabe gets the plaudits after firing Wednesday's opener

On the rise: Rhys McCabe gets the plaudits after firing Wednesday's opener

Match facts

Sheff Wed: Kirkland, Buxton, Gardner, Llera, Reda Johnson, Antonio, McCabe, Prutton (Lines 67), Helan, Madine (Sidibe 87), O'Grady (Lee 74). Subs not used: /12/22/article-2252075-169FD686000005DC-440_468x308.jpg” width=”468″ height=”308″ alt=”Getting to grips: Anthony Gardner brings down Ricardo Fuller” class=”blkBorder” />

Getting to grips: Anthony Gardner brings down Ricardo Fuller

Chances at either end after the break
were few and far between, with only Gardner's 56th-minute header
threatening Hamer, who then held on to O'Grady's angled drive, while
Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland remained completely redundant.

The Addicks, who had failed to score
in two of their last three matches, had still not had a single shot by
the hour-mark and boss Chris Powell withdrew Salim Kerkar in the 63rd
minute and sent on fellow striker Ricardo Fuller, returning to action
after a four-game lay-off due to a hamstring injury.

Wednesday were dealt a blow when Prutton was forced off injured and replaced by Chris Lines in the 67th minute.

Fuller had the visitors' first shot
two minutes later, but his 25-yard effort was blocked by Llera and with
12 minutes left Powell sent on forward Rob Hulse and midfielder Danny
Green for Danny Haynes and Emmanuel Frimpong respectively.

But it was Wednesday who threatened
again. Helan, pushed up into midfield in his last match for the Owls,
fired a shot straight at Hamer from the edge of the box and although
another Fuller effort was blocked by Owls defender Lewis Buxton, Helan
made the game safe for the Owls by stabbing home from close range in the
fourth minute of injury time.

Manchester United stars at Old Trafford for charity gala in aid of UNICEF

Manchester United stars suited and booted for charity dinner at Old Trafford

|

UPDATED:

23:51 GMT, 19 December 2012

The stars of Manchester United were out in force on Wednesday night for the club's annual gala dinner.

Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand fronted the star-studded cast arriving at Old Trafford for the dinner in aid of charity UNICEF.

Questioning: Rio Ferdinand is joined by Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and co on stage at Manchester Unted's gala dinner

Questioning: Rio Ferdinand is joined on stage by Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and co at Unted's gala dinner

Cheer up, Ryan: A rather glum looking Giggs poses for a picture with team-mates Rooney and Fletcher

Cheer up, Ryan: A rather glum looking Giggs poses for a picture with team-mates Rooney and Fletcher

Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney

Chris Smalling

Double act: Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney strike a pose with Chris Smalling and partner Sam Cooke

Sir Alex Ferguson however was a notable absentee.

The United boss, whose secrets behind
his unrivalled success at Old Trafford were in part revealed following an
unprecedented study by Harvard University, didn't join his side at the
black-tie affair despite his name being mentioned on the official
invite.

Patrice Evra

Darren Fletcher

Suit you, sir: Patrice Evra and Darren Fletcher look the part as they arrive at the home of Manchester United

Happy: Hernandez shares a joke with Valencia while Cleverley, Young and Welbeck are all smiles (below)

Happy: Hernandez shares a joke with Valencia while Cleverley, Young and Welbeck are all smiles (below)

Happy: Hernandez shares a joke with Valencia while Cleverley, Young and Welbeck are all smiles (below)

The United boss is unlikely to be
happy that his side playing three games in seven days over the Festive
period starting with a tricky trip to Swansea on Sunday.

United will begin the tough run of games with a six-point cushion over rivals Manchester City as they
attempt to wrestle back the Premier League trophy to the red half of the
city.

SHINJI KAGAWA

Jonny Evans

Thumbs up: Shinji Kagawa (left) and Jonny Evans with his girlfriend Kate Wathall

In the swing: United veteran Ryan Giggs arrives at the star-studded evening at Old Trafford

In the swing: United veteran Ryan Giggs arrives at the star-studded evening at Old Trafford

Men in black: Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck pose for the assorted media

Men in black: Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck pose for the assorted media

Nick Powell

Alexander Buttner

Picture perfect: Summer signings Nick Powell and Alexander Buttner with their respective partners

Lat year's gala raised 130,000 for
charity and some punters would have paid in excess of 3,500 a ticket
for last night's do which included a three-course meal, free bottle of
wine and a VIP drinks reception at the United museum, according to the
club's website.

Catherine Tyldesley

Catherine Tyldesley

Red Devil: Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley arriving at Old Trafford for the gala dinner

Amir Khan aims for world title after beating Carlos Molina – Jeff Powell

JEFF POWELL: King Khan is back on track and showing the world his exciting natural talent… but he will have to wait for title shot

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UPDATED:

15:16 GMT, 16 December 2012

Next stop the world. So says Amir Khan after laying waste to a neighbourhood of east Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Maybe so, now that he has pulled back from the edge of the fiscal cliff which was threatening his future as much as the financial recession is jeopardising the American economy.

One false step here and he would have plunged into chaos.

Now he says: ‘I will be the champ again soon.’.

Scroll down for video

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

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

Amir Khan connects with Carlos Molina
KHAN IN 2013

Amir Khan’s three-fight calendar for 2013 is now shaping up like this:

March/April v Josesito Lopez to fine tune trainer Virgil Hunter’s game plan.

June/July v Danny Garcia in a world light-welterweight title re-match.

November/December v Lamont Peterson in re-match to become undisputed 10 stone champion, given Olympic standard drugs testing.

Maybe so since Danny Garcia, who knocked Khan off his perch with a left hook from hell earlier this year, appears willing to risk the lengthy odds against him landing that sucker punch again in a re-match.

Garcia and his mind-games father, Angel, were still in bullish mood after watching Khan beat Carlos Molina to pulp in the LA Sports Arena.

The Garcias had just seen the Bolton express land enough bolts of lightning to generate a year’s electricity for Molina’s impoverished home district not far from the LA Sports Arena but remained obdurately unimpressed.

‘We’ll fight Khan again and knock him out again,’ they said .’Even though we know that if he had beaten us he would never have given us a re-match.’

Price of success: Khan was reported to have fractured both hands during his victory over Molina

Price of success: Khan was reported to have fractured both hands during his victory over Molina

Through the gate: Molina did manage to land on Khan but the Bolton boxer withstood the punches

Through the gate: Molina did manage to land on Khan but the Bolton boxer withstood the punches

Carlos Molina sits in his corner after the ninth round

Amir Khan

Sore one: A cut opened around Molina's left eye early in the fight which caused him problems throughout

Maybe not. Khan has battened down his defences and acquired self-restraint in his first camp with new trainer Virgil Hunter.

But he has done so without
sacrificing the blistering hand speed or dynamic intensity which
hallmark one of the most exciting talents in the prize-ring today.

And yes, we are talking here about
Khan, at just turned 26, despite the flaws he is grafting to eradicate
from his game and the detractors who are so quick to pounce on his
inconsistencies.

There is no more exciting natural
talent in boxing right now, even though Khan will be required to prove
as much against opponents more formidable than prize-fighting’s version
of the Hobbit who came shuffling out of the opposite corner this
weekend.

Relentless: Khan used his jab effectively to keep Molina at bay and launch his combinations

Relentless: Khan used his jab effectively to keep Molina at bay and launch his combinations

Sore one: A cut opened beneath Molina's left eye early in the fight

Sore one: A cut opened beneath Molina's left eye early in the fight

They say punch-bags don’t hit back
but the diminutive Molina proved to be the exception, albeit not often
enough to prevent him losing all ten of the scheduled twelve rounds
before his corner men called a humane halt to the one-side proceedings.

This peon praise for Khan’s
renaissance after two successive but peculiar losses has to be qualified
by Molina’s limitations of size, ability, experience and hitting
power.

Yet they also say that you can do no
more than obliterate whoever is put in front of you. Khan did that in
overwhelming style and Britain should not lose the faith with its most
prominent and courageous ambassador for Anglo-Islam relations.

Molina had been hand-picked as a
stepping-stone towards Khan’s rehabilitation but he still had to be
beaten and the pot-shots he fired in retaliation had to be weathered as
evidence that the chin in a question is not fatally Achillean after all.

Over and out: The fight was stopped when Molina's corner felt he had suffered enough

Over and out: The fight was stopped when Molina's corner felt he had suffered enough

Referee Jack Reiss stops the fight between Amir Khan and Carlos Molina

The new Khan we had been promised
boxed with enough self-control and adherence to a less hazardous game
plan to suggest that our former world light-welterweight champion can
reclaim his place among the elite, and he had two fractured hands to show for his night's work.

Although the world championship he wants back may not come quite as soon as he is predicting.
Khan said; ‘I will fight Garcia again whenever and wherever he wants.’
The feeling is mutual, even if the money is doing much of the talking
when Danny boy says: 'I’m open to a second fight.’

But Garcia is scheduled to defend his
unified title against Zab Judah in February so the re-match with Khan
will have to wait at least until June or July. Khan will plug the gap
with another confidence building bout in March or April, before marrying
his fiance in May.

Suddenly the mists of doubt have cleared and the sun is shining on Khan again.

New era: Khan will hope to fight for a world title next year after his win in Los Angeles

New era: Khan will hope to fight for a world title next year after his win in Los Angeles

New era: Khan will hope to fight for a world title next year after his win

That warmth should help heal the
damage to the right hand, which he feared he had broken in hitting
Molina so often. The pain came as a reminder of his ex-trainer Freddie
Roach’s assertion that Khan has a recurrent problem there.

Not that Molina would have noticed.
So sharp and rapid were the multi-punch combinations with which Khan hit
him repeatedly that as early as the second round Molina’s face looked
as if a saucepan of boiling water had been thrown over it.

/12/16/article-0-16897E64000005DC-805_634x337.jpg” width=”634″ height=”337″ alt=”Looking to the future: Amir Khan and his trainer Virgil Hunter are looking at a world title shot in 2013″ class=”blkBorder” />

Looking to the future: Amir Khan and his trainer Virgil Hunter are looking at a world title shot in 2013

Khan had boxed with smarter attention
to trainer’s orders but for we who delight in watching him it was
reassuring to see that his warrior instincts will never be tamed
altogether.

He said: ‘I expect to become an even more complete boxer after more fights under Virgil.’

Hunter said: ‘He is on his way again to becoming a truly great boxer.’

Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer,
whose belief and investment in Khan had been redeemed, went further: ‘I
have always been convinced that Amir will be the best pound-for-pound
boxer in the world.’

First things first.

Our boy is back. Well, back on track if not all the way back to the top quite yet.

King Khan, as he is called, is
looking like a Prince of the ring again, which is no small achievement
for one who was sliding towards that precipice prior to this Saturday
night in the City of the Angels.

VIDEO: Amir Khan: 'trainer changed me…'

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