Tag Archives: ranks

Suso signs long-term Liverpool contract

This is one of the best days of my life: Suso delighted to sign new Liverpool deal



17:19 GMT, 19 October 2012

Happy days: Suso was delighted to put pen to paper at Anfield

Happy days: Suso was delighted to put pen to paper at Anfield

Liverpool midfielder Suso has signed a new long-term contract at Anfield.

The 18-year-old Spaniard, who joined Liverpool from hometown club Cadiz in 2010, committed his future to the Reds when he put pen to paper on the new deal at the side's training complex at Melwood.

After signing the contract, Suso told the club's official website: 'I am really happy. Liverpool are one of the biggest clubs in the world and this is the right place for me.'

Suso was given his senior debut for Liverpool in the Europa League win over Young Boys last month after impressing in the youth ranks and the reserve side.

'I am happy Brendan has shown trust in me,' Suso said.

'I had no questions about signing a new deal and I am really glad to have done so.

Break through: Suso is becoming a big part of manager Brendan Rodgers' plans

Break through: Suso is becoming a big part of manager Brendan Rodgers' plans

'I am comfortable here. I have played some games for the first team and I hope to continue doing that, but I need to work hard every day for that to happen.

'This is one of the best days of my life.'

Since his debut, the teenager has made four further appearances for the first team, and Reds boss Brendan Rodgers believes he has all of the qualities needed to develop into a top class player at Anfield.

Rodgers said: 'We are all delighted Suso has committed his long-term future to Liverpool Football Club.

'At 18, he has demonstrated outstanding technical qualities but also shown very good temperament to play for such a prestigious club.

'His commitment is very good news for all our young Academy players and the excellent work taken place by the Academy coaches and staff.'

Amir Khan signs brother to promotional company

Khan makes brother Haroon his first signing to promotional company



20:03 GMT, 2 October 2012

Amir Khan has launched his new promotional company with his brother Haroon the first signing.

The younger Khan is looking to follow in his sibling's footsteps in the professional ranks after a decent amateur career that was capped with a bronze medal in the flyweight division at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

He will get to do so under his brother's Super Fight Promotions banner, which boasts long-time promoter Dennis Hobson as a partner.

Spreading his wings: Amir Khan has his own promotional company

Spreading his wings: Amir Khan has his own promotional company

'I've always wanted to turn professional and to do so under Super Fight Promotions was an opportunity that I couldn't turn down,' said Haroon.

'I have big ambitions but will take things a step at a time and I know I've got the best team behind me, who have that experience, to help guide my career to the very top.'

The announcement comes just days after former IBF and WBA light-welterweight champion Khan revealed Virgil Hunter would be his new trainer, with his next bout against the undefeated Carlos Molina in December.

First up: Haroon Khan has signed for his brother's company

First up: Haroon Khan has signed for his brother's company

'I'm delighted that Haroon is the first fighter to sign for Super Fight Promotions. He's got a lot of talent and I know he can achieve a lot in the professional game,' said the elder Khan.

'His amateur record will serve him well and I have no doubts that his decision to turn professional will prove to be a very fruitful one.

'Super Fight Promotions is a company which is going to make big waves in boxing as we actively seek to sign the very best young talent around.'

Michael Laudrup son Andreas prepares to face Chelsea

Big test for the latest Laudrup as Michael's son prepares to face Chelsea



21:00 GMT, 1 October 2012

In the spotlight: Laudrup Jnr

In the spotlight: Laudrup Jnr

Michael Laudrup’s father played for Denmark for 12 years, but that is nothing compared to the shadow that stalks his son Andreas.

The latest in the Laudrup line plays for FC Nordsjaelland against Chelsea on Tuesday night as the only familiar name at the club.

The 21-year-old is the youngest of the Swansea manager’s two footballer sons, a tricky, two-footed winger with pace. Comparisons with his father, and his famous uncle Brian, are not as frequent as they were when he was a teenage prospect at Real Madrid, but that does not make them any less annoying.

‘The name has been a burden – everyone knows the Laudrups here,’ said Morten Wieghorst, the former Celtic midfielder who signed Andreas in 2009 for Nordsjaelland but left last year to manage Denmark Under 21s.

Wieghorst played with Michael and Brian for Denmark in the Nineties and under Michael at Brondby, where Andreas was the scrawny kid always at pitchside with a ball.

Wieghorst told Sportsmail: ‘Even then he was compared to Michael.’

Great Dane: Michael Laudrup enjoyed a glittering career for club and country

Great Dane: Michael Laudrup enjoyed a glittering career for club and country

In 2007-08 Andreas was in the youth ranks at Real Madrid, where his father won a league title.

‘He used to carry only his first name on his shirt and insisted on being known as Andreas on the team sheet.’

When his father left Getafe in 2008, Andreas followed his family back to Denmark. After his son had a short spell at Lyngby, Michael called Wieghorst.

Tough ask: Nordsjaelland welcome Chelsea on Tuesday night

Tough ask: Nordsjaelland welcome Chelsea on Tuesday night

‘His father was one of the truly great players,’ said Wieghorst. ‘People will always judge him against that.’

Meanwhile, Roberto Di Matteo wants Frank Lampard, who is in the final year of his contract, to sign a new Chelsea deal but admits the 34-year-old can no longer be the club’s all-action man.

‘Nobody likes to be on the bench or not playing,’ said the Chelsea manager. ‘But I hope that he will spend the rest of his career with us.’

How can Brendan Rodgers ready Liverpool for champions Manchester City?

How can Rodgers revamp his Liverpool side before facing champions City after West Brom defeat



21:45 GMT, 19 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Brendan Rodgers started with a 180-page dossier for the owners on how to improve Liverpool, but he might need a few more sheets on which to write his thoughts about this debacle.

Never mind, it's only champions Manchester City next in the Premier League on Sunday. There are plenty of questions for Rodgers to answer – and quickly.

Judging by Saturday's 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich, Rodgers might start with these:

Time to cash in Daniel Agger had an off-day against West Brom and was eventually sent off

Time to cash in Daniel Agger had an off-day against West Brom and was eventually sent off


On the evidence of this, two centre halves. Maybe it is time to cash in on Daniel Agger.

He and Martin Skrtel had an off-day and Jamie Carragher won't last for ever.

1. Is Luis Suarez the right spearhead

Liverpool fans saw the best and worst of the Uruguayan inside 90 minutes. He was constantly probing and teasing. And constantly missing chances. His conversion rate remains such that he needs four chances to score once and he was decidedly off-key on Saturday.

A goal at any time – even the chance he spooned over the bar from inside the six-yard box when Liverpool were 2-0 down – would have caused nervousness in the home ranks.

Is Suarez better utilised behind the front man, running at opponents and linking up play, rather than being the focal point of the Liverpool attack

2. Why spend 15m on Joe Allen and then play him out of position (Ditto Borini)

Rodgers knows Allen's qualities better than anyone.

The Wales international made his name at Swansea, finding space in midfield, given licence to link up play and operate in areas further forward where he could hurt the opposition.

It was therefore little short of bizarre to see Liverpool set up with Allen holding a defensive midfield position alongside Lucas.

Likewise, Borini was used during Swansea's promotion season as the spearhead of their attack. Here, he was asked to play wide in a front three.

Out of position: Both Joe Allen (above) and Fabio Borini (below) were unable to impose themselves on the game

Out of position: Both Joe Allen (above) and Fabio Borini (below) were unable to impose themselves on the game

Out of position: Both Joe Allen and Fabio Borini were unable to impose themselves on the game

Out of position: Both Joe Allen and Fabio Borini were unable to impose themselves on the game

3. Steven Gerrard was anonymous. Was this the best use of England's skipper

At the age of 32, Gerrard's days of being the all-action midfielder may be drawing to a close, but it was nevertheless difficult to recall ever seeing the Anfield legend have less of an impact on a game.

Gerrard didn't look entirely happy with whatever system Rodgers is trying to introduce at Liverpool.

He was caught in a midfield no man's land, not sure of his role or what he was supposed to be trying to achieve.

Don't fancy it Rodgers appears to be set against starting Andy Carroll (left)

Don't fancy it Rodgers appears to be set against starting Andy Carroll (left)

4. Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger looked shaky. Is it time for a rethink on Agger

Manchester City would like to sign Agger and Rodgers could be tempted to cash in.

Agger confirmed afterwards that he will contest his red card but his protest is unlikely to provide much hope that he will face City next week.

Even before shoving Shane Long in the back for the penalty which led to his dismissal, this had been far from a blemish-free performance from the Dane.

He and Skrtel seemed uncertain on the ball: shall we try to play, or should we clear our lines

5. How does he change it for Manchester City

Andy Carroll can do a job, if he is given the chance.

But Rodgers doesn't seem to fancy him at all. Jamie Carragher could come back to shore up the defence, but what else can Rodgers do

He needs to prove his ability and, with games against Arsenal and Manchester United coming up, he will need to act quickly.

Ready or not Rodgers' side must improve if they are to beat champions Manchester City

Ready or not Rodgers' side must improve if they are to beat champions Manchester City

Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana: Just surviving will be a real bonus for us

Just surviving will be a real bonus for us, says Southampton midfielder Lallana



21:46 GMT, 18 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Adam Lallana is 24, has already spent
half of his life at Southampton and, after the lows of recent years,
does not need reminding the magnitude of the Saints' return to the
Premier League.

They open their campaign on Sunday afternoon with the most daunting of fixtures, away to champions Manchester City.

'They've got a great home record,
they'll have 50,000 fans and they've got two or three brilliant players
in every position,' Lallana says. 'The way they won the title was
amazing. It's their first match defending it. It doesn't get any better
for them – and we must be doing something right to be there playing

Long haul: Southampton's Adam Lallana (right)

Long haul: Southampton's Adam Lallana (right)

Lallana is the highest-profile home-grown Southampton player still at a club forced to sell a string of other stars, including fellow academy products Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to help keep the club afloat through a financial meltdown.

He was in the junior ranks when Southampton reached an FA Cup final in 2003, a season when they finished eighth in the top flight, their highest finish of the past 20 years.

He was on the fringes of the first team when Saints' 27-year stay in the elite division ended with relegation in 2005 and was a devastated first-team regular by the time they subsequently tumbled from the Championship into League One in May 2009.

'That's got to be the low point, relegation from the Championship and a 10-point penalty to start in League One,' Lallana recalls. 'That summer we didn't even know if the club would exist to begin the next season. There was a month when we didn't get paid. We were all wondering about our futures.'

Target: Bologna's Gaston Ramirez

Target: Bologna's Gaston Ramirez

What happened next is South Coast lore. A Swiss billionaire, Markus Liebherr, saved the club with a last-gasp 15m takeover and appointed Alan Pardew as manager.

Eight months later, Saints won the Football Trophy, 4-1 against Carlisle at a packed Wembley. Lallana was on the scoresheet as his club picked up their first silverware since the FA Cup in 1976.

'Aside from the last game of last season, when we beat Coventry to guarantee getting to the Premier League, that was probably the biggest game of my career so far,' says Lallana.

Saints failed to escape League One at the first attempt and Pardew paid with his job. He was replaced by Nigel Adkins, who led them to the backto- back promotions that have brought them to Sunday – and a whole new world.

On Friday, Lallana saw a TV report saying a deal had been agreed to sign Bologna's Gaston Ramirez for 11.8m.

'This is someone who's been linked to Spurs and Liverpool and to see that he might he coming here instead, it shows we're serious.

Lallana and his team-mates are not looking too far ahead, however. 'We haven't spoken about anything specific beyond City,' he says.

Manchester United and Arsenal are also among their first four opponents.

'Survival is our first and main objective,' he adds. 'Anything beyond that in the first season is a bonus.'

London 2012 Olympics: Anthony Joshua two fights from big money

Worth his weight in gold: Big Josh just two fights away from landing big dosh



22:27 GMT, 9 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Big Josh is just two fights away from being given the key to a vault containing more dosh than any other giants of London 2012 will make from scaling Mount Olympia, the lightning Bolt and the darling Jess included.

If 6ft 6in Anthony Joshua batters an equally large Kazakhstani to defeat in his semi-final, then does the same to whichever super-heavyweight climbs into the opposite corner for the last competitive event of these Games on Sunday afternoon, then he will ride into boxing’s professional ranks aboard a bullion express.

How much of that cache — a very different kind of gold from the medals on offer here — he unloads at the end of that white-knuckle ride will depend on how quickly and completely he adapts to the more brutal rigours of the paid ring.

Ring it to win it: Joshua is just two victories away from a guaranteed future in the professional game

Ring it to win it: Joshua is just two victories away from a guaranteed future in the professional game

More from Jeff Powell …

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Heartbreak for Stalker as he loses medal chance in close bout with Uranchimeg

Lady of the ring! Adams aiming to win first boxing gold for women

Night high on anxiety for Evans as Brit waits on result of Canadian appeal

Speedy Joshua hooks a medal as he sends Zhang crashing to the floor

Ogogo gets going and seals medal after beating Hartel in middleweight bout

Jonas catches the eye on a mixed day for Britain's gladiator girls


Lennox Lewis, whose accountant became well-versed in such affairs after his client became Britain’s first world heavyweight champion for 100 years, values it in the hundreds of millions.

That estimate is based on the virtual void into which this sensible young man from London via Watford will find himself entering.

‘The heavyweight division is desperate for a shining new star,’ says Lewis. Of that, there is no doubt.
The brothers Klitschko have reigned impervious to almost every challenge to their duopoly of the world title alpha-belts since Lewis retired but Vitali, 41, is on the verge of hanging up his gloves and Wladimir, 36, will not go on offering pay-days to pretenders indefinitely.

Joshua, at just 22, is probably arriving too late to feast at the Klitschko table but if he leaves here as an Olympic champion he will find himself being fast-tracked into a place among those jostling for the succession.

They include two of his fellow Englishmen, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist David Price and Tyson Fury, the accelerating traveller.

David Haye still figures in some of the world ranking lists, at anywhere between fourth and seventh behind the Klitschkos. The Hayemaker’s comeback KO victim, Dereck Chisora, remains a fringe candidate despite losing four of his last five fights, which tells Joshua how wide open is the field of opportunity.

Apart from Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, who has yet to overcome his aversion to fighting a Klitschko, and Odlanier Solis, the Cuban who was troubling Vitali K for a round until he wrenched his knee, the rest is comprised mostly of such tired old names as Hasim Rahman, Eddie Chambers and Samuel Peter. If that cast list is not an added incentive for Joshua as he makes his return visits to the ExCeL Arena, he will never have a more enticing one.

The risk, of course, is that he will not be so much fast-tracked to the big time as rushed ahead of his years and experience. This evening’s rendezvous with Ivan Dychko, whom he is reported to have handled well in sparring, is only his 42nd amateur contest. That is not so much a career as a beginning.

In the blue corner: Joshua was impressive in his previous bout - seeing off China's Zhang Zhilei

In the blue corner: Joshua was impressive in his previous bout – seeing off China's Zhang Zhilei

In the blue corner: Joshua was impressive in his previous bout - seeing off China's Zhang Zhilei

As he makes vital decisions about his future, probably starting as early as next week, he needs to be aware that even if he becomes instant box-office he will need a defining rival — the Mayweather to his Pacquiao — if he is to capitalise to the full extent of Lewis’s calculations.

Ideally, that opposite number should be American and bring with him the riches of his country’s pay-per-view TV networks. Intriguingly, just such a figure appears to be rising from the ashes of United States heavyweight boxing.

Tipped for stardom

'I think Anthony Joshua is destined to get a gold medal. He's still a boy at 22 but he's very talented and in form.

I know how hard it is to win gold. It's an achievement just to get to the Olympics, amazing to get a medal and out of this world to win gold. He can do it.'


The Americans have always regarded the prize ring’s ultimate crown as theirs by right but their last unified heavyweight king was Evander Holyfield more than a decade ago.

Now, at last, they are daring to hope they have found the heir to the majestic succession of Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and Mr Holyfield to name but plenty.

The new name is Deontay Wilder. The professional record is a straight 24 wins, every one by knockout. The plan, by Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Promotions, has been to bring him into contention under the radar.

Wilder was the only US boxer to win a medal at the 2008 Games, equalling bronze with Price in Beijing. It has required a total of only 40 rounds for him to compile that unbeaten record and he has yet to be taken beyond the fourth in any of those bouts.

The concussive power is in a
sledgehammer right hand but it is thrown in with the athletic agility of
a 6ft 7in former college American football player.

Put it there: Joshua can become one the headline results for Team GB if he can land gold

Put it there: Joshua can become one the headline results for Team GB if he can land gold

Put it there: Joshua can become one the headline results for Team GB if he can land gold

A native of the quaintly named town of Tuscaloosa, he goes by the nickname the Bronze Bomber in tribute to Louis, the Brown Bomber. The public wraps came off last Saturday when Fox Sports televised live his spectacular first-round knockout of Kertson Manswell in Mobile, Alabama.

At 26, Wilder is ahead of Joshua on the road to riches, as is Denis Boytsov, the 6ft 1in all-action Russian with a dynamite right hand who is being talked of as a new Tyson.

But the prospect of Joshua and Wilder forging a transatlantic rivalry in the not-too-distant future will most excite boxing impresarios who want to break the hold of the Eastern Europeans.

Not that Joshua is the only member of Britain’s boxing team with much to fight for this weekend.
Anthony Ogogo, Luke Campbell and Fred Evans are all Olympic championship contenders going into today’s semi-finals. They have distinguished themselves already by adding guaranteed bronzes to Britain’s phenomenal medals haul.

But it is the towering youngster who is working the graveyard shift at the climax of these tumultuous late nights in London’s Docklands who can see boxing’s holy grail shimmering beyond the gold.

Big fight prize: Heavyweight contenders

Danny Willett wins BMW International Open

Willett survives scare to win BMW International Open after nervy play-off



16:54 GMT, 24 June 2012

Danny Willett, the son of a vicar, finally had his prayers answered – after going through agony.

The 24-year-old from Sheffield beat Australian Marcus Fraser for his first European Tour victory at the BMW International Open in wet and windy Cologne.

Willett, a teammate of Rory McIlroy in the 2007 Walker Cup, feared it was going to be his 20th top 10 finish without victory when he threw away a three-stroke lead.

Holding his nerve: Danny Willett came through a play-off to win the title

Holding his nerve: Danny Willett came through a play-off to win the title


Click here for the final leaderboard

But the former world No 1 in the amateur ranks was given a reprieve when Fraser bogeyed the 456-yard final hole.

That meant a tie on the 11 under par mark of 277 after Willett's superb three-iron escape from close to the trees and the pair had to play the 18th four more times to settle the issue.

First they parred it with Fraser holing from 12 feet, then they bogeyed it with Willett missing from four feet, then they parred it again.

Fraser, twice a winner on the circuit, was favourite to land the first prize of nearly 270,000 when he was 30 feet away in two and the Yorkshireman went over the green.

However, Willett almost chipped in, then saw Fraser lip out and miss his four-footer coming back.

'Amazing – it was a tough day,' said the world No 204, who will be at Sunningdale trying to qualify for the Open Championship on Monday – as will Fraser.

Gutted: Beaten Marcus Foster

Gutted: Beaten Marcus Foster

'I've had some ups and downs in the last 18 months, but I'm injury-free now and I want to thank everybody for the support they've given me.'

One in front overnight, Willett birdied the third and fourth, but the script began to change when he three-putted the ninth.

Further dropped strokes came at the 11th and 15th, the pressure mounting after he had three-putted again for par at the long 13th.

With the weather at its worst, though, he managed to par the final three whereas Fraser was in rough after his first and second shots down the last.

They were round in 71 and 73 respectively, but their work was from over in a tournament which last year saw a five-hole play-off before Pablo Larrazabal beat fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia.

Joint-third only one behind were Ireland's 45-year-old Paul McGinley after a best-of-the-day 66, Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (69) and England's Chris Wood, who bogeyed the short 17th when sharing the lead.

For McGinley it was a third top-seven finish in his last four starts, but he was left to rue his Saturday 77 after being joint second at halfway.

'Obviously there's a gaping thing in the week and I've got to give some thought to why I lost my speed on the greens and my confidence,” said the Dubliner.

'I had five three-putts – I don't think I've ever had that in my life – but it was a good reaction and I'm really looking forward to this week's Irish Open.

Plenty to ponder: Paul McGinley had to settle for third place

Plenty to ponder: Paul McGinley had to settle for third place

'Royal Portrush is one of my favourite courses in the world and I've played it a lot over the years.'

Fernandez-Castano is now back in the last automatic qualifying place for the Ryder Cup, edging Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts down to the 11th thanks to a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th.

Scot Paul Lawrie, third in the cup standings, finished joint 23rd along with 54-year-old Bernhard Langer, whose compatriot Marcel Siem would have been in the play-off if he had made a closing 22-footer.

Instead he three-putted it and slipped to joint sixth with Swede Henrik Stenson.

Lucian Bute prepares to face Carl Froch and model girlfriend

Training's a scream as Bute prepares to face Froch and his model girlfriend

Jeff Powell


21:53 GMT, 25 May 2012



21:53 GMT, 25 May 2012

It is not the deadly hiss of the Cobra which isworrying the IBF world super-middleweight champion as he braces himselfto enter the snake-pit into which the arena in Nottingham will turn atthe stroke of midnight on Saturday.

What concerns Lucian Bute is that he could bedistracted by the impassioned squeals of ringside support for Carl Froch fromhis model girlfriend Rachael Cordingley.

Is he joking Apparently not.

Hit man and her: Carl Froch and girlfriend Rachael Cordingley

Hit man and her: Carl Froch and girlfriend Rachael Cordingley

Bute has had tapes of high-octave female screaming played atfull volume during his sparring sessions to prepare himself for exposure to ayoung lady who is more accustomed to turning men's heads with herphotogenic good looks.

The Canadian-based Romanian has also worked out to aloudspeaker background of roaring Nottingham Forest supporters. Thus he hopesto acclimatise himself for his first away fight amid the din which will begenerated by a deafening majority of Froch fans in the sell-out 9,000 crowd.

Froch is amused.

'I find it funny but I wouldn't want thatracket going on while I'm concentrating on training,' he said.

The Cobra hasn't whispered as much in his opponent's ear buthe thinks Bute would be better advised focussing on the danger coming at himfrom the opposite corner.

Froch is hell-bent on joining the elite ranks of three-timeworld champions.

Of the two defeats which have made that possible – againstMikkel Kessler and Andre Ward – he says: 'The proof of a champion is how hecomes back from losing. I've won a world title back once and I'm in the formand the mood to do it again.'

Up for grabs: Froch and Bute will fight for the latter's IBF world title

Up for grabs: Froch and Bute will fight for the latter's IBF world title

Bute, in taking the risk of bringing his belt andunbeaten 30-fight record to Nottingham, is gambling that Froch, at 34, has beendrained by his ultimate warrior sequence of seven consecutive fights againstworld-class opponents.

If he listened to rumours that his challenger ponderedretirement after losing the Super Six tournament final to Ward, he was misled.

Froch said: 'They wanted me to add another, last chapter to my book but Irefused. I have no intention of ending a magnificent career on a loss. Bute hadbetter know that I'm fighting for my legacy.'

What Froch knows is that Bute's otherwise meticulouspreparations have been interrupted by a toe infection. There was no danger ofamputation, as some alarmists speculated, but the antibiotics took so long towork that he missed three days of sparring at a critical stage. Consequentlythis larger than average super-middleweight had to shed more poundage thanusual before Friday's weigh-in.

Froch accepts that Bute is a bigger puncher than thetechnically brilliant Ward but welcomes his more open style: 'He will come tofight so I will be able to box my normal fight.'

Carl Froch

With Bute a heavy body-puncher and Froch throwing from allangles, this has all the makings of another Cobra thriller – and the championhas not been yet been tempered in such fires.

As Froch says: 'He's had a protected career, fightingat home against well-chosen opponents.'

Nevertheless, Bute is as talented as he is charming. Sotalented that the game's trade-paper Boxing News ranks him top of the 12stone division, above Ward the American prodigy.

Undaunted as ever, Froch says: 'So when I beat him I becomeNo 1. He's about to find out it's not that unbeaten record which matters, butwho you fight.'

Froch is also conscious that he is carrying the flag for boxing –into the Capital FM Arena and in front of millions of Sky Sports late-nightviewers – during a trouble period for his sport.

David Haye is a friend but Froch is unimpressed by hiscontroversial up-coming grudge fight with fellow brawler Dereck Chisora.

'It's not brilliant for boxing. It's not ideal. But it's not mybusiness,' he said.

Bute is the bookies' favourite and Froch acknowledges it will be 'a difficult night's work for both of us. It will come down to which of us has the deepest desire to win.'

By that measure, Froch has never been found wanting – and he has what it takes to prevail on points.