Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Search for Hardy's Rookie of the Year

This season’s European Seniors Tour promises to be one of the most competitive and exciting for several years, as many of the biggest names in golf head into the season with their eyes on a prize which they can win only once – the Hardys’ Rookie of the Year Award. Those eligible to compete for the first time include the likes of Major Champions Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, and Ian Woosnam - each of whom has recently, or will soon reach, their 50th birthday, along with European Tour champions Peter Mitchell, David Feherty and Gordon Brand Junior. This year’s intake of rookies will be hoping to dislodge the British duo of Carl Mason and Sam Torrance from their perches at the top of the Seniors Tour Rankings, the pair having dominated the Order of Merit - sharing five titles between them. Woosnam, the winning Captain at The 2006 Ryder Cup, has already confirmed his attendance at the opening event on this season’s Seniors Tour Schedule, the DGM Barbados Open from March 5-7. The Welshman, who turns 50 on March 2, 2008, will be one of the tournament favourites when he tees up at Royal Westmoreland, situated near his holiday home on the Caribbean island. Langer, also a successful Ryder Cup Captain in 2004, and double Major winner Lyle will be seen at various events across the nine month Schedule. All will be competing for this season’s Hardys’ European Seniors Tour Rookie of the Year award, which is given to the newcomer who makes the biggest impact on the Tour. The prestigious title was bestowed last year on dual Ryder Cup winner Costantino Rocca, who registered two tournament victories in his maiden Seniors Tour season, whilst in 2006 Spain’s Jose Rivero walked away with the award.

Beckham steps in for Henry

Thierry Henry today announced a last minute Barcelona fixture change has meant David Beckham will now move from guest to star host of the London charity event he has been planning for the last 12 months. Last week the Barcelona star announced the all star line up for his Liv charity dinner for Cystic Fibrosis, due to take place at the Dorchester hotel this Thursday night. The line up includes live performances from Elton John, who is confirmed to play an exclusive set at the dinner. However, 24 hours later, the Spanish Football Federation changed Barcelona’s ¼ final Copa del Rey fixture at the last minute and it now clashes with the London dinner. Commenting on the news, Thierry said, “As soon as I found out about the last minute change I was devastated but the event had to go on. The first person I called was David Beckham who agreed straight away and said he would do his best to fill my shoes. That just sums up the kind of person he is and I will be forever grateful to him for it.”The event will go ahead as planned with all previously confirmed guests attending. Thierry Henry will still make an appearance via a specially set up live video link. Davina McCall will be hosting the event, where tables have been going for anything up to £30,000. Amongst the confirmed celebrity guests are Naomi Campbell, Natalie Imbruglia, Jimmy Carr, Olivia Newton John, and Sharleen Spiteri, who will be kept amused by Little Britain stars, David Walliams & Matt Lucas, as they perform a number of exclusive sketches. Jimmy Carr will also perform a routine. Arsène Wenger and his Arsenal players that bought places include William Gallas, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, and Emmanuel Adebayor, while Chelsea stars Shaun Wright-Philips, and John Terry will be present. Ian Wright, Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch will be joined by Danielle Lloyd and Abi Clancy, respectively.

St Clair's Birthday Wish

Hardman Gairy St Clair has vowed to celebrate his 33rd birthday on Saturday with a devastating KO of Amir Khan.The Australia-based Guyanan will challenge British boxings golden boy Khan for the Commonwealth lightweight crown at London's ExCel Arena, and is intent on creating a major upset.He performed a brief media work out at the Peacock Gym in the East End today, not wanting to give away too much but has promised to blow-out Khan's flame." I've seen a few of Amir's fights, and he likes sticking his chin out," said St Clair, who says he won't acknowledge his birthday until after the fight." I hope he does that against me because it will be the perfect birthday present. I'll clock him one so quick he'll be on the floor before he knows it." I'm planning on blowing out his candles inside a few rounds. For me, defeat isn't an option."St Clair, a former IBF world champion who has never been stopped or dropped in 46 fights, will also be able to call on the experience of Johnny Lewis, one of worlds greatest trainers.Lewis helped guide Kostya Tsyzu to the world light-welterweight title, and the status as one of the best P4P fighters in the world.He has also worked with other Australian greats - and St Clair says his knowledge could prove vital." Lewis is like a father to me and the best I've ever worked with," said St Clair, who also has fast-talking Angelo Hyder in his corner." He knows that I have the tools to beat Khan. We've already been working on a few things that I believe will prove decisive in the fight. I didn't want to reveal too much today in front of the press, but I'm in the form of my life. Khan won't know what's hit him on Saturday night.".

Asian Invasion by Golf's Elite

The BMW Asian Open will return to the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club from April 24 - 27, 2008 with a strong line-up headlined by Major Champions Michael Campbell, Retief Goosen and Greg Norman. Also in the field will be European aces Miguel Angel Jiménez and Henrik Stenson, and defending champion Raphaël Jacquelin. However, all Chinese eyes will be on local heroes Liang Wen-chong and Zhang Lian-wei as they seek to become the first Chinese player to win the BMW Asian Open. Commenting on BMW’s continued commitment to bringing the passion of golf to Shanghai, Mr Jochen Goller, BMW Vice President, Marketing for BMW Group Region China, said, “BMW is delighted to bring to Shanghai for the fifth year running, the BMW Asian Open, which has earned its reputation as one of the premier lifestyle events in China. “As this is an important year for Chinese sports and with Liang Wen-chong’s current status as Asia’s number one golfer, we have no doubt that the Chinese public will strongly support this tournament and get behind their local heroes as they compete against the world’s golfing elite on home soil. ” In a stellar 2007 season, Liang won his maiden European Tour event at the Singapore Masters in March and notched eight top ten finishes en-route to finishing as Asia’s number one. Earlier this month, the 29-year-old made the cut at a US PGA Tour event finishing tied 45th at the Sony Open in Hawaii and he is due to play in two Majors in 2008, the Masters Tournament and The Open Championship. “While it is a big honour to play in golf’s Majors, a tournament like the BMW Asian Open is important to all Chinese pros to develop their game and to further promote golf to non-playing fans,” said Liang, who played in his first Major, the US PGA Championship last year. “I’ve enjoyed playing the last four BMW Asian Opens and I’m aiming for my best-ever result on my fifth trip to Tomson” China’s golfing trailblazer Zhang, the first Chinese to win on The European Tour and to play in a Major, meantime, continues to be a force to be reckoned, winning three tournaments on the domestic China Tour last year. His best finish in the BMW Asian Open at Tomson Golf Club was tied fifth in 2004 and he will be seeking inspiration from the strong home support to become the first Asian to win the BMW Asian Open. All the past six BMW Asian Open winners hail from Europe, except for South African Ernie Els who won in 2004. The others are Sweden’s Jarmo Sandelin (2001), Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (2002), Miguel Angel Jiménez (2004), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño (2006) and returning champion Raphaël Jacquelin of France who claimed a memorable start-to-finish victory last year. Henrik Stenson, meanwhile, will be aiming to erase memories of the BMW Asian Open 2006 when he lost to Fernandez-Castaño in sudden-death play-off. Last year, Stenson was briefly the top European player on the world rankings at a career-high world number five after winning the Dubai Desert Classic and the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. The 32-year Swede is no stranger to winning BMW tournaments having won the 2006 BMW International Open in Munich. Miguel Angel Jiménez, meantime will be hoping to add another BMW tournament title to his collection of 2004 BMW Asian Open and 2004 BMW International Open wins. The charismatic cigar-loving Spaniard, who has played in all previous six editions of the BMW Asian Open claimed his 14th European title at the UBS Hong Kong Open in November last year. Retief Goosen, the 2001 and 2004 US Open champion, Michael Campbell, the 2005 US Open champion and Hall of Famer Greg Norman, a two-time British Open champion, have all confirmed their return to Tomson Pudong and golf-loving fans in Shanghai will no doubt relish the chance to watch three Major champions in action. South African Goosen who has won internationally every year since 1995 will be hungry for his 15th European Tour victory and to improve on last year’s 15th place finish at the BMW Asian Open 2007. Campbell, who beat Tiger Woods by two strokes to win the 2005 US Open, will be hoping to claim his 10th European Tour win in Shanghai. Nicknamed ‘The Great White Shark’, Norman will be playing in only his fifth regular Tour event in over 2 years. Last month, the 52-year-old celebrated his engagement to tennis legend Chris Evert with an impressive seventh place finish the South African Airways Open, a clear five shots ahead of South African aces Goosen and Ernie Els. Said Tournament Director Marco Kaussler: “The fact that a golfing legend like Greg Norman and Major winners like Retief Goosen and Michael Campbell have committed themselves to the BMW Asian Open in Shanghai speaks about the reputation of this tournament. The top players have always enjoyed playing here in front of the Shanghai galleries and we have no doubt that the fans will turn out in full force this year to support them.”In addition to world-class golfing action, spectators to the BMW Asian Open can once again expect an expanded and improved Public Village with an interesting trick golf show, innovative and interesting interactive elements like the BMW xRamp and a dazzling display of BMW cars. As in previous years, BMW China will again not charge any entrance fees for the tournament. Instead BMW and golf enthusiasts can register via a special Call-Center telephone or by email/internet to receive their personal invitation to the BMW Asian Open 2008. For those who decide spontaneously to watch the BMW Asian Open 2008 access will be granted by registration at the main entrance at Tomson Golf Club.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ryder Cup Course opens at Celtic Manor

The Celtic Manor Resort has become even more of a must-play destination in world golf following the opening of its Twenty Ten course which will stage The Ryder Cup in 2010. The spectacular new course – the third championship layout at the luxury, five-star golf and spa resort in South Wales – is the first in history to be designed and built specifically for The Ryder Cup. As well as providing the ultimate match play test for Tiger Woods and the world’s best golfers, the Twenty Ten course will also offer a memorable challenge to all golfers who take the opportunity to play its exciting holes before and after the big event. “They’ve done a really good job on the new holes,” said Ian Woosnam, the victorious Welsh captain at the 2006 Ryder Cup and an ambassador for Ryder Cup Wales 2010. “They have been designed especially for The Ryder Cup and should provide plenty of drama which is exactly what you need. “The closing stretch is fantastic. Just as matches will be heading towards their climax, you’ve got two great match play par-fours at the 14th and the 15th. Then the 18th is a really cracking par-five to finish. You are going to be standing there, thinking shall I or shan’t I go for it?” The course has also been constructed with spectators in mind and the huge hillsides lining the closing holes offer the best views ever seen of the decisive action at a Ryder Cup, as well as the chance to keep up with play on several of the earlier holes below. More than £16 million has been invested in the course and a luxurious new clubhouse since Celtic Manor beat off rival bids from Scotland and England to win The Ryder Cup award in 2001. The clubhouse features Rafters Restaurant, with its floor-to-ceiling cedar beams and modern European dining; a members lounge with leather chesterfields, high-backed chairs and a warming open hearth; and luxurious, oak-panelled locker rooms from where it will be possible to order a drink from the spike bar as you kick back and relax after your round. The Twenty Ten Club has just been launched as one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the United Kingdom but overseas and other visiting golfers will still be able to play the world’s latest “trophy” course as a limited number of tee times have been reserved for their use, with special rates for hotel residents. The course joins the existing Roman Road, home to The Celtic Manor Wales Open on The European Tour for the last three years, and another new championship layout at the Resort – The Montgomerie. Designed by the Ryder Cup legend, Colin Montgomerie, as his first design project in Great Britain, The Montgomerie features deep pot bunkers and other traditional touches which lend the course a links-like feel. All three courses are very different in character and add up to one of the most complete golfing destinations in Europe. There are also a number of classic links courses in close proximity including Royal Porthcawl, Ashburnham and Pennard. Set in 1400 acres of beautiful parkland, The Celtic Manor Experience is about so much more than merely golf, however. With two hotels – the five-star, 330-room Resort Hotel and the historic 19th century Manor House with 70 rooms – two exceptional spas, two state-of-the-art health clubs, shooting, fishing, tennis courts, mountain biking, walking trails and five outstanding restaurants, the Resort is the ideal place to unwind on a leisure break. The nearest town is Caerleon, the old Roman fort of Isca with its impressive remains of amphitheatre, baths and barracks, and the medieval castles of the Welsh Marches are on the doorstep. The bustling cities of Cardiff and Bristol are also just half an hour’s drive away, offering plentiful activities to visitors enjoying extended stays at The Celtic Manor Resort, while London is within two hours by road and rail.

Cricket Cousin Backs Khan

Amir Khan has vowed to avenge England's Ashes hammering when he fights Gairy St Clair - at the request of cricketing cousin Sajid Mahmood. The fast bowler star was part of the England set-up thrashed 5-0 by the Aussies last winter. And he has urged Khan to get some revenge when he defends his Commonwealth lightweight title against New South Wales-based challenger St Clair on February 2 at the Excel London. "Saj was devastated by what happened last year, and as a huge cricket fan, I was pretty down in the dumps as well and I know he wants me to give the Aussie's payback," said Khan. "But fighting St Clair gives me the chance to fly the flag for England once again. "I know Gairy was born in Guyana, but he's lived in Australia for a few years - and his handlers, especially his mouthy trainer Angelo Hyder, are Aussie through and through. "In general, British sport is seen as a bit of a laughing stock down under but not boxing, and I'm sure there are plenty of Australians who think that all St Clair has to do to win is turn up. "But I'm going to show everyone that I'm one Brit who knows how to win, and win in style. "St Clair is a former world champion, so when I beat him I'll be well on the way to winning a world title this year. "I've already got a high ranking with the WBO, and a good performance next Saturday should see me climb the ratings of the other governing bodies."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mitchell and Johanneson Get It On at the O2

Not content with giving fight fans the most explosive showdown in recent years between Enzo Maccarinelli and David Haye, Promoter Frank Warren has added another exciting all-British affair to the amazing 02 fight card on Saturday 8th March. While the Maccarinelli-Haye cruiserweight unification fight headlines the show, chief-support will see Kevin Mitchell challenge Carl Johanneson for his British Super-Featherweight title live and exclusive on Setanta Sports 1. Mighty Mitchell was due to meet Johanneson at York Hall at the start of January, only for the champion to pull out with a bad back. Commonwealth champion Mitchell looked impressive as he beat late replacement Edison Torres in three rounds. He'll expect a harder night's work against power-punching Johanneson in a fight that promises to be just as thrilling as the main event. The Dagenham Destroyer, 23, is unbeaten in 25 fights with 18 early victories, while 29-year-old Johanneson has an equally impressive 27-3 (19) record. "I was gutted when Johanneson pulled out on short notice with a supposed 'back injury', but I'm over the moon that the fight is back on," said Mitchell. "Carl ruined my Christmas and I'm going to knock him out on March 8 to give myself a belated present - the Lonsdale belt. He was only keeping it warm for so I hope he polishes it up before handing it over to me on the night," "I've been waiting for a big fight like this for ages, and now I'm going to take my chance. Once I've won the British title I'm going to turn my attention to Alex Arthur," "Like Haye and Maccarinelli, Carl and myself are both massive punchers, so the fans are going to be in for a treat," With more big fights to be announced it, it is shaping up to be the show of the year.

Jones Jr Ready for Action

An ebullient Roy Jones Jr., energized by his dominating, unanimous-decision win over Felix “Tito” Trinidad at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, says he is ready to take on all comers in the light heavyweight or super middleweight divisions and beyond. “I told you Roy Jones Jr. is back,” Jones said after his triumph over Trinidad where he twice sent the Puerto Rican legend to the canvas. “I’ll take the winner of either the re-match between Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor or Joe Calzaghe vs. Bernard Hopkins. I’m even willing to go down to 156 pounds to face Oscar De La Hoy in May. Line them up and I’ll knock them down.” Jones (52-4, 38 KOs) surprised some longtime boxing scribes who didn’t believe he could still muster the skills that made him one of the best and most feared boxers in the history of the sport. Jones showed flashes against Trinidad on Saturday of his rare combination of speed and power that put him atop the lists of pound-for-pound best fighter in the world for a decade. “I always said that with the right motivation and focus I can still be Superman. I saw it in the gym leading up to the fight and Tito Trinidad and everybody else saw it on Saturday night at the Garden. Like I said, line ‘em up and I’ll knock them down.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Khan reacts to St Clair's Outburst

Furious Amir Khan has vowed to knockout Gairy St Clair after hearing a radio ad recorded by the Commonwealth lightweight title challenger.Cheeky St Clair warned Khan he was coming to destroy him in a radio advert for their February 2 fight at the ExCeL London, currently playing on Talk Sport.The Australia-based Guyanan tackles Khan over 12 rounds - and has vowed to be firing until the final bell.But the 21-year-old hot-shot from Bolton has vowed to make him eat his words." I was heading to my training camp listening to the radio, when I heard the advert," said Khan." I couldn't believe it!" I was so mad that when I got to the gym I did double my normal routines just to get rid of the anger." I think Oliver Harrison's hands are still stinging from when he took me on the pads." I'm still pumped up about it now, and can't wait to show him who's boss a week on Saturday." St Clair has got a great record and he's been the distance with some quality fighters like Vivian Harris and Diego Corrales, but he won't go the distance with me." This is my chance to make a big statement by stopping St Clair for the first time, and also beating a former IBF world champion." I've also been reading that St Clair knocked around a big Australian heavyweight called Mad Mick. Well, he won't be able to do that to me"Khan-St Clair heads a quality card at the ExCel Arena, with Michael Jennings' WBU welterweight title defence against Ross Minter also on the show.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fight Quotes as Jones Jr beats Trinidad


“It’s my first fight back since fighting Shane Mosley and having surgery on my left hand. My hand actually feels better than it did before. I’m back and I want to re-establish myself as one of the best welterweights in the division.”


“I felt good tonight but should have pushed him more. I wanted to pick it up around the 6th or 7th round but it didn’t really happen.

“Nothing he did really surprised me because we knew he had fast hands and a nice left hand. But nothing really surprised me. I wish I had let my hands go more but it didn’t happen.

“I got a couple more months with Don and then I am going to hang it up. I had a great career and love my family too.”


“It felt great to go 12 rounds with a former world champion.

“It was hard because it was my first 12 rounder. I was pressing hard for a knockout in the early rounds but my coach told me to settle down and just do what I do.

“I am ready to do more and I know I will do even better in the future. I want everyone in St. Louis to know that I am coming back with a win and a belt.”

ROMAN “Made In Hell” KARMAZIN (As told my trainer Freddie Roach)

“He told me in between rounds that he had no power and felt really weak. He got caught and after that he never really recovered.”

ALEX “The Technician” BUNEMA (after bursting into tears in his dressing room)

“I knew Karmazin was in very good shape from the opening bell. I also believed that he watched a lot of tape on my fights because he changed his style for me.

“He was trying to counter-punch more. The fight was close until I knocked him into the corner in the 10th round. I knew he was in trouble then. I thought it was over when I hit him with the big right but he stayed up.
“I followed him and landed the big hook that knocked him down. I was not surprised I did what I said I was going to do. Now I want a title shot against WBA champion Joachim Alcine.”


“I hope nobody will ever call me a quitter again. I couldn’t see anything after round 8. I had to box more by feel than what I could see. He was much faster than I thought he would and he hit me too many times. I wish I had landed more combinations.”


“I couldn’t believe the number of combinations he threw for an old man. I fought the best I could. I got nervous and flustered. I wish I had done better. I didn’t fight my best fight but my hat is off to him.”


“I took off two years and eight months. I take nothing away from Roy but if I could have avoided the KOs, I think I would have won the fight. He was very fast and strong and threw great punches. I have no excuses.

“He demonstrated speed and took my body punches. I fight for my fans and the people of Puerto Rico.

“Roy Jones was very fast and he fought a good fight. I think he won the fight but not by such a wide margin.

“I will decide if I fight again or not. I will speak to my father but I will make the decision as to whether or not I will fight again.”


“All my fans around the world said I was done. He took a lot of hard punches.

Jones said to Trinidad, “I can’t believe you stayed in there 12 rounds with me. We had a great fight and everyone said we were too old.”

“I tried to put him away a few times but he slipped a lot of my good punches. I had a wonderful camp and great sparring partners.

“It was a great fight. I can’t believe he stayed in there for all of those rounds for me.

“He was slipping a lot of my good punches and I felt like I was missing knocking him out by inches.

“I jammed my knuckle sometime during the fight. He’s got a pretty hard head.”

Hyder gives St Clair high praise

Fast-talking trainer Angelo Hyder reckons British star Amir Khan has bitten off more than he can chew by taking on Gairy St Clair - after seeing the challenger give a heavyweight a good hiding. St Clair, who challenges Khan for the Commonwealth lightweight title on February 2 at London's ExCel Arena, is now under Hyder's care in New South Wales having been raised in Guyana. And it was Hyder who was in the corner when he beat Cassius Baloyi to lift the IBF World Super-Featherweight crown in 2006. That was viewed as a shock by many - but not Hyder, who had been impressed with St Clair ever since he landed in Australia in 2001 and started doing the business in sparring. "We had a big heavyweight in our gym called Mad Mick who was built like a brick out-house and ate raw meat for breakfast," said Hyder. "He had muscles on muscles and made Crocodile Dundee look like a fairy boy. "He was a bully in sparring, and used to knock the other lads around, and one day he took a liberty with Gairy. "Well that was a big mistake because when the little fella gets mad, he gets really mad. He battered Mick all over the place. I swear, I've never seen anything like it before. "We never saw Mick again - and I'm not surprised, because Gairy gave him a right going over." He added, "If Khan thinks this is going to be a walk in the park or a four round job then he's made a big mistake. Gairy is going to be firing back every time he gets cracked, and he won't stop walking forward. "He went into Baloyi's back yard to win the IBF title, and he'll do the same to Khan." Hyder, a former Australian Army boxer, is no stranger to the UK, and was the man in Sakio Bika's corner when he gave Joe Calzaghe one of the toughest fights of his career. Bika went on to win the third series of Contender. He has also worked with brothers Hussein and Nedal Hussein, as well as three-time world champion Vic "Raging Bull" Darchinyan.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Minter ready to boss Jennings

Ross "The Boss" Minter reckons his fight against Michael Jennings is going to steal the show on February 2nd at the ExCeL London.The 29-year-old Crawley welterweight challenges WBU king Jennings and has vowed to bounce back from a KO defeat in his last fight by becoming a world champion.Minter, the son of former middleweight world champion Alan, was involved in one of the fights of 2007 when he tackled Freddy Curiel in Newcastle on the UK v USA Contenders card.On top going into the eighth and final round, he was stopped by heavy-handed Curiel after going on the floor.Now 17-2-1 (8), former English and Southern Area welterweight champion Minter will be aiming to dethrone Jennings, 31-1 (14)." I've got a lot to prove so I will be going out there to put on the performance of my life,"" The loss against Curiel was a hard one to swallow, but it's just made me even more determined to succeed," said Minter." Jennings is a good fighter and we've been due to meet a couple of times in the past, but now we're finally going to get it on." He's a good fighter but I will be in the shape of my life for the fight and will give him too much on the night,"" The fans are going to be in for a treat,"" I feel I can learn from the whole Curiel experience and come back stronger for it. I got caught when I was on top, but that doesn't make me a bad fighter. I'm going to prove just how good I am on February 2."Jennings, 30, captured the WBU welterweight title when he beat Takaloo in April in Cardiff. Since then he has won again, in an eight rounder in the north west.A former British champion, Jennings boasts wins over Jimmy Vincent and Bradley Pryce, while his only came on a split decision to Young Mutley in a British title fight.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seniors set for Saudi Adventure

In an historic announcement for the development of golf in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, plans have been unveiled to welcome the European Seniors Tour to the Kingdom for the first time as part of their 2008 Schedule. The inaugural Saudi Masters will be played at The Dirab Golf Club from March 19-21, 2008, and will carry a prize fund of £250,000. The European Seniors Tour has previously visited Abu Dhabi and Bahrain in the region while The European Tour also has a long association with Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar, but it is the first time Saudi Arabia will have hosted an event with the PGA European Tour Group. Khaled l. Abunayyan, President of the Saudi Golf Committee, said: “I am very proud to announce this great step forward for golf in Saudi Arabia, and look forward to some of the great names of European golf gracing our fairways for the first time. Hopefully the opportunity to see such professionals playing the game to the highest standard will inspire and encourage our local players, and act as a springboard for the development of Saudi golf for the future." It is expected the field of 72 professional golfers from all over the world will include eligible players such as Carl Mason, winner of the 2004, 2005 and 2007 European Seniors Tour Order of Merit, Ian Woosnam and Sam Torrance, both multiple tournament winners on The European Tour and winning Ryder Cup Captains. The international field will be supplemented with six regional amateur players, who will no doubt look forward to the opportunity of challenging the professional stars. Dirab Golf Club, one of only three grassed Championship courses in Saudi Arabia, is located 40km south west of Riyadh and nestles in the picturesque Dirab Valley. It boasts a 7,280 yard par 72 championship course, featuring lush tree-lined fairways set against the backdrop of the Twaiq Mountains. The course also offers a driving range and practice facilities, with nine holes of the course being floodlit to allow golf after sundown. It has previously hosted the inaugural Saudi Arabian National Amateur Championship in 2001 and the tenth Annual GCC Golf Championship, and is due to host the 28th Pan-Arab Championship later this month. Tony Mmoh, Chief Executive Officer of Axem Sports Events Management, the Tournament Promoters and organisers, said: “We are very pleased to be involved in this next stage of development of golf for the Kingdom and look forward to working with the Saudi Golf Committee, the Dirab Golf Club and the European Seniors Tour to stage a memorable tournament that will put Saudi Arabia well and truly on the international golfing map.” Charles Perring, Deputy Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour, said: “We look forward to working with the Saudi Golf Committee in helping to develop golf in a new region, and thank them for their vision in launching the Saudi Masters. Our appreciation also goes to Tony Mmoh of promoters, Axem Sports Events Management, for bringing this exciting new event to fruition.” The Saudi Masters is the latest new destination on the 2008 European Seniors Tour schedule, following the recent announcement of new events in the Azores, Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic.

Korea captures Star Golfing Trio

Homegrown hero KJ Choi, British Open champion Padraig Harrington and World Cup winner Colin Montgomerie will headline a stellar field at the inaugural Ballantine's Championship in Korea in March. The illustrious trio will be joined in the €2 million (US$2.96 million) showpiece by fast-rising American-Korean star Anthony Kim and newly crowned Asian Tour Order of Merit king Liang Wenchong. The Ballantine's Championship, which will be held at Pinx Golf Club on the picturesque island of Jeju from March 13-16, is the first European Tour event to be held in Korea and is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Korea PGA. Korean star Choi - who won the Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday for his seventh PGA Tour victory - is relishing what promises to be a special homecoming. "As someone who cares passionately about Korean golf I'm delighted that the European Tour is coming to my country for the first time," said Choi, the highest ranked Asian in the world at No.7. "The Ballantine's Championship will be a huge boost to golf in Korea and I'm very happy to be playing in the inaugural tournament. "It will be an emotional experience for me to be teeing off in front of the Korean fans and they can rest assured I'll be doing my very best to produce a home win," added Choi, 36. World No.9 Harrington will also be one of the favourites to win the inaugural tournament. "It's great news that the European Tour is hosting its first event in Korea and I'm delighted to be taking part in this historic tournament," said the Irish ace. "As players, we always look forward to new challenges and the Ballantine's Championship will be a tremendous opportunity to play in a different environment and meet new fans. It promises to be a fantastic event." Harrington, 36, joined golf's elite with his victory in the 136th Open Championship at Carnoustie in July 2007, in the process becoming the first Irishman in 60 years to lift the Claret Jug. Flying Scotsman Montgomerie, meanwhile, will head to Korea looking to add to his impressive record in Asia. "I've always enjoyed playing in Asia and have been fortunate enough to win in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China in the past, so I'm very happy to be returning to the region for the Ballantine's Championship," he said. "It's clear already that Ballantine's and the organisers are compiling an extremely strong field and all indications are that it will be a great addition to the European Tour schedule." Montgomerie, 44, the most prolific British winner in European Tour history, finished 2007 on a high by teaming up with Marc Warren to win the World Cup for Scotland in China last November. Fans at the Ballantine's Championship can be expected to show their backing for Kim, whose parents emigrated to the United States from Korea in 1971. The talented 22-year-old from Los Angeles is enjoying a meteoric rise on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes to his name already and prize money of more than US$1.5 million in his first year. "Playing in the inaugural European Tour event in the country of my parents' birth will be a great moment for me," he said. "I'll be banking on plenty of support from the fans and hopefully I can give them something to cheer about." The Asian Tour's challenge at the Ballantine's Championship will be spearheaded by Liang, who will be looking to build on his successes of 2007. China's No.1 achieved his maiden European Tour victory last March at the Singapore Masters and rounded off a brilliant year by becoming the first player from his country to win the Asian Tour's Order of Merit title. "It's been a fantastic year for me and winning the Asian Tour UBS Order of Merit has allowed me to finish 2007 on a high," said Liang, 29. "And, now, to be involved in the very first Ballantine's Championship in Korea, together with some of the best players in the world, means 2008 could be even better." Simon Burley, marketing manager for Ballantine's, commented: "This is already an outstanding international field for the inaugural Ballantine's Championship. Ballantine's Scotch and golf share a tradition of excellence which we hope will be continued by a championship with stars of this calibre." The Ballantine's Championship will be an "international" event open to all professionals, meaning entries will be determined by the Official World Golf Rankings rather than a player's position on any particular tour's Order of Merit. Given this criterion, organisers are confident of creating a world-class field and more star players will be announced in the coming weeks. The tournament, promoted by Parallel Media Group, is backed by the Korea PGA, European Tour and Asian Tour, which agreed earlier this month to co-sanction the event. Ballantine's, the undisputed super premium whisky worldwide and in Korea, is the title sponsor and has committed to the event for a minimum of three years. Tournament organisers have been overwhelmed by the response from sponsors and have today announced that the Ballantine's Championship will be officially supported by PCA Life and PCA Asset, Jeju Special Self-governing Province, Callaway, Korean Ginseng, Omega, BMW, Shilla Hotel and Global Tours. Ballantine's Scotch whisky enjoys a special status across Asia and is Korea's favourite super-premium imported Scotch. Ballantine's has won over 60 trophies and medals at international competitions in the past 10 years for quality as a result of its unique richness of character and perfect balance. Its range, from Ballantine's Finest to the iconic 30 Year Old, is the most extensive in the world of Scotch and is maintained by the latest in a tradition of master blenders that dates back to 1827. Ballantine's is the title sponsor of the Ballantine's Championship, an official sponsor of the Barclay's Scottish Open held every July at the exclusive Loch Lomond Golf Club, and was also a sponsor of the UBS Hong Kong Open in 2007.

Haye is Big Mac's Weakest Link

Most people turn into a quivering wreck when they are confronted by Weakest Link host Anne Robinson - but not dynamite punching WBO World Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Maccarinelli! Big Mac came head-to-head with the fiery red-head during filming of the latest celebrity show to be televised this Saturday (19th January) on BBC1 at 5.40pm. The power-punching Welshman is hard in training for his forthcoming super-fight against WBC/WBA World Champion David Haye on Saturday 8th March at the 02 in London, but he turned Robinson into a purring pussy cat. "After everything I've seen and heard about Anne I was psyching myself up in the dressing room before the start of the show just like I do before a big fight and preparing myself for the verbal onslaught. I was quite surprised when she didn't give me the grilling I was expecting and she was actually very nice," said the fearsome 6ft 3in Swansea banger. "I was a bit disappointed because my fights on TV are explosive so I was hoping for an equally explosive encounter with Anne for the TV viewers but it didn't happen," "I think the producers warned her that I've knocked out 21 of 29 opponents so she treated me with care. Either that or she took a fancy to me!" Maccarinelli joined TV reality stars including Pete Burns, Bianca Gasgoine, Grease Is The Word winners Danny and Susan and Big Brother 8 winner Brian Bello on the show. He added, "I won't say what position I came in at so you will have to watch this Saturday to find out!" The 28-year-old is now focused on his blockbuster showdown against fellow big-hitter Haye and predicts only one outcome. "I wouldn't do a show like this while I'm in training but this was before the Haye fight was announced. I'm shaping up really well against and just looking forward to facing Haye in the ring." "This is a once-in-a-lifetime fight for me when I'm facing another puncher who can hit just as hard as me and he's British, the fans are in for an explosive fight and one that they will never forget."

Khan swaps Kristjansen for St Clair

Amir Khan has an even tougher assignment on his hands when he faces former world champion Gairy St Clair on Saturday 2nd February at the Excel London. The undefeated Bolton star was due to face Martin Kristjansen for the Vacant WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title but the Dane withdrew from the fight suffering from influenza. Khan, who's last fight was a whirlwind 72-second blitz over Graham Earl, will now have a harder test against the Australian when he defend his Commonwealth title for the third time. St Clair, the former IBF World Super-Featherweight Champion, has never been stopped in a 46-fight career and has extended former WBA World Light-World Champion Vivian Harris and the late Diego Corrales the full distance. But by the way Khan is punching at the moment, he is determined to be the first to stop him. Khan said: "Despite Kristjansen pulling out, I feel in fantastic shape at this point of my training. I'm punching real hard and just looking forward to getting in the ring on February 2nd to kick off my 2008 campaign towards the world title," "It was pretty tough with the change of opponent but at the end of the day I have a job to do and I've got to get on with it and focus on St Clair now," "As soon as the videos of him come in, I will sit down with my trainer Oliver Harrison and draw up the battle plans to beat him. His record looks very impressive and he has been in with some great names like Vivian Harris and Diego Corrales. If he has made these two go the distance then I know I've got a hard fight on my hands," "Obviously, the motivation is to be the first to stop him, which would look fantastic on my record, but I've also got great boxing skills to back it up with," "I'm looking forward to returning to the Capital and putting on a great show for the fans. In my last fight against Graham Earl I didn't even break into a sweat but I'm expecting a much tougher fight against St Clair," "There is no way I'm going to let him ruin my year and my world title ambitions." Promoter Frank Warren said, "St Clair is certainly a big step up for Amir and the toughest opponent that he has faced in his career so far. He is a former world champion and would be a great scalp for Amir's CV. It was disappointing that Kristjansen pulled out due to illness but I believe that we have an even better fight now with St Clair. He is a tough and experienced fighter and his fights against Vivian Harris and Diego Corrales prove that he is no mug. This could be a really dangerous fight for Amir and we have big plans for him this year but I'm sure that he will be thoroughly prepared on the night."

Millennium Stadium Rocks Cardiff

The Millennium Stadium has signed a new sponsorship deal with the Hard Rock Cafe which will see the global restaurant brand backing the highly popular stadium tours for the next year. Since opening in 1999, the Millennium Stadium has played host to more than six million visitors and the number of customers taking one of the top tours in Wales has grown steadily each year.The link with the Hard Rock Cafe is seen as a fitting one given the multi-purpose usage of the Millennium Stadium. While it is world renowned on the sporting front, it has also developed into one of the greatest music venues around capable of hosting the biggest of names such as The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and The Police.Springsteen is set to play at the stadium in the summer and the Hard Rock Cafe already have strong links with 'The Boss's' management and are involved in the signature series T-Shirt line that Bruce has designed.Music plays a big part in the life of the Millennium Stadium and the major gigs that have been hosted since the Manic Street Preachers rang in the new millennium with their 'Manic Millennium' show on New Year's Eve 1999 have helped to dramatically boost the Welsh economy.Sporting events such as the FA Cup Final, Rugby World Cup, Wales/GB Rally, the Heineken Cup Final and, of course, the Six Nations Championship, help to pour tens of millions of pounds into the coffers of businesses in the Welsh capital and beyond.The Millennium Stadium's role in boosting the Welsh economy was recently highlighted and championed in an independent survey and it was also notedthat it was playing a huge part in developing Cardiff into a major international visitor's destination. And with Wales producing a cache of international recording stars such as The Stereophonics, Feeder and Manic Street Preachers, all who have played at the Millennium Stadium, it's a natural partner for a rock n' roll legend like the Hard Rock Cafe. Hard Rock International is one of the world's most globally recognised brands and there are 124 high-energy Hard Rock Cafes in 46 countries. The company also boasts seven Hotel & Casinos and one stand-alone Casino.Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world's greatest collection of music memorabilia, much of which is displayed at its various locations around the world. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise, Hard Rock Live performance venues and an award-winning website. WRU Head of Marketing Gwyn Dolphin said, "We're really happy to have made brought such an influential partner on board with the Millennium Stadium. Hard Rock Cafe is a global brand and a great vehicle for us to use to broaden the reputation of the stadium as a major venue."We hope to educate those people who visit Wales about the diversity of the Millennium Stadium and encourage more of them to return to Cardiff for future events."The General Manager of the Cardiff Hard Rock Cafe, Chris Fletcher, believes the link with Millennium Stadium will be beneficial to both parties and help to increase visitor numbers."We're very excited about this new partnership and are looking forward to seeing both venues grow together in 2008," he said. "Hard Rock is delighted to offer a special ticket voucher to everyone who goes on the Millennium Tour to dine at the Hard Rock Cafe Cardiff for £12.95. We feel this will allow all the guests who take the tour the opportunity to experience not only a great venue, but also a complete day out"So after taking a tour of the World Class Millennium Stadium, make sure your last stop is the Hard Rock Café.

Bangura wins Fight of his Life

AL Bangura has won his fight to remain in the United Kingdom, after a Government work permit hearing found in his favour earlier on Monday. Awarding him a work permit, pending the completion of standard paperwork, the six-strong committee decided Al’s footballing credentials warranted extended stay in this country. Manager Adrian Boothroyd, Head of Football Operations Iain Moody and Community Director Julian Winter, all accompanied the legal team to this afternoon’s hearing in Sheffield. Former Academy Director and First Team Coach David Hockaday also spoke at the hearing in support of Al’s claim. After two hours of deliberations, the good news was issued to an emotional and grateful Bangura. Reacting to the verdict, Watford Chairman Graham Simpson said: "As a club we are very happy with the news, but most of all we are delighted for Al and his family. "We always knew we had a strong case and despite our setbacks we knew we had to fight for what we believed to be right for this young man. Al will now continue to contribute to our society, which I know he feels a debt of gratitude towards. "I would like to personally thank all the Watford fans whose backing of Al has been so crucial to moving this forward and securing his immediate future in the United Kingdom." Speaking of the result, Watford MP Claire Ward said: "This is the right decision and proves what we have said all along that Al has an exceptional case and deserved to remain in the UK to pursue his football career. I am delighted that common sense has been reached and thank all those supporters in Watford and beyond who helped keep up the pressure on the authorities." The young player’s plight came to prominence late last year, when the Asylum and Immigration authorities rejected his case for extended leave of stay on these shores, following his arrival as an unaccompanied minor four years ago. Then, at the age of 15, Bangura had been forced to endure a series of terrifying ordeals, before finally being sheltered by The Home Office. Bangura has worked hard to build a life, family and career in that time and the 19-year old is now the proud father of one month old son Samal. Thanks to the hard work of Claire Ward MP, who arranged a private meeting with the Minister responsible for Borders and Immigration Liam Byrne, Bangura was able to secure today’s exceptional work permit hearing in the Steel City. Ordinarily, Bangura would not qualify for such a hearing as his home nation, Sierra Leone, do not sit within the top 70 FIFA ranked world nations. Because of the personal circumstances which brought him to this country, Bangura is also unable to represent the African nation, which is ordinarily another route for work permit application. The legal team, representing Bangura and Watford, will now continue with the case to regularise Al’s status in this country, so that the youngster is able to remain in the United Kingdom beyond the period that his work permit will be valid for.

Spence Back in the Fold

Jamie Spence, a two-time champion during 20 years on The European Tour International Schedule, has accepted an invitation to take up a new position as the Tour’s Director of Player Relations. Spence, 44, from Kent, resigned in May last year after three and a half years as a highly respected Chairman of the Tour’s Tournament Committee. His role will be to liaise between the players and the Tournament Committee and in particular, the new Chairman, Thomas Björn of Denmark, who took over the role last October. Spence will assist in player issues and aid the Tour’s communication. George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “In Jamie Spence we had an outstanding Tournament Committee Chairman who worked tirelessly for the good of the Tour. We believe that Jamie’s experience during two decades as a player on The European Tour, and his expertise in player issues, will make him a valuable member of our team at Wentworth.” Björn commented: “Jamie has always been popular among the Tour Membership and was an extremely diligent Chairman of the Tournament Committee. His presence in the Tour’s administration will be invaluable to all of us.” Spence said: “I am delighted with my new role and the opportunities it will present. These are exciting times for The European Tour with much to anticipate in 2008 and beyond, and I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pickering faces Hughes in Re-Match

Esham Pickering is looking to make a statement and prove he’s still the best in Britain when he boxes Sean Hughes in a highly anticipated rematch at the Meadowside Leisure Centre, Burton-on-Trent Friday 18th January 2008. Pickering in November suffered a shocking defeat to Pontefract's Sean ‘Short Fuse' Hughes. The heavy underdog, Hughes boxed the fight of his life and out pointed the reigning British super-bantamweight champ Esham Pickering over an action packed and bloody eight round non-title affair. Hughes career best performance earned the tough southpaw a dream shot at Pickering’s prestigious British Title. Pickering for his part says… "I had an off night, I had several problems outside the ring that seriously affected my preparation and it showed. I am not making excuses Sean won the fight fair and square, but trust me, that was not the real me. This is now Championship level and believe me that makes a world of difference. I am going to win in style and prove that last fight was a fluke. I am going to punish Sean Hughes and this time the fight will not go the distance, my Lonsdale belt is on the table and there is no way in hell he’s taking it from me!" Sean in reply says…"I’ve trained all over Christmas and New Year for this and I’m even better prepared than before, so I’m going to bring the belt back to Pontefract." Sean’s trainer manager Michael Marsden is confident…"We know this is a big opportunity for Sean but he won last time and we expect him to win again. We know this time it will be harder but we are confident." Also appearing as chief support on the card, Nottingham’s own and always exciting Adnan Amar (19-1) will be defend his Midlands area Title.

Barker and Bendall in Bethnal Green

Hennessy Sports in association with GoldenPalace.net are proud to announce…"Dazzling" Darren Barker will make his first defence of his Commonwealth Middleweight Title against former European title challenger Steve Bendall at York Hall, Bethnal Green on Friday, 22nd February, to be broadcast live on Sky Sports. This will mark the second time in as many fights that Barker will appear at York Hall the most historic boxing venue in London. In November Barker captured the Commonwealth title there by dominating previously unbeaten in 20 fights and tough Australian Ben Crampton, a performance that generated an unbelievably loud and lively response from Barkers enthusiastic fans. For his first defence Barker faces a tough challenge in the experienced and dangerous southpaw Steve Bendall (28-3). Bendall coming off of three consecutive wins and going undefeated in 2007 will certainly be looking to continue his winning ways in 2008 and upset Champion Barker. Barker has compiled an unbeaten and impressive record since turning professional after winning the Gold Medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Barker now (16-0) knows that Bendall has been in with some very good opposition, but is confident that he will retain his Commonwealth Title in "Dazzling" fashion. "Darren is an exceptional talent and has the potential to be a big star of British Boxing. I’m looking to get Darren US exposure this year so an impressive win over Bendall will path the way for this" said promoter Mick Hennessy.

Wales count the Days for 2010 Ryder Cup

The biennial match between Europe and the United States will take place on 1-3 October 2010 and it will be the first time that Wales has hosted the event. It represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for golf fans throughout the country, and overseas, who will travel thousands of miles to watch their golfing heroes, and for businesses and the tourism industry to benefit from Wales welcoming The Ryder Cup to its shores. Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for the Welsh Assembly Government, said: “The economic and business advantages available to Wales from hosting such a high profile event are already clear. There are opportunities for Welsh companies to supply goods and services to the event itself and obvious advantages to those seeking to raise the profile of Wales as a business and tourism destination in the meantime. No doubt the focus on Wales will intensify when the handover to Wales is made directly after The 2008 Ryder Cup later this year in Kentucky. Then the whole of the country will get itself ready to welcome the World to Wales in 2010.” John Jermine, Chairman of Ryder Cup Wales, explained: “All of our partners have made excellent progress preparing for 2010 and helping to take the benefits throughout the country. Wales is becoming recognised as a world class golfing destination and hosting The Ryder Cup is attracting interest throughout the golfing world. The match will be broadcast to over 100 countries and will give us a unique opportunity to showcase Wales to the World. We are a small golfing country packed full of quality with many challenging, unspoiled courses set in superb scenery and offering wonderful value for money. “The Ryder Cup will attract many business decision-makers to Wales and we will be offering them a range of opportunities to explore the rest of the country, to enjoy our hospitality and to appreciate that Wales is a great country in which to live and invest.” The 2010 Ryder Cup will be played on the recently opened Twenty Ten course at The Celtic Manor Resort, the first course specifically designed to stage a Ryder Cup. It will be a wonderful and enjoyable golfing test for the European and United States Teams and will ensure an unprecedented spectator experience with exceptional views from the natural viewing banks overlooking the course that runs along the banks of the beautiful River Usk. Dylan Matthews, Chief Executive of The Celtic Manor Resort, said: “We’ve had a fantastic response from golfers who have taken the opportunity to be among the first to play this spectacular course, with a number of professionals and experts commenting on how the course is ideally suited to the team match play competition you see in The Ryder Cup. “Having just opened the new clubhouse, too, we are now being inundated with applications to join the Twenty Ten Club. This announcement of 1000 days to go until The Ryder Cup is played in Wales underlines just how close we already are to this massive sporting event, and every one of our Twenty Ten Club members will be guaranteed their place at the heart of the action in 2010.” The Ryder Cup enjoys a privileged place in the sporting calendar and is regarded as the thimost watched sporting event in the world. Richard Hills, European Tour Ryder Cup Director, said: “It seems like a long time away. In truth it is not. Wales and The Celtic Manor Resort are now counting the days down to The 2010 Ryder Cup, and we will be supporting them every step of the way. At the end of May, The Celtic Manor Wales Open will for the first time be played on the Twenty Ten course – designed to host The Ryder Cup and European Tour competition. It will be a fascinating week that will provide further impetus to the build-up to 2010 and in terms of continuing to build on the groundwork so far undertaken, we are delighted that our partners in Wales are strongly placed at this time to deliver a highly successful event.” Ian Woosnam, the successful 2006 Ryder Cup Captain and Ambassador of Welsh golf, is excited by the opportunities The Ryder Cup is presenting for Wales: He said: “The announcement that The Ryder Cup is coming our way has done wonders for golf in Wales. The successful bid to host The Ryder Cup in Wales has already made an impact on the number and standard of golfers within Wales and the popularity of the sport will continue to grow as we approach 2010.”

Mighty Mitchell Tackles Torres

Kevin Mitchell will now fight experienced Venezuelan Edison Torres at the York Hall on Saturday night - and has vowed not to let his loyal fans down. Undefeated Mitchell was due to challenge Carl Johanneson for the British super-featherweight title on January 12, until the Yorkshireman was ruled out with a bad back. Then Ghanaian Thomas Aryeetey, due to challenge Mitchell for the Commonwealth crown but failed to pass a British Boxing Board of Control medical test. The Dagenham Destroyer trained relentlessly over the Christmas period and missed out on his mum's legendary Xmas Day dinner - although he will get a special one served for him on the Sunday after the fight. Now Mitchell will fight Torres, who has campaigned all over the world in a staggering 78-fight career, over 10 rounds and has promised a win to keep up the pressure on Johanneson. "It's been a difficult few weeks for me what with all the changes, but I'm determined to put on a cracking show for my fans," said 23-year-old Mitchell. "After all the training I put in over Christmas and New Year there was no way I was not going to fight and let them down. I'm determined not to let all that training go to waste and will be taking all my anger out on Torres," "He looks like a tough fighter, so I won't be taking him lightly. It's still my dream to win the British title, and I know that I can't afford any slip ups on Saturday night. "Hopefully Johanneson will be watching the fight, and I can send out a strong message to him - I'm coming to get your title." "At least my Old Dear will have my special Christmas Day dinner waiting for me when I pop round on Sunday!" Promoter Frank Warren added: "Unfortunately these things happen in boxing and we have had a few headaches but the main thing is that Kevin is still fighting but looking at Torres' record, he could be dangerous," "He's a bit of a puncher, and when guys come in at late notice you never know what is going to happen. Kevin will have to be on his guard because any complacency will get punished." Torres, is based in Valencia, Spain and goes by the nickname of El Guapito, or "Pretty One". A strong York Hall undercard, headed by Takaloo and Anthony Small challenging for the vacant Southern Area light-middleweight title, remains unchanged.

Khan Boxes Clever for Network Rail

The gloves are on as boxing superstar Amir Khan and Network Rail opened a new boxing and fitness community centre in Bolton. The 'Gloves' community centre will provide hundreds of young people with easy and affordable access to professional training, boxing and fitness facilities. The partnership between the boxer and the rail company builds on Amir Khan's involvement with Network Rail's No Messin' campaign, which aims to offer kids safer and more exciting alternatives to playing on the railway where they risk serious injury or even death. The 'Gloves' centre has three main areas. The next generation of Amir Khans can get into boxing and fitness in the junior gym area, while the senior gym has professional facilities to allow boxers to make the most of their talent. The centre also has IT and classroom facilities in which Network Rail and the NSPCC, of which Amir Khan is an ambassador, will run educational events. Dozens of people are killed or seriously injured on the railway every year by mucking about on the tracks. In the last five years: - One in four accidental fatalities was of someone aged eight to 18 - Half of all near misses involved children. With the majority of trespass incidents involving adults, this is quite worrying. It seems as if whilst adults are taking short cuts, children are taking chances - The North West is the No.1 UK region for vandalism with 27% of all such incidents occurring in the area. Amir Khan said: "I'm really proud to open a centre which allows young people of all abilities to learn about boxing, a sport which I am of course fiercely passionate about. I hope that 'Gloves' will provide kids with a place to hang out, get fit and most importantly, keep safe. There's no excuse for mucking about on the railway or anywhere else. Working with Network Rail I hope that we can show kids that there's a much more fun way to spend their time with their mates, and ultimately save lives." Iain Coucher, Network Rail Chief Executive said: "Lots of young people use the railway as a playground because they think they've nothing else to do. Amir has already been a tremendous supporter of our No Messin' campaign, which aims to reduce railway crime by encouraging young people to get involved in healthier activities. This fantastic new centre builds on that partnership. "I'm really excited and proud that Network Rail is involved in this ground breaking centre dedicated to making a real difference to the lives of young people. By giving them the opportunity to try out new sports and fitness activities - or even just a place to hang out with their friends or go online safely, we hope to prevent needless injuries and save lives." NSPCC director and chief executive Dame Mary Marsh said: "As an NSPCC ambassador Amir's commitment to making children's lives better is proven through this ambitious project of opening his own gym for children and young people. The NSPCC is delighted to have been invited to support this project by delivering sessions at the gym on keeping safe - in the community, at home, on the internet."

Sporting Legends head to Russia

The ninth annual Laureus World Sports Awards is to be held in St Petersburg, Russia, on February 18, 2008. The Laureus World Sports Awards is recognised as the premier honours event in the international sporting calendar and the Awards Ceremony provides a high profile focus as stars of the sporting world come together to salute the finest sportsmen and sportswomen of the year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury - the 43 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the greatest athletes of today. The 2008 Awards Ceremony, which will be televised to a worldwide TV audience, will be staged at The Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre. Olympic legend Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “I am thrilled that the 2008 Laureus World Sports Awards is to be staged in Russia. This is an important and exciting step for Laureus. St Petersburg is one of the most fascinating and attractive cities in the world and I know that we are ensured a unique event. I am confident that the 2008 Laureus Awards will be an unforgettable experience. I believe the staging of the Awards Ceremony in St Petersburg will add enormous kudos to Laureus, and I hope the prestige of our event will add to the reputation of St Petersburg as a great sporting venue.” Valentina Matvienko, the Governor of St Petersburg said: "We are delighted that St Petersburg has been chosen to host the 2008 Laureus World Sports Awards. Sport is close to the hearts of millions of Petersburgers and we look forward to staging this major sport event in our city. “St Petersburg is a city that harmoniously combines historic traditions and modern European values. Active construction of sport facilities and creation of well-developed infrastructure, make St Petersburg the ideal venue for sports events of global significance. I am sure this ceremony will be a night to remember in the city. "I am also confident that our partnership with the Laureus World Sports Awards will be enormously successful." There is a two-part voting process to find the winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards. Firstly, a Selection Panel of the world’s leading sports editors, writers and broadcasters from over 120 countries votes to create a shortlist of six nominations in various categories including Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year and Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year. The 43 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy then vote by secret ballot to select the Award winners. The Laureus Academy members also vote for the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year, the nominations for which are made by specialist panels. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Severiano Ballesteros, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, David Douillet, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tony Hawk, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Dan Marino, John McEnroe, Edwin Moses (Chairman), Nawal El Moutawakel, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh and Katarina Witt. Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Awards, the Laureus World Sports Academy and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and harness the power of sport to promote social change. The Patron of Laureus is Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, President Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work. His Majesty King Juan Carlos I of Spain was a patron of the 2006 and 2007 Laureus World Sports Awards held in Barcelona, Spain. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport which is broadcast to 180 countries and territories each year. The Laureus World Sports Academy members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. The Foundation addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Its work focuses on helping young people overcome poverty, homelessness, war, violence, drugs abuse, discrimination and AIDS. Since its inception over 150,000 underprivileged young people have been helped in over 50 projects around the world. Laureus is supported by its Founding Patrons Richemont and Daimler represented by their brands IWC Schaffhausen and Mercedes-Benz.

Grand Night of Boxing in the Garden

Two of the greatest boxers in history, Felix “Tito” Trinidad and Roy Jones Jr., will face each other in a battle boxing fans have been waiting for years to see at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008. The event has been dubbed “Bring on the Titans” and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). But before Trinidad and Jones square off, there will also be three bouts featured at the Garden and live on the pay-per-view telecast including heavyweight Andrew Golota taking on the emerging Chicago heavyweight “Merciless” Mike Mollo; former 154-pound champion Roman “Made in Hell” Karmazin squaring of with Alex “The Technician” Bunema; and undefeated super lightweight Devon Alexander “The Great”—Don King’s top young prospect—will face his toughest opponent yet in former world champion DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley. In a match where two titles will be on the line, Golota (40-6-1, 33 KOs) of Chicago by way of Warsaw, Poland, the current International Boxing Federation (IBF) North American champion will face the young and hungry World Boxing Association (WBA) Fedelatin titlist Mollo (19-1, 12 KOs) in a Chicagoland showdown. Preceding Golota-Mollo, Karmazin (36-2-1, 23 KOs), from St. Petersburg, Russia, now living in Los Angeles, will defend his WBA Intercontinental super welterweight title against Bunema (26-9-2, 14 KOs), from Kinshasa, Zaire, now living in Atlanta. The opening of the telecast will showcase the 20-year-old phenom Alexander (13-0, 9 KOs), from St. Louis, Mo., taking on Washington, D.C., veteran and former World Boxing Organization (WBO) 140-pound titlist Corley, who has stepped into the ring with the likes of “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather, Zab “Super” Judah, Miguel Cotto, Junior Witter and Jose Alfaro. Golota, the greatest Polish heavyweight ever and one of the best heavyweights to have never won a world title, has won his last two contests via technical knockout and continues on his quest to win an elusive world crown. His most memorable fights came against some of the best heavyweights of his era including former world champions Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Chris Byrd and John Ruiz. His last ring appearance was against Mike Tyson conqueror Kevin “The Clones Colossus” McBride at the Garden on Oct. 6, 2007. Golota can often be a slow starter, so McBride took a page out of Lamon Brewster’s and Tyson’s scouting report on the Pole and rocked him early in the match. Golota used his veteran skills to weather the storm and maintain his composure, buying time to establish a rhythm in what turned to be a highly entertaining brawl that saw the Garden crowd on its feet during much of the contest. Golota opened a nasty gash over McBride’s left eye in round five and finished him off with just 18 seconds to go in the sixth when referee Arthur Mercante Jr. halted the contest. Mollo, 27, is still building his reputation as a legitimate heavyweight contender. A win over Golota would help catapult him into the upper echelons of heavyweight contenders seeking a world-title shot. Mollo needed only two rounds to knock out Art “The Polish Warrior” Binkowski in his last outing on Oct. 13, 2007, in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Mollo turned in a dominating performance, battering the former Canadian Olympian from pillar to post. He dropped Binkowski three times in the second round before the referee stopped the carnage. When asked how he felt after the fight, Mollo exclaimed, “Unbelievable, super-aggressive like a pit bull. Now I want Golota.” Look for the young Mollo to come out swinging early, and the proverbial chips—or possibly the fighters in this case—will fall where they may. Karmazin is coming off a sterling third-round knockout over former two-time 154-pound world champion Alejandro “Terra” Garcia on Friday, Nov. 23, 2007, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. Karmazin, 35, proved why he has always been considered one of the best junior middleweights in the world in an absolute destruction of Garcia where the Russian looked fantastic. He lived up to his Made in Hell moniker when he dropped Garcia with a devastating body shot in the opening round. The assault continued until Karmazin disposed of the Mexican with a four-punch combination punctuated by a stinging left hook to the body in the third round that earned him a knockout. “I knew the fight was going to end early after the first round,” Karmazin said. “I’m a boxer, I’m a thinking fighter, and I knew I was faster and punched harder.” Bunema is also coming into this fight with plenty of momentum. In his last appearance, the 32-year-old dispatched veteran Steve Walker with a second round TKO on Nov. 10, 2007, in Ridgefield, Wash.The Zaire native managed another nifty victory nearly two months earlier. Bunema delivered a fourth-round knockout against the young and tough Farid Shahid on Sept. 21, 2007, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Alexander is scorching hot, having scored an opening-round TKO over Cory Peterson on Oct. 13, 2007, at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Fighting out of the Cory Spinks camp under the tutelage of trainer Kevin Cunningham, his promoter Don King thinks it’s time to show Alexander’s skills to a wider audience. “I insisted on putting Alexander The Great on the Jones-Trinidad pay-per-view because he is emerging and ready to become the top welterweight in the world,” King said. “Now is Devon’s time and I want everyone to see this young talent display his skills.” Standing in the way of Alexander’s quest for glory is the always dangerous Corley. Now 33, Corley has a vast experience advantage over his young opponent and would like nothing more than to spoil Alexander’s first appearance in a televised pay-per-view match.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Jones Junior Squares Up to the Knicks

Eight-time boxing world champion Roy Jones Jr. planned to visit with New York Knicks players after they finished practice at the Madison Square Garden Training Center in Tarrytown, N.Y., but was surprised when Knicks head coach Isiah Thomas waved him over to take part in a full-court, three-man weave drill with the team. “It was a dream come true for me to get on the court and shoot around and do some drills with the Knicks,” Jones, who once played in the professional United States Basketball League, said. “I was a little rusty but I wasn’t going to say no to coach Isiah. What a thrill it was to be on the court with the Knicks to see up close and personal how good they really are.” Thomas joked that his players may have avoided contact with Jones. “The shot was a little suspect but nobody got close enough to him,” Thomas said. “I don’t think anybody wanted to challenge him for fear that he may punch him.” Knicks guard and fan-favorite Nate Robinson was chided by fellow players when Jones donned a Knicks practice jersey sporting Robinson’s number. They further antagonized their teammate by suggesting that gloves Jones was planning to autograph were really there for sparring between Jones and Robinson. Jones assured him it was only a message to his Jan. 19 opponent at Madison Square Garden, Felix “Tito” Trinidad. Jones reiterated his oft-repeated slogan, “Tito must go in fo’. That’s why I’ve got the number four on my jersey.” Robinson declared, “There’s no way I’m stepping into the ring with that man. He can wear whatever number he wants.” After practice Robinson commented on what it meant to him to have Jones at the Knicks practice. “Roy Jones is a boxing great and it was fun to have him practice with us. That shows a lot of love on his part to join us today. It provided us with some inspiration. He didn’t have to come out here with us but that just goes to show what kind of guy he is.” Robinson quipped, “He may be one of the smaller guys out here today, but I’ll bet he could beat up all of us.” Jones was gratified to have the opportunity to play with the team. “It was inspiring for me too,” Jones said. “I’ve had my ups and downs over the last three years so I came out here today to let coach Thomas and the Knicks know they just need to hang in there, do the best they can, and their time will come. I know it will.” Full Quotes and Camp Notes from Roy Jones Jr. “It was a dream come true for me to get on the court and shoot around and do some drills with the Knicks. I was a little rusty but I wasn’t going to say no to coach Isiah. What a thrill it was to be on the court with the Knicks to see up close and personal how good they really are. “It was inspiring for me too. I’ve had my ups and downs over the last three years so I came out here today to let coach Thomas and the Knicks know they just need to hang in there, do the best they can, and their time will come. I know it will.” Jones was told by a friend about a training facility near Pittsburgh, in California, Penn. He has been training there since the beginning of December with longtime trainer Alton Merkerson. His six-day-a-week training schedule often starts with a three-to-five mile run around 6 a.m.,“depending on how I feel each day,” followed by breakfast usually consisting of only fruit. After a nap, Jones is up at noon followed by a three-hour gym workout around 4 p.m. “It’s working out really well at the training camp. I need to be focused for this fight and this camp out in the country is a good place to be focused. “The rooster is back in Roy Jones. I used to strut and entertain people. Somehow I lost that for a time. I started to focus more on my opponents than on simply going out and entertaining my fans. Now I’m back to doing what I do best. “Tito and his people think it’s going to hurt me to have to go all the way down to 170 pounds—and it is a smart move on their part—but it’s nothing I haven’t been through before. I’ve had more than enough time to get down to weight so I’m not going to have to kill myself getting there. “The big question is can Tito bring his punch and take my punches at 170 pounds. Tito must go in fo’. That’s what everybody’s waiting to see on January 19.”

Maccarinelli's Haye Day

Promoter Frank Warren confirmed today that the explosive all-British showdown between big-hitters Enzo Maccarinelli and David Haye is on.WBO world champion Maccarinelli and newly crowned WBC/WBA world champion Haye will clash on Saturday 8th March (venue TBC) to finally decide who is the best cruiserweight in the world. All three titles will be on the line.Setanta Sports 1 will televise the fight live and exclusive. (The fight will not be available on a pay-per-view basis, but only by subscription to Setanta Sports at only £9.99 a month. To subscribe, visit setanta.com or call 08712 10 20 30.) Swansea puncher Maccarinelli last fought on the Joe Calzaghe-Mikkel Kessler undercard in November, stopping Mohamed Azzaoui in the fourth round.He said,"I'm delighted that Haye has finally put pen to paper and the fight is happening. There is nothing like a big fight between the top two British fighters in the division to get the public excited. I believe that this will rival if not better the Nigel Benn-Chris Eubank epics. We are both big punchers but I believe that I am the hardest hitter out of the two of us. Once I drop Haye he won't be getting up." Londoner Haye had to get up from the canvas to sensationally stop Jean Marc Mormeck in the seventh round and claim the WBC and WBA titles also in November.Haye said, "This will be the modern day Benn-Eubank. I'm glad that politics have been put to one side and that Frank Warren and my manager Adam Booth have made the fight happen. I feel that it is my duty as world champion to fight the very best and I guarantee that I will knock-out Maccarinelli to convince the few doubters that I am the best cruiserweight that Britain has ever produced."The punch statistics between the two are dynamite: Maccarinelli has stopped 21 of his 29 opponents with 16 coming inside the first three rounds while Haye has halted 19 of his 21 opponents early with 14 inside the first three rounds.Warren has consistently staged the biggest fights in this country and is naturally excited by this one.He said, "If there is one fight I would buy a ticket to watch it would be Maccarinelli-Haye. I'm in the business of delivering big fights and this is certainly a real fight for the boxing fans and media and one that they have been clamouring for. It has all the ingredients for a potentially thrilling fight: two big names; both hugh punchers; both have been put down but got up to win and plenty of pride at stake. We have a fantastic line up for the early part of next year with Kevin Mitchell challenging for the British title and Matt Skelton going to Germany to face Ruslan Chagaev for the WBA World Heavyweight title in January, Amir Khan in February, then Haye-Maccarinelli, and after that a potential superfight between Calzaghe and Bernard Hopkins in the pipeline."

Khan ready for Viking Invasion

Amir Khan is confident of repelling another Viking invasion by following his pal Joe Calzaghe's example.Bolton hot-shot Khan takes on Dane Martin Kristjansen at the ExCeL London on Saturday 2nd February and is using Calzaghe's win over previously undefeated Mikkel Kessler as inspiration.Calzaghe secured his position as Britain's finest fighter with a stunning points win over 'Viking Warrior' Kessler last month to unify the WBO/WBC/WBA world super-middleweight titles.Khan said, "Joe was great that night when he defeated Kessler. I couldn't be at the fight because I was in training for my fight against Graham Earl but I watched it on TV and was blown away by Joe's boxing skill. He overcame a difficult opening to beat Kessler with boxing skill."The 21-year-old Commonwealth Champion blew away Graham Earl earlier this month in just 72 seconds but reckons Kristjansen, who hails from the same training camp as Kessler, will be a much tougher job.He added, "I know that not all my fights are going to be early nights like Earl. It would be great if they were but I also prepare for long hard fights and I think that Kristjansen will provide a much sterner test than Earl did. He has taken former European Champion Stefano Zoff the distance twice so he's going to be a bit of handful."Lightweight Khan puts his unbeaten record and new WBO #4 ranking on the line when he challenges Kristjansen for the Vacant WBO Intercontinental title." He is a big threat to my future ambitions to win the world title and a lot is at stake in this fight. My trainer Oliver Harrison and myself are in the gym now training hard and I'm fully confident that it will be a Khan victory." Finished Khan.