Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sterne's Shot of the Month

Richard Sterne has won The European Tour Shot of the Month Award for January thanks to his outstanding bunker shot on the first extra hole of the Joburg Open in South Africa. The 26 year old had looked to be in trouble on the 551 yard 18th at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club when his errant drive found a fairway bunker, 216 yards from the green. But with compatriot Garth Mulroy and Sweden’s Magnus A Carlsson seemingly better placed, Sterne hit a four iron from the sand to within 15 feet of the pin. The shot kept him in contention in the play-off, which he duly won at the second extra hole with another birdie four to claim a winner’s cheque for €174,350. Sterne said: “It was close all day, so it required something special to win. It was a pretty impressive shot, even if I say so myself. I thought about laying up, but it was a play-off and the shot was 50:50. I thought it was on, and went for it.” Finishing runner-up in the January Shot of the Month Awards was Sweden’s Johan Edfors, for his fearless approach to the 15th on day three of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy; whilst Germany’s Martin Kaymer’s huge two iron over the water and onto the 18th green on the final day of the Dubai Desert Classic was voted the third best shot of the month. The European Tour Shot of the Month Award is presented to the Tour Member for the shot judged to be the most outstanding played during each calendar month on The European Tour International Schedule. The winning shots from each month are entered towards The European Tour Shot of the Year Award.

Chelsea Freezes Ticket Prices

Chelsea Football Club announced that it will be freezing prices on ALL non-corporate tickets for Premier League matches and Champions League knockout stage matches for the third consecutive season. This covers season tickets and matchday tickets for members, juveniles and senior citizens for 2008/9. Chelsea FC also revealed that it will be introducing a new discount scheme for Champions League group matches at Stamford Bridge next season. It is the third successive year that there has been an absolute price freeze on Premier League and UCL knockout phase tickets, giving a net reduction of approximately 10% when inflation is taken into account. The current, and extremely successful, policy of discounted prices for domestic cup matches will also continue. All UCL group matches will now be priced the same as FA Cup matches, £25 for adults and £12 for juveniles and senior citizens for season ticket holders and members. Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon said: "Announcing this freeze for the third consecutive season demonstrates that we listen to and are sensitive to the views of our supporters. We appreciate the economic and other demands on them and value their loyalty.
"This decision, which was taken after dialogue with the Fans Forum, achieves a good balance between those demands and the needs of our business. With the success we have had we believe Chelsea offers value for money on and off the pitch. "As well as the price freeze we will be continuing with the very popular policy of discounted prices for domestic cup matches and bringing all Champions League group games in line with that regardless of opposition. "This policy has ensured that new supporters, more families and children have had the opportunity to come to Stamford Bridge over the last two seasons." Other aspects of ticketing policy for the next season such as corporate prices will be announced in due course.

Maccarinelli Shakes Britain

Experts from the British Geological Survey now believe that WBO World Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Maccarinelli was the reason behind this mornings terror earthquakes that rocked Britain!The dynamite-fisted Welshman recently shifted his training sessions to the early hours of the morning to prepare for his mega-showdown with David Haye a week on Saturday at The O2 in London, and last night Big Mac put in an awesome power-packed session on a 400lb heavybag that experts believe triggered the earthquake which hit a staggering 5.1 on the Richter scale.Professor T. Remor said, "The epicentre was originally believed to be 30 miles south of Hull but on further analysis of the data it appears that it was actually in the South Wales region in the early hours of the morning. This was the second biggest earthquake ever recorded in the UK. Strangely, the biggest hit Lleyn in North Wales back in 1984 (When Maccarinelli first put on a pair of boxing gloves!). An earthquake has a magnitude of four which is the equivalent of 1,000 tonnes of TNT or a small nuclear weapon. Last nights was of a magnitude four - which is pretty scary. As a boxing fan, I have read that Enzo Maccarinelli is working out at this time time for his fight with David Haye and we are now examining if he is the cause of these tremors."Bewildered people lined up the streets as householders were shaken out of their beds and buildings shook, luckily WBC/WBA World Champion Haye is still training in Miami and missed the tremors otherwise he would have pulled out of the fight!Maccarinelli v Haye is the biggest all British showdown since the Nigel Benn-Chris Eubank epics in the 90s. With 50 fights between them, 40 by way of knock-out and 30 coming inside three rounds it is expected to be the most explosive showdown in recent years and is televised live on Setanta in the UK and on Showtime in the US.Maccarinelli said, "Wow! that was some training session Enzo Calzaghe put me through last night. Enzo had me working on power punches on the heavybag for over two hour and I can honestly say I have never punched a bag as hard as that in my life. We have had a specially made heavybag imported from America, the kind that Mike Tyson used to use, to focus on power punching and when I was unloading the bag just went flying everywhere. I apologise if people around Britain were disturbed during the night by this but I am giving them an advanced warning now that they had better be prepared on March 8 because when Haye lands on that canvas it will trigger off an even bigger earthquake!"

Campbell looking to tame Diaz

International Boxing Federation No. 1-ranked lightweight and mandatory challenger Nate “Galaxxy Warrior” Campbell is confident going into his match against undefeated unified lightweight world champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz on March 8 at Plaza de Torros in Cancun, Mexico. “I don’t want to sound conceited or overconfident but Juan Diaz is not a demigod,” Campbell said. “A demigod is half mortal, half god and I just don’t see that. Unless my team and I have been in this sport too long—or not long enough—we are seeing a lot of hype.” Campbell (31-5-1, 25 KOs), who is co-promoted by Don King Productions and One Punch Productions, made his comments about Diaz (33-0, 17 KOs) recently while visiting King’s South Florida headquarters. “Take a good look at who this man has fought and ask yourself, ‘Who has he fought?’ There are lots of fighters out there who throw a lot of punches. I’m going to teach things to Juan that he doesn’t want to know. I can stop this man and I don’t believe he can beat me.” Campbell thinks he has been underestimated throughout his career, and he looks forward to utilizing a six inch reach advantage over Diaz. “Nobody thinks I can punch,” he said, “but there’s something about the way I punch that makes guys change their mind when they get in the ring with me. Juan Diaz will ask himself after the first punch I land that makes clean contact, ‘What part of the game is this?’ “Joel Casamayor has fought Jose Luis Castillo, Acelino Freitas, Diego Corrales and me. When a reporter asked him who hits the hardest, he said, ‘Nate Cambell.’ On top of that, I heard Casamayor predicted that I’m going to win against Diaz.” Campbell’s fight is part of the History in Cancun event that will include the first world heavyweight championship ever decided in Mexico when World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev faces WBC interim champion Sameul “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter. Both Diaz vs. Campell and Maskaev vs. Peter will be televised live in America on HBO. Campbell said his preparation for the fight has been going well while splitting training time in West Palm Beach and Pembroke Pines in South Florida. “I hate it when fighters say, ‘I’m in the best shape of my life,’” Campbell said. “I’m always in great shape. I will say though that this is the first time in a long time that I’ve been able to focus only on my training and no other outside stuff like relationships or family problems. “I have stayed away from everything and everyone that could distract me from winning these titles. My promoters Don King and Terry Trekas have taken good care of me. My trainer John David Jackson and his assistant Noel Carbajal and all my gym mates have been great as usual.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Haye in Hot Water warns Calzaghe Senior

Top trainer Enzo Calzaghe has warned David Haye that his career will be over if he's taken 12 rounds by Enzo Maccarinelli. The pair meet on March 8 at London's O2 Arena on a show dubbed Bombs Away live on Setanta Sports in the UK and on Showtime in the US. The WBC, WBA and WBO cruiserweight titles will be on the line. Many expect the fight to be over early - but Calzaghe snr insists that he has prepared Maccarinelli for a 12 round war. And he says that if it goes the distance, then there will only be one winner - and Haye could be permanently finished. "If David Haye goes 12 rounds he will never fight again," Calzaghe told "Anyone can get hit on the chin. You can't put a horseshoe on the chin to protect it so if Haye connects with Enzo he has a chance but he should worry about what will happen if he doesn't. "The way we train what people do in three minutes we do in one minute. Haye has never fought anyone like Enzo. "No one needs to tell me any strategy. Who'd have thought Gavin Rees would win a world title and at light welterweight? "If Haye goes 12 rounds it will be the end of his career."

Big Mac's Training Around the Clock

WBO World Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Maccarinelli has begun the "night shift" ahead of his fight with David Haye - and has promised to give the WBA/WBC title holder nightmares on March 8. The pair will clash at around 2am at London's O2 Arena in order to accommodate US television network Showtime. The fight will be screened live on Setanta Sports in the UK. And Swansea puncher Maccarinelli has switched his training from the daytime to late in the evenings in order to get his body-clock in tune. "Running up and down the South Wales valleys in the pitch black isn't much fun," stormed 27-year-old WBO cruiserweight champion Maccarinelli. "I've been going to bed at around 3am so I'm in the best condition of my life when I face Haye. "When I'm out pounding the mountains most people are tucked up in bed and sound asleep, and it can get pretty spooky. "It's so isolated that it's like something out of a horror movie - but Haye will be having nightmares on March 8. "I'm glad this one is on well past the watershed because I'm going to terrify Haye at the O2 Arena with my power. He won't know what's hit him."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hopkins gets taunted in Las Vegas

Bernard Hopkins was booed today by a large crowd of British and American fight fans in Las Vegas as his press tour with Joe Calzaghe drew to a close.The 43-year-old light-heavyweight number one, 48-4, may have been banking on home support by asking for the fight to take place in America.But it looks like Calzaghe could be the "home" fighter on April 19 at the Planet Hollywood Ring, The Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, when the pair finally get it on.Calzaghe, 44-0, got a huge cheer when he was introduced to around 1,000 fans in Vegas on Thursday at a press conference at the Planet Hollywood casino on the strip.Hopkins was roundly jeered, but as he has cast himself as the pantomime villain for this fight, may not be overly bothered.He continued his verbal attack on Calzaghe as the pair were called together for a photoshoot." Bitch, I'm going to make you cry," Hopkins told super-middleweight world champion Calzaghe.But unfazed by the American's stream of street talk, Calzaghe told him: "You're getting f***** up on fight night."The war of words continued during a photo shoot outside.Hopkins has reverted to trash talk in press conferences in London, New York, LA and now Vegas, but undefeated Calzaghe hasn't been flustered by the tactics." Hopkins is a bully, simple as that," said Calzaghe. "I'm not intimidated by him, I just find it funny that a grown man like him carries on the way he does. Let's see who's doing the talk after the fight."The pair will now head to intensive training camps, and won't come face to face until the week of the fight.

Calzaghe Wins War of Words

Joe Calzaghe showed the first signs of winning the psychological war against Bernard Hopkins as the two squared up in LA on Wednesday.Calzaghe repeatedly taunted Hopkins about twice losing to Jermain Taylor at middleweight, and promised to repeat the trick on April 19 at the Planet Hollywood Ring, The Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, when the pair clash at 175 pounds.There was plenty of glamour at Planet Hollywood in Los Angeles, with Sylvester Stallone and Oscar De La Hoya throwing their weight behind the fight." These guys are legends at what they do," said Stallone, who was representing fight sponsors Planet Hollywood." I'm really excited to be part of the big night on April 19. You are going to witness drama and spectacle and it will be one big party."De La Hoya, whose Golden Boy promotional is involved in the showdown, added: "This fight is one for the ages. " These are two super fighters. They are the best in their weight classes. It's going to be an unbelievable evening and one for fight fans to savour."Proceedings nearly kicked off two months early when Calzaghe and Hopkins went head to head, with the American continually asking his opponent who he had beaten." Who have you beaten?" asked Calzaghe, 35, to a visibly angered Hopkins. "You got your arse kicked twice by Jermain Taylor."Earlier, Hopkins, 48-4, had once again gone into verbal overdrive, as the trash talking that has been present at press conferences in London and New York continued. " You are now seeing me as a fighter, not a promoter," said the former middleweight world champion, and current light-heavyweight number one." This isn't a corporate guy, I'm going to be fighting like a poor man. Never underestimate me. There is no style that I can't unravel." What you are going to see on April 19 is greatness. I'm going to reduce Joe Calzaghe down to what I want him to do. I don't care how many punches he throws, I will win the fight." Joe Calzaghe is not like Winky Wright, who I called the turtle because of his guard. Joe throws lots of punches and that will be his weakness." I'm 43-years-old and a living legend, the best fighter ever. Calzaghe has never seen anything like me before or my style, and I'm going to reduce him to a typical European fighter." 30 million people will watch me execute the British guy. I'm going to show you what greatness is."Calzaghe, 44-0, who has continually shrugged off the worst of Hopkins' excesses, said: "He can talk all he wants, but I don't think he'll be running his mouth after I've kicked his butt on April 19." He's trying to get under my skin, but I've been a world champion for more than a decade and I've seen it all before." The harder the fight, the more pressure there is, the better I perform. Agreeing to fight me was the biggest mistake he's ever made."

Chelsea Net a Profit

Chelsea FC plc announced on Thursday, February 21 a record group turnover and reduced losses for a second successive season. Chelsea FC also revealed a gross turnover of £223.3 million and independent research that indicated 90 million "core fans" globally. Group results for the year end June 30, 2007, followed another year of success on the field with football, media and sponsorship revenues all showing large rises on the previous financial year. The main figures were: group turnover up 25% to £190.5m from £152.8m (2005/6) sponsorship revenues up 89% to £32m from £16.9m (2005/6) due mainly to first year of adidas contract football activities up 27% to £165.3m from £130.4m (2005/6) due to success on the field, FA Cup and Carling Cup winners, second in FAPL and semi-finalists UCL cash spend reduced by 46% to £70.5m from £129.6m (2005/6) matchday revenue up 29% to £74.5m from £57.7m (2005/6 due to increased box office/corporate sales and cup runs media revenues up 13% to £59.6m from £52.6m (2005/6) losses reduced by 7% to £74.8m from £80.2m (2005/6) wages and salaries as percentage of turnover reduced by 5% to 71% from 76% (2005/6) EBITDA down to £2.3 million negative from £8 million negative (2005/6) gross turnover of £223.3 million (includes adidas and other merchandise and Chelsea Digital Media not consolidated in group results) The research into fan base was conducted by TNS and was taken in 14 major global markets. Also, following the end of the financial year Chelsea cleared its last remaining external debt by paying off the Eurobond under the terms of the bond arrangement.Chelsea FC Chief Executive Peter Kenyon said: "These figures once again demonstrate that Chelsea is growing in strength as a business and as a club. "I am delighted there has been such large increases in the major income streams. This has all been underpinned by our fundamental aim, success on the field, and this season we are looking to build on that again. "Our long-term target of operating profit break even by 2009/10 remains ambitious but we are determined to meet it or get as close as we can. "In the meantime we have made good on our pledges of last year, hitting all of our aims. We have expanded globally as a club, we have reduced our salaries as percentage of turnover, we have continued to be successful on the field, we have increased sponsorship revenue and we continue to invest in our academy and reduce our reliance on transfers. "With the company also being external debt free and our ownership clearly demonstrating continuing commitment to the long term, I am very confident about the future on a football and business level."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Johnnie Walker's Emerging Stars

China’s Liang Wen-chong, Irishman Rory McIlroy and Korea’s Lee Sung are amongst the nominations announced by Johnnie Walker for its prestigious Johnnie Walker “Keep Walking” Golf Awards which, with the cooperation of the Asian, European and Australasian Tours, recognize the performances of golfers during the previous season. Top performers Liang, Thai Chapchai Nirat and KJ Choi of Korea have been nominated for the Johnnie Walker Asian Player of the Year whilst McIlroy, German Martin Kaymer, America’s Tadd Fujikawa and Argentinian Andres Romero have been named as the three contenders for the Johnnie Walker Young Player of the Year Award. The three contenders for the Johnnie Walker Asian Rising Star Award, presented to the young Asian professional who has shown the most promise, talent and commitment to the game of golf over the past 12 months, are Lee, Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines and Malaysia’s Airil Rizman. The annual Awards, a highlight on the golfing calendar, were created over a decade ago by Johnnie Walker to recognize great progress achieved on the golf course and to inspire others to pursue their dreams and goals, in the spirit of Johnnie Walker’s “Keep Walking” message. “We are delighted to announce the contenders in the running to win our 2007 Johnnie Walker “Keep Walking” Awards, 10 golfers who have all demonstrated tremendous talent and determination, and have inspired us all,” commented Cristina Diezhandino, Acting Global Brand Director for Johnnie Walker, when the nominations were revealed. The winners of the three Awards, as voted by a panel of judges from the European, Asian and Australasian Tours, will be announced on Saturday, March 1, at the 2008 Johnnie Walker Classic. The US$2.5 million Johnnie Walker Classic, which takes place at the DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon, just outside New Delhi, from February 28 to March 2, boasts a star-studded field of international players, such as Vijay Singh, Australia’s Adam Scott, Englishman Ian Poulter, Scot Colin Montgomerie and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, and a host of Asia’s best golfers. India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa, Arjun Atwal, Gaurav Ghei and recent Emaar-MGF Indian Masters winner SSP Chowrasia will spearhead the Asian challenge locally alongside Thais Thongchai Jaidee, Prayad Marksaeng and Thaworn Wiratchant, Korea’s Lee Sung, China’s Liang and Zhang Lian-wei and Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wen-teh. Past winners of the Johnnie Walker Asian Golfer of the Year include Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit in 1995, Kyi Hla Han, the current Chairman of the Asian Tour, in 1998, Korea’s KJ Choi (2002) and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh in 2006. Spaniard Alvaro Quiros is the reigning Young Golfer of Year, an Award that has previously been won by Luke Donald (2004), Adam Scott (2003), Justin Rose (2002) and Sergio Garcia (2001) whilst last year Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand was the inaugural winner of the Johnnie Walker Asian Rising Star Award.

Johnnie Walker “Keep Walking” Awards 2007


Asian Golfer of the Year

· Liang Wen-chong (China)
The first player from China to lift the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown after a stellar season in 2007. Liang won the Singapore Masters, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, and registered eight other top-10s.

· Chapchai Nirat (Thailand)
Became only the third Thai golfer, after Thongchai Jaidee and Thaworn Wiratchant to win on The European Tour with a wire-to-wire victory in the TCL Classic in China and to the last challenged for the 2008 Asian Order of Merit.

· KJ Choi (Korea)
Enjoyed a career year in 2007, winning twice on the PGA Tour (the Memorial Tournament and the AT&T National), playing in his second Presidents Cup and finishing 5th in the FedEx Cup. He also broke into the world’s top-10.
Young Golfer of the Year

· Rory McIlroy (Ireland)
In 2007 reached number one in the world amateur rankings and caught the public eye at The Open Championship at Carnoustie with his superb opening 3 under par 68. Turned pro in mid-2007 and made the cut in his first professional event, The Quinn Direct British Masters, and finished third in his second pro event, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, earning enough money to virtually assure his place in the top 115 and become the youngest Affiliate Member to secure his card in just two events.

· Martin Kaymer (Germany)
Became the first German to be named Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year after a superb debut season in 2007 during which he recorded five top ten finishes which saw him finish a credible 41st on the European Order of Merit.

· Tadd Fujikawa (US)
Became the second youngest golfer ever to make a cut on the PGA Tour when this Hawaiian teenager – aged 16 at the time – made the cut in the Sony Open in Jan 07. He eventually finished T20th and turned pro later in the year although still at high school. Later in the year, won the 2007 Hawaii Pearl Open, Hawaii's the most lucrative local golf tournament. Born three months premature, doctors gave him a 50:50 chance of survival.

· Andres Romero (Argentina)
One of the most exciting talents to emerge from Argentina, Romero took the world by storm in 2007 when, just a week after coming agonisingly close to winning The Open Championship, he recorded a three stroke victory in the Deutsche Bank Players’ Championship of Europe. In two weeks he climbed from 114th to 29th in the World Rankings. The 26-year-old finished the year in 7th spot on the European Order of Merit.

Asian Rising Star of the Year

· Juvic Pagunsan (Philippines)
After a glittering amateur career, Juvic turned pro in 2006 and claimed his maiden Tour title in sensational style at the 2007 Pertamina Indonesia President Invitational. The slightly-built Filipino birdied the 17th hole and eagled the 18th hole during the final round to edge Indian Ghaganjeet Bhullar by one stroke. He also finished joint second in the season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia.

· Airil Rizman (Malaysia)
Airil claimed his breakthrough victory on the Asian Tour at the Pakistan Open in 2007 at Karachi Golf Club, following a successful amateur career (16 titles). Prior to joining the Asian Tour, Rizman plied his trade on the Malaysian PGA Tour where he accumulated seven wins, topping the OOM in 2005. His win in Pakistan made him only the second Malaysian (after Danny Chia) to win on the Asian Tour.

· Lee Sung (Korea)
Lee Sung, the highest Korean finisher on the Asian Tour’s 2007 Order of Merit, was born deaf though this has not prevented the 28-year-old from carving out a career in professional golf. In fact 2007 was a breakthrough year for Lee as he secured his maiden victory in Asia at the Bangkok Airways Open on the holiday island of Koh Samui.

European Open back at The London Golf Club

The European Open will return to England for the first time since 1994 when the 31st edition of the tournament takes place over the Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage course at The London Golf Club in Kent from July 3-6, 2008. Eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie of Scotland is set to defend his title when The London Golf Club becomes the seventh venue to host the European Open, following Walton Heath, Turnberry, Royal Liverpool, Sunningdale, East Sussex National and, for the past 13 years, The K Club in Co. Kildare, Ireland.Situated close to Brands Hatch in North Kent and boasting two outstanding courses in The Heritage and The International, The London Golf Club first hosted the European Seniors Tour in 1995 when South African John Bland won the inaugural London Masters. For the past three years, the Club’s owners, the Bendinat Group, have been title sponsors of the London Seniors Masters, won twice on the 6,434 yard par 72 Heritage layout by Scotland’s Sam Torrance (in 2005 and 2007) and once by Italy’s Giuseppe Cali in 2006. American Bobby Wadkins won the first European Open at Walton Heath in Surrey in 1978. Since then, eight Major Champions have captured the prestigious titles, namely Michael Campbell, Nick Faldo, Retief Goosen, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam. Montgomerie, who won his 31st European Tour title at The K Club in 2007, said: “I was delighted to be the last winner of the European Open at The K Club, after coming close there on a few occasions. That victory was very important in terms of my World Ranking. I am now looking forward to defending one of the most prestigious titles on The European Tour at The London Golf Club in July. “It’s great that we have a London venue on the Schedule. Having played there quite recently, I know that it will unquestionably provide a stern examination for my Tour colleagues and myself, and we can all look forward to a wonderful week in Kent.” Heath Harvey, General Manager for The London Golf Club, said: “There was much speculation over where this event would go after its enormously successful run of 13 years at The K Club. To secure such a renowned tournament is testament to the Club’s aspiration to be recognised as one of Europe’s foremost golfing venues. “A tournament of this magnitude will undoubtedly put Kent in the European golfing spotlight. We look forward to welcoming some of the world’s top professionals for what will surely be the county’s largest sporting event of the year.” George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “The European Open has been a superb fixture on The European Tour International Schedule for the past three decades, and since 1995 we have witnessed 13 tremendous editions of the event at The K Club in Co. Kildare. “However, we are delighted to return to the UK in 2008 and to an outstanding venue in The Heritage course at The London Golf Club, which carries the stamp of its designer, Jack Nicklaus. Our Members always enjoy visiting new locations, and The London Golf Club will provide an enjoyable and demanding examination in July.”

Mitchell's Hunger to upstage Big Mac

Kevin Mitchell is backing good friend Enzo Maccarinelli to unify the cruiserweight division on March 8 - but says he'll steal the big Welshman's thunder at The O2. Current Commonwealth super-featherweight champion Mitchell will face his toughest fight yet when he tackles British champion Carl Johanneson. And says he'll make the chief support even more explosive than the mouth-watering main event, which sees WBO cruiserweight king Maccarinelli taking on WBA/WBC counterpart David Haye. Both fights are live and exclusive on Setanta Sports. "It will be a Sports Network double on March 8, because I'll beat Johanneson and then my mate Enzo will do a job on Haye," said Mitchell. "He's got too much grit and too much determination, and I can't see him going home empty handed. "As for my fight with Johanneson, I reckon it's going to be an early night - for me. "It's not going more than a few rounds because I'm going to knock him out. The fans better get in early doors or they will miss the fight of the night, "Everyone keeps talking about Johanneson's punching-power, but I don't believe he hits as hard as I do. "But at the end of the day I don't care how hard he hits because I've got a great chin. I've never been down, amatuer or professional, and I'll take whatever Carl throws and come back twice as hard. "After I beat him, I've got a fight for the European title, and then hopefully I'll be challenging for a world title by the end of the year. "Alex Arthur is currently number one in the country, but I'm closing in fast. A fight against him at the end of the year would be a massive fight in the UK, and that's what I'm aiming for."

Calzaghe gives Hopkins Cold Feet

Joe Calzaghe flew to America for a press tour with Bernard Hopkins - with a pair of fine cashmere socks to give to the world's number one light-heavyweight.It follows Hopkins' temper tantrum last week in the UK, when he was filming a promotional video for the fight at a warehouse location first thing in the morning.Despite being a product of the tough streets of Philadelphia, Hopkins likes his home comforts, and moaned constantly about the cold.And when one of the producers threw a pair of socks at him, he failed to see the funny side and threw a temper tantrum of diva-like proportions in his dressing room." I just hope Hopkins doesn't get cold feet when it comes to going toe-to-toe with me," said Calzaghe, who will meet Hopkins head-to-head in New York, LA and Las Vegas.The pair will fight in the Planet Hollywood Ring at the Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas, on April 19.Hopkins' Ring Magazine light-heavyweight title will be on the line." I'll be presenting Ol' Popkins with a pair of socks when I see him in New York," said Calzaghe." He'll need them when we fight because I'm going to be keeping on his toes all night, and I don't want him moaning about blisters." Where I come from in the Welsh valleys, we don't mind a bit of cold, but I can understand if Hopkins doesn't like it." After all, when you get to his age, you do start feeling the cold!"

Hopkins Ready for War

Bernard Hopkins promised to take Joe Calzaghe into the trenches when they meet at the Planet Hollywood Ring, The Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas on April 19.The pair resumed hostilities on the first leg of a three-city press tour of the United States." I'm in Executioner mode," said a mean and moody Hopkins, 48-4, at a media conference at Planet Hollywood in New York." I walk a fine line that others don't want to walk. I'll win by any means necessary. Anything can happen, I fear nobody and nothing. You will all see something special on April 19, and I will show you all who is the best." I said I'm going to punish Calzaghe slowly, and I'll repeat that today. I'll ask that his father is merciful to him and pulls him out when he is getting hurt."Calzaghe, undefeated in 44 fights and the current WBC/WBA/WBO super-middleweight champion, says he remains confident of victory despite 43-year-old Hopkins' verbal onslaught." I've always wanted to fight the best in America, and Hopkins is not only the best light-heavyweight in the world, but one of the best pound for pound fighters as well," said the 35-year-old Welshman." I've said before that the bigger the challenge, the harder the test, the better I perform. I want to be known as a great and a legend and these are the type of fights that I need." I'm excited, really excited, to be in America, and being here today in front of all the media is mouth-watering." But the ring is my home, and if Hopkins wants a war then I will give him one on April 19 and meet him toe to toe. If he wants a chess match I'll give him a chess match and out-box him. All I'm going to say is that I will remain unbeaten."Calzaghe's promoter, Frank Warren, added: "This is a fight between two super boxers and I'm sure it will be a fantastic occasion." I'd like to thank Robert Earl at Planet Hollywood for helping to put this together, as well as Kerry Davis at HBO, and Setanta Sports. I'm also looking forward to working with Golden Boy Promotions." Fight fans have been crying out for this fight for a long time, and I'm delighted we have finally done a deal. It's the best versus the best and I'm confident Joe Calzaghe will remain undefeated when he leaves the ring."Meanwhile HBO have announced that they will screen a special 30 minute documentary on the fight on April 12.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Enzo Calzaghe Backs His Fighters

Newly crowned Ring Magazine Trainer of the Year, Enzo Calzaghe, has backed his stable of stars to pull off a hat-trick of world title victories in the coming weeks. Enzo Maccarinelli, Gavin Rees and Joe Calzaghe are all in massive fights in either March or April, and will require all the savvy of Calzaghe Snr if they are to emerge victorious. WBO World Champion Maccarinelli seeks to unify the cruiserweight division on March 8 in London against WBC/WBA title-holder David Haye, Rees defends his WBA World Light-Welterweight title against tough mandatory Andreas Kotelnik on March 22 in Cardiff, while Calzaghe fights Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas on April 19. But the man now recognised as the best trainer in the world is certain that his Welsh wonders will produce the goods. "I'm always confident about my fighters winning," said Enzo. "At the end of the day I'm only a trainer, not God himself, but if everything goes to plan then Enzo, Gavin and Joe will all come home victorious." Calzaghe, who also trains WBU middleweight champion Gary Lockett, Commonwealth light-middleweight king Bradley Pryce and top prospects Tony Doherty, Nathan Cleverly, Harry Miles and Kerry Hope, believes his gym is now the best in the world - even better than the world famous Kronk. It's all a far cry from the jobbing musician who first pitched up in the UK as a young man determined to see something of the world - but never as it's number one boxing trainer. "Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind myself it's all true," said Calzaghe. "When I first started boxing people laughed at me behind my back, saying I didn't know what I was doing. They said that Joe boxed to fast and he'd never make it as an amateur, let alone as a professional. "But now that style is being copied all over the world. Look at these young boxers and it's all about speed, speed and more speed." And typically, Calzaghe doesn't put the secret of his success down to his own brilliance, but the efforts of those around him. "It's a dream come true to win the Ring Magazine award," he said. "To be recognised by the bible of boxing as the number one trainer is amazing. "But I couldn't have done any of it without the team that's around me. And by that I mean everyone who helped, and not just the boxers. "Frank Warren, Dean Powell and the late Ernie Fossey have played a big part in getting me where I am today."

Rees Ready for Khan Fight

Gavin Rees has warned Amir Khan he'll shatter his dreams of world domination - if he dares step up to light-welterweight and fight the Welshman.Rock-solid Rees, 27, will defend his WBA light-welterweight title against Andreas Kotelnik at the CIA, Cardiff, on March 22.And he knows that if he comes through the showdown, a Battle of Britain against Khan could be a possibility towards the end of 2008." Kotelnik is a world class operator, and I know that I'll have to be at my best against him to retain my title," said undefeated Rees." But when I've dealt with him I'll turn my attention to Khan. " I read the other week that he wants to step up to light-welterweight - and I'll be there waiting for him when he does." Once he's faced me he'll be going back down to lightweight pretty quick because I'll smash him to bits." I beat his best mate Souleymane M'Baye on points to win the title, but I'll go one step better against Khan and knock him spark out."Enzo Calzaghe, who trains Rees at his Newbridge gym and has just been installed as Ring Magazine's number one trainer, also fancies the fight against Khan." It would be the easiest night of Gavin's life," said Calzaghe Snr, who has four world champions under his charge " He'll wipe the floor with him. I'd have no hesitation in letting Amir Khan fight my man."Mandatory challenger Kotelink, 30, is one of the best light-welterweights in the world, and has only lost twice in 31 fights, and has never been stopped.An action-packed undercard will see Gary Lockett appear in an international 10-rounder as he aims to keep up the pressure on full WBO champion Kelly Pavlik, while Barrie Jones and Tony Doherty meet in a challenge for the Welsh welterweight title.Top prospects, Kell Brook, Harry Miles, Don Broadhurst and Kerry Hope are all in action.

Maccarinelli Oils Hands for Haye Task

WBO World Cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli has revealed the secret of his sensational KO punching power - he soaks his hands in pure virgin olive oil! Big Mac faces hammer-fisted WBA/WBC World Champion David Haye at the O2 Arena on March 8 in what promises to be one of the most explosive clashes of all time televised live in the UK on Setanta Sports 1 and on Showtime in the US. The 6'4 Swansea fighter may speak with a broad Welsh accent, but his dad Mario hails from Italy, and it is to the Mediterranean that Big Mac has turned in his bid to become the undisputed number one. "When I was an amateur, my dad made me soak my hands regularly in pure virgin olive oil from the hills around his home town of Brescia and I nearly knocked everybody out by the time I got out of a vest and headguard," said the 27-year-old who has halted 21 of his 29 opponents with 16 coming inside three round. He continued, "Originally, It was a tip from one of the old-time boxers from the town who passed it to my dad, who was a boxer in his day, and he then passed it down to me," "After training and fights, I fill a bowl with the olive oil and leave my hands to soak for a while and then give them a good massage," "I thought my dad was having me on when we first tried it, but then I started banging them out one by one so I just kept it up." Maccarinelli is not alone in using eccentric methods to toughen up his hands - the legendary former World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey used to douse his hands in petrol. In preparation for his big showdown against Haye, Mario has been shipping over hundreds of bottles from Brescia. He added, "To be honest I neglected it a bit when I turned professional but have started doing it regularly again. Some of my best KO wins have been as a result of giving my hands a good soaking before the fight like against Marcelo Dominguez. "It makes my hand really supple, and it's probably the reason I never have any problems with hand injuries," "My dad has had quite a few boxes delivered from Italy, they must think we are running a restaurant over here!" "This fight will come down to who lands first and I'm going to be all over Haye like an oil slick right from the first bell." Maccarinelli-Haye heads an explosive card at London's O2 Arena, which also features Kevin Mitchell's British Super-Featherweight title challenge against Carl Johanneson, plus Paul Smith against Cello Renda for the English Middleweight Championship. The action-packed card also features Souleymane M'Baye, Billy Saunders, brothers Liam, Michael and Ryan Walsh, Eddie Corcoran and Denton Vassell.

Froch Back on the Silver Screen

ITV and Hennessy Sports announced that boxing’s WBC super-middleweight world title final eliminator between Carl Froch and Russia’s Denis Inkin will be broadcast live on ITV1 on Saturday March 29th from the Nottingham Arena. British champion and WBC number one challenger, Froch is undefeated in 22 fights and has won 18 by way of knockout. WBC international champion, Inkin is also undefeated in 32 fights and has won 24 by knockout. The winner of the contest will be mandatory challenger to Joe Calzaghe for the WBC world super-middleweight crown. Carl Froch said: “I’m really excited that this fight is going out on prime time ITV1.” “This is the toughest fight of my life: I have a lot of respect for Denis Inkin as he beat me as an amateur in an England v Russia international in 1999. His record speaks for itself and we are the number one and two in our division, so it’s a shoot out for the chance to become the next WBC champion on the world.” Mark Sharman, ITV Director of News and Sport said: “I’m delighted that we have secured live coverage of this exciting world title final eliminator for ITV1. Carl Froch has the potential to become a great world champion and one of the biggest names in the sport. I’m very pleased we can broadcast this crucial fight to a wide audience on terrestrial television.” Mick Hennessy said: “I am extremely proud to be putting this fantastic boxing event together in front of Carl’s excellent home town support”. “This is not only a special night for British sport, it’s also a very special night for Nottingham which has never had a genuine elite world Champion. The WBC is the organisation that has awarded belts to fighting greats like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler – now Nottingham is on the verge of having its very own WBC champion”. The fight will be broadcast on ITV1, live from the Nottingham Arena, with further fights from the under-card broadcast on ITV4. Coverage will also be simulcast on

Cancun Captures Big Fight

The first world heavyweight championship ever staged in Mexico will take place in Cancun’s Plaza de Torros on Saturday, March 8 when World Boxing Council heavyweight champion
Oleg Maskaev makes the second defense of his title against WBC interim heavyweight champion Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter to determine the sole WBC heavyweight champion.The two had been scheduled to meet in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Oct. 6, but a back injury forced Maskaev to pull out of the fight on Sept. 21. The WBC Board of Governors convened on Sept. 24 and voted Peter its interim heavyweight champion. Peter chose to make a title defense on Oct. 6, winning a unanimous decision over Jameel “Big Time” McCline. A tremendous co-featured main event will showcase a second world championship when undefeated World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization lightweight champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz (33-0, 17 KOs), from Houston, Tex., takes on IBF No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger Nate “Galaxxy Warrior” Campbell (31-5-1, 25 KOs), from Jacksonville, Fla. Two domestically non-televised matches have been added to the card including former two-time WBA heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz (42-7-1, 29 KOs), from Chelsea, Mass., squaring off against New York native Jameel “Big Time” McCline (38-8-3, 23 KOs), and former two-time WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo (56-8-1, 48 KOs), from Mexicali, Mexico will meet undefeated Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley (21-0, 11 KOs), from Palm Springs, Calif. Maskaev (34-5, 26 KOs), from Kazakhstan and a U.S. citizen since 2004 with homes in Staten Island, N.Y., and West Sacramento, Calif., is riding a 12-fight winning streak that includes a 12th-round technical knockout over Hasim “The Rock” Rahman to win the WBC heavyweight crown in Las Vegas on Aug. 12, 2006. The Russian-American won many fans that night with a dramatic and gritty final-round stoppage in a fight that was up for grabs. It has been said it takes heart to win the big ones, and Maskaev proved he had the heart of a champion. He landed a devastating left hook that sent Rahman down midway through the final stanza and shortly thereafter finished him off with an unanswered barrage that caused the referee to step in and halt the action during the last minute of the contest. Perseverance has been a model for Maskaev in his career. A Russian amateur star who stopped Vitali Klitschko in the first round, Maskaev turned pro in 1993 but was matched too soon with the likes of Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall and David Tua. He ran his record to a respectable 20-2 before stumbling against Kirk Johnson in 2000, Lance “Mount” Whitaker in 2001 and Corey Sanders in 2002. Many thought it was time for Maskaev to throw in the towel, but he took a year off and came back with a new team and vision, and he hasn’t lost a match in over five years. Maskaev will again face the type of young lion in Peter (29-1, 22 KOs) that has caused him so much trouble in the past. The 26-year-old from Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, now living in Las Vegas, is on the precipice of achieving the success many boxing experts and fans have predicted would come for this heavy-handed knockout artist. Promoter Don King has been telling everyone within earshot that Peter could be the next Tyson (King co-promotes Peter with Duva Boxing), and the Nigerian’s 75-percent knockout percentage backs the claim. His lone loss came by decision in 2005 against Wladimir Klitschko after Peter had knocked him down three times. Peter has now honed his boxing skills to the extent he beat Old School boxing master James “Lights Out” Toney in back-to-back appearances on Sept. 2, 2006, and Jan. 6, 2007—both on 12-round decisions. Those victories made Peter the WBC No. 1-ranked heavyweight and the mandatory challenger to Maskaev. Peter survived a scare from McCline, who agreed to face the Nigerian just two weeks prior to their Oct. 6 meeting. McCline has a history of being dangerous early, having knocked out heavyweight contender Michael Grant in just 43 seconds and dropped then International Boxing Federation champion Chris Byrd early in the second round when they met in 2004. Juan Diaz became the second-youngest fighter to win a world title in the history of the sport in 2004 when, at just age 20, he won the WBA lightweight championship. In the last year, he stopped both Acelino Freitas and Julio Diaz to gain the WBO and IBF belts. A relentless, punishing boxer that burrows forward throwing punches in bunches at all times, Diaz has become one of the most exciting boxers in the sport. When not in the ring, Diaz is a senior at the University of Houston-Downtown who would like to go on to law school someday. In contrast, Nate Campbell didn’t participate in his first professional fight until he was almost 28 years old. A gifted athlete, Campbell learned the tricks of the trade inside the ring. His efforts have resulted in him being named IBF mandatory challenger to Diaz. Campbell has unusually long arms, and it will be interesting to see if his reach advantage can help him find a way to do what nobody has been able to do before him: slow down and defeat the ever-charging Baby Bull. A true working man-boxer, this high-profile fight has afforded Campbell the opportunity to have a sequestered training camp in Miami. At age 35, he wants to make the most of his second world-title appearance.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Movie Stars join Sporting Greats

St.Petersburg will be the focus of the sporting world when the ninth Laureus World Sports Awards, attended by global figures from sport, entertainment and fashion, is staged at the Mariinsky Concert Hall on Monday, February 18. Hollywood legend Dennis Hopper, star of famed 60s’ film Easy Rider, Kyle MacLachlan, from US TV shows Twin Peaks and Desperate Housewives, and Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr, star of the film Jerry Maguire, will be among those flying in for the Awards Ceremony. Among a blue chip collection of sports stars present will be tennis aces Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Russian pole vault legend Yelena Isinbayeva, former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko and brilliant Brazilian footballer Marta. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier annual sports awards honouring the world’s greatest sportsmen and sportswomen, and is broadcast globally to 180 countries. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury, the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport. The Awards Ceremony will open with a special orchestral work chosen by legendary Russian maestro Valery Gergiev, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre. Also performing will be Uliana Lopatkina, principal dancer at the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet. Early names confirmed, including members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, are: Giacomo Agostini Sean Fitzpatrick Franz Klammer Silke Rottenberg Marcus Allen Dawn Fraser Vitali Klitschko Emilio Sanchez-Vicario Natascha Badmann Valery Gergiev Renate Lingor Sarah Storey Mansour Bahrami Cuba Gooding Jr Uliana Lopatkina Mark Spitz Severiano Ballesteros Tanni Grey-Thompson Ronnie Lott Michael Teuber Franz Beckenbauer Bryan Habana Kyle MacLachlan Esther Vergeer Boris Becker Aaron Hadlow Marta Steve Waugh Annabelle Bond Marvin Hagler Percy Montgomery Sergey Bubka Tony Hawk Edwin Moses Nadia Comaneci Dennis Hopper Ilie Nastase Marcel Desailly Mike Horn Alexei Nemov Kapil Dev Miguel Indurain Christine Ohuruogu Daniel Dhers Yelena Isinbayeva Oscar Pistorius Daniel Dias Butch James Morné du Plessis Novak Djokovic Kip Keino Hugo Porta Roger Federer Darren Kenny Steve Rider The spectacular backdrop of St. Petersburg, one of the most historic cities in the world, with its palaces of the tsars, museums, waterways and historic landmarks, promises to ensure one of the most memorable Laureus Awards Ceremonies ever. Over the years St. Petersburg has hosted many important sports events, including the highly successful 1994 Goodwill Games. 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."

Kaymer starts the Year in Style

Martin Kaymer’s outstanding start to 2008 in the ‘Gulf Swing’ has resulted in the talented young German being named The European Tour Golfer of the Month for January. The 23 year old, who ended 2007 as the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, wasted no time in building on his growing reputation by winning his first European Tour title in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, and following that up with second place behind Tiger Woods in the Dubai Desert Classic. Kaymer, who graduated from the European Challenge Tour in 2006, led from start to finish at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to win by four shots from Ryder Cup players Henrik Stenson of Sweden and England’s Lee Westwood. Despite missing the cut in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters Presented by Dolphin Energy, Kaymer bounced back the following week in Dubai to earn second spot behind the World Number One with a closing 66. Having started the calendar year in 77th place in the Official World Ranking, Kaymer now stands just one spot outside a place in the top 20 for the first time. He is currently third on The European Tour Order of Merit with €414,729 (£307,306). Kaymer emerged from a strong list of candidates to be named the January winner, including Australian Adam Scott, who won in Qatar with a blistering final round of 61 at Doha Golf Club. He said: “It is a great honour to receive this award, especially considering that so many players did so well in January. Henrik Stenson has played great and so did Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Lee Westwood.” “This award, coming at the beginning of only my second season on Tour, proves that I am heading in the right direction. I worked really hard over the winter and I am delighted that it is paying off. “Having practiced in the desert in the USA, I was very comfortable coming to Abu Dhabi. I was truly impressed by the event and the country and it felt very fitting that Abu Dhabi would be the place for my first win on The European Tour.” Also considered by the judging panel were Stenson, who finished runner-up in both Abu Dhabi and Qatar and tied for sixth in Dubai; Richard Sterne of South Africa, who won the Joburg Open in his native country, and Swede Daniel Chopra, winner of the Mercedes-Benz Championship on the US PGA Tour. Kaymer is the first monthly winner of The 2008 European Tour Golfer of the Month Awards. The European Tour Golfer of the Year will be selected by a panel from the Association of Golf Writers, Radio and Television at the end of the year.

Monday, February 04, 2008

New Venue for Qualifying School

The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage will have a new home for 2008 when PGA Golf de Catalunya plays host to the six round tournament for the first time from November 13-18. It is the first of a two year deal which will see the tournament also return there in the 2009 season. The venue – on the outskirts of Girona on Spain’s Costa Brava – replaces The San Roque Club in the south of the country which hosted or co-hosted the tournament for 11 of the past 13 years, and becomes the 14th venue in total to stage The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage in this, its 33rd season. PGA Golf de Catalunya is no stranger to top level golf competition having, in the past, staged events such as the 1999 Gene Sarazen World Open won by Thomas Björn, the 2000 Peugeot Open de España claimed by Brian Davis, and the 2001 European Seniors Tour Championship won by Jerry Bruner. For four of the past six years, it has also been used as one of the venues for The European Tour Qualifying School Second Stage. Qualifying School Director Mike Stewart said: “We are delighted PGA Golf de Catalunya will host the Final Stage of this year’s Qualifying School. It has been a superb supporter of the tournament since 2002, and I am sure the players will relish the challenge presented to them as they strive to finish in the top 30 and gain a place on The 2009 European Tour.” PGA Golf de Catalunya features two courses – the Green Course and the Red Course – both of which were designed by two of the most renowned figures in European golf, England’s Neil Coles MBE and Spain’s Angel Gallardo, respectively Chairman and Vice-Chairman of The PGA European Tour Board of Directors. The longer Green Course, opened in June 1999, will play host to four of the six rounds including the last two after the four round cut is made, while the shorter Red Course, opened for play in October 2005, will comprise two of the competitors’ opening four rounds. PGA Golf de Catalunya’s promotion leaves a gap in the Second Stage of the competition which has been filled by Montenmedio Golf and Country Club, near Cadiz, which joins its Spanish counterparts Arcos Gardens, Golf Costa Ballena and Sherry Golf Jerez in hosting the Second Stage from November 5-8, 2008. Completing the roll of newcomers to the competition is the Loch Lomond-owned Dundonald Links near Troon, which becomes the first Scottish course to be part of The European Tour Qualifying School process since it began in 1976. Dundonald Links will join Chart Hills Golf Club in England and Fleesensee Golf and Country Club in Germany in making up the First Stage – Section A from September 9-12, 2008; while The Oxfordshire Golf Club in England, Golf de Moliets in France and Circolo Golf Bogogno in Italy will comprise the First Stage – Section B from September 16-19, 2008. The 2007 European Tour Qualifying School featured 876 competitors in total at the outset drawn from 44 countries, from which the top 30, led by Austria’s Martin Wiegele, eventually gained their cards for The 2008 European Tour at The San Roque Club in November 2007.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Chelsea's My Fair Lady

One of the leading female footballers in the world has joined Chelsea Ladies. Former United States international Lorrie Fair, the youngest member of the US World Cup-winning team in 1999, arrived in London this week to start her Chelsea career. The 29-year-old from California made 123 appearances for the US during a star-studded career as a versatile midfielder or defender, the high point being victory over China in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup Final. Most recently, Fair continued her soccer career playing on a US semi-professional men's team. Fair, who will become Chelsea's first US recruit, said: "I had the opportunity to come to England and play for Chelsea, which was too good to turn down. It is an honour to play for such a great club. "I am here first and foremost to hopefully help the team which has so many good players, and at the same time the challenge of trying to raise the profile of the women's game in England is also a big motivating factor. Those are the two key things that Chelsea and I focused on when we talked about me coming to play. It was about what I could contribute on the pitch." During the US summer tour in July, Fair began working for Chelsea as a US ambassador on the club's community and marketing initiatives in her home country. She has also been an athlete ambassador for Right to Play, Chelsea's Global Charity Partner since 2006. When not on team duty, she will be helping Chelsea's Football in the Community programme particularly encouraging more girls and women to take up the game to improve health, fitness and to tackle childhood obesity. Fair said: "I enjoyed meeting the team out in California last summer and I am a huge supporter of what the club is trying to do by encouraging grass roots development in the UK and throughout the world , and I will be working hard to get more women and girls playing." She will also be staying in contact with Chelsea fans in the US, where women's football has a huge following, through the Chelsea US members site,, contributing a regular blog about her time in England. Chelsea Ladies manager Shaun Gore said: "Lorrie is a great player and an icon in the US. No doubt she will generate a huge amount of exposure for the women's game in this country. Someone of her stature can become a role model for many young aspiring female players in the UK and to help more women and girls participate in sport generally." Chelsea Ladies play in the Women's Premier League where they currently lie sixth. The team has three full and seven youth England internationals. They play their games at the Met Police ground at Imber Court and a list of their upcoming fixtures can be found on Lorrie Fair has been a standout on the soccer field since she was a kid growing up in Los Altos, Calif. While at Los Altos High School in California, Fair led her team to a state championship earning NSCAA all-American and Parade magazine all-American along the way. After a successful high school career, Fair, regarded as the top recruit in the country, received a scholarship to the University of North Carolina. At UNC, she helped her team win the NCAA championship in 1996, 1997 and 1999. At the age of 15, she played on the U.S. U-20 National Team where she participated in the Nordic Cup in Germany. At 17, Fair earned a spot as an alternate on the 1996 gold medal winning Olympic team and secured a full-time spot on the U.S. National Team. Fair had a breakthrough year in 1999 helping the U.S. women's team win their first ever World Cup. Along with being the youngest member of the World Cup Championship team she was selected as U.S. Soccer's Chevrolet Youth Female Athlete of the Year in 1999. Fair went back to UNC after the World Cup to play her senior season and she led the team to another NCAA Championship. Fair played every minute of the 2000 Olympics, anchoring the midfield to help the U.S. earn Silver. Now, with 123 caps and a variety of awards and championships, Fair is considered among the all-time greatest women soccer players. In January 2008, she became the first U.S. recruit for England's Chelsea Football Club Ladies team. Fair has a twin sister, Veronica (Ronnie) Fair who played soccer at Stanford University and shared the field with Lorrie in 1997 during a international appearance against England, marking the first time sisters played together for the U.S. National Team.

Legends from Sport Grace Laureus Awards

St.Petersburg, Russia, will be the focus of the sporting world when it stages the 2008 Laureus World Sports Awards on Monday, February 18, 2008. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury - the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the greatest athletes of today. The Awards will be presented at a globally televised Awards Ceremony staged in the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St.Petersburg. Among the Laureus World Sports Academy members who have already confirmed their presence are: Giacomo Agostini Marcus Allen Severiano Ballesteros Franz Beckenbauer Boris Becker Sergey Bubka Nadia Comaneci Marcel Desailly Kapil Dev Sean Fitzpatrick Dawn Fraser Tanni Grey-Thompson Marvin Hagler Tony Hawk Mike Horn Miguel Indurain Kip Keino Franz Klammer Edwin Moses Robby Naish Ilie Nastase Morné du Plessis Hugo Porta Mark Spitz Steve Waugh Double Olympic gold medallist Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “We are very excited at the prospect of staging the Awards in such an amazing city. St.Petersburg is a superb location for the Awards Ceremony and we are delighted to be going there. We have great names in every category. The nominations reflect the immense strength of sport at the moment. We have had some thrilling world championships this year and a host of terrific individual performances. I congratulate all the nominees and now we look forward to what should be a great Awards Ceremony.” The spectacular backdrop of St.Petersburg, one of the most historic cities in the world, with its palaces of the tsars, museums, waterways and historic landmarks, promises to ensure one of the most memorable Laureus Awards Ceremonies ever. Over the years St.Petersburg has hosted many important sports events, including the highly successful 1994 Goodwill Games. 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." The Laureus World Sports Awards is also pleased to announce the support of Vodafone as a new Global Partner. Vodafone is delighted to be associated with this Awards Ceremony which is known as the premier honours event in the international sporting calendar, recognising high profile sportsmen and sportswomen for their outstanding achievements and contribution to sport. This is a five year agreement, concluding in 2012. "Vodafone is a significant and long-standing supporter of sport sponsorship and we are pleased to be part of an event that celebrates sporting excellence both at a grass roots and elite level," commented David Wheldon, Global Brand Director, Vodafone. The full list of nominees for the 2008 Laureus World Sports Awards is: Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Roger Federer (Switzerland, Tennis), Tyson Gay (US, Athletics), Kaka (Brazil, Football), Michael Phelps (US, Swimming), Kimi Raikkonen (Finland, Motor Racing), Tiger Woods (US, Golf) Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Justine Henin (Belgium, Tennis), Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia, Athletics), Carolina Kluft (Sweden, Athletics), Libby Lenton (Australia, Swimming), Marta (Brazil, Football), Lorena Ochoa (Mexico, Golf) Laureus World Team of the Year AC Milan (Italy, Football), Australia Men’s Cricket Team, Ferrari (Italy, Motor Racing), Germany Women’s Football Team, Iraq Football Team, South African Rugby Team Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Alberto Contador (Spain, Cycling), Novak Djokovic (Serbia, Tennis), Tyson Gay (US, Athletics), Lewis Hamilton (UK, Motor Racing), Oscar Pistorius (South Africa, Athletics), Casey Stoner (Australia, Motor Cycling) Laureus World Comeback of the Year Gt.Britain Rugby League Team (UK), Christine Ohuruogu (UK, Athletics), Paula Radcliffe (UK, Athletics), Jana Rawlinson (Australia, Athletics), Steve Stricker (US, Golf), Jonny Wilkinson (UK, Rugby Union) Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Daniel Dias (Brazil, Swimming), Darren Kenny (UK, Cycling), Sarah Storey (UK, Cycling), Michael Teuber (Germany, Cycling), Esther Vergeer (Netherlands, Wheelchair Tennis) Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Daniel Dhers (Venezuela, BMX), Mick Fanning (Australia, Surfing), Stephanie Gilmore (Australia, Surfing), Aaron Hadlow (UK, Kiteboarding), Shaun White (US, Snowboarding/Skateboarding), Ryan Sheckler (US, Skateboarding) The 2007 Awards Ceremony, held in the presence of His Majesty The King of Spain, was attended by global figures from sport, entertainment, business and fashion. In addition to members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, among the guests present were Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman and popular stars Elisha Cuthbert, Cuba Gooding Jr, Eva Longoria, Kyle MacLachlan and Valeria Mazza.

Warren Wins Arthur-Guzman Purse Bids

Alex Arthur has got his dream super-fight against Joan Guzman for the WBO World Super-Featherweight title.Promoter Frank Warren won the purse bids today (Thursday 31 January) held at the WBO head office in Puerto Rico with a huge US $280,000 bid, beating Guzman's promoters Sycuan Ringside Promotions.A date and venue for the fight will be announced shortly.With Enzo Maccarinelli's explosive cruiserweight unification showdown against David Haye on March 8 and Joe Calzaghe's long awaited light-heavyweight scrap against Bernard Hopkins on April 19, Warren is delighted to add Arthur to the super-fight roster. He said, "This years is looking to be one of the best ever for British boxing in terms of big fights. With Maccarinelli v Haye and Calzaghe v Hopkins in the coming months and now Arthur v Guzman, it is a boxing fans dream. I have done the job of getting Alex the fight on home turf, now it is down to him to do the business in the ring - which I'm sure he will do. It's a big assignment but Alex is a class operator and will be thoroughly prepared on the night."Edinburgh hot-shot Arthur, who holds the Interim title, has been gunning for a showdown against Guzman.The hammer-fisted Dominican Republican is regarded as one the premier fighters in the 130lb division and Arthur is delighted that the fight will be in Scotland.Arthur said, "Frank has done a fantastic job winning the purse bids and securing home advantage for me in this mega-fight against Guzman. With my pals Enzo and Joe involved in massive fights, it's great to join them with a big fight of my own. I'm really, really, excited by the challenge in front of me. It's a chance to prove what I have always believed - that I belong in world class company and will be world champion. It will be a hard task but I'm confident of winning and bringing another world title belt to Great Britain."

Kim is Korea's Golfing King

Rising star Anthony Kim is anticipating an "awesome experience" when he plays his first tournament in Korea - the country of his parents' birth.The brilliant 22-year-old - one of the brightest young talents on the PGA Tour - is among the stellar field for the inaugural Ballantine's Championship in March.Kim has visited Korea previously but has never played in a tournament there.The American-born ace is looking forward to the challenge and is delighted that his proud parents, Paul and Miryoung, will be making the trip with him."It's going to be my first time playing in front of so many Korean fans, although I've had quite a few Koreans following me at tournaments in the US," said Kim."It will be an awesome experience and I'm glad I'm going to get to enjoy it with my parents, who are coming with me."We used to visit Korea once a year for probably 12 or 13 years, but recently we haven't been back so often, so I'm looking forward to heading out there."Kim is particularly relishing the chance to play alongside Korean sporting idol KJ Choi - the world No.8 and a seven-time winner in the US - at the Ballantine's Championship."He's a great player and it's going to be an honour playing with him, especially in Korea," said Kim."He's done what I want to do. I'm sure he's going to keep improving, he's such a hard worker and it's nice to have him as a role model."Choi and Kim are just two of the star names at the Ballantine's Championship, to be played from March 13-16 at Pinx Golf Club on the picturesque island of Jeju.Joining them in the €2 million (US$2.9 million) tournament - the first European Tour event to be held in Korea - will be British Open champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland and World Cup winner Colin Montgomerie of Scotland.Korean star SK Ho - a nine-time winner in Japan - and Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Liang Wenchong of China have also been confirmed.Kim grew up playing golf on courses around his hometown of La Quinta, California, where his parents settled after emigrating to the US in the 1970s.After three years at the University of Oklahoma, he turned professional in August 2006 and made an immediate impact, finishing tied second on his PGA Tour debut at the Valero Texas Open, having got into the starting field on a sponsor exemption.He then earned his PGA Tour card by finishing tied 13th at the Tour Qualifying Tournament, having successfully qualified through all three stages.In 2007, as the youngest rookie on the PGA Tour, he enjoyed a successful first campaign with four more top-10 finishes.After a lengthy winter break, during which he returned to La Quinta from his base in Dallas to work with his coach, he opened 2008 in style by tying for third at the recent Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.That tournament was played in La Quinta and Kim was cheered on by a large group of fans wearing bright yellow "Team AK" tee-shirts."It's unbelievable how much it helps having people support you that way," he said."I've met some people who've really helped me along, not just in my golf but in life in general, and some of those people make up the team. They're personal friends that I've got to know in La Quinta."Kim's friends were not his only fans at the tournament - former British Open champions Mark O'Meara and Justin Leonard were bowled over by his talent."I would say of all the young players I've played with, just like Tiger Woods, Anthony Kim is by far the most talented young player I've seen come along in a long time," O'Meara told reporters."People always ask me, 'Who's the next great young player coming along?' And for a long time, I had a hard time telling you who I saw. But I tell you what, Anthony Kim has serious game."Leonard agreed: "I love his game, and I like the things he's doing off the golf course."Kim's next target is to register his first professional victory, but he is refusing to put too much pressure on himself."I realised last year that it takes more than good golf to win," he said."You need some good breaks to go your way as well, so I'm not going to push it as much as I did last year. I made winning too much of a priority so that if I didn't have a chance to win with nine holes to go, I was pretty discouraged."So my goal this year is to stay patient and keep playing golf the way I know I can and hope for the best results."With his Korean background and outstanding game, Kim is certain to be a crowd favourite at the Ballantine's Championship, which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour, Asian Tour and the Korea PGA.And he is aiming to give the fans plenty to cheer about. "I'm looking forward to being out there and hopefully playing some good golf and putting on a show for them," he said.

ECCO Signs Three Year Deal

The European Challenge Tour has signed a three year extension with Scandinavia’s richest Challenge Tour event, the ECCO Tour Championship. The 2008 edition of the tournament will be played over the Kokkedal Golfklub, Hørsholm, Denmark, from August 28-31. The new three year agreement will see the prize fund for the ECCO Tour Championship rise in €10,000 increments, with the 2008 Championship worth €180,000; the 2009 edition worth €190,000 and the 2010 tournament worth €200,000. Flemming Astrup, Chief Executive of ECCO Tour Championship promoters GolfPromote, said: “To be able to secure the ECCO Tour Championship a place on the Challenge Tour Schedule for the next three years is fantastic news for Danish golf, especially for our young professionals who are looking to gain experience at as high a level as possible before making their way to The European Tour. “We are also looking forward to working with everyone at the outstanding Kokkedal Golfklub to make the 2008 edition of the ECCO Tour Championship the most memorable on record.” Jesper Thuen, Sponsorship Manager of ECCO, said: “As a Danish company, it is important that we support the development of the game in our own country and we believe that, by sponsoring the ECCO Tour Championship, we can help provide a platform for a new generation of Danish players to follow one of the Challenge Tour’s most successful players and one of ECCO’s most important ambassadors, Thomas Björn.” Alain de Soultrait, Director of the European Challenge Tour, said: “We are delighted that the ECCO Tour Championship has extended its commitment to the European Challenge Tour and in particular the development of golf in Denmark. “We would especially like to thank the team at GolfPromote, whose vision is raising the bar for golf not only in Denmark but across Scandinavia. ECCO is a company that strives for excellence in all that they do, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership over the coming seasons.”