Monday, March 31, 2008

King Vision explodes onto the Screen

Promoter Don King has always been one for accomplishing “firsts” in the world of boxing.The world came to St. Louis and now the World’s Greatest Boxing promoter, Don King will be taking St. Louis to the world as he steps into the future and starts his own television network via the internet at King presents a spectacular “Meet Me in St. Louis” championship doubleheader plus several special attractions free to boxing and sports fans worldwide on at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT live from the Scottrade Center. St. Louis boxers Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks and Devon Alexander “The Great” will showcase their talents before their hometown fans in this pioneering extravaganza, “Pride of St. Louis” sponsored by Kelly Oil Co. Inc., Bentley St. Louis, Don King Presents Prizefighter Game on 2K coming June 10th and the Scottrade Center. Spinks is a world champion, who will be joined by two former Heavyweight Champions, father Leon and uncle Michael Spinks ringside. His protégé Alexander is nearing his first world-title fight. The last time Spinks performed in his hometown, the second greatest attendance in boxing history was established as 22,370 fans were part of sold-out history. Spinks (36-4, 11 KOs) will defend his International Boxing Federation junior middleweight championship against IBF mandatory challenger Verno Phillips (41-10-1, 21 KOs) in the main event at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. A second championship fight pitting undefeated World Boxing Council Continental Americas super lightweight champion Devon Alexander “The Great” (14-0, 8 KOs) opposing World Boxing Association FEDELATIN super lightweight champion Miguel Callist (24-6-1, 17 KOs) will also be featured during the four-hour webcast as Col. Bob Sheridan will deliver the blow-by-blow call from ringside. “This is another new and exciting adventure for us,” said Don King. “Like the Gateway to the West, we will be taking St. Louis and this trailblazing fight card worldwide via the internet. Fans will be able to see IBF 154-pount champion Cory Spinks take on Verno Phillips and undefeated 140-pounder Devon Alexander against Miguel Callist. We want as many people as possible to see just how great our technology is, so we’re making four exciting hours of action available free of charge.” "The Internet continues to be a driving force in revolutionizing how sports are consumed," said Brad Rinklin, vice president of marketing, Akamai Technologies. "Akamai is excited to collaborate with to deliver the live streaming for this premiere event, and to help bring this first-of-its-kind Internet channel to the world of boxing." The webcast will not be available in St. Louis where fans can see the event live and in person at Scottrade Center. Spinks is the former undisputed welterweight champion who won the IBF 154-pound crown won in St. Louis on July 8, 2006, when he won a majority decision over Roman Karmazin. Phillips is a former three-time 154-pound world champion, a native of Belize now fighting out of Denver, Colo. In his last appearance, Spinks moved up in weight to face then World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization middleweight champion Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor at the FedEx Forum in Memphis on May 19, 2007. Taylor experienced tremendous difficulty exerting his will over Spinks, who proved he could not only appear against a unified middleweight kingpin, but that he could compete at the weight. He darted within range to land punches and frustrated Taylor with his defensive skills throughout the fight. It was difficult to find agreement on a winner among ringside observers after the fight concluded its 12 rounds. Rarely in boxing history have the disparities been greater between three judges. Dick Flaherty rewarded Spinks for his consummate boxing skills by the wide margin of 117-111. Gale Van Hoy favored the heavier-handed Taylor by the same score of 117-111. Michael Pernick favored Taylor by one round with a score of 115-113 to break the deadlock. The road to retaining his junior middleweight crown will be no easier for the 29-year-old Spinks when facing the veteran Phillips, 38, who has won an impressive three world championships in his career, all at the 154-pound limit. Phillips won his last world title in 2004 but dropped a close decision to Kassim Ouma in his next match. Phillips has won his last three fights, most notably scoring a technical knockout over Teddy Reid and winning a unanimous decision over Juan Carlos Candelo. Alexander has been a child prodigy fighting out of the Spinks camp. He made a significant move up in level of opposition in his last appearance, making a strong statement by winning a lopsided unanimous decision over respected former world champion DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley to win the WBC Continental Americas super lightweight championship. Alexander will be in a championship unification match against Callist, who lives in Colon, Panama. At a just-turned 21, Alexander is believed by many boxing experts to be one of the top prospects in the sport. If he can defeat Callist convincingly, Alexander will edge closer to his first world-title fight. Callist will certainly have the edge in experience. He’s 12 years older at age 33, and he has participated in 31 professional fights to Alexander’s 14. Like Corley, Callist is a southpaw but appears to be on the rise while Corley’s best days are probably behind him. Callist has only lost once in his last seven matches—to undefeated Marcos Rene Maidana in 2006. In his last appearance, he won a unanimous decision in eight rounds over Charlie Navarro on Aug. 16, 2007.

Montgomerie and Warren renew Partnership

Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren, winners of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup last year, are already targeting a sentimental return to China to defend the title after recalling the sense of honour and pride in lifting the prestigious trophy for Scotland for the first time in the event’s 54 year history. The pair did Scotland proud last November when they beat the American team of Heath Slocum and Boo Weekley at the third extra hole of a sudden-death play-off, to secure a first World Cup success for Scotland following six runners-up finishes in the event. Montgomerie is the most prolific British winner in European Tour history with eight Order of Merit titles to his name, and has holed the winning putt in The Ryder Cup and led Scotland to victory in the Alfred Dunhill Cup, but even against all those achievements, the Omega Mission Hills World Cup triumph stands out for him. "I have won all over the world, but that win with Marc was special, particularly as we were representing Scotland,” recalled Montgomerie. “I have won the Alfred Dunhill Cup for Scotland and now the World Cup for Scotland. I really wanted to do that as we had not won the World Cup before so it was a wonderful achievement. “To win the inaugural event is always special. I know the history and tradition of the World Cup and the old Canada Cup is back again but under Omega and Mission Hills it was like a new event and to win the first one was fantastic.” For Warren, the victory over the José Maria Olazábal Course at Mission Hills capped a superb season during which he won his second European Tour event by claiming the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, but even that win in front of his home gallery was overshadowed by the Omega Mission Hills World Cup success. “It’s great to be a world champion,” said Warren. “It’s a great honour. Anytime you represent your country and win an event such as this, it is extremely special. “The reaction back home after we won was incredible. It was the biggest reaction to anything I have won before. It was obviously not just an individual win, but the country going out there and it felt like the whole of Scotland got behind us.” It also made up for the heartache the previous year when Scotland lost out in a play-off against the German pairing of Bernhard Langer and Marcel Siem in Barbados. “We knew we could win having gone so close the year before, losing in a play-off, so perhaps there was an extra bit of determination,” added Warren. “We found ourselves in the same situation and it would have been a difficult pill to swallow for the second time. Coming through was great as we knew how disappointing it was before. I initially didn’t realise how big the event was, but when we finished second in 2006 everyone was talking about the World Cup, so to go out a year later and win was fantastic.” Now both players are already looking ahead to the end of the year, determined to retain their places on the Scottish team and defend their title at the magnificent Mission Hills Resort. “Omega and Mission Hills have given the World Cup a new lease of life,” commented Montgomerie. “They have another 11 years ahead of them, have put a lot of money into it, and that is super. Now it is no longer part of the World Golf Championships, it can be run more individually and Mission Hills is a first class resort, it’s incredible. I am looking forward to playing there again.” Warren was similarly impressed with the fresh impetus generated by Omega and Mission Hills. “The partnership between Mission Hills and Omega is fantastic,” said Warren. “There is no other place like Mission Hills in the world. We stayed in the hotel on site and we were still a 20 minute drive from the golf course which gives you some idea of the scale of things. To have 12 world class golf courses in one resort is quite incredible. And the partnership with Omega, a company with a world class reputation, is very good for the game.” The 2007 Omega Mission Hills World Cup launched a new and exciting era in the history of the event first played in 1953 as the Canada Cup. The event is set to continue through 2018, and most probably beyond, at Mission Hills following the signing of an agreement which brought the prestige watch manufacturer Omega together with the Club which introduced the game of golf to China by first hosting the World Cup in 1995. John Jay Hopkins, the noted Canadian industrialist, brought to reality a dream that golf could promote goodwill between nations with the inaugural World Cup played in Montreal in 1953 then called the Canada Cup and re-titled The World Cup in 1967. The International Federation of PGA Tours will, as custodians, oversee the 54th edition of the event as it unfolds the year of the staging in Beijing of the Olympic Games at which Omega has a unique role as Official Timekeeper.

Portugal attracts Golf's big Hitters

The 2008 Estoril Open de Portugal will see an impressive field that contains 13 Ryder Cup players, six World Cup winners, three PGA Champions, a World Golf Championships winner and a host of European Tour champions - many with specialist knowledge of winning in Portugal - gather at Oitavos Dunes from April 3-6. Included in The Ryder Cup contingent are Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke, winner of two WGC titles, England’s David Howell and Ireland’s Paul McGinley, who holed the winning putt in 2002 at The Belfry. Howell is also one of the three winners of the BMW PGA Championship – The European Tour’s flagship event - along with Scotland’s Scott Drummond (2004) and Spain’s Ignacio Garrido (2003). McGinley, meanwhile, is one of the six World Cup winners in the field but it is Welshman Stephen Dodd who will be particularly looking forward to returning to Portugal having enjoyed the sweet taste of success in the team format by winning the 2005 World Cup in Portugal. He will be joined by the current holder of the World Cup title, Marc Warren, who in partnership with Colin Montgomerie claimed Scotland’s first victory in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China last November, and other World Cup winners Peter Fowler (Australia 1989), Per-Ulrik Johansson (Sweden 1991), McGinley (Ireland 1997) and Marcel Siem (Germany 2006). All will be looking for individual glory when they tee up in the Estoril Open de Portugal. Steve Webster of England has already achieved that individual feat and makes a poignant return to the country where he won an emotional Portugal Masters in October last year. Spain’s Pablo Martin is another relishing the return to Portugal. Twelve months ago he created history by becoming the first amateur to win on The European Tour and he is bidding to emulate England’s Paul Broadhurst by making a successful defence of the title. Others to have enjoyed success on the Portuguese mainland include other past champions Michael Jonzon of Sweden, Gary Orr of Scotland and England’s Steven Richardson while Frenchman Jean-Francois Remesy won the Estoril Open in 1999. Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth has also developed a fondness for Portugal having won last week’s Madeira Islands Open BPI – Portugal and he has now set his sights on a unique Portuguese double. No player has ever won both titles in the same season although England’s Peter Mitchell, the only player to have won both titles, did hold them both at the same time having won in Madeira in 1997 and Portugal in 1998. José-Felipe Lima, who won the 2004 Aa St Omer Open, leads the home challenge at Quinta da Marinha Oitavos Golfe, which will be hosting its third European Tour event and has previously also hosted events on the Seniors Tour, Challenge Tour and Ladies European Tour.

Ginn back in the Swing

Australia’s Stewart Ginn surged through the field to capture his maiden European Seniors Tour title with a two shot win from England’s Nick Job at the first Azores Senior Open. Ginn, who hails from Melbourne but is based in Kuala Lumpur, started the day at Batalha Golf Club five shots off the lead held by Scotland’s Martin Gray, but steadily set about reducing the deficit with five birdies en route to a round of 68. As Gray’s challenge faltered with a glut of bogeys and Job came unstuck with a three putt on the final green when needing a birdie to take the tournament to extra holes, Ginn finally tasted victory after nine years of near misses. The 59 year old said: “It’s about time too. I’ve finished second more times than I can remember, so it was just a case of getting over the line today. Sadly I won’t be able to celebrate properly tonight, because I’ve got to catch an early flight tomorrow. But I’m sure I’ll have a few drinks when I get home.” Job’s round of 71 saw him finish the tournament on three under par, two shots clear of Argentina’s Luis Carbonetti, Seniors Tour debutant Domingo Hospital of Spain, and Italy’s Costantino Rocca.

See Golf's Finest for Free

Golf fans will be able to enjoy the first day’s play in this year’s European Open at The London Golf Club in Kent free of charge – with an opportunity to watch one of the other three rounds at a heavily discounted rate. Following the huge success of a similar initiative in 2006 and 2007, when the event was played at The K Club in Ireland, The European Tour will adopt the same policy on Thursday, July 3 when the 2008 European Open tees off for the first time over the stunning Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage Course. It promises to be an unforgettable experience for spectators living in and around the Capital, who can witness Scotland’s eight-time Order of Merit winner, Colin Montgomerie, launch his defence of the title - the 31st of his illustrious career – over a course located near Brand’s Hatch, less than 30 miles from Central London. to apply for up to two tickets per applicant. Electronic tickets will then be emailed to applicants, incorporating details of how to collect discounted tickets for any one of the subsequent three day’s play. The free Thursday e-tickets can be exchanged at the course on July 3 for tickets for play on Friday, Saturday or Sunday at a cost of £15 each – a saving of £10 on the official daily price on the gate. Senior Citizens (aged 60 and over) will get a reduction from £15 to £5. Montgomerie welcomed the initiative and said: “I am looking forward to defending one of the most prestigious titles on The European Tour at The London Golf Club in July and it is great news that spectators can watch the opening day free of charge. “It’s nice that we have a venue with ‘London’ in the title on the Tour’s International Schedule and I am sure that golf fans in and around the Capital will come along and support us.” Jamie Birkmyre, The European Tour’s Director of Championship Management, said: “Following the success of the innovative scheme we introduced in Ireland in 2006 and 2007, we are delighted to make this tremendous offer to all golf fans who enjoy watching the leading players in action. “The London Golf Club affords easy access to London and the suburban area and is close to the major motorway arteries. The Heritage Course will be a spectacular test for a wonderful celebration of the best in professional golf. This opportunity to come along to see the action free of charge on Thursday and on any other day at a massively discounted price is something no golf fan can afford to miss.” A full-price Adult Season tickets costs £50 if purchased before Sunday, June 22 and £60 on the gate during tournament week. A one-day ticket is priced at £20 if purchased before Sunday, June 22 and £25 on the gate, while for Senior Citizens the charge for a season ticket is £25 in advance and £35 on the gate. Senior day tickets are £10 in advance and £15 on the gate. Entry for Under-16s is free providing they are accompanied by an adult. All public parking is also free of charge. Information on the Free Ticket Offer, Hospitality Packages and opportunities to take part in the pre-tournament Pro-Am event can be located on: or by telephone on The European Tour Ticket Hotline: 0800 0232557. Telephone applicants will receive their ticket information by post.

Madrid to host Challenge Tour event

The Challenge de España will have a new home for the 2008 season when Casino Club de Golf Retamares in Madrid plays host to the event from June 5-8. The venue is not a new one for the Challenge Tour, having played host to the 2007 Open Mahou de Madrid, won by England’s Ben Mason, who chipped in at the final hole to claim the title by a shot from fellow countryman Tim Milford and Alvaro Velasco of Spain. However, the appearance of the course will offer new challenges as a lot of work has been undertaken since last May with the size of many tees increased, fairways reshaped and some 750 trees planted throughout the 18 holes. The clamour to claim the lion’s share of the €140,000 prize fund will be strong for, historically, recent winners have also gone on to succeed quickly on The European Tour. In 2004, José-Filipe Lima triumphed a week before he won the Aa St Omer Open while last year’s champion, Felipe Aguilar of Chile used the victory to help him finish third on the 2007 Challenge Tour Rankings which gave him the springboard to win this season’s Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open in February. Juan Lejarraga, President of Casino Club de Golf Retamares, said: “We are very pleased to renew our acquaintance with the European Challenge Tour, having hosted the Open Mahou de Madrid last season, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming the players who will compete in the Challenge de España. “We have undertaken a lot of work on the golf course over the past 12 months and I am sure it will present a true golfing test come June.” Alain de Soultrait, European Challenge Tour Director, said: “We are very much looking forward to working with everyone at Casino Club de Golf Retamares and we thank them for allowing us the use of their golf course and clubhouse for the week. “Our thanks also go to the Royal Spanish Golf Federation for their continued support and commitment which has greatly helped the task of producing a successful Challenge de España.”

Thaxton rises above Khan's challenge

British lightweight champion Thaxton (Norwich) challenges European lightweight champion Yuri Romanov (Belarus) at the York Hall in Bethnal Green on a Hennessy Sports show on Friday, April 4th. Sky Sports 1 televise the action live from 9.30pm. Thaxton rates Romanov a far more difficult opponent than Martin Kristjansen (Denmark), who Commonwealth champion Khan boxes on Saturday. He said: "Khan has looked at Romanov and me and thought he doesn’t need either of us. I want to be tested and I've asked my promoter Mick Hennessy to get me the toughest fights out there. He has delivered in getting me the fight I wanted and now I will deliver. He lines them up and I knock them down. "Amir is a good kid and is very talented, but what has Kristjansen done? He is nowhere near on the same level as Romanov, who is a much tougher opponent. They are choosing the path they take, rather than taking the toughest fights out there like I am." Romanov has a fearsome record with three wins over British fighters and is ranked No 2 by the WBA. Romanov last fought in Britain two years ago, but his manager Philip Fondu expects him to deliver a better performance than his point’s loss to Graham Earl. He said: "Yuri had been out of the ring for more than a year before fighting Earl so was ring rusty. He was a bit concerned about going the distance but the fight took a lot out of Earl and he hasn't been the same since. "Yuri will be a lot better than he was against Earl. He knocked out Juan Carlos Diaz Melero who was unbeaten and fighting in front of his home fans. The Spanish fans were very shocked by that and then Yuri stopped Tontcho Tontchev and beat Stefano Zoff on points in his last fight, and he is a former world champion. So we expect Yuri to win this fight. "These are the two best lightweights in Europe and Romanov is well known in Britain so it promises to be a good fight."

Smokin Joe to Blow Out Hopkins

Joe Calzaghe says he will have a spartan 36th birthday on Sunday as he continues preparations for his super-fight against Bernard Hopkins on April 19. There will be no cake for the Welshman, who has vowed to instead blow out the candles on Hopkins’ career when they meet at the Planet Hollywood Ring in Las Vegas next month. “ I’ll be spending my birthday in the gym and running up the mountains around my home in South Wales,” said the undisputed super-middleweight king. “ All celebrations are on hold for now, but I’ll get my present on April 19 when I kick Bernard Hopkins’ backside in front of his own fans. “ It will be like all my birthdays coming at once, because once I’ve dealt with Hopkins I’ll cement my position in the States as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. " This is the last flickering flame in his career and I will extinguish it for good on fight night.“ There will only be one place left for Hopkins after this fight – retirement.”Calzaghe is already closing in on the 175-pound light-heavyweight limit with the fight still four weeks away, and claims to be in the shape of his life.“ Those extra seven pounds are making such a difference,” said Calzaghe. “I feel so good at the weight it is unbelievable. “ Hopkins is going to get a nasty shock on April 19 because I’m quicker, sharper and punching harder than ever before. " I spent 10 years struggling to make super-middleweight, but I'm like a new man at 175 pounds. " I've always said I'll be even better at light-heavyweight than 168 pounds, and people are going to see that when I beat Hopkins."

Cortez to referee Calzaghe vs Hopkins

Joe Cortez will be the third man in the ring for the huge Joe Calzaghe-Bernard Hopkins showdown in the Planet Hollywood Ring on April 19 in Las Vegas.The top American referee, famous for his catch line: "I'm fair but I'm firm", has handled 138 world title contests and recently oversaw Ricky Hatton's fight with Floyd Mayweather which saw Cortez controversially deduct a point from the Brit for hitting behind the head.Cortez's last Calzaghe fight was in October 1997 when the Welshman won the WBO World Super-Middleweight title against Chris Eubank. He has only worked one Hopkins fight and that was against Robert Allen in April 2004. Unbeaten Calzaghe is happy with the decision to have Cortez officiate his light-heavyweight super-fight in his US debut and says that the referee won't have to work too hard on the night.Calzaghe said: "I'm delighted that an experienced and well respected referee like Joe Cortez is in charge of our fight but he's going to have very little to do apart from give Hopkins a count to ten,"" I don't do holding and mauling, I come to fight, and Joe is aware of that so I'm sure he will let me get on with my job,"" When Hopkins is getting beat up and his dream team of trainers fuss over who will throw in the towel, at least he knows that Joe will step in and save him."

Witter and Froch make Star Billing

ITV and Hennessy Sports announced that the WBC world light-welterweight title fight between Junior Witter and Timothy Bradley will be broadcast live on ITV1 on the same May 10th bill as Carl Froch’s WBC super-middleweight final eliminator against Denis Inkin. British boxing star Witter will be making his third defence of his WBC world title against his number one WBC mandatory contender, America’s Timothy Bradley. The fight will jointly top a huge night of boxing on ITV1 from the Nottingham Arena alongside Carl Froch’s final eliminator contest against Russia’s Denis Inkin for the chance to become the next WBC super-middleweight champion. The under card, broadcast on ITV4, will include the highly anticipated English title fight between John Murray and John Fewkes. Junior Witter said: “It will be great to showcase my talent in front of a nationwide audience on ITV1; the great British public will now be able to see the fighter who Ricky Hatton is avoiding. I‘m defending my WBC title, the most prestigious belt in boxing. A title Hatton has never been able to win; in fact he got knocked out fighting for the WBC title in his last fight. Mark Sharman, ITV Director of News and Sport said: “We’re delighted to be able to add the Junior Witter fight to the ITV1 bill. Alongside the Froch versus Inkin final eliminator and a great under card, this will be a fantastic night’s boxing live on ITV.” Event Promoter Mick Hennessy said: “This was already a great show, now I feel this is one of the very best events for many a year”. 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

Blues confirm opening game in China

Chelsea FC Chief Executive Peter Kenyon confirmed that the opening game of the Samsung-Chelsea Asia Tour 2008 this summer will be in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
It will be played against the Chinese Super League team Guangzhou Pharmaceutical in the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the 2010 Asian Games, and is currently scheduled for July 23.
Kenyon said: “I am delighted that we are coming to China, and particularly to Guangzhou, for the first time. We have a lot of support here and now we can give our Chinese fans the opportunity to see us play. “Chinese football is developing at a rapid pace and Chelsea wants to play a role in that. We are a major partner in the Vision China grass roots project and are committed to making that a success. “I would like to thank the Chinese FA for their invitation to play here, Mr Liu, the Director General and Party Secretary of Administration of Sport for Guangzhou, for helping with the arrangements and Kito, our match sponsor. “Guangzhou has a well deserved reputation as a sporting city with excellent facilities. Together with our sponsors Samsung and adidas we will be working hard to put on a great show for the fans.” The match is the second of the summer tour to be confirmed following the announcement earlier this week that Chelsea will play a Malaysia Selection, an all-star team of the best players from the Malaysian Super League, currently scheduled for July 29 in Kuala Lumpur. Chelsea’s opponents Guangzhou Pharmaceutical played Manchester United last summer, losing 3-0, and this year were promoted to the Chinese Super League. The city is probably better known to Europeans under its westernised name of Canton and is situated 75 miles from Hong Kong. Chelsea has built a number of significant relationships in China and Asia recently. Last year it became the first major club to sign a partnership with the Asian Football Confederation as the Official Football Development Partner of the confederation’s Vision China grass roots project, part of their larger Vision Asia programme. So far Chelsea has helped launch four of the planned 10 Vision China city leagues, in Chengdu, Nanjing, Wuhan and Qingdao and another is coming soon in Zibo. Chelsea and the Chinese FA have worked closely together before and the club hosted the Chinese Olympic football team for a two-week training camp in the winter of 2007. In addition Chelsea has become the exclusive football club partner of a grass roots talent search in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, where Guangzhou is the capital. The Super Soccer Star television show will be broadcast in the province of Guangdong in April with the four finalists destined to visit Chelsea’s world renowned Academy and Stamford Bridge later in the summer.The club is also a sponsor of the International Football Arena Beijing, the leading independent forum for debate among the game’s leading figures which will take place again on May 23 and 24 in the Chinese capital. The tour will be the first time Chelsea has played in Asia since May 2005 when the opponents were the Suwon Bluewings, the K League team owned by sponsors Samsung.

Chelsea's Asian Summer Tour

Chelsea FC Chief Executive Peter Kenyon confirmed the Samsung-Chelsea Asia Tour 2008 at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Chelsea will take on a Malaysian Selection, an all-star team of the best players from the Malaysian Super League, currently scheduled for July 29 in Kuala Lumpur. Kenyon said: “I am delighted that we are coming to Asia where we have a lot of support and now we can give our fans in this region the opportunity to see us play. Asia is a very important region for world football. The development of football here is making great progress and a strong Asia can only be good for the game globally." “I would like to thank the Asian Football Confederation and the Malaysian FA for their invitation to play here in Kuala Lumpur and we were obviously very happy to accept. Together with our sponsors Samsung and adidas we will be working hard to put on a great show for the fans and also continue our efforts to help promote Asian football from top level to grass roots.” Chelsea has built a number of significant relationships in the region recently. Last year it became the first major club to sign a partnership with the Asian Football Confederation as the Official Football Development Partner of the confederation’s Vision China grass roots project, a key part of the larger Vision Asia programme. So far Chelsea has helped launch four of the planned 10 Vision China city leagues, in Chengdu, Nanjing, Wuhan and Qingdao and another is coming soon in Zibo. It has also agreed to be the exclusive football club partner of a grass roots talent search in southern China. The Super Soccer Star television show will be broadcast in the province of Guangdong in April with the four finalists destined to visit Chelsea’s world renowned Academy and Stamford Bridge later in the summer. The club is also a sponsor of the International Football Arena Beijing, the leading independent forum for debate amongst the game’s leading figures and Chelsea has also had preliminary discussions with All India Football Federation about exploring ways of working together. The tour will be the first time Chelsea has played in Asia since May 2005 when the opponents were the Suwon Bluewings, the K League team owned by sponsors Samsung. Chelsea also took part in the FA Premier League Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur in the summer of 2003.

Glorious Goya Cards Winning Score

Estanislao Goya got his professional career off to a sensational start when, only four months after joining the paid ranks, he won the Abierto Visa del Centro tournament on the European Challenge Tour. The 19 year old beat England’s Gary Boyd at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off at the Cordoba Golf Club after the duo had stormed through the field to tie on 12 under par 272, Goya birdieing four of the last seven holes for a 66 while Boyd went even better with six birdies in his last eight holes for a 65. The duo then returned to the par four 18th hole where a birdie three from the youngster from Cordoba itself was good enough for victory in the event co-sanctioned between the Challenge Tour and the Tour de las Americas. “I have worked very hard for this and I just want to enjoy it," said Goya, who only turned professional four months ago after winning the Tour de las Americas Qualifying School in Florida by nine shots, breaking Johnnie Miller's 32 year old course record at the Bonaventure Country Club with a sparking 61 on his way to victory. "It is a good start to my professional career. It was great to play in the last group of a big event for the first time and hopefully I will be in the same position in other big tournaments in the future," added the Argentine, who became the youngest winner in the tournament's 77 year history and picked up a cheque for €20,716 (£16,140). While the leading duo shared the closing limelight, much of the day’s earlier plaudits went to England’s James Heath who produced some truly sensational golf to post a final round 62 to move from a share of 20th at the start of the day to finish third on ten under par 274. Further down the leader board, reigning US Open Champion Angel Cabrera’s bid to win the title for the fourth consecutive year came up short. Although the 38 year old – who will defend his US Open crown at Torrey Pines in June – equalled his best round of the week with a closing 67 for a six under par total of 278, it was enough only for a share of sixth place.

Major Champions Headline BMW Asian Open

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.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Khan wants Rees in the Ring

Amir Khan is desperate for Gavin Rees to beat Andreas Kotelnik on Saturday night - so he can fight the Welshman next. Unbeaten Rees claimed that he would give the poster boy of British "a pasting" if the pair were to ever meet.The unbeaten Welshman puts his WBA World Light-Welterweight title on the line against Kotelnik at the C.I.A live on Setanta Sports this Saturday. And Khan says he will be cheering him on come fight night. " I've never wanted someone to win a fight so much before," said Khan, who is involved in a WBO World Lightweight title eliminator against Martin Kristjansen at the Bolton Arena on April 5. " I badly want Rees to win so I can shut him up once and for all. " He's been calling me out for a while now, and I'd love to take him on. I'll even come to Cardiff and beat him in front of his own fans. " He's a good champion and is only one weight class higher than me, but I'll happily step up and take him on. I'll be too quick and punch too hard for him. " I want to be a world champion before the end of the year, and Rees is a realistic target. " I'm concentrating on my fight with Martin Kristjansen next month, but Rees has got my juices flowing."

Rees Calls Out Khan

Gavin Rees says he'll give Amir Khan a pasting - after he's dealt with Andreas Kotelnik in Cardiff on Saturday night.The Rock defends his WBA light-welterweight crown at the CIA against his dangerous mandatory challenger, live on Setanta Sports.But he believes he will win - and then go on to wreck the career of Khan later this year." Kotelnik is a good fighter, and I know I'll have my work cut out to beat him," said undefeated Rees, who won the belt against Souleymane M'Baye last summer." But I'm in the shape of my life and ready to go 12 hard rounds against anyone. I don't believe Kotelink can beat me."And the 27-year-old Welshman added that he also fancies a shot at Commonwealth lightweight champion Khan." He's been opening his gob a lot recently, but if he does that when he's near me I'll stick my fist straight in it," said Rees at a public work out today." Khan reckons he's Mr Big, but put him in the ring with me and I'll give him a right good pasting. I really believe I'll smash him to pieces." After I've sent Kotelnik packing I'll be straight on the phone to our promoter Frank Warren begging him to get the Khan fight done, because I'll knock him out in six rounds."

Hopkins Dream Team Against Calzaghe's Dad

While Ol' Bernie Hopkins prepares with his 'Dream Team' of trainers for his super-fight against Joe Calzaghe at the Planet Hollywood Ring on April 19 in Las Vegas, for Calzaghe it will be the same formula that has worked for his entire career: just father and son.Hopkins yesterday revealed his 'Execution Squad' that includes Freddie Roach, Nazim Richardson, John David Jackson and Mackie Shilstone for the Ring Magazine light-heavyweight Championship showdown who he believes will help him inflict the first defeat on the unbeaten Welshman's record.By contrast none of the following specialist are required in the Calzaghe camp: conditioning, southpaw, nutritional, cardiac or confidence. Just one fiery Sardinian taskmaster, Enzo Calzaghe, the Ring Trainer of the Year, and Joe wouldn't have it any other way." That's a relief. I thought Ol' Popkins was going to reveal that he had brought in NASA, the US Army and the ER team to help him out!" laughed Calzaghe." Does it worry me? Of course not. It's the old cliché, it will be just be me and him in the ring on the night and the fact that he has all these people working with him tells you something: he's worried about me,"" Jeff Lacy had the highly respected Dan Birmingham in his corner but look what happened to him," " Poppy's employed all these people to try and figure out how to beat me but if he can't figure it out himself then he's got a problem. There are no big secrets with me, my fights are all out there on DVD and he can get hold of them,"" These are all just mind games from him. He tried to get to me during the media tour but I wasn't bothered by him. I'm a strong character and my own man, I'm not going to fall for his bull,"" Remember, this is the hard guy from Philadelphia who threw a fit because a warehouse was too cold to film a TV commercial in and then sulked off because the producer told him to wear socks!"He added, "It's just been me and my dad since I started boxing when I was 8-years-old. I don't need anybody else and have never wanted to bring in anybody else. It's worked for over 25 years including my amateur and 44 pro fights and in that time I have unified world titles, held the WBO world title into a record eleventh year and made 21 title defences so I'm not going to change now," " All I need for a training camp is my dad, a mountain to run up, clean fresh air, a boxing ring and plenty of sparring parters. That's it plain and simple. No other experts required,"" Ultimately it is down to me what happens in the ring on the night and if I haven't trained properly I will be found out. But I can tell you know now that I have never been more confident preparing for a fight in my career,"" My dad has been putting me through sheer hell in training, absolutely kicking my arse. I know what is in front of me against Hopkins and all I need is my skill, stamina, heart and unbeatable will to win to beat him,"" When's his 10 game plans haven't worked and he's forced into going toe-to-toe in the trenches with me, how is Freddie going to show him he has to use his heart to win? He can't. That's fighting instinct and I'm going to take him somewhere he has never been before,"" I'm telling Hopkins now, don't worry about my dad pulling me out because that situation won't come up. Just make sure you know which one of your 'Dream Team' will have the compassion to throw in the towel when you are getting seriously bust up,"Calzaghe finished by saying: "Come fight night it's just you and me in the ring Bernie, the rest of your team will be safely tucked away in the corner and then we will see how you cope."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur's May Day Mission

Alex Arthur faces the toughest test of his career when he tackles Joan Guzman on May 3 - but is backing massive Edinburgh support to ensure he is victorious.The Scotsman challenges Guzman for the full WBO super-featherweight title, and knows he has got his work cut out against one of the best fighters in the world.But interim WBO champion Arthur, 26-1 (19) says his home fans could be the key to victory, as the super fight goes ahead at the Meadowbank Arena, Edinburgh." With my fans behind me I know I can beat Guzman and prove that I belong at world level," said the 29-year-old Edinburgh ace." Make no mistake, Guzman is a dangerous customer and he fully deserves his reputation as one of the pound for pound greats." The bookies will have me as a pre-fight underdog, but that doesn't bother me - I know I've got the beating of him." I've already been training hard for the fight, and the atmosphere in Edinburgh around fight week is going to be incredible." I've had some wonderful nights at the Meadowbank, and hearing the roar of the fans helped me defeat Steve Foster in December."Arthur, a former European, Commonwealth and British champion, also hit back at disrespectful comments Guzman has been making in the build up to the showdown." He reckons that fighting me will be easy money, but I'm going to give him hell for every single penny he earns," said Arthur." I've never been so fired up for a fight in all my life. It's been my dream to fight the best in the world, and now I've got the chance to prove myself, I'll take it with both hands."Promoter Frank Warren added: "I'm delighted that I have been able to deliver a super fight for Alex in his own backyard, and I'm sure it will be a very special occasion."Born in the Dominican Republic, 31-year-old Guzman is 28-0 (17) and is a former WBO super-bantamweight champion, as well as being the current WBO super-featherweight king.

Grand Slam Winners Back Rees

Wales' Grand Slam winners are backing Gavin Rees to beat Andreas Kotelnik on Saturday night - and bring more glory to Cardiff. The Welsh rugby team made it a clean sweep of the Six Nations when they defeated France at an emotional Millennium Stadium on Saturday afternoon. And the squad are hoping to be present when Rees makes the first defence of his WBA crown against a dangerous mandatory challenger at the C.I.A, Cardiff. Winning captain Ryan Jones said: "Good luck to Gavin from myself and the rest of the Wales team. "Welsh sport has a feel good factor about it at the moment, not least because of our Grand Slam victory last weekend and we are backing Gavin to keep the smile on Welsh faces on Saturday night and defend his title whilst throwing a few 'Grand Slams' of his own." Rees, 27, is hoping to maintain his unbeaten record against Kotelnki following his stunning victory over Souleymane M'Baye last July to land the WBA strap. It was a huge upset - but Rees is determined to prove it was no fluke. "I watched the rugby on Saturday and it was an amazing game," he said. "With the score all square after an hour, it could have gone either way, but the boys showed true Welsh spirit to up trumps. "The atmosphere in South Wales over the last few days has been unbelievable, and I'm aiming to keep up the party spirit with a comprehensive win over Kotelnik."

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Campbell is on Khan's Hit list

Amir Khan has congratualted new lightweight world champion Nate Campbell on beating Juan Diaz - but has warned him he is coming to get his titles. Campbell pulled off a major shock when he out-pointed Diaz in Mexico at the weekend to land the WBC, WBO and WBA crowns. And Khan says he'd be keen on a fight with the top American. "No one gave Campbell much of a chance, so it's a great acheivement to have beaten Diaz and won those belts," said the 21-year-old from Bolton. "But I don't think I'm too far off fighting the likes of Campbell - and hopefully by the end of the year I'll be challenging for the titles."He's a great fighter, but at the end of the day I want to test myself against the best. "I'm improving every day in the gym, and I'm punching much harder now than I was just six months ago. "I just need a little bit more experience and then I'll be ready for anyone in the world. I went 12 hard rounds in my last fight, and that's given loads more confidence." Khan, unbeaten in 16 fights, put on a punch perfect display last time out in taking every round against former world champion Gairy St Clair in a defence of his Commonwealth belt. Next time out he tackles Martin Kristjansen at the Bolton Arena, Bolton, on April 5 in an eliminator for the WBO World title. With Khan already highly ranked by the WBO, and Kristjansen the current number two, victory will see him move a step closer a mandatory shot at either Campbell, or interim WBO champion Michael Katsidis.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rees Ready to Restore Welsh Pride

WBA World Light-Welterweight champion Gavin Rees says Wales will be celebrating an historic double over the next seven days. The 27-year-old is backing the rugby team to win the Grand Slam - and says he'll add to the celebrations by defeating Andreas Kotelnik in the first defence of his WBA title. Undefeated Rees is also determined to put a smile back on the face of team Calzaghe after Enzo Maccarinelli lost to David Haye at the weekend. "I know the whole country will be watching the rugby this Saturday, and I'll be cheering on Wales against France," said Rees, who takes on his mandatory challenger at the C.I.A a week on Saturday. "We're a small country but we can really pack a punch, and people will see that on March 22 when I take on Kotelnik. "He's a classy fighter, but I love testing myself against the best, and I'll go to war if I have to. "I spent years waiting for my opportunity to fight for a world title, and I'm not going to give it up the first time I defend it." The Newbridge-based champion will also be aiming to restore some pride to the Calzaghe camp after Maccarinelli was stopped in two rounds by Haye at the O2 Arena. "I've spoken to Enzo and he is devastated," said Rees. "But I know he'll bounce back from defeat. When I beat Kotelnik it will cheer him up a bit."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pablo Pits His Wits in Portugal

Spain’s Pablo Martin, who created history last year by becoming the first amateur to win on The European Tour, will return to the scene of his greatest triumph when he defends the Estoril Open de Portugal at Oitavos Dunes, Estoril, from April 3-6. Martin is bidding to emulate England’s Paul Broadhurst, who won the title in 2005 and went on to make a successful defence 12 months later. Now Martin, who is no stranger to setting records – he became the first amateur to lead a European Tour event after 54 holes in the 2003 Open de España – has his sights set on retaining the crown he wrested from Broadhurst in such spectacular fashion last year. After his historic victory, Martin remained an amateur until June, when he turned professional before the US Open Championship and went on to finish in a tie for 30th place at Oakmont Country Club. The 21 year old from Malaga is excited about the opportunity to return to Portugal, where his career took off in such spectacular fashion. Looking back on that extraordinary week in Estoril, he recalled: “It was unbelievable. It really changed my life and opened so many doors. “I’m looking forward to going back. I talked to my Dad and brother and they went to Oitavos a few days ago for a little amateur tournament and they were telling me the course is in good shape. It is a great place to go. I am planning on spending some time down there after the tournament as they have a great beach and I like surfing, so I said to my caddie if I play well we will hang around there.” He continued: “It has been great since then, playing and learning so much. I’ve had high moments and low ones, played in some really cool places and travelled a lot. You learn all the time – from the good rounds and the bad – and it is great to be out here. “One of the highlights was playing in the US Open and playing with Sergio Garcia and José Maria Olazábal in front of Tiger (Woods). That was an unbelievable experience. I wish I could have played some better golf over the year but my game is finally getting there and I just have to be patient.” Winning his maiden title in the Estoril Open de Portugal meant Martin could enjoy a head start over many of his contemporaries. He added: “It meant I didn’t have to worry about going to the Qualifying School or anything like that. I had somewhere to play. “I told my coach I wanted to finish that year with Oklahoma State and hopefully I will get to finish my Economics degree in a year or two. I am planning on taking classes online as it is a good qualification to have. I was close to finishing the degree and it would be great to have something else under my belt. “I was there last week spending some time with the guys and my swing coach, Scott Davies, and my strength coach at Oklahoma State.” Oitavos Dunes, a beautiful Arthur Hills-designed course, surrounded by sand dunes on almost every tree-lined hole but exposed to the strong winds, especially in the holes next to the sea, is set to become a firm favourite on The European Tour. “A delegation from the Tour has already visited us this year and the officials were pleased with the quality of the course and with the preparation work we have scheduled until the start of the Estoril Open de Portugal,” said Frederico Champalimaud, the Golf Director at Quinta da Marinha Oitavos Golfe. “I think the course will be presented in better condition than last year, thanks to the intensive maintenance efforts we have done since last year’s Estoril Open de Portugal, and we have also renewed the cart paths in order to protect the greens.” Since it was opened in 2001, Quinta da Marinha Oitavos Golfe has twice hosted The European Tour, the European Seniors Tour and the Challenge Tour, as well as the Ladies European Tour. The three year agreement signed in 2007 with the Junta de Turismo da Costa do Estoril (Estoril Tourism Board), the Portuguese Golf Federation and The European Tour, guarantees that the Estoril Open de Portugal will travel to the Atlantic coastline once again in 2009. Duarte Nobre Guedes, President of the Estoril Coast Tourism Board, said: “This beautiful part of Portugal is growing in popularity as a tourist golf destination thanks to a combination of high quality golf courses, spectacular scenery and a wonderful climate. “We are delighted that many of the world’s leading professional golfers are returning to Estoril to take part in this great tournament at the Oitavos Dunes Golf Club in Quinta de Marinha and welcome them all to the Lisbon area, named Europe’s golf destination of the year 2007.” Manuel Agrellos, President of the Portuguese Golf Federation, said: “We truly believe that the Estoril Open de Portugal will become a very important event on The European Tour as it has been growing strongly over the last few years. “Golf has an extreme impact on the Portuguese economy and the Estoril Open de Portugal is a major promotion for the country which has magnificent weather, golf courses, gastronomy and a very warm people.” Keith Waters, Director of International Policy for The European Tour, praised the Estoril Open de Portugal tradition, saying: “The tournament boasts an impressive history, dating back to 1953, making the title one of the most prestigious on the Continent of Europe.” The Estoril Open de Portugal is one of the three Portuguese events in The 2008 European Tour International Schedule, two weeks after the Madeira Islands Open BPI – Portugal and six months before the Portugal Masters in the Algarve. The trilogy of Portuguese golf tournaments is the highlight of the Portugal Tourism Board’s strategy, outlined last year in co-operation with The European Tour and the Portuguese Golf Federation.

Pyman is Piping Hot

England’s Iain Pyman has set his sights on landing his first European Tour title after clinching victory at the Tusker Kenya Open on the Challenge Tour. The Yorkshireman’s final round of 68 at Nairobi’s Karen Golf Club, for a 12 under par aggregate score of 272, was enough to hold off the challenge of Austria’s Thomas Feyrsinger, who finished three shots back. Overnight leader Daniel Barbetti of Argentina was unable to maintain his momentum, dropping back into a share of fifth place alongside a quartet of Brits: England’s Gary Boyd and Gary Clark, and Scotland’s Scott Henderson and Greig Hutcheon. Pyman’s triumph was the eight of his Challenge Tour career but the 35 year old, who pinpointed a “gutsy” round yesterday as the key to his success, is yet to land a European Tour title. Having recovered from a shaky start to the tournament to take the €28,800 winner’s cheque, Pyman is now confident of acquitting himself well at his next European Tour event, the Madeira Islands Open BPI in Portugal. He said: “It was nice to get the winning feeling back, and hopefully I can now take that form and confidence into the Madeira Open. “After being three over par through six holes on the first day here, winning the tournament was probably the last thing on my mind – I was more worried about just making the cut!
“Obviously after my 63 on the second day, I knew I was in with a chance of winning. But it was probably my gutsy round yesterday, when I didn’t play well at all but still shot one under, which set me up for the win.”Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello and Alexandre Rocha of Brazil were tied for third on seven under par after shooting final day rounds of 67.

Longmuir goes a Long Way

Scotland’s Bill Longmuir will celebrate with drinks on close friend Ian Woosnam’s boat after sailing to victory at the DGM Barbados Open on the European Seniors Tour. A birdie blitz on the back nine helped Longmuir, who was six shots off the lead after the first day, blow away a high class field to register his first victory since The Midas English Seniors Open last August. Despite wet and windy conditions at Royal Westmoreland, the Scot made no fewer than seven birdies - including five in a row from the 13th hole – in a flawless round of golf. His aggregate score of ten under par was enough to see off the English challenge of Bob Cameron and Nick Job, who finished three and four shots behind respectively. Joint overnight leader Delroy Cambridge of Jamaica was a further shot back, whilst Woosnam – who owns a home and has a catamaran moored on the Caribbean island – finished his maiden Seniors Tour event on four under par, after a final round of 71. The Welshman was one of the first to congratulate Longmuir, who automatically shot to the top of the Order of Merit with his victory – the seventh of his Seniors Tour career. Longmuir said: “Luckily I’m not flying back to England until Tuesday, so I’m sure there will be a few drinks sunk between now and then. Hopefully Woosie will join me – I’m sure he won’t need much persuading.”

There's a Brown Guy with a Win

An outstanding two week spell in India which saw him win for the first time on both The European Tour and the Asian Tour has resulted in New Zealander Mark Brown being named as The European Tour Golfer of the Month for February. The 33 year old, who considered quitting professional golf in 2003, proved he had made the right decision to rededicate himself to the game with a sensational end to the month which caught the eye of the judging panel which comprised members of the Association of Golf Writers, as well as journalists from radio and television. Brown’s first victory came in the Sail Open Golf Championship at Jaypee Greens on the Asian Tour where he held off the strong challenge of local favourite Jyoti Randhawa before he outlasted a world class field the following week to win the Johnnie Walker Classic at the DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi. The dual successes helped Brown undertake a meteoric rise up the Official World Golf Ranking to a career high of 64th from 322nd at the start of 2008 and he now occupies the proud position of the highest placed New Zealand golfer on the list. “I joined The European Tour last year as an Affiliate Member and hoped if I could play half decently I could possibly get into the top 115 on the Order of Merit,” he said. “But now to be in the winners’ category, I am still pinching myself. This is a fantastic award and I am very proud of that. “The first win was special as it was my first on Tour but the second, against a field as strong as The European Tour in the Johnnie Walker Classic, was incredible. It has opened a few doors to me so I am looking forward to some new opportunities in the future.” Brown emerged as the panel’s selection from a strong list of contenders, headed by World Number Three Ernie Els, who followed up his tie for sixth place in the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters – his third top ten of The 2008 European Tour season – with his first victory on the US PGA Tour in nearly four years when he came from behind to pip fellow European Tour Member Luke Donald in the Honda Classic. Other winners from the month considered were; India’s SSP Chowrasia, who thrilled the home spectators with his maiden European Tour triumph in the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters; Felipe Aguilar, who became the first Chilean golfer to win on The European Tour when he triumphed in the Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open; and South Africa’s James Kingston who won the Vodacom Championship on his home Sunshine Tour. Brown is the second monthly winner of the 2008 season, the accolade for January having gone to Germany’s Martin Kaymer following his success in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. At the end of the season, all the monthly winners will be considered for the award of European Tour Golfer of the Year.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Woosnam in Barbados for Seniors Tour

Ian Woosnam embarks on a new adventure this week as the expanding European Seniors Tour emerges from its winter slumber with the first event of its 17th season on the Caribbean Island of Barbados. Woosnam, who won the Masters Tournament just a year before the Seniors Tour swung into action for the first time, will have the benefit of local knowledge when he tees up in the unfamiliar role of ‘Tour Rookie’ in the DGM Barbados Open from March 5-7. The season's opening tournament is played at Royal Westmoreland Golf Club, where the man known universally as “Woosie” – who turned 50 on Sunday – has a home. The patriotic Welshman, who will forever be remembered in the Principality and beyond for his historic win at Augusta National in 1991, celebrated his half century with friends on the boat he has moored on the Caribbean Island. But with his competitive fires still burning brightly, Woosnam will now turn his attentions to the more serious business of trying to win golf tournaments – though he will still do so with a smile on his face. Woosnam, whose last European Tour victory came at the World Match Play Championship in 2001, said: “It’s hard work competing against the youngsters these days. You don’t want to wish your life away, but I have been looking forward to this for five years now. The main thing, though, is to enjoy myself because I haven’t really done that in the past few years. “It would be nice to feel I can win again. I don’t know when I last had that feeling. If you don’t feel like you can compete, what is the point? But these guys can play. You can’t just turn up and expect to win.”

Corporate Hospitality for Ryder Cup 2010

Ryder Cup Europe has now finalised plans for corporate hospitality when golf’s greatest team event is held at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, South Wales in September 2010. Co ordinated by Ryder Cup Hospitality 2010 Ltd (RCH2010), the hospitality arm of Ryder Cup Europe LLP, the plans involve the construction of several multi-storey hospitality structures on specially-created sites overlooking the 16th and 17th holes. The Kidwelly Suites adjacent to the 16th fairway and green and the Conwy Club which overlooks the 17th green have panoramic views across almost the entire Twenty Ten course in the picturesque Usk Valley. A four day package from Thursday to Sunday (September 30 - October 3) starts at £38,000 plus VAT for a table of ten guests, with private suites for 30 at £132,000 plus VAT. Hospitality is also available on the two practice days, Tuesday (September 28) and Wednesday (September 29), at just £3,800 plus VAT for a table of ten in the Conwy Club. Packages will include daily Ryder Cup ground admission tickets, breakfast on arrival, Champagne reception, three-course lunch with wine, complimentary bar throughout the day, afternoon tea and an Official Programme. David Watt, Ryder Cup Hospitality Sales Manager, said: “The hospitality areas will provide outstanding views of The Ryder Cup action as it unfolds across The Twenty Ten course. In Ireland in 2006 when the event was played at The K Club, 40,000 people enjoyed bespoke hospitality that matched the incredibly high quality of golf played by both teams. “In such an intoxicating atmosphere of high drama and great theatre it is easy to understand why more and more people see Ryder Cup hospitality as the ‘must- have’ corporate ticket and the best way to entertain top clients. “The level of service is unparalleled and Ryder Cup Europe prides itself on offering the finest quality food and wine to further enhance the whole experience and ensure and exceptional day of sporting entertainment.” The biennial match, which began life in 1927, is recognised as the greatest team contest in the world of golf and attracts a global audience with pictures transmitted into more than three quarters of a billion homes around the world. Unlike any previous Ryder Cup venue, The Twenty Ten course at The Celtic Manor Resort has been built specially to stage the event with the designers creating a truly spectacular layout including a classic three hole finish shaped along a steep hill rising from the beautiful Usk Valley. As The Celtic Manor Resort says: “The Twenty Ten Course is tailor made to challenge the best.” The 16th is an extremely long and demanding par four with deep bunkers on either side of the tight fairway making driving accuracy paramount. The second shot will be played slightly downhill to an angled green protected by some of the deepest bunkers on the course. Above the 16th, built back into the hillside, will be the Kidwelly Suites, a three storey hospitality facility housing Standard Private Suites for 30 as well as Premium Suites for 50 guests along the top tier. The facility will run from an area where the drives of the players will land along to the green offering corporate guests superb views of the approach shots and the action on the green, not to mention the views across the course to the sixth, seventh, 12th and 13th holes. Each suite will be fully lined, carpeted and furnished with heating and/or air-conditioning. A viewing balcony will run along the length of the facility on all three floors offering easy access to view the action on the course. In addition to an all inclusive food and beverage offering of the highest quality, featuring a creative and innovative menu and unrivalled service, each guest will receive a complimentary Official Programme. The 17th is a challenging par three of more than 200 yards across a valley to a heavily defended narrow green. Corporate spectators should enjoy the drama as this pivotal hole could decide the ultimate destination of Samuel Ryder’s golden chalice. The Conwy Club, overlooking the 17th green with views of the fifth green, sixth tee, and out towards the third, seventh and eighth holes, provides alternative hospitality packages for ten guests in a shared restaurant facility. With ample television screens featuring both live coverage and highlight packages every day, as well as a spectator balcony, guests are sure not to miss out on the action as it unfolds. Each facility will be staffed by an experienced team of hospitality managers, hostesses and receptionists to ensure that all guests receive a truly five star experience at The 2010 Ryder Cup. Hospitality packages for The 2010 Ryder Cup go on sale from today Tuesday, March 4, 2008.

Mitchell and Johanneson Ready for Action

Kevin Mitchell promised "fireworks" on Saturday night as he repeatedly clashed today with British super-featherweight champion Carl Johanneson during a conference call.The pair were due to meet on January 12 in London until Johanneson pulled out with a bad back - and unbeaten Mitchell questioned whether that injury was genuine.He said the real reason the Yorkshireman pulled out of the fight was because he was partying too hard." I heard he was out on the piss in Leeds where he lives," said Mitchell, who challenges for the Lonsdale belt at the O2 Arena." I expected to get the call that fight had been called off long before it had happened. I don't accept his apology for withdrawing."That drew an angry reaction from both Johanneson, 29, and his manager Frank Maloney." I'm going to expose you, I'm going to knock you out," was the short and sweet response from Johanneson, a man of few words.Maloney added: "Johanneson is a very professional boxer and he hasn't touched a drop of drink since this fight was announced. " He wanted to go ahead with the fight on January 12, but I made a decision as his manager and trainer to pull him out. I wouldn't have been able to give it his best, but two months down the line he will be able to."Meanwhile Mitchell, the current Commonwealth champion, says that he is ready to step into the spotlight on Saturday night." This is my time," said the 23-year-old, who has served a lengthy apprenticeship in building up a 25-0 record." This fight is coming along at just the right time for me. Johanneson hasn't beaten some good fighters, but he hasn't faced anyone as good as me. " I've had a great training camp and fantastic sparring. I'm really looking forward to bringing the British title back to London. There will be some fireworks at the O2."

Ring Legends to Appear in Cancun

Promoter Don King is pulling out the stops on Saturday to make sure the first heavyweight championship ever staged in Mexico is a star-studded affair. He announced today that boxing legends Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes, Ken Norton, Gerry Cooney, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran and Saoul Mamby will all join him ringside when World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev squares off with WBC interim heavyweight champion Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter on Saturday night at Plaza de Toros in Cancun, Mexico. “I love Mexico and I love the Mexican people so it’s only fitting that some of biggest names in the sport of boxing are here to witness history in Cancun,” King said. “Mexico has contributed some of the best boxers ever to our sport but a world heavyweight championship has never been decided here. “Cancun has fully recovered from the devastation of hurricane Wilma in 2005 and is now a better-than-ever First Class resort destination capable of hosting an event of this magnitude.” King and his posse of ring legends will also take in a second world championship when undefeated World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization lightweight champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz takes on IBF No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger Nate “Galaxxy Warrior” Campbell. Former two-time world champion Jose Luis Castillo will meet undefeated No. 1 contender Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley in a WBC super lightweight elimination bout, and former two-time WBA heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz is in a WBC qualification bout opposing Jameel “Big Time” McCline.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Witter wants Hatton in Cut Price Deal

Junior Witter today declared he would willingly take Ricky Hatton's "peanuts" offer for a May showdown in Manchester. Bradford's WBC light-welterweight world champion hit back after claims that he had rejected the chance to face the Hitman for £100,000. Hatton's manager, dad Ray Hatton, said yesterday they had offered Witter "the highest purse he'd ever had". But it had been turned down and the cash was no longer on the table. But Witter is furious and wants to pin down his deadly rival after years of ducking and diving - saying the fight is his only motivation not the wealth. "This is not about the money - it's personal," he blasted. "The pay-day is not even close to what I was getting for going out to America."I would have got well over twice as much to fight Demetrius Hopkins over there. But I'm prepared to take it just to knock Hatton out for his cheek."It might be all about greed with some people but not me. If that's what they think I'm worth then fine I'll take it just for the chance to finally put Hatton into retirement."Hatton is expected to face Texan Juan Lazcano in his comeback fight after losing to Floyd Mayweather in December. Lazcano has been out of action for a year since a defeat against Vivian Harris, who Witter viciously KO'ed in seven devastating rounds five months ago. Ray Hatton claims a "gentleman's agreement" is in place although Witter's promoter Mick Hennessy understood Lazcano had not signed his contract. Hennessy said: "I spoke to Golden Boy Promotions in the early hours today and they told me that the Lazcano deal was not done yet. "So my understanding is there is no contract signed between the two; the venue is not sorted as of today; HBO (American TV giants) have not confirmed they are covering it and it's not the fight the paying public want to see - which is Witter v Hatton." Junior is happy to jump in and take up their peanuts offer because he isn't greedy." Hennessy claimed Hatton's lawyer Gareth Williams had said that if the fight did ever come off, Witter "would not get a penny over £100,000 because that is all he is worth." Witter's manager John Ingle spoke to both Williams and Ray Hatton today. Williams confirmed that the offer mentioned was for May 24 but Hatton said it was never for that date. "Maybe Floyd Mayweather hit Ricky Hatton that hard even his dad and lawyer are confused," laughed Witter, who is currently warm-weather training in Gran Canaria. Witter was due to defend his title in California next month against Hopkins but that fell through after the American pulled out for no apparent reason. Now he is desperate to take out his frustration on the man he has been stalking throughout his career. Ingle said: "I can understand their reluctance to take the fight because (trainer) Billy Graham's record against us in major contests isn't very good."Alan Bosworth beat Matthew Hatton, Johnny Nelson finished off Carl Thompson's reign as champion and Andrew Facey took Matthew Macklin's unbeaten record." The only major win Billy has got over us was Ricky Hatton against Jon Thaxton. But Thaxton has proved since then that he's not a real light-welter by going back to lightweight. "Ray Hatton says they are tied up for the next 12 months with a deal with HBO, who've got a list of opponents. But how can Junior not be on that list?" We've been told that he is and that's the fight that HBO want to see. It's a travesty if it doesn't happen."

English Open returns to St Mellion

The English Open, a tournament steeped in rich history and tradition, will return to The European Tour International Schedule from 2009 for a minimum of five years at the St Mellion International Resort in Cornwall. Severiano Ballesteros won the inaugural English Open in 1979 and the event quickly developed a strong sense of national identity. Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam, also both winners of Major Championships, Colin Montgomerie - winner of a record eight Order of Merit titles - and more recently, Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, have all triumphed in the event. Clarke won the last English Open to be played in 2002, capturing a record third win in four years. In 2009, the 21st edition will unfold after a seven year break on the spectacular Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at the St Mellion International Resort, which is currently being extensively remodelled. St Mellion is not new to The European Tour International Schedule – the Benson and Hedges International Open (seven times) and The Players’ Championship of Europe (twice) have been played at the venue – but in 2009 the players will face a revised challenge in considerably revamped surroundings. Crown Golf, the UK’s largest golf course owner/operator, counts the St Mellion International Resort as the most prestigious venue among its 33-strong group of golf clubs. The operator recently announced a £100 million redevelopment plan at St Mellion, including a new 80-bedroom, four star-standard hotel, 265 golf homes and refurbished resort facilities in addition to the work already in progress on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course. John Weir, Chief Operating Officer of Crown Golf, said: “We are extremely excited at securing this long-term contract to bring European Tour golf to our flagship venue and are delighted to be able to make the news public. We look forward to confirming the exact date of The European Tour’s return to the St Mellion International Resort when the 2009 schedule is finalised. “High visibility professional tournament golf is vital to our plans and The English Open is a famous title which befits our iconic Cornish venue. Our brand new landmark hotel will provide outstanding accommodation at the event and the superb Jack Nicklaus Signature Course will have an improved irrigation system plus tees, greens and bunkers all enhanced to meet the standards demanded by The European Tour.” George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “St Mellion is a familiar name to our Members and The English Open has a tradition of producing great champions – Seve Ballesteros won the first edition in 1979 just two weeks before he captured The Open Championship. “We believe it is the ideal partnership to bring the St Mellion International Resort and The English Open together and we are delighted to be returning to this wonderful part of the English countryside with the opportunity of providing a major tourism initiative to further enhance Cornwall’s profile as a beautiful, high quality destination. “We look forward to Cornwall, Devon and the South West region as a whole welcoming Tour competition back to the area and we congratulate Crown Golf on their re-development of the St Mellion International Resort where we look forward to staging an English Open that will give golf fans top entertainment.”

No Hiding Place for Haye

Enzo Maccarinelli has warned David Haye there will be no hiding place on Saturday night - as the WBA/WBC cruiserweight champion continues to show signs of paranoia in the build up to Saturday night. It is rumoured that The Hayemaker was regularly changing gyms and hotels in the States to avoid being spied on in training. And he has declined to reveal where a press event will take place tomorrow until the very last minute to avoid giving secrets away. It mirrors similar behaviour in Florida, where he wouldn't tell journalists where to meet him until the day of scheduled interviews. "It sounds as if Haye is running scared - but there'll be no hiding place on Saturday night," said WBO boss Maccarinelli. "To be honest I don't need to spy on Haye because I know exactly how to beat him, and have done for ages. "Don't get me wrong, he's a great champion and I've got a lot of respect for him, but there's only one winner in this fight and that's me." Maccarinelli and Haye clash at the O2 Arena, London, on March 8 in one of the biggest domestic showdowns for years.

St Louis Showdown for Spinks and Alexander

Promoter Don King will present a championship doubleheader featuring St. Louis boxers Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks and Devon Alexander “The Great” at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on March 27. Spinks is a world champion and his protégé Alexander is nearing his first world-title fight. Spinks (36-4, 11 KOs) is the reigning International Boxing Federation junior middleweight champion and will face former three-time 154-pound world champion and current IBF mandatory challenger Verno Phillips (41-11-1), a native of Belize now fighting out of Denver, Colo. The undefeated Alexander (14-0, 8 KOs), the World Boxing Council Continental Americas super lightweight champion, will be in a championship unification match against World Boxing Association FEDELATIN super lightweight champion Miguel Callist (24-6-1, 17 KOs), from Colon, Panama. “It’s the best of the old and the best of the new, and the best part of all is it’s taking place in The Lou,” the ever-ebullient King said, using the local vernacular. “Cory and Devon are the pride of St. Louis. They roam the world in pursuit of riches, greatness and championships but they always come back home to ol’ St. Lou. That’s why I’m calling this fight “Pride of St. Louis” because that’s what they are.” Spinks is the former undisputed welterweight champion who currently holds the IBF 154-pound crown won in St. Louis on July 8, 2006, when he won a majority decision over Roman Karmazin. In his last appearance, Spinks moved up in weight to face then World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization middleweight champion Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor at the FedEx Forum in Memphis on May 19, 2007. Taylor experienced tremendous difficulty exerting his will over Spinks, who proved he could not only appear against a unified middleweight kingpin, but that he could compete at the weight. He darted within range to land punches and frustrated Taylor with his defensive skills throughout the fight. It was difficult to find agreement on a winner among ringside observers after the fight concluded its 12 rounds. Rarely in boxing history have the disparities been greater between three judges. Dick Flaherty rewarded Spinks for his consummate boxing skills by the wide margin of 117-111. Gale Van Hoy favored the heavier-handed Taylor by the same score of 117-111. Michael Pernick favored Taylor by one round with a score of 115-113 to break the deadlock.The road to retaining his junior middleweight crown will be no easier for the 29-year-old Spinks when facing the veteran Phillips, 38, who has won an impressive three world championships in his career, all at the 154-pound limit. Phillips won his last world title in 2004 but dropped a close decision to Kassim Ouma in his next match. In his next contest on June 18, 2005, Phillips came tantalizingly close to upsetting Ike “Bazooka” Quartey. Phillips landed a left hook in round nine that Quartey would later describe as “a perfect shot” that left the Ghanaian legend in serious trouble. Phillips pursued Quartey and was able to send him to the mat again at the end of the round, but the knockdown was controversially ruled a slip. Even though Phillips was unable to stop Quartey when he had him hurt, if his second knockdown been counted the fight would have been ruled a draw as two judges scored the match in favor of Quartey by identical scores of 95-94. Phillips has won his last three fights, most notably scoring a technical knockout over Teddy Reid and winning a unanimous decision over Juan Carlos Candelo. Alexander has been a child prodigy fighting out of the Spinks camp. He made a significant move up in level of opposition in his last appearance, making a strong statement by winning a lopsided unanimous decision over respected former world champion DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley to win the WBC Continental Americas super lightweight championship. At a just-turned 21, Alexander is believed by many boxing experts to be one of the top prospects in the sport. If he can defeat Callist convincingly, Alexander will edge closer to his first world-title fight. Callist will certainly have the edge in experience. He’s 12 years older at age 33, and he has participated in 31 professional fights to Alexander’s 14. Like Corley, Callist is a southpaw but appears to be on the rise while Corley’s best days are probably behind him. Callist has only lost once in his last seven matches—to undefeated Marcos Rene Maidana in 2006. In his last appearance, he won a unanimous decision in eight rounds over Charlie Navarro on Aug. 16, 2007.

Chelsea's Chinese Vision

Chelsea Football Club has agreed to be the exclusive football club partner of a grass roots talent search in southern China. The Super Soccer Star television show will be broadcast in the province of Guangdong in April with the four finalists destined to visit Chelsea FC's world renowned Academy and Stamford Bridge later in the summer.The show will be televised on the Guangdong TV Sports Channel, one of China's largest regional broadcasters. Soccer schools and coaches across the Guangdong province will send their most promising 14-16 year old players to participate in the selection process over the 13 episodes of the show. The tests by which participants are judged are based on those used at the Chelsea Academy. The club’s name and brand will be promoted on air and in conjunction with the naming of the show. Chelsea's involvement is the latest club project in China designed to promote grass roots football in the country. Chelsea is already the official football development partner of the Asian Football Confederation's Vision China project that aims to set up 10 city leagues in China.Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon said: "We are delighted to be involved in such an innovative project that helps us deliver on our continuing commitment to promote grass roots football amongst youngsters in China. "The show complements our involvement in Vision China with the AFC as well as showcasing Chelsea to a large audience and we look forward to hosting the finalists of Super Soccer Star in England." The Guangdong TV Sports Channel broadcasts across the Guangdong province to its 12 major cities and also certain parts of neighbouring provinces Guangxi and Zhongxing reaching a total of 50 million estimated viewers. The channel is also one of the official broadcasting partners of the FA Premier League in China. The Super Soccer Star Show, which is co-produced by British company Galleon plc, will provide a mix of football and entertainment as well as interactive content for viewers. The show aims to promote football skills and fitness across the 14-16 age group and will appeal to family peak-time viewing.