Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Poulter relys on a Wildcard to Ryder Cup

Ian Poulter has this afternoon advised The European Tour of his decision to withdraw from The Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. This decision has not been taken lightly as it was Ian’s last opportunity to qualify for The Ryder Cup in his own right. However having missed the cut in the first FedEx play-off event last week in New York, playing Gleneagles rather than Boston this week would mean he would be unable to qualify for the final two FedEx Cup playoff events, the BMW Championship and The Tour Championship. Poulter issued the following statement: “It has been an extremely difficult decision to take given my burning desire to represent Europe again in defending The Ryder Cup in the United States. “But the fact that Boston this week is my only opportunity to qualify for the final two play-off events as well as being my final opportunity to play my 15 events on the US PGA Tour conflicts with my ambition to play Gleneagles and earn my spot in the Team. I have called Nick Faldo and told him of my decision and hope that my performance so far this year will earn one of his two wildcard picks.“The Captain’s picks are a nightmare, and not a position I would have wanted, where I need one, but we do know that Nick will do the right thing and I will be playing as hard as I can this week to add to my year and hopefully earn one.”

Nike make King a voice on Tennis

Nike has invited the promoter of the people, Don King, to join them in creating a significant campaign to bring all the people to bear witness to the two greatest tennis players in the world—No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 2-ranked Roger Federer—and for them to reach even greater fame and acclaim at New York’s annual U.S. Open Tennis Championships. They have dubbed the players’ potential Open showdown “The Grapple in the Apple” and believe they can help expose Nadal and Federer to all of the people, from the masses to the classes. “This rivalry is unrivaled in mankind, history in the making,” King said. It is an irresistible force against and immovable object, and something has got to give—and give it will at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in New York. I guarantee you it will be a September to remember.” The 2008 U.S. Open—one of four Grand Slam events in tennis each year—begins today and runs through Sept. 7 in Flushing, N.Y., and Nike felt the indefatigable boxing promoter (who turned 77 last week) would be the perfect person to join them to help bring the players’ exquisite brand of athleticism to the largest audience possible. King will serve as a creative partner and a voice for the promotion. Nike is working with longtime creative agency Wieden & Kennedy and Don King Productions. “We worked with Wieden to develop the Don King idea,” Nike Vice President of U.S. Brand Management Ken Dice said. “When we brought Don in, we restructured our original idea around some of his insights. “How often do we bring in a third creative partner to the table with a veteran marketing agency and shake things up by saying, ‘Hey, we have this idea and we think you can help us.’ And Nike has always been about collaboration with its athletes, so we brought in a promotional expert to help promote the U.S. Open and this rivalry in a way that maybe we haven’t done in a very long time.” Newspaper advertisements, taxi toppers, mobile billboards and two “First Amendment Ad Vans”—one for Federer and one for Nadal—launched the campaign in New York City as did a Thursday press conference hosted by King, where he regaled the tennis stars and assembled media with his soaring oratory. Nadal and Federer sat on a dais separated by King, enjoying their first experience of listening to the legendary promoter describe them to the audience. They seemed to genuinely appreciate King’s enthusiastic pronouncements about their tennis prowess—not to mention snappy one-liners and rhymes that left both the players and the assembled New York media howling in laughter. “I know Rafa and Roger ain’t no kin, so they can bend,” King quipped. “Don’t let the smiles and embraces fool you. These two want nothing more than to walk off with the 2008 U.S. Open championship, and there will only be one man that does that. Will it be Rafa, or will it be Roger?” Federer and Nadal have created a tremendous rivalry on the court over the last five years—while remaining good friends off the court—and their recent, epic four-hour, five-set finals meeting at Wimbledon was so tremendous that many have proclaimed it the best tennis match ever played. The two tennis greats have made it to the final match in the two most recent Grand Slam events, and if they make it to the finals at this year’s U.S. Open, the hope is to bring on added attention to them and their hoped-for showdown at Arthur Ashe Stadium main court on Sept. 7 that millions more would be watching on television around the world. Nike, like King, has long been known for their vision, creative thinking, innovative and imaginative marketing approach. With Nike’s collaborative efforts in the design of its products—and King’s pioneering trailblazer initiative—it made for a natural marketing combination. Nike inviting Don King to help make as many people as possible aware of these two phenomenal athletes was a perfect fit with Nadal and Federer at the top of their games, making tennis history with each meeting. King said the marketing plan was put together in what he called, “Creative Mental Ecstasy. It was a great exchange of ideas. Working together works. This is a great example of two entities creating something even greater for the benefit of the people.”

Benson gets a Boost

England’s Seve Benson moved one step closer to The European Tour after securing his second Challenge Tour victory courtesy of a nail-biting play-off victory at the Ypsilon Golf Challenge by Alex Cejka. In torrential rain at Ypsilon Golf Resort in Liberec, the Czech Republic, Benson compiled a battling round of 70 to finish on 16 under par, level with overnight leader Rafael Cabrera Bello of Spain and South Africa’s Branden Grace, whose 64 was quite astonishing in the circumstances. After Grace had fallen at the second play-off hole, which both Benson and Cabrera Bello birdied, the Englishman saw off the Spaniard with another birdie on the third extra hole to take the title and claim a winner’s cheque for €28,800. That saw him leapfrog compatriot David Horsey at the top of the Challenge Tour Rankings and, with only eight events of the season remaining, all but guaranteed the 21 year old a place on The European Tour next season. Benson, whose maiden Challenge Tour victory came at the Piemonte Open, said: “I’m itching to get onto The European Tour now. It’d be great to win three times on the Challenge Tour and go straight onto the Tour, but if not then hopefully I’ll go there next season as the winner of the Challenge Tour. I’m absolutely over the moon.” Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin finished one shot back in a tie for fourth with Portugal’s Ricardo Santos after three putting the final green for a costly bogey.

Khan congratulates DeGale

Amir Khan has congratulated James DeGale for his fantastic achievement on winning Olympic gold and the GB boxing team on their greatest medal haul in over 50 years. Khan, silver medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics, watched on TV the progress of the battling Brits in Beijing and sat riveted to the screen as DeGale conquered dirty Cuban Emilio Correa Bayeaux - who sank his teeth into the Londoner in the opening round. The Bolton star, who is preparing for his big fight next month against Breidis Prescott in Manchester, said, "Firstly, I send my congratulations to James DeGale on his magnificent achievement to become the Olympic Champion. He has done himself and Great Britain proud and I'm so happy for him. What he has done will change the course of his life. He will probably still be in dreamland for a while and it might not have sunk what he has done yet." He added, "I did my training session early so that I could watch DeGale in his final bout. I couldn't believe it when Correa bit Degale but it was a desperate move as he was five points behind. The bout was very close until the end but Degale showed his class and overcame a difficult opponent to win the greatest achievement in the amateur sport," Khan was the only GB boxing representative at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the nation were glued to their TV screens as they watched the heroic exploits of the then 17-year-old. In Beijing there were eight representatives - seven after Frankie Gavin failed to make weight - and they had their most successful team since the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He said, "I've been watching and supporting all the lads on TV whenever they have been boxing - I would have been in Beijing cheering them on if I wasn't training for my September 6 fight - and I thought all the guys were tremendous out there," "Tony Jeffries and David Price did fantastically well to win bronze medals and I send my congratulations to those guys for their superb performances. And also a big congratulations to Billy Joe Saunders, Bradley Saunders, Joe Murray and Khalid Yafai - even though they didn't win medals the experience would have done them the world of good and will stand them in good stead for the future. "Obviously I was disappointed when top prospect Frankie Gavin couldn't go and who knows what he could have achieved had he competed."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Warren's Forthcoming Fight Promotions

Promoter Frank Warren has released his forthcoming schedule of shows following the major announcement last week confirming that Warren has joined Britain's premier sports broadcaster Sky:Saturday 6 September - M.E.N Arena, Manchester - Sky Box OfficeBritish superstar Amir Khan gets the new season off with a bang on Saturday 6 September when he debuts on Sky Box Office.Khan makes a risky defence of his WBO Intercontinental title against dynamite punching Colombian Breidis Prescott who has 17 knockouts in 19 fights.The Bolton star also makes his grand entrance into the M.E.N Arena where the modern greats of British boxing like Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton and Nigel Benn have all fought.WBO World Super-Featherweight Champion Alex Arthur's defence against Nicky Cook headlines the show with a further three big title fights featuring Paul Smith (English Middleweight Championship) and Femi Fehintola v Stephen Foster Jnr (English Super-Featherweight Championship).On the undercard 2000 Olympic Champion Audley Harrison, Matthew Macklin, Matthew Hall, Stephen Bell, Anthony Crolla, Denton Vassell, Tony Bellew and Steven Smith are all in action.Friday 12 September - Grosvenor House, London - Sky SportsAnthony Small headlines Frank Warren's Fourth Annual DebRA charity dinner on September 12, at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.The three previous events have raised a combined total in excess of £1million, and have been attended by the stars of stage, screen and sport.In a special UK v USA fight card, Small will take on former Contender star Freddie Curiel.Top heavyweight prospect Derek Chisora will box over eight rounds, while 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medalists Jamie Cox and Kenny Anderson fight in six rounders.The money raised will help promote research into the cause, nature, treatment and cure of the agonising skin genetic disorder Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) - often referred to by the medical profession as the worst and least publicised condition in the world. Friday 26 September - York Hall, Bethnal Green - Sky SportsNewly crowned British Super-Bantamweight Champion Matthew Marsh makes the first defence of his title against Rocky Dean backed up by a top quality under featuring Tommy Saunders, Grant Skehill, Eddie Corcoran, Vinny Mitchell and the undefeated Walsh brothers: Liam, Michael and Ryan.Friday 10 October - Everton Park Sports Centre, Liverpool - Sky SportsBritish and Commonwealth Light-Heavyweight Champion Dean Francis defends his titles against undefeated prospect Nathan Cleverley. The undercard features Paul Smith, Denton Vassell, Tony Bellew, Joe Selkirk, Steven Smith, Craig Lyon and the pro-debut of Liam Smith (brother of Paul and Steven).Friday 31 October - Aston Events Centre - Birmingham - Sky SportsBritish Welterweight Champion Kell Brook makes the first defence of his title against former Champion Kevin McIntyre. On the undercard are Birmingham stars Matthew Macklin, Don Broadhurst and Thomas Costello plus the pro debuts of Mo Nasir and Tarik Quaddas.

Rubio keeps tight reign on Khan

Amir Khan's new trainer Jorge Rubio has urged caution ahead of his clash withpower-puncher Breidis Prescott on September 6 live and exclusive on Sky BoxOffice.Rubio, who will be in Khan's corner for the first time at the M.E.N Arena,insists that his charge is good enough to be a world champion.But he says the WBO number two and WBC number five does not need to be rushed.Khan, 21, will be taking part in just his 19th professional fight when he facesbig punching Prescott."Amir will be ready for a world title in three or fights," saidcautious Rubio."At that point he will beat one of the world champions, but I stillwouldn't put him in with the likes of Manny Pacquiao."But in a year to 18 month's time he will be ready for anybody. He has asmuch natural talent as anyone I have worked with, he has all the tools to makeit to the top. He is a very exciting fighter."The night of boxing will be available to Sky digital subscribers for £14.95 onSky Box Office channel 743 and in high definition on channel 753. It can be ordered by pressing the red button on the Sky remote handset - there is a £1booking fee for any orders made by phone. For further information and to orderthe event, viewers can call: 08442 410 888Tickets for 2 Hot 2 Handle, priced at £30, £40, £50, £100, £150 and £200, areavailable from www.frankwarren.tv and the following outlets:M.E.N Ticketmaster0870 190 8000www.men-arena.comBWFC0871 871 2932khantickets@bwfc.co.ukKhan Boxing01204 535 332www.amirkhan-boxing.comSee Tickets0871 220 0260www.seetickets.comTicket Factory0871 945 6000www.ticketfactory.co.uk

Tarratt in the hot seat

The European Tour is delighted to announce that Nick Tarratt has been appointed as Director of The European Tour International Office in Dubai. The 49 year old Englishman – who became well known to European Tour Members through his staging of the Dubai Desert Classic in the 1990s – will head up the purpose-built facility which is situated at the main entrance to Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai’s leading residential golf development. The Office will open to coincide with the first US$10 million Dubai World Championship on the Greg Norman-designed Earth Course from November 19-22, 2009, which will be the final counting event in the inaugural Race to Dubai. It will include The European Tour Performance Institute, providing a unique base for European Tour Members to practice and train at any time of year as well as a state-of-the-art fitness and physiotherapy service, and will act as a focal point for the Tour’s increasingly global schedule. “I am very excited with this new role,” said Tarratt, who has been steeped in golf administration for the past 25 years “To be involved in pioneer projects such as the Dubai World Championship and The Race to Dubai as well as helping establish The European Tour International Office will be an enjoyable challenge. I have lived in Dubai for over a third of my life and look forward to working with our partners here, in the UAE and in the region as a whole.” Tarratt joined the Professional Golfers Association at The Belfry in 1983 and was involved in the staging of The 1985 Ryder Cup there as well as several other PGA and European Tour events before becoming involved in the running of the Bell’s Scottish Open at Gleneagles in the late 1980s. He moved to Dubai in 1990 to work at the Emirates Golf Club before setting up the Dubai Golf and Racing Club, home to the Dubai World Cup – the world’s richest horse race. In 1996 he was appointed General Manager of the UAE Golf Association where his responsibilities included overseeing the running of the Dubai Desert Classic before he undertook a two year sabbatical in Egypt and a return to Dubai in 2004 for a role as Golf Advisor for Emaar Properties. Keith Waters, Director of International Policy for The European Tour, said: “We are delighted to welcome Nick Tarratt as Director of our International Office. He has vast experience in the world of golf as well as intimate knowledge of Dubai and the workings of the UAE and is unquestionably the ideal person to head up this new and exciting chapter in the history of The European Tour.”

Campbell to defend title against Guzman

Flashy boxer Nate “The Galaxxy Warrior” Campbell will make the first defense of his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Organization and World Boxing Association lightweight titles against undefeated two-division world champion Joan “Sycuan Warrior” Guzman on Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Beau Rivage Theatre in Biloxi, Miss. Campbell (32-5-1, 25 KOs), from Jacksonville, Fla., picked up his titles in a tremendous upset over previously undefeated unified lightweight champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz. Campbell outgunned and battered the previously unbeaten Diaz in his most recent appearance on March 8 in Cancun, Mexico. He won the fight by split decision but clearly dominated his opponent. An International Boxing Federation bantamweight championship will be on the card with champion Joseph King Kong Agbeko (25-1, 22 KOs), from Accra, Ghana, making his first defense against No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger William “Chirizo” Gonzalez (21-2, 19 KOs), from Managua, Nicaragua. A World Boxing Council featherweight championship elimination bout will also be showcased with No. 1-ranked Hector Velasquez (50-11-2, 35 KOs), from Tijuana, Mexico, against No. 2-ranked Elio “The Kid” Rojas (19-1, 13 KOs), from the Dominican Republic, now fighting out of Brooklyn, N.Y. The winner becomes the WBC featherweight mandatory challenger, guaranteeing a title shot. The event is being promoted by Don King Productions in association with Beau Rivage. The Campbell vs. Guzman main event will be presented in association with One Punch Productions and will also be televised live on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing beginning at 9 p.m. ET/PT/8 p.m. CT (delayed on the West Coast). Ticket prices are $39.95, $69.95, $89.95 and $299.95 plus tax and service charge and can be purchased at the Beau Rivage Box Office or by calling 888.566.7469 (9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily).. Beau Rivage room reservations can be made by calling 888.567.6667 or visiting www.beaurivage.com. At age 36, Campbell finds himself in possession of three world titles and great interest from the likes of the never-before-beaten Guzman—already a champion at the 122- and 130-pound limits, who would like to take away what Campbell has recently won at the 135-pound limit. Guzman (28-0, 17 KOs), from the Dominican Republic now residing in Brooklyn, N.Y., was scheduled to defend his WBO junior lightweight crown against Alex Arthur on May 3 in Arthur’s home country of Scotland. When Arthur insisted on a later date, Guzman opted to move up to lightweight to challenge Campbell. (Guzman also previously held the WBO junior featherweight championship.) The clash pits Campbell’s relentless and punishing style against the savvy, agile and rabbit-quick Guzman. Campbell is known for having some of the heaviest hands in the division, while Guzman is a defensive wizard who rarely gets hit and can also dish out serious punishment. As if three world titles being on the line were not enough intrigue for one match, a personal rivalry has been brewing with a war of words between the two spilling into the press. The firestorm started after Guzman castigated Campbell after photos of his recent wedding began to appear on boxing Web sites. “Everyone has seen the picture of Nate and his wife in their cute, white wedding outfits,” Guzman said. “I hope they’re enjoying their honeymoon because Nate’s honeymoon at the top of the lightweight division is going to end once he fights me.” “I think he’s afraid of me. I’ll make Nate look so bad that he’ll retire after I wipe the floor with him. I guess I can understand why Nate doesn’t want to fight me. Twenty-eight boxers have tried to beat me and none of them came close to succeeding.”The equally loquacious Campbell wasted little time in responding to Guzman. “This clown (Guzman) reminds me of one of those yapping little rat dogs,” Campbell said. “[They] yip, yip, yip at your ankles.” With pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao moving up in weight to dethrone David Diaz to claim the remaining major world championship at lightweight on June 28, both Campbell and Guzman would love nothing more than to emerge victorious in the hopes of possibly luring the “Pac Man” into a match to determine the undisputed lightweight champion. “Nate Campbell is the rare boxer who can back up his talk,” promoter Don King said. “That’s why I love him. He comes straight at you, tells you what he’s going to do, and then he executes his game plan. He’s truly one of the most exciting fighters we have in boxing today, and Beau Rivage should be commended for stepping up to host one of the bigger fights of the year.” Beau Rivage is delighted to bring such a big card to the Gulf Coast. “We are pleased to host this major boxing event in Biloxi and to be partnering with the legendary Don King, whose name is synonymous with championship boxing,” said George P. Corchis, Jr., president and chief operating officer of MGM MIRAGE’s Mississippi resorts, which includes Beau Rivage in Biloxi, and Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica. “We look forward to having the Mississippi Gulf Coast serve as a backdrop for such an important fight where three world titles are on the line.” ABOUT BEAU RIVAGE: Casual elegance is redefined at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, MGM MIRAGE’s destination resort on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Named one of the top 100 hotels in the continental United States and Canada by Travel + Leisure, Beau Rivage blends world-class amenities with world-famous Southern hospitality. Featuring 1,740 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites; 11 restaurants; four nightclubs and bars; a 1,550-seat theatre; an upscale shopping promenade; a world-class spa & salon; and Fallen Oak, a new Tom Fazio designed championship golf course; Beau Rivage offers the finest destination resort experience in the Southeast. For more information or to make reservations, call (888) 567-6667 or visit www.beaurivage.com.

Chelsea makes plans for London Games

Chelsea Football Club today (Thursday, August 21) responded to the Mayor of London’s “Call for Ideas” to create an Olympic legacy by announcing the start of its own plans to support legacy in the run-up to 2012 and beyond. Mayor Boris Johnson made his rallying call at a speech in London House in Beijing where he is visiting the 2008 Olympics. Chelsea is an official London House Ambassador during the Beijing Olympics. The club will be working in a variety of different areas to support the idea of legacy by creating new programmes in the capital as well as expanding existing ones. These will be part of its wide-ranging Corporate Social Responsibility programme and additionally there are also plans for some innovative cross sport co-operation involving athletics and swimming in the local communities close to Chelsea. Communications and Public Affairs Director Simon Greenberg, who is currently in Beijing as part of Chelsea’s Ambassador role, said: “Chelsea has always been a fervent supporter of London 2012 and is honoured to be an Ambassador for London, both in the past and here in Beijing. We understand fully the importance of a social, economic and sporting legacy especially for young people, following the Olympics, and will be helping in our own small way towards this. “We are delighted to announce today that Chelsea will be the exclusive London football partner in the work of an organisation called Tsu’Chu Biz that develops young entrepreneurs of the future from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities and encourages them on to further and higher education. “By early 2010 we hope to be supporting 40 of these courses in 8 schools across the 5 Olympic boroughs involving 1,000 young learners aged 14-19 years old. This is in addition to our current CSR programme that sees 350,000 children in London and the south-east participate in our Football in the Community schemes many of which promote social inclusion, anti-weapons initiatives, health, fitness and education. “We are also planning what we believe will be two unique schemes of cross-sport co-operation involving swimming and athletics in our local area.“If London businesses and organizations all help in any small way they can, this could have a big collective impact on the different areas of legacy. "Everybody in Britain has been rightly celebrating the achievements of Team GB in Beijing and it is important we build on this."These programmes are only the starting point for Chelsea and by 2012 we envisage a series of initiatives which we hope will make a contribution." Chelsea have been working with the major London organizations for several years now. The club has been nominated as an Ambassador for London on two previous Mayoral trips to China in 2006 and India in 2007. A picture taken at Stamford Bridge features in the London Icons exhibition in London House. Chelsea is a platinum partner of Visit London and a member of the business organization London First. Chelsea worked with Visit London and the NFL for last year’s Wembley American Football game by hosting the New York Giants at our Cobham training ground. Chelsea was also the first Premiership football club to support the London Olympic bid and helped launch the London 2012 brand logo with Jose Mourinho as brand ambassador. And we have an excellent relationship with the British Olympic Association most notably in the area of sports medicine. One of Chelsea's specialist doctor's, Ian McCurdie, is now the BOA's Chief Medical Officer and the club's doctor Bryan English has long standing ties with Olympic sports. The club’s CSR and Football in the Community programmes are very active in the borough’s of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Wandsworth. Our aim with our Global Charity Partner Right To Play is that by the London Olympics, the charity’s programmes will reach 5 million children worldwide and help deliver on the London 2012 promise to inspire children around the world through sport. Right To Play is a “recognized organization” of the International Olympic Committee. Chelsea's Millenium and Copthorne Hotels at Stamford Bridge will be part of the hotel pool for the 2012 Olympics.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Arthur brings in Scottish Sparring Partners

Alex Arthur has been sparring with two former opponents in preparation for his first WBO World Super-Featherweight title defence against Nicky Cook. The 30-year-old says he has conducted his most intensive training camp ever ahead of the clash on September 6 at the M.E.N Arena, Manchester. Amir joint headlines the blockbuster show with a defence of his WBO Intercontinental title defence against Colombian KO king Breidis Prescott, live and exclusive on Sky Box Office. Former world champion Wayne McCullough has been overseeing proceedings. And he has been watching Arthur spar fellow Scots Willie Limond and Ricky Burns in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Rising prospect Jason Hastie has also been doing rounds with Arthur. "There were a few problems ahead of the Steve Foster fight, but I couldn't have asked for a better training camp this time round," said Arthur. The former British, Commonwealth and European champion had to climb off the floor against Foster amid concerns he was struggling to make weight. But he said he will comfortably do 9'4 this time around. "With three weeks to go I was just seven pounds over the limit, so there shouldn't be a problem," said Arthur. "This is definitely the most intensive training camp I've ever had. Meanwhile Nicky Cook has revealed his torment at trying to make the nine stone featherweight limit in previous fights. "I was getting down to super-featherweight without too much problem, but trying to shift those last four pounds was absolute hell," said Cook. "It was eating into my muscle and leaving me weak at the weight. It affected my performance against Steve Luevano when I lost for the first time, but I'll be much stronger at 9'4." Cook has been sparring former European light-welterweight champion Colin Lynes. The night of boxing will be available to Sky digital subscribers for £14.95 on Sky Box Office channel 743 and in high definition on channel 753. It can be ordered by press the red button on the Sky remote handset - there is a £1 booking fee for any orders made by phone. For further information and to order the event, viewers can call: 08442 410 888 Tickets for 2 Hot 2 Handle, priced at £30, £40, £50, £100, £150 and £200, are available from www.frankwarren.tv and the following outlets: M.E.N Ticketmaster 0870 190 8000 www.men-arena.com BWFC0871 871 2932 Khan Boxing 01204 535 332 www.amirkhan-boxing.com See Tickets 0871 220 0260 www.seetickets.com Ticket Factory 0871 945 6000

Brooking backs the Blues

Sir Trevor Brooking will join Chelsea Football Club officials at the Cobham Training ground to open Chelsea’s new Academy and Community Pavilion this Saturday as the club host a tournament for some of the world’s best young players. Brooking will kick off the tournament on 23 August at 10am which will see U16 teams from across four continents including Ajax, River Plate, Bayern Munich and the Suwon Samsung Bluewings as well as Russia’s Tolyatti FC, Lebanon’s Al-Nejmeh FC and some of America’s most talented youngsters representing the Disney Soccer “All-Stars”. The tournament will start at 11am as Chelsea take on River Plate. A full fixture list is available below. Former Chelsea and England legend Ray Wilkins and UEFA’s Executive William Gaillard will wrap up the tournament on Monday by presenting the Cobham Cup to the winners. Chelsea’s Academy is a vital part of the club developing young English talent as well as the best young players from abroad. Over 70 per cent of Chelsea’s Academy are English and it boasts 18 current English internationals between the ages of 16 and 21 years old. The new facilities will also become an integral part of the club’s community work, offering sporting and educational opportunities to young people throughout London and south east England. Last season over 350,000 young people benefited from the club’s leading Football in the Community scheme.

1. Chelsea 1. Ajax
2 River Plate 2. Bayern Munich
3 Suwon Samsung Bluewings 3. Tolyatti FC
4 Al-Nejmeh FC 4. Disney Soccer Show-Case “All-stars”

Saturday 23 August
Chelsea v River Plate
Ajax v Bayern Munich
Suwon Bluewings v Al Nejmeh
Tolyatti FC v Disney All Stars

Sunday 24 August
Chelsea v Suwon Bluewing
Ajax v Tolyatti
River Plate v Al Nejmeh
Bayern Munich v Disney All Stars
Chelsea v Al Nejmeh
Ajax v Disney All Stars

Monday 25 August
11am 2 x Semi-Finals
1pm 4th v 4th and 3rd v 3rd play-off games
3pm 3rd v 4th place Play Off

Friday, August 15, 2008

Colombian challenger stands in Khan's way

British boxing superstar Amir Khan faces the fight of his life against Colombianpowerhouse Breidis Prescott on September 6 at the M.E.N Arena in Manchester.The 25-year-old Colombian boasts a fearsome unbeaten record of 19 fights with 17big knockout wins - a staggering 14 coming inside three rounds.Khan, who is WBO #2, WBC #5 and IBF #10 ranked, has an equally impressive record- undefeated in 18 fights with 14 KO's - and recently stopped Michael Gomez in athrilling five-round shoot out.At nearly 6' Prescott, ranked #14 by the WBA, has boxed as high aslight-welterweight before, will have a slight height advantage over Khan.The pair will fight for Khan's WBO Intercontinental lightweight title at theM.E.N Arena that has seen some of the best fights in recent years includingRicky Hatton v Kostya Tszyu and Joe Calzaghe v Ricky Hatton.And Khan is looking to put on an a great performance for his glittering debut onSky Box Office, after promoter Frank Warren signed a new 20-fight deal withBritain's premier sports broadcaster."Prescott looks dangerous but he's just the kind of opponent I need at thisstage of my career to get my fear instinct to kick in," said Khan."He may have been knocking them out left right and centre, but I'm going tomake him wake up and smell the coffee!"I've been working on my defensive skills with new coach Jorge Rubio, andit looks like Prescott will be testing out what I've been learning in the gym."Along with my strength and conditioning coach, I'm also punching harderthan ever before, and I think my offensive skills are going to win my thisfight."I love to entertain the crowd and the viewers on Sky Box Office, and Iplan to go to war against Prescott. I won't be hiding from him - I'll go afterhim and try and knock him out like I do with all my opponents."Hailing from Barranquilla, Colombia, Prescott was due to challenge for the WBAFedalatin lightweight title before accepting this bout.A man of few words, he said this morning: "Khan is just a boy. I'm willknock him out," he said this morning.Alex Arthur's first defence of his WBO World Super-Featherweight title againstNicky Cook headlines the blockbuster show.The night of boxing will be available to Sky digital subscribers for £14.95 onSky Box Office channel 743 and in high definition on channel 753. It can beordered by press the red button on the Sky remote handset - there is a £1booking fee for any orders made by phone. For further information and to orderthe event, viewers can call: 08442 410 888Tickets for the M.E.N Arena show are priced at £30, £40, £50, £100, £150 and£200 and are available from www.frankwarren.tv and the following outlets:M.E.N Ticketmaster0870 190 8000www.men-arena.comBWFC0871 871 2932khantickets@bwfc.co.ukKhan Boxing01204 535 332www.amirkhan-boxing.comSee Tickets0871 220 0260www.seetickets.comTicket Factory0871 945 6000www.ticketfactory.co.uk

Sky's the limit for Khan

AMIR KHAN has signed a multi-fight deal which could take him to a world title onSky.His first appearance on Sky Box Office will be on Saturday 6 September when hefights the undefeated Lightweight Breidis Prescott at the M.E.N Arena inManchester.World Super-Featherweight champion Alex Arthur will headline the show with hisdefence of the WBO title against Nicky Cook. Heavyweight Audley Harrison, afellow Olympic medallist, winning gold at Sydney in 2000, will also feature onthe bill.Amir Khan follows some of Britain's best known fighters to Sky, and like LennoxLewis, Prince Naseem Hamed, and Ricky Hatton before him, he could win a worldtitle on Sky Box Office.Vic Wakeling, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: "All the big names inBritish boxing in recent years have won major world title fights on Sky, and weare delighted to welcome Amir Khan to the list. When he fights for a worldtitle will be down to Amir and his advisors, but we shall be there."An Olympic Silver-medalist at just 17, Amir Khan rose to prominence at theAthens Games four years ago and turned professional in 2005 with a knock-out inhis first fight. Now undefeated in 18 contests, he lifted the Commonwealthtitle last summer and his since made four successful defences, the most recent athrilling contest against Michael Gomez.His next opponent, the undefeated Breidis Prescott, is a 25-year old Colombianwith 17 knock-outs in 19 professional fights.Amir Khan said: "I'm really excited to be boxing on Sky and I can't waitto put on my best performances for the viewers tuning in. "He continued; "Britain's best boxers and some of the best fights in recentyears have all featured on Sky and with the way I fight the viewers willdefinitely get excitement. Since winning Silver at the 2004 Olympic Games andturning professional the time has flown by and I'm now so close to achieving myambition of becoming a world champion - and I hope I can share that definingmoment on Sky."Amir Khan joins Sky as part of a new deal with Frank Warren which will bring anumber of live shows to Sky Sports for Friday Fight Night, as well as liveshows for Sky Box Office, over the next year.His promoter, Frank Warren, said: "I'm delighted to have agreed a newpromotional deal with Sky, bringing around 20 shows this year, and to return towhere I previously spent ten great years creating superstars like Joe Calzaghe,Ricky Hatton and Naseem Hamed."Sky viewers are now in for a real treat as they watch an exciting anddramatic phase of Amir Khan's career unfold in front of them as he goes fromunbeaten prospect and Commonwealth Lightweight Champion to a World Champion. Along with big world title fights, I'm thrilled that some of the best young andtalented boxers in Britain that I promote also feature prominently and willdevelop into stars of the future - all on Sky."The night of boxing will be available to Sky digital subscribers for £14.95 onSky Box Office channel 743 and in high definition on channel 753. It can beordered by pressing the red button on the Sky remote handset - there is a £1booking fee for any orders made by phone. For further information and to orderthe event viewers can call: 08442 410 888.

Langer and Woosnam renew rivalry

Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, the two leading players on the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit, will go head-to-head in the Czech Republic after Woosnam confirmed he will tee up at the inaugural Casa Serena Open from September 5-7. The Welshman is currently €30,000 ahead of Germany’s Langer in the race to land a maiden John Jacob’s Trophy and the Casa Serena Open could prove vital to the end of season standings with a top prize of €90,000 – one of the largest on the 2008 Schedule. It will be the Seniors Tour‘s first visit to the Czech Republic and the battle between the two Ryder Cup winning Captains is expected to be a fascinating one at Casa Serena Golf. Both players are former winners of The Masters Tournament – Langer winning The Green Jacket at Augusta National in 1985 and 1993 and Woosnam in 1991. They have both made a seamless start to their new careers in seniors golf, with Woosnam twice winning on the Seniors Tour in Poland and Russia to take control of the European Seniors Tour’s Order of Merit. Langer’s outstanding form has seen him dominate American Senior golf after two victories on the US Champions Tour – coupled with a second place finish at the US Senior PGA Championship and a fourth place at The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard – ensured him the top spot on the US Champions Tour Money List. Langer, whose brother Erwin’s company Langer Sport Marketing is running and managing the tournament, won the Czech Open on The European Tour in 1997 with a final round 63 at Prague Karlstejn Golf Club and is hoping to repeat that success at Casa Serena Golf. He said: “I enjoyed my visit to Prague last time and I loved the golf course. I played some superb golf and was very happy to win the Czech Open and add another great tournament to my title collection. “The 63 on Sunday was one of my best rounds in my career and almost flawless. There are not many times when you play 18 holes where you don’t make mistakes and that was one of those days I will never forget. “I hope it will be a very successful Casa Serena Open and the first of many many tournaments to come in the Czech Republic and that we will help to make golf more popular in the country. I look forward to seeing some of my old friends from The European Tour and I hope to play well.“

King sees areas of hard hit Chengdu

American promoter Don King was given extraordinary access today by Chinese officials who allowed him to tour hard-hit areas of May’s major earthquake near the Sichuan Province’s capital city of Chengdu. King visited the same site that U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice touredon June 29 in the city of Dujiangyan. He stood in the rubble of the three-storyTengda Physical Club, which was decimated by the quake as evidenced by itstoppled roof. Activity in the streets showed the rebuilding effort is well on its way afterthe strong temblor registered 8.0 on the Richter scale, taking a heavy toll inthe region. “I have been very impressed by the great care and support that the Chinesegovernment has given to its people in and around Chengdu,” King said. “It’sobvious to see they have been able to accomplish so much in terms of health,welfare and displacement facilities for those in need. The Chinese people havegreat resolve and resiliency.” Accompanied by a Chinese media contingent, King also visited a nearby temporaryhousing village for victims of the quake that is currently accommodating 14,000people. Children gravitated towards King in a small building next to aplayground at the facility, and he obliged them with autographs and a bag oftoys. “It was a moving experience for me to meet with those who have lost so much andhave been obviously grief-stricken and suffered great losses and still see theyhave a burning light of love and hope in their eyes. I was deeply touched.” He continued, “I came here to see what happened in Chengdu. The boxing event wewere planning prior to the earthquake is now taking a back seat to thehumanitarian concerns in Sichuan Province.” King believes a phrase adopted by top government leaders in China—wo men zai yichi—which translates in English to “together we are” is apt. “This rallying cry is being lived up to by the government and the people,uniting the country for a quick response, which epitomizes humanitarianism andthe spirit of the heart. King is scheduled to meet with Chengdu Mayor Ge Hung Lin on Friday.

Arthur and Cook lock horns

Alex Arthur and Nicky Cook have vowed to set aside the niceities when they clashin a Battle of Britain at the M.E.N Arena on September 6.The two super-featherweights swapped jokes and pleasantries during a conferencecall today instead of the usual insults.But both men promised there will be plenty of bad blood when the bell goes tosignal the start of their WBO world title clash next month."We are both nice guys and family men at heart, but once the bell goeswe'll be at each other's throats," said champion Arthur on his assignmentwith the Auld Enemy."It's another England versus Scotland battle and they don't need much toget them going so I'm sure the fans won't go home disappointed."Nicky is an all-action fighter like me, and I know he'll be coming to ripmy title away so I'll have to match him punch for punch."I'm looking forward to a great night in Manchester and I'm sure that wecan live up to all the hype."Cook, 28, who makes his first world title appearance at 9'4 but has boxed forthe WBO crown at featherweight before, added: "I'll have to meet whateverAlex is planning to throw at me."I wouldn't have taken this fight if I didn't feel confident I could winit. Whatever he hits me with I'll be throwing back twice as much. I've got thetools to beat him."I know it's not going to be a walk in the park. It's going to be a greatfighter and I know that we'll be putting on a fantastic show for all thefans."Meanwhile both fighters said they would entertain the prospect of a firstdefence against young tyro Kevin Mitchell, who holds the British andCommonwealth titles.Arthur, 30, said: "I don't have a problem fighting anyone. It doesn't makea great deal of difference to me who they put in front of me, as long as I getpaid."Cook, whose father Paul trains both him and Mitchell, added: "This is abusiness at the end of the day. If they want us to fight and the money is right,then I'd sit down and talk about it."Arthur v Cook joint headlines 2 Hot 2 Handle alongside Amir Khan's fifth defenceof his Commonwealth lightweight title.Tickets for 2 Hot 2 Handle, priced at £30, £40, £50, £100, £150 and £200, areavailable from www.frankwarren.tv and the following outlets:M.E.N Ticketmaster0870 190 8000www.men-arena.comBWFC0871 871 2932khantickets@bwfc.co.ukKhan Boxing01204 535 332www.amirkhan-boxing.comSee Tickets0871 220 0260www.seetickets.comTicket Factory0871 945 6000www.ticketfactory.co.uk

King in negotiations at China

Legendary promoter Don King held a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday where he congratulated China and the Chinese people ontheir tremendous launch of the first Olympic Games staged in the most populouscountry on earth while launching a boxing promotion of his own scheduled forNov. 7 in the largest city in the Sichuan Province, Chengdu. "We had been in discussions with Chinese officials to bring a fight card to Chengdu prior to the devastating earthquake they experienced on May 12,"King said. "Now more than ever we need to go. We want to remember thosewho perished and try to help in any way we can those who survived." After the press conference, King was hosted by the Chinese Boxing Associationwho took him for a Peking duck lunch followed by a trip to Workers' Gymnasiumfor Olympic boxing. King saw three light flyweight preliminary bouts--one that featured a Chinesefighter who was understandably favored by the Beijing audience thatenthusiastically cheered on their countryman with homegrown fervor. Theaudience also showed what the Olympic spirit is all about when they loudlycheered his opponent, who lost, after he made a point of giving the crowd thetraditional four-corner ring bow after the match. King traveled to Chengdu late Wednesday night and will host a press conferencein this Western China city on Friday. King has not finalized any specificmatches but did say the World Boxing Council is likely to sanction a heavyweightmatch he is planning.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

MGM Grand set for Hatton vs Malignaggi

Fans may call it “Manchester Muscle vs. New York Flash,” “England vs. United States,” “Brawler vs. Boxer,” or simply a clash between the two best 140-pound fighters in the world. However, no matter how one describes the match-up between the pride of England, Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, and Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi, fans can be sure that the Saturday 22 November junior welterweight world championship unification bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena will be one of the most intriguing and exciting fights of 2008.Tickets priced at USD $1,000, $750, $500, $300 and $150 are now on sale. Ticket sales are limited to four (4) per person at the USD $1,000 price level and a total of two (2) tickets at USD $750, $500, $300 or $150. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at +1 702 474 4000. Tickets also are available for purchase at www.ticketmaster.com.“Hatton is an aggressive puncher who swarms his opponents from start to finish while Malignaggi is one of the best pure boxers in the game today,” said Oscar de la Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “As a fan, I am excited to see if Hatton can lure Malignaggi into a brawl or if Malignaggi can dictate the tempo and make the fight his. No matter what happens, I think when their styles collide, it’s going to make for great action and great drama.”Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment, said, “Paulie Malignaggi is a champion and an elite fighter. I am thrilled that he will be able to achieve superstardom when he fights Ricky, one of the world’s most popular and accomplished fighters.”Hatton vs. Malignaggi, a 12-round Junior Welterweight World title unification bout for Hatton’s Ring Magazine Junior Welterweight World Championship and Malignaggi’s International Boxing Federation (IBF) Junior Welterweight World Championship, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Punch Promotions and DiBella Entertainment, and will air live on HBO’s World Championship Boxing beginning at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST.Richard Sturm, President of Sports and Entertainment for MGM MIRAGE, said, “We welcome the return of Ricky Hatton and his supporters to MGM Grand in November as well as the opportunity to host Paulie Malignaggi’s Las Vegas debut. We have no doubt this could be one of the most exciting events of 2008 for the fans as well as our customers and look forward to an electric atmosphere inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena.”Kery Davis, Senior Vice President of programming for HBO Sports, believes this will be a great event and said, “Ricky Hatton and Paulie Malignaggi will give fight fans their money’s worth on 22 November. They define themselves by their ring accomplishments and they will lay it all on the line in November.”An international superstar hailing from Manchester, England, the storied career of Hatton (44-1, 31 KOs) began in 1997 and for the last 11 years, he has been thrilling fight fans around the world with his aggressive style in the ring and down to earth attitude outside. Owner of wins over Kostya Tszyu, Vince Phillips, Luis Collazo, Jose Luis Castillo and Juan Urango, Hatton, a two-division world champion, fell short of the pound-for-pound and world welterweight championships in his 2007 superfight against Floyd Mayweather. However, the 29-year-old bounced back impressively at 140 pounds in May as he scored a near shutout 12-round unanimous decision over Juan Lazcano.“This is a big fight for me and I’m happy to return to Las Vegas to show my fans in the States that the “Hitman” is back and better than ever,” said Hatton. “To be honest, I’ve never felt fitter and I’m very excited about the prospect of being the first fighter to knock out Paulie Malignaggi.”Known for his flashy style and ability to out-talk any fighter in the world, Brooklyn’s Malignaggi (25-1, 5 KOs) also has developed a reputation for the knack of overcoming adversity throughout his seven-year pro career. A dazzling boxer with a stiff jab, lightning speed and quick combinations, the 27-year-old gained a legion of fans for his gutsy effort in a 12-round defeat at the hands of Miguel Cotto in 2006, and even more followers jumped on his bandwagon when he nearly shut out Lovemore N’dou in 2007 to win the IBF Junior Welterweight crown. Malignaggi has since defended his title against Herman Ngoudjo and in a rematch against N’dou, but a victory over Hatton is what this New Yorker is truly seeking.Malignaggi stated, “I am thrilled to be involved in the biggest 140 pound fight of 2008. This will be my first fight in Las Vegas which makes it much more exciting. Las Vegas’ nickname is the ‘City of Lights’ so it is only fitting that on 22 November “The Magic Man” will be lighting up “The Hitman” all over the MGM Grand Garden Arena.”For room packages and availability and event ticket information about the MGM Grand, call +1 702 891 7777 or log onto the World Wide Web at www.mgmgrand.com.The MGM Grand Garden Arena is home to concerts, championship boxing and premier sporting and special events. The Arena offers comfortable seating for as many as 16,800 with excellent sightlines and state-of-the-art acoustics, lighting and sound. Prominent events to date have included world championship fights between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson as well as Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather and George Foreman vs. Michael Moorer; and concerts by The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler, Gloria Estefan, Janet Jackson, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, Sting, Jimmy Buffett and the Barbra Streisand Millennium Concert. The MGM Grand Garden Arena also is home to the annual Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMA) and U.S. Open of Motocross.

King targets China

Legendary promoter Don King arrived in Beijing, China, today (Tuesday) and will be holding a press conference here on Wednesday (Aug. 13) where he will announce his plans to promote a boxing event in Chengdu, China. The boxing card will be staged in November and is planned to be presented at the Chengdu National Stadium. After the Beijing press conference, the China Boxing Association has invited King to attend Olympic boxing. King and the Chinese government pledged to donate part of the proceeds of the boxing event to help rebuild Chengdu, which was devastated by an earthquake in May. King will visit Chengdu and host a press conference there with the city’s Mayor Ge Lin on Thursday (Aug. 15). King has been to China before. He promoted in Beijing what was to have been the third meeting between then World Boxing Association heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz and former four-time heavyweight champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield on Aug. 5, 2001. The fight—with King and both fighters in Beijing preparing for the match—was postponed just nine days prior to the event after John Ruiz sustained a neck injury that forced him to withdraw. King’s presence in China drew positive attention to the country, especially in the sports world, which was appreciated by the Chinese as officials were vying to become the host of the 2008 Olympic Games at the time. King was particularly outspoken in his support of China’s Olympic bid. Don King Productions has promoted over 500 world championship fights with nearly 100 individual boxers having been paid $1 million or more. DKP also holds the distinction of having promoted or co-promoted seven of the 10 largest pay-per-view events in history, as gauged by total buys, including three of the top five: Holyfield vs. Tyson II, 1.99 million buys, June 1997; Tyson vs. Holyfield I, 1.6 million buys, November 1996; and Tyson vs. McNeeley, 1.58 million buys, August 1995. DKP has promoted or co-promoted 10 of the top 15 highest-grossing live gates in the history of the state of Nevada including four of the top five: Holyfield vs. Lewis II, paid attendance: 17,078, gross: $16,860,300 (NOTE: Also second-highest live-gate gross for any event in the history of the world.), date: Nov. 13, 1999; Holyfield vs. Tyson II, paid attendance: 16,279, gross: $14,277,200, date: June 28, 1997; Holyfield vs. Tyson I, paid attendance: 16,103, gross: $14,150,700, date: Nov. 9, 1996; and Tyson vs. McNeeley, paid attendance: 16,113, gross: $13,965,600, date: Aug. 19, 1995.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rich History of Golf's World Cup

The Omega Mission Hills World Cup has had a rich tradition of attracting the world’s best players throughout its 55 year history but only Mark O’Meara and David Duval can claim to have won the title in the company of the greatest player of this current generation, Tiger Woods. Woods has won the title twice, in 1999 with O’Meara and again the following year with Duval, and those victories will always sit proudly in the annals of this illustrious championship. Woods was playing in the championship for the first time in 1999 when he partnered with his great friend O’Meara. The junior partner had taken the world by storm with his stunning Masters Tournament victory in 1997 and in 1999 he had added the US PGA title to his CV but his quest to chase down Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 Majors was only just starting. But what unfolded at the Mines Resort and Country Club in Malaysia gave a further glimpse of what was to come over the next decade. When O’Meara and Woods stepped on to the tenth tee at The World Cup in Malaysia in 1999, the American pair had just surrendered a seven shot lead over Spain’s Santiago Luna and Miguel Angel Martin and incredibly found themselves one stroke behind. Both players knew they had to do something special to arrest the slide, quickly. O’Meara was in the purple patch of his career having won both The Masters Tournament and The Open Championship the previous year but, by his own admission, had endured a miserable front nine, dropping three shots in the first five holes. That’s when Woods’s caddie Steve Williams intervened. With the senior member of the United States team seemingly struggling, Williams had a quiet word with O’Meara which proved to be the catalyst for their memorable win – but not quite in the way Williams had envisaged. “I played really poorly over the first nine holes and Steve Williams turned to me on the tenth tee and said ‘you’ve got to get yourself going – you need to play better because the Spaniards are coming’,” recalls O’Meara. “So I said to him watch how I handle this and I turned to Tiger and said you’ve got to get yourself going. You need to play better. So he went, ‘Oh okay’, and then he birdied 10, 11, 12 and 13. He was unbelievable that day. He is unbelievable. We went on to win by five shots. I remember him turning to me afterwards and he said ‘Okay, old man, I don’t have to carry you anymore’.” Woods had already eagled the third and a birdied the sixth, before a rare bogey at the eighth but his performance on the back nine was nothing short of sensational, as O’Meara and the World Number One scored final rounds of 77 and 65 respectively for a winning 23 under par total of 545. That saw them finish five shots ahead of Spain, for whom Luna and Martin scored 72 and 68 and nine clear of Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (67) and Paul McGinley (68). It was the United States’s first win since Fred Couples and Davis Love III dominated the competition from 1992 to 1995 and saw the pair share $400,000 but for O’Meara simply sharing the experience with his close friend was reward enough. “I can remember that it was my first time in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia. I got to play with Tiger which was a real treat,” he said. “It’s been well documented how well I get on with Tiger. He is like a younger brother to me. We have a very close friendship and it was amazing to play with him that day. I really enjoyed that time.” O’Meara is optimistic about the United States’ chances of winning the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China and adding to his country’s record 23 wins, the last of which came the following year when Duval was Woods’s playing partner. Indeed Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum came close to adding to that tally last year when they lost out to the Scottish team of Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren. But for O’Meara his win in 1999 was certainly a poignant moment in an illustrious career, as he joined names such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino as past American winners. He said: “America hasn’t had much success in The Ryder Cup lately so to win the World Cup for our country and to do it alongside Tiger was a very proud moment. “It certainly came at a special time too for me after winning two Majors in 1998 and being named golfer of the year. You don’t expect that at 41.” The 2007 Omega Mission Hills World Cup launched a new and exciting era in the history of the championship first played in 1953 as the Canada Cup. The championship is set to continue through 2018, and most probably beyond, at Mission Hills following the signing of an agreement in January 2007 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.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mason wins 20th Seniors title

England’s Carl Mason won his 20th European Seniors Tour title when he successfully defended the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland by finishing two clear of Scot Bill Longmuir. After the record-equalling low round of 61 at Bad Ragaz Golf Club on Saturday, Mason followed up with a final round of 65 for a 15 under par total of 195, two ahead of Longmuir, who signed for a 66 and aggregate of 197. Mason’s win made him only the second player to claim 20 European Seniors Tour titles and moved him within three of Tommy Horton’s record of 23 victories. “Number 20!” said Mason. “When I started out I never imagined anything like this. In my first season in 2003 I won my second event and then played so well at the Senior Open Championship that year, and although I lost a play-off (to Tom Watson), it gave me so much confidence I haven’t looked back.” Mason, leading by one overnight, birdied three of his first four holes to pull three clear of Longmuir but by the seventh they were on level terms with Longmuir picking up two birdies on the fifth and sixth to a Mason bogey on the fifth. The momentum swung in Mason’s favour as they turned for home when Longmuir, who bogeyed the ninth, double bogeyed the 11th as Mason birdied the first two holes of the back nine. Mason was suddenly five ahead but still Scot refused to give in, hitting back with a birdie on the 13th and an eagle on the 16th. Mason followed him in for birdie on 16 to stay three ahead and matched Longmuir’s birdie on the 17th, giving him a comfortable cushion so a bogey on the last was irrelevant. “It was a good battle,” said Mason. “I got off to a good start and while Bill fought back, his double bogey on the 11th gave me some space. But he wasn’t letting go and I was glad to get over the line.” Twelve months ago Mason’s win in Switzerland started a run which saw him win three events out of four and four out of seven as he stormed to his third Order of Merit title in five years. “Hopefully I can get on one of those runs now,” he said. “I have been frustrated with my game this year when it has not been going well but I hope this will kick start my year.” Victory earned Mason €39,000 and lifted him from 34th to 14th on the Order of Merit. Longmuir moved up a place to fourth with Ian Woosnam still topping the list.

Huldahl makes winning breakthrough

Dane Jeppe Huldahl won his maiden professional title with a comfortable two stroke victory over Scot Steven O’Hara in the Lexus Open in Norway. Five birdies in a sublime opening 15 holes at Moss & Rygge GK took the 26 year old out of reach and allowed him the luxury of two dropped shots in his last three holes. His closing 69 for a 17 under par total of 271 was two better than O’Hara, who mounted an early challenge with three birdies but was unable to press on and finished with a four under par 68. Joint overnight leader Richard Bland of England carded a level par 72 to finish in joint third on 14 under par with Allessandro Tadini, the Italian carding a 69.But the day belonged to Huldahl as the 2003 Danish Amateur Strokeplay Champion made his long-awaited professional breakthrough. Joint second in the Scottish Challenge at the MacDonald Cardrona Hotel Golf and Country Club at the end of June gave a hint that this could be Huldahl’s season and he duly delivered in Norway. His victory earned him a winner’s cheque of €24,000 and lifted him from 17th on the Challenge Tour Rankings to fourth, consolidating his position within the top 20 places which earn promotion to The European Tour at the end of the season. Huldahl last played The European Tour International Schedule in 2004 having won a card through the Qualifying School as an amateur in 2003. “I’m over the moon,” said Huldahl. “This win sets me well on my way to securing my European Tour card and that means everything to me. I’m thrilled.” Former Walker Cup player O’Hara also advanced into the top ten with a move from 20th place on the Rankings to ninth thanks to his cheque of €16,500.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Khan consoles Frankie Gavin

Amir Khan has offered his support to former sparring partner and room-mate Frankie Gavin.Gavin pulled out of the 2008 Olympic Games today after deciding he could no longer make lightweight.Khan, who won a silver medal at the 2004 Games in Athens and is in training for his next fight on September 6, said: "Going to the Olympics is every boxer's dream, and I know how devastated Frankie will feel."It's always hard making weight, and it is sad that Frankie can no longer do it. He had a great chance of winning gold in China, and it would have been fantastic for him and the British team if he could have done it. Unfortunately it wasn't to be."My thoughts are with him at the moment, but I know what a strong character he is, and I'm sure he will come back from this and be even more successful in the future."I'd like to wish him all the best in whatever he does next, and I will always be here if he needs any advice or support."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Harrington honoured for Outstanding Achievements

Padraig Harrington has been named The European Tour Golfer of the Month for July in recognition of his outstanding performance at Royal Birkdale, where he successfully defended his Open Championship title. Harrington’s four stroke victory over Ian Poulter made him the first European since James Braid in 1905/6 to retain The Open Championship, and the 16th player in history to win back-to-back Opens. His victory also lifted him to a career high of third place on the Official World Golf Rankings. Twelve months earlier at Carnoustie, Harrington became the first Irishman in 60 years to win The Open, and he repeated the feat with an inspired performance in the ferocious conditions at Royal Birkdale. Only three other golfers – Curtis Strange (US Open 1989), Nick Faldo (Masters 1990) and Tiger Woods (US PGA 2000, Masters 2002, Open 2006 and US PGA 2007) – have successfully defended Major titles in the last 20 years. “I think winning it for the second time is different,” said Harrington. “There was the high of winning in Carnoustie, the way it happened, messing up the 18th, getting a second chance and taking that second chance. There was winning your first Major, the adrenaline rush and everything that I did with it, because you're only going to win your first Major once. So I made sure to enjoy it, celebrate it. “This time around it was a more satisfying win the way it happened, more confidence boosting. I was definitely walking away with a sense of satisfaction from it. I've always talked and espoused that Majors are all about getting in position when it comes to the back nine on Sunday. The first 63 holes are jockeying just so you have that chance so if you do play the nine holes, you're going to win The Open. I've talked about it, and it's nice to have proved that fact. “I think anybody who played my back nine on Sunday could have won The Open, whereas I went and did it, and that gives me tremendous confidence. I'm really chuffed that I put myself in position that I've always talked about and delivered.” Harrington, as he did last year, warmed up for The Open by winning the Ladbrokes Irish PGA Championship in his magnificent month of July. Indeed, July was filled with memorable performances in Europe and around the world with the panel also commending the performances of Ross Fisher, winner of The European Open; Graeme McDowell, who followed his third place at The London Golf Club with victory in The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond the following week; Mikael Lundberg, winner of the Inteco Russian Open Golf Championship; Vijay Singh, winner of the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational; Jeev Milkha Singh, winner of the Nagashima Shigeo Invitational Sega Sammy Cup; and Eduardo Romero, who captured both the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open and the US Senior Open. Derek Lawrenson, Golf Correspondent of the Daily Mail, said: “In a month of outstanding performances, it needed something exceptional to win the award – and Padraig duly delivered. His successful defence of The Open Championship was undoubtedly the highlight of the month, and he is a worthy winner of The European Tour Golfer of the Month Award.” The Golfer of the Month Award winners thus far in 2008 have been: Germany’s Martin Kaymer (January), Mark Brown of New Zealand (February), McDowell of Northern Ireland (March), Trevor Immelman of South Africa (April), and Spaniards Sergio Garcia (May) and Pablo Larrazabal (June). At the end of the year, all monthly winners will be amongst the players considered by the panel for The European Tour Golfer of the Year.

Small to fight Contender Star

Anthony Small will headlines Frank Warren's Fourth Annual DebRA charity dinner on September 12, at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.In a special UK v USA fight card, Small will take on former Contender star Freddie Curiel.Top heavyweight prospect Derek Chisora will box over eight rounds, while 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medalists Jamie Cox and Kenny Anderson fight in six rounders.All boxers will face American opponents.Small, the current Southern Area Light-Middleweight Champion will be looking to improve his world ranking in what is a highly dangerous fight.The power-punching 27-year-old, with a 19-1 (13) record, will not want to suffer the same fate as fellow prospect Ross Minter, who was knocked out by Curiel last year.That was on a UK v USA Contenders card in Newcastle, and Minter was dropped and stopped in the final round.Curiel, 18-7-2, fights out of Vernon, New Jersey, and was part of the Contender II series, aired on ESPN in 2006.As well as hosting international boxing, the September 12 event will be aiming to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the charity DebRA.The money raised will help promote research into the cause, nature, treatment and cure of the agonising skin genetic disorder Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) - often referred to by the medical profession as the worst and least publicised condition in the world. Further information about DebRA can be found at: www.debra.org.ukThe three previous events hosted by Warren have raised a combined total in excess of £1million, and have been attended by the stars of stage, screen and sport."I'm delighted to be able to help DebRA once again," said Warren. "It is an outstanding charity and I am determined to raise as much money as possible."Information about The 2008 DebRA Fight Night can be found at: www.debrafightnight.co.uk

Khan hits Manchester's Arndale Centre

Boxing star Amir Khan is set to thrill shoppers at Manchester's Arndale on Saturday 9th August when he performs a free-to-watch public work-out.The young star from Bolton will give fans a special sneak preview of how preparations are going for his fifth Commonwealth Lightweight title defence next month at the M.E.N Arena.Khan has electrified fans up-and-down the country with his dazzling speed and power that has swept him to a perfect 18-0 fight record with 14 knockouts and he is now within touching distance of a big World title fight.Watch Khan as he goes through a power-packed training session with new trainer Jorge Rubio and see the makings of a world champion!Amir will be supported at the work-out by rising Manchester prospects Denton Vassell and Anthony Crolla, who both feature on the M.E.N Arena show:When: Saturday 9th AugustWhere: Exchange Square in the Manchester ArndaleWho: Amir Khan (Commonwealth Lightweight Champion), Denton Vassell (Undefeated welterweight prospect), Anthony Crolla (Top super-featherweight talent)Times:11am-12noon - Anthony Crolla12noon-1pm - Denton Vassell1pm-2pm - Amir Khan

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Foster Jnr wants winner of Arthur vs Cook

Steve Foster Jnr says victory against Femi Fehintola in Manchester next month will propel him to another world title opportunity. The Salford star was narrowly beaten by Alex Arthur on points in December in a challenge for the interim WBO World Super-Featherweight crown in Edinburgh. And he had the Scotsman down and in trouble in the 11th round. Foster returns to action for the first time since that fight in a challenge for Fehintola's English title on Frank Warren's blockbuster show at the M.E.N Arena, Manchester on September 6. Arthur is joint top of the bill, defending his full WBO crown against Nicky Cook - and Foster says he wants the winner. "I have to win this fight if I'm to stay in contention," said Foster. "Fehintola is a good technical boxer and I know its going to be tough because both of us will be really up for it. "But the Arthur fight gave me a taste of the big time and I want to get to world level again. "I'm not too sure who will win out of Arthur and Cook - the only thing I'm certain of is that I want the winner. "I can mix it with the best, and if I can't get Arthur or Cook then I want British and Commonwealth champion Kevin Mitchell. I'll fight whoever they put in front of me. "Sometimes I look back at that 11th round when I had Arthur on the floor, and wish I could have finished him off. The fight has gone now, so there's no point looking back, but it's made me even more determined to fulfil my childhood dream of winning a world title." Foster, 27, was a featherweight during the early stages of his career, but says moving up to 9'4 has worked wonders. "That Arthur fight showed how strong I can be at super-featherweight," said Foster.
"It was a big, big struggle getting down to featherweight, but I feel so much better now. I'm punching harder than ever in the gym, and people are going to see an explosive display when I take on Fehintola. "Looking at his record he doesn't look like a puncher, but if you get whacked in the face it still hurts, so I'm taking nothing for granted!"Arthur-Cook joint headlines 2 Hot 2 Handle alongside Amir Khan's fifth defence of his Commonwealth lightweight title. Tickets for 2 Hot 2 Handle, priced at £30, £40, £50, £100, £150 and £200, are available from www.frankwarren.tv and the following outlets: M.E.N Ticketmaster 0870 190 8000
www.men-arena.com BWFC0871 871 2932 khantickets@bwfc.co.uk Khan Boxing
01204 535 332www.amirkhan-boxing.com See Tickets 0871 220 0260 www.seetickets.com
Ticket Factory 0871 945 6000 www.ticketfactory.co.uk

Monday, August 04, 2008

Star Trio set for Mercedes-Benz Championship

Miguel Angel Jiménez, Robert Karlsson and Graeme McDowell, three of the players chasing a maiden European Tour Order of Merit win, have been confirmed for the 2008 Mercedes-Benz Championship from September 11-14. Spaniard Jiménez and Irishman McDowell are both winners on The European Tour already this year – McDowell claiming both the Ballantine’s Championship and The Barclays Scottish Open - while the consistent Karlsson, of Sweden, has six top five finishes including two as runner up. The trio, who are all in the top five on the Order of Merit, will be joined in the field at Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof in Cologne, Germany, by South African Retief Goosen, winner of two Order of Merit crowns in 2001 and 2002. Goosen, who finished tied fourth behind winner Vijay Singh at the World Golf Championship – Bridgestone Invitational, will be looking for his second title at Gut Lärchenhof, following his victory in 2005. Crowd favourites John Daly and Colin Montgomerie will also compete for a share of the €2,000,000 prize fund in the final European Tour event before The Ryder Cup. Scotland’s Montgomerie won the title in 1998 en route to his sixth out of a record eight Order of Merit crowns and will be chasing his first European Tour victory of 2008. He will join Australian Stuart Appleby, Masters Tournament winner Fred Couples, Daniel Chopra of Sweden and defending champion Søren Hansen of Denmark in the strong field. Bernhard Langer will front the home contingent along with Martin Kaymer, who claimed an emotional victory the last time The European Tour visited Germany for the BMW International Open in June.

Tampion Triumphs in Ireland

Australian Andrew Tampion claimed his maiden European Challenge Tour win at the Challenge of Ireland presented by Glasson after four consecutive birdies before the turn sent him surging through the field. Tampion holed a 12ft birdie putt on the last hole for an impressive final round 67 to finish a stroke clear of Richard Bland and David Drysdale on eight under par at Glasson Golf Hotel and Country Club. The players ahead of him at the start of the day all missed their shot at victory, with Bland and Jonas Blixt, who had each led at one stage during the final round, both failing to make birdie putts on the last, while overnight leader Richie Ramsay missed a three footer on the 17th as his chance of a maiden win slipped away. That allowed Tampion, who produced the joint best round of the day with Wales’ Rhys Davies after starting tied 11th, to get his hands on the silverware for the first time as a professional. The 23 year old from Melbourne was a product of the same Australian Government Sports programme that produced the 2006 US Open Champion Geoff Ogilvy and he gave a glimpse of his own talent with seven birdies and just two bogeys. He said the win was vital to reclaiming his European Tour card which he lost last year, despite a fine start to the season which saw him tie second behind Mikko Ilonen at the Indonesia Open. “It definitely gives me a boost to get back on The European Tour next year,” said Tampion. “I played the main Tour last year and played ok but not great. I’m out here for the year and hopefully this could be the first of many wins and get straight back out there. I’ve won amateur tournaments but it was different to stand on the last tee as leader. He added: “It feels great but it hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’ve been playing really well lately but not putting as well as I can so to finally hole some putts today and to win my first event is a fantastic feeling. “I had a good stretch through six with four birdies on the spin. After I went though ten I thought I was in this golf tournament and I played steadily on the back nine. “I didn’t like the pin position on the last hole all week so I was happy to see it down the front a bit more. It was a tough little putt down the hill on the left edge from 12 ft and I got the right speed.” Tampion said playing in The Open Championship last month where he missed the cut by just two strokes had also been a major boost to his confidence. “You walk out thinking I was on the range with Ernie (Els) and Vijay (Singh)and you come back here and it gives you more confidence and you think I should be here,” he said. Scotland’s Drysdale, another player with European Tour experience, birdied the last two holes to finish tied second with Englishman Bland. Ireland’s Gareth Shaw, spurred on by a text message from friend Graeme McDowell advising him to play his own game, led the home contingent in only his second professional tournament after a flawless final round 69 to tie with Blixt, Marcus Higley, Carlos Del Moral and Ramsay two strokes behind the winner. Compatriot Gareth Maybin was a shot further back on five under par after a 67, while Glasson’s touring professional Colm Moriarty carded a final round 75 to finish in tied 24th on two under par.

Leisurecorp Congratulates Vijay Singh

Leisurecorp congratulates Vijay Singh, the Water course designer at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai’s premier residential golf community, on his outstanding win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio. Yesterday, Vijay Singh shot a two-under par final-round 68 at the Firestone Country Club to win by a stroke from Lee Westwood and Stuart Appleby. It is his first WGC victory and in winning the $1.35 million first prize, makes the Fijian the PGA Tour’s most successful international player with a record breaking 32 PGA Tour wins. David Spencer, chief executive - golf of Jumeirah Golf Estates, said: “This is a superb win for Vijay, who triumphed over the battle of the nerves to take his 32nd PGA Tour title on the final hole and broke the record for the most victories of any international player in the history of the US PGA Tour. “Vijay Singh is a true legend and this is a hugely deserved win. This will be a great boost for him as he goes into the final major of the year at next week’s PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. “We’ve been thrilled to work with Vijay on our Water course and are looking forward to the first ever launch of Water properties which will see us unveil the Water apartments, townhouses and villas in October this year.” Vijay’s historical win follows the recent success of fellow Jumeirah Golf Estates course designer, Greg Norman. Norman’s finish in a tie for third at the 2009 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, was said by Vijay to have inspired him and given him hope for a lengthy career. Vijay Singh is behind the design of the Water course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. The course will wind through naturally vegetated dune troughs, following ribbons of wetland. The dunes themselves will be vegetated with native salt-tolerant tall grasses and sedges, for a natural look, with oasis and pond areas fringed with palm trees. This approach is unique in Dubai, and will result in a challenging, traditional course that is dramatic in both appearance and feel. From November 2009, Jumeirah Golf Estates will host the richest tournament in world golf, the US$ 10 million Dubai World Championship on the Greg Norman designed Earth course. Water is one of the four elementally themed championship golf courses – Fire, Earth, Water and Wind - at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Senior Golfers to Explore India

The European Seniors Tour will visit India for the first ever time following the announcement of the Indian Senior Masters, to be played from October 24 to 26, 2008. The majestic Jaypee Greens Golf Resort at Greater Noida will host the inaugural event, which will carry a prize fund of £300,000 and is co-sanctioned by the European Seniors Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India. The announcement of the Indian Senior Masters sets the seal on 2008 being somewhat of a watershed year for the development of golf in India, with the country hosting its first European Tour events in February and March 2008. Renowned for its prime location in Greater Noida, an upcoming metropolis on the outskirts of Delhi, the 7,347 yard par 72 Jaypee Greens course boasts 14 lakes, 88 bunkers and over 10,000 trees. Established as the first of the ‘Great White Shark’s’ – Greg Norman Signature Venues in India, the meticulously manicured greens and fairways at Jaypee Greens combine to create a very naturalized and private space free from the heat, dust and hustle and bustle of the ‘outside world’. Recently awarded the “Best Golf Development – India” at the CNBC Asia Pacific Property Awards, Jaypee Greens is a natural partner for hosting the European Seniors Tour in India. Abhilash.K.R of Tournament Promoters ARC Sports Management said: “It is our endeavour to raise the awareness and development of the sport of golf in India. With the help of the European Seniors Tour, we can facilitate this broadening of the game’s appeal and encourage greater participation by bringing the legends of golf to play in The Indian Senior Masters. The event will provide a friendly and interactive atmosphere for everyone and will quickly establish its place in the Indian golfing calendar.” Mrs. Rita V. Dixit, Jaypee Greens observed “ Golfing in India is gaining a lot of popularity in the global golfing circuit with the coming up of new golf courses, better techniques of training, new sponsors and more prize money. The prestigious European Seniors Tour is coming to India for the first time and will be held at Jaypee Greens which is by far the best golf course in the country. This tour will be yet another great opportunity for Jaypee Greens to showcase it’s world class facilities and growing reputation.” European Seniors Tour professionals and a number of prominent local Indian professionals and amateurs will tee off together in the 54 hole Championship, with the local amateur contingent being led by India’s famous 1983 Cricket World Cup winning captain, Kapil Dev. “I am really looking forward to playing in a professional tournament with some of golf’s great names on home ground here in India. I am sure it will be a tremendous experience for all of us and I hope that I can play my part in helping these golfing legends enjoy their trip to Delhi and working towards the overall goal of popularizing golf in this country” said Kapil. Mr. Gautam Thapar, President, The Professional Golf Tour of India (“PGTI”), said, “With India becoming the new staging ground for the prestigious European Seniors Tour, this is a proud moment for all of us at the PGTI. We are confident that this association will help to establish the Indian Senior Masters as one of the Tour’s premium tournaments.” Charles Perring, Deputy Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour, said: “India has a long-established golfing tradition that dates back to 1829, and we’re delighted to be bringing the European Seniors Tour to India for the first time this year and to be playing at the auspicious Jaypee Greens Golf Resort. “We look forward to working with our Promoters, ARC Sports Management, on establishing the Indian Senior Masters as one of the key tournaments of the year, and wish to give particular thanks to the Professional Golf Tour of India for their support and enthusiasm for this exciting initiative. “On behalf of all our respective members, we look forward to visiting this vibrant and colorful city in October and to playing our part in showcasing the game of golf across the country.” The Indian Seniors Masters is the latest addition to the 2008 European Seniors Tour Schedule. There are currently 19 tournaments on the Schedule, carrying a combined prize fund of approximately €9 million or USD 14 million. For an up-to-date tournament list, visit the website at www.europeantour.com

Friday, August 01, 2008

Walcott is Racing Mascot

ARSENAL star Theo Walcott is promoting the 10th John Smith's Mascot GrandNational which will be run at Huntingdon Racecourse this autumn.Theo is involved as an ambassador for the event's official charity - the WillowFoundation which provides special days for seriously ill 16 to 40 year olds.The England international took time out of his training schedule to be picturedwith Hugo The Hound, Gunnersaurus and Sedge The Field Mouse who will be amongthe competitors in this year's race on Sunday 5 October.With the race reaching its 10th anniversary, the Cambridgeshire racecourse isaiming to attract more than 100 mascots to take part in the madcap event whichgains a worldwide television and online audience for the crazy antics of theparticipants.The Willow Foundation, founded by former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson OBE andhis wife Megs after their daughter died of cancer aged 31, will be thebeneficiary of fund raising around the John Smith's Mascot Grand National.Theo Walcott said: "The Willow Foundation helps people my age so what they doreally means something to me. The Arsenal connection and the opportunity to workwith a legend like Bob Wilson make it extra special. I'm pleased to be helpingmake more special days possible."The Mascot Grand National - sponsored by John Smith's, the sponsors of theactual Grand National - is the highlight of every year for Britain's mascots.Mascots the length and breadth of the country step up their training as theyprepare for the big day.It's a hilarious occasion when upwards of 70 mascots run, walk, stagger andstumble over obstacles on a gruelling one-furlong - 220 yards - course.There's been mayhem, controversy, accusations of gamesmanship, and claims of'ringers' over the years since this madcap race began in 1999, but strict rulesnow ensure good clean fun.Sophie Hodgkinson, managing director of Huntingdon Racecourse, said: "The JohnSmith's Mascot Grand National has grown in size and popularity year after year.We're targeting 100 runners this year for the 10th running of the race."The John Smith's Mascot Grand National kicks off an afternoon of jump racing atthe Cambridgeshire racecourse.MASCOT GRAND NATIONAL HISTORY1999: The Mascot Grand National was born as 17 mascots took part in one of themost unusual sights ever seen on a racecourse. Beau Brummie Bulldog, ofBirmingham City FC, won.2000: Word spread, and 49 mascots lined up, with Watford FC's Harry the Hornetstinging the bookmakers in a flying finish.2001: Controversy as Freddie the Fox was first past the post, but turned out tobe an Olympic athlete. Uproar ensued, and Dazzler the Lion (Rushden & DiamondsFC) roared as he was proclaimed the new winner.2002: Chaddy the Owl (Oldham Athletic FC) flew to victory amidst claims that hewas another 'ringer'. The accusations were unfounded - it had been Chaddy'svigorous training routine that enabled him to wing it.2003: For the second year Chaddy the Owl was crowned victor, but only afterseveral rivals were distracted by a female streaker. An attempted £10,000betting coup using a Commonwealth Games gold medallist as Sedge the Field Mousefailed when one of the rodent's feet fell off.2004: The year of Graham the Gorilla, the mascot of local football club FinedonVolta FC, who sent the crowd bananas.2005: The bookies expected Chaddy and Graham to dominate, but the Sunnewspaper's Scoop 6 Squirrel drove everyone nuts with a stunning turn of foot.2006: Football charity Kick 4 Life's mascot Mickey The Monkey proved he was thebusiness despite an attempted 'rugby' tackle on him in the closing stages.Sammy Saint was second for the second year.2007: Wacky Macky Bear saw off the 2006 winner Mickey the Monkey to win forSaffron Walden FC on his Grand National debut.RACECOURSE ADMISSION DETAILSAdmission on Sunday 5 October: Main Enclosure £15; Picnic Enclosure £8.Accompanied children under 16 - free.Parking: Free.Times: Gates open at 12.10pm. John Smith's Mascot Grand National at 1.10pm.First horse race 2.10pm.Contact information: telephone 01480 453373 or emailmascot.huntingdon@jockeyclubracecourses.com

Woosnam targets the Senior Masters

Ian Woosnam will return to the scene of his British Masters triumph 14 years ago as he continues his pursuit of his first European Seniors Tour Order of Merit crown at the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at Woburn Golf Club from August 29-31. The 2006 Ryder Cup winning Captain is currently €30,000 ahead of Germany’s Bernhard Langer in the Order of Merit and he will return to the Duke’s Course, where he won the British Masters in 1994, looking to extend his lead. Woosnam memorably clinched that British Masters crown by four strokes from runner up Seve Ballesteros, with the illustrious trio of Langer, Ernie Els and Colin Montgomerie also just behind. With two victories already to his name this season, the Welshman is on course to land the John Jacobs trophy given to the leading player on the Seniors Tour Order of Merit. Woosnam landed the Parkridge Polish Seniors Championship in only his third appearance on the Seniors Tour and then quickly followed that with victory at the Russian Seniors Open. He also finished second behind Peter Mitchell at the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open. Andy Stubbs, Managing Director of the European Seniors Tour, said: “It’s fantastic to have Ian Woosnam , the Masters Tournament champion of 1991 and the British Masters champion of 1994, going back to Woburn. We will look forward to seeing whether he can land yet another ‘Masters’ win at the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters.”

Norman to star in Western Australia

Australia’s Greg Norman is the first golfing great to commit to the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic, which will be held at The Vines Resort & Country Club in Perth, Western Australia, from February 19 to 22. The participation of former World Number One Norman, who recently rolled back the years at Royal Birkdale and almost secured an unlikely third Open Championship title, is an indication that the event will once again feature a strong field of international stars. Norman said: “I have always had a great time competing in Johnnie Walker events. It will also be a great treat to be competing back on home soil in Australia – especially in Perth, which offers great weather, a fantastic championship course at The Vines, and a wonderful backdrop for a tournament as prestigious as the Johnnie Walker Classic.” In spite of cutting back his playing schedule to accommodate his worldwide commitments to his course design and other business interests, Norman’s revival at The Open Championship makes the 53 year old a prime example of the “Keep Walking” message which lies at heart of theJohnnie Walker brand. Against the odds, Norman dominated the leaderboard for much of The Open Championship, as he strived to secure the Claret Jug ahead of some of the world’s greatest golfers in arguably the most demanding conditions in the history of the tournament. Over the years, Norman has enjoyed a sparkling career which has seen him win more than 80 tournaments worldwide – including two Open Championship titles in 1986 and 1993 – and spend a total of 331 weeks at the top of the Official World Rankings. The charismatic golfer, known throughout the world as the ‘Great White Shark’, makes a welcome return to the Johnnie Walker Classic which he won in 1994 at the Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket. In becoming the fourth winner of the coveted Johnnie Walker Striding Man trophy, Norman overcame a star-studded field which included such golfing greats as: Bernhard Langer of Germany, who had won his second US Masters the previous year; Zimbabwean Nick Price, who went on to win the Open Championship and the US PGA Championship that same year; American Fred Couples, who had won the inaugural Johnnie Walker World Championship; and Ian Woosnam of Wales, who had been victorious at the US Masters just three years before. David Gates, Global Brand Director for Johnnie Walker, said: “Historically the Johnnie Walker Classic, one of Asia Pacific’s most established and popular golf events, has boasted a high calibre line-up, and the participation of Greg Norman is confirmation that we will maintain that tradition in 2009. “Greg’s presence will give Australian golf fans the rare opportunity to watch their greatest ever golfer in action on home soil, alongside a host of other international golfing giants who will be competing in the 18th staging of the event, which was first played in 1990 at the Hong Kong Golf Club.”

Barker set for North American Debut

On August 15, The Venue at The River Cree Resort and Casino, in Enoch, Alberta, just outside Edmonton, plays host to one of the most intriguing match-ups of the year, as undefeated British middleweight sensation “Dazzling” Darren Barker (17-0, 11 KO’s) makes his North American debut against upset-minded veteran Larry Sharpe (22-4, 10 KO’s), of Pine Falls, Alberta. All the action is brought to you by Hennessy Sports Canada, and The River Cree Resort and Casino, and can be seen live, in Canada, on Super Channel at 9:30 Eastern, 6:30 Pacific. Barker, the reigning Commonwealth Middleweight champion, has wowed UK fans with his blazing hand speed, and fighting acumen, making a seamless leap from prospect to contender with eye-popping performances in the toughest tests of his career, and is eager to make new fans on this side of the Atlantic. “I’m so excited to be fighting in Canada,” an enthused Barker said before dismissing any notion that he might be fighting Sharpe, a Western Canadian, at a disadvantage. “I had an extensive amateur career, and was constantly abroad. I’m quite comfortable fighting overseas. It’s really nothing new for me.” “This is why I box and test myself, so I can travel the world and show people everywhere what I’m capable of.” Boxing fans in the UK already know, and love, what the Barnet-born Londoner can do in a boxing ring. In November of 2007, Barker dominated the previously undefeated Ben Crampton (20-0-1, 10 KO’s) to secure the vacant Commonwealth Middleweight crown via lopsided twelve round unanimous decision, and defended the title with a flawless TKO over Steven Bendall (28-3, 13 KO’s), battering the game Coventry southpaw before stopping him on cuts in the seventh round. In Sharpe, Barker faces a ring-wise southpaw who, while lacking flash, carries more than his share of substance into the ring, and is riding a six fight win streak in the wake of a controversial ten round split decision setback to Bryon Mackie (27-13, 10 KO’s) in November of 2006. Sharpe’s current run of success includes five wins inside the distance against increasingly difficult competition, culminating with a fourth round TKO over former WBC Lightweight title challenger Mauro Lucero (43-12-1, 29 KO’s) this past May. Sharpe is perhaps best known in the UK for a brave performance against Plymouth Middleweight, Scott Dann, in February of 2006, in which Sharpe held firm until being stopped by a crunching uppercut in the ninth round. “I’ve only ever seen Sharpe in his fight with Scott Dann, and he was holding his own for a while there until he got caught,” Barker said of his foe on August 15th. “Clearly, he’s a guy who’s very experienced, and knows what he’s doing in the ring. “It should be an excellent fight.”

Santos a World Champion for Third Time

Daniel Santos became a world champion for the third time by defeating previously undefeated World Boxing Association super welterweight champion Joachim Alcine in Montreal at the beautiful outdoor Uniprix Stadium. The energetic crowd of nearly 10,000 in Alcine’s adopted hometown of Quebec could not prevent Santos, who was making his 12th world championship appearance, from exerting his considerable experience on Alcine, who was making his first title defense after winning the crown just one year ago. The end came suddenly when Santos landed a devastating left hand in the sixth round that left the champion sprawled on the canvas where he was counted out by the referee at 2:10 into the round. The Puerto Rican-born and -bred Santos (32-3-1, 23 KOs), an Olympic Games bronze-medal winner in 1996 that went on to defeat the likes of Antonio Margarito and “Yory Boy” Campas while claiming the World Boxing Organization welterweight and junior middleweight championships, believes this victory will propel him to greater heights. “Alcine is a good fighter and I gave him a lot of respect,” Santos said, “but in the end my experience took me to victory. I do not believe there is anything I cannot achieve in the ring when I am prepared and focused, which I am right now.” “My goal is to unify the division. I have earned the right to fight in elite, top-level matches. If a fighter like Oscar De La Hoya wants to fight, I’m ready. If a fighter at 160 pounds like Kelly Pavlik or Jermain Taylor wants to fight, I’m ready.” Promoter Don King, who was sitting ringside watching his fighter in Montreal, was impressed with Santos’s performance. “I thought Danny was sensational,” Kind said. “He reclaimed the glory of yesteryear by landing a rare and unique one-punch knockout of a champion. It proves that Danny is not only a great boxer but a powerful puncher to be reckoned with. Danny’s calling out everyone from Oscar De La Hoya to any world-title holder out there.”

Arthur puts film role on Hold

Alex Arthur has put his ambitions of winning an Oscar on hold - to concentrate on his upcoming fight against Nicky Cook. Edinburgh star Arthur will make the first defence of his WBO World Super-Featherweight title at the M.E.N Arena on September 6 that also features Commonwealth Lightweight Champion Amir Khan. And because of the fight, Arthur has abandoned his acting debut, which would have seen him star in Viking epic, Valhalla Rising, alongside acclaimed Danish star, Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen is familiar to film fans haveing played James Bond villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. "I'm disapointed that I won't be in the film, but boxing comes first and there will be further opportunities down the line," said Arthur, who has long expressed an interest in becoming a film star. "I'll just have to leave all the Viking warrior stuff to the fight itself, which I believe will be a classic Battle of Britain. "I know Cook is desperate to become a world champion and aims to make me pay because Scott Harrison pulled out of their fight, but there will be no Hollywood ending for him. "I was due to film my part in the coming weeks, and I just couldn't fit it around training for this fight. "I remember a few years ago, Lennox Lewis filmed Ocean's 11 instead of preparing for his fight with Hasim Rahman in South Africa, and got knocked out in a massive upset. "I just couldn't take the risk of that happening to me. "I've always been keen on acting, and it is definitely an option for when I have finished my career in the ring. "Sean Connery is one of my ultimate heroes, while I've always been inspired by Scottish actors like Ewan MacGregor and Robert Carlyle - as well as all the boxers I looked up to as well.
"As well as wanting to become a three weight world champion, which I believe I'm well on course to achieving, I also want to win an Oscar as well." Arthur, 30 and had been cast in Valhalla Rising through his cousin, Jamie Sives, who also stars in the film. Tickets for 2 Hot 2 Handle, priced at £30, £40, £50, £100, £150 and £200, are available from http://www.frankwarren.tv/ and the following outlets: M.E.N Ticketmaster 0870 190 8000 www.men-arena.com See Tickets 0871 220 0260 www.seetickets.com Ticket Factory 0871 945 6000 http://www.ticketfactory.co.uk/ BWFC 0871 871 2932 khantickets@bwfc.co.uk Khan Boxing 01204 535 332 www.amirkhan-boxing.com