Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cleverly steps in for Brook

Rising star Kell Brook has withdrawn from his British Welterweight title defence on May 22 at the York Hall after injuring his hand. The Sheffield star, who was aiming to win the Lonsdale belt outright inside 12 months, hurt his hand during a sparring session and after medical examination was advised to pull-out. Brook's challenger was due to be Birmingham's Young Mutley, but he withdrew yesterday after injuring his ribs and the search was on for a new opponent. With Brook now out, Welsh hot-shot Nathan Cleverly will now headline the Frank Warren promotion with a defence of his Commonwealth Light-Heavyweight crown. The unbeaten 22-year-old, who is studying for a Mathematics degree at Cardiff University, is undefeated in 15 fights with five knockouts. His last two title defences have ended in knockout wins. Cleverly said, "I was disappointed to hear that Kell was injured, he's a good fighter and I was looking forward to putting my feet up and watching him on TV in a few weeks time, "When I got the call asking if I was fit and ready and could I box on May 22, I jumped at the chance, "I was due to fight next on the Amir Khan undercard at the 02 Arena in June but I really fancied getting back in the ring sooner so it was a great opportunity, "I'm always in training and try to keep close to my fighting weight so I don't have to lose too much when I start training." "It's going to be a busy year for me and I'm desperate to get a shot at the British title." Cleverly's challenger will be announced shortly. The York Hall undercard will remain the same and features Kevin Mitchell, Derek Chisora, Stephen Smith, Vinny Mitchell and Walsh brothers Liam, Michael and Ryan.

Cabrera targets BMW PGA after Masters Success

Angel Cabrera will attempt to join Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and José Maria Olazábal in the exclusive club of players who have arrived at Wentworth Club and lifted the BMW PGA Championship title just weeks after winning the Masters Tournament. Cabrera won his first Green Jacket after a tense play-off with Americans Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell last month and having secured his second Major Championship title, following his US Open triumph of 2007, the Argentine’s focus turns to winning the BMW PGA Championship for the second time from May 21-24. Ballesteros was the first to win both the Masters Tournament and PGA Championship in the same season when he captured his second Green Jacket in 1983 before winning the first of his two PGA titles the following month. Faldo achieved the double in 1989 while Langer and Olazábal claimed the Masters crown in 1993 and 1994 respectively before returning to Europe to display their winning ways at Wentworth Club. Cabrera has already experienced that winning feeling over the famous West Course having enjoyed the honour of being the first champion under the BMW banner in 2005, and the putter he used on that occasion was wielded with devastating affect at Augusta National. Cabrera’s two shot victory over Ireland’s Paul McGinley in 2005 cemented his love affair with Wentworth Club, following runner-up finishes there in 2001 and 2004 behind Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn and Scott Drummond respectively. He said: “It was a huge win for me, because after The Open Championship, the BMW PGA Championship is the biggest tournament in Europe. Wentworth is a course I very much like, because I always seem to play well there. I finished second in 2001 and 2004, but to go one better in 2005 felt fantastic. It made me realise that I could win big tournaments.” Of the nine occasions on which Cabrera has reached the weekend of The European Tour’s flagship event, he has finished outside the top 50 just once. More impressively still, the 39 year old has finished in the top ten on no fewer than five occasions.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Torrance and Woosnam in Irish Showdown

Ryder Cup winning Captains Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam will continue their battle for European Senior Tour supremacy when the pair go head to head in the Irish Seniors Open in association with Fáilte Ireland and AIB Bank at Ballybunion Golf Club in South West Ireland from June 5-7, 2009. Torrance is currently leading the Senior Tour Order of Merit after winning his 11th Senior Tour title in the DGM Barbados Open, where he finished four strokes clear of Paraguayan Angel Franco. The 55 year old Scot heads to Ballybunion chasing his third John Jacobs Trophy after finishing as the leading Senior Tour player in both 2005 and 2006. He will also be looking to reclaim the Irish Seniors Open crown he won in 2006 when he defeated America's Jerry Bruner, Chile's Guillermo Encina and Australia's Stewart Ginn on the second hole of a four-man play-off at Sheraton Fota Island Golf Resort and Spa. Torrance added that title to his two Irish Open victories on The European Tour in 1981 at Portmarnock and 1995 at Mount Juliet and will be keen to win again on the Emerald Isle to strengthen his John Jacobs Trophy bid. “The Irish Seniors Open is always one of the highlights of the season and I’ve enjoyed a lot of success on Irish soil so it is a place I look forward to returning to,” said The 2002 Ryder Cup winning Captain. “I’ve been playing beautifully on the Senior Tour this year and my victory in Barbados was some of the best golf I’ve played in a long time. Links golf is always a good test of your game and it will be an important tournament in terms of the Order of Merit race. “The field looks very strong and Ballybunion promises to be a magnificent place to visit and I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing one of Ireland’s great links courses.” Torrance will be joined in the field for the €350,000 tournament by Woosnam, who is looking to retain the John Jacobs Trophy he captured in his rookie season when he became the first former Harry Vardon Trophy winner on The European Tour to top the Senior Tour Order of Merit. The Welshman, who won twice in 2008, moved to the top of the Order of Merit for the first time last season when he finished tied ninth in the Irish Seniors Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club - the same position as Torrance. Like Torrance, Woosnam has also previously tasted success on Irish soil, having won back-to-back Irish Open titles in 1988 and 1989 before leading Europe to Ryder Cup glory at The K Club in 2006. Both players will be hoping to succeed Spaniard Juan Quiros, who returns to Ireland to defend the title he won in 2008 when he produced a sublime approach shot on Ballyliffin’s final hole to finish one stroke ahead of home favourite Des Smyth. Former Ryder Cup player Smyth, who is back playing full time in Europe this season after splitting his schedule for six years with the US Champions Tour, is looking for his third Senior Tour title after winning the Senior Tour Championship in 2005 and the Wentworth Senior Masters in 2007. Northern Ireland’s Jimmy Heggarty, winner of the Senior Tour Qualifying School in November and runner up in the 2009 season opening Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum, is also in the field along with Peter Mitchell, a three time winner in 2008, and Carl Mason, the all time leading Senior Tour money winner who won the Irish Seniors Open title in 2004. With many of the leading Senior Tour players in the field, spectators attending the 13th edition of the Irish Seniors Open in association with Fáilte Ireland and AIB Bank can take advantage of a unique ticket offer with all season tickets priced at just €15. Charles Perring, Deputy Managing Director of the European Senior Tour, said: “This season ticket offer is something we are delighted to be able to do in such a difficult economic climate and has the full support of our sponsors Fáilte Ireland and AIB Bank. “We have assembled another wonderful field to one of our premier events and this is a great opportunity for the community of County Kerry to see some of the game’s most iconic names on their doorstep.” Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: "I am delighted that Ian Woosnam and Sam Torrance will be competing in the Irish Seniors Open. They have a most distinguished place among European golfers as Captains of victorious Ryder Cup Teams and as outstanding international golfers. “The 2006 victory at The K Club in particular will be remembered as a key moment in Irish sporting history. They will face keen competition however from an extremely strong field, with Juan Quiros fighting to retain his crown, and Des Smyth and Jimmy Heggarty carrying the hopes of golf fans from all over the island of Ireland." “The Irish Seniors Open has become one of the leading senior tournaments in Europe and this is reflected in the strength of this year's entry list. The Ballybunion Old Course, one of the finest links courses in the world, is the perfect setting for this event. “The Irish Government, through Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority is proud to support the Irish Seniors Open. We are committed to the strategy of supporting the Irish Seniors Open and The 3 Irish Open due to the worldwide media coverage that they receive, which serves as a significant incentive to overseas golfers to visit Ireland and play golf here." At 6598 yards, Ballybunion’s par 71 Old Course, perched atop a beautiful stretch of County Kerry coastline, is widely regarded as links golf in its purest form and features one of the world’s most awesome and aesthetically pleasing hole, the 453 yard par four 11th, named ‘Watsons’ in recognition of Ballybunion’s Millennium Captain and Honorary Life Member, Tom Watson.

Jimenez returns to Wentworth Triumph

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez will return to the scene of his greatest triumph next month to attempt to become only the third man - after England’s Nick Faldo and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie - to successfully defend the BMW PGA Championship. Jiménez’s play-off victory over England’s Oliver Wilson at Wentworth Club, the 15th title of his illustrious European Tour career, earned the Spaniard €750,000 – a sum which contributed substantially to a record season’s earnings of €2,066,596, fourth place on The European Tour Order of Merit. and a place in Nick Faldo’s European Ryder Cup Team at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky. When the 2009 edition of the BMW PGA Championship takes place from May 21-24, the 45 year old will seek to emulate Faldo, who triumphed in 1980 before successfully defending his title in 1981, and Montgomerie, who lifted the trophy three years running from 1998-2000. Jiménez said: “It felt great to win last year as it meant I’d won three BMW events - the BMW Asian Open and the BMW International Open in 2004 and then the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in my 20th season on The European Tour. That was a fantastic feeling. The BMW PGA Championship is probably the most important tournament on The European Tour, so it was definitely the biggest win of my career. “To do it in a play-off, and beat a very good player like Oliver, made it feel even more special. The play-off was good for the fans because it made it more exciting, and it was also good for the sponsors because it gave them more opportunities to show pictures of BMWs on television. “Winning last year went a long way to ensuring I qualified for The Ryder Cup which was a great personal thrill. I find it hard to believe that we are just a few weeks away from my defence of the title and I can’t wait to get back to Wentworth and re-live all the wonderful memories of last year.” Jiménez is part of a strong Spanish contingent confirmed in the 150-man field, with his compatriots Rafael Cabrera Bello, Alejandro Cañizares, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, former champion Ignacio Garrido, José Manuel Lara, Pablo Larrazábal, Alvaro Quiros and Alvaro Velasco also heading to Wentworth Club. Between them Fernandez-Castaño, Garrido, Jiménez, Lara and Larrazábal have collected an impressive 23 European Tour titles, with Jiménez contributing no fewer than 15. Cabrera Bello and Open de France ALSTOM winner Larrazabal will be making their BMW PGA Championship debuts this year, with all three dreaming of becoming the sixth Spanish winner of the event after Manuel Piñero (who won in 1997), Seve Ballesteros (1983 and 1991), José Maria Olazábal (1994), Garrido (2003) and, of course, Jiménez last year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gavin sets sights on British Title

Red-hot prospect Frankie Gavin has vowed to match the achievements of girlfriend Ria - by winning a British title. Ria landed the All-Britain Club Championship in 2006 with her Birmingham based Gaelic football team, John Mitchels. And Gavin says he wants to do the same in a boxing ring by the end of next year. "It's every boxer's dream to win a Lonsdale belt," said the 23-year-old, who will make his second professional appearance at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on May 15. "Ria has got her own British title, I want one even more as well. "She keeps asking me when I'm going to bring home a British title to match hers, and it's really spurring me on. "Within 18 months or so I'm going to be ready to fight for the British title." Gavin, who got his pro career off to the perfect start in February when he stopped George Kadaria in Birmingham, has Irish heritage, with both his parents hailing from the Emerald Isle. And even though he speaks with a broad Birmingham accent, he still feels a strong link to Ireland - including a passion for Gaelic football. "I've been looking at all the fixtures seeing if I can sneak in a match when I'm over in Belfast," said Gavin, who became Britain's first amateur world champion in 2007 when he took lightweight gold in Chicago. "Obviously boxing comes first, but if there's a game on after my fight on May 15 then I'll be there with the best seats in the house."I've played a few games over in England and it's a tough, tough sport - but I love it. "We're always watching it on television at home, and if I hadn't been a boxer then it's definitely a sport I'd have played regularly." Gavin's appearance on May 15 will see him joined by his fellow 2008 Olympians, James DeGale and Billy Joe Saunders. Martin Rogan's Commonwealth heavyweight title defence against Sam Sexton will top the bill at the Odyssey Arena, while there is also an exciting Irish title fight between Neil Sinclair and Henry Coyle. Also on the card, Michael Jennings returns to action in an eight rounder following his brave WBO world title challenge against Miguel Cotto, while local stars Scott Belshaw, Kevin O'Hara, Ciaran Healy and Luke Wilton also feature.

Jeffries to star in Sunderland

TONY JEFFRIES is out to show that absence has made the punches get harder when he returns home to Sunderland on Saturday. Britain's Beijing bronze medallist has his second professional fight when he faces German Roy Meissner in a super-middleweight four rounder on Frank Maloney's the triple title bill at Crowtree Leisure Centre. Jeffries, 24, bases himself in Manchester during the week before returning home at weekends to spend time with his family and fiancée, Sarah Kneeshaw. He said: "It is a bit of a wrench travelling to Manchester every week, but they are the sacrifices you have to make. When training is enjoyable that sort of thing doesn't matter. "I just want to make it so badly that I would do anything to give myself any advantage and fortunately I have got a great family around me to help out. The rest is up to me." Tony who is managed by dad Phil and promoted b Maloney is tipped to become as popular as Ricky Hatton and already proving to be a prolific ticket seller. Maloney added: "It is a long term project, but I see Tony developing into an arena fighter with the ultimate ambition a world title fight at the Stadium of Light. "If he progresses like I believe Tony can match Ricky for popularity around the world. "The man in the street identifies with him and Tony always has the time of day for people. It will be about the right fights at the right time, and that is the job Phil and I have. "Tony has the hardest job of all winning, and I'm sure a German fighter like Meissner won't want to get beaten up by an English fighter so Tony will have to be on top form."Top of the bill is European light-middleweight champion Jamie Moore (31-3) who makes the first defence of his title when he faces Ukraine's former amateur star Roman Dzuman (23-6-1). Mike Tyson conqueror Danny Williams (40-7) risks his British heavyweight title in a rematch against John McDermott (25-4). European super-bantamweight champion Rendall Munroe (18-1) boxes Ghanaian Issac Nettey for the vacant Commonwealth title.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Captains Clash at Celtic Manor

Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin, the Captains of Europe and the United States for The 2010 Ryder Cup, will come together in a competitive arena for the first time since their respective appointments when they line up in The Celtic Manor Wales Open from June 4-7, 2009, at The Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, South Wales. Montgomerie, who was selected as European Captain in January, will be playing in his seventh Celtic Manor Wales Open and competing for the second time on The Twenty Ten Course – the first course in history built specifically to host The Ryder Cup – where last year he opened with rounds of 69 and 68. For Pavin, who took over the reins from Paul Azinger last December, it will be his first visit to The Celtic Manor Resort and his first look at a course where his charges will tackle Montgomerie’s European Team from October 1-3, 2010. Not surprisingly, the 49 year old Californian admitted he was very much looking forward to the prospect. “When I was appointed United States Ryder Cup Captain I spoke of what a great thrill it was for me to have this wonderful honour,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is the most dynamic and intense experience a competitive golfer will ever have and for me personally, the dream will begin to become reality with my trip to Wales in June. “I have heard a lot of great things about The Twenty Ten Course and I cannot wait to see how it is set up for The Celtic Manor Wales Open as well as imagining how it may be set up for The Ryder Cup itself in 18 months time. “I started my professional golf career in Europe and have extremely fond memories of those days and the wonderful people that I encountered along the way. I look forward to bringing my wife, Lisa, to Wales and connecting with the people. “As Captain of the US Team, I am determined to lead our Team with passion and determination, but in the spirit of great sportsmanship and camaraderie. In these tough global economic times, particularly, we need to keep this wonderful event in perspective. Don’t be surprised to find us hanging out in pubs the week of the Wales Open enjoying friendly banter about the possibilities of 2010. “Colin and I have met each other on three occasions in The Ryder Cup and it will be great to see him again. We are both passionate guys with a genuine love for the game and it will be fantastic to play in the same tournament together on the same course where we will both have the honour of being Captains in what I believe is the greatest event in golf.” Montgomerie admitted he was once again looking forward to teeing it up in The Celtic Manor Wales Open and welcomed the news that his opposite number would be alongside him in the field. “It is tremendous news that Corey is playing and myself and Gaynor look forward very much to welcoming him and Lisa to Wales,” said the European Captain. “Throughout his career, Corey has shown himself as a great competitor and I am sure, like me, he will be striving to win The Celtic Manor Wales Open as well as looking ahead to his own plans for next year’s Ryder Cup. “I always enjoy playing in The Celtic Manor Wales Open. It has additional significance as we are playing on the course where next year’s Ryder Cup will unfold. It is set up to challenge the best and, being a course with a whole host of tempting options and punishing hazards, there will be much for Corey and I to examine.” Montgomerie will bring one of the most impressive playing records of any European golfer to The Celtic Manor Wales Open. Aside from his record eight Harry Vardon Trophy successes, he has also 31 European Tour International Schedule titles to his credit, the most recorded by any British golfer in history. However, it is in The Ryder Cup that the 45 year old Scot has excelled on the international stage. He has played in eight matches and is, not only unbeaten in each and every one of his eight singles encounters, he also had the honour of holing the winning putt for Europe on two occasions; at Club de Golf Valderrama in 1997 and at Oakland Hills Country Club in 2004. Pavin’s visit to the Principality will represent the 1995 US Open Champion’s first appearance in a European Tour event outside the Major Championships since he finished in a tie for seventh place in the Scandinavian Masters at Arlandastad Golf in Stockholm in August 2007. On his home US PGA Tour, Pavin has triumphed 15 times, while his international roll of honour includes victory in the 1993 World Match Play Championship at Wentworth Club in England – where he beat Nick Faldo on the final green of an enthralling final – and success by three shots in the 1983 German Open at the Golf und Landclub in Cologne, beating Seve Ballesteros and Tony Johnstone into second place. He has also recorded tournament victories in Japan, Korea, New Zealand and South Africa. But, somewhat like his opposite number at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010, The Ryder Cup has played a defining part in his career, having competed in the 1991, 1993 and 1995 American Teams, posting eight wins in his 13 matches. He was also assistant captain to Tom Lehman at The K Club in 2006. He is the 26th United States Captain and will lead an American Team which, at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky last September, won The Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999. Pavin will also attempt to become the first US Captain since Tom Watson at The Belfry in 1993 to lead a team to victory on European soil. “I played my first Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island in 1991 and things like listening to the national anthem and feeling the pressure as a player cemented my love for the event in my blood forever,” he said. “I knew then I wanted to play in as many Ryder Cups as possible and dreamt about being Captain. Now that dream has come true.” Dylan Matthews, Chief Executive of The Celtic Manor Resort, welcomed the news that both Ryder Cup Captains were poised to tee up. “We extended a sponsor’s invitation to Corey Pavin as soon as he was appointed the United States Ryder Cup Team Captain and we are delighted that he has agreed to play, as we are with Colin Montgomerie, who has always been a popular attraction at The Celtic Manor Wales Open and we are delighted to welcome him back,” he said. “Knowing Colin as I do, I am sure he will be keen to give the leading contenders for places in his Team a good run for their money as they contest The Celtic Manor Wales Open on the course where they will aim to win back The Ryder Cup in 2010. “As for Corey, I am sure he is going to be a fantastic Team Captain but he also remains a seriously good golfer and I’m looking forward to seeing him play at The Celtic Manor Wales Open. I am also looking forward to showing him the high level of Welsh hospitality that he and his Team can expect at Celtic Manor in 2010.” The Twenty Ten Course hosted its first Celtic Manor Wales Open last year when Australian Scott Strange produced a sublime four day performance; four rounds in the 60s giving the 32 year old from Perth a four shot winning margin with a 22 under par aggregate of 262. The tournament itself first featured on The European Tour International Schedule in 2000 when Denmark’s Steen Tinning triumphed on the old Wentwood Hills course and he was succeeded as champion on that course by Ireland’s Paul McGinley (2001), Scotland’s Paul Lawrie (2002) and Englishmen Ian Poulter (2003) and Simon Khan (2004). From 2005 to 2007, The Celtic Manor Wales Open was contested on the Newport venue’s Roman Road course with the winners there being Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez (2005), Sweden’s Robert Karlsson (2006) and Richard Sterne of South Africa (2007).

McIlroy strikes it Big

Rory McIlroy’s towering three wood strike which set up an eagle three during the second round of the World Golf Championships – CA Championship has been awarded The European Tour Shot of the Month for March. The Northern Irishman was competing in only his second WGC event and was looking impressive after an opening 68 over a course known as the ‘Blue Monster’ at Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Florida. But his promising start was under threat as he decided to take on the dangerous approach to the par five eighth hole in the second round. With 268 yards to the flag and water guarding the front of the green, McIlroy was faced with a classic risk-reward dilemma with his second shot. Fearlessly, the teenager opted for his fairway wood and the gamble paid off as the ball nestled a few feet from the pin. He tapped in the eagle putt and went on to shoot a 66, propelling him into tied second at the halfway stage. “It was one of the best shots I have ever hit to be honest,” he said at the time. “I enjoy being aggressive on the golf course. I'm not going to change it. I get a kick out of it, and I'll keep playing like that. I get a kick out of it when I'm trying to go for greens and trying to go for pins over water.” McIlroy’s shot was judged the winner of the March Shot of the Month award by a panel comprising golfing media who voted Søren Kjeldsen’s 30 foot birdie putt on the 71st hole at Real Club de Golf de Seville into second place. That putt gave the Dane a two shot lead playing the last and effectively sealed the Open de Andalucia de Golf 09 title and his second European Tour victory in Spain in the space of six months. Third place went to India’s Jeev Milkha Singh for his seven iron tee shot to the par three 15th hole in the final round of the WGC – CA Championship. The ball came to rest a few feet from the well guarded pin, setting up a birdie which helped him finish in fourth place, the highest by a European Tour Member. It is the second time McIlroy has won The European Tour Shot of the Month Award this year having also claimed the January award for the bunker shot which helped him win the Dubai Desert Classic. Paul Casey won the February award for the six iron he holed for an eagle two during the final of the WGC – Accenture Match Play in Arizona. The European Tour Shot of the Month is presented to the Tour Member for the shot judged to be the most outstanding played during each calendar month on The European Tour International Schedule. The winning shots from each month are entered into The European Tour Shot of the Year.

Carl the Cobra KOs Taylor

The “Cobra” underlined his status as one of the most exciting fighters in World boxing as he got up off the canvas to deliver a sensational KO win with just 14 seconds left in the twelfth and final round. Speaking following the win Britain’s only reigning World Champion said, “It was an unbelievable fight. Before the fight Taylor and the American media were asking who I was, well they all know now. “I took a couple of good shots in the third round and went down but that's boxing and I regained my composure pretty quickly. As the fight was progressing I could tell that Jermain was tiring and I worked hard to keep the pressure on him because I knew it was getting to him and it all paid off in the last round. “I’m on top of the world right now and I intend on staying there. There’s some really big fights out there for me now and I’m ready for any of them be it Kelly Pavlik or even Joe Calzaghe if he can be bothered getting out of his armchair.“All Joe has to say is that he wants the fight. His last excuse for not fighting me was that nobody knew me in America well I think they all know who I am after that performance. I don’t think Joe will take the fight because he knows exactly what the outcome would be but I’m ready, willing and able for him anytime. It would be a huge fight for Britain and the World.” Froch’s promoter Mick Hennessy believes that the win over Taylor has earned Froch his place amongst British boxing’s greats. “This is exactly the kind of fight that boxing needed,” said Hennessy. “It was like a ‘Rocky’ movie. I said all along that Carl was going to make a big statement in this fight and he certainly did that. He's established himself as a world wide star with that performance and I believe he’s underlined his position as Britain's best pound for pound fighter. “It was a big gamble taking this fight but it’s paid off and Carl has now established himself in the U.S. as a marquee fighter. There are endless options open to us now but ideally I'd like to have Carl in a massive fight back in Britain. There are all kinds of possibilities including the likes of Kelly Pavlik and of course Joe Calzaghe if he fancies it but I don’t think he’ll want any part of Carl after seeing what he did to Taylor.”

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ireland's Emerging Crop of Golfers

Graeme McDowell believes that Ireland’s current crop of world class talent combined with a €3 million prize fund and an innovative new sponsor are the three compelling reasons to make The 3 Irish Open one of the strongest events on The European Tour International Schedule as he confirmed his participation. The Ryder Cup star is confident that his previous record over the stunning links that is County Louth Golf Club in Baltray can spur him on to become only the third Irish winner of his National Open in the last 27 years, following three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington’s 2007 success. “It would be a dream to win in front of the home crowd. Following John O’Leary’s victory in 1982, Padraig followed suit for the Irish boys a couple of years ago so hopefully I can back him up this year with a win at Baltray which is a golf course I like,” said McDowell. “I finished 11th when they played the tournament there in 2004 and I finished ninth in the East of Ireland Amateur Championship a few years before that. It’s a golf course I really like and I am looking forward to getting back there. “We are playing for an awful lot of money as well – €3 million – and that is an important factor because we have to try and attract the best possible field to our National Open and get The 3 Irish Open up there as one of the strongest events on The European Tour International Schedule because that is where it deserves to be. “It’s quite amazing that many of the best players in the field, no matter who enters the tournament, will be Irish. You look at the Irish players, especially Padraig with his unbelievable success over the past few years and now with the emergence of Rory, and see that we are competing and succeeding on the world stage. “It’s so important for the tournament that we have such success in Irish golf at the moment and I really hope that the Irish fans get out there and support the boys because the Irish people have always loved their golf and we need to get this tournament back to where it belongs.” Robert Finnegan, Chief Executive of 3, said: “"We are very pleased to announce Graeme is playing in The 3 Irish Open this year at Baltray. As the leading European at the US Masters in Augusta, I’m sure we are all looking forward to watching Graeme compete. The 3 Irish Open is already promising to be an exciting tournament and a highlight of the European Tour. I would encourage all golf fans to come along and support our Irish players at Baltray in May.” Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: “I am delighted Graeme McDowell is participating in The 3 Irish Open at the Baltray Links. This Portrush golfer is one of the most exciting talents to emerge from Northern Ireland in recent years. Graeme, who had a particularly magnificent year in 2008 - with a personal victory at the Ballantine’s Championship in March; winning The Barclays Scottish Open in July, in addition to membership of The Ryder Cup Team - will be a fantastic addition to the line up set to play at the County Louth Golf Club next month.” Minister Cullen added: “The support provided by 3 will make The Irish Open which is also supported by Fáilte Ireland, one of the most prestigious events on the European Tour.”

Top Class turn out in Turin

A total of nine champions from BMW tournaments past and present will form part of an all-star cast aiming to drive away with the BMW Italian Open title at Royal Park I Roveri in Turin from May 7-10. Headlining the field is Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie, the eight-time Vardon Trophy winner as European Number One, who will be seeking to add the 2009 BMW Italian Open crown to his success in the BMW International Open in Munich ten years ago. Montgomerie is joined in the field by Major Champions John Daly of the United States and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, with the former attempting to follow the same path as Montgomerie by adding the Italian Open to his 2001 victory in the BMW International Open. The new partnership between BMW, The European Tour and the Italian Golf Federation, announced earlier this year, saw BMW confirm their commitment to three high profile tournaments on European soil in 2009. And the combination of those factors and a stunning location in Royal Park I Roveri, with its spectacular Alpine backdrop, has ensured that many Tour champions will assemble close to the city of Turin next month. As well as Montgomerie and Daly, the field boasts seven other players who have savoured the feeling of collecting a BMW trophy in their professional careers. Denmark’s Anders Hansen completed a double success at Wentworth Club in 2007 when he edged out England’s Justin Rose to win the BMW PGA Championship just 12 months after another Englishman, David Howell, lifted the title. Hansen and Howell are both confirmed starters next month with Howell aiming to collect a third BMW title following his success in the 2005 BMW International Open – a title also won by Denmark’s Thomas Björn (2002) and Sweden’s Niclas Fasth (2007), who also tee up at Royal Park I Roveri. Two players who have previously won the BMW Asian Open will bring their talents to Turin – namely Sweden’s Jarmo Sandelin and Raphaël Jacquelin of France – along with a former winner of the BMW Russian Open, Marcus Fraser of Australia. The Italian Open has a long and impressive history dating back to 1925, and many of the great champions in world golf have won this prestigious title, including Billy Casper, Sir Henry Cotton, Tony Jacklin, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman and Peter Thomson. Last year, South Africa’s Hennie Otto became the latest player to join the roll call of champions when he edged out England’s Oliver Wilson with eventual 2008 European Number One, Robert Karlsson of Sweden, in third place at Castello di Tolcinasco Golf & Country Club near Milan. Otto returns to Italy to defend his crown next month and finds himself in the illustrious company of five other players who have held aloft the coveted Italian Open trophy, namely Patrik Sjöland of Sweden (1998), Gregory Havret of France (2001), Steve Webster of England (2005) and Francesco Molinari of Italy (2006). Of course, all eyes – and the hopes and wishes of the host nation – will be focused on Molinari, who became the first Italian golfer since Massimo Mannelli 26 years earlier to win his national Open. Molinari and his elder brother, Edoardo, are both attached to the host golf club of Royal Park I Roveri and the brothers will be keen to thrill their supporters on ‘home soil’.

McDowell and Hoey back the Challenge of Ireland

European Tour champions and 2001 Walker Cup teammates Michael Hoey and Graeme McDowell have both backed the Challenge of Ireland ahead of the fifth edition of the event, which for the first time will be played at Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort in Kildare, Ireland, from June 11-14. Ryder Cup player McDowell has four European Tour titles to his name whilst three-time Challenge Tour champion Hoey, who won the Amateur Championship in 2001, made his long-awaited breakthrough at the Estoril Open de Portugal at the start of the month, breaking Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño’s unbeaten play-off record to take the €208,330 first prize. Both men believe the €150,000 Challenge of Ireland presented by Moyvalley will now give Irish golf the perfect opportunity to enhance its already lofty reputation over a course designed by European Tour champion Darren Clarke, who has been a staunch supporter of the Challenge Tour in the past. McDowell said: “I’ve always been more than forthcoming in my support for the Challenge Tour, as I’m a big believer in the important role it plays in the development of the main Tour. There is no doubt that the Challenge Tour provides the ideal platform for aspiring young professionals to hone their skills and gain the necessary experience to graduate to the upper echelons of world golf, so I’m delighted to lend my support to this event. “From a personal point of view, I recognise the importance of Ireland continuing to host an event on the Challenge Tour Schedule, as it provides young Irish players with the opportunity to compete not only in their own event at home, but also the chance to seek invitations to play in other Challenge Tour events across the world. Through these playing opportunities, young up-and-coming players can gain invaluable experience and attempt to gain full status on the Challenge Tour for the following season, whilst more seasoned players can use them as stepping stones in their quest to progress onto the main Tour. “In recent years, we have seen some great players come through the Challenge Tour and there have been a number of spectacular European Tour wins by recent Challenge Tour graduates. Two of my good friends from Northern Ireland, Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin, are a great example of how successful the Challenge Tour has now become and, more importantly, the crucial role it plays in the development of the next generation of Irish stars on Tour. “Michael, who was my Walker Cup partner in 2001, has spent the last few years putting in the hard yards and gaining experience on the Challenge Tour. I was absolutely delighted to see him make his big breakthrough by winning the Estoril Open de Portugal on The European Tour. He has always been a fantastic player, and is a great example for other young players to keep working hard and have the belief that the rewards will come.” Hoey’s victory was just reward for the seasons he spent honing his technique on the Challenge Tour and, like McDowell, the 30 year old believes events such as the Challenge of Ireland give emerging Irish talent like Michael McGeady and Gareth Shaw the perfect opportunity to build a winning mentality, before progressing onto The European Tour.He said: “As an Irishman, the Challenge of Ireland was always the first event I looked for when the schedule was published, and it was probably the one I wanted to win the most.Unfortunately I didn’t manage it – in fact, I never seemed to play that well! Maybe I put too much pressure on myself, because I was so desperate to play well. But with so much Irish talent in the field this year, hopefully we can finally get a home winner. I’ve heard great things about the course at Moyvalley, so they should be in for a really good week. “One of the best things about the tournament is that it gives some of the younger Irish guys a great platform to perform on. Two years ago Gareth Maybin played under a sponsor’s invitation and did very well, and then last year Gareth Shaw played brilliantly to finish in the top five. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do even better in his second year as a professional, and hopefully the likes of Colm Moriarty and Michael McGeady can finish in the top 20 of the Challenge Tour Rankings. Michael was so unlucky to miss out by one shot at the Qualifying School, but if he can improve his putting by a fraction, I’m sure he’ll make it onto the main Tour. “If I’m not playing the Austrian Open on the main Tour, there’s a fair chance I might play the Challenge of Ireland myself. That’s the best thing about my win in Portugal – it allows me to pick and choose which events I play. The win also gave me great confidence, because there’s a big difference between thinking you can win golf tournaments, and knowing it. There was a time when I worried that I might never fulfil my potential, but now the future’s looking a lot rosier than it was.” Hoping to follow in the footsteps of both men is fellow Irishmen McGeady, winner of the 2008 SWALEC Wales Challenge, and Shaw, who opened his 2009 Challenge Tour campaign with a respectable top 15 finish at the Club Colombia Masters presentado por Samsung. Shaw’s highest Challenge Tour finish to date was a tie for fourth in last year’s Challenge of Ireland, played at Glasson Golf Hotel and Country Club. This year the tournament, which will again be supported by the Irish Sports Council, switches to the magnificent Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort, described by 13-time European Tour champion Clarke “as a labour of love”. The project saw Clarke make his first foray into course design when, in conjunction with the Jackson family owners, he oversaw the construction of the 7,370 yards, par 72 Champions Club course. Situated on the beautiful Balyna Estate in County Kildare the club, according to Clarke, has the potential to be “one of the premium clubs in world golf”.

Broadhurst flys the flag for Flyweights

All-action Don Broadhurst is aiming to recreate a golden era for British flyweights - and roll back the years to the days when the little-men from the home nations dominated the division.
The 25-year-old defends his Commonwealth super-flyweight belt at the Wolverhampton Civic Centre on Friday night against teak-tough Ghanaian Asomoah Wilson live on Sky Sports.
But unbeaten Broadhurst already has his eye on bigger things - and has been inspired by some of the legendary names of British boxing history, including Jimmy Wilde and Benny Lynch."Before the Second World War, British boxers dominated at flyweight," said Broadhurst."It really was a golden age. "Flyweights were big business and there was a fantastic production line in the UK. I want to recreate the same success we had back then." Among Britain's pre-war champions were Lynch and Wilde, as well as Jackie Brown and Peter Kane. There were more champions after WWII, including Duke McKenzie and Frank Warren promoted Charlie Magri, but Britain hasn't had a flyweight world champion since Robbie Regan vacated the IBF belt in 1995. And no boxer from Britain has ever held a version of the super-flyweight world title. But Broadhurst says all that is about to change. "I'm only 10 fights into my professional career and I've still got a lot to learn," said Birmingham's Broadhurst, who makes the second defence of his Commonwealth title against Wilson. "But I know that I have got the ability to make it to world level. "Vic Darchinyan is obviously the man to beat at the moment, and he's a very good fighter. There are some other good lads out there as well. "But I'm moving in the right direction. If I beat Wilson then I've got a British title shot lined up against Lee Haskins, and after that I'll look to move on to European and world level."

North East's Night of Boxing

An extra 120 tickets have been released for the sensational Sunderland show on Saturday May 2 with a special attraction the homecoming of Olympic bronze medal hero Tony Jeffries.
Every ticket was sold within hours for the FTM show which will be televised live on Sky Box Office, but Sunderland council have now been given permission to add further seats at Crowtree Leisure Centre. Promoter Frank Maloney explained: "They have found room for another 330 seats at the venue, but 210 went to people on a waiting list. "That means there are 110 available on first come first served basis. "Tony is like Ricky Hatton - a man everybody can identify with. He is a true blue collar hero." Top of the bill is European light-middleweight champion Jamie Moore who makes the first defence of his title when he faces Ukraine's former amateur star Roman Dzuman (23-6-1). Mike Tyson conqueror Danny Williams (40-7) risks his British heavyweight title in a rematch against John McDermott (25-4). Their combined weight is almost ¼ ton and if there clash last year is anything to go by it will be an explosive contest. Brixton's Williams was a controversial points winner in their first meeting when many European super-bantamweight champion Rendall Munroe (18-1) bids to become a double title holder when he meets Ghana's Issac Nettey for the vacant Commonwealth title. Like fellow southpaw Moore, the Leicester dustman is closing in a on a world title tilt. Promoter Frank Maloney said: "This is the biggest night of boxing in the north-east for 20 years and I am sure the passionate fans will get behind it. "Manchester has been the capital of British boxing for a decade, but the north-east is about to take that crown."

Taylor's Bold Prediction

Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor believes that he can be the first man to deposit Carl Froch on the canvas and then keep him there. Taylor made his bold prediction in New York today as the two rivals came face to face for the first time ahead of their WBC World Super Middleweight title showdown at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut on Saturday night.
Froch laughed off his mandatory challengers fight forecast but the former Undisputed Middleweight champ insists he has the power to end “The Cobra’s” reign. “If I catch him he's going to sleep,” blasted Taylor who is now campaigning at Super Middleweight having lost his Middleweight crown to Kelly Pavlik. “I have found the hunger again and it took fighting Carl for the belt to get it back. "At Super Middleweight I'm more focused on boxing, because I don't have to worry about making weight. This fight I want to show the doubters. I want to make a statement. This is a comeback fight for me and will probably be remembered by the outcome. It's the kind of fight I need." However Froch says he’s not worried about Taylor’s power with his “Bad Intentions” finishing 17 of his 28 victims inside the distance. “If he thinks he’s knocking me out then he’s should change his name to ‘Bad Predictions’, joked Froch who added, “The only time Taylor’s put me to sleep was when I watched a couple of his middleweight defences.” The Nottingham native says he’s enjoying his reign as WBC Super Middleweight Champ and Britain’s only current World Champion and he’s determined to maintain that status on Saturday night. Froch told a large media turnout in New York, “It’s my pleasure to be here in America. I was in Canada for three weeks and I have been here for the last week training. We’ve had a good camp. Sparring has been very intense with guys who were hitting me like Jermain will be. “Jermain seems very confident, talking about being back and No. 1 but make no mistake. This is my belt, I’m the champion, I ‘m undefeated. Only a few warriors have gone the distance with me. Everyone else hasn’t been able to stay in there.” Retired champ Joe Calzaghe is tipping Taylor to win but Froch isn’t losing any sleep over Calzaghe’s prediction. The Welshman was Froch’s predecessor as WBC Champ but vacated the title rather than defend against him. “Calzaghe didn’t want to fight me,” explained Froch. “When I became the champion it was vacant and you don’t get as much respect that way for some reason. But I am the WBC super middleweight champion and come Sunday morning Jermain Taylor will be disappointed that he doesn’t have the belt. I’m showing the Americans what ’The Cobra’ is made of.” The fight is being broadcast across the U.S. by Showtime and Ken Hershman, the Senior VP at the network says that Froch and his promoter Mick Hennessy deserve great credit for taking such a dangerous fight on away ground. “Carl Froch and Mick Hennessy are the champs here,” said Hershman. “They didn’t have to come over here and take this fight. My hat is off to them for coming here and doing this. This is a world class level event with world class level fighters. There are not many fighters that would come over here and do this. “I’ve been a long time fan of Jermain Taylor. He is one of the most prolific fighters with one of the most impressive resumes. He has never shied away from a fight and this is a testament of that.” British and Irish fight fans can watch the fight live via an online pay per view at from 2am GMT in the early hours of Sunday morning. The pay per view costs £9.95 (or €11.00 for Irish viewers) and the fight will be available in both 750kb/s and 1mb/s to give fight fans a true quality streaming experience. For further information visit The fight will also be shown on a delayed basis on ITV4 at 8.30pm this Sunday and repeated on ITV1 at 11.15pm the same evening.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brier lends support to Austrian Event

Austria’s favourite golfing son Markus Brier will follow in the footsteps of his fellow European Tour Members Thomas Björn, Marcel Siem and Henrik Stenson in lending his support to a Challenge Tour event, the Kärnten Golf Open presented by Markus Brier Foundation at Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim in Austria. For the first time in a decade the Challenge Tour will return to the golfing hotbed of Carinthia in southern Austria for the new tournament, which will take place from June 4-7 and will mark the first leg of a tremendous fortnight for professional golf in the country, with the Austrian Golf Open taking place at Fontana Golf Club on The European Tour the following week. The Diners Club Austrian Open was played in Carinthia in 1999, when a certain Justin Rose of England earned his first paycheque for finishing fourth – one place behind Brier, who went on to graduate from the Challenge Tour in third place with earnings of €50,184, thanks largely to a further eight top ten finishes. Brier has retained his card ever since, and in 2006 he became the first Austrian golfer to win on The European Tour when he triumphed on home soil at the BA-CA Golf Open presented by Telekom Austria – a tournament he had won twice in its previous incarnation as a Challenge Tour event. Now the 40 year old, who added the 2007 Volvo China Open to his CV, has agreed to give something back to the Challenge Tour by lending his considerable support to the €140,000 event. Brier said: “I gained my European Tour card in 1999 through the Challenge Tour, which over the years has developed into a fantastic stage for up-and-coming young players. Through my own recently-established Foundation, which will present this tournament, we also help and support a group of promising young Austrian golfers. I therefore applaud the efforts of sponsor Land Kärnten and promoter Peter Hofstätter in organising this event, which will help increase the game’s popularity in Austria.” The 6,286 metres, par 72 Championship Course at Golf Club Klagenfurt-Seltenheim was designed by Perry Dye, the eldest son of one of the world’s leading golf course designers, Peter Dye. The sheer number of water hazards makes for a tough test and that is particularly true of the par three eighth hole, where players face a daunting tee shot to an island green. The surrounding scenery is equally spectacular, with Lake Wörthersee and the Karawanken mountain range both found in Klagenfurt, which is the capital of the Carinthia province. Peter Hofstätter, owner of promoters Ticon Sports, said: “We are delighted with the decision to bring the Challenge Tour back to Carinthia. We will do our utmost to ensure a great week for the Challenge Tour players, and I am sure they will enjoy the hospitality for which Carinthia is famous. Along with my friend Markus and the Austrian Golf Federation, I’m really looking forward to a great week of golf.” Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour, said: “This will be the 12th Challenge Tour event in Austria since our first visit in 1997, so we are delighted to maintain our links with the country. I have heard so many great things about the course, which should provide our Members with a great challenge. “It is fantastic news that the event will be presented by Markus Brier, who follows fellow Challenge Tour graduates Thomas Björn, Marcel Siem and Henrik Stenson in lending his support to one of our events. Their support is essential not only for the recognition they give to the Challenge Tour, but also for the Tour’s future development. We should also thank the Austrian Golf Federation and promoters Ticon Sports, without whom this tournament would not have been possible.”

Golf's Olympic Bid

As part of the International Golf Federation’s continuing efforts to demonstrate worldwide solidarity behind golf’s bid to become an Olympic sport in 2016, 18 of the game’s top players are sending a customised brochure detailing the bid along with a personal letter reflecting their support to International Olympic Committee members from their respective countries. In addition, World Golf Hall of Fame members Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam, Global Ambassadors on behalf of the IGF’s bid, have sent the 32-page brochure and a personal letter to IOC representatives from 75 other countries. The brochure includes global data on golf participation, as well as supportive comments by the world’s leading players on behalf of the Olympic effort. “As we have consistently stated from the outset of the bid process, it is imperative that the best players in the world support golf’s Olympic effort in order to give us the best chance of being selected by the IOC to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games,” said Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the IGF. “It also is important for us to demonstrate the international nature of golf, underscoring the fact that 60 million people play the sport in nearly 120 countries. This personal outreach by international players is a continuation of that effort.” The players who are sending this material to their respective IOC representatives are: Karrie Webb, Australia; Mike Weir, Canada; Camilo Villegas, Colombia; Vijay Singh, Fiji; Gwladys Nocera, France; Bernhard Langer, Germany; Colin Montgomerie, Great Britain; Jeev Milkha Singh, India; Padraig Harrington, Ireland; Ai Miyazato, Japan; K.J. Choi, Korea; Lorena Ochoa, Mexico; Suzann Pettersen, Norway; Ernie Els, South Africa; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Annika Sorenstam, Sweden; Yani Tseng, Chinese Taipei; and Tiger Woods, United States. “We certainly appreciate the effort and support of these great players on behalf of golf’s Olympic bid,” said Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee. “We obviously believe there is a very compelling case as to why golf should be reinstated as an Olympic sport, and a large reason for that is the support from top players.” Golf last was an Olympic sport in 1904 in St. Louis, USA, when the United States and Canada were the only countries competing. The IGF, recognised as the representative body for golf by the IOC, is leading the Olympic initiative through its Olympic Golf Committee, which consists of representatives from The R&A, European Tour, USGA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA and the Masters Tournament. Player support complements the support that has been shown by 119 IGF Federations from 114 countries, the recently established IGF Professional Advisory Committee, which is made up of 17 additional men’s and women’s professional golf tours and the leading PGAs from around the world, as well as other leading golf organisations. Golf is one of seven sports being considered for inclusion starting with the 2016 Games. The others are baseball, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens, softball and squash. The IOC's final vote on whether to add no more than two sports will take place at the 121st IOC session, scheduled for October 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The host for the 2016 Games also will be determined at that time between Chicago, USA; Madrid, Spain; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Tokyo, Japan. Dawson and Votaw previously noted the ease with which golf would fit into any of the four finalists due to existing golf facilities in those cities

Harrington looks for Irish Inspiration

Three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington today confirmed that he will challenge for The 3 Irish Open – the event he describes as his personal ‘Fifth Major’- over the classic links of County Louth, Baltray, from May 14-17. The 37 year old Dubliner is thrilled to be seeking his second 3 Irish Open title in three years over a course which he believes can serve the double purpose of helping him repeat his achievement of 2007 when he followed up his victory in his home national championship by winning The Open at Carnoustie. This time around, Harrington will arrive at Baltray with his thoughts turning to a third successive Open title at Turnberry in July, and he believes that the classic links lay-out of County Louth Golf Club, or Baltray as it is more affectionately known, will provide the perfect launch pad to his preparations for his second defence of the Claret Jug. “I think that with this year’s event being on a classic links course like Baltray, it could instil a lot of confidence and assist when looking ahead to Turnberry and going there to try and defend The Open again,” said Harrington. “Playing The Irish Open on a links course will, in a way, naturally start my preparations for The Open because so many of the conditions will be similar. “Baltray certainly is one of the most exciting links courses in the country and I expect the tournament there to be a great success. I would put the fifth as one of the best holes in the world. It’s a superb par three at just 175 yards, not a beast of a hole but a great golf hole. “The seventh is another great par three and both are as good as you will get anywhere. I know the golf course well and I have a lot of memories - I can remember some tough days out there in East of Ireland Championships.” Harrington believes that his 2007 Irish Open victory, when he ended a 25 year wait for a home winner, played a huge part in him winning his first Open Championship. “You couldn't underestimate how important winning The Irish Open was in terms of going onto win The Open at Carnoustie,” he said. “It told me that I could go and win a tournament under a lot of focus, pressure and distractions, which gives you a huge amount of self-confidence when you can come through something like that. “The Irish Open obviously brings a lot of distractions, as many things are going on that week and you just have to accept it. It's not a week to spend a lot of time hitting shots on the range and trying to find your game. You just have to turn up and play with what you've got, doing the best you can.”While the game’s four Major Championships are Harrington’s driving focus for the season, he places a huge amount of importance on The 3 Irish Open. He said: “I think if you asked any golfer what the most important tournaments on the calendar were for them, they would all reply that the four Majors are above all others, but then, after that, I would think that every player has a desire to win their national open. “It’s certainly a very big deal for an Irishman to win a national title in front of his home crowd. Our country really supports its sportsmen and women with unbelievable passion and I think that kind of support has helped so many Irish sports stars to achieve great success. “I am very pleased to hear that 3 are sponsoring The Irish Open, I always look forward to playing my national open and hope I can repeat my success of two years ago.” Robert Finnegan, Chief Executive of 3, said: "We are honoured and delighted to have Padraig Harrington playing in The 3 Irish Open. As a three-time Major winner Padraig is aiming to win his third Open Championship in a row this summer, and that is a sure sign that 3 really is golf's lucky number. We hope everyone gets behind Padraig at The 3 Irish open to demonstrate the huge support that exists up and down the country for our most decorated golfing hero."Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: “Padraig Harrington, the first European to win back-to-back Major Championships is a sportsman who has honed his talent to achieve true greatness. I am delighted this gifted and celebrated Irish golfer will participate in this year’s 3 Irish Open at Baltray. The links at Baltray which are among the best-rated in the world, combined with the support provided by the new title sponsor 3, will make The 3 Irish Open one of the most impressive and exciting events on The European Tour.” Fans have the chance to make significant savings at The 3 Irish Open by taking advantage of advance ticket offers. Season tickets to see Harrington and many of the world’s best players in action for four days over the classic links layout at Baltray, County Louth, are available at a 30 per cent discount if purchased before midnight on Sunday, May 10; while advance Daily Ticket purchases carry a 25 per cent discount on the Gate price.

Anelka adds to Blues Initative

Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka has lent his support to Chelsea’s Search for an Asian Star Campaign. Launched last month, the project aims to indentify young talented players from the Asian community. Chelsea will be holding open trials for youngsters from Asian backgrounds during the May Bank Holiday with the most gifted players being offered a three-day residential trial at the club’s world class academy. Anelka, the club’s anti-discrimination ambassador, hopes that it is the first step in attracting more British Asian youngsters to the game. ‘I think it’s important because on the pitch you should see all the countries and colours of the world, it is important to show this and very important to do it,’ he said. Anelka, a French Muslim, also believes that race or religion should be no barrier to participation in football. ‘Religion is outside of football, you do what you want to do outside the pitch but on the pitch everybody is the same, and we all have the same desire to play football and enjoy the game, so this is the way we have to think because football is a fantastic game,’ he added. This is the first time a professional club has attempted to address the under representation of Asian players within the game in this way, and Anelka hopes to see an increase in participation at all levels of the game as a result. He struggles to explain why football has been missing out on such a large demographic. ‘Football is famous in Asia and all over the world so I can’t tell why these youngsters are not involved. They try to be involved, and this is the best way to make things happen,’ said the 30-year-old. The Search for an Asian Star event will take place on the 2, 3 and 4 May at our Cobham training ground for players in the under 12,13 and 14 age groups and will be open to London and south-east based players from Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi backgrounds. Participants will be judged on a series of matches and tests specifically designed and used by the Chelsea Academy to demonstrate their speed, skills and ability. The winners from each age group will be offered an initial three-day trial at our academy and any player meeting the required standards will be offered the chance to join some of the country’s most talented youngsters in the Chelsea youth system. With hundreds of kids already signed up applications for the Search for an Asian Star are due to close shortly. To apply for the event please visit

Khan behind Chelsea's search for Asian star

Boxer Amir Khan is the latest sportsperson to give his backing to Chelsea’s Search for an Asian Soccer Star initiative. The 22-year-old Bolton Wanderers fan, who will fight for the world light-welterweight title this June, has given his support to the project which is designed to tackle under-representation of Asian footballers throughout the game. “Sport can have a huge positive effect on young people and that is why I am supporting Search for an Asian Soccer Star. We need to get more Asian kids into all sports and end the negative stereotyping of the Asian community,” said Khan. “The opportunities that the programme offers can be of huge benefit to the young people involved and even though I am a Bolton supporter I am fully behind Chelsea’s scheme.” The ‘Asian Star’ initiative will bring together hundreds of budding young players from Asian backgrounds who will compete to win a three-day trial at the world renowned Chelsea Academy. Chelsea will also invite coaches, managers and scouts from all levels of the game to attend the competition to scout potential players for their clubs, from Sunday leagues to the professional game.

Sexton's assault on Rogan's Belfast Mission

Norwich puncher Sam Sexton says he will ruin Martin Rogan's homecoming on May 15 in Belfast. Sexton will tackle Rogan for the Commonwealth heavyweight title at the Odyssey Arena on an action-packed card to be televised by Sky Sports. And the Norwich puncher is vowing to derail Rogan's world title dream following back-to-back victories over Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton. "To beat someone like Rogan you have to show him no respect and go straight to him. I'm not planning on any fancy dan boxing, I'm just going to meet him head on and see what he's got and if he can take what he dishes out," said Sexton. "I know I'm going to be in for a war and I'll have to go into the trenches but that is what I relish. "I know there will be a hostile crowd in Belfast, but as soon as I start landing then I'll silence them. "This fight is being billed as a big homecoming for Rogan after two hard fights on the road, but don't expect me to be the fall guy.
"I feel sorry for all the Belfast fans who are turning up expecting a Rogan win, I just want them to know now that I'm coming to ruin his little party. Sexton, still only 24, has shown plenty of promise in his 12 fights to date, winning 11 of them. And like Rogan, he triumphed in a Prizefighter heavyweight tournament, pocketing £25,000 after winning three times in one night. "That was a nice bit of cash," said Sexton. "But I know that if I beat Rogan then there will be even bigger sums on offer. "Domestically, Martin is the man to beat at the moment, and if I knock him out then I'm going to be in line for some big pay days." Tickets are priced at £150 (Ringside), £100 (Floor), £60 (Floor), £40 (Tier) and £30 (Tier) are available from:
Odyssey Arena Box Office 02890 739 074 Ticketmaster
0870 243 4455 Warren 01992 550

McCracken backs Carl Froch

Carl Froch’s trainer Robert McCracken believes that British fight fans should enjoy Carl Froch while they can. McCracken won British and Commonwealth titles as well as challenging for the World title during his own career and as a trainer he has successfully guided Froch all the way to the WBC World Super Middleweight title. The Nottingham man is Britain’s only reigning World Champ and he makes his first defence at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut on Saturday night against former Undisputed World Middleweight Champ, Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor. It’s a fight that British and Irish fight fans can see live and exclusive via an online pay per view at and McCracken believes that viewers will witness a special performance from Froch on what promises to be an historic night for British boxing.“Carl’s a special fighter and people should enjoy him while he’s fighting because he’s a one off and there won’t be another one like him for 50 years,” said McCracken. “He’s the complete package, he can fight, he can box, he can punch and he can take a punch, he entertains the fans and he’s as dedicated to the sport as anyone I’ve ever seen. “Taylor’s a great fighter but Carl’s a bit special and that’s why he’s taken the fight. He’s not asked for any favours, he’s coming over here in his first defence to take on a top, top fighter but I’ve every confidence in him because I know what he’s capable of producing.” Froch V Taylor is live and exclusive on from 2am GMT in the early hours of Sunday morning. Orders are now being taken for the fight which costs £9.95 (or €11.00 for Irish viewers) and the fight will be available in both 750kb/s and 1mb/s to give fight fans a true quality streaming experience. For further information visit

Taylor's Last Chance Saloon

Jermain Taylor’s promoter, Lou DiBella admits that this weekend’s World title showdown with Nottingham’s Carl Froch is a must win fight for the man known as “Bad Intentions”. The former undisputed Middleweight champ will aim to become a two weight World title holder at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut as he bids to rip the WBC Super Middleweight title from Froch who is making his first defence of his title and looking to maintain his status as Britain’s only reigning World Champion. The fight will be available live and exclusive to British and Irish fight fans via an online pay per view at and DiBella says that Taylor cannot afford to contemplate defeat. "If Jermain lost badly I don't think he'd continue, that's my own personal guess,” said DiBella. “If he can't beat Carl I think he's going to take it as a real sign that it's time to leave." DiBella though believes that Taylor, who is still only 30 is hungrier than ever for success. “Jermain’s financially set, he has money in the bank. The reason he wanted this fight so badly was for his legacy, it was to become champion again. He feels that the WBC belt should be worn round his waist.” The challenger is certainly not short on confidence and has already predicted a KO win on Saturday night. “Every fighter knows when he’s ready to do battle and I’m ready,” said Taylor. “My conditioning, stamina and mental preparation is on schedule. I’m peaking at just the right time. “When you match his skill sets with mine, I don’t see how Carl Froch can win this fight. I know you hear that kind of thing a lot from fighters, but, believe me, I honestly believe it to be true in this case.” Froch V Taylor is live and exclusive on from 2am GMT in the early hours of Sunday morning. Orders are now being taken for the fight which costs £9.95 (or €11.00 for Irish viewers) and the fight will be available in both 750kb/s and 1mb/s to give fight fans a true quality streaming experience. For further information visit

The St George's Sporting Club

FRANK MALONEY will be fighting for Britain's troops when he launches the St George's Sporting Club on April 23. The inaugural dinner and boxing show at the The Troxy in the heart of London will also celebrate Maloney's 25 years as a professional boxing promoter. All profits will be split between the Army Benevolent Fund and the Edward Starr Charitable Trust, which exists to improve the life of children. Heading the four fight boxing card will be serving soldier Ross Burkinshaw (5-1-2) who meets Liverpool's Mike Robinson (4-0-1) for the vacant English super-bantamweight title over ten rounds. The guest speaker at the mixed sex gala event will be former Royal Marine and IBF light-welterweight title holder Terry Marsh. Other fights will feature former British light-middleweight title challenges Gary Woolcombe (26-2) and heavyweight hope Tom Dallas (4-0). Sheffield's Burkinshaw and Robinson fought a draw when they met in February and their rematch promises to be even more exciting with the national crown on the line. The Troxy is a splendid art deco Grade II listed building situated between the City of London and Canary Wharf a left hook from where Maloney first started out in boxing at The Castle Pub. Some of the country's finest chefs will prepare a three course meal for guests with the theme traditional English cooking, and rightly so on St George's Day. Maloney first entered the boxing arena 30 years ago as a trainer, but has been staging shows from Lewisham to Las Vegas over the last 25 years. He has also handled four major world champions Lennox Lewis, Scott Harrison, David Haye, and Paul Ingle. Maloney is currently promotes two European champions Jamie, Moore and Rendall Munroe. His British and Commonwealth champions are Chris Edwards, Lee Haskins and Tony Quigley, Jason Booth and Ajose Olusegun. Olympic bronze medallists Tony Jeffries and Darren Sutherland are also promoted by FTM Sports.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Khan faces Kotelnik for WBA Light Welterweight Belt

Amir Khan will step up a division to light-welterweight and challenge WBA World Champion Andreas Kotelnik promoter Frank Warren said today. Hot-shot Khan, fresh from his win against Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera - WBO #1 and WBA #3 ranked at the time - last month in Manchester, gets his dream opportunity on June 27 with a venue to be confirmed shortly.
Warren said, "This is the moment that Amir has been waiting for and I'm delighted to deliver him the opportunity. Amir put in a sensational performance against a three time world champion and future Hall of Famer in Barrera in only his 21st fight and now he has to produce the same form against Kotelnik who is a good hard fighter." Khan, 22, has campaigned predominantly in the lightweight division, winning the Commonwealth, WBO and WBA Intercontinental titles, but he moved up to 140lbs for an IBF Intercontinental title fight in December 2006 to beat Rachid Drilzane. Kotelnik, who is from the Ukraine and based in Germany, is well known in Britain having fought here three times; in 2005 when he was robbed of the decision in his European title fight against Junior Witter, then in 2007 when he held then WBA World Champion Souleymane M'Baye to a draw and last year when he beat Gavin Rees to win the WBA crown. Since defeating Rees he has made two successful title defences against Norio Kimura and Marcos Rene Maidana both on points. Like Khan, he won an Olympic lightweight silver medal but at the 2000 Sydney games, and in 34 fights Kotelnik has never been stopped. Naturally, Khan is excited about his world title showdown against Kotelnik. "This is the best news that I could have received," Said Khan. "To fight for the world title in only my 22nd fight and at the age of just 22 is fantastic. Frank has done a great job getting the world title fight for me in Britain and now I have to go out win it." "I've seen Kotelnik a few times and I've always been impressed by him but once my trainer Freddie Roach works out the game plan to beat him it's my job to execute it on the night as I did effectively against Barrera."

Soren's soaring Success

Søren Kjeldsen’s impressive victory in the Open de Andalucia de Golf 09, his second victory in Spain in six months, earned him the award of The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for March. The 33 year old Dane from Aalborg, who receives a jeroboam of Moët and Chandon champagne along with an engraved Alms Dish in recognition of his success, was the choice of the panel comprising members of the Association of Golf Writers as well as television and radio commentators. The Tour award - which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2009 – is now under the sponsorship banner of Leisurecorp, the company whose groundbreaking agreement with The European Tour has created The Race to Dubai, which culminates in the $10 million Dubai World Championship in November. Kjeldsen, who makes his Masters Tournament debut at Augusta National tomorrow, set a new course record at Real Club de Golf de Sevilla in the third round with a stunning ten under par 62 and went on to win his third title by three strokes after a terrific tussle with Scotland’s David Drysdale on the final afternoon. Kjeldsen’s victory followed a highly credible joint seventh place finish in the World Golf Championships – CA Championship at the Doral Resort and Spa, Miami, a fortnight earlier, and lifted him into the top 15 in The Race to Dubai and to a career high of 42nd in the Official World Golf Ranking. Indeed, Andalucia has proved a very happy hunting ground for Kjeldsen as last November he also won the Volvo Masters at Valderrama. Kjeldsen won the award after another exceptional month for European Tour Members on the world stage. Estanislao Goya became the youngest Argentine winner on The European Tour when he captured the Madeira Islands Open BPI – Portugal, while Y E Yang became only the second Korean to win on the US PGA Tour when he won the Honda Classic. Retief Goosen was also successful in America in winning the Transitions Championship, his first US PGA Tour victory in four years, and Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat set a new record of 32 under par in winning the SAIL Open on the Asian Tour by a staggering 11 strokes. There were also wins for Jyoti Randhawa, in the Singha Thailand Open; Steve Alker, in the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship; and Eduardo Romero, in the Toshiba Classic on the US Champions Tour. Iain Carter, golf correspondent of BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “Søren’s success in Andalucia and the manner in which he won, with the course record in the third round, made him a deserving recipient of the award. March was a notable month for The European Tour with some exceptional performances, particularly from Y E Yang, but Kjeldsen’s victory stood out to win the award.” Kjeldsen is the third winner of The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month Award this year after Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (January) and Australian Geoff Ogilvy (February). The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year will be selected from a panel from the Association of Golf Writers, Radio and Television following the Dubai World Championship at the Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, from November 19-22, 2009, where the winner of The Race to Dubai will be confirmed.

O' Donnell and Watson in Commonwealth Fight

John O’Donnell believes that Craig Watson is trying to talk himself up ahead of their Commonwealth Welterweight title showdown in London this weekend. The two men go head to head in a top quality Commonwealth title matchup at the York Hall on Saturday night on a Hennessy Sports event which is live on ITV4. The fight will be Watson’s second defence of his Commonwealth title following on from an impressive win over Matthew Hatton in a Manchster derby last time out. He’s predicting a stoppage win over O’Donnell but the Shepherd's Bush based challenger isn’t impressed. “He’s been talking out of his arse but that’s up to him,” blasted O’Donnell. “Guys who talk like that are only trying to convince themselves, he can talk as much as he likes but it will be a different story in that ring – that’s where I’ll do my talking. O’Donnell has 20 wins from his 21 pro fights to date with his solitary loss coming on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather – Oscar De La Hoya fight in Las Vegas two years ago. O’Donnell believes that Watson is making his prediction based solely on that defeat. “He’s probably looked at my record and saw that my only defeat was that stoppage loss in Las Vegas so he probably thinks he can do the same. “People definitely read too much into that loss, my mind wasn’t on the job that night and I also had an ear issue which was affecting my balance and needed surgery afterwards to correct it. My trainer, Rob McCracken could see that I wasn’t right and he pulled me out. It was bitterly disappointing at the time but you learn from these things and I’ve had 5 good wins since then. Hopefully Watson has learned from that early knockout loss he had in Italy too!” McCracken will be back in O’Donnell’s corner on Saturday with the leading trainer making a quick return to the UK from Carl Froch’s training camp in Canada. “I’ve been working with Rob for this fight for the last 13 weeks now so I’ve had loads of time with him,” said O’Donnell. “He headed to Canada with Carl at the weekend to set up their camp out there ahead of the Taylor fight but he’s coming back for my fight. This week is all about winding down anyway, all the hard work is done now and the important thing is that Rob will be there in the corner on the night.“I’m ready to go right now. I’ll spend this week easing down, my weight is good and training’s gone great so I just want to get in there now and do the business.” Watson V O’Donnell headlines a fantastic line-up of championship boxing at the York Hall in Bethnal Green. In the chief support bout Lenny Daws meets Peter McDonagh for the English Light Welterweight title while heavyweight sensation Tyson Fury, hot prospect Bradley Evans, Wembley’s Steve O’Meara and Irish Champ Stephen Haughian also feature on the undercard.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Mum's the Word for Rogan

Martin Rogan has revealed the reason why it has taken him a while to reach the top - his mum banned him from boxing when he was a youngster! Despite his late entry into the sport and just 12 professional fights, Rogan has captured the Commonwealth heavyweight title and has become a household name in Ireland after wins over Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton. He will defend his belt against Sam Sexton at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on May 15, with Sky Sports televising live. But Rogan - who was an outstanding hurler until he turned to boxing - didn't throw a punch until his 20s after following the wishes of his mum. "I was desperate to go the gym when I was a kid, but my mum didn't want me boxing and believe me I listened to her!" said Rogan. "Like a lot of mums she didn't want to see her son getting hurt. "So I got into hurling instead and did well, but I was always attracted to boxing because of the one-on-one nature of the sport. "My mum is very proud of my success, but she gets up to high do when I fight, and she says a little prayer for me and my opponent. "She can't watch my fights from ringside - in fact, she can hardly bring herself to watch full stop. "I think the only fight she's seen was when I beat Harrison, and even then she was watching the TV from behind the sofa with her hands covering her face - and my family telling her what was happening. "But she loves the fact I'm doing well and she's now my number one fan." Rogan-Sexton tops an action packed Odyssey card which will also feature the 2008 Olympians, James DeGale, Billy Joe Saunders and Frankie Gavin.
Michael Jennings returns to action in an eight rounder following his brave WBO world title challenge against Miguel Cotto, while local stars Scott Belshaw, Kevin O'Hara, Ciaran Healy and Luke Wilton also feature.

Froch mystified by snub on British Tv

If Carl Froch has anything to do with it Jermain Taylor won’t be the only one licking his wounds following their super fight in the U.S. on April 25th. The reigning WBC Super Middleweight champ believes that TV executives on both sides of the Atlantic could also be bitten by the “Cobra”. As of yet no deal has been reached for British TV to show the fight although BBC Radio 5 Live have realised the significance of the fight and will be broadcasting the fight live from the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods in Connecticut. The Showtime TV network will also air the fight across the U.S. but Britain’s only genuine World Champ says that TV’s decision makers could be regretting their stance after the fight. “This is a massive fight although British TV doesn’t seem to think so,” said Froch. “Unless something can be agreed shortly before the fight it’s going to mean fight fans missing out on seeing one of British boxing’s greatest ever nights and that would be a real shame. The irony is that I could have stayed at home in Nottingham, had a nice easy, first defence and that would have been shown on British TV. That would be the easy option though and I didn’t come all this way to become World Champion and then con the fans.“When you first put on a pair of gloves as a kid you don’t dream about making routine defences, you dream about putting it all on the line and fighting the best in the world and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. It will be British TV’s loss if this fight isn’t shown because they will miss out on some British sporting history in the making with me going over to the U.S., taking Taylor into the trenches and finish him in style.” Froch believes that Showtime could be in for a disappointing night too. “They’re going to see a great fight between two fighters at the top of their game but for them it’s going to be the wrong result. Naturally they’re excited about having a marquee name like Taylor fighting on Showtime for the first time. “I saw a feature they did on the fight at the weekend and they introduced Taylor as one of the greatest fighters of his generation. It might be his place but it’s going to be my time and my generation on April 25th.”
In the piece Taylor dismissed Froch saying, “I’m still trying to figure out who he is. I don’t know much about him, he could be here in the gym today with me and I wouldn’t know who he was.
“He is the champion though so I have to respect that but I’ve watched his tapes and he’s showed me nothing special. He has to be taught how to lose just like I was. Losing to Kelly Pavlik has taught me that hard work and dedication are the only things that pay off.” Taylor reigned supreme at middleweight dethroning long time champ Bernard Hopkins and defeating him for a second time until defeat to Kelly Pavlik led to him moving up to super middleweight. “I’m not number one anymore but I know how to take a championship from somebody and that’s what I plan on doing,” said Taylor. “On April 25th I’m going to get in that ring and let it all out. Super Middleweight Champion of the World? I like the ring of that.” Froch insists that he will not be leaving his belt in the U.S. “This is my chance to prove that not only am I the best super middleweight in the World but one of the best fighters out there pound for pound. It’s a massive stage for me to make a real statement and I’m not going to disappoint anyone. “Taylor says he wouldn’t know me if I walked into his gym but trust me if he even saw me in the gym he wouldn’t go ahead with the fight because I’m on fire right now. By the time I’m finished with him on April 25th Jermain Taylor will know exactly who I am and what I’m all about.”

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rogan returns to his Roots

Commonwealth heavyweight champion Martin Rogan is aiming to kick start a renaissance in boxing in Northern Ireland - among young and old alike. The 37-year-old makes the first defence of his title at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on May 15 against Sam Sexton. It will be his first fight in his native Ulster since back-to-back wins over Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton. That latter victory has been hailed as one of the best heavyweight fights for years. And following his thrilling stoppage defeat of Skelton, Rogan says he has been overwhelmed by the response in Northern Ireland. "The phone hasn't stopped ringing," said Rogan. "And it's not just the press, because I've been asked to go here, there and everywhere - and I'm loving it. "It's fantastic that I've been able to put a smile on people's faces. "In fact, I've even calls from former fighters over here saying that because of me they have gone back to the gym and are taking up the sport again. "And there's even been one or two old folk waving their walking sticks at me saying they can't wait to see me fight on May 15." But it is with the school-age community that Rogan is proving the biggest hit. "I've been going to the schools in Belfast non stop," he said. "I've been taking my belt in to show the kids and their response has been brilliant. "Yesterday I did a talk on bullying, today it's an anti drugs one, tomorrow I'm sure it will be something different again.
"I'm in a very privileged position because I'm able to make a difference and put something back into the community. "And if I can inspire a new generation of champions then all the better, but just getting the kids fit and getting a long a bit better is enough for me."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

McDonagh ready for Daws

Peter McDonagh believes that his topsy turvy career is back on the rise ahead of his English Light Welterweight title clash with Lenny Daws at the York Hall, London on April 11th. The bout is the chief support to the eagerly awaited Commonwealth title decider between John O’Donnell and Craig Watson on a Hennessy Sports event which is live on ITV4. McDonagh however expects to steal the show just as he did on his last appearance on ITV4 in December. On that occasion the Bermondsey fighter ended the unbeaten run of Lee Purdy to claim the Southern Area title in one of the domestic fights of 2008. Now McDonagh is promising more fireworks by shocking Daws and staking his claim for a British title shot. "I took the Purdy fight on short notice,” revealed the 31-year-old. “I knew I could beat him on experience alone but for this one I’ve had plenty of notice and I’ve never been in better shape. In this game you’re only as good as your last fight but I believe I’ve found that little bit extra now. “I’m more relaxed in my boxing, my training couldn’t have gone any better and I’ve felt great in sparring. I’ve been up to Manchester to do weight training with Kerry Kayes and I’m feeling a lot stronger up at light welterweight. I never had any problems making lightweight but I realise now that it was sapping me of my strength.” McDonagh is coming off two of the best wins of his career having defeated Canadian based Romanian prospect, Constantin Florescu in Ontario last September prior to the Purdy win. “I took that fight in Canada to see if I still had it. I knew it would be a tough one because he was a good, strong kid and the fight was up at welterweight but I knew it was a make or break one for me. I got the right result over there and then the Purdy fight came along and I knew I’d know far too much for him. In fact he’s lucky I only had 2 weeks notice for that one!” However McDonagh knows he will have to raise his game yet again to get past former British champ Daws. “Lenny’s a very good fighter and I’m certainly not looking past him. He’s been saying that I’ve never fought in his class and he’s going to stop me but people forget that I’ve been in with some top guys and I beat Michael Gomez before he went on to put Amir Khan on the floor. “I’m really focused and out to do the business for this one and I think Daws is going to be shocked at my power and endurance. I believe if I win this fight I’ll have earned a shot at the British title or even the European title. I’ve been a pro for 7 years now and never ducked anyone so I think if I can get past Daws then I deserve a crack at British or European honours.” Daws and McDonagh’s English title clash is the chief support to the Craig Watson – John O’Donnell Commonwealth Welterweight title fight at the York Hall on April 11th. The exciting undercard also features heavyweight sensation Tyson Fury, hot prospect Bradley Evans, crowd pleasing light middleweight George Hillyard and Irish Welterweight champ, Stephen Haughian.