Friday, January 29, 2010

Old Timers return to South Africa

Sam Torrance will renew his battle with fellow former Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam on the European Senior Tour when the pair head to South Africa for the inaugural Berenberg Bank Masters from March 26-28, 2010. The Scot capped a marvellous 2009 season when he edged out Woosnam by just €3,380 in the Senior Tour Order of Merit to win his third John Jacobs Trophy.He will be hoping to continue that momentum when the pair go head-to-head again as the Senior Tour makes its maiden voyage to South Africa and the spectacular Gary Player-designed Links at Fancourt.Torrance has already made a strong start to the 2010 campaign, finishing tied third behind winner Kevin Spurgeon in the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open in December.With a prize fund of €500,000 – one of the most lucrative on the 2010 Senior Tour schedule – the Berenberg Bank Masters will play a significant role in the Order of Merit race, as Torrance looks to defend the John Jacobs Trophy he also previously won in 2005 and 2006. “South Africa is another exciting new destination for the Senior Tour and I’m really looking forward to continuing my defence of the John Jacobs Trophy at Fancourt,” said Torrance.“It will be great to go up against Woosie and hopefully I can come out on top again. I’m playing well at the moment and feel confident every time I go out and play so it would be nice if that continues in South Africa.“Last year I got the season off to a great start when I won early on in Barbados and it would be fantastic to do the same again at Fancourt, which I’ve heard is a magnificent course.“After starting with a 74 in Mauritius I was delighted to fight back and finish tied third and hopefully that was the beginning of another good season for me.” After capturing 21 European Tour titles and leading Europe to Ryder Cup success in 2002, Torrance has been at the forefront of the Senior Tour since turning 50 in 2003, winning 11 times and lying fifth in the Senior Tour career earnings list.Former World Number One Woosnam, meanwhile, is chasing his fourth Senior Tour title and will look to make an early impression on the Order of Merit as he attempts to reclaim the John Jacobs Trophy he won in a glorious rookie season in 2008.The Welshman returns to South Africa for the first time since 2000 having previously won the Million Dollar Challenge at Sun City in 1987.Torrance and Woosnam will be joined in the field by Gary Player, the nine-time Major Champion and nine-time Senior Major Champion, who has overseen the recent changes to The Links at Fancourt, which included the resurfacing of all 18 greens and resculpturing of 27 bunkers.Dr Hans-Walter Peters, Managing Partner of Berenberg Bank, said: “We are very happy to have such an amazing field of famous sportsmen at the Berenberg Bank Masters in Fancourt.” The Berenberg Bank Masters, sponsored by Germany’s oldest private bank which has more than 400 years experience in the sector, will be co-sanctioned by the European Senior Tour and the Sunshine Tour.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Williams Calls it a Day

Danny Williams has withdrawn from his British Heavyweight title defence against Derek Chisora at Wembley Arena on February 13 claiming that he has a viral infection.Promoter Frank is now in talks with two boxers who hold wins over Williams to face Chisora instead on the huge Night of the Champions show. Williams caused confusion last week when after accepting to fight Chisora - who replaced the injured Sam Sexton - he then failed to turn up at a press conference to announce the Chisora bout, leaving his manager Micky Helliet to say that Williams "needed some time to get his head around the change". However, Williams confirmed last Friday that he was going ahead with the fight against the unbeaten puncher from Finchley. Now Williams has once again disrupted the Night of the Champions event that features the future of British boxing all on one big show including James DeGale, Frankie Gavin, Kevin Mitchell and Nathan Cleverly. Promoter Frank Warren, who has had plenty of experience dealing with Williams and his mood swings, said, "It's very disappointing and frustrating after last weeks antics for Danny to once again pull out of the fight leaving Derek in the lurch," "I'm just sorry for Derek who has trained his heart out for his British title opportunity and has had it scuppered - and remember that Williams didn't want to fight him when I tried to make the fight last year," "I am working hard for Derek who will still feature on the Night of the Champion show and the two boxers I am negotiating with have beaten Danny already," "I said last week that Danny should vacate the title or retire if he didn't want to fight him," He added, "The Night of the Champions features the best in young talent that I promote like Derek, Nathan Cleverly, Kevin Mitchell, James DeGale, Frankie Gavin, Billy Joe Saunders, Jamie Cox, and the Walsh brothers and it will a fantastic night showcasing the future of British boxing."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Westwood's Champion Logo

Lee Westwood returned to Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, the scene of one of the greatest moments of his career, to accept a logo which has been specially designed for The Race to Dubai champion. The Englishman enjoyed a double triumph last November, winning the season-ending Dubai World Championship presented by: DP World and with it the inaugural Race to Dubai. As Europe’s Number One, Westwood will wear a special logo on his right sleeve throughout the 2010 season and beyond, representing the feat he achieved last season. The 36 year old went into the Dubai World Championship second in The Race to Dubai Rankings behind Rory McIlroy and knowing he had to better the Northern Irishman’s result to be crowned Europe’s Number One. He took a slender lead into the final day and produced a golfing masterclass to win the tournament by six shots from Ross McGowan and lift both trophies. “When I first heard about The Race to Dubai champion wearing a special logo throughout the following season I thought it was a great idea,” said Westwood. “I will be extremely proud to have such a significant symbol on my shirt.“Winning the inaugural Race to Dubai was one of the finest moments of my career and to wear a logo representing my title as Europe’s Number One is very special. “I am looking forward to going back to Jumeirah Golf Estates and I’m sure it will bring back some very fond memories of my victory in the Dubai World Championship last November.” Keith Waters, The European Tour’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of International Policy, said: “The introduction of the logo, which has been designed by The European Tour and Leisurecorp, will herald the beginning of a legacy and will be worn by each Race to Dubai Champion in the future.“The emblem will be unique to current and past winners of The Race to Dubai and serves as a constant reminder of the significance of the player’s achievement in winning the coveted title. The logo has been designed with The European Tour’s forward-thinking vision for golf in mind and each player wearing it will be an ambassador for the Tour and its premier competition.”

Williams has Second Thoughts

British Heavyweight Champion Danny Williams has now confirmed that he will face Derek Chisora on The Night of the Champions at Wembley Arena on February 13. Williams didn't show at yesterday's press conference to announce the fight, leaving his manager Mickey Helliet to explain that Williams needed more time to decide if he wanted to the fight the unbeaten young prospect. Helliet contacted Frank Warren's matchmaker Dean Powell this morning to confirm that Williams will definately be putting his Lonsdale belt on the line against Chisora. But Chisora, who is replacing the injured Sam Sexton, thinks that Williams was just trying to unsettle him ahead of first title fight by playing mind games. "Danny thinks I'm just some young puppy who's wet behind the ears," said Chisora. "He's been around the sport a long time now, too long in my opinion, and he is up to his old tricks by trying to mess with my head," "It was like telling Sam Sexton that he was shot fighter and that he was going to retire after the fight," "I know that I'm young and untested, but this is the test I need - similar to when Danny stepped up to fight the then British champ Julius Francis," "This is the business we are in and I want to face the top guy in the food chain which is Danny," "I'm delighted that he's now decided that he's going to fight me because I'm going to really smash this guy to pieces," "Danny Williams is the scalp I want on my record and my name will be the last ever fight on his record after I retire him once and for all."

Nathan Cleverly's Italian Stallion

Welsh star Nathan Cleverly says he'll beat Antonio Brancalion on February 13 - and take a step closer to lifting a world title. Unbeaten Cleverly will fight the Italian at Wembley Arena in a challenge for the Vacant European Light-Heavyweight title on Frank Warren's Night of the Champions. Originally scheduled for Italy, the fight got switched to the UK when Brancalion's Italian promoters failed to stage it.It's meant for a frustrating couple of months for Cleverly, but he says he'll make up for it by adding another belt to his British and Commonwealth titles, and then go after a world crown. Speaking today at an Italian restaurant in Soho, Cleverly revealed his frustration at the on-off nature of the fight. "It's been hard because I had to give up my Christmas for training, only to be mucked around by Brancalion's team," said the 22-year-old. "With my final year exams as well, it's all been pretty high-pressure so juggling everything hasn't been easy. "I'm just relieved to have finally been given a date, and to be told that the fight is going to be in the UK is an added bonus, although I wouldn't have been worried about fighting in Italy. "This is another step up for me and in my career. In 2008 I won the Commonwealth title, in 2009 it was the British and hopefully in 2010 it will be the European. "I've also got an eye on a world title fight. I probably need a couple more fights at European level before I'm ready, but if the chance comes along, then why not take it. "I'm rated highly by the IBF and WBO, and this year I'll be working on getting in a position where I am mandatory challenger for one of the big four belts." Promoter Frank Warren is also confident in Cleverly's ability. "The Italians have behaved really badly in all this, especially as I had a feeling they wouldn't go ahead with the fight over there even when they won the purse bid," he said. "I wanted to do this fight in Newcastle in December, and if that had been the case we'd be sat here now looking forward to Nathan's first defence. "As it is he's got to go out there and win the title, but I've got every confidence in him, and there's a lot more to come yet."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mighty Mitchell in Wembley Showdown

Hot prospect Kevin Mitchell will be battling for his world title ambitions on February 13 - and the future of that East End staple, jellied eels, as well. The WBO lightweight number one ranked contender faces Spaniard Ignacio Mendoza at Wembley Arena as he close in fast on a crack at WBO interim world champion Michael Katsidis.And the 25-year-old is hoping to use the fight to raise publicity for the plight of eels. Reports today suggest that the eel population in the River Thames has dropped by up to 97 per cent in the last five years.East Ender Mitchell has vowed to do his bit to help them avoid extinction, by giving up the dish ahead of his clash with Mendoza."I usually get stuck into a plate of jellied eels on a Friday after a tough week in the gym with my trainer Jimmy Tibbs," he said."It's my little treat after working hard, but as of today I've decided to stick to Pie 'n' Mash instead."Jellied eels are an important part of east end culture, and it's vital they don't die out."All the cockneys out there who love eating eels need to cut down a bit to sustain the population, me included."The east end wouldn't be the same without them, and if my next fight can help save them then that's great." "The only things up for extinction are Mendoza and Katsidis!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chisora faces Williams in Wembley Show

Frank Warren's big Night of the Champions show at Wembley Arena on February 13 has just got bigger! Rising heavyweight star Derek Chisora has got a dream shot at the British heavyweight title after Sam Sexton was ruled out of his clash with Danny Williams with a hand injury. Sexton had been due to challenge British king Williams, but cut his hand during training. Instead unbeaten hot prospect "Del Boy" Chisora, who was due to meet Matt Skelton for the Southern Area title, will get to prove his himself against the experienced Brixton warrior. The pair had been due to meet for the British title last year, but the fight didn't come off. Now it's on though and Chisora, who holds already holds a win over Sexton, is promising a KO display. "It was my own fault that the fight with Williams didn't go ahead, and I've been kicking myself ever since," said Chisora. "I wasn't expecting to get this chance, but I'll take it with both hands. "Williams is a dangerous fighter but I'll face anyone Frank Warren puts in front of me. "This is a massive opportunity to really make a statement and become the top man in Britain. Williams - who plans to retire win, lose or draw - said he would go out with a bang. "Chisora has got a reputation as a biter, but then so did Mike Tyson and look what happened to him," he said. "I don't care whether I fight Sam Sexton, Derek Chisora or King Kong, I'm going to war one last time and I'll put it all on the line." In another change to the Wembley card, Welsh star Nathan Cleverly will now challenge for the European light-heavyweight title against Antonio Brancalion after the Italian's promotional team couldn't stage the fight. The Welsh star is the current British and Commonwealth champion and is looking to fight for a world title before the year is out. Kell Brook's WBO world title eliminator against Poland's Krzysztof Bienias will now go ahead at the Liverpool Echo Arena on March 12. Brook, the Boxing Writers Young Boxer of the Year and hot tip for 2010, is also chasing a world title this year. Finally, Olympian Billy Joe Saunders has had to withdraw from the Wembley show because the hand injury sustained in his last fight in December has not healed yet. A new date for Saunders will be announced shortly.

Westwood voted Golfer of 2009

Lee Westwood, winner of the inaugural Race to Dubai, has been named by his fellow professionals as the winner of The European Tour Players’ Player of the Year Award for 2009.The 36 year old Englishman hit a rich vein of form towards the end of last season, winning the Portugal Masters in October before storming to a six shot victory in the season-ending Dubai World Championship presented by: DP World which lifted him to the top of The Race to Dubai with record European Tour earnings for a single season of €4,237,762. Being crowned European Number One for the second time was a fitting end to an impressively consistent season in which he had 13 top ten finishes and came agonisingly close to a maiden Major Championship victory, finishing tied third in both The Open Championship at Turnberry and the US PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club. “I am delighted to have been recognised by my fellow European Tour professionals and would like to thank everybody who voted for me,” said Westwood, who was presented with the award prior to the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship where he will commence his 2010 season. “As always, I was surrounded by many great professionals on the Tour last year and I am honoured to have played alongside such great competitors and friends. “It was a fantastic season – not just for me but everybody involved with The European Tour and the inaugural Race to Dubai. Of course, winning the Dubai World Championship and the Race was an unbelievable moment for me personally and one that will live with me forever. I am very excited about starting the new season and seeing what 2010 will bring.” Westwood was presented with the specially commissioned solid silver salver by Thomas Björn, The European Tour’s Tournament Committee Chairman. “All the players on The European Tour are delighted to have Lee Westwood as their Player of the Year,” said Björn. “He had a fantastic season, culminating obviously with his win in the Dubai World Championship, but this award is also a recognition of his consistently fine performances around the world over the last two or three years. He is back to his winning ways in style and we are all very proud that Lee is The European Tour Players’ Player for 2009.” The award was conceived in 2008 and the salver, handmade at the London workshop of Thomas Lyte Ltd, features a pattern denoting the national flowers of each of the countries who have a player competing on The European Tour. The central section features the unmistakeable profile and swing of Seve Ballesteros – the inspiration behind the award – accompanied by an emotive comment by John Jacobs, the Founding Father of The European Tour, about Seve’s influence. “Seve’s supreme talent, flair and passion for golf inspired millions around the world,” it reads. Ireland’s Padraig Harrington was the inaugural winner of the award in 2008 following his Major Championship triumphs that year in The Open at Royal Birkdale and the US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gavin after a British Title Fight

Former amateur world champion Frankie Gavin says he wants to win a British title before the year is out. Gavin, who features on Frank Warren's massive Night of the Champions show on February 13 at Wembley Arena, has only had five professional fights. But the talented 24-year-old has won each of them inside the distance, and is looking to move quickly in 2010. Birmingham's finest is likely to campaign at light-welterweight when he moves into championship class, and will have an eye on next month's York Hall clash between Lenny Daws and Jason Cook for the Lonsdale belt."I'm ready to make the move," said southpaw hot-shot Gavin. "People will look at my record and say I am inexperienced, but my amateur fights were like having 10 or 15 outings as a professional. "Some of the guys I beat as an amateur were well beyond British title level. "The only thing that is holding me back right now is my lack of rounds, but once I get a few more under my belt then I'll clean up domestically. I'd fancy my chances now against Daws or Cook. "I've just got to keep on beating the fighters that Frank Warren puts in front of me, and I'm sure that come the end of the year I'm going to be in a strong position. The British title has always been a special one to win, and I definitely want to fight for it and win it. "I've got a big fight against Peter McDonagh coming up because he's fought for a couple of titles and is a decent name. "If I can do a job on him then I can send out a statement to all the domestic guys between 140 pounds and 147 pounds."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Brook contests a Cold War

World title hopeful Krzysztof Bienias has warned Kell Brook that a harsh Polish winter has made him a hungry fighter ahead of their February 13 clash. Former European title challenger Bienias will take on rising British star Brook in an eliminator for the WBO World Welterweight crown at Wembley Arena on the huge Night of the Champion extravaganza promoted by Frank Warren. Both men are riding high in the WBO rankings, but Bienias says he'll come out on top in the fight after a tough training camp in his home city of Warsaw. While temperatures have plummeted in the UK over recent weeks, they've been even colder in Eastern Europe, but that hasn't stopped Bienias from getting in shape outdoors. "I've been breaking up blocks of ice with my fists," stormed Bienias. "Some people hate the freezing weather but for me I love it because it means I can train harder than ever. "Smashing ice has made my fists rock hard but it won't feel as good as breaking Brook's heart at Wembley Arena."He's a good young fighter but he's not faced anyone like me yet," Bienias, who is lost just three times in more than 40 outings, has also a secret weapon - a special Eastern European dessert that has given him his nickname, Kisiel. It consists of sweetened juice, thickened with arrowroot, cornstarch or potato starch and Polish vodka, and Bienias says he tucks into it every evening. "It gives me lots of strength after all that work in the snow," he revealed. "It's got a few added ingredients that I won't reveal, but it will mean that Brook will be feeling plenty of pain when I give him a serious beating at Wembley. I might have a sweet nickname but I'll be leaving a nasty taste in Brook's mouth." Night of the Champions features the exciting heavyweight showdown between British heavyweight champion Danny Williams and Commonwealth champion Sam Sexton; Kevin Mitchell's WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title defence; Kell Brook's WBO Intercontinental Welterweight title challenge; Derek Chisora versus Matt Skelton for the Vacant English Heavyweight Championship; The Olympians James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders; plus hot prospects Vinny Mitchell and Liam, Michael and Ryan Walsh.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Harrison sets New Targets

PRIZEFIGHTER Champion Audley Harrison has vowed to ‘gatecrash the boxing big-time’ by winning the European Heavyweight Championship in April. Harrison, 38, saved his career by triumphing in Prizefighter Heavyweights 3 in October and will now meet Poland’s Albert Sosnowski for the European belt. Former Olympic Gold medalist Harrison hopes the fight, scheduled for April 9 at London’s Alexandra Palace, leads to a shot at World title. “Albert Sosnowski represents a difficult challenge for me and I know he wants to keep his crown he won in December against Paolo Vidoz,” said Harrison. “I was impressed by Sosnowski’s fitness and pressure. I’ll need to be at the top of my game if I’m to be successful. “He’s only lost twice before in 48 fights, but that tells me he can be beaten. “I have enough time to get my preparations right; no excuses, this is it! I will be giving it my all to rip away the European title and gatecrash the big-time. “David Haye and the Klitschko brothers will be within my sights if I can get a victory and that’s enough motivation for me to lay it all on the line. “I am so happy to have agreed terms with Matchroom Sport and truly feel this opportunity will lead me to a World title this year. “They have done everything they said they would do and that’s a rare commodity with promoters within this industry.” Harrison’s career appeared to be over in December 2008 with a shock defeat against Martin Rogan but Harrison, who won an Olympic gold in 2000, responded in fine style. He claimed impressive victories over Scott Belshaw and previously-undefeated duo Danny Hughes and Coleman Barrett to win Prizefighter. “Forget the past, the dream is still very much alive for Audley,'' commented Matchroom Sport Managing Director Eddie Hearn. “When I first met with Audley in Vegas last Summer I told him a win at Prizefighter would put him back in line for a shot at the big-time. Prizefighter was a big gamble and he showed plenty of bottle and quality to get the job done. “Albert represents a tough challenge but the winner puts himself right in line for a World title shot - and who could rule out an all British battle with David Haye if Audley can produce the goods in April.'' Sosnowski, who is based in Brentwood, Essex, but originally hails from Warsaw, Poland, claimed the title with an emphatic points victory over Italian Paolo Vidoz in December. However, 30-year-old Sosnowski is best known for a shock stoppage win in 2008 over Harrison’s long-term rival Danny Williams, the current British Champion and promises to bring with him an army of Polish supporters for the fight.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Decade dawns for Boxing's new Gladiators

Frank Warren says British boxing is in great shape as it enters a new decade - and he's got 10 fighters to prove it. Warren hosted a press conference yesterday in London, where he was joined by the young professionals he's backing to make it to the very top. All 10 have had less than 10 fights in the paid ranks, and are yet to challenge for honours. But Warren believes that the youngsters have massive potential and could become as big as any of the stars he has worked with. The 10 fighters are Olympic Gold Medallist James DeGale, Amateur World Champion Frankie Gavin, as well as amateur standouts Billy Joe Saunders, Thomas Costello, Stephen Smith, Liam Smith, Ronnie Heffron, and Norfolk's trio of Walsh brothers, Ryan, Liam and Michael*. "I've been involved in boxing for the best part of 30 years and this crop of youngsters matches any that I have promoted," said Warren. "There is some much talent around at the moment that we are in for a very exciting couple of years watching these guys develop, and then a very exciting decade as they go beyond domestic level and start challenging for world honours. "The last few decades as far as British boxing is concerned have been defined by a couple of fighters - Naseem Hamed, Chris Eubank, Frank Bruno Lennox Lewis and Nigel Benn in the 1990s; Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton in the 2000s. "I'm confident that one or more of the big names of the 2010s is going to come from this group of fighters. We're also going to have some massive fights as well - lots of these boys are in and around the same weight divisions, so there are some great matches to be made." As well as his 10 for the 2010s, Warren's bulging stable includes a host of other young talents hoping to make it big on the world stage. "Everyone at the press conference was chosen because they are at the formative stage of their professional careers and have had less than 10 fights," he explained. "But I've also got lots of fighters who are just as exciting but a little more experienced - Kell Brook, Kevin Mitchell, Nathan Cleverly, Paul Smith, Tony Bellew, Sam Sexton and Derek Chisora are all at championship level right now and will also be really big in the coming years." Those fighters present at the press conference are relishing the chance to shine in the next decade. DeGale said: "I grew up watching the likes of Naseem Hamed, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank, and the chance to become as big a name as one of them is unbelievable. "They were my heroes but now I have the opportunity to become a hero for the next generation." Gavin said: "I was Britain's first amateur world champion but now I want to be a professional world champion as well. I've had a good start to my career, but it's only the beginning really. By the end of the year I want to be fighting for titles." Saunders, who like his fellow 2008 Olympians is unbeaten in five professional fights, said: "It's good to be flagged up by a great promoter like Frank as one to watch, but all his praise will mean nothing unless I produce the goods in the ring. That's what I have to do over the next few years." Costello said: "I'm from Birmingham like Frankie Gavin, and there's a real sense that big time boxing is coming back to the Midlands. We've got a lot of talented fighters in Brum and over the next few years there are going to be some massive shows here." Similar sentiments were expressed by the Walsh and Smith brothers, all of whom want to see big shows in their respective areas. "Liverpool has been neglected as a fight city for the last decade or so," said Stephen Smith. "But I think we showed the support that's out there when we did a show up there at the end of last year. "The Echo Arena was sold out and it will be in March as well. Liverpool can become a rival to Manchester and London as the capital of British boxing." Liam Walsh said: "Norfolk's got a great heavyweight champion in Sam Sexton, and we'll be flying the flag as well. Michael, Ryan and myself are desperate for big fights and for them to be held in Norfolk, and I know Frank Warren will deliver. "We all want to be challenging for British titles by the end of the year, and then we all want to go on and create history by holding world titles at the same time. The Smith brothers have said they are going to do it quicker than us and it's great to have a bit of rivalry and spur each other on." Ronnie Heffron, who made his professional debut last month, added: "I've been compared to Ricky Hatton and hopefully people saw how exciting I can be when I fought up in Newcastle. "There's some quality young talent out there in the pro game at the moment and I'm very excited about what the future holds." The Walsh brothers, Gavin, DeGale and Saunders will all feature on the undercard of Warren's February 13 show at Wembley Arena, while the Smith brothers, Heffron and Costello all fight on March 12 in Liverpool. *Michael Walsh was not in attendance due to an illness.

Friday, January 08, 2010

McDonnell and DeGale fight the Big Freeze

James DeGale has had his worst fears confirmed about trainer Jim McDonnell thanks to the big freeze - and discovered his masochism knows no match. While pampered Premiership footballers put their feet up midweek with a string of big games postponed because of the snow and ice, Olympic gold medallist DeGale was doing his early morning roadwork in sub-zero temperatures in preparation for his London homecoming on Frank Warren's Night of the Champions show live on Sky Sports. And with the cold snap worsening over the weekend, DeGale will be out on the roads once again whatever the weather may bring. "I'd heard that Jimmy was a psycho trainer before I went to his gym," said southpaw sensation DeGale, who will make his London debut on February 13 at Wembley Arena, just a stone's throw from where he was born. "Things have been tough in my first year as a professional, but the work I've put in during the last few days has been something else. "Tuesday night we had loads of snow in north London, and I thought on Wednesday morning I'd get a lie in because there was no way I could get to the gym. "But I was woken up at 5am by Jimmy, who'd battled the blizzards to make it round to my house to make sure I did my roadwork. "And we were out running in the dark with the snow coming down all around us even though I'd have been better off in ice skates than running shoes. "This weekend he's got more runs in the snow planned - even if the temperature drops to -20."I hear that it's colder here than in Antarctica at the moment, but that's not stopping Jimmy, and by the time I get to fight at Wembley it's going to be a case of The Iceman Cometh! "The man is a complete psycho when it comes to training, but I'll be thanking him when all the hard work pays off and I become a world champion." DeGale, still only 23, will have his sixth fight at Wembley Arena having won all of his first five outings as a professional, three by stoppage.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Echenique's Shot of the Year

Rafa Echenique’s stunning albatross on the final hole of the BMW International Open in Munich has been voted The European Tour Shot of the Year for 2009. The Argentine golfer holed his second shot – a 243-yard three iron – for an outrageous two at the 568 yard par five, capping a sensational ten under 62 which almost won him the tournament. The shot contributed to a European Tour record-equalling inward 27, and piled the pressure on England’s Nick Dougherty, who needed to par his last three holes to capture the title, just one shot ahead of Echenique. In the event Dougherty proved up to the task, but it was Echenique’s incredible finish that sent the crowd at Golfclub München Eichenried into raptures. “I am very thrilled that my albatross at the BMW International Open has won The European Tour Shot of the Year award,” said Echenique, who had four top 20 finishes in 2009. “I still feel excited when I think about that day. The crowd started to roar and then my caddie said 'It's in the hole!' I couldn’t believe it.“It was a great moment in my career. I finished in second place that week and could have won. It gave me a lot of confidence for the next few weeks. People still say to me ‘You’re the guy who had the albatross in Munich!’ It was fantastic.” Runner-up was Lee Westwood whose masterful chip to a few inches at the 17th hole of the final round of the Portugal Masters set up his first European Tour victory in more than two years and propelled the Englishman to victory in the Dubai World Championship and The Race to Dubai a few weeks later. Third place went to Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy for his sublime bunker shot at the 72nd hole of the Dubai Desert Classic which contributed to the Northern Irishman’s first European Tour victory. The European Tour Shot of the Month Award is presented to the Tour Member for the shot judged to be the most outstanding played during each calendar month on The European Tour International Schedule. The winning shots from each month are entered into The European Tour Shot of the Year Award. The full list of monthly winners in 2009 were: McIlroy (January and March), England’s Paul Casey (February and May), three Argentine golfers in Angel Cabrera (April), Echenique (June) and Ricardo Gonzalez (July), Sweden’s Noren (August and September), Westwood (October) and Italy’s Francesco Molinari (November).

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

DeGale and Williams Work Out

Danny Williams says he has been inspired by youth ahead of his British heavyweight title defence against Sam Sexton on Frank Warren's Night of the Champions extravaganza. Williams, a veteran of the fight game, spent Christmas working with young talent James DeGale and their mutual trainer Jimmy McDonnell. And the 36-year-old, who has vowed to go out on a high by knocking out Sexton, admits that their joint training sessions have given him a new lease of life. "James is an inspiration," said Williams, who will defend his Lonsdale belt at Wembley Arena on February 13 live on Sky Sports. "Having spent a few days with him in camp I can see why he won an Olympic gold medal. "He's really pushing me fitness wise, and thanks to him and Jimmy I'm going to be in great shape when it comes to taking on Sexton. "DeGale is going to be a world champion in the future, and some of his
star-dust is beginning to rub off on me. "I may be 36, but at the moment I feel like the fighter I was when I was in my 20s. I've got that spark back and I'm going to go out with a bang against Sexton." DeGale, who appears on the same card as Williams and will make his London debut in his sixth professional fight, has also been impressed with what he has seen. "I heard Danny saying he was shot at the press conference to announce this fight, but he's looked far from it in training," said the 23-year-old. "He's been pretty sharp and I'm sure him against Sexton is going to be a thriller. "It's been a pleasure working with him and I've learned a lot already. How can you not pick up things from a man who beat Mike Tyson and fought Vitali Klitschko for the world title."

Mitchell in hunt for Australia's Katsidis

Kevin Mitchell says he wants Aussie power-house Michael Katsidis. Mitchell will make the first defence of his WBO Intercontinental lightweight title on Frank Warren's blockbuster show at Wembley Arena on February 13, following a faultless performance over Amir Khan conqueror Breidis Prescott earlier this month. And the Dagenham Destroyer knows that victory could pave the way for a clash with the WBO Interim champ Katsidis, who may even have the full WBO belt before long if current champion Juan Manuel Marquez decides to vacate. Katsidis was last seen on these shores in 2007 in a barnstormer against Mitchell's former gym-mate Graham Earl. "I'm ready for Katsidis right now," stormed 25-year-old Mitchell. "He's a great fighter and he's well known in the UK after his war against Graham Earl a few years ago. "He is a dangerous opponent, but when my bombs start landing I'm going to be even more dangerous for him. "He can crack a bit but I can take a better shot than Earl and I can hit harder as well. "If I stand in front of Katsidis and have a war I'll beat him, but I can out box him as well and do a proper job on him just like I did against Prescott. "Everyone said that was going to be a tough fight and I was going to get knocked out, but I made it look easy in there and I'll do the same against Katsidis. "I showed against Prescott that I belong at world level, and by the summer I want that world title wrapped around my waist." Mitchell, who will be facing a world-rated opponent on February 13 when he headlines the card and is currently ranked number one by the WBO, already has his sights set on a world title chance by May. "I can't take anything for granted in this next fight, but ideally I'd like to face Katsidis early in the summer," he said. "He's been to the UK before and I'm sure he'll come here again, but unlike last time he won't be going home with the title. Earl had him rocking early on and let him off the hook, but I'll wallop him good and proper."

Brook faces Eastern European Opponent

Hot prospect for 2010 Kell Brook will face tough Eastern European opposition on February 13 in an eliminator for the WBO World Welterweight title currently held by pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao. The 23-year-old British champion, and 2009's British Boxing Writers' Young Boxer of the Year, takes on Poland's Krzysztof Bienias at Wembley Arena on Frank Warren's huge Night of the Champions extravaganza. Bienias is the current WBO Intercontinental champion, a belt that will be on the line in North London. And the 29-year-old, who has a 39-3 (16) record and has previously challenged for the European light-welterweight title, is currently ranked number four by the WBO. Brook, who is undefeated in 20 fights and who has just raced to a Lonsdale belt outright inside 12 months, is rated seven by the organisation. "Bienias has a great record and he's going to be a very dangerous opponent," said the Sheffield sensation. "He's the kind of guy that I need to beat if I'm going to get to world level. "He's above me in the ratings and if I beat him then I'm going to be progressing nicely and I'll be one step closer to that world title opportunity. "Bienias hasn't been beaten for five years and he'll be coming to London to win. "But it's a fantastic opportunity for me to make a big statement and I'll be looking to keep up my run of KO victories. "I've been saying for the last year that I want to be tested and I'm ready for world level and this fight is the perfect chance to do just that. "Winning the Lonsdale belt outright is a dream come true but it's just the start. 2010 is going to be my year and I'll be the name on everybody's lips. "I want to be a world champion by the end of the year."

Gavin gets McDonagh in February Fight

Birmingham's Frankie Gavin has a tough assignment for his first fight of 2010 when he takes on Irishman Peter McDonagh. Gavin, 24, features on Frank Warren's huge show at Wembley Arena on Saturday 13th February alongside fellow Olympians James DeGale and Billy Joe Saunders. Britain's first ever World Amateur Champion ended his first year as professional unbeaten in five fights with a sixth round stoppage of Samir Tergaoui in Newcastle, and looks to get his first title opportunity next year. McDonagh, originally from Galway but now based in Bermondsey, is a former Southern Area and Irish Lightweight Champion, and has won the Southern Area Light-Welterweight title. One of his more famous victories was over Manchester madman Michael Gomez and he said at the time that he was seeing the famous paranormalist Uri Geller to help with preparations. But Gavin is feeling bad about having to knock-out McDonagh because of his own Irish ancestry. "My parents are from Ireland and I go back frequently so it's going to be a hard one beating up on him," said Gavin. "But I'm sure McDonagh won't be feeling the same and it will be on his mind to stop me and make a name for himself," "McDonagh is experienced, he's beating Michael Gomez and has won and challenged for plenty of domestic titles so it's a great test for me at this stage of my career," He added, "I stopped all my opponents in 2009 so I aim to continue in the same manner throughout 2010 and become an exciting attraction like Ricky Hatton and Naseem Hamed," Main event features the explosive heavyweight showdown between British heavyweight champion Danny Williams and Commonwealth champion Sam Sexton; Kevin Mitchell's WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title defence; Kell Brook's British Welterweight title defence; Derek Chisora versus Matt Skelton for the Vacant English Heavyweight Championship; The Olympians James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders; plus Vinny Mitchell, Liam, Michael and Ryan Walsh.

Skelton and Chisora in Wembley Showdown

Heavyweight hitters Derek Chisora and Matt Skelton are both promising explosive performances when they meet in a classic crossroads fight on February 13 at Wembley Arena. The pair will slug it out for the Vacant Southern Area title on Frank Warren's first action-packed show of the new decade featuring British Champions Kevin Mitchell and Kell Brook, more heavyweight action with Sam Sexton versus Danny Williams, plus The Olympians James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders. Chisora v Sexton will also double as an eliminator for the British title, and represents a massive test for both men. Unbeaten in 11 fights and with a stoppage win over Sexton, Chisora is one of the country's hottest prospects and is vowing to back it up with victory over former world title challenger Skelton. "Matt's been there and done it all, he's had his chance, but it's time for a new generation of heavyweights to come through," said 25-year-old Chisora. "I respect what he has acheived but I'm going to send him into retirement. "This is a much tougher fight for me than one against Sexton or Williams, and once I've done the business against Skelton I'll knock out the winner of that one as well. "This a great chance of me to test myself against a proven champion, and it's just the kind of fight that I've been waiting for. Skelton won't know what's hit on February 13 and I'm going to knock him out in style. "The Bedford Bear will be well and truly tamed." Skelton, a former British, Commonwealth and European champion, has spent the last five years campaigning at championship level. "Chisora is the new kid on the block, but I'm going to take him to school big time," said Skelton. "He's always running his mouth off and I'm going to shut it up for him once and for all. "He's taken this one because he thinks that I've had a couple of tough fights and I'm going to be there for the taking. "But he's going to get a nasty surprise when I take away his unbeaten record. He might have snacked on his last opponent's ear, but he's bitten off more than he can chew in this fight. "People have been asking me recently if I'm going to retire, but I've never even thought about hanging up the gloves. "I want my British title back, and Chisora is standing in the way of me getting a crack at the Lonsdale belt again."