Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pascal and Hopkins in Boxing Showdown

Legendary former World Light Heavyweight and Middleweight Champion and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins will fight for the World Boxing Council (WBC) and Ring Magazine 175-pound championship against current linear champion Jean Pascal as the main event of "Dynasty: Pascal vs. Hopkins" on Saturday, December 18 from the Pepsi Coliseum in Québec City, Canada. The event will air live in the United States on SHOWTIME® at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). For Hopkins, (51-5-1, 32 KO's), the age-defying throwback pugilist from Philadelphia, Pa., a win overPascal (26-1, 16 KOs), the 27-year-old upstart world champion from Montreal, Canada, means becoming the oldest fighter in the history of the sport to win a prominent world title and the continuation of his boxing dynasty. "Everyone knows I don't like to travel outside the United States to fight, but here we have another fresh face, who happens to be the light heavyweight champion, calling my name," said Hopkins. "I just say 'here we go again.' I am going all the way to Québec City, Canada to once again show that young and tough doesn't always mean good and smart. Let's see if he can stop me from beating him up and taking the title home to the States. It is these types of fights that get me motivated to train hard and once again prove that no one should ever count me out." For Pascal, the fight signifies a dream come true as he looks to get the win over the formidable Hopkins and to start a dynasty of his own. "Two months ago I defeated a top-five pound-for-pound fighter viewed by many as the best light heavyweight in the world in dominant fashion," said Pascal, of his win over then-undefeated Chad Dawson in August. "Now it's time to take on the legendary future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins and finally send him into his well-deserved retirement. He's an old fox, but I'm the young wolf. He may be the master, but I am the commander. I know he may have more experience than any fighter out there, but on December 18, I will show the world once again exactly why I am top dog in my division." "Dynasty: Pascal vs. Hopkins" is promoted by Group Yvon Michel Inc. and Golden Boy Promotions and presented by the Casino de Montreal and The City of Québec Tourism. The 12-round world championship fight will take place December 18 at the Pepsi Coliseum in Québec City, Canada and will be televised live on SHOWTIME® in the United States. Canadian broadcasts will begin at 7 p.m. ET on Canal Indigo, Bell TV, Shaw TV and Viewer's Choice on pay-per-view in French and English. "Jean Pascal is a special young fighter in this day and age, a true throwback to the glory days of boxing" said Yvon Michel, president of Groupe Yvon Michel. "He believes that the best must fight the best, and he has shown it time and again, never turning down a true challenge. He shook the world with his win over Chad Dawson in August, and when he finishes 'The Executioner' on Dec. 18 in Québec City, he should be a lock for Fighter of the Year, an accolade given only once to a Canadian boxer in the history of our sport." "One thing I have learned over the years is that you can never count Bernard Hopkins out," said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer. "Bernard is at his best when the challenge is great and his fight against Jean Pascal is a great challenge. On Dec. 18, I expect to see yet another history-making performance from Bernard Hopkins that no fight fan should miss." "We have an amazing lineup of world championship boxing on tap to close out the year on SHOWTIME, the finale of which is this classic crossroads fight," said Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports®. "We are thrilled to welcome Bernard Hopkins back to SHOWTIME in what could be an historic night for him and we're proud to welcome Jean Pascal in his network debut. Dec. 18 will put an exclamation point on another banner year for SHOWTIME boxing." "Quebec City is quickly establishing itself as a true hotbed for boxing fans. Hosting this mega-fight between Pascal and Hopkins is an incredible opportunity to bring Quebec City into the spotlight of millions of viewers in Canada, the United States and across the world thanks to SHOWTIME," said the Mayor of Quebec City, Mr. Régis Labeaume. "In addition to witnessing a historic Championship battle, the thousands of fans who come to take part in this incredible event live at the Pepsi Coliseum will also get the opportunity to discover Quebec City and the all-new Christmas events we have planned that are sure to make our beautiful city the destination of choice for the holiday season." Dec. 18 marks the amazingly ageless Hopkins' first fight since he settled his 17-year long rivalry with fellow future Hall of Famer Roy Jones Jr. via lopsided 12-round decision this past April. The 6-foot-1, 45-year-old won the World Middleweight title the first time on SHOWTIME in 1995 and continued to defend that title 20 times, solidifying his place as one of the bestmiddleweights in the history of the sport. In an incomparable 22-year career that began in October 1988, when Pascal was just five-years-old, Hopkins has defeated many of boxing's all-time greats. Signature wins include a stunning 12th round stoppage of Felix "Tito" Trinidad in 2001, a ninth round knockout of Oscar de la Hoya in 2004, a unanimous decision win over Antonio Tarver in 2006 which crowned him Light Heavyweight World Champion and a dominant win over Winky Wright at 170 pounds in 2007. Perhaps the most impressive win of Hopkins' career came in October of 2008 when he "schooled" a then-undefeated Kelly Pavlik in a shocking unanimous decision, proving to the world that Hopkins is a true testament to the phrase "age is nothing but a number." The 5-foot-11 Pascal, who turns 28 on Oct. 28, is looking to prove his status as one of the top fighters in the world. He catapulted into global prominence after he registered one of the year's biggest upsets in his last outing when he defended his WBC crown and captured the vacant Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight title with a shocking 11th-round technical decision over heavily favored Chad Dawson on Aug. 14. Pascal performed magnificently against Dawson and was ahead on all three judges' scorecards (108-101 and 106-103 twice) when the fight was stopped after an unintentional head-butt opened up a huge cut above Dawson's left eye. Pascal, one of the most highly decorated amateurs ever to come out of Canada, has come a very long way in a stellar professional career spanning less than six years. After winning the NABO, NABA, and NABF 168-pound belts in 2007, the opportunity to fulfill his dream of winning a world championship came in December 2008 when he traveled to England to take on the undefeated Carl Froch in his hometown of Nottingham for the WBC Super Middleweight World Championship. Pascal dropped a close decision to Froch in a heart-pounding back and forth battle that many boxing insiders called the Fight of the Year. The young Pascal took his first and only defeat in stride and just six months later, in his first fight at his new weight of 175 pounds, defeated the dangerous and then-undefeated Adrian Diaconu for the WBC Light Heavyweight World Championship. Dec. 18 will mark Pascal's fourth defense of that title and his first defense of the prestigious Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight Championship.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chisora's shot at Heavyweight Champion

Dereck Chisora has done what David Haye didn't do - sign to fight not one, but BOTH Klitschko brothers. The unbeaten Londoner first takes on WBO/IBF world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko on December 11 in Mannheim, Germany, and if he wins then he could face Vitali, the WBC world champion, next. Haye talked big about fighting the Klitschkos but never backed up his words. He was due to face Wladimir, but pulled out with a back injury and then negotiated to fight Vitali, but instead fought Nikolay Valuev. Chisora, 26, says he will be the man to end the Klitschkos reign of heavyweight boxing. "This is about glory for me and becoming the heavyweight champion of the world, something I've dreamed about since I started boxing," said Chisora. "Haye will not fight the Klitschkos as long as they are champions, but I'm up for the fight and will take them on," "The Klitschkos have ruled for too long and I can't wait to get into the ring in Germany and smash the living daylights out of Wladimir first," "Vitali is waiting in the background and I'll deal with him once I've dealt with Wladimir," "Wladimir is a good strong champion, technically excellent, but I believe I can bring something new to beat him," "I'm a young, fresh and hungry challenger and I've got the punch back me up," "An opportunity like this may not come around again or for a long time so I've got to take it now and believe me, one shot is all I need." Finchley puncher Chisora beat rival Sam Sexton to claim the Commonwealth title last month and earlier this year he ended the career of Danny Williams. Frank Warren, who signed Chisora after he won the 2005 ABA Super-Heavyweight title, said, " This is a tough fight for Del and a big step up for him, but he's confident that he can do a job on Wladimir," "When I talked to him about the opportunity, he insisted that I took it. Unlike David Haye, for Dereck this about the challenge, not the money. He really believes that he can beat Wladimir." "It's in the contract that if he beats Wladimir then he has to face Vitali next, but he's got a big job ahead of first," "He's taking himself out of London and into a training camp, away from any distractions, to totally focus on the fight," "December 11 could be a double celebration for me as I have my 30th anniversary show taking place and if Dereck wins the world heavyweight title."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kaymer the King at St Andrews

Germany’s Martin Kaymer fulfilled his dream of winning a golf tournament at St Andrews after a flamboyant 66 on the Old Course earned him victory in the 10th Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Despite breezy and difficult conditions, scoring was phenomenal with shouts ringing out all over the course as birdies rattled in, but the biggest cheer came when Kaymer putted from off the green at the formidable 17th Road Hole for a birdie three to effectively clinch the title. For good measure he birdied the 18th hole as well despite hitting his drive on to the road. Throughout the final day he had once again shown the steely resolve which helped him become a major championship winner at just 25 at the US PGA in August, as he held off a series of formidable challenges to secure his third consecutive strokeplay win, something not achieved by any player since Tiger Woods in 2006. The tournament, conceived as a celebration of links golf, is played over three of the world’s best known and respected links courses - the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links. Many of the spectators who crowded the Old Course had come to see Lee Westwood crowned as World No 1, a ranking he could have achieved if he had finished 1st or 2nd, but he was never able to get his game going and produced just three birdies on a day when most of his rivals were doing much better. In the end it was Kaymer, another of Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes from Celtic Manor, who had the crowd on their feet as he produced a splendid round of seven birdies and just one bogey for a 72 hole total of 17-under-par to beat England’s Danny Willett by three shots, with overnight leader John Parry a further shot behind. Kaymer said: “It was always one of my dreams to win at St Andrews. I can still remember my first day here as an amateur and walking down the 1st hole, over the bridge, all those things. They felt very special to me. It was very special for me to win here today. Three in a row, well three-and-a-half if you include the Ryder Cup – it wasn’t just my own win – is pretty good. I was never expecting that I could win three tournaments in a row, so I don’t really have an answer for why I am playing so well at the moment.” He said he had no problems getting motivated after the Ryder Cup. “To come here to St. Andrews, I think you owe that golf course 100 per cent concentration. That's what you have to bring when you want to play golf. Just to come here for me is a privilege, to win here is fantastic, ” said Kaymer who now moves into the top five in the world rankings after receiving the winner’s cheque of US$800,000 (£500,000. German businessman Patrick Roseler, who was playing with Kaymer in the Team Championship, has known him since he was 14. He said: “We are very good friends. I caddied for him in the 2007 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. To be able to walk up the 18th hole at the Old Course with him as he was winning the title in such style was just a great experience. His birdie-birdie finish was sensational. He got the Ryder Cup out of his mind and was just so focused on what he had to do to fulfil one of his greatest golfing dreams – which was to win at the Home of Golf. We spoke about it before and during the tournament. For him, it is a dream realised and for me it is simply the best week I have ever had in golf.” Kaymer got off to a perfect start. While he birdied the 1st hole, overnight leader Parry had a bogey to see his two shot lead wiped out in minutes. But Kaymer was not able to hold on to that advantage and by the turn Parry was back in the lead by one. But, as at Carnoustie on Saturday, Parry just did not have his putting stroke in control and three-putted the 11th and 13th before hitting his second shot into a bush at the 14th for a double bogey seven which ended his challenge. Meanwhile other challengers began to appear, none more dangerous than young Englishman Danny Willett, who produced a faultless round including three birdies and an eagle at the par five 14th for a 67. Like Kaymer, his putt from off the green at the Road Hole took a similar line, but while Kaymer’s dropped in, Willett’s stayed resolutely out. He said: “It's been a good week. I've been playing well all year and played really nice today. The 17th was big, obviously, with Martin holing that putt, but it’s still a good result. He putted well today and when he's had a chance to make birdie and stay up there, he's done it. Take your hat off to him.” Another plucky young Englishman Gary Boyd put together five birdies before coming to grief with a bogey at the Road Hole, but finished fourth on 12-under-par. Defending champion Simon Dyson produced one of the rounds of the day with a 66, to finish tied one shot further back with top finishing Scot Martin Laird, 67, and Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, who had a level par 72. Laird, who plays his golf predominantly on the US Tour, said: “The only five I had all day was on the 17th and that's playing really tough right now. I’m obviously very happy. I've not hit one practice putt or practice ball all week, and sometimes when you just kind of relax and don't expect much, you have good weeks and that's what it has been this week, just having fun at home, staying with my parents in Kirkcaldy.” Although he did not move to the No 1 position in the world rankings, Lee Westwood, who has been suffering with a leg injury, was happy with his week. “I was obviously not at my best physically, and woke up this morning and it was hurting more than the other days. So all in all, I don't suppose seven under-par is too bad. I’ll take where I am in the world rankings. I've had a great year up until getting injured. Look at all world ranking points I've won. The world rankings at the moment show the strength of European golf. We've had some fantastic accomplishments from players in majors this year from Louis (Oosthuizen), Martin (Kaymer), Graeme (McDowell), and I finished second a couple of times as well, so there have been some brilliant performances and it's no wonder the top of the world rankings are stacked with Europeans.” Partnering the professionals have been an enthusiastic group of talented amateur golfers competing for the Alfred Dunhill Links Team Championship which was won by Irish businessman Dermot Desmond and 2008 individual professional winner Robert Karlsson with a total of 30-under-par, two shots ahead of Soren Hansen & Kieran McManus. Dermot Desmond, who has played in all ten Alfred Dunhill Links Championships but has never won, said he feared he would “always be the bridesmaid”. His great friend and business partner, fellow Irishman J.P. McManus, has already won twice, but the best Desmond could do before this triumph was finishing once as runner-up. “J.P. has held the bragging rights in this event, but I was very pleased for him when he won, so I imagine he will feel the same now that I have finally managed to come out on top, said Desmond.” Former Scotland international footballer Alan Hansen, playing with Richie Ramsay, finished in ninth on 25-under. He said: “We have had a fantastic time. I played really well today, in fact I played better than I did yesterday but I just couldn’t hole the putts whereas yesterday they were flying in. I’ve had such a great time. To finish 25-under and only getting two shots every day has been tremendous. To make the cut and play on the Old Course on the last day has been great. Richie has been fantastic and we’ve had a laugh every day. I’ve enjoyed it.” Lisa O’Hurley finished joint 12th on 22-under, playing with Finnish professional Mikko Ilonen. She earned the bragging rights in the family after making the cut ahead of her husband and comedian John O’Hurley with whom she shares a fierce golfing rivalry. She said: “This is my favourite week of the year. I plan the other 51 weeks around this and I have worked very hard coming into here – I practised a lot, got new clubs, got lessons. Everything. I was the only woman who made the cut and same last year, so I feel pretty good. I get very excited about that. I’ll talk about it to John the rest of the year.” Also playing have been celebrities from the world of entertainment which included film and TV stars Matthew Goode, Hugh Grant, Samuel L Jackson, Kyle MacLachlan, James Nesbitt and Aidan Quinn. Also taking part were rock music legend Huey Lewis and Michael Flatley, the Irish/American step dancer who created Riverdance, and popular Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans. Three of Britain’s sporting knights – Sir Ian Botham, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Steve Redgrave - led a locker room full of sporting heroes, including Dutch football legends Johann Cruyff and Ruud Gullit, former England player Jamie Redknapp and ex-Chelsea and Italy star Gianfranco Zola. Rugby was represented by three great former internationals, All Blacks former captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Scotland’s Gavin Hastings and Argentina’s Hugo Porta, while cricketers Allan Lamb and Michael Vaughan of England and Steve Waugh and Shane Warne of Australia were also in the field, along with immensely popular former Wimbledon tennis player Tim Henman and Austrian downhill skier Franz Klammer. The first Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was staged in 2001, but Alfred Dunhill’s support for golf at St Andrews, through the Alfred Dunhill Cup, an international team championship that took place from 1985 to 2000, goes back 26 years.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Monty gets a Heroes Welcome

Heroic Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie returns in triumph to his native Scotland this week to play in the 10th Alfred Dunhill Links Championship along with nine other members of his successful European team – Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson, Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood.Scottish golf fans are certain to turn out in their thousands to salute Montgomerie, back on home soil, after leading his side to a thrilling 14½-13½ win against the United States at Celtic Manor to regain the Ryder Cup. A wonderful reception is guaranteed for all the players and particularly for US Open champion Graeme McDowell, Europe’s anchor-man, who showed nerve and courage to bring home the final point which clinched victory. McDowell, now one of the most formidable players in world golf, will be hoping to celebrate his Ryder Cup tour-de-force with victory this week at St Andrews, where he lost in a sudden death play-off to Stephen Gallacher in 2004.In one of the strongest ever line-ups in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the Ryder Cup heroes will be joined by a world-class international field including three-time major champion Ernie Els, double US Open winner Retief Goosen, former US Open champion Michael Campbell, former Open champion Paul Lawrie, defending champion Simon Dyson and flamboyant American golf star John Daly. Big-hitting Daly won the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews and is looking forward to playing again on a course he loves. He also won the US PGA Championship in 1991. The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which celebrates links golf at its finest, is played over three of the world’s best known and respected courses – the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and the highly regarded Kingsbarns Golf Links.With a prize fund of US$5 million, the championship incorporates two separate competitions - an individual professional tournament for the world's leading golfers and a team event in which the professionals are paired with some of the most celebrated amateur golfers which creates a unique atmosphere.Celebrities from the world of entertainment include film and TV stars Matthew Goode, Hugh Grant, Samuel L Jackson, Kyle MacLachlan, James Nesbitt, John O’Hurley and Aidan Quinn. Also taking part are rock music legend Huey Lewis and Michael Flatley, the Irish/American step dancer who created the Riverdance, and popular Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans. A trio of Britain’s sporting knights – Sir Ian Botham, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Steve Redgrave - lead a locker room full of sporting heroes, including Dutch football legends Johann Cruyff and Ruud Gullit, former England player Jamie Redknapp, Chelsea and Italy star Gianfranco Zola and Scottish defender Alan Hansen. Rugby is represented by All Blacks former captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Scotland’s Gavin Hastings and Argentina’s Hugo Porta, while cricketers Allan Lamb and Michael Vaughan of England and Steve Waugh and Shane Warne of Australia will also be teeing off. The immensely popular former Wimbledon tennis player Tim Henman will be back, along with Austrian downhiller Franz Klammer.The first Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was staged in 2001, but Alfred Dunhill’s support for golf at St Andrews, through the Alfred Dunhill Cup, an international team championship that took place from 1985 to 2000, goes back 26 years.