Wednesday, August 31, 2011

British rivals clash in Liverpool

Frank Warren today officially announced the long awaited showdown between WBO World Light-Heavyweight Champion Nathan Cleverly and challenger Tony Bellew for Saturday 15th October at the Liverpool Echo Arena. It has the potential to be the most explosive fight of the year - and of the new season - as the bitter rivals put their unbeaten records and pride on the line. The rivalry has been building up over the last couple of years and the pair almost fought in May at the O2 Arena when Cleverly was due to face then WBO World Champion Juergen Braehmer, but the German failed to arrive and Bellew stepped in at the last minute. They clashed at a heated press conference and had to be separated by security staff. Ultimately Bellew was beaten by the scales and Cleverly instead faced Aleksy Kuziemski and stopped him in four rounds. The 24-year-old from Cefn Fforest in Wales has a 22-fight unbeaten record with 10 knockouts and formerly held the British and Commonwealth Light-Heavyweight titles. He beat Nadjib Mohammedi last December to win the Interim WBO World title and was declared the full champion by the WBO when Braehmer pulled out and he made the first defence against Kuziemski. "A fight between me and Bellew has been heating up for a long time and now he's ready to be taught a lesson," said Cleverly. "He's got a big mouth, but he can't back it up with his fists and this time he's talked himself into big trouble that he won't be able to fight his way out of," "My blood boils when I think back to the press conference we had and he wanted to fight there and then," "I just wish it was him in the ring that night instead of Kuziemski, I would have knocked him, but he would have come out with excuses that he was a last minute replacement," "I'm happy that this time he's had time to prepare and his weight will right and he'll have no excuses when he's knocked out cold by me," Liverpool "Bomber" Bellew, 28 is undefeated in 16 fights with nine KO's. He won the British title in his last fight against Ovill McKenzie to add to his Commonwealth title. "Cleverley has never knocked anybody out in his life and he's dreaming if he thinks he going to do it to me," Stormed Bellew. "I'll be fit and ready on the night and it's the worst scenario that he could have ever wished for; I'll give him nightmares," "This is the fight I've wanted and been banging for and now I'm going to prove all along what I've been saying is true," "I rattled him at the last press conference, he'll deny it, but he was physically shaking and it's still playing on his mind now," "He can't beat me mentally or physically and he knows that. He may have a touch more speed, but I have plans to counter that," "Come October 15th, Cleverly is in for a nasty nasty shock; he'll be in a hostile place with a hostile atmosphere that he's never experienced," "Full credit to him for facing me, but this will be one of the shortest reigns by a world champion," Hall of Fame promoter Warren, now into his 30th year in the sport, said, "This is a fight that the fans have been waiting for and I'm delighted that it's on," "It is no secret that there is very little love loss between them from their past history together," "I think that the fans will be in for something special when they clash on the night." Warren also revealed that the winner could also get a huge fight against the legendary Bernard Hopkins - the oldest boxer to ever win a win title at 46 - who defends his WBC World title against Chad Dawson on the same night. "I'm in discussions with Hopkins' promoter Richard Schaefer about a potential fight with the winner so it's a massive incentive for both guys."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stars turn out in China

The 18 exempt nations for the 2011 Omega Mission Hills World Cup have confirmed their pairings for this year’s star-studded event at Mission Hills Resort, Hainan Island, China, from November 24-27. Five Major Champions – including current Masters Tournament winner Charl Schwartzel and US Open Champion Rory McIlroy – will represent their countries along with title holders Edoardo and Francesco Molinari of Italy. Schwartzel is joined in a strong South African line-up by 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen while McIlroy will reprise his partnership with last year’s US Open Champion Graeme McDowell, a potent duo which earned them a share of second place behind the Italians in 2009. Last year’s US PGA Champion Martin Kaymer of Germany will have Alex Cejka as his partner for the fourth successive time, the combination having finished sixth in 2007, fifth in 2008 and sixth in 2009. Meanwhile the United States will be represented by Matt Kuchar and his partner Gary Woodland. Both men recognise the honour and privilege of representing the Stars and Stripes. Kuchar said. “It’s exciting to think about the World Cup and representing the United States. Any time you put on a uniform that has the Stars and Stripes on it gives any American player a special feeling and to be part of a two man team that represents the United States of America only once every two years is a fantastic opportunity and I am very much excited about being part of it. Woodland said: “It means a lot to me to represent the United States. I do a lot with our military charities and getting a chance to play for the USA means more than I can describe. Matt is a very consistent player, always in play. Hopefully it pans out pretty well. I have a little length to add to it, so hopefully I can drive it out there, he can knock it close and we both get our putters going and we can make a lot of birdies.” England’s Ian Poulter has named his close friend Justin Rose to fly the flag for England, four years after they finished fourth on their only appearance as a double act at the original Mission Hills Resort in Shenzen. Poulter said: “I am very much looking forward to returning to the World Cup and representing my country once again. I’m a very patriotic guy and the chance to play for England on the world stage is one that I always relish. “Everyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy the different aspect that team events bring to golf. I love the head-to-head element of The Ryder Cup but I also really enjoy the format of the World Cup.” Rose is equally enthusiastic and commented: “Obviously I am really excited to play with ‘Poults’, As our friendship goes way back and we had good run in the World Cup once before. “I think the World Cup would be a great tournament to have on your CV and we are going there to win it, no doubt about that. For me it is the kind of tournament that if you say you have won the World Cup it sounds prestigious – it is prestigious, and I think we have as good a shot as anybody in the competition.” Robert Karlsson, a player with a powerful World Cup pedigree, returns to China with a new partner in Alex Noren, the recent winner of the Nordea Masters in his native Sweden. Karlsson, the former European Number One, captured the title with Henrik Stenson in 2008 and the same combination shared second place with Ireland two years ago. Spain’s Alvaro Quiros has nominated the veteran Miguel Angel Jiménez as his ally with Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher representing 2007 champions Scotland, and Jamie Donaldson and Rhys Davies linking up under the banner of Wales. “I am very excited about the prospect of playing my first World Cup for Spain” declared Quiros. “To represent your country is a great honour and I did it as an amateur through the boys, youths and senior teams for Spain, now it is my turn to do it for the first time as a professional. “I know I hit it further than Miguel but one of the main strengths of our team will be the fact that he is so consistent. That is a great thing to have in a partner and he is also so experienced. He has dealt with everything in his career and I will be looking for him to show me the way. For us to win the World Cup for Spain would be a huge deal for our country, a huge thing. There is no doubt that the words, ‘World Cup’ mean a lot in any sport and golf is no different.” The Molinari siblings are joined in the field by another set of brothers, Camilo and Manuel Villegas from Colombia, while Denmark’s Anders Hansen, third in the recent US PGA Championship, has elected to play with Thomas Björn for Denmark. In Asia, Japan’s Yuta Ikeda joins forces with Tetsuji Hiratsuka while Thongchai Jaidee competes for Thailand alongside Kiradech Aphibarnrat while China, as the host nation, also qualify automatically and will be represented on Hainan Island by Lian Wen-chong and Zhang Xin-jun.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Groves joins ranks with Warren

Frank Warren is today delighted to announce that he has signed George Groves, the reigning British and Commonwealth Super-Middleweight Champion, to a promotional agreement. Groves, 23, has signed a three-year deal with Britain's top promoter and joins a talent pack organisation that includes world champions Nathan Cleverly (WBO Light-Heavyweight) and Ricky Burns (WBO Super-Featherweight); his big rival James DeGale, plus the best young talent in the sport. Hall of Fame promoter Warren has handled the majority of top British super-middleweights world champions and has made some of the classic fights in the division, featuring Joe Calzaghe, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Steve Collins, plus Robin Reid and Richie Woodhall. Warren said, "I'm very happy that George has chosen to come under my promotional banner and we will now be involved in some big fights. He's a good fighter and the last fight against James DeGale was the first time I had worked with him. Of course, everyone is asking about a return with James, who I represent, and it is an obvious fight that will definitely happen again. The last fight was very close and a few observers felt that it could have gone either way. One things for sure the public will want to see it again. It's a big domestic rivalry that will become ever bigger." Londoner Groves, unbeaten in 13 fights with ten stoppages, is ranked inside the top 15 with the WBC and IBF organisations. Groves said, "Having sat down with Adam Booth and discussed at length what was the best move for my career and fighting to progress towards a World title, we agreed that everything that Frank put to us made perfect sense. He is the most experienced promoter in Britain by far and we feel has the experience and ability to take me to the very top. Exciting times ahead." Adam Booth, who will remain as Groves' manager and trainer, said, "On the surface, this may seem a strange decision from me and Hayemaker boxing to have made, but this is all about what is best for the career of George and we believe that working with Frank is the best decision we could have made. George has the full support of both myself and David Haye as we know that if anybody can take George to the top, Frank is the man." Golden Boy Promotions' Richard Shaeffer, said, "Golden Boy, as the US based promoter for George Groves, is happy to work with Frank Warren and welcomes the addition to the promotional team. Frank has the platforms and knowledge in the UK to further George’s career while Golden Boy will continue to open opportunities for George in the US. Our combined efforts will certainly lead George to world championships and make him a star for many years to come."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mayweather Magic at MGM Grand

The sport of boxing has a rich history of families achieving pugilistic success as a group, be it fathers and sons, brothers (and occasionally sisters), uncles and nephews, or all of the above. Bloodlines run deep and this theme plays out in "STAR POWER: Mayweather vs. Ortiz", the September 17 mega-event which will be presented live by HBO Pay-Per-View®. The boxing extravaganza is loaded with these "fighting families," as five of the eight headlining boxers have made fighting a family affair in one way or another. The most prominent among them is the Mayweather ménage, with Floyd "Money" Mayweather front and center. Floyd's uncle, Roger, is his trainer, but Roger was also an excellent boxer in his day, winning titles at 130 and 140 pounds in the '80s, facing the legendary likes of Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker and Kostya Tszyu. Floyd's father, Floyd Sr., was also in "Little Floyd's" corner for several years and was a solid welterweight contender in the '70s and '80s, notably facing Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978. Then there's Floyd's uncle Jeff, who was less accomplished than his two brothers but did face an up-and-coming Oscar de la Hoya in 1993 and has gone on to become a respected trainer himself. The co-feature brings Erik Morales into focus. Like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Morales is a sure-shot for the Hall of Fame when he retires. Also like Mayweather, he comes from a family that has produced four professional fighters. "El Terrible's" father, Jose, had a brief career as a flyweight in the '70s and Erik has two brothers who entered the squared circle as professionals: Diego, who briefly held a super flyweight belt, and little brother Ivan, a currently undefeated bantamweight prospect. Morales' opponent, Lucas Matthysse, also comes from a fighting family. The Argentine knockout artist's older brother, Walter, was a feared welterweight contender who was only taken the distance by one opponent in his 32 pro fights and fought twice on HBO, against Paul Williams in 2006 and Kermit Cintron in 2007. The featured fight on the STAPLES Center segment of the event also involves two men with familial pride at stake, in Canelo Alvarez and Alfonso Gomez. Canelo has six brothers, but only three currently are competing as professionals, though none are threatening Canelo's alpha-dog status in the family as Rigoberto, Ricardo and Ramon Alvarez are all older than Canelo and, unlike their younger brother, have tasted defeat. On June 28, 2008, when Canelo defeated Miguel Vazquez, all seven Alvarez brothers fought on the same fight card, calling the historic night "The Alvarez Seven." If that wasn't enough to convince you Canelo stands apart from his brothers, then the fact that the other Alvarezes all have dark hair should tell you there's something special indeed about the carrot-topped, freckled face junior middleweight world champion who will get tested on the upcoming show by the veteran Gomez. Gomez, meanwhile, has no boxing brothers, but when he returns to the corner between rounds, the voice he hears is that of his father, Alfonso Gomez Sr. Of course, it's the Mayweathers who take center stage anytime boxing families are discussed, both because they've accomplished so much as a group and because their personalities are impossible to ignore. Family legend has it that Floyd Jr. learned to box at the same age he learned to walk. The gym was his second home as far back as he can remember and even in his first home, he was notorious for punching any inanimate object in sight, whether it was meant to be treated like a speedbag or not. Floyd's professional success has thrust the Mayweathers into the forefront of any discussion about the greatest families in boxing history. With all due respect to the Hiltons, the Chavezes, the Peñalosas, the Byrds, and any others among the 27 families that have produced multiple world titleholders, the top of the list has to boil down to the Mayweather clan and the Spinks family. Brothers Michael and Leon Spinks were both heavyweight champion of the world and Leon's son Cory was world welterweight champ. Plus Cory's brother, Darrell, was a decent club-fighter in St. Louis in the '90s. So which is the greatest multi-generational fighting family of all-time? The Mayweather crew or the Spinks clan? It's hard to say until both legacies are complete, and the Mayweathers certainly have a chance to add to theirs when Floyd takes on Victor Ortiz on September 17. In fact, five fighting families have a chance to add to their reputations on that night and it's no accident that the combatants on this card each stand out as the finest fighters their respective families have produced.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Clarke's crowning Glory

Darren Clarke has been named The 2011 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for July following his unforgettable victory in The 140th Open Championship.The 42 year old Northern Irishman produced a links golf masterclass at Royal St George’s in Kent to win the first Major Championship of his career by three shots from the American duo of Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. Clarke, who receives an engraved alms dish and a jeroboam of Moët & Chandon champagne in honour of his achievement, catapulted back into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking and amongst the game’s elite after his overwhelmingly popular win at Sandwich.“What a very nice way to end the best month of my career,” said Clarke. “It’s always good to win a Golfer of the Month award, but this one is special because I won it on the back of winning The Open. Any award I get on the back of winning the Claret Jug will always be gratefully received!” The nature of Clarke’s first Major success made him the only realistic winner of The Race to Dubai Golfer of the Month Award for July, the first time the Northern Irishman had won the monthly award since 2003, following his triumph at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. However, the judging panel – which comprised members of the Association of Golf Writers, as well as commentators from radio and television –also acknowledged the outstanding performances of several other European Tour Members. The other notable achievers in July were home winners Thomas Levet and Alex Noren after their superb respective victories in the Alstom Open de France and Nordea Masters, World Number One Luke Donald for his Barclays Scottish Open success and Donald’s fellow Englishman Simon Dyson after his Irish Open presented by Discover Ireland triumph last weekend. Clarke joins an illustrious list of Race to Dubai Golfer of the Month winners in 2011, following Martin Kaymer (January), Donald (February and May), Paul Lawrie (March), Charl Schwartzel (April) and Rory McIlroy (June). Clarke will now join his fellow award winners to be considered for The 2011 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award, which was won jointly by Graeme McDowell and Kaymer in 2010.