Tag Archives: Sport

Boxing: Khan vs Malignaggi preview

Welcome back to the boxing previews on Newsmule. Here lies a very personal view of how the light-welterweight clash between Amir Khan vs Paulie Malignaggi could play out.

Basically, as much as I’ve been a critic of Khan in the past, he simply has to win this fight.

Khan is in good shape for his fight against the big-mouthed Malignaggi

Malignaggi is one of the strangest fighters in the game at the moment – the man couldn’t knock-out an 80 year old woman with Rohypnol. His knock-out record is abysmal – 5 KO wins in 30 fights.

Now, that is not to say that knock-outs are everything – Floyd Mayweather has proved otherwise – but the Brooklyn fighter’s  record is embarrassing.

Under Freddie Roach, Khan has developed his talent and the Bredis Prescott defeat seems a million miles away for a man with his eyes on the sport’s biggest prizes.

Under the pressure of a home crowd, Malignaggi has talked a good fight but he looked very poor against Ricky Hatton two years ago and his lack of power will surely be exposed against the quick and accurate Bolton fighter.

Despite his one defeat, Khan has produced some very good fights since and has established himself on the world level – something Malignaggi has never and will never do.

I suspect Amir’s speed will be too much for the feather-hitting Italian-American with the big gob and – after taking time to adjust his style – the fight will probably end in the 7th with a Khan KO victory.

More interestingly, Londoner Kevin Mitchell – a potential Khan opponent – takes on teak-tough Aussie Michael Katsidis for the WBO Interim lightweight title, which is likely to turn into a match for the full title.

Mitchell has a perfect record of 31 victories from 31 fights, with 23 wins by KO, while his opponent has lost twice in 28 fights.

However, Mitchell has yet to be tested against the best in the division, despite his impressive victory over Khan’s conqueror Prescott in December. All the signs point to Mitchell being on the cusp of something great, but his opponent should not be underestimated.

Katsidis’ only defeats have come against some of the division’s finest and he has a reputation as a fighter who will battle to the absolute end.

He lost a brutal contest to Joel Casamayor and a controversial bout to Juan Diaz, and has been in the ring with the very best.

Looking at Mitchell’s chances, he is undoubtedly in for a tough night against a fighter who relishes a war. However, Katsidis has often struggled with bruising and cuts and the two defeats he has suffered suggest he is not at his best against a counter-puncher.

If Mitchell can maintain a healthy distance from his opponent and use his undoubted boxing skills, it could be a prosperous night for the man from Dagenham.

I suggest a Mitchell victory on the judges scorecards, but don’t be surprised if this one gets stopped on cuts.

Of the two British prospects  in action this weekend, a Mitchell victory will mean a lot more than a Khan win. It certainly won’t attract the same kind of headlines, but it will be a far more valuable and widely respected win against a really tough opponent.

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Sport & Drugs: Missing the Point

This article represents a very personal viewpoint and is more of a Newsmule editorial than a news article as such.  Please feel free to add your comments below.

The issue of drugs in sport is one which becomes ever more contentious as the methods of evasion become increasingly sophisticated.

The recent case in tennis, where Andre Agassi admitted to lying to drugs officials in 1997 about the circumstances under which Crystal Methamphetamine found its way into his system, has opened up the debate in a sport which was previously considered relatively clean.

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Agassi was always one of tennis' most colourful characters

The most sane point amongst the needless hysteria and media clamour was made by Agassi himself, who noted that such a thing could not happen in tennis in 2009 as the regulations have been tightened significantly.

The issue was essentially that Agassi, as he admitted in his autobiography, had taken Crystal Meth for recreational purposes and immediately regretted it – well, one the comedown kicked in anyhow.  Up until that point it appears he had a phenomenal time.  When the presence of the drug was picked up in his sample, he told testing officials that his drink had been spiked by a member of his team and the member in question had since been fired.  This was a lie.

That was 12 years ago and nowadays taking the wrong cure for a common cold can potentially lead to a year long ban from competition, so lying really won’t cut it any more.

What followed this startling revelation by one of tennis’ all-time greats was a raft of media interest and all sorts of questions being raised. Legitimate questions were aired, such as ‘how many other players have escaped a ban by lying to cover their tracks?’ – pun intended.

Predictably though when drugs issues are involved, there were some preposterous questions posed.  Some pondered whether Agassi should be stripped of his honours as he had now exposed himself as a ‘drugs cheat’.

Now, pardon my trademark flippancy, but any competitor who can take Crystal Meth and still compete for Grand Slam prizes should probably be given some sort of extra award for his efforts and should certainly donate his body to science.

Crystal Meth has been known to cause paranoia, anxiety, irritability, heart palpitations, cardiovascular problems and psychosis.  These are hardly the types of symptoms one would wish for at match point down in the French Open final.

So whilst Agassi was hardly a regular user, having tried it and realised he was about to throw his career away, the issue does bring the attention to the difference between drug types and the notion that all those who fail drugs tests are by definition ‘cheats’.

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Adrian Mutu has managed to re-launch his career in Italy since serving his lengthy ban

Agassi gained no performance advantage from his brief foray into Crystal Meth, but tried it due to external pressures.  When former Chelsea footballer Adrian Mutu was sacked by the Blues after he tested positive for cocaine, he had gained no performance advantage.  Indeed, living life on London’s cocaine party circuit is highly likely to have a severely detrimental effect on the performance of any top sportsperson.

Mutu was treated as if he was Ben Johnson or Dwain Chambers – men who deliberately used drugs to gain a performance advantage over their rivals.  Some have looked for Agassi to be treated the same way.  But surely there should be different rules for those who have what wider society knows as ‘a drug problem’, rather than pillorying them along in a similar manner to those who have sought to cheat their way to victory?

Prominent sports stars have an exaggerated list of temptations in front of them and have to perform in extremely high pressure environments.  How many of us have their disposable income?  How many of us have been attacked by members of the public because we had a poor day at work, or work for an unpopular company? Most of us don’t get screamed at by 60,000 people when we go to work.  This is a potentially explosive combination.

These sports stars are no different to the rest of us in their methods of dealing with pressure, no matter what we wish to think.  They are, by the virtue of their talent, foisted into the position of role models.  This is not something they choose, but something that comes with their exceptional abilities.

Those who have sought escape from these pressures, rather than an illegal competitive advantage, should be offered help.  Mutu was not only fired, but has to pay his former employer around £15m for his ‘breach of contract’.

If such stars are role models for youngsters, then what does such an inflexible and hard line approach teach those youngsters about compassion in society?  Sport does not exist in a bubble and its attitude towards those with drug problems should reflect the ways in which wider society wishes to address the problem.  If one of your loved ones had a cocaine problem, would you prefer they received punishment or treatment?

To suggest that Mutu should never be allowed to play professional football again is nearly as idiotic as the calls for Agassi to be retrospectively stripped of his titles.

All sports need to separate the two different types of drug taking and consider how cheats can be stopped, but also how young men and women under huge amounts of pressure can best be protected.

By failing in this respect, the governing bodies of various sports are also failing to protect those who make sport the great money making spectacle that allows officialdom to recline in self-satisfactory comfort.

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Haye triumphs over ‘Goliath’ Valuev

British boxer David Haye became WBA heavyweight champion of the world last night despite breaking his left hand in his fight with 7 foot 2 inch Russian giant  Nikolia Valuev.

The ‘Haymaker’ won a majority decision despite facing a hostile German crowd, dominating former champ Nikolai Valuev, who he previously antagonised by describing as ‘a circus act’.

All bravado vanished as Haye began the fight in speculative fashion, dominating Valuev with a

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Haye faced a massive size difference, but ultimately triumphed against Valuev

clever performance of movement and jabbing; constantly keeping his massive opponent on the back foot and refusing to give him a steady target.

Haye dominated the early rounds against the 7′ 2″  Russian, who had never been knocked down in his previous 51 fights.  Much of his clever jabbing performance was actually down to a broken hand, which Haye sustained in the 2nd round.  From then on, he looked to out-manoeuvre his massive opponent with a series of jabs and weaves, never leaving his head exposed to the Russian’s potential knockout power.

Valuev looked to utilise his height and weight advantage through the middle rounds, but Haye managed to impress the judges sufficiently through his agression to take a decision 116-112 on two score cards, with the third judge scoring the contest level.

It was a fair reward for Haye who boxed a clever fight, possibly aided by his broken hand as he looked to out-smart his opponent rather than knock him out.  Haye almost became the first man to knock Valuev out, rocking the giant Russian in the closing rounds.

Ultimately, Haye was unable to deliver on his pre-fight promise of being the first man to knock Valuev out in his 51 fights, but it meant little as he took a deserved majority decision on the judges scorecards.

Haye becomes the first British Heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2003 and now has a mass of opportunities to consider.  He is now in a much stronger position to broker a fight with either Klitschko brother, after recent discussions broke down.

Whatever happens now, Haye can rightfully consider himself a bona-fide world chamion who the world boxing communtity will have to respect.  He has achieved a feat few thought him possible of, and deserves all his plaudits.

What the British boxing public deserve now is a heavyweight champion who can box on live television.  Hopefully the victory of David over Goliath will convince terrestrial broadcasters that boxing is a sport with a future and, more importantly, a potentially huge television audience.  That future is now safely in the hands of WBA Heavyweight Champion David Haye.

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Sport: Henin’s return vital for women’s tennis

Yesterday’s news that 7 times grand slam winner Justine Henin is set to return to the women’s tour from the start of next season may not have been entirely unexpected, but is certainly the latest sensational move to reinvigorate women’s tennis.

Having retired “for good” 18 months ago, citing personal reasons and a lack of willingness to compete, Henin has been working for UNICEF and running her own tennis academy.  During this time, the WTA tour has struggled with Williams domination of the grand slams, a flawed ranking system and inconsistency from many of its top stars. Continue reading

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