Thursday, 22 December 2011

Women's Tennis Set To Remain Wide Open In 2012


Written by Rod Crowley: Predicting the likely outcomes of Ladies Tennis these days, certainly with any degree of certainty is becoming increasingly difficult. Retirement, injuries, attrition and even age have taken their toll on those players who had established themselves as among the best in the world in recent years.

Players such as Henin, Kuznetsova, Dementieva, Pierce and even Venus Williams are no longer around or are fading fast from the world stage. Their potential replacements, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Marion Bartoli and  Dinara Safina have all come and gone backwards since leaving a top list of thoroughly decent players but no real supreme champion among them.

Of course Serena Williams is still there but for how much longer? She missed much of 2011 through illness and although she reached the final of the US Open she was no match for the current number six in the WTA world rankings, Sam Stosur of Australia. Stosur of course was winning her first Grand Slam title emulating the first Grand Slam wins of Li Na who won the French Open in May and Petra Kvitova who triumphed at Wimbledon in July.

Belgian Kim Clijsters a player who has clearly benefitted by the loss of so many of her early career rivals did win the Australian Open in January giving her a fourth Grand Slam title. However, she got herself injured at the French Open where she lost in the second round and has hardly been seen since, missing out on both Wimbledon and the US Open. It is interesting to note that Clijsters now sits at number 13 in the world one place behind Serena.

Of course 2012 will start with the world number one Caroline Wozniacki still looking for her first Grand Slam crown. She will get her first opportunity in Melbourne at the Australian Open in January, and knows that to justify her position at the top she really does need to win. Clijsters is said to be fit again and will defend her crown while Serena will come to the tournament as the favourite to win her fifth Australian Open title.

We must not of course forget Maria Sharapova, who consolidated her comeback last year by finishing at number four in the world. She is also a past winner at the Australian Open, taking the crown in Melbourne in 2008 and was also runner up there to Serena in 2007.

Sharapova was always considered to have the potential to be one of the ‘greats’ of the game, especially after her stunning victory over Serena in the final at Wimbledon in 2004 when she was only 17 years old.

However, injuries, setbacks and contractual differences all led to her never quite realising this potential and she is still looking to add to the three Grand Slam titles she has already claimed. She did reach the final again at Wimbledon this year but was beaten in straight sets by Kvitova. She should be a major force on the circuit in 2012 but whether or not she will get back to her absolute best remains to be seen.

If there is one player who could take the woman’s game by storm it is indeed Kvitova, but she will need to learn consistency, something that her game has been lacking for some time. For instance, following her Wimbledon success she was promptly knocked out of the US Open in the first round. She certainly has the game to be a number one player and will start the New Year as the official number two.

World number three, Victoria Azarenka is another player thought to be a potential ‘Grand Slam’ winner, but so far she has failed to reach a final, although she was a semi finalist at Wimbledon. She wins regularly on the tour itself and has an outstanding game that should be good enough at the very top, all she needs to do now is prove it by claiming a first ‘Slam’ in 2012.

The 2012 year could well see a repeat of 2011 with four different "Grand Slam" winners and a new world number one, but who they will be is anyone’s guess

Monday, 12 December 2011

Stuart Lancaster Appointed England Temporary Head Coach by RFU


Written by Rod Crowley: Whether he wants the job on a permanent time basis or not, Stuart Lancaster will be the first man to be seriously considered by the RFU as the successor to recently resigned Head Coach, Martin Johnson. The 42 year old has been given the job of caretaker Head Coach for the 2012 Six Nations tournament which, if successful, will at the very least put him on the shortlist for the job on a permanent basis.

Lancaster, who coached an England XV back in June in their victorious game against the Barbarians, has also been in charge for the last ten games of the Saxons, England’s second team, impressively winning nine of them as well as lifting the 2010 Churchill Cup. Prior to that he had been Head of Elite Player Development at the RFU appointed following a successful two year stint between 2006-08 as Director of Rugby at Leeds.

Specialising on offence, Lancaster will be taking charge of the backs as well as England’s overall strategy during the Six Nations. He will be assisted by Saracens first team coach, Andy Farrell and will leave the job of scrummage coach in the hands of Graham Rowntree, who is the only member of Johnson’s coaching team to remain in post.

Certainly there is plenty to be excited about with this new set up, particularly as Lancaster is a hugely respected figure within Rugby Union while Farrell is working wonders at Saracens currently and Rowntree came out of England’s disastrous World Cup campaign with a huge amount of credit.

England fans will obviously want to know at the earliest what players from Johnson’s World Cup squad will be included in Lancaster’s Six Nations plans but he is known to be very keen on backs such Ugo Monye, Shontayne Hape, Ben Foden and Chris Ashton, whilst in the forwards he will be keen to give prop Alex Corbisiero a chance and is said to be in favour of replacing Lewis Moody as both captain and open side flanker with Northampton’s outstanding Tom Wood.

Team discipline on and off the pitch will be huge issues for Lancaster, who is known for his fiery nature and his attention to detail. He is also a very good motivator who uses the well known ‘stick and carrot method to great effect. One to one meetings with all the players will become a feature of England training in which he leaves players under no doubt of the job that they have been selected to do. He is also a coach that likes nothing more than getting on the pitch to practice with the players and he is not frightened to mix it within reason.

His first match in charge will be the Calcutta Cup encounter with Scotland on February 4th, followed by a trip to Rome before taking on Wales at Twickenham. Their fourth game will come in Paris against Rugby World Cup runners up, France before playing the final game of the tournament against Ireland at Twickenham on, of all days, St Patrick’s Day, March 17th. 

After making the World Cup Final, it is France who are the favourites in the six nations betting to win the tournament at odds of 2/1. Wales, who reached the semi finals are second favourites to win at 11/4 with England rated a 10/3 chance ahead of Ireland (13/2) and Scotland (25/1) and whilst they may have their work cut out to prove doubters wrong, the England players aren't a bad collective of players and if rejuvenated under the guidance of Lancaster, then a challenge Six Nations would not be a surprise.

Underestimating Peterson Cost Khan His World Title


Written by Rod Crowley: There are very few boxing fans anywhere who would disagree that the Amir Khan v Lamont Peterson fight for world light-welterweight championship was a cracking encounter. There are however, many who would disagree with the outcome which awarded the American Peterson the verdict by majority decision after 12 thunderous rounds and in somewhat controversial circumstances.

It was certainly a decision that will divide opinion with the first salvo being fired by Khan himself who stated at the end of the fight that he thought he was fighting both Peterson and the referee, Joseph Cooper. He may of course have a point but his constant pushing and holding infringements cost him two in rounds seven and 12 and although he had Peterson of the deck in Round One, it was not enough on at least two of the judges’ cards to redress the balance.

It is certainly true that Khan was the better boxer, his dazzlingly speed and accuracy at times had a mesmeric effect on Peterson but the American showed far more determination, spending plenty of time chasing the back-peddling Khan around the ring. It was probably this more than anything else, that swayed the judge’s decision but he also hurt Khan with a number of jaw trembling upper cuts, followed by overhand rights and a host of hefty blows into the solar plexus that forced Khan to continually retreat.

Peterson also had a very vociferous home crowd behind him in Washington DC, which brings into question the match making qualities of Khan’s handlers. The fact that Khan lost in what was a very commendable voluntary defence of his two world crowns was bad enough but to lose them in the home town of his opponent was either a show of extreme boxing arrogance or match-making madness but it was a decision that certainly had a significant influence on the outcome of the fight, whether it was the support, the bias of judges or a combination of both.

It makes one believe that the Khan team underestimated Lamont Peterson, it was obvious to most that Peterson is not only a decent fighter, beaten only once which came at the hands of Timothy Bradley for the WBO Light-Welterweight title exactly three years earlier, a title that Bradley still holds. They also failed to appreciate that Peterson had never been stopped and although not the biggest puncher in the world, he has great timing. However, an even more important fact that Khan's people forgot to acknowledge is the fact the Peterson is a Washington DC folk hero and he was going to be no pushover on home soil.

Peterson's success in the Boxing ring is seen as a genuine "rags to riches" story that the folks of DC love to hear about and it is why they have adopted him as one of their heroes. A fight in DC therefore, in hindsight, is one that Khan's team must be questioned about.

That said, Khan in fact started the bout very well and possibly could have won it in the opening round. He had Peterson down twice, although the first of those was ruled a slip by the referee, there was however no doubt about the other. The dogged Peterson was up quickly and although bamboozled by the speed of Khan’s fists, held on grimly until the bell sounded.

After that, the fight effectively became a brawl, with both men connecting regularly with Peterson able to bring Khan down to his level. Each time he struck Khan on the chin, Khan began to anger the crowd by showboating and taunting. It was as if he was trying to make the point that his renowned "glass jaw" that was so brutally exposed in his first round knock-out defeat by Breidis Prescott three years ago, had somehow metamorphosed into granite. Nonetheless, Khan stayed on his feet throughout the 12 hectic rounds but to little avail come the final bell.

The three judges scored the fight 113-112, 113-112 for Peterson and 114-111 for Khan, a majority decision for the American, made good by the two deducted points. 

Peterson was quick to confirm that he would be delighted to give Khan a re-match next year sometime but whether or not that happens and particularly whether it takes place in Washington DC or not remains to be seen. Team Khan will not be underestimating Peterson again!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Can Donald Fight Off McIlroy To Finish Top Of Race To Dubai & Complete The Money List Double?


By Rod Crowley: The 2011 "Race to Dubai" reaches its conclusion this week with the Dubai World Golf Championship at the Jumeirah Golf Estates and at the end of the four days, there will be two champions crowned, firstly the winner of the tournament itself and the 2011 winner of the "Race" itself, which was previously known as the European Tour Money list, will also be decided.

It is even possible that the same golfer could be crowned both! The event is only open the top sixty players on the tour and with $10,000,000 up for grabs in prize money, including $1.6 million to the winner, a competitive end to the season is guaranteed. 

Twelve months ago, the Race to Dubai was won by Martin Kaymer but it was Sweden's Robert Karlsson who won this final tournament.

Having played most of his golf on the US PGA Tour this year, Karlsson only managed to qualify in 42nd place which means he is well out of contention of topping the money list whilst Kaymer, although consistent form on the tour in 2011 is currently in third place he is unable to overtake the current leader, Luke Donald.

Donald has also played much of his golf in the States this year but his performance have seen him establish a comfortable lead at the head of the Race to Dubai having earned €3, 856,394 from just 12 tournaments! World number one, Donald, also finished top the money list on the US PGA Tour and could become the first man in history to win both the American and European Tours in the same season.

His consistency has been truly remarkable with four wins and a host of high placed finishes, which has kept him at the number one spot in the world golf rankings for most of the year even though a major win still eludes him.

Fittingly, the only man who can leapfrog Donald in the Race to Dubai is the current world number two, Rory McIlroy, who will need to win the final tournament this weekend and hope that Donald does not make the top ten. Any other outcome would result in Donald winning.

McIlroy has also had a remarkable year, the highlight being his record breaking victory at the US Open in June, earning the 22 year old a first "Major" and huge acclaim in the process.

There are many golfing commentators who believe that McIlroy can reach the same heights that Tiger Woods has done and the Ulsterman heads to Dubai on the back of a great win in Hong Kong last weekend and is the favourite amongst bookmakers to win but Luke Donald is also amongst the front runners.

Luke Donald, who suffered the loss of his father recently, during the same week as his wife gave birth to their second daughter, only returned to playing last week.

He was one of 12 golfers invited to compete in the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City but could only manage seventh place, leaving some questioning his frame of mind and current form. However, he knows what is on the line this week and he will be surely be in determined mood to deny McIlroy his slim chance of finishing ahead of him.

Winner for the second successive year in Sun City was Lee Westwood, who in the process broke the course record with an amazing third round of 62. He too has been in terrific form for most of the year which has secured him, along with Donald and McIlroy, in the top three in the world golf rankings.

Westwood won both the tournament and the Race to Dubai in its inaugural year in 2009 and although he is too far behind Donald this year to top the list, he still poses a major threat to both Donald and McIlroy in the tournament.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Socrates Dies Aged 57


Former Brazilian captain Socrates had died in hospital when being admitted for food poisoning after eating a meal at a hotel. The hospital then placed the midfielder in intensive care after it was discovered he had suffered septic shock resulting from an intestinal infection in which bacteria from an infection seeps into the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body.

The idol of the 1982 World Cup had been rushed to hospital on Thursday, it was the third time Socrates has been taken to hospital since August when he spent nine days there due to a digestive haemorrhage caused by excessive drinking.

Socrates who racked up 60 caps for his country scoring 22 goals, played for Brazil at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.

The bearded, lanky Socrates, a leading player of his era played alongside fellow midfielder Zico.

Socrates spent most of career at Brazilian side Corinthians, with spells with Botafogo, Fiorentina, Flamengo and Santos, while in 2004 he famously came out of retirement at the age of 50 to make a one-off substitute appearance for English lower-league side Garforth Town.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Cotto-Margarito II

 
By Peter Wells: In a weekend full of intriguing rematches its undeniable that Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito is the biggest of the lot. The controversy of the last fight won't be settled after this fight but it will defiantly die down a bit.

The first fight I remember very well, and not for all the same reasons as everyone else. After watching the build up to Ricky Hatton-Floyd Mayweather, I had suddenly fallen for boxing. I then brought my first Boxing Monthly magazine and there was a preview of Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito. I watched all the build up on HBO and was shocked when I saw that Margarito had won the next day. It's hard to imagine that that was over 3 years ago now.

I was even more shocked when I watched Mosley-Margarito on Setanta Sports and saw Toni annihilated the way he was. But it all came clear later when it was announced that Antonio Margarito was caught with illegal padding in his hand wraps. It left him and trainer Javier Capetillo banned for a year in America, but the reminder will last forever.

HBO 24/7 was solely built on the hand wrap scandal and whether or not Margarito used those hand wraps in their first fight. Watching the fight though shows it was more to do with Margarito's resilience and continual pressure that stopped Cotto, he was out on his feet at the end and all it needed was a few solid punches to finish him off. Illegal hand wraps or not I feel the conclusion of that fight would have been no different.

This fight though could be a lot different, Cotto seems to have moved on better, picking up the WBA Light Middleweight title. Both have lost to Manny Pacquiao since but Margarito's defeat which was over a year ago seems to have had more effect.

Still Antonio's all pressure style will cause Miguel problems all over again. Cotto can get a large lead by round 7 but then Margarito will come back, and at 153lbs his punches could be very effective. Cotto may hit the deck late on but if he survives could sneak a very tight decision.

Rios-Murray: Rios loses title and may lose unbeaten record after failing to make weight



By Peter Wells: You have to give it to Brandon Rios, after failing to make the weight yesterday, he still for now wants to carry on with the fight. By the time you read this the fight could be off and this preview will be completely irrelevant, but for now it is still on. Brandon has already been stripped of his WBA Lightweight title but may lose a lot more if John Murray defeats him tonight.

I hadn't gave John much of a shot when first reviewing this fight but now it becomes a chance he can't miss. Brandon Rios will come out like the warrior he is and taking out Murray early may be his best bet. Murray will make him miss early and when the time is right and Rios starts to slow down, John can step it up and force a stoppage in 8 rounds or less.

Wolak-Rodriguez II: Pawel and Delvin may have two contenders for fight of the year


By Peter Wells: In a card that is packed with great fight, this one may just be the best of them all. Pawel Wolak and Delvin Rodriguez have already dazzled us once on ESPN, but they've now been upgraded to HBO PPV undercard. Wolak come forward style always makes for classics and also his none stop punching forces his opponents to trade blows. That's exactly what he forced Delvin to do last time out as Rodriguez boxed off the back foot landing impressive counters.

The result was a satisfactory draw, and while the fight will be the same, the result may not. Wolak's eye swelled up like a golf ball last time and it'll probably look similar this time out, as he has a habit of swelling. I see Wolak pushing a little more this time though and maybe adding a bit more head movement to his game. The 12 rounds may help him a bit more as well, so i see Wolak winning in a close entertaining fight.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Agbeko-Mares II: Joseph Looking To Get Revenge



By Peter Wells: It's hard to believe it was only in August that Abner Mares controversially defeated Joseph Agbeko in the Bantamweight tournament final. Just before writing this preview I was thinking that the first fight had happened in the first half of the year as so much has happened since that fight that put a black spot over refereeing.

Abner Mares won the fight against his handicapped opponent, to take the IBF belt around his waist. Below that waist is where most of Mares' shots landed. The referee might as well have worn an Abner Mares shirt, as he painfully refused to deduct a point for these clear illegal blows. But, that wasn't the worst thing he did in the fight, as when in full view of the ref, Mares landed a blow lower than all the rest and as Agbeko went down in pain, the ref called a knockdown. I could easily tear apart this referee all week but I feel his name shouldn't be mentioned in boxing ever again.

The rematch should give us the real truth as to who is better, and that is still a very hard one to call. Agbeko struggled early with the younger man's speed but came on impressively and some feel he could have nicked it.

Both fighters have said in the build up there will be no low blows this time, but I have to wonder whether Mares' tendency to go to the body makes him unable to keep all those punches about the belt line. One thing is for sure is that he won't get away with it this time and a disqualification can't be overlooked in this fight.

But I’d prefer to imagine a clean fight which I see Mares winning in a close, action packed contest. Agbeko can make a fight of it but I feel Abner's speed and skills should be enough to keep him the title and win him back a few fans.

Rory McIlroy or Darren Clarke - Who's Had A Better...

By Daniel P from Wish.co.uk

The year 2011 has, without a doubt, been Northern Ireland's best for golfing triumphs. Darren Clarke's success at the British Open and Rory Mcilroy's US Open victory were the highlights of this great year. Both are nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011.

Little wonder that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, has expressed his support for the region to host the Open: "As well as world-class golfers there are world-class golf courses in Northern Ireland and It would be great to see the Open played here" Over 150,000 people are members of golf clubs in Northern Ireland and anyone one of them could become the next Clarke or Mcilroy. But who's had the better year? That's the question we'll be answering in this article.

At the age of 43, Darren Clarke is the older of the two golfers. He's a golfing veteran, having started his career playing collegiate golf for Wake Forest University in the US and went professional in 1990.

Like Mcilroy, he was a promising young golfer set to make his mark. He finished joint 64th at the 1991 British Open and came second at the 1992 Honda Open. He won his first European Tour in 1993 and again in 1996.

In 2000, he defeated Tiger Woods at the World Golf Championship and won another European Tour in 2001. However, 2004 - 2007 proved to be his most difficult years; a combination of personal difficulties and a loss of form led to a slump in success.

2008 saw a resurgent Clarke winning the BMW Asian Open and coming second in the 2010 Joburg Open. 2011's British Open win was the icing on the cake for this golfer's long and distinguished career. He had tried to win it for over 20 years and it was a well deserved success.

Clarke proved that older golfers can still make their mark. You don't have to be a Mcilroy, Woods or Day. For that reason, it could be argued Clarke has had the better year.

The argument might have swung in favour of Clarke were it not for his young rival, Rory Mcilroy. Often compared to Tiger Woods, he turned professional at just 17. He made a name for himself with successes on the European circuit, winning at the Madrid Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Victories at the 2009 US Open and 2010 Quail Hollow Championship cemented his reputation further.

It was in 2011 that Mcilroy really made his mark. At 22, he was the youngest player to win the US Open since Tiger Woods' 1997 victory. His 268 aggregate score was the highest US Open record yet, beating records set by Jack Nicklaus, Lee Janzen, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk.

Further success came with a win at the Shanghai Master's, taking home the $2 million prize and a fourth-place finish at the WGC Champions tournament.

This success at such a young age shows that Mcilroy has had the better year. More success is to come and he could eclipse Woods as the best golfer of his generation.

A Sports Personality of the Year win would help re-affirm his talent as one of the best golfers in the world.

Who has had the better year? Veteran Clarke or young gun Mcilroy?

Whilst Clarke's British Open win was the pinnacle of a long and distinguished career, Mcilroy's record beating US Open victory at the tender age of 22 makes it the better year for him in my opinion.

Suunto Watches: Every Athletes Best Friend

By Barrie Smith: If you want accuracy and performance for you watches, then Suunto watches are the perfect match for you.

Suunto watches are from the same maker of the first liquid filled compass. They have been using the latest technology when making compasses and dive instruments and they have used the same concept when they decided to invade the watch market as well.

Their watches are the best when it comes to accuracy and performance as the makers of Suunto watches put special care and attention to even the finest details in every watch that they create. No wonder this brand has been rewarded several times to be the official watch for various sports and equestrian events.

Suunto watches are versatile since it offers many uses other than just tell the time. Suunto watches have sport-specific computers and extra features like a compass, a GPS, barometer, thermometer and even heart-rate monitors which have been designed with the athlete in mind. They have line of watches for sports enthusiast such as scuba diver, runner, mountaineer, hiker and many more.

These added features are very important to athletes as it helps them analyze and improve their performance in whatever sports they are in. Let us take for example Triathletes. It is no joke to join a Triathlon and intense workout and exercise is needed to be done by triathletes to prepare them for the big event. That is why for these athletes, a device that can give them accurate measurement of their workouts, their targets, goals, progress and the like is really important.

Let us take for example the Suunto M5 watch, which can be a triathlete’s best friend as it has functions that will guide him in his training program. Features such as real-time intensity guidance when working out, tracking of speed and distance, real-time calorie counter, exercise instructions, training program and many added features that gives an athlete accurate reading of his progress during his training which can help him improve his performance.

Since Suunto watches are equipped with sports-specific computers, it allows the recording of times and history of training onto the watch so the athlete can always go back to check the record to ensure that progress and targets are being achieved. These data can even be downloaded to computers to do more statistical manipulation and recording which can also play a big role in preparing the training program for the athlete. The more accurate information an athlete can gather during his training using this device, the better informed he will be of his progress so he can adjust his training plan to meet his goals.

Aside from being the best precision instrument, Suunto watches are also durable and are water resistant which is what athletes need as their activities and training are intense so they need a watch that can last and stand the extreme conditions that they will be exposed to.

No matter what kind of sports you are in, Suunto watches will give you the durability, accuracy and the precision that you need to help you improve your game.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

McCoist Hoping Sectarianism Won't Drive Lafferty Away

Ally McCoist is hoping sectarianism which remains a problem in Scottish football will not drive Kyle Lafferty away from the club. The player had been targeted after his car window had been smashed in a petrol station last week.

Celtic striker Anthony Stokes also had been targeted recently, where previously Neil Lennon was sent an explosive device earlier in the year and Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt  were sent bullets in the post.

Speaking about the sectarian attacks, McCoist said; "I think we are all sick of it (sectarian attacks). So Kyle's no different from the rest of us," he said.

"Anthony Stokes' window gets panned in, and Kyle gets his car done. It's a sad reflection on society but I still think we are getting better.

"But I don't think what has happened would stand in the way of Kyle signing a new deal. I would certainly hope not anyway."

Kyle Lafferty aired his frustration at being targeted by thugs during in what should be a special moment in his life.

"I'm doing okay, but I'm sick of all this nonsense - there's no need for it," he said.

"All I want to do is concentrate on my football with Rangers  and my relationship with Nicola, and I can't wait for the birth of our baby in three weeks' time.

"These are exciting times for me and I don't need them ruined by incidents like this."

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Vitali Klitschko Offers To Fight David Haye In March

It had been rumoured that David Haye could be coming out of retirement to fight Vitali Kiltschko in March, it was thought that Haye’s management team had been in negotiations with Vitali’s team to make the fight happen between the two.

Vitali Klitschko’s management team has today confirmed that they have made David Haye an offer to fight and have insisted that the ball is now in Haye’s court.

"Team Klitschko is in negotiations with Haye and has made him an offer," a management official for the Ukrainian brothers told Reuters on Tuesday. "Now the ball is in Haye's court."

David Haye lost a points decision to Vitali’s brother Wladimir in July, citing a broken toe the reason he could not perform on the day.

The Londoner tried to get Wladimir to agree to a rematch, but the calls fell on deaf ears.
The Hayemaker officially retired from boxing on his 31st birthday in October, something the fighter always suggested he would do.

Haye has claimed after retiring that he merely retired from fighting anyone without the Klitschko name, Vitali has always said that he would like the opportunity to fight Haye and do what his brother failed to do, which was knock the Hayemaker out.

Joey Barton Reveals Why Newcastle Forced Him Out

Joey Barton has revealed why the Newcastle board forced him out of the club. The former Newcastle man was bombed out of the club during the transfer window to Queens Park Rangers.

Barton moved to West London in August after being placed on the transfer list by Newcastle following a Twitter rant in which he criticised the club's board and how club was being run.

The midfielder has always publicly spoken out against owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias. The 29-year-old has now claimed that other big-name players left the North East club after a bonus dispute.

Barton claimed he is not bitter after leaving the club and is happy see Newcastle performing well on the pitch this season.

Speaking on QPR’s podcast Open All R's, he added; "Newcastle, as a playing squad, were the only club in Premier League history not to sign a bonus sheet. It was unprecedented,"

"We refused as a playing staff (to sign) as they tried to railroad the players into signing a bonus sheet.

"In their opinion we were a paid workforce. They thought we were Sports Direct and we should do what the subordinates at Sports Direct do, forgetting they were dealing with 20-odd egos, probably 10 self-sufficient men in a position to make a number of different judgements.

"Myself and the bigger-name players at the time advised the playing staff because we were head of the playing committee not to sign the bonus sheet and that filtered back to boardroom level.

"It's no coincidence that I was given away.

"It's all about power and control. They are running the football club and it's going really well for them at the minute but that's more a testament to the players and the fans, and also the manager (Alan Pardew ). The manager has been different class."

Monday, 28 November 2011

Alan Shearer Shocked and Numb At Speed's Death

Alan Shearer has spoken for the first time about the death of his close friend Gary Speed, the former Newcastle and England striker has been left feeling numb since the news that his former team-mate had committed suicide while at home yesterday morning with various news sources revealing the player hung himself.

Alan Shearer was with Gary Speed on Saturday on television before he headed off to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United play Newcastle, which is now the last time he saw Gary Speed.

Shearer said: "We were arranging next weekend. He was coming up to stay at my house with his wife and we were going up to various charity dinners on Friday and Saturday.

"We left the studio at half past two and I walked over to Old Trafford  to go and watch Newcastle.  I shook his hand and said, 'see you next weekend' - and unfortunately I won't.

"It's incredible. I'm still numb and still shocked like everyone else. You read things in the newspaper and it doesn't happen to one of your best mates.

"I'm just so sad and shocked and feel for (Speed's wife) Louise and his two boys and mum and dad."

Recalling his last moment with his close friend Shearer added: "I was with him and he was happy and joking and we were having a normal mickey-take like we do out of each other, and having a laugh and a joke about our golf trips and holidays that we went on together last year, and planning our next holiday in Portugal next summer with our families and kids."

Shearer became close friends with Gary Speed when Kenny Dalglish signed the Welshman at Newcastle, with Shearer describing his team-mate as "a great footballer and a model pro".

Shearer added: "You're bound to have arguments along the way in football, but no-one ever did with Gary - no-one had a bad word for him.

"He was an incredible guy who you could rely and depend on. Everyone loved him... he was loved because that's the type of guy that he was - he got on with everyone and everyone respected him."

Family Of Gary Speed Overwhelmed By The Support



The family of Gary Speed has today released their first statement through his agent Hayden Evans, who was also the best man at the 42-year-old's wedding where the family stated they are “overwhelmed by the support“ by the received following the death of the former Welsh manager.

Gary Speed committed suicide at his home in Huntingdon yesterday morning leaving it a mystery as to why the 42-year-old felt that he needed to take his own life, tributes have been flooding in for the former Wales, Leeds, Everton,  Newcastle,  Bolton and Sheffield United  midfielder from across the world.

Hayden Evans said: "Gary's family would sincerely like to thank all the people that have sent messages of condolence and tributes in what is a very difficult time.

"We have been overwhelmed by the support and it really has helped.

"We would ask that the family are now given the respect of some privacy to just grieve on their own."

Earlier Gary McAllister who is deeply shocked by the death of Speed, insisted after they appeared on television together at the weekend that "there were no signs” that Speed had troubles.

"Alan Shearer  broke the news to me (yesterday) and it turned me to jelly," said the Scotsman on Monday.
"I couldn't believe what he was saying. It shook me to the bones; I was in shock for most of the day.

"Twenty minutes before we went on air on Saturday, he was the normal Gary Speed to me.

"He was very excited about the prospects of the Welsh national team and was upbeat, looking class, immaculately presented. He was a movie star in my eyes.

"With no competitive Wales games until February, we were talking about getting some golf organised.

"There were no signs, nothing to suggest he was troubled. He looked well and things are going well for him at the moment. I could never have thought that 10-12 hours after I saw him I'd be getting that news. It's a nightmare."

"I couldn't see anything in Gary that suggested he was depressed or had any feeling of anxiety. He was just the Gary Speed that I know."

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Why Rick Neuheisel Must Be Fired

By Paul Amico
Were they even trying? After last night's 50-0 stomping by cross town rival USC, UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel's time in Los Angeles is numbered. Last night’s annihilation marks Neuheisel's 4th loss to USC in 4 years of being coach, and its biggest margin of defeat by USC since 1932.

Even though UCLA will be playing in the first ever PAC-12 championship against Oregon on Friday since USC is ineligible due to past violations, most if not all expect the same result next week: an uninspired team led by a coach who looks lost and confused about how to be competitive in a game.

You can defend Neuheisel as much as you want, but the fact of the matter is, when you’re the head coach of a prestigious team like UCLA, your expected to do two things: win and beat USC. Neuheisel has done neither while being in charge since the end of 2007.

UCLA is 21-28 under Neuheisel and has had a winning record only one year while he's been there (7-6), and has a 3-25 record against teams with a winning record at the end of the year. Plus, when it comes to playing their biggest rival USC, Neuheisel hasn't even been close in defeating them, losing by 21+ in 3 of the 4 years.

In years past, the UCLA-USC game was a cherished rivalry where people would be full of anxious anitcipation weeks before the game. Now, you’re lucky not to be asleep by the end of the first quarter. It may take 3, maybe even 4 or 5 more years until UCLA can take a step forward and be prominent again, but until they fire their mediocre coach, they will forever live in mediocrity.

Gary Speed Dies Aged 42

The Welsh FA has today confirmed the sad news that Gary Speed has passed away.  No official details have been released regarding the cause of death and the Welsh FA has called on respect to be shown to Speed’s family at this sad time.

Initial reports claim that the former Leeds, Everton and Newcastle star was found hanged at his home, according to a statement from Cheshire Police.

"At 7.08am this morning, Sunday 27 November, police were informed of an incident at Aldford Road, Huntington. Officers went to the scene where a 42-year-old man was found dead. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and next of kin have been informed," the statement added. It looks very much as if the cause of death may be determined as suicide.

Speed helped guide Wales to three successive victories in his short spell as manager. Initial reports claim that the former Leeds, Everton and Newcastle star was found hanged at his home, according to a statement from Cheshire Police.

The FA of Wales confirmed the news in a statement.

"We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family. We ask that everyone respects the family's privacy at this very sad time."

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Contenders For The 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year

There are many sceptics who question the integrity of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year after many unlikely winners have walked away with the award when you look at past winners from down the years. Greg Rusedski for instance won in 1997 after losing in the US Open Men’s Tennis final, Zara Phillips and her mother Princess Anne for that matter, winners in 2006 and 1971 respectively for winning Olympic Gold Medals in the not too well known sport of Eventing – anyone believe that there may have been some bias here?

The reasons behind David Beckham’s win in 2001 remains a mystery, Or was that the year he played the starring role in England’s 2-2 draw against Greece? Michael Owen’s win in 1998 is even more questionable, given it seems for a scoring a wonder goal against Argentina in a World Cup last 16 match that England were to lose on penalties.

Staying with football, there would be very few that would argue against Ryan Giggs achievements but when he won the SPOTY in 2009, it was on the back of a mass social media campaign from Man Utd fans which seemed to focus on his services to football rather than any outstanding feat achieved that year.

It is difficult to argue that there is more than a little cynicism contained in some of the past winners but when an award is given on annual basis, shouldn’t it be received by somebody who has accomplished something of great note?

In many ways, it is great to competitors of less popular Olympic sports be rewarded. In recent years, the Olympic sportsmen and women who have won the award include, Sir Chris Hoy in 2008, Dame Kelly Holmes in 2004 and Sir Steven Redgrave in 2000 being the last three. The trend of Olympians is almost certain to continue in 2012 with the London Olympics taking place next summer but the question is which sportsman or women has achieved anything of note befitting of the award over the past 12 months.

The favourite to win this year is Mark Cavendish, the first ever British "Green Jersey" winner in the Tour De France, a feat he achieved after winning four stages of the world’s most gruelling race. He is also became the World Road Race Champion in 2011 and although he will be seen in the Olympics next year.

His achievements this year have been outstanding and he is the justified leader at this stage and could even be on course to win back-to-back awards if he adds Olympic Golds to his honours at the London Olympics next year and as the latest Sports Personality of the year odds would suggest, at 5/4, Cavendish is firmly the one to beat.

Golfers, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy are also in contention to win after the two men from Northern Ireland each won Major Golf Tournaments earlier this year. McIlroy won the US Open in June, breaking almost every conceivable record for the tournament in the process whilst Clarke meanwhile came back from almost total obscurity to win the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's.

Clarke lost his wife to breast cancer in 2006 and clearly affected his form and his come back, finished off by his first win in a Major tournament made the achievement that bit more special and endeared him to the public in the process.

There is a very strong argument for a third British golfer to be in the running this year and that is the current world number one Luke Donald. The Englishman will become the first man in golf history to top the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic, after an incredibly consistent season, which has seen him win four tournaments and finish in the top ten a further 14 times.

Included in those wins was the WGC World Match-Play at the beginning of the year, which will go a long way to seeing Luke become the first non-American to win the US Tour’s Player of the Year. Donald too has been hit with a major personal bereavement earlier this month, when his Dad, Colin died suddenly, just four days before Luke’s second daughter was born.

However, if the Sports Personality of the Year award is about acknowledging major wins then McIlroy and  Clarke must be fancied ahead of him but should Donald end his wait for a first major in 2012 then you can rest assured that this popular personality will be amongst the front runners in twelve months time.

Written by Rod Crowley

Friday, 18 November 2011

Boxing News: Pacquiao-Marquez, Andre Berto, James Kirkland and more

By Peter Wells
Juan Manuel Marquez was once again left to leave the ring after a bout with Manny Pacquiao with nothing to show for his performance. In parts 1 and 2 of the trilogy the fights were close and ultimately decided on knockdowns. This time though there were no knockdowns and in most people's eyes, Marquez was the winner.

Manny Pacquiao again got the nod by majority decision, by scores of 115-113 and 116-112 while the final judge couldn't separate the two scoring 114-114. It was a relatively close fight and many rounds were hard to score, but as the fight dragged on it seemed as though Marquez was taking command and he was even starting to force the exchanges. It could come down to Pacquiao's sublime speed which worked quite effectively in the first half of the fight.

I watched the fight on YouTube the next morning and can't give you my exact score, though I definitely said to myself while watching the fight, "That was Marquez's round", more than I said "That was Manny's round". I will have to watch the fight again to be able to give my exact scorecard.

For many it was a surprise that it was so close but I believed that the fight would be close as both styles will always make for a close fight. It was another super fight that has ended on a bad note, but it wasn't exactly a robbery, just a controversial decision.

Berto vacates title to get revenge on Ortiz
Something that was less of a surprise is that Andre Berto has vacated his IBF Welterweight title that he'd just won off Jan Zaveck. Andre would have been forced into a pointless defence against fading tough man Randall Bailey. Andre though isn't interested in titles if he can't get revenge on rival Victor Ortiz. The fight will likely happen early next year and the fans are hoping for more fireworks, while Berto hopes for a different result.

Both fighters know that defeat is not an option, even though the loser won't exactly be pushed out of contention for titles but super fights with Mayweather, Pacquiao, Marquez or Khan would seem a long way away. Victor Ortiz has already had one chance but knows another win against Berto may put him back in line - and with the way the Mayweather-Ortiz fight ended, not many people would begrudge Ortiz his second shot.

Berto though is extremely bitter as Ortiz took the opportunity that he felt was his and i'm sure the way it ended was as frustrating for him as it was for everyone who payed to watch it. This is his perfect chance at redemption and I believe this time he'll be the one on his way to fight one of the superpowers.

James Kirkland to be rewarded for fine performance
After James Kirkland magnificent brawl with Alfredo Angulo, it looks like the Texan will get his long awaited shot at a world title. Cornelius Bundrage, the IBF Light Middleweight champion has taken notice and is very much up for defending against Kirkland. The fight is not yet official, but it could be a very attractive fight for early next year, to add to the list of potential crackers.

Other Boxing News
Also I was very impressed with Chris Eubank Jr last weekend, he boxed very well in his professional debut, throwing his jab with authority and did well to stop his negative opponent. Eubank Sr gave his son a few tips during rounds, telling his son to go downstairs which he did well, landing some crunching body shots. Eubank clearly has a bright future to add to the ever growing list of British prospects.

Tyson Fury on the same show showed more weaknesses in his defence, getting floored by Canadian Nevan Pajkic. But to his credit he got up to rally home a stoppage in the next round to prove he was still out of his opponents league. His tendency to get caught by the overhand right is becoming increasingly worrying if he's to step up to world level.

Finally Julio Cesar Chavez Jr takes on Peter Manfredo Jr on Saturday night. It won't be the most exciting fight but Manfredo should offer Chavez a decent challenge, but will be on the wrong end of a one sided decision.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Can Murray Make Grand Slam Breakthrough In 2012?


At the conclusion of the Australian Open Tennis Championship Final in January earlier this year, Andy Murray was at an all time low. He had just been defeated in straight sets by Novak Djokovic in one of the most one-sided Grand Slam finals ever witnessed.

It was a final before which, many tennis pundits believed that Murray was destined to win his first "Grand Slam" but instead, he trooped off the court disconsolately knowing that he had once again failed to rise to the occasion.

Worse still, he had for the third time in his career failed to win a set in a Grand Slam final which prompted the inevitable questions as to whether or not the Scot has the ability to win one of the sport's four most prestigious tournaments.

It took Murray several months to get over that defeat, poor performances followed in Rotterdam, Indian Wells and Miami and it was not until April when he reached the semi final in the ATP 1000 Masters in Monte Carlo on clay that he began to rediscover his form again.

By the time of the French Open in May, Murray had come to terms with his game, he recognised that Djokovic, who at that time was 'sweeping all before him' had made a few small adjustments to his game and it was those that had helped the Serb improve so dramatically. Murray knew that he needed to work on his game and became buoyed by the prospect.

As 2011 unfolded, Murray began his comeback, first came a semi final at Roland Garros, followed by a first win of the year at Queens then a third semi final running on the grass again at Wimbledon, which although disappointing by not winning, saw Murray put in a much improved effort.

The return to the hard courts in the summer saw him win in Cincinnati before he reached a third Grand Slam semi final of the year at the US Open which he followed up taking three titles on the trot in Bangkok, Japan and Shanghai.

These tournament wins put him ahead of Roger Federer in the world rankings at number three and although he was beaten in the Quarter Final in Paris last week, his game was back on song and his confidence fully restored.

The 24 year old will now play in ATP World Finals in London next week, where he will be looking to end his year on a high before launching his 2012 Grand Slam challenge in January at the Australian Open.

Given a different generation, Murray would have probably already a "Grand Slam" but he is playing at a time when three of the greatest players of all time are around. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have won 30 ‘Slams’ between them, the latter two are very much a similar age to Murray while Federer, proved last week by winning in Paris, that he is still a major force to be reckoned with.

However, with a few improvements to his game and ensuring his head's in the right place on the biggest stages, there is absolutely no doubt that Murray has the game to beat any one of these three on a given day; moreover, he has the game to beat them regularly.

He has beaten Nadal five times in the past, Djokovic four times and Federer eight times and although his record against the big three in the Grand Slams leaves a lot to be desired, Murray knows that with a strong mentality and playing at his best, he can make his breakthrough and 2012 could be the year!

Written by Rod Crowley

Does Capello Finally Have the Three Lions Ready To Roar?

There will undoubtedly be many England fans still harbouring doubts, lingering or otherwise, with regard to Fabio Capello’s stewardship of the England team with memories of last year's World Cup still in mind. However, there will be many more that would applaud the Italian for the way that he has turned the fortunes around since the debacle in South Africa.

Capello has guided the England team to Euro 2012 in Poland/Ukraine next June, with the little or nothing for fans to worry about, finishing top of group G with an unbeaten record whilst at the same time, changing the playing system and introducing a number of young new players to the team.

In essence, the "old guard" of Terry, Ferdinand, Lampard and Gerrard no longer have the same influence on the team as they have had in the past, instead, it is Capello who is clearly in charge and who now makes all the decisions.

Capello’s methodical introduction of "new blood" into the England squad has added plenty of competition for places and it was noticeable how only very few players made themselves unavailable for these last two games of the year which is very refreshing to see!

What most England fans will want to know next of course is exactly what squad Capello will select for Euro 2012.

He will have to pick 23 players prior to the tournament and given that three of them will be goalkeepers, there will be no doubt that a few players, who have made substantial contributions recently or even over the long term will be disappointed when the final squad is announced next May.

It is not long ago that the calls of the media were for the FA to sack Capello on numerous occasions since the World Cup but those calls have become somewhat muted more recently. The FA relented of course when it dawned on them that the compensation package that Capello would be due by taking such an action was embarrassingly high.

Having no alternative, the FA kept their faith in him and he have been rewarded them with a hugely encouraging last 18 months.

England played nine times in 2011 and became the first England team since 1996 to go through a calendar year unbeaten. The year culminated with 1-0 wins over European and World Champions, Spain last weekend and Sweden in midweek.

Those results will have sent out a message to the other 15 teams heading to Euro 2012 that England could be a major force participating in Poland and the Ukraine, whether that will materialise however remains to be seen.

What is know though is that for the first time in many years, the pool of players from which an England manager has to pick from is as wide and deep as most can remember and despite his critics, Capello may just have his Three Lions ready to roar.

Attention will now be turned to Kiev on 2nd December when the draw for the group stage Euro 2012 will be made. England have been seeded in the second pot of seeds, alongside, Germany, Russia and Italy, which means that they will not face any of those three in the first phase but could face Spain or the Netherlands!

The four groups of four for the group stages will be made up from the following seedings.

Pot 1 - Ukraine, Poland, Spain, Netherlands
Pot 2 - Germany, Italy, England, Russia
Pot 3 - Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Sweden
Pot 4 - Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland

Written by Rod Crowley

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Martin Johnson Resigns As England Coach

Martin Johnson has decided to resign as manager of the England Rugby team, speculation had been mounting whether Johnson would remain at helm. After being let down by the players on and off the field, Johnson has called time on his career as national team coach.

England failed to live up to expectations at this year World Cup in New Zealand and were knocked out by France in the quarter-finals but it was their off-field behaviour that will be remembered.

Vice-captain Mike Tindall admitted misleading the team management over a night out in Queenstown in which the player was fined £25,000 and told his England career was over after a drinking session that spiralled out of control in New Zealand.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg, with James Haskell and Chris Ashton also reprimanded for bad behaviour, while Manu Tuilagi was fined for jumping off a ferry in Auckland harbour.

Johnson has been roundly criticised for a lack of discipline in his squad and it was the high-profile misbehaviour of Tindall - now a member of the royal family after his marriage to Zara Philips - that attracted the most negative publicity.

Johnson, who captained England to their World Cup triumph in 2003, called a meeting with his coaching team on Wednesday morning to explain his decision to walk away from the job he has held since July 2008. 

Johnson decision to retire will come as no surprise after the level of criticism he had received after England’s poor performance in New Zealand.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

RIP Smokin Joe Frazier

Joe Frazier: "Smokin Joe" (January 12, 1944 - November 7, 2011 ) 56 wins, 37 KO’s, 5 losses.

Joe Frazier was born in Laurel Bay, South Carolina, on January 12, 1944. “Smoking Joe” Frazier never set out to set the boxing world alight.

He began going to the gym to get himself into shape. However, one thing led to another, and he began competing. He was the youngest of thirteen children. He started his boxing career at age nine, when he rigged up a homemade punching bag of moss and leaves.

Twelve years later, after having married at sixteen, he moved to Philadelphia, where he won the Golden Gloves in 1962, 1963 and 1964. He also won American's only gold medal in the Boxing at the Tokyo Olympics.

With a group of businessmen from Philadelphia, Cloverlay, Inc, as his sponsors, Frazier launched his professional career on August 16, 1965, with a one-round knockout over Woody Goss.

He oiled up ten straight knockouts before meeting Oscar Bonavena on September 21, 1966.

Bonavena floored Frazier twice in the second round, but Frazier rallied to win a ten-round decision.

Above is footage of Frazier's fight against Eddie Machen in November 1966. After four more victories, three of which were knockouts, Frazier was pitted against Chuvalo on July 19, 1967.

In the fourth round, the tough Canadian was knocked out for the first time in his career.

When Frazier fought Buster Mathis on March 4, 1968, he was determined to clear any hint of tarnish from his Olympic medal. Before Frazier went to Tokyo he had won thirty-eight of forty right, His two losses had been to Mathis in the Olympics trials.

When Mathis had a broken knuckle, Frazier had the upper hand. "Smokin Joe" flattened Mathis with a left with a left hook in 2:33 of the eleventh round.

Frazier became undisputed world champion on February 16, 1970, when the gong rang for the opening of the fifth round and the W.B.A's champion, Jimmy Ellis, couldn't come out. After the first round, in which Ellis held a margin, Frazier dominated the match with a steady and relentless style of strong, heavy pressure.

As the end if the fourth round approached, Frazier bombarded Ellis's body and head until the Kentuckian sank to that mat for a count of nine, during which the bell rang. Raising himself at the nine.

Ellis managed to get to this corner, when the fifth round gong rang sounded, manager Angelo Dundee motioned to referee Tony Perez that Ellis could not continue.

The first encounter with Ali took place on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden before 20,445 fans plus 1.3 million watching closed-circuit theatre TV. Ali who described his own fighting style as "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" was slowed down by Frazier's constant pounding.

Ali's strategy was to let Frazier become arm weary while flicking tiring jabs at his opponent, but despite a 6 1/2 inch disadvantage in reach, Frazier managed to get in under Ali's jab to land countless left hooks to the Ali's body.

Frazier suffered a swollen jaw and lumps around both eyes, while Ali merely sported a hematoma on the right side of his jaw.

Frazier won unanimously with referee Arthur Mercante giving him eight rounds, six to Ali and Judge Bill Recht awarded eleven to Frazier and four to Ali.

The only knock down occurred in the fifteenth round, when Ali was dropped for the third time in his career but bounced back after the mandatory eight count.

Before facing George Foreman, Frazier fought Terry Daniels in New Orleans on January 15, 1972, then Ron Stander, in Omaha, on May 25, 1972. The odds against his two opponents were 15 to 1 and 20 to 1 respectively. Danis lasted four rounds, Strander, five.

On January 22, 1973, at Kingston, Jamaica, Frazier, a 3-1 favourite, was floored six times by Foreman before referee Arthur Mercante stopped the action at 1:35 of the second round before 36,000 fans. Frazier pressed the attack, but was met by a challenger who moved out a step backward.

A right to the jaw by Foreman achieved the first knockdown midway into the first round. Frazier got up, exchanged a few punches, and was down again from a series of rights to the head.

Again Frazier rose quickly, but obviously dazed, and he was decked a third time as the bell ended the round. As set down by the rules, counting did not end with the bell, but was continued until Frazier struggled up at the count of three.

Frazier opened round two with a rushing attack and a left hook to the head, but was a short rally. Foreman, who weighed 217 pounds to Frazier's 214 pounds, sent the champion to the mat for the fourth time with a left-right to the jaw.

Up at the count of two, Frazier was dropped by two left hooks. Again Frazier struggled up but then went down for the last time from a series of punches.

Frazier gamely got to his feet, but referee Arthur Mercante looked at his glazed eyes and reeling figure and signalled that there was a new champion.

After the George Foreman bout, Joe Frazier went on to fight Joe Bugner in London on July 2, 1973 whom he beat in twelve rounds and then on January 28, 1974.

Frazier and Ali fought again at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,746, who paid a live gate of $1,053,688 and a theatre-TV audience that paid £25,000,000.

The closed-circuit TV audience reached 10,000,000. The gross revenue for the fight, including foreign film rights, etc, came to $25,000,000.

In their previous fight, Frazier went straight in to his opponent while Ali sidestepped and countered. Frazier scored decisively and often to the body.

Ali hit only to Joe's head, but more often and with more power than previously.

The most controversial moment of the fight occurred in the second round when referee Tony Perez stopped the fight, thinking he had heard the bell ring.
It was a crucial time.

Frazier ad Ali in a corner, but Ali spun and jabbed out of trouble and hit Frazier solidly on his puffing cheekbone.

After taking a long left hook to the chin, Ali came back to confuse and hurt Frazier with lefts and chopping rights to the head.

It was at this point the referee stepped in; stalling the only opportunity Ali had to finish his man.

The seventh was Frazier's big round. The first of several good left hooks connected thirty seconds into the round, stunning Ali.

Ali was off his toes, flatfooted, as Frazier again carried the action in the eighth. Although Ali was tired, he rallied to outpunch Frazier for the last nine minutes and was awarded a unanimous decision for the twelve rounds by referee Tony Perez and judges Tony Castellano and Jack Gordon.

1975 was, once again, a year of rematches for Frazier, but this time they involved more overseas travel. He met Jimmy Ellis, the man from whom he had originally taken the WBA title, in Melbourne, Australia, knocking him out in nine rounds.

That win made him once again the number-one challenger for the world crown, now held by Ali after an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the famous "Rumble in the Jungle".

Ali and Frazier met for the third and final time in Quezon City (a district within the metropolitan area of Manila), the Philippines, on October 1, 1975: the "Thrilla in Manila".

Ali took every opportunity to mock Frazier, again calling him The Gorilla, and generally trying to irritate him.

The fight for Ali’s title, which was attended by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, caused another media frenzy and was seen lives around the world.


It was far more action-filled than the previous encounter (there was no belt at stake in the second fight), and was a punishing display that ended when Eddie Futch stopped the fight before the 15th and final round with Frazier sitting on his stool.

In 1976, Frazier fought and again lost to George Foreman, this time by fifth-round knockout, and retired.

In 1981, Frazier attempted a comeback that lasted only one fight, drawing in 10 rounds with Floyd "Jumbo" Cummings in Chicago, Illinois. He then retired for good.

Joe Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer in September 2011. Within a few weeks, the cancer metastasized. By November 2011, he was under hospice care. He died on November 7, 2011.

RIP Smokin' Joe!  We lift our hats to you!

Joe Frazier Fight Record: 32 Wins, 4 Losses, 1 Draw, 27 Knockouts

1965
1965-08-16 - Woody Goss, Philadelphia, PA, W TKO RD 1
1965-09-20 - Mike Bruce, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 3
1965-09-28 - Ray Staples, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 2
1965-11-11 - Abe Davis, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 1

1966
1966-01-17 - Mel Turnbow, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 1
1966-03-04 - Dick Wipperman, New York, NY, W TKO RD 5
1966-04-04 - Charley Polite, Philadelphia, PA, W TKO RD 2
1966-04-28 - Don (Toro) Smith, Pittsburgh, PA, W KO RD 3
1966-05-19 - Chuck (Charley) Leslie, Los Angeles, CA, W KO RD 3
1966-05-26 - Memphis Al Jones, Los Angeles, CA, W KO RD 1
1966-07-25 - Billy Daniels, Philadelphia, PA, W TKO RD 6
1966-09-21 - Oscar Bonavena, New York, NY, W RD 10
1966-11-21 - Eddie Machen, Los Angeles, CA, W TKO RD 10

1967
1967-02-21 - Doug Jones, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 5
1967-04-11 - Jefferson Davis, Miami Beach, FL, W KO RD 5
1967-05-04 - George Johns, Los Angeles, CA, W RD 10
1967-07-19 - George Chuvalo, New York, NY, W TKO RD 4
1967-10-17 - Tony Doyle, Philadelphia, PA, W TKO RD 2
1967-12-18 - Marion Connors, Boston, MA, W KO RD 3

1968
1968-03-04 - Buster Mathis, New York, NY, W TKO RD 11
1968-06-24 - Manuel Ramos, New York, NY, W TKO RD 2
1968-12-10 - Oscar Bonavena, Philadelphia, PA, W RD 15

1969
1969-04-22 - Dave Zyglewicz, Houston, TX, W KO RD 1
1969-06-16 - Don Warner, New York, NY, Exh
1969-06-23 - Jerry Quarry, New York, NY, W TKO RD 7

1970
1970-02-16 - Jimmy Ellis, New York, NY, W TKO RD 5
(Won WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Won WBA Heavyweight Title)
1970-11-18 - Bob Foster, Detroit, MI, W KO RD 2
(Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Retained WBA Heavyweight Title)

1971
1971-03-08 - Muhammad Ali, New York, NY, W RD 15
(Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Retained WBA Heavyweight Title)
1971-07-15 - Cleveland Williams, Houston, TX, Exh RD 3
1971-07-15 - James Helwig, Houston, TX, Exh RD 3

1972
1972-01-15 - Terry Daniels, New Orleans, LA, W TKO RD 4
(Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Retained WBA Heavyweight Title)
1972-05-25 - Ron Stander, Omaha, NE, W TKO RD 5
(Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Retained WBA Heavyweight Title)
1972-09-29 - Willie Monroe, Denver, CO, Exh RD 2
1972-09-29 - Mike Boswell, Denver, CO, Exh RD 2

1973
1973-01-22 - George Foreman, Kingston, Jamaica, L TKO RD 2
(Lost WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Lost WBA Heavyweight Title)
1973-07-02 - Joe Bugner, London, England, W RD 12

1974
1974-01-28 - Muhammad Ali, New York, NY, L RD 12
1974-06-17 - Jerry Quarry, New York, NY, W TKO RD 5

1975
1975-03-01 - Jimmy Ellis, Melbourne, Australia, W TKO RD 9
1975-10-01 - Muhammad Ali, Manila, Philippines, L TKO RD 14
(For WBC Heavyweight Title)
(For WBA Heavyweight Title)

1976
1976-06-15 - George Foreman, Uniondale, NY, L TKO RD 5
1976-12-03 - Marvis Frazier, Rochester, NY, Exh RD 2
1976-12-03 - Mike Koranicki, Rochester, NY, Exh RD 2

1981
1981-12-03 - Floyd (Jumbo) Cummings, Chicago, IL, D RD 10

Joe Frazier Passes Away

It is sad to report that Joe Frazier has lost his fight with cancer and has passed away at 67, Frazier had been omitted to a hospice over the weekend for treatment on liver cancer but the disease was to far advanced to find successful treatment for the former heavyweight champion.

Lennox Lewis has been leading the tributes the Frazier, Lewis added: "I am extremely saddened at the news of the passing of former World Heavyweight Champion Smokin’ Joe Frazier.  He made history in the greatest era ever of heavyweight boxing and his contributions to the sport are profound and immeasurable.

"My deepest sympathies go out to the Frazier family during this time of loss and grief and I would like them to know that they are in my prayers.  He will be missed but never forgotten.  May he rest in peace."

Floyd Mayweather has also offered to cover the funeral costs.

Joe Frazier was well respected within the world of sport, especially in Boxing where he always be regarded as one of the greatest.


Frazier only found out about the diagnosis last month and his family released the following statement; "We The Family of the 1964 Olympic Boxing Heavyweight Gold Medalist, Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion and International Boxing Hall of Fame Member Smokin' Joe Frazier, regrets to inform you of his passing.

He transitioned from this life as "One of God's Men," on the eve of November 7, 2011 at his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We thank you for your prayers for our Father and vast outpouring of love and support.

Respectfully, we request time to grieve privately as a family. Our father's home going celebration will be announced as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding."

Frazier was reported to have lost 50 pounds and friends like Rev. Jesse Jackson and fellow heavyweight king Larry Holmes requested visits, but Frazier decided against it.

"Joe doesn't want to see anybody, the way he is now," his manager Les Wolff explained earlier this week. "I think you can understand why. He's a proud man."

Joe Frazier was one of the greatest to grace the sport, Frazier fought professionally from 1965 to 1981, capturing the WBA and WBC heavyweight titles. He defeated Muhammad Ali in 1971, which was the high point of Frazier’s career. Before turning pro, Frazier won a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics.

Ali vs Frazier was the biggest rivalry in any sport, Smokin Joe Frazier fought in the golden era of Boxing during the 70’s in which he became world champion.

RIP Smokin Joe Frazier - A True Great!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Joe Frazier - Smokin' Joe

Joe Frazier: "Smokin Joe" (January 12, 1944 - November 7, 2011) 56 wins, 37 KO’s, 5 losses.

Joe Frazier was born in Laurel Bay, South Carolina, on January 12, 1944. “Smoking Joe” Frazier never set out to set the boxing world alight.

He began going to the gym to get himself into shape. However, one thing led to another, and he began competing. He was the youngest of thirteen children. He started his boxing career at age nine, when he rigged up a homemade punching bag of moss and leaves.

Twelve years later, after having married at sixteen, he moved to Philadelphia, where he won the Golden Gloves in 1962, 1963 and 1964. He also won American's only gold medal in the Boxing at the Tokyo Olympics.

With a group of businessmen from Philadelphia, Cloverlay, Inc, as his sponsors, Frazier launched his professional career on August 16, 1965, with a one-round knockout over Woody Goss.

He oiled up ten straight knockouts before meeting Oscar Bonavena on September 21, 1966.

Bonavena floored Frazier twice in the second round, but Frazier rallied to win a ten-round decision.


Above is footage of Frazier's fight against Eddie Machen in November 1966. After four more victories, three of which were knockouts, Frazier was pitted against Chuvalo on July 19, 1967.

In the fourth round, the tough Canadian was knocked out for the first time in his career.

When Frazier fought Buster Mathis on March 4, 1968, he was determined to clear any hint of tarnish from his Olympic medal. Before Frazier went to Tokyo he had won thirty-eight of forty right, His two losses had been to Mathis in the Olympics trials.


When Mathis had a broken knuckle, Frazier had the upper hand. "Smokin Joe" flattened Mathis with a left with a left hook in 2:33 of the eleventh round.

Frazier became undisputed world champion on February 16, 1970, when the gong rang for the opening of the fifth round and the W.B.A's champion, Jimmy Ellis, couldn't come out. After the first round, in which Ellis held a margin, Frazier dominated the match with a steady and relentless style of strong, heavy pressure.

As the end if the fourth round approached, Frazier bombarded Ellis's body and head until the Kentuckian sank to that mat for a count of nine, during which the bell rang. Raising himself at the nine.

Ellis managed to get to this corner, when the fifth round gong rang sounded, manager Angelo Dundee motioned to referee Tony Perez that Ellis could not continue.


The first encounter with Ali took place on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden before 20,445 fans plus 1.3 million watching closed-circuit theatre TV. Ali who described his own fighting style as "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" was slowed down by Frazier's constant pounding.


Ali's strategy was to let Frazier become arm weary while flicking tiring jabs at his opponent, but despite a 6 1/2 inch disadvantage in reach, Frazier managed to get in under Ali's jab to land countless left hooks to the Ali's body.

Frazier suffered a swollen jaw and lumps around both eyes, while Ali merely sported a hematoma on the right side of his jaw.

Frazier won unanimously with referee Arthur Mercante giving him eight rounds, six to Ali and Judge Bill Recht awarded eleven to Frazier and four to Ali.

The only knock down occurred in the fifteenth round, when Ali was dropped for the third time in his career but bounced back after the mandatory eight count.

Before facing George Foreman, Frazier fought Terry Daniels in New Orleans on January 15, 1972, then Ron Stander, in Omaha, on May 25, 1972. The odds against his two opponents were 15 to 1 and 20 to 1 respectively. Danis lasted four rounds, Strander, five.


On January 22, 1973, at Kingston, Jamaica, Frazier, a 3-1 favourite, was floored six times by Foreman before referee Arthur Mercante stopped the action at 1:35 of the second round before 36,000 fans. Frazier pressed the attack, but was met by a challenger who moved out a step backward.

A right to the jaw by Foreman achieved the first knockdown midway into the first round. Frazier got up, exchanged a few punches, and was down again from a series of rights to the head.

Again Frazier rose quickly, but obviously dazed, and he was decked a third time as the bell ended the round. As set down by the rules, counting did not end with the bell, but was continued until Frazier struggled up at the count of three.

Frazier opened round two with a rushing attack and a left hook to the head, but was a short rally. Foreman, who weighed 217 pounds to Frazier's 214 pounds, sent the champion to the mat for the fourth time with a left-right to the jaw.

Up at the count of two, Frazier was dropped by two left hooks. Again Frazier struggled up but then went down for the last time from a series of punches.

Frazier gamely got to his feet, but referee Arthur Mercante looked at his glazed eyes and reeling figure and signalled that there was a new champion.

After the George Foreman bout, Joe Frazier went on to fight Joe Bugner in London on July 2, 1973 whom he beat in twelve rounds and then on January 28, 1974.

Frazier and Ali fought again at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,746, who paid a live gate of $1,053,688 and a theatre-TV audience that paid £25,000,000.

The closed-circuit TV audience reached 10,000,000. The gross revenue for the fight, including foreign film rights, etc, came to $25,000,000.

In their previous fight, Frazier went straight in to his opponent while Ali sidestepped and countered. Frazier scored decisively and often to the body.

Ali hit only to Joe's head, but more often and with more power than previously.

The most controversial moment of the fight occurred in the second round when referee Tony Perez stopped the fight, thinking he had heard the bell ring.
It was a crucial time.

Frazier ad Ali in a corner, but Ali spun and jabbed out of trouble and hit Frazier solidly on his puffing cheekbone.

After taking a long left hook to the chin, Ali came back to confuse and hurt Frazier with lefts and chopping rights to the head.

It was at this point the referee stepped in; stalling the only opportunity Ali had to finish his man.


The seventh was Frazier's big round. The first of several good left hooks connected thirty seconds into the round, stunning Ali.

Ali was off his toes, flatfooted, as Frazier again carried the action in the eighth. Although Ali was tired, he rallied to outpunch Frazier for the last nine minutes and was awarded a unanimous decision for the twelve rounds by referee Tony Perez and judges Tony Castellano and Jack Gordon.

1975 was, once again, a year of rematches for Frazier, but this time they involved more overseas travel. He met Jimmy Ellis, the man from whom he had originally taken the WBA title, in Melbourne, Australia, knocking him out in nine rounds.

That win made him once again the number-one challenger for the world crown, now held by Ali after an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the famous "Rumble in the Jungle".

Ali and Frazier met for the third and final time in Quezon City (a district within the metropolitan area of Manila), the Philippines, on October 1, 1975: the "Thrilla in Manila".

Ali took every opportunity to mock Frazier, again calling him The Gorilla, and generally trying to irritate him.

The fight for Ali’s title, which was attended by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, caused another media frenzy and was seen lives around the world.


It was far more action-filled than the previous encounter (there was no belt at stake in the second fight), and was a punishing display that ended when Eddie Futch stopped the fight before the 15th and final round with Frazier sitting on his stool.

In 1976, Frazier fought and again lost to George Foreman, this time by fifth-round knockout, and retired.

In 1981, Frazier attempted a comeback that lasted only one fight, drawing in 10 rounds with Floyd "Jumbo" Cummings in Chicago, Illinois. He then retired for good.

Joe Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer in September 2011. Within a few weeks, the cancer metastasized. By November 2011, he was under hospice care. He died on November 7, 2011.

RIP Smokin' Joe!  We lift our hats to you!

Joe Frazier Fight Record: 32 Wins, 4 Losses, 1 Draw, 27 Knockouts

1965
1965-08-16 - Woody Goss, Philadelphia, PA, W TKO RD 1
1965-09-20 - Mike Bruce, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 3
1965-09-28 - Ray Staples, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 2
1965-11-11 - Abe Davis, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 1

1966
1966-01-17 - Mel Turnbow, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 1
1966-03-04 - Dick Wipperman, New York, NY, W TKO RD 5
1966-04-04 - Charley Polite, Philadelphia, PA, W TKO RD 2
1966-04-28 - Don (Toro) Smith, Pittsburgh, PA, W KO RD 3
1966-05-19 - Chuck (Charley) Leslie, Los Angeles, CA, W KO RD 3
1966-05-26 - Memphis Al Jones, Los Angeles, CA, W KO RD 1
1966-07-25 - Billy Daniels, Philadelphia, PA, W TKO RD 6
1966-09-21 - Oscar Bonavena, New York, NY, W RD 10
1966-11-21 - Eddie Machen, Los Angeles, CA, W TKO RD 10

1967
1967-02-21 - Doug Jones, Philadelphia, PA, W KO RD 5
1967-04-11 - Jefferson Davis, Miami Beach, FL, W KO RD 5
1967-05-04 - George Johns, Los Angeles, CA, W RD 10
1967-07-19 - George Chuvalo, New York, NY, W TKO RD 4
1967-10-17 - Tony Doyle, Philadelphia, PA, W TKO RD 2
1967-12-18 - Marion Connors, Boston, MA, W KO RD 3

1968
1968-03-04 - Buster Mathis, New York, NY, W TKO RD 11
1968-06-24 - Manuel Ramos, New York, NY, W TKO RD 2
1968-12-10 - Oscar Bonavena, Philadelphia, PA, W RD 15

1969
1969-04-22 - Dave Zyglewicz, Houston, TX, W KO RD 1
1969-06-16 - Don Warner, New York, NY, Exh
1969-06-23 - Jerry Quarry, New York, NY, W TKO RD 7

1970
1970-02-16 - Jimmy Ellis, New York, NY, W TKO RD 5
(Won WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Won WBA Heavyweight Title)
1970-11-18 - Bob Foster, Detroit, MI, W KO RD 2
(Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Retained WBA Heavyweight Title)

1971
1971-03-08 - Muhammad Ali, New York, NY, W RD 15
(Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Retained WBA Heavyweight Title)
1971-07-15 - Cleveland Williams, Houston, TX, Exh RD 3
1971-07-15 - James Helwig, Houston, TX, Exh RD 3

1972
1972-01-15 - Terry Daniels, New Orleans, LA, W TKO RD 4
(Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Retained WBA Heavyweight Title)
1972-05-25 - Ron Stander, Omaha, NE, W TKO RD 5
(Retained WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Retained WBA Heavyweight Title)
1972-09-29 - Willie Monroe, Denver, CO, Exh RD 2
1972-09-29 - Mike Boswell, Denver, CO, Exh RD 2

1973
1973-01-22 - George Foreman, Kingston, Jamaica, L TKO RD 2
(Lost WBC Heavyweight Title)
(Lost WBA Heavyweight Title)
1973-07-02 - Joe Bugner, London, England, W RD 12

1974
1974-01-28 - Muhammad Ali, New York, NY, L RD 12
1974-06-17 - Jerry Quarry, New York, NY, W TKO RD 5

1975
1975-03-01 - Jimmy Ellis, Melbourne, Australia, W TKO RD 9
1975-10-01 - Muhammad Ali, Manila, Philippines, L TKO RD 14
(For WBC Heavyweight Title)
(For WBA Heavyweight Title)

1976
1976-06-15 - George Foreman, Uniondale, NY, L TKO RD 5
1976-12-03 - Marvis Frazier, Rochester, NY, Exh RD 2
1976-12-03 - Mike Koranicki, Rochester, NY, Exh RD 2

1981
1981-12-03 - Floyd (Jumbo) Cummings, Chicago, IL, D RD 10
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...