Joshua faces top sparring for Ruiz rematch

first_imgRelatedPosts Joshua plans title defence in Nigeria Why I lost my titles to Anthony Joshua — Andy Ruiz Joshua shows off body transformation for Ruiz rematch Eddie Hearn has revealed that Anthony Joshua is taking a completely different approach to his sparring for the Brit’s highly-anticipated heavyweight rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia on December 7. The Matchroom head has revealed the problems which dogged Joshua’s camp in the run up to the first fight at Madison Square Garden – one of boxing’s biggest ever upsets – which ended in Ruiz Jr spectacularly triumphing via a seventh-round stoppage. Sparring partners were in short supply for the original world title bout after the Mexican was drafted in at the 11th hour to replace Joshua’s scheduled opponent, Jarrell Miller, who had to be pulled out following failed drug tests. Hearn told Sky Sports: “Sparring is something we’ve been working at. “First time around we only had four weeks, and three weeks of sparring. We found guys but probably not the guys we really wanted. “Now the sparring is top class. He is focused and looking great. Eight weeks to go. “We’re not interested in looking at Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or anything else. It’s just about winning one of the biggest heavyweight events of all time.” Joshua also commented on his sparring and quashed rumours that he was knocked down in training ahead of the first Ruiz Jr fight, during which he asked his trainer Robert McCracken after the sixth and penultimate round: “Why am I feeling like this?” The Olympic gold medallist said: “I feel like people are more interested in their five minutes of fame. “Even in sparring, everyone wants to be famous, rather than a good fighter. “You can’t even enjoy your training and work on things without someone trying to make up false allegations, and trying to get five minutes of fame. “You bring someone into your training camp to do them a favour, you’re paying them, you beat them up in every round, then they go and do an interview. “It just happens all the time in boxing, there is just a lot of envy.” Eddie Hearn previously spoke of the problem finding like-for-like sparring partners to mimic the awkward physical and technical skills of Ruiz Jr. “It’s so difficult to replicate the style of Andy Ruiz,” Hearn said. “The guy is 6’1′, he’s 19st, and he’s got speed like a middleweight. “It’s one thing getting a sparring partner in, it’s getting them to let their hands go against Anthony Joshua. Would you want to do it? You’ve got to be mad to even spar with him, let alone fight him.”Tags: Andy Ruizlast_img read more

EPL: City target Villa’s scalp

first_imgRelatedPosts Runarsson joins Arsenal on four-year deal Aguero could be out of action until November, Guardiola says Martinez completes £20m Aston Villa move Man City vs. Aston VillaVenue: Etihad StadiumKick off: 12:30PMManchester City resume Premier League action this afternoon with a game against Aston Villa at the Etihad.The Premier League champions will hope that they continue to make up ground on leaders Liverpool, who are six points ahead of them in the Premier League.Pep Guardiola’s men have responded in ideal fashion to suffering a damaging 2-0 defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers prior to the international break.The Citizens claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, who are something of a bogey team, ahead of recovering from going a goal down to thrash Atalanta 5-1 in the Champions League.As domestic football returns to the Etihad this weekend, City players will know that slipping up at home even once more this season could have fatal consequences for their title defence.Following consecutive years during which it seemed as if nobody could touch them, the Premier League champions possess greater firepower than ever but perhaps have more question marks surrounding their capacity to hold firm at the back.Indeed, in the wake of Vincent Kompany’s departure, combined with injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, it has been demonstrated by both Norwich City and Wolves that hitting City with fast counter-attacks down the middle of the pitch can open up gaps in behind.This current impediment, along with more intangible factors like “pedigree” and “heritage”, may combine to explain why City could struggle in Europe again this season – a problem that is preventing this side from joining the pantheon of the game’s very best teams.However, when it comes to these games at home against lesser opponents, City will always back their attacking unit to substantially outscore whomever they come up against.Today’s visitors will take heart from the blueprint laid down by Wolves but must also be conscious of the fact that this City team has scored 21 goals in six home games since August.The story of Villa this season has been one of a team which has almost visibly grown into its skin since the opening weekend.Defeats to Bournemouth and Crystal Palace along with a tepid home draw with West Ham United during the club’s opening four league games were indicative of a team which, although solid at the back, looked to be missing something going forward.However, it seems as if a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates, which saw the visitors take the lead twice and lose the game to a last minute goal, served as something of a turning point when it came to the intensity of Villa’s performances.Since that loss, Smith’s side has managed at least two goals in every game, including an impressive 5-1 victory over Norwich at Carrow Road that was hallmarked by a front three of Jack Grealish, Anwar El Ghazi and Wesley cutting through the Canaries at will.Moreover, the Villans have been bolstered by the strong form of attacking midfielder John McGinn, with the Scot scoring three goals and claiming one assist this term, often making smart late runs to join attacks and create overloads through the middle.If Villa are to pull off one of the shocks of the season at the Etihad this weekend, the aforementioned attacking quartet must make use of any pocket of space that happens to come their way. Watford, for example, actually had an excellent chance to equalise after just five minutes at the Etihad, only to squander it and end up losing 8-0.Smith has so far refused to deviate from a rigid 4-3-3 system, whose primary aim is for the team to attack and defend as one unit, and will need his players to function as one perfectly unified entity if they are to succeed at keeping this City team at arm’s length.Then again, as every team knows, even being perfect against such a litany of superstars can sometimes not be quite enough. Manchester City possible XI: Ederson, Cancelo, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Silva, Bernardo, Sterling, Jesus.Aston Villa possible XI: Heaton, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett, Nakamba, Hourihane, McGinn, El Ghazi, Grealish, Wesley.Tags: Aston VillaEPLManchester Citylast_img read more

EPL: Leicester beat Sheffield, boost top-four hopes

first_imgRelatedPosts Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ EPL: Foxes attack Burnley EPL: Crystal Palace stun sloppy Man U Leicester City boosted their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four as goals by Ayoze Perez and substitute Demarai Gray secured a 2-0 home win over Sheffield United.The result left Leicester fourth on 62 points from 36 games, three ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United who were visiting Crystal Palace later and one behind Chelsea in third. Sheffield United stayed eighth on 54 points, two behind sixth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers who occupy a Europa League qualifying spot.Having won only one of their last six league games, Leicester needed a victory to get back on track in their bid to secure a berth in next season’s Champions League and they delivered with a dominant performance.Perez fired them ahead in the 29th minute with a crisp low shot from 14 metres after a fine cut-back by 19-year-old debutant Luke Thomas and Gray sealed the contest in the 79th with a clinical finish.The Foxes missed a string of chances to win by a bigger margin as visiting goalkeeper Dean Henderson made several reflex saves while top scorer Jamie Vardy hit the outside of the post shortly after halftime.Tags: Ayoze PerezCrystal PalaceLeicester CityManchester UnitedSheffield Untiedlast_img read more

Why Heartland FC crisis lingers — Chairman

first_imgThe Chairman of Heartland Football Club Management Board, Charles Ezekwem, says the major problem setting the Owerri-based club back was political interest from some appointees of the Imo State Government.Ezekwem said this during a meeting with some members of the state chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria on Thursday in Owerri. He however warned of dire consequences if the state government failed to register the club and pay outstanding seven months salaries of players, staff and coaches.He said: “This may stop the club from participating in the new football league season.“It will be an embarrassment to the people of Imo if the only club owned by the state failed to feature in the country’s football league.”The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the League Management Company has set Friday as deadline for clubs’ registration for the 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League.Ezekwem said Heartland FC were yet to register their players as at Thursday. NAN reports that the state Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Dan Ogu, had recently dissolved the club’s management board headed by Ezekwem.However, Ezekwem said during the meeting with Imo SWAN members that the Commissioner lacked the power to dissolve the board.While reacting to some allegations on misappropriation of funds by the board, Ezekwem said all the money released for the club under his watch were used judiciously.He threatened to resign his position as board chairman if the state government sacked the club’s General Manager, Godson Onyemaobi.He said: “I know that I am not the target in this crisis, but the GM. “So, if he is sacked, I will resign because I know he is a performing GM.”Ezekwem said the state government officials should rather be focused on making sure that Heartland FC were registered and licensed.“But it is unfortunate that they were busy looking for a way to sack the GM,” he said.On the slashing of players’ salaries by the club management, Ezekwem said it was not a decision he unilaterally took.RelatedPosts Sustain Ihedioha’s blueprint on sports development, administrator urges Imo governor COVID-19: Lagos, O’jeez distribute palliatives to Lagos SWAN SWAN renews call to immortalise Rashidi Yekini He said: “It was in full agreement with all the players.“When I was appointed as the board chairman, I reviewed the salary of both players and staff just to motivate everybody to perform.“But when we saw that our N23 million subvention could not carry the club’s liabilities, we decided to cut the salaries of both players and management staff in agreement with everybody.”Ezekwem said the decision affected Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa whose salary of N700,000 was slashed to N500,000.He said the action was to enable them pay the salaries of other players and workers.He said: “The Management Board under my watch ran a deficit of N1.1 million every month, and on some occasions my personal money was used in running the club.”Tags: Charles EzekwemHeartland Football Club Management BoardSports Writers Association of Nigerialast_img read more

Akpom pens Middlesbrough loan deal

first_imgRelatedPosts Runarsson joins Arsenal on four-year deal Arsenal, Wolves want Michael Olise EPL: Gunners gun for West Ham scalp Middlesbrough have announced the signing of former Nottingham Forest loan striker Chuba Akpom for an undisclosed fee.The 24-year-old, who started his career with Arsenal, has arrived at the Riverside on a three-year deal from Greek side PAOK. Akpom spent two months on loan at the City Ground from Arsenal back in 2015, but failed to score for the Reds.Boro boss Neil Warnock told the club’s official website: “I’m delighted to finally have got him.“He’s been my number one choice. I’ve wanted him for a long time. I’d like to give a big thanks to Neil Bausor for getting it done.“I told him what we were doing at the club, and right from day one, he wanted to come, and I’m delighted.”Tags: ArsenalChuba AkpomNeil WarnockNottingham ForestPAOKlast_img read more

Redknapp seeks late surge to save QPR

first_img Press Association Pompey looked destined for the drop at this stage of the 2005-06 season, but under Redknapp’s guidance they strung together a tremendous sequence of results to take 20 points from their last 10 games and retain their top-flight status. QPR are six points from safety with 12 games left, but Redknapp said: “I am confident we can survive. I know it is going to be hard, and I think it will go to the wire but it is not impossible.” Harry Redknapp believes QPR’s Premier League survival hopes hinge on them being able to repeat the late-season form that saw him keep Portsmouth in the top-flight seven years ago.center_img He added: “It is very similar to the situation I had with Portsmouth, it is much the same if you look at the stats. “I think that was down to the last 10 games that we got out at Pompey with 20-odd points. That is what we need here, it’s not impossible.” The Rs have not scored twice in a Premier League game since mid-December, and have scored just 19 in total from 26 games, the lowest tally in the top-flight. Redknapp admits he is short of striking options, with the hip problem hindering Bobby Zamora a particular concern, while France striker Loic Remy has missed the last two games with a groin strain. “We have a chance if Remy can come in and score some goals and show what he can do, and we can get Bobby out on the pitch,” he said. “The problem with Bobby is we have to stop him at half-time. If we played straight through he could probably manage 70 minutes, but stopping at half-time he seizes up then he can’t move. “When he plays he’s different, he can move, hold the ball up, he is someone we can play up to. Without him we don’t have someone who can lead the line.” last_img read more

Premier League has helped game – Parry

first_img The 58-year-old has no doubt there are key areas of concern in the modern game in England, such as the proportion of foreign players and the number of clubs owned by overseas investors. But while Parry feels these are issues on which the Football Association, which he sees as “not fit for purpose”, has been “entirely passive”, he has pointed to the success over recent years of English sides in Europe as evidence that the Premier League has been a “force for good”. Speaking at the University of Salford on Thursday, Parry – who was the Premier League’s first chief executive when it was launched in 1992, and later held the same post at Liverpool – said: “I think by and large it is a force for good. We had not the faintest idea at the time (of its’ foundation) that it would grow in the way that it has. “I believed that it was going to be successful – we knew the formula would work and that it was effective, whereas the FA and the Football League weren’t. One of the things – until this year, which is a shame – that has been good to see is our clubs by and large doing well in Europe. “Whether this season (in which no English club has reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League) is an aberration or more permanent we will see – it is certainly alarming. But over the last decade or so we have done well in the Champions League. “There are negatives and there are concerns. For me, once you get above 50% foreign players, there should be an alarm bell, and certainly once you get up to 50% of the clubs being in foreign ownership, that is an alarm bell, and again that is something we would never have envisaged. “But I actually think rather than blaming the Premier League for that… the sad thing is that when we formed the Premier League, we had had all sorts of dialogue about reforming the FA, but the FA actually did not change at all and I think what happened was the FA just got completely left behind. “The FA is not fit for purpose. The Premier League has raced ahead and succeeded, and in areas where you might expect the governing body to take a lead – where it does in other countries, on things like the number of foreign players and foreign ownership – the FA has basically been entirely passive.” He added: “I think if the Premier League had not been formed, the game overall would be in a worse state.” English football is better off for the formation and growth of the Premier League, according to former chief executive Rick Parry.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Cork edge past Cavan

first_img A missed free deep into stoppage time denied the Breffni lads a draw and extra-time, after they had come back from six points behind with the help of a Chris Conroy goal. Cavan made a promising start, going ahead with scores from Paul O’Connor and Enda Reilly, but the Munster men got on top at midfield, and by the 12th minute there were two ahead, with Dan MacEoin, Brian O’Driscoll, Damien Cahalane and Luke Connolly firing over points. Cavan’s heroic comeback fell just short as Cork held on to book their place in the All-Ireland U21 football final with a 0-15 to 1-11 win. Connolly and Alan Cadogan were on target as the Rebels went 0-6 to 0-3 ahead, but Cavan responded with superb points from Turloc Mooney and Reilly. It was the Munster champions who took a 0-7 to 0-5 lead into the interval, and they went clear in the early stages of the second half, with two Brian Hurley points and scores from Mark Sugrue and MacEoin. But Cavan were right back in it in the 53rd minute when Conroy fired in the only goal of the game. Moynagh brought the sides level, and in a heart-stopping finish, both sides were awarded frees. McEoin nailed his, but a much more difficult effort curled wide off the boot of Reilly, who had been brought back. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Bosch advice boosts North

first_imgDutch sprint coach Frans Bosch will take a slice of the credit if George North plays another starring role for the British and Irish Lions on Saturday. North added: “I was just a schoolboy when I met him and I just used to run over the b******, but now I know how to angle my runs. I have a lot more confidence now. I think I showed that with my try (last Saturday). I gathered the ball and I thought about setting up the ruck, but it just opened up for me and I was able to finish it off. “You do a lot of work on phase play, but sometimes it’s nice when something like that just comes off.” If North breaches the Wallabies defence again on Saturday, one thing he will not be doing is repeating a finger-wagging celebration – scrum-half Will Genia was Australia’s final defender on the receiving end – however much it might mean to him. Lions tour manager Andy Irvine was among those who offered a few words in North’s ear once the dust had settled on a memorable win. “I’ve apologised,” North added. “I can’t really explain what I did. I just got caught up in the whole emotion of it all. Looking back, I do feel horrendous for doing it, and I will need to live with that. I will take it on the chin.” North expects no let-up in the pace and ferocity on Saturday, especially as Australia know they have to win or see their series hopes evaporate. “For them this weekend it is do-or-die, so we know they are going to come at us. The pace is going to be higher again,” he added. “We are just focusing on the rugby, it’s not our job to talk it up. We came here with one common goal, and that was to win the Test series.” Press Associationcenter_img North lit up the Test series against Australia with a blistering 60-metre solo try in last Saturday’s opener, which underpinned a 23-21 Lions victory. Wales wing North will again be a key component in the Lions’ attacking armoury at the Etihad Stadium, where victory would secure Test series glory one game inside the distance. And the 21-year-old has put much of his rapid progress down to biomechanics expert Bosch, whose varied roles include being sprint consultant to the Wales rugby squad. “Frans is a speed man, and while it doesn’t happen overnight I have got faster since meeting him,” North said. “I am getting the rewards now.” last_img read more

Baines is vital – Martinez

first_img Press Association Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes Leighton Baines is vital to the club’s future and has warned Manchester United he will fight to keep the England international. The Spaniard described the 28-year-old defender as “phenomenal” and said the standard he had produced over the last couple of years made him the best left-back in the country. Everton have turned down a £12million bid from United after David Moyes returned to his old club in an attempt to cherry-pick one of their prized assets. While that offer was rebuffed, the Old Trafford club are expected to come back with a significantly improved figure but Everton have stressed Baines is not for sale and want him to extend his contract beyond the existing two years he has remaining. center_img Baines is about to enter his seventh year at Goodison Park and Martinez believes the Kirkby-born player has become the standard bearer for everything the club represents. “Leighton is a phenomenal performer and has become a very consistent player for Everton,” he said. “A lot of people get upset when other clubs show interest in their players but I feel it is compliment. Leighton is vital for our future and what we are going to achieve at the club. “The level that he has been reaching over the last few years consistently shows me that he is the best left-back in the country.” Martinez is focusing on making additions to his squad not worrying about potential departures. The Spaniard is keen to bring in the right characters and while he insists he will not be rushed in that search two arrivals are imminent. Press Association Sport understands deals for his former Wigan players Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz are almost done. Striker Kone is likely to cost the Toffees £5million but centre-back Alcaraz will arrive on a free transfer once his contract has been finalised. “They are players that I know really, really well. I worked with them really closely and they are players that are used to the Premier League and the British game,” he told evertontv. “You will always get those sorts of situations but at the moment we are still looking to try to bring the right characters to the football club. “We need to remember that we have a very strong team at the club, but in the same way we don’t want to close the window without feeling stronger than we were when the window opened. I’m sure that we will have many other names mentioned and hopefully we are going to get the right characters to represent our football club.” last_img read more