Floyd Mayweather vs Saul “Canelo” Alvarez Video Preview

September 14th it’s on. Boxing’s pound for pound number 1 Floyd Mayweather (44-0) will duel with the rising Mexican phenom Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The hype level is off the charts for what will be the biggest fight of the year, with several box office records under threat. This preview video created by the the formidable Gorilla Productions does the fight justice.

 

Five for Flushing Meadows: U.S. Open Predictions

It’s late August and once again time for the grand finale of the tennis grand slam season; the U.S. Open. Trying to come up with five solid predictions for the Open is a hard task given the unpredictable nature of the last grand slam we witnessed at the All England Club; Wimblegeddon as some have dubbed it, but here it is: my attempt to forecast a fortnight in Flushing Meadows

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1)Starting with the obvious perhaps, a final between the two top female players in the world, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka is on the cards. “Vika” edged out Serena in an entertaining encounter a week ago in Cincinnati to snatch the title.  Elsewhere this year Serena has been…well Serena. Enjoying a career year in terms of match wins, the world number one has stormed to a mark of 60 wins and 4 losses. However, it is Azarenka who boasts the best record in all of women’s tennis on hard courts (25-1) and a grand slam win on the surface at the Australian Open. The pair’s superiority on hard courts and the absence of a certain Maria Sharapova who is out injured means you shouldn’t be shocked in the slightest if Williams and Azarenka square up for a second straight final on the tournament’s second Saturday.

2) Roger Federer should limp into the quarter-finals despite having recently slipped down the rankings to 7th in the world. Out of sorts and jaded are two words that you wouldn’t normally associate with the Swiss master but since his second round loss at Wimbledon to little known Ukranian Sergiy Stakhovsky he has been just that.  After being bounced early in minor tournaments, Hamburg and Gstaad, he finally managed to string 4f61two wins together last week in Cincinnati. Despite his horrendous year (By his lofty standards) so far it is well known that Federer loves the bright lights and speedy courts of New York City. As a 5 time champion he’ll have plenty of memories to draw inspiration from and should successfully navigate his way through the draw, tip toeing around any upsets to reach the quarters where he could be met by a familiar foe: Rafael Nadal.

3) It’s taken a long time but the face of men’s tennis is finally getting a little younger. This youth charge is being led by a trio of talented 22 Year Olds; Milos Raonic of Canada, Jerzy Janowickz of Poland and Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. Remember these names. All three have had their signature moments this season; Raonic reaching the final earlier this Summer at home in Montreal to break into the world’s top 10, Janowickz blasting his way into the Wimbledon Semi-Finals the first man from Poland to do so and Dimitrov upsetting the world number one Novak Djokovic in Madrid. Come tomorrow the race is on. Who will make their mark at Flushing Meadows? The highest ranked of the three, bomb serving Raonic? The versatile, elegant Dimitrov? Or the 6ft 8 man who moves like he’s 8 inches smaller whilst also serving bombs, Janowicz? One MilosRaonicthing is certain; at least one of these prodigious talents will make the headlines.     Jerzy-Janowicztennis-dimitrov-543x199

4) Laura Robson is unlikely to replicate last year’s run– cue the sighs of resignation from British Tennis fans. Robson’s journey into the top 30 of the women’s game (her career high is 27) has yielded some eye-catching results this year, most notably reaching the last 16 at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open. When Robson hangs up her racket she’ll most certainly remember her unexpected breakout success last year at the U.S. Open. Behind her hefty serve and forehand she toppled two grand slam champions in three days, Kim Clijsters and Li Na, smiling all the way. Things aren’t looking so sunny for Robson this year though. Coming off the back of a wrist injury, the 19 year old has only played one tune up match in preparation for the tournament. Not even the zeal of youth can make up for a lack of match fitness and with a rematch against Li Na on the cards, the third round looks to be the limit for Robson.

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5) Novak Djokovic should find a way to stop the Nadal hot streak in the final despite all the headlines screaming  “Nadal the man to beat” and rightfully so. This season we’ve witnessed the rise of “Nadal 3.0. the hard court avenger”. Since his return from injury in February he has been beastly. So beastly that he remains undefeated on his most hated surface: the North American hard courts – winning back to back titles in Montreal and Cincinnati. Hold on though, before we all jump on the Nadal bandwagon it is worth pointing out that this is New York, this is a hard court slam, and this is Djokovic territory. He is likely to reach his 4th straight final in New York, most likely beating the defending champion Andy Murray in the semis. There barring an upset, he should face Nadal in their 3rd U.S. Open final, with one win apiece from the first two. The reason I feel Novak will overcome the surging Spaniard is simple; Nadal needs to play his absolute best to beat Djokovic on a hard court. He did just that in the semi-final of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal, but can he produce that same efficient and aggressive tennis over 5 sets? The jury is still out on that one.Image

Un-Boltable

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For 9.77 seconds Bolt silenced the whispers surrounding the 100 metres, storming to Gold at the World Championships

On the biggest stages the biggest stars always perform. Usain Bolt, the poster boy for entertainment and excellence in track and field, proved this once again with an emphatic victory in the 100 metre final of the Athletics World Championships in Moscow. On an evening that was very much billed as Bolt vs the Record Books,and a depleted field of opponents, the great man did not disappoint. A typically self-assured display saw Bolt cross the line in a time of 9.78 seconds; later rounded down to 9.77; impressive given the damp track and rainy conditions.

The finale: Bolt celebrating with the Jamaican flag draped around his shoulders in his trademark “to di world” pose after yet another global championship final victory belied the controversy that had dogged the build-up to the event . It has been a dark year for athletics’ blue riband event. There was no hiding the fact the fact Tyson Gay the man who had run the three fastest 100 metre times of the season, including a blistering 9.75 at the U.S. Championships, was missing from the field. The sporting world was shocked when he announced on 14th July that the had failed an out of competition drugs test and that he would subsequently withdraw from the world championships. As if that wasn’t enough, on the same day it was also revealed Asafa Powell, the fourth quickest 100 metre runner of all time had tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. Although Powell would not have competed at the 2013 World Championships, revelations of doping on what was perhaps the darkest day in the history of 100 metre sprinting since Ben Johnson was stripped of his Gold Medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics left a bad taste in the mouth and lingering questions surrounding the credibility of the event.

With three of the four quickest men of all time having been banned for some sort of infringement of IAAF anti-doping rules and regulations, fears persist about Bolt’s ability to avoid falling foul of the testers. After all Powell and Gay both claim they were unaware of their transgressions and that people in their respective camps “let them down”, somehow allowing banned substances to enter their bodies. Bolt’s answer to the dreaded doping question was emphatic on and off the track. He stated; ” I am confident in myself and my team, the people I work with. And I know I am clean.” He also pointed critics to his track record arguing  “If you were following me since 2002 you would know that I have been doing phenomenal things…I was the youngest person to win the world juniors at 15. I ran the world junior [200] record 19.93 at [17] … I have broken every record there is to break, in every event I have ever done…I have shown everything throughout the years since I was always going to be great.”Image

It was fitting that yesterday Bolt’s main antagonist was none other than Justin Gatlin. The 2004 Olympic Champion is perhaps the sport’s most hated “drugs cheat”. He returned to the circuit in 2011 after a four year ban for testing positive for testosterone.  In the eyes of many he has played the role of pantomime villain ever since. Barking “let’s go” on the start line, it was obvious Gatlin was pumped up and confident. He even had an early season victory over a still rusty Bolt in Rome to his credit. The stage was set for good vs. evil, Bolt vs. Gatlin. The starting gun sounded and Gatlin sprang out of the blocks and powered through the first half of the race, leaving Bolt playing catch up. Then the 6 time Olympic gold medallist did what he does best; making use of his long, regal strides and swallowing up the track with each step. He eclipsed his American rival and the rest of the field to regain the World Championship he forfeited to Yohan Blake via a false start in 2011. Gatlin finished second in a time of 9.85 seconds and third was Bolt’s Jamaican compatriot Nesta Carter who clocked a time of 9.95 seconds. British hope James Dasaolu slumped to an 8th place finish despite his promising semi-final run. Nevertheless, based on his sudden ascendency this year one can be sure that it won’t be long before Dasaolu gets the chance to improve on that lacklustre display. For now we can rest assured that in a season soured by doping scandals and on an evening dampened by pouring rain, Bolt’s prowess erased the harsher details of recent events. In 10 seconds, (9.77 to be exact) we were treated to a stunning visual reminder of the 26 year old Jamaican’s mastery of the 100 metre sprint.