Wilder, Fury ready to rumble in LA showdown

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Deontay Wilder shouts at Tyson Fury during the press conference ahead of their title fight in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
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Tyson Fury during the press conference in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
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Wilder and Fury face off in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
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Fury holds forth in Los Angeles. (Reuters)
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Promoter Frank Warren and Fury. (Reuters)
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Fury flexes. (AP Photo)
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Wilder focuses. (Reuters)
Updated 30 November 2018
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Wilder, Fury ready to rumble in LA showdown

  • At the age of 33, Wilder has compiled an impressive record which includes 40 victories, no defeats, with 39 knockouts
  • Fury, the trash-talking Gypsy King is also unbeaten, with 27 wins from 27 fights, 19 inside the distance

LOS ANGELES: Deontay Wilder will aim to rekindle America’s love affair with heavyweight boxing on Saturday when he faces Britain’s Tyson Fury in a high-stakes showdown of undefeated fighters.
As the reigning World Boxing Council champion, Wilder is the latest custodian of a belt which has been worn by some of the heavyweight division’s most iconic names stretching back over more than 50 years.
Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson head the who’s who of Wilder’s predecessors, evoking an era when heavyweight boxing was an integral part of the US sporting landscape.
Yet as Wilder prepares for the eighth defense of a title he has held since 2015, he remains a virtual unknown.
At the age of 33, Wilder has compiled an impressive record which includes 40 victories, no defeats, with 39 knockouts.
But his unblemished record and undeniable punching power have yet to capture the imagination of American sports fans.
Even now, three years into his reign as champion, he is sometimes mistaken for NBA superstar LeBron James.
That could change on Saturday when the 6ft 7in Wilder faces off against Fury, the trash-talking “Gypsy King” who is also unbeaten, with 27 wins from 27 fights, 19 inside the distance.
For Wilder, Saturday’s fight at the Staples Center is an opportunity to announce himself to a significant audience.
It is the first time he is the feature attraction on a pay-per-view television card. An explosive display against Fury will burnish his box-office appeal.
“America has a mighty man in me,” Wilder boasted at an ill-tempered press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday. “America has the baddest man on the planet.
“I put in the hard work to make it here. I’ve grinded and worked. There’s no way I’m going to let a man come from another country and take what I’ve been building.”
Victory for Wilder or Fury will thrust them to the front of the queue to face Britain’s Anthony Joshua, holder of the International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization heavyweight belts.
While several obstacles would need to be overcome before a money-spinning Joshua fight can happen, the clamour for a unification bout could become irresistible.
For Joshua’s eventual challenger to be Wilder, he must overcome the imposing 6ft 9in frame of Fury, a man on a mission who returned to the ring in April after a two-year absence following a battle with depression, drink and drug abuse.
Three years ago, Fury stunned the boxing world after defeating champion Wladimir Klitschko to claim the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO and lineal titles.
The high of that victory however was to be followed by a descent into despair. Fury, who was subsequently stripped of those belts amid two failed drug tests, recently revealed he had tried to commit suicide.
“I just wanted to die so bad, I gave up on life,” Fury said.
But with his demons overcome, and his license restored, Fury returned earlier this year, stopping Albanian journeyman Sefer Seferi after four rounds in April before outpointing little-known Francesco Pianeta in August.
Whether those two fights are adequate preparation for the challenge of Wilder remains to be seen.
While former heavyweight champions such as Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson believe Fury has the skill and power to overcome Wilder, other fighters fear the bout has come too early in his comeback.
“I’m always going to be rooting for the Union Jack,” said British heavyweight Dereck Chisora. “But I believe Fury has taken the fight too early...when he gets hit by Wilder, it’s goodnight.”
Fury, true to form, is having none of it.
“I’m going to box his face off,” Fury said. “On Saturday night, Deontay Wilder is going to be known as the guy who got knocked out by Tyson Fury,” added the Briton, gleefully mocking Wilder for his relatively low profile among US sports fans.
“He needs me. He’s made seven defenses but he’s still unknown in this country. I went down the street yesterday and asked 50 people if they knew who Deontay Wilder was and only two said they did, and they were boxing fans.”
Lewis and Holyfield, meanwhile, believe Fury’s chances of victory will hinge on his ability to take the fight into the later rounds while evading Wilder’s right hand.
Wilder, however, demonstrated he is more than capable of lasting over the distance with a gutsy 10th round knockout of the dangerous Cuban Luis Ortiz in March.
The American, who looked authentically angered by Fury in Wednesday’s face off, promised a brutal finish.
“I’m gonna beat his ass and then knock him out,” Wilder said. “I promise you this, he will go down. I don’t know when it’s coming. But it’s coming.”


KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

Updated 19 March 2019
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KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

  • Young Saudi triumphant at Open International Tournament despite just two years of training
  • Zahra Al-Qurashi took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi

JEDDAH: Zahra Al-Qurashi never expected to be where she is today: A gold medal winner in full contact kickboxing at the Open International Tournament for Clubs aged just 21. What started out as a gym class two years ago soon turned into a passion, leading to her victory in Amman on Sunday.

“I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym. I found the class and gave it a try, and decided to keep attending the classes,” she said. “A year ago, I joined Flagboxing Gym, and started training with my coach Grethe (Kraugerud). With her help, I developed my style and I am improving every day.”

Full contact is a discipline of kickboxing where punches and kicks must be delivered to legal areas of the body. According to the World Association for Kickboxing Organizations’ rules, it is legal to attack the front of the head and front and side of the torso, using “ankle-level foot sweeps.” It is prohibited to attack the throat, lower abdomen, back, legs, joints, back of the head and top of the shoulders.

A medal at her first international competition, then, speaks volumes about Al-Qurashi’s tenacity. She took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi.

“As soon as I entered the ring, everything went blank, I couldn’t hear or see anyone but my opponent, so I don’t really recall hearing my name even,” said Al-Qurashi. “I got a couple of really good kicks and punches, but she was a good opponent. I was in my own zone though, following every move and made sure I didn’t make mistakes.”

Zahra Al-Quraishi, 21, is already a gold medal winner at an international event despite being a virtual rookie in the demanding sport of kickboxing. (Supplied photos)

Hala Al-Hamrani, the owner of Flagboxing Gym in Jeddah, said: “I am over the moon. I have dreamt about this happening for 16 years, ever since I started coaching. My goal was to eventually provide the ladies of this country with an opportunity to compete.”

For approximately two months, Kraugerud, from Norway, oversaw Al-Qurashi’s workouts, adding more sparring, interval training and intense ring practice.

“I’ve had Zahra spar with men, who are bigger and stronger than her, to give her a sense of what to expect in the ring, to give her more confidence and make her mentally prepared,” said Kraugerud. “I was very proud of her as she entered the ring, you could see the respect for the sport reflected in her. We did a really good job at Flag, we really pushed for this together as a team. She’s young, but she’s talented and she will go far.”

Al-Hamrani, a member of the Saudi Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Federation, added: “We got her ready by providing her with the right practice and training. It’s a dream come true and it’s very overwhelming because it was such a long process for something like this to happen. Zahra is an up-and-coming athlete who hopefully has a long future and I’m extremely excited to see what that future holds.”

Abdul Aziz Julaidan, chairman of the Saudi MMA Federation, hailed the result after a tough bout between the two competitors, and thanked Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sport Authority, for the support he had given to the team.

Upon returning to her hometown of Jeddah, Al-Qurashi was greeted by her mother. “I was hugging her and crying and mom, being mom, asked if I was crying because I got hit,” she laughed. “That was her way of saying: I’m proud of you.”