Usyk beats Fury in Riyadh ‘Ring Of Fire’ showdown to become undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion

Usyk beats Fury in Riyadh ‘Ring Of Fire’ showdown to become undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion
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With his victory over Britain's Tyson_Fury in their Riyadh "Ring of Fire" match, Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk joined boxing greats Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Mike Tyson as undisputed heavyweight champion. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
Usyk beats Fury in Riyadh ‘Ring Of Fire’ showdown to become undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion
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With his victory over Britain's Tyson_Fury in their Riyadh "Ring of Fire" match, Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk joined boxing greats Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Mike Tyson as undisputed heavyweight champion. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
Usyk beats Fury in Riyadh ‘Ring Of Fire’ showdown to become undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion
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Oleksandr Usyk celebrates with the belts after winning the fight to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion. (Action Images via Reuters)
Usyk beats Fury in Riyadh ‘Ring Of Fire’ showdown to become undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion
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Oleksandr Usyk celebrates with the belts after winning the fight to become the undisputed heavyweight world champion. (Action Images via Reuters)
Usyk beats Fury in Riyadh ‘Ring Of Fire’ showdown to become undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion
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Oleksandr Usyk in action against Tyson Fury. (Action Images via Reuters)
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Updated 19 May 2024
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Usyk beats Fury in Riyadh ‘Ring Of Fire’ showdown to become undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion

Usyk beats Fury in Riyadh ‘Ring Of Fire’ showdown to become undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion
  • Joins the likes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Mike Tyson as undisputed heavyweight champion
  • Oleksandr Usyk: ‘It is a big opportunity for me, for my family, for my country’

RIYADH: Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk scored a dramatic split decision win against Tyson Fury to become the first undisputed world heavyweight champion in 25 years, an unprecendented feat in boxing’s four-belt era.

In unifying WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF world titles under his belt, joined the likes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Mike Tyson as undisputed heavyweight champion, the first since boxing recognized four major belts in the 2000s.

Britain’s Lennox Lewis was the last man to unify the heavyweight belts — three at the time — after beating Evander Holyfield in 1999.

Riyadh’s newly built Kingdom Arena played host to the boxing event, dubbed ‘Ring of Fire’, with a sellout crowd including several sports and entertainment figures in attendance at the 22,000-capacity venue. Wladimir Klitschko was among the legends watching along with Saudi-based football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, who like boxing are grateful beneficiaries of Saudi Arabia’s lavish push into sports.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the Minister of Sports, and Turki bin Abdulmohsen Alalshikh, Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, were also in attendance.




Tyson Fury came out aggressively but a fired up Usyk gradually took charge and the “Gypsy King” was saved by the bell in the ninth round before slumping to his first career defeat. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)

“It is a big opportunity for me, for my family, for my country,” said Usyk, 37, who briefly served as a soldier after the Russian invasion.
“It’s a great time, a great day,” he said, adding that he was “ready for a rematch.”
Fury called it a “fantastic fight with Oleksandr.”
“I believe I won that fight, I believe he won a few of the rounds, but I won the majority of them,” he said.
“You know his country is at war, so people are siding with the country at war but make no mistake, I won that fight in my opinion and I will be back.”




Tyson Fury, left, believes he won most of the rounds against his Ukrainian opponent. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)

Caution was evident from the boxers as they exchanged punches in the earlier rounds. As they entered the third round, Tyson Fury attempted to land more hits, countered by Oleksandr Usyk’s clear dodging and significant intervention by the referee to break up an illegal clinch.

Usyk got inside with some quick combinations while Fury landed some heavy body shots. By round four, the Mancunian was taunting his ever-advancing opponent and showboating, guard down.
Usyk called two low shots in round five and got caught with a left hook as Fury continued to look comfortable, landing a telling uppercut in the following round and bobbing and weaving to stay out of range.

The cautious rhythm continued, with Fury having a clear advantage until the eighth round, when Usyk launched a strong attack from the start, buoyed by the supportive cheers from the crowd.

A Usyk barrage had Fury in serious trouble and the wobbling, bleeding Mancunian took a standing count before being saved by the bell.




A fired-up Fury came running out of his corner to start the fight, keeping the shorter Usyk back with his jab. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)

Usyk maintained this strength until the 11th round, nearly securing the win in the 10th round when Fury fell, prompting the referee to count before Fury got back up to continue the fight. The final round saw early attempts to secure a win, but the decision of the three judges favored Oleksandr Usyk, with split decision.

Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk believed that the Ukrainian was denied a knock-out victory when the referee stepped in as Fury looked about to hit the deck in round nine.
“I believe the referee saved Tyson from a knock-out and stole the ninth-round knock-out, which should have happened,” Krassyuk said.




Tyson Fury receives medical attention during his fight against Oleksandr Usyk Action. (Action Images via Reuters)

Two judges scored it for Usyk by scores of 115-112 and 114-113 while the third gave it to Fury 114-113. The victory extended Usyk’s professional record to 22-0. After his first loss, Fury stands at 34-1-1.

In the undercard fights, Swedish cruiserweight boxer Robin Siroan Safar kept his unbeaten record by beating former world light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev from Russia

Meanwhile, Ukrainian champion Daniel Lapin secured a victory over boxer Octavio Bodeter, and New Zealand boxer David Nyika convincingly defeated German Michael Seitz to keep his record unblemished as well.

British boxer Isaac Low won the international featherweight belt by defeating Afghan boxer Haseebullah Ahmadi, while British heavyweight Musa Aitoma triumphed over German Anna Amiezensev. German boxer Agit Kabayel also managed to break the winning streak of Cuban Frank Sanchez.




Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk entered the packed Kingdom Arena wearing a green cossack coat and fur hat. (Reuters)

In the lightweight division, British boxer Mark Chamberlain won the World Boxing Council title by defeating Nigerian Joshua wahab.

In the IBF and IBO featherweight championship, British boxer Joe Cordina triumphed over his compatriot Anthony Cacace.




Tyson Fury entered the packed Kingdom Arena full of confidence, not knowing what was in store for him. (Reuters)

Australian boxer Jay Opetaia reclaimed his IBF cruiserweight world title after defeating Latvian Mairis Briedis in a 12-round match, with the decision going in his favor by the judges.

with AFP


UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games

UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games
Updated 55 min 55 sec ago
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UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games

UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games
  • Each federation was charged with “transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event”
  • UEFA also opened a separate investigation into alleged discrimination by Serbia fans

FRANKFURT: UEFA fined the Albanian and Serbian soccer federations 10,000 euros ($10,700) each on Wednesday for fans displaying banners with nationalist maps at European Championship games.
Each federation was charged with “transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event” because they are responsible for the conduct of their fans at stadiums.
Albania fans displayed a banner with a map of their country extending its borders into the territory of neighboring countries. It was shown during the 2-1 loss against Italy on Saturday in Dortmund.
Serbia fans’ banner included the independent territory of Kosovo and a slogan “No Surrender” at a 1-0 loss against England in Gelsenkirchen. A case was prosecuted by FIFA at the 2022 World Cup when players were photographed with a similar banner in their locker room ahead of a game against Brazil.
UEFA also opened a separate investigation into alleged discrimination by Serbia fans. The Kosovo soccer federation field a formal complaint with UEFA.
The Albanian federation was fined a further 27,375 euros ($29,400) for fans lighting flares and fireworks, throwing beer cups and a fan who went on the field.
Fans invading the playing area have been a regular feature in the first week of games at Euro 2024.
UEFA announced the sanctions of its disciplinary panel hours after Albania drew 2-2 with Croatia in their second Group B game.
Serbia’s federation must pay 4,500 euros ($4,800) more for fans throwing beer cups.


Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism

Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism
Updated 19 June 2024
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Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism

Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism
  • The Three Lions men got off to a winning start, but a 1-0 victory over Serbia attracted criticism for not maximizing the use of the attacking talent on offer to England
  • "My world is a happier place if I shut myself off," Southgate said

FRANKFURT: England boss Gareth Southgate said he will ignore media coverage during Euro 2024 as his joy at winning matches lasts just “45 seconds” due to the scrutiny he is under.
The Three Lions men got off to a winning start, but a 1-0 victory over Serbia attracted criticism for not maximizing the use of the attacking talent on offer to England.
Jude Bellingham stole the show with the only goal in Gelsenkirchen, but Phil Foden and Harry Kane were among those who struggled to shine in a slow start by one of the pre-tournament favorites.
“My world is a happier place if I shut myself off,” Southgate said at his pre-match press conference ahead of facing Denmark on Thursday.
“It’s not good from a global perspective because I haven’t got a clue about politics or (world) events, but for the next month that’s going to be a better place for me.”
Under Southgate England have risen back into contention for glory, reaching a final, semifinal and quarter-final in his three attempts at major tournaments.
However, that record has not sheltered him from a backlash at times due to the wealth of talent he has to choose from.
And Southgate conceded there should be more joy in leading his country.
“We’ve had some good results over the years so maybe even we take wins for granted. I should let the boys enjoy it more than they do,” he added.
“I get about 45 seconds of enjoyment. The whistle blows, I cuddle everybody, walk off the pitch and that’s about it. I hope they have a little bit longer than me!
“There should be more joy in it but that’s not my reality if I’m frank. My focus is to get qualified from the group, two tough opponents and two games to achieve that.”
Manchester City defender Kyle Walker said he is also keen to shut out any outside noise — apart from the opinion of his mum.
“I don’t read it at all,” said Walker. “If you have outside noise, positively or negatively, it can have an impact so I’d rather not see it and concentrate on what it’s in camp, what the gaffer says, and mainly what my mum says. She always tells me if I’ve had a good game.”
Victory over Denmark in Frankfurt will secure England’s place in the last 16 with a game to spare.
Luke Shaw remains the only player unavailable to Southgate as he continues his rehabilitation of a calf injury.
The Manchester United left-back has not played at all for club or country since February, but Southgate remains confident Shaw will have a role to play in the tournament.
“Luke won’t be involved tomorrow. He is actually on track for where he was originally.
“He needs a bit more volume work. There are days he needs to do more than the rest of the group and other days he needs to recover.”


Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros

Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros
Updated 19 June 2024
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Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros

Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros
  • Musiala struck for the second game running midway through the first half
  • Julian Nagelsmann’s men can wrap up top spot when they play Switzerland in Frankfurt in their final group fixture on Sunday

STUTTGART, Germany: Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan scored as hosts Germany became the first team to qualify for the last 16 of Euro 2024 on Wednesday after beating Hungary 2-0 in Stuttgart.
Musiala struck for the second game running midway through the first half, much to the anger of Hungary players who felt a foul should have been awarded in the build-up to the goal.
Gundogan grabbed his side’s second on 67 minutes as Germany eased to a second successive win in Group A, making sure they will progress to the knockout phase at least as one of the best third-placed sides.
Julian Nagelsmann’s men can wrap up top spot when they play Switzerland in Frankfurt in their final group fixture on Sunday.
Hungary are staring at elimination after back-to-back defeats and must beat Scotland if they are to stand any chance of reaching the last 16.
Germany unsurprisingly stuck with the same line-up that battered Scotland 5-1 in the first game of the tournament, ending a run of three major finals in which they had lost their opening match.
Hungary coach Marco Rossi made two changes following a disappointing 3-1 loss to Switzerland, bringing Marton Dardai into his three-man defense and starting Bendeguz Bolla at right wing-back.
A dismal first half left Hungary with too much to do against the Swiss and Rossi admitted beating Germany would require a “perfect match” from his team.
Hungary almost struck in the opening seconds as Manuel Neuer raced out to take the ball off the toe of Roland Sallai.
Kai Havertz outmuscled Willi Orban only to be superbly denied by Peter Gulacsi, who thrust out his right hand to deny the Arsenal attacker.
Robert Andrich’s volley from the resulting corner was bravely headed behind by Bolla, but it wasn’t long until Germany’s persistence was rewarded.
Musiala cushioned the ball through for Gundogan and the Germany captain kept the attack alive after jostling with Orban, knocking it back for Musiala to slam in off the crossbar with a touch off Attila Fiola.
Hungary were furious no foul was given for the contact between Gundogan and Orban that knocked the defender to the ground, the goal confirmed after a brief VAR check.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s curling free-kick drew a terrific stop from Neuer soaring to his right, the goalkeeper kicking away the follow-up as Hungary tried to scramble in the rebound.
A key block from Jonathan Tah foiled a second opportunity in quick succession for Szoboszlai, with Musiala then drilling into the side-netting at the other end.
Hungary had the ball in Germany’s net in first-half stoppage time, but Sallai’s effort was ruled out for offside after Neuer palmed away an Orban header.
Gulacsi clawed away a deflected Toni Kroos drive early in the second half before Hungary forward Barnabas Varga, who scored in the loss to Switzerland, nodded narrowly over from an inviting cross.
Germany picked apart the Hungary defense with a patient attack to double their lead just past the hour.
Maximilian Mittelstaedt found space down the left and slid across a pass for Gundogan to sweep home from near the penalty spot.
Niclas Fuellkrug failed to get a finishing touch as Joshua Kimmich powered across the face of goal, with Gulacsi making smart saves to keep out Kimmich and Leroy Sane as Germany sought a third goal.
Julian Nagelsmann withdrew his front three with the game under control to keep them fresh for the Switzerland clash.
Neuer had a nervy moment late on when he spilled a cross, but Kimmich cleared Orban’s shot off the line to preserve the clean sheet for Germany — their first in eight games at the European Championship.


Kylian Mbappé trains at Euro 2024 with bandage on broken nose and social media post causing intrigue

Kylian Mbappé trains at Euro 2024 with bandage on broken nose and social media post causing intrigue
Updated 19 June 2024
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Kylian Mbappé trains at Euro 2024 with bandage on broken nose and social media post causing intrigue

Kylian Mbappé trains at Euro 2024 with bandage on broken nose and social media post causing intrigue
  • “Without risks, there are no victories,” the striker wrote on Instagram
  • “A fractured nose isn’t the end of the world,” midfielder Adrien Rabiot said Wednesday

PADERBORN, Germany: Kylian Mbappé returned to light training Wednesday with a bandage covering his broken nose in the first public appearance by the France superstar since his bloody injury that shook the European Championship.
A cryptic post on social media earlier hours might have provided an insight into Mbappé’s mindset as the world waits to discover how long he will be out of action.
“Without risks, there are no victories,” the striker wrote on Instagram in the only comment so far from Mbappé or the French team management on a day when the Real Madrid-bound player underwent more tests on the nose injury sustained in the 1-0 win over Austria on Monday.
Mbappé emerged for a late-afternoon practice session at the Home Deluxe Arena in Paderborn about 30 minutes after his teammates came out. He was initially seen running with the ball alone, with a trainer, and later speaking to France coach Didier Deschamps, before taking part in a shooting drill with other players.
France’s next match is against the Netherlands on Friday and the team have yet to officially confirm whether Mbappé is available.
Earlier Wednesday, the diagnosis on Mbappé had been fairly encouraging from two of his teammates.
“A fractured nose isn’t the end of the world,” midfielder Adrien Rabiot said Wednesday through a translator at a lunchtime news conference in Paderborn, where France hold their training sessions at Euro 2024, “and Kylian should be with us pretty soon.”
William Saliba said he spoke to Mbappé and reported the striker was feeling a “bit better.”
Mbappé broke his nose when his face collided with the shoulder of Austria defender Kevin Danso. Blood was seen pouring from Mbappé’s badly swollen nose, turning parts of his white France jersey red. He will have to wear a face mask if he plays on at the tournament, his team said.
“I saw him this morning, he was a bit better,” Saliba said through a translator. “I think he was off to do more tests. I don’t know anything more.
“But when I saw him this morning, he was a bit better.”
Rabiot has compared the injury to one suffered by his teammate at Juventus, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. The Poland international broke his nose against Torino in April, underwent surgery and was back in the team the following week.
The widespread expectation is that Mbappé will play a further part at Euro 2024, especially since France’s win over Austria means the team are likely to advance to the knockout stage, which begins on June 29.
France will not be playing their match in the round of 16 before June 30.
Rabiot stressed he didn’t know how long Mbappé will be out, but said “playing without Kylian could be tough.”
“He is a very important teammate and he is our captain, so it will have an effect on us, but also for the opponents — it will be different for them to prepare their game,” Rabiot said.
“I’m not going to hide it, we definitely want him to play. (But) looking at who we have on the bench, I think we have what it takes to replace Kylian. If he’s not there, it’s going to be a bit more tough but I trust all the great players we have on the team.”
Olivier Giroud and Randal Kolo Muani are the options to come in for Mbappé, who was nominally a center forward against Austria but was given license to roam to the left or right. It was from the right wing where he played in the cross for the only goal — a header into his own net by Maximilian Wober.


Brussels refuses to host Belgium-Israel football match over security fears

Brussels refuses to host Belgium-Israel football match over security fears
Updated 19 June 2024
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Brussels refuses to host Belgium-Israel football match over security fears

Brussels refuses to host Belgium-Israel football match over security fears
  • Holding such a match while the war in Gaza was continuing “will undoubtedly provoke large demonstrations and counter-demonstrations”
  • The Belgian Football Federation (URBSFA) said it would have accepted that the match take place behind closed doors

BRUSSELS: Brussels has refused to host a Nations League match between Israel and Belgium on September 6 because it could spark demonstrations, city authorities said on Wednesday.
They said in a statement that holding such a match while the war in Gaza was continuing “will undoubtedly provoke large demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, compromising the safety of spectators, players, Brussels residents and also the police.”
The Belgian Football Federation (URBSFA) said it would have accepted that the match take place behind closed doors but it deeply regretted that the Belgian capital had refused to host the game at all.
“We deplore the decision taken by the City of Brussels — which has a lot of experience of organizing big events — to not organize the match in our stronghold,” the federation said.
The federation said it was in contact with several cities and the security services about finding an alternative venue.
The city of Louvain has already said it would not host the match either.
Concerns were likely raised by the attack in Brussels in October in which an Islamist gunman killed two Swedish football fans, although the motive of the attack was not anti-Semitic.
France and Italy are in the same Nations League Group A2 as Belgium and Israel.