Sunday, April 30, 2017
 photo 05873394-14be-4e3f-b9c7-36ad8e5cfcb0_zpsfytesxay.jpg
Back Page

by James Oddy
by James Oddy
Call me Ishmael. Connor McGregor fighting Floyd Mayweather is sports new white whale. The fight surfaces for air every now and then, and grizzled fight writers and fans, like Ahab aboard the Pequod, sight and, despite our better judgment, set a course for it.

The fight interests and disgusts in almost equal measure. Just like the great white whale could be the death of Ahab and his whole crew, the fight could generate obscene amounts of cash yet land a telling blow to the integrity of both MMA and boxing. For MMA, what happens if its figurehead, McGregor, famed for both his jab in the octagon and his gab outside it, was outclassed? For boxing, what if Mayweather generates his fabled 50-0 against a fighter who had never had a professional boxing match before? What does that say about the lack of stars in boxing? About the talent pool?

I say with certainty Mayweather would get his 50-0 against McGregor because to my mind, and the mind of anyone with even a half knowledge of boxing, any other suggestion is absurd.

MMA and boxing are different disciplines. It’s like suggesting a great goalkeeper such as David De Gea could be a great rugby player because he has to catch and kick a ball in both sports. The whole science and methodology is different.

In MMA, you have the feet, hands, knees and elbows to worry about on approach-you have to worry about a take down or Muay Thai style clinch.

In boxing, it may appear ‘easier’ as you only have to deal with two hands. But they are thrown with an amount of speed, precision and power, the likes of which is beyond most people, which is only achieved after a lifetime dedicated to that craft.

I know why people think McGregor has a chance. He knocks people in UFC out for fun and Mayweather boxes people to ‘boring’ points wins.

People tell themselves that McGregor only needs ‘one’ punch. They underestimate the complete artistry Mayweather has over his craft. If Manny Pacquaio, Marcos Maidana, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alverez, Shane Mosley, Juan Mannuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Zab Judah, Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, all fine boxers, some all time great boxers, couldn’t land a knock out blow, what makes you think McGregor could do so?

Ultimately, McGregor should concentrate on the legacy of his own career, which is a wonderful one in it’s own right. He is a ridiculously talented MMA fighter. He could be, if not the Ali of the sport, the Mike Tyson, the love him/hate him figure which consistently puts eyes on the sport.

As for Floyd, if he must come back, then I would rather he fight Keith Thurman, or Gennady Golovkin. To be frank, I’d rather he fight anyone who is an active boxer.

But the problem, as Ahab discovered, is that once you have that white whale in your sights, it’s impossible to forget about it, no matter how disastrous the consequences may prove to be. Call me intrigued.

0
by James Oddy
by James Oddy

November 19th sees that most rare of events. Two unbeaten, elite, pound for pound contenders in the same weight class, meeting in a squared circle.

The fighters in questions are Andre ‘Son of God’ Ward, (30-0, 15 Kos) and Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs). Kovalev currently holds the WBA, IBF light heavyweight titles, whereas Ward the WBO strap, all of which will all be on the line in the T-Mobile arena on the Las Vegas strip.

The fight is a mouth-watering clash of styles. Kovalev is a brutal boxer puncher, who throws concussive straights, hooks and uppercuts. Despite carrying legitimate knock out power in both mits, he is also an accomplished boxer, although not a stylist by any means. Instead, he uses his power, basic yet effective footwork and high guard to work his opponent into corners, where he unleashes huge shots. The ‘Krusher’ also has a definite mean streak, seemingly prolonging the beating he handed out to rival Jean Pascal (36-4-1) in there 2016 rematch. Even when he can’t land those big shots, he can still win wide on the cards, as seen by his complete domination of living legend Bernard Hopkins (66-7-2) in late 2014.

untitledWard is more of a boxer than a pure puncher, but what a boxer he is. He is wonderfully athletic; a defensive wizard who can also rough house with the best if the fight goes to the trenches. His defence is similar to Floyd Mayweather’s ‘shoulder roll’, and from that he spears out jabs and back hands. Although plagued with inactivity due to promotional issues, Ward still has a superb resume, especially at previous weight of super middleweight. He won the innovative super six tournament in 2010/11, beating the likes of Mikael Kessler, Carl Froch, Sakio Bika and Arthur Abraham, all of whom offered different stylistic challenges. His win over Kessler, the pre-tournament favourite, was particularly impressive, and he completely nullified Froch in the final. Ward then added light heavy weight king Chad Dawson to his list of wins, although it’s worth noting he made Dawson come down in weight for the meeting. Since making the move the light-heavy after a two year layoff, he has beaten an overweight Paul Smith, an undefeated Sullivan Barrera and a solid Alexander Brand.

This is a true super fight, and unlike many we have seen lately, both are more or less at the peak of their powers. Both have some of the game’s best strategists in their corner, ex world champ John David Jackson for Kovalev and the enigmatic Virgil Hunter for Ward. It’s a very tough fight to predict. If Ward restricts Kovalev and prevents him from landing those crunching hooks, I can see him winning a fairly uneventful unanimous decision. If Kovalev lands at any point, but particularly in the early rounds, it could upset Ward’s rhythm and equilibrium and I could see the fight becoming much more open.

Ultimately, if I were forced to make a prediction, and I am, I’ll pick Ward. He is slick, still fresh and his partnership with Hunter is one of modern boxing’s best.

0
by James Oddy
by James Oddy

Big time boxing returned to Leeds arena in April. The headline act, as always, was the super popular Josh Warrington, defending his WBC international featherweight title.

Warrington beat the ultra-tough, tricky Tokyo based Hisashi Amagasa over 12 rounds in front of a rabid crowd, picking up scores of 118-111, 117-111, and, ludicrously, 120-107.

Warrington did win the fight, starting an ending the contest very well, but Amagasa appeared, from ringside at least, to drag himself back into the fight during the middle section. Amagasa flung unorthodox shots with his long arms and his right uppercut landed on more than a few occasions. It has to be said however, Warrington, particularly in the last couple of rounds, landed some hellacious shots on the visitor and Amagasa was clearly wobbled at times.

QCdjB5HwFOTaWQ8X4xMDoxOjBzMTt2bJWarrington was vocal in the aftermath as he feels he is ready for Barry’s IBF champion Lee Selby. The man dubbed the ‘Welsh Mayweather’ would be an extremely hard fight, but the opportunity to stage a world title fight at Elland Road between the pair may be too attractive, financially, for promoter Eddie Hearn to pass up.

The rest of the card had some intriguing fights. The fight of the night was the 12 round war of attrition between Stuey Hall and Rodrigo Guerrero at bantamweight. Guerrero was a former IBF super flyweight champion and after a slow start, showed his championship class with a non-stop display of punching. Hall, however, looked much larger, a natural bantamweight, and few of Guerrero’s shots seemed to worry the Darlington man. Hall smartly boxed off the back foot, but occasionally allowed himself to get dragged into a brawl on the inside or to simply let Guerrero tee off on him. Many ringsiders expected the fight to be adjudged a draw, but three scores of 117-111 allowed Hall to press for another world title shot.

Josh Warrington celebrates his victory over Davide Dieli to win the European Featherweight title contest at the First Direct Arena, Leeds. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday October 4, 2014. See PA story BOXING Leeds. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

The card was huge, lasting over five hours. Of local interest was another victory for classy Bradford welterweight Darren Tetley, who outclassed Casey Blair over 6, referee Howard Foster judging the contest 60-54. Lots of talk along the press row was concerning the progression of Tetley to English title level, and the consensus seemed to be he is more than ready. Tetley has a vocal number of followers in the crowd for a fight on relatively early, and as he steps up the level of opposition, it looks as if he can make an impact on the wider consciousness of Bradford and West Yorkshire.

Doncaster’s Reece Mould also made his debut at super featherweight, flooring Phil Hervey twice in the first round before the referee called it off.

From further afield, London’s Issac Chamberlain and Nottingham’s Russ Henshaw engaged in a wild slugfest between two undefeated cruiserweights. Henshaw was dropped in the first, but wore Chamberlain down, resulting in the Londoner being docked a point for persistent holding. Chamberlain looked to be worn out, but managed a second wind, and in the 6th and final round, began unloading on Henshaw. With the referee attempting to jump in, the towel also came sailing in from Henshaw’s corner.

 

0
by James Oddy
by James Oddy

Of all the mega fight of recent years, Khan vs Canelo is the most left field. It was widely expected that the Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was due to take on Gennady Golovkin in a fight for (more or less) the unified middleweight title. Khan, after missing out on the big names of Mayweather Jr and Pacquiao, was expected to finally agree to a domestic dust up with Kell Brook at welterweight. Instead, with little notice, the imminent fight was announced raking even the most knowledgeable insider by surprise.

Many immediately congratulated Khan for his bravery, jumping up two weight divisions. Many also questioned his sanity. Yet in many ways the fight is a smart move from Khan. He has repeatedly said he only wants the very biggest fights from now on. The biggest name in boxing after Mayweather and Pacquiao is now Canelo. Alvarez is a fine boxer but isn’t perfect, and has had issues with slippery boxers who refuse to stand and trade with him. Khan’s fast hands, explosive foot movement and unpredictable angles could provide that. The big worry is Khan’s chin, which badly exposed at lighter weights, handles the jump up. Alvarez’s knockout of James Kirkland last year was arguably the best of last year. Kirkland also has a subject chin but he’s a natural middleweight and an inside fighter who was left pole axed.

saul-canelo-alvarez-boxing-amir-khan_3423670I personally think Khan can win. Even if he loses somewhat respectively, his stock should rise. In the past, Khan had the admirable yet suicidal tendency to fight fire with fire when hurt. Virgil Hunter has largely removed that from his game and had him fighting more tactical, defensive fights. I expect the plan for Khan to be to dart in, unleash flurries and dart out. He’ll have to box off the back foot and employ plenty of lateral movement.

The issue might be if Khan were to win. He’d either have to fight destroyer Golovkin or vacate, I suspect he’d do the latter – but then his only option would be cut back in weight to welterweight or light middle. History has shown the difficulties of dropping down in weight considerably. Just look at what it did to the great Roy Jones.

Alvarez%20Khan%20Boxing(2)Should a fight with Brook happen, it could be Brook, still to have a real war in his career save for his title winning victory over Shawn Porter, against a shop-worn and cashing out Khan. From a boxing fans perspective, that would be a tragedy. It’d also deprive the sport of Alvarez vs Golovkin.

All told, the fight is as intriguing as much for what could happen outside the ring as in it. My heart wants Khan to triumph, an exciting boxing who’s been unlucky to not get the big fights the public wanted him to get. My head says the bigger, stronger Canelo, by mid round KO.

0
by James Oddy
by James Oddy

Very little about David Haye is conventional. Articulate, opinionated and a superb athlete, he made a career out of making his own choices and dictating his own terms in and out of the ring. And it appears he’s back… and as unconventional as ever.

Weighing in significantly heavier than ever before and looking in great shape, Haye made light work out of knocking out over matched Australian Mark De Mori on Freeview channel Dave and in an apparently sold out 02 arena inside one round last month.

My first reaction was, why this had even happened. Haye, at 35, had already claimed he would be gone from the sport at 31. He still came back to beat Derek Chisora in an entertaining fight, but his chronic shoulder problems had apparently forced him into retirement, regardless if he wanted to fight on or not.

david-haye-dereck-chisora_3378522As De Mori was left unconscious in the ring, for the first time in a long time watching the sport, I felt uncomfortable at seeing someone in that condition. I’m sure De Mori was well paid, believed he could win and I applaud anyone at any level who has the guts to get into a ring. After three and a half years out, an easier fight for Haye was always sensible. But De Mori was so obviously over matched from even the most cursory glance at his record that what was to gain from a sporting perspective, was lost on me. It’s worth noting as well that Ray Leonard, had a three year ‘retirement’ before fighting all-time great Marvin Haggler, and he had only fought once in the previous five years. Floyd Mayweather also had a two year absence before beating the similarly talented Juan Manuel Marquez. So whilst I can’t begrudge Haye an easier fight on his return, it isn’t always the ‘done thing’ in the sport.

Haye has always carried power and that’s something, which rarely leaves a boxer, regardless of age and condition. But what made Haye so brilliant to watch was that power aligned with speed and explosiveness. Did that fight allow him to exhibit that? Not really, as De Mori shelled up and immediately allowed himself to be trapped against the ropes and in the corner.

joshua99_3215947Despite my reservations, his new trainer Shane McGuigan is an elite level operator and must truly believe that Haye still have the ability to challenge at the top end of the division. Domestic showdowns with Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury would be blockbuster events both financially and perhaps in the ring. And fights against more fringe name such as David Price and Dillian Whyte probably wouldn’t fail in generate a fair amount of interest either.

A fit and motivated Haye is a privilege to have in the division and I hope we see him back out again soon. My hope is however, that we see him in the ring against someone who can show the fans what he really has left in the tank.

As McGuigan ponders on his man’s chances against the man of the moment Anthony Joshua, he concludes; “I think it’s 100 per cent from our point of view that the Anthony Joshua fight will happen. When Joshua gets to that position though, will he be ready? Will he be able to deal with the lateral movement? Can he hit a moving target? He’s never hit a moving target, he’s never fought somebody who’s slipping and sliding. When David does that he comes back with big shots and he’s quick. It’s an interesting fight and I’m definitely backing my man to knock him out.”

0
by Aroosa Munir
by Aroosa Munir

Leicester City’s dream campaign shows no signs of stopping. The Foxes sit at the number two spot of the Premier League (2 points off Arsenal), despite starting the season as one of the favourites to be relegated.

The Foxes incredible form has been the undisputed success story of the Premier League so far this season. But how has the club, only promoted to England’s elite division in 2014 after a 10-year absence, done it? “They will fall away eventually. It will never last.” This was and still is in some parts, the common view on Leicester City’s position as in the Premier League.

iHowever, branding their season as ‘pure luck’ is a bit unfair. For a start, leading goal scorer Jamie Vardy has struck 15 times in the league this term, the same tally as La Liga superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo combined until recently. There is no ‘luck’ in that.

Meanwhile, Foxes midfielder Riyad Mahrez (a bargain buy from French club Le Havre), has scored an incredible 13 times putting him ahead of Tottenham’s dynamic Harry Kane who has found the back of the net 11 times.

leicester-city-fc-directors-box-goal-celebrationIn addition to this, the decision to appoint the experienced Claudio Ranieri was questioned and even mocked. This was a manager who had just failed spectacularly with his first attempt at international management, losing four and drawing one of his five matches in charge of Greece, with the last these defeats coming at home to the Faroe Islands. Despite having taken charge of Chelsea, Valencia, Juventus, Napoli, Fiorentina, Atlético Madrid, Roma and Internazionale, he has just two domestic trophies and no top-flight league titles to his name. Leicester’s quality, team spirit and togetherness, forged by Pearson, has been further encouraged by his successor and is at the heart of the success story.

With all that said and done, Leicester City were the Premier League’s Christmas number one. Money may talk very loudly in the Premier League but it clearly doesn’t say everything. The ‘filthy rich’ clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, are currently trailing behind the East Midland team.

Navigating obstacles ahead of them would surely bring a few more believers but there are some obvious concerns. Leicester have fielded just 21 different players in the league this season. Only struggling Swansea have deployed fewer and Ranieri plainly does not share his rivals’ capacity to freshen up the pack when the fixtures come thick and fast. Vardy and Mahrez started 26 and 25 Premier League games, respectively, last season; both are on course to be virtually ever-present this time around too. Will there come a point where they will burn out? Or ‘blip’? Who do Leicester turn to then?

Many questions are unanswered and many doubts are still in the back of people’s minds. There is still a fair degree of scepticism surrounded the Foxes’ blistering start to the season as many pundits firmly believed it wouldn’t last, but the results the players continue to achieve, show it was no flash in the pan. Impostors, pretenders, or bang on course for the most audacious title heist of the Premier League era? It is a question that nobody quite seems sure what to do with. In an age that fortifies us all with the tools for strident opinion forming, Leicester have disarmed everybody.

As Ranieri aptly sums up the situation, “Why can’t we continue to run, run, run? We are like Forrest Gump. Leicester is Forrest Gump. I give you the headline there.”

0

by James Oddy

2015 was a magical year for British boxing. Newly crowned world champions and entertaining mouth-watering domestic fights, British boxers are enjoying a golden era. Here we look back at which boxing personalities rose to the pinnacle in 2015.

INTERNATIONAL BOXER OF THE YEAR – Tyson Fury
Tyson FuryLove him or loathe him, the Lancastrian giant shocked the world in late November by beating Wladimir Klitschko. Many felt Fury would get blown away; some felt he would be out-boxed by a long term world champion. Instead, Fury moved intelligently and made Wladimir look old in the process, catching him with considered counter shots. In a year where the sport has seen a passing of the guard, this was the most unexpected and all the more thrilling for it.
Runners ups; Roman Gonzalez, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Saul Alvarez

Nick BlackwellDOMESTIC BOXER OF THE YEAR – Nick Blackwell
Blackwell is proof that a defeat doesn’t have to mean the end for a young boxer. With no amateur experience outside of the world of unlicensed fighting, the Wiltshire man learnt on the job, gaining credit for pushing the likes of Billy Joe Saunders and Martin Murray hard despite not picking up the win. This year he picked up the British middleweight title against big hitting John Ryder, before beating talented and unbeaten Leeds based southpaw Damon Jones in an engaging fight. He rounded the year off with a challenging encounter with extremely late replacement Jack Arnfield, showing that he has a great ring IQ alongside a superb engine.
Runners ups: Sam Eggington, Anthony Joshua, Callum Smith.

Takashi Miura of Japan (L) defends against Francisco Vargas of Mexico (R) during their WBC super featherweight title fight on November 21, 2015 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vargas, knocked down in the fourth round for the first time in his career, went on dethrone Miura with a ninth round TKO. AFP PHOTO / JOHN GURZINSKI

FIGHT OF THE YEAR – Francisco Vargas TKO9 Takashi Miura
Perhaps not two house hold names, but this WBC featherweight clash was a brilliant mesh of styles. Vargas stalked Miura around the ring, unleashing blistering combinations. But the heavy handed Japanese champion stood his ground and unloaded huge shots. The pair were cut, hurt and knocked down, until Vargas found a second wind to pick up the win and the title.
Runners up; Matthysee Wpts Provodnkov, Glazoowki KO11 Marco Huck, Lea Sant Cuz WPts Abner Mares.

Ovil McKenziSURPRISE OF THE YEAR – Ovil McKenzie
The veteran cruiserweight carried on the momentum he acquired with a British title victory at the back end of 2014 into 2015. He defended his title twice, and then stepped in almost at the last moment to fight for the IBF world title against hometown man Victor Ramirez. McKenzie correctly nicknamed ‘The upsetter’ almost pulled off one of the great Brit abroad victories, leaving Argentina with a disputed split draw.
Runner up: Ryan Farrag, Sean Dodd

0

by James Oddy

Boxing and boxers are built on hype. Some boxers never get the publicity, money or fights that they deserve because they ultimately don’t justify the risk/reward for an established fighter. On the other hand, some boxers will continue to get big pay days regardless of how much they deserve them, because they represent guaranteed money for everyone involved.

hi-res-183178694-anthony-joshua-catches-emanuele-leo-during-their_crop_northYou rarely get many 50/50 fights these days at the elite level, which is a crying shame. The likes of Provodnikov/Matthyssee, McDonnel/Kameda are exceptions rather than the rule.

I recently read a book called ‘Road to Nowhere’ by ex-boxing news editor, Tris Dixon, in which he travels the USA meeting retired ex-boxers, mainly from the 50s to the 80s. What stands out is the amount of times boxers, from prospects to world champions, were pitched into 50/50 fights. Sometimes they won, and sometimes they lost, but either way the fans were attracted to the spectacle.

Whereas the hype of the boxing business used to be built on the quality of the fight taking place, or the proven fighting ability of the men competing, it is almost entirely revolves now around a boxers win/loss record.

54e0f09398975-JOSHUA_1822967aThe moment somebody is beaten, they are derided as being a ‘bum’ who has been ‘exposed’. Many people have written off George Groves following his recent loss to Badou Jack and consecutive losses to Car Froch. But all three fights were competitive and entertaining, and there is a great possibility that Groves could learn and grown from those experiences.

This fear of losing and therefor losing box office appeal now seems to affect people at all levels of the sport. Kell Brook proved to have elite level ability when he beat Shawn Porter, but has since underwhelmed somewhat in his choice of defences.

Similarly, Anthony Joshua’s progress is hard to judge. He is on the cusp of becoming a crossover star and has thus far been handled brilliantly. But the lack of any real 50/50 fights on his record makes it hard to judge at just what level he can attain. He certainly looks like world champion material, and matching somebody like that must be incredibly tough. But I think fans as whole would prefer to see Joshua in with an Ustinov, Tony Thompson or a Bermaine Stivernie rather than another one round blow out of an over matched opponent.

Of course, Dillian Whyte vs Joshua may prove to be just that, a fight that helps spectators understand just how high Joshua’s potential is. I expect Whyte to be a solid test for the Olympian.

Almost every boxer I’ve come across seems sincerely to be willing to take on anyone. I don’t think anyone could make it as a pro boxer, from domestic to world level, if they weren’t committed, skilful and above all, tough. I think the majority of boxers want 50/50 fights as often as possible because it fulfils their competitive instincts. As usual, it is the promoters, managers, governing bodies and ‘advisors’ who seem to complicate matters and throw up roadblocks.

 

0

by Aroosa Munir

Here’s a preview of the 2015/2016 Premier League and a look at the best signings who could determine where the title ultimately goes.

The Premier League’s elite are off on their pre-season tours and the start of the season is fast approaching, which means it’s time for you to think about your star players and pull out your football shirts and scarves.

With the Premier League kick-off fast approaching, the country’s top clubs have been quietly preparing for the new season. The squads are taking shape for the new Premier League season, and some signings have been more impressive than others.

Whether it is a big-money arrival or a clever addition to a team, new signings all serve their purpose for managers hungry to build on what happened last season or establish a new beginning. But which players have been the best arrivals?

SWANSEA, WALES - SEPTEMBER 20: Nathaniel Clyne of Southampton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Southampton at Liberty Stadium on September 20, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

Nathaniel Clyne

We’ve often heard grumblings about “the English premium”, a price tag placed on young native players that makes them far more expensive than their foreign players and so when you can snap up a 24-year-old current England international for £12.5 million, that has to be a cause for celebration. Right-back Nathaniel Clyne plays in a position where Liverpool struggled last season and cried out for a right-back like Clyne, and as a proven Premier League performer, he instantly improves Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Gerard DeulofeuGerard Deulofeu

Another signing which may go unseen is Everton’s of Gerard Deulofeu. Everton supporters spent more time on the edges of their seats than sitting in them during Gerard Deulofeu’s loan spell at Goodison Park in the 2013/14 campaign, so his permanent signing at the club is a cause for celebrations for the blue half of Merseyside. The nippy winger is a creative force who is now on board full-time at Everton, he’ll be a key player for manager Roberto Martinez in a 2015/16 that promises yet more excitement for Blues fans.

Raheem SterlingRaheem Sterling

Some may call it ridiculous, some may call it over-priced and some may just call it ‘typical modern day football’. Discussions over the vast £49 million fee might still be doing the rounds, but Manchester City have secured themselves a real talent in Raheem Sterling—who at 20 years old only looks like he’s going to get better. However, if he hits the ground running, that fee will be the last thing on people’s minds.

Firminio LiverpoolRoberto Firmino

Everyone loves a Brazilian, and with the arrival of Roberto Firmino at Liverpool, the Premier League is about to see another one. The 23-year-old makes his way to Anfield from Hoffenheim. Just how Firmino adapts to English football promises to be one of the more fascinating aspects of the new campaign, and it’s going to be fun to find out what happens. A Brazilian signing is always something to get excited about.

Soccer - Yohan Cabaye File Photo...File photo dated 10/03/2013 of Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday August 27, 2013. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has insisted he will put the club before Yohan Cabaye or any other player. See PA story SOCCER Newcastle. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Yohan Cabaye

Few transfers into the Premier League this summer have raised as many eyebrows as Yohan Cabaye’s from PSG to Crystal Palace, where the former Newcastle United midfielder will link up with his old boss, Alan Pardew. After superbly leading Palace to safety and beyond last season, Pardew will now be determined to create a lasting legacy at Selhurst Park, and the addition of the classy French international Cabaye will certainly add to that possibility.

Bastian ShweinsteigerBastian Schweinsteiger

One of the signings of the summer has to go to Manchester United, although the doubters will tell you that he’s past his best and has suffered with injuries in the past couple of years, but Bastian Schweinsteiger’s move from Bayern Munich to Manchester United seems to be more than just a transfer. It has restored a swagger to the club that had been missing. On the pitch, Schweinsteiger will bring authority and organisation to a United side whose midfield has been weak since the Scholes era, and his influence will allow Louis van Gaal to have both a leader on the pitch and a player he trusts implicitly.

petr cechPetr Cech

However, an £11 million deal for a 33-year-old seems like an unlikely No. 1 transfer, but Arsenal’s move for Petr Cech could be quite remarkably the signing of the season come May 2016. The Gunners have immensely strengthened their squad with the addition of the Czech, who comes into Arsene Wenger’s side and immediately improves it in an area where it drastically needed surgery for many years. Cech could prove to be the difference between a credible title challenge and just another season in the top four for Wenger’s men, and given the promise they showed at Emirates Stadium last season, they seem to be in a perfect position from which to build.

The upcoming Premier League will no doubt bring us plenty of highs, lows and memories which may live on forever. With the new signings made as mentioned above the Premier League will bring more excitement than ever before. It’s time to buckle, sit back and get behind your team, it’s going to be a long ride!

0

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has throughout the years delivered global sport stars and icons. Some of the greatest players ever to set foot on the court throughout history are Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to name a few.

January 16, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during a stoppage in play in the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports  - RTR4LRQP

But every now and again, the world is blessed when an athlete emerges who surpasses everyone before him and elevates the sport to another level. Pele made football global with his dazzling skills and Muhammad Ali became bigger than boxing with his addictive personality and dazzling speed. Bjorn Borg dominated tennis for decades and Tiger Woods became the highest paid sportsman in the world during his reign as the biggest brand in the world with his association with Nike.

The NBA is today blessed with a ‘freakish’ player. He stands 6ft 8” tall and weighs an impressive 250lbs and could easily be mistaken for a heavyweight boxer. Lebron James is today and has been over the last decade the dominating force in the NBA. Born in Ohio in 1984, James garnered national attention as the top high school basketball player in the country. With his unique combination of size, athleticism and court vision, he became one of the premier players in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers. After leading the Miami Heat to titles in 2012 and 2013, he returned to Cleveland and helped the team reach the NBA Finals in 2015.

Michael-Jordan-Dunk-40His ‘Airness’ Michael Jordan is still regarded by many as the greatest basketball ever. But with James dominating the league in such devastating fashion, is Jordan’s reign as the greatest over?

Michael Jordan retired after the 1997-98 NBA season. Ever since then, we’ve been looking for his successor, the player who would take his place as the best in the game – and possibly surpass him.

Until LeBron James went to the Miami Heat, got a jumper and developed a post-game, Jordan had no successor. There was no player who put a Jordan-esque distance between himself and his peers. Shaq couldn’t do it. In early 2000’s Shaquille O’Neal was an unstoppable monster. But in reality, he only won one regular-season MVP and was often slowed by injury – and free-throw shooting.

Kobe couldn’t do it. Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a game, averaged 35 for a season, and imitated Jordan’s attitude. But he never really dominated the rest of the league.

lebrondunk1-e1388277581455In Lebron James, there hasn’t been a player this far above his peers since Jordan. So, naturally everyone wants to know: Is James better than Jordan? What does he have to do to surpass him as the greatest of all time?

Jordan and James are similar in that they both dominated the NBA during their eras. Even if James never wins another title, we’ll call this the LeBron era in 10 years. And Jordan – do I need to mention the six titles? The 10 scoring titles? The five MVPs? The Defensive Player of the Year award? But that dominance is all they have in common.

It’s not just that Jordan and James are different players with different, if overlapping, skill sets. They approach the game in totally unique ways. They’re both great players, but they aren’t cut from the same cloth. There will never be another Michael Jordan. Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant have spent their careers imitating Jordan, but all they’ve succeeded in doing is paying him a compliment. And if there ever is a LeBron James imitator, another player who seeks basketball perfection the way he does, he’ll do it in a totally different way – and he probably won’t do it as well.

So no, LeBron will never catch Jordan, but he doesn’t need to. He’s doing things to basketball that we didn’t know could be done. And if future generations remember him as the greatest ever, that’s fine. But he’s still no Jordan.

 

VIDEO'S