Could AJ vs Fury be delayed by Wilder dispute?


Eddie Hearn on Deontay Wilder’s arbitration: “A Team Fury problem. We’re confident that it won’t impact our fight, or the announcement”; Tyson Fury is set to face Anthony Joshua in undisputed world title fight

By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 15/02/21 6:03pm

Deontay Wilder has tried to enforce another fight with Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury’s ongoing arbitration with Deontay Wilder remains ‘a problem’ but promoters are optimistic that an undisputed world title fight will not be delayed.
Anthony Joshua held a meeting with Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn last week to finalise the remaining terms for a fight against Fury, with all the world heavyweight titles at stake.But Sky Sports understands that Wilder’s arbitration with Fury is still at the preliminary stages as the American stakes his claim for a third WBC title fight following his stoppage loss last February. Hey @Tyson_Fury ,Don’t worry about me I am Fine, Blessed.The only thing I want from you is for you to honor your agreement and fight me. I gave you 2 shots when I didn’t have to and it changed your life. Now it is time for you to be a man and give me my shot as you agreed to.— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) November 12, 2020 “That’s a problem and a question really for Top Rank, and Bob Arum,” Promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports.”We’ve been assured by them, that’s not going to be an issue in making this fight. That’s a Fury problem, a Team Fury problem. We’re confident that it won’t impact our fight, or the announcement. Eddie Hearn “I do believe that Deontay Wilder, h e was supposed to be fighting in January. Now we’re middle of February, so how much longer is he going to wait? He’s been out of the ring for a year now, and he’s slowly imploding in every single interview that he gives. He should get back in the ring.”That’s a Fury problem, a Team Fury problem. We’re confident that it won’t impact our fight, or the announcement.”I keep saying two weeks (until an announcement). I’m bored of saying it now. People are bored of probably hearing it, but we are finalising the finest details of the contract and hope to make an announcement soon.”Fury’s UK promoter Frank Warren is also hopeful that the Joshua fight will go ahead as planned.”We don’t believe it will affect the fight,” Warren told Sky Sports. Frank Warren expects Fury to receive the go ahead to face Joshua Wilder’s management and Top Rank, Fury’s US promotional team, did not comment on the ongoing arbitration.Hearn is confident that he can agree all the terms relating to Joshua, then he plans to select the venue, with Saudi Arabia, America and Singapore among the locations being considered.”Contracts have been backwards and forwards,” Hearn had told Sky Sports last week.”Only minor details to be resolved on both ends. We’re in a good place.”AJ was in the office yesterday with us. We had a good meeting to finalise our side of stuff. Joshua has revealed details in the past about sparring sessions with Fury Joshua has revealed details in the past about sparring sessions with Fury “We’re on the verge now of getting this fight done. We want to make sure the ink is dry, and then we’ll go out and finalise the site details.”I’m going to keep quiet for now, which probably won’t last for too long, but in the meantime working hard to finalise what is the absolute biggest fight in boxing.”

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Lightning relishing Superleague’s top-four battle


Paul Prenderville

Comment & Analysis @paulprenders

“Previously you could say there were two or three teams that would win the league, I think now there are probably about six who think we fancy this,” Sara Bayman on top-four challenge. Watch every game of the Vitality Superleague live on the Sky Sports YouTube channel

Last Updated: 15/02/21 7:44am

Hannah Williams of Loughborough Lightning in action against Bath

Loughborough head coach Sara Bayman is relishing a showdown with Midlands rivals Wasps as part of what she believes can be the Vitality Superleague’s most competitive season yet.
A bumper Opening Weekend to the 2021 season concludes on Monday night with a double-header live on Sky Sports Mix and the Sky Sports YouTube channel and for Lightning, they are back on court 24 hours after defeat to Team Bath. Vitality Netball Superleague – Round Two fixtures Sunday Team Bath 48-44 Loughborough Lightning Surrey Storm 41-53 Saracens Mavericks Severn Stars 34-53 Wasps Netball Monday Loughborough Lightning vs Wasps Netball Saracens Mavericks vs Leeds Rhinos Bayman’s squad pushed one of the favourites for the title all the way, eventually losing out 48-44, and the Lightning head coach is desperate to get three points on the board early with their own top-four ambitions uppermost in their thoughts. “It’s important to get a quick start, get some points on the board and put some pressure on the other teams rather than face pressure ourselves,” she tells Sky Sports.”It is crucial from the sport that we have a competitive league, people and fans want to watch games that they don’t know the outcome of and previously that’s where the league has had a bit of a gulf between the top teams and the bottom teams.”This season, I don’t expect that to be there and covid protocols, double game weekends might also see a levelling out.”We could end up with a topsy-turvy league table which is great for the fans – but not so great for the coaches.” Seven of the 11 teams have so far racked up victories across the first three days at the purpose-built court in Wakefield and Lightning will have to overcome a Wasps team that eased past Severn Stars on Sunday night.Defeat will mean another slow start for a Lightning team who have a habit of making life hard for themselves. Two defeats from their opening three games in the curtailed 2020 season followed a 2019 season where they lost three of their opening five games.In their defence those defeats have tended to come against top-four rivals with Team Bath, Manchester Thunder and Saracens Mavericks among the teams to get the better of them.But with points crucial in a league that will feature double header game weekends and covid protocols, meaning squad strength is more important than ever, captain Nat Panagarry knows a repeat won’t be acceptable.”We seem to have always struggled with our start and it’s always been something we have discussed,” she says.”It has taken us too long to hit the ground running and get the intensity required but I think the last few years I have been here this feels like the best pre-season we have had.”I have confidence and faith in the team after a good week where we have spoken about the intensity and training on the eve of the season we were all going for it, we didn’t know our starting seven.”Fortunately for Bayman, Panagarry and the rest of the Lightning squad next up are perhaps their fiercest rivals to focus the mind. Loughborough and Wasps have met in two of the last three Grand Finals and local bragging rights will be up for grabs as well as three vital points. Great to be back out on court !! Tough loss but lots to be positive about for our first game of the season, ready to build tomorrow 💜⚡️💪🏼 Huge congrats @suzieliverseidg on a great debut performance 👏🏻👏🏻 https://t.co/vFr5IiZ4gq— nataliepanagarry (@Npanagarry) February 14, 2021 Bayman believes it’s important for women’s sport and the Superleague season that rivalries and competitive action is on display in the first netball season that will see all the games made available to fans to watch.”Those games that mean more and where you feel the heat of the battle are a bit more than just winning and losing so it’s always one to watch,” Bayman adds with a smile.”In 2019 it was a dogfight [for the top four], we refused to lie down and when we needed wins against teams like Wasps and Thunder – we had the attitude ‘ let’s go get ’em’ and that will be the attitude we are going to have to take every week.”Top four is going to be a real scrap and once we are there we can start worrying about semi-finals and then finals are one-off games and you look around the league and anyone could beat anyone.”Previously you could say there were two or three teams that would win the league, I think now there are probably about six who think we fancy this.”East-West Midlands is a rivalry that is there, previous finals have added a touch of spice to that rivalry and it is always satisfying, like the one-goal win in 2019 – it’s probably the highlight of the season for a lot of people.” However more importantly is the job at hand. Loughborough have managed to keep their squad intact under Bayman for the last couple of seasons and this season have added England Roses star Beth Cobden after two years of injury heartache for the mid-courter.While Bayman admits more than any year 2021 is a game-by-game, week-by-week season, the top four remains the ultimate target, while the final word is on that rivalry that she admits has lost a certain edge.”It’s not as much fun now that Tamsin is not at Wasps, it doesn’t have the same edge of a week of texts beforehand!” she smiles.”I don’t think we can look beyond the rounds, everyone is going to be scrapping for top four and it is going to be tough to get in there. “It’s a cliché but we will take it game-by-game because this season especially the games are coming thick and fast right from the very start and by the end of February we might have an idea of where we are and what we will have to do.”Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Monday with back-to-back matches from 4.45pm on Sky Sports Mix. Viewers in the UK and Ireland can also watch on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.

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19 fights, 19 wins, 19 KOs… but there’s a problem


Is Christopher Lovejoy a credible contender?

There is a mystery man threatening the heavyweight division but nobody knows whether to take him seriously or not.
If you’ve never seen Christopher Lovejoy fight, he appears to be a hellacious problem for the heavyweight big boys – he has won all 19 of his fights by knockout, has ended 17 inside the first round, he insists he spars with the elite names and is calling out credible contenders.The problem? Nobody has seen Lovejoy fight. Ever. His 19 professional fights span a total of just 22 rounds, a frankly staggering statistic considering that even Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder were extended further in their earliest bouts.But Lovejoy’s career exists in a vacuum – all of his fights took place in Tijuana, Mexico, an outlier to the professional boxing landscape against no-name opponents, of which all-but-one have lost more fights than they have won.The gentlest of prods to his impressive-looking résumé reveals potentially dark secrets making it impossible to know if this Las Vegas heavyweight is a serious menace or just a pretender.”The truth is, he might be an absolute beast or he may get found out,” promoter Eddie Hearn has said after his only interaction with Lovejoy ended in farce.Given an opportunity to prove his credentials against Dave Allen in October, Lovejoy was withdrawn at short notice due to contractual issues with the legendary promoter Don King, who once worked with Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. Once more, Lovejoy remained hidden by a cloak of invisibility.”A lot of people want to see me get beat up,” Lovejoy tells Sky Sports. He has “unfinished business” and is out to prove that his destructive 19-0 record isn’t just paper-thin. 0:28 Dave Allen was set to fight Lovejoy – here’s his KO of Nick Webb Dave Allen was set to fight Lovejoy – here’s his KO of Nick Webb Lovejoy has had zero amateur bouts – he was living the street life, “heading in the wrong direction” as he calls it, when he saw heavyweight boxers on TV who didn’t measure up to his childhood heroes.”I’m a risk taker. I’ve got the size. So I went for it,” he says.He headed for the belly of the beast, Las Vegas, and began training at Floyd Mayweather’s gym with the legend’s father and uncle but with no meaningful reputation, he was unable to get a fight.He learned that opportunity existed in Tijuana, the city on the US-Mexican border. He had to pay out of his own pocket to feature on professional cards, he says.”It was the only route I had. It was on-the-job training. I was learning how to fight.”Lovejoy was losing money but was “investing in myself and my career” – this adventure began five years ago at such low-profile events that footage scarcely exists of the 19 KOs he has racked up.He concedes his first 10 opponents were poor but, hey, he was learning with no amateur background. He also admits that his fights haven’t been as easy as they seem.”I almost got knocked out in my first pro fight,” he says.”My first ever boxing match, the opponent was a little guy. As soon as the bell rings, he rushes me and throws a 30-punch combo!”He clips me, almost knocked me out. I had to gather myself then I knocked the guy out.”The matchmaker said after: ‘At least we know you’ve got a chin!'”In my sixth fight, the guy went a whole round with me. I was so tired. I was thinking: ‘If this goes another round, I don’t know what might happen’.”Luckily for Lovejoy, the opponent retired on his stool at the end of the first round.”After that I said: ‘I’ll never come here again unless I’m prepared to go the distance’.”An overview of his opponents quickly reveals that Juan Luis Lopez Alcaraz had won just four out of 29 fights, Martin Rodriguez four out of 31 and Esteban Sosa Vazquez two out of 16.Lovejoy has knocked out eight men who had never previously won a fight.He claims the quality of his opponents gradually increased but the most recent two had won a combined 18 of their 92 fights.”There are good fighters with bad records. And terrible fighters with good records,” he says.”They come to fight because they have a lot of pride. I know people who went down there and lost.”I know a heavyweight who went down to Mexico and lost by disqualification.”In Mexico, you’d better go for the knockout because you’re in their country. The judges don’t care about you.” What is the truth about Lovejoy’s sparring with Tyson Fury? The smoke and mirrors nature of Lovejoy’s 19-fight KO streak is the source of bemusement and conjecture, but he sees it as a good thing.”It’s an advantage because they overlook me,” he says.”I’m glad because, if all my footage was out there, I wouldn’t get any fights. I wouldn’t get called out. Dave Allen wouldn’t have accepted a fight with me.”There is some mystery with me – ‘can he really fight? Is he in shape?'”If I was in tip-top shape, was sparring the top guys and all my footage was out there, I would not get a fight.”There are politics in boxing and fighters are protected.”There is a particular whisper that, somewhere at some time, in a Las Vegas gym, he found himself in the ring with Tyson Fury. Their recollections of that moment, as you might expect, differ.Lovejoy says now: “There is a secret society in gyms.”‘Tyson Fury knocked him out! Or he knocked out Tyson Fury?'”It is a mystery and you don’t know unless you were there.”These are the rules of our brotherhood.”If I had a good day against one of the top guys, I would never say.” It is fair to point out that Lovejoy has honed his craft in sparring with Luis Ortiz, the two-time world title challenger to Deontay Wilder, as well as a host of US prospects.He is relentlessly challenging more established names than his own via social media – he balks at the suggestion that this is just self-promotion.Solomon Dacres, the Team GB amateur standout who will make his pro debut on March 20, live on Sky Sports, has challenged Lovejoy who hits back: “I will end his career before it even begins.” EVERYONE HAS A PLAN UNTIL YOU GET PUNCHED IN THE FACE— Christopher Lovejoy (@lovejoyboxing) February 8, 2021 His previous visit to the UK concluded with 4am crisis talks between Eddie Hearn and Don King to thrash out a deal for Lovejoy’s scheduled fight with Allen to go ahead. That sleepless night was ultimately futile but it has extended the mystery behind what Lovejoy, already aged 37, is truly capable of inside the ring.”I’m a really big guy with an [American football] background,” he warns. “I can bench and squat 400lbs. I can dunk a basketball, I can run fast, I am very powerful.”How powerful?”I’m up there with the best. In sparring, whenever I touch someone it changes the whole dynamic. As soon as I touch someone they fall.”Ask anyone who spars with me and they will say that I hit like a mule.”The power comes naturally.”Perhaps, just perhaps, the cynicism aimed at Lovejoy’s undefeated 19-fight record with 19 KOs is because his journey, where he paid from his own pocket for an opportunity in Mexico, is unusual and misunderstood. Perhaps. “I am a different breed,” he snarls. “A different animal. Nobody could do what I’ve done. What I’ve done is unheard of.”If they don’t believe in me, shame on them. People will be heartbroken.”

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Teen star steals show for Storm | Bath and Sirens win


Sophie Kelly, a 16-year-old debutant, looked right at home on a Vitality Netball Superleague court

Surrey Storm, Team Bath Netball and Strathclyde Sirens all secured victories on the second day of the Vitality Netball Superleague season in Wakefield on Saturday.
The trio joined Leeds Rhinos Netball and Manchester Thunder in making winning starts to their 2021 campaigns as a bumper weekend of action continued at Studio 001.London rivals Storm and Pulse duked out a thrilling first match of the day, with Storm coming out on top, before Team Bath Netball showcased their title credentials against Dragons. Last on court, were Severn Stars and Strathclyde Sirens. The two did not disappoint as they pushed each other to the wire, before Sirens secured victory.The bumper start to the season continues on Sunday with three more matches all available to watch via the Sky Sports YouTube channel, before Monday’s two contests are live on Sky Sports Mix.Kelly fires Storm to opening winSurrey Storm edged out London Pulse in a thrilling contest to start Saturday’s action in Wakefield, 16-year-old Sophie Kelly the hero for Mikki Austin’s teamThe teams had met in one of the few games to be contested in the 2020 season and, after Pulse won 12 months ago, it was Storm who gained their revenge with a 42-40 victory. Kelly, part of the England U17 and U19 squads, came on to make her Superleague debut when Storm’s starting goal attack Emma Magee suffered a painful leg injury after just four minutes, but the teenager was never fazed.Having made a blistering start to the cancelled 2020 season, Pulse were keen to pick up where they had left off but it was Storm who started the faster, responding to Lefebre Rademan opening the scoring with a blistering run of seven unanswered goals.Trailing by four after the opening 12 minutes, Pulse then fell six behind before they were finally able to chip away at Surrey’s advantage. Coach Sam Bird turned to Kira Rothwell for Rademan as she tried to get some control against a Storm defence which had Leah Middleton and Niamh Cooper impressing. Belying her age, the 16-year-old slotted in seamlessly alongside Karyn Bailey to keep Storm competitive throughout a physical match-up and it was fitting she scored the goal that sealed victory in the final seconds Sigi Burger drew Pulse within one and Rothwell was on hand to level the scores for the first time since the opening exchanges, but Storm recalibrated and held on to lead by two at half-time.Pulse continued to create the clear-cut openings, but were wasteful in the shooting circle, in contrast Karyn Bailey and Kelly were relentless in taking the chances that came their way. Midway through the third quarter Pulse managed to sneak their way into a lead for the first time since the opening score thanks to a three-goal burst from Burger.Bird’s team held onto their advantage, Olivia Tchine helping them into a one-goal lead going into the final quarter and then a two-goal advantage through the early stages of the last 12 minutes. At 16-years-old, Sophie Kelly looked right at home on a @NetballSL court. 👏Outstanding @SurreyStorm debut from @mikki_austin’s GA – what a platform it sets for her.The bit that makes us feel just a tad old… she was born in 2005! 😄— Sky Sports Netball (@SkyNetball) February 13, 2021 Storm drew level at 35-35 and made their decisive move in a low-scoring contest with a 5-1 run giving them a lead which Pulse could not overturn – despite a couple of late chances to force a draw that typified their afternoon’s work with the feed into the circle letting them down.It was not to be for Pulse who are back in action next Sunday, while Storm look to maintain a 100 per cent start in less than 24 hours when they face Saracens Mavericks. Vitality Superleague – Round One fixtures & results Friday Celtic Dragons 35-65 Leeds Rhinos Strathclyde Sirens 36-53 Manchester Thunder Saturday London Pulse 40-42 Surrey Storm Team Bath 61-29 Celtic Dragons Strathclyde Sirens 36-30 Severn Stars Confident first outing from title hopefuls BathAnna Stembridge’s Bath outfit, like Pulse and Thunder, had enjoyed a flawless start to the 2020 season before its cancellation, and they underlined why they are among the favourites for the title with a 61-29 win over the Dragons.Early on both teams made mistakes, as many have done after so long without competitive action. But as the opening quarter wore on, Bath began to up their tempo in attack and work their full-court press well. On her Superleague return, England co-captain Serena Guthrie enjoyed a great deal of space in the goal third and thrived, feeding the potent partnership of Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Borger effortlessly.The result of Bath’s slick work was a six-goal advantage, but as Annika Lee-Jones started to use her height more in the circle and Dragons looked to Amy Clinton earlier in attack, the Welsh team finished the first quarter strongly to hold Bath to a 13-9 advantage. The start of the second quarter saw Eboni Usoro-Brown, who has been documenting her journey back to elite netball after giving birth, return to court and the seasoned international fitted effortlessly into the Bath defensive end. The most decorated side in Superleague history then put their foot on the gas.Imogen Allison worked hard in defence, while Borger got the better of Lee-Jones up front, and, as was the case on Friday night against the Rhinos, Dragons found themselves staring at a large half-time deficit. 61-29 Bath win. No Guscoth today and no Bath ‘starting 7’ and whole squad took to court 👀👀👀 not bad 😂🤷🏼‍♀️Im definitely sticking @SkyNetball— Tamsin Greenway (@tamsingreenway) February 13, 2021 At 31-15 down, Tania Hoffman used the break to make wholesale changes. Christina Shaw showed her versatility as she moved from WD to GK, while Claire Jones donned the WD bib, with Sophie Morgan and Shona O’Dwyer completing a new-look mid-court. They were slick, really slick. Bath were accurate, composed and they made their possession count. What I also loved was their work in their defensive end, for example Imogen Allison turned over so much ball in that first half. In what looks like becoming a theme through the congested season, Stembridge also decided that the third quarter was the time to mix things up, with Betsy Creek, Charlie Curtis and Abi Robson arriving in place of Borger, Tash Pavelin and Guthrie.The changes did little to loosen Bath’s hold on the game, instead their speed of play and pressure emptied a tired Dragons energy reserves and they charged over the finish line, with plenty in the tank for Sunday’s mouthwatering clash against Loughborough. Vitality Superleague – Round Two fixtures Sunday Team Bath vs Loughborough Lightning Surrey Storm vs Saracens Mavericks Severn Stars vs Wasps Monday Loughborough Lightning vs Wasps Saracens Mavericks vs Leeds Rhinos Sirens show composure to edge StarsStrathclyde Sirens built on the positives of their first match on Friday night and edged out Seven Stars 36-30 in a cracking contest to finish the day.It was clear from the onset that the match was going to be hotly contested from post to post. Brilliant opening weekend @SirensNetball 😊 think teams will be taking note for sure 👀 apart from my gals @Lynsey_G & @bethgoodwin47 smashing it as always..SO impressed with Taylor Cullen in defence AND attack 👏🏽🚨— sam murphy (@saam_murphy) February 13, 2021 Despite good pressure from Lucy Herdman, Sirens’ Bethan Goodwin and Lyndsey Gallagher remained confident with their shots and, at the other end, Liana Leota set the tone for Stars with her feeds into Georgia Rowe.Although Sirens found a two-goal edge midway through the quarter, they were hauled back in and just a single goal separated them after the opening 12 minutes. In the second quarter, Towera Vinkhumbo did her utmost to provide Sirens with the ball they needed to fully break free, but Stars stayed firm.As the quarter played out, it remained tense and tight before the Scottish outfit finished stronger and created a 19-16 half-time advantage. Saturday done & dusted. Sirens👏🏼👏🏼Patience in attack, hustle in defence. So many chances to push on so getting over the line will fill them with so much confidence. Stars need to regroup quickly as they face wasps tomorrow, they just never found the attacking answers @SkyNetball— Tamsin Greenway (@tamsingreenway) February 13, 2021 After the interval. Melissa Bessell introduced Lucy Harris at C and Iman Thomas at GD, while Karen Atkinson decided to stick with the same line-up. Sirens’ consistency paid dividends, as Vinkhumbo put doubt in Stars’ minds, and the Scottish outfit duly created a four-goal cushion.From a position of 26-22 in their favour, the final quarter was a test of nerve for Sirens and Stars.The introduction of 18-year-old shooter Goodwin proved to be a masterstroke from Sirens’ technical director Atkinson and that change in attack turned the game. Goodwin created a great target in the circle and although Stars never gave up, Sirens were able to finally move away and secure the victory they desired.Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Sunday at 2pm on Sky Sports’ YouTube Channel. Every contest will be available to watch across Sky Sports, the Sky Sports YouTube channel or England Netball’s YouTube channel.

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Leeds Rhinos: Why netball, why now?


Leeds Rhinos Netball wil take to court for the first time in the Vitality Netball Superleague on Friday

“We’re absolutely behind women’s sport as a club,” Kevin Sinfield said, as he discusses Leeds Rhinos decision to add netball into the established sporting franchise’s armoury.
In June 2019, it was announced that Leeds Rhinos Netball had been granted a Vitality Netball Superleague license and that they would enter the competition during the 2021 season.At the time, Leeds Rhinos’ CEO Gary Hetherington shared his delight and made it clear that netball would become an integral part of the Leeds Rhinos organisation. In the weeks and months that followed, that became a reality. Dan Busfield was named as the franchise director of Leeds Rhinos Netball and another Dan, one whose name is very familiar to netball fans, Australian Dan Ryan became the netball team’s high performance director and head coach.With a few days to go before Ryan’s outfit stepped onto court for the first time, Hetherington spoke further with Sky Sports about the reason for Leeds Rhinos’ move into netball.”Really it came from people within the netball community who approached me, probably two to three years ago now, with a desire to have a Superleague team and build on the community game as well,” he said.”I saw this as part of our strategy to not only grow the Leeds Rhinos brand, which we’re always keen to do, but to meet the genuine desire that we have to promote women’s and girls’ sport in Leeds.” We want to get more engagement in sporting activities for women and girls and to provide opportunities for that to happen. That’s really where it started with us, the desire to do that. Gary Hetherington When Hetherington then spoke to Leeds Rhinos’ partners about the idea, he found that they shared his view about the importance of women’s and girls sport. All, including the now lead partner of Leeds Rhinos Netball – Green Flag – were eager to promote women’s sport at the participation level, as well as at the elite level.”Our involvement in netball has the elite team, with the Superleague team, we’ve got the pathways for the aspiring young quality players and we’ve also got through the Leeds Rhinos Foundation our involvement with community netball.”Netball will be very much a part of our organisation, it won’t be a separate entity, it will be integral to our organisation.” When joining an already established name in sport, an understanding of its history and values is critical to all involved.With Leeds Rhinos having been formed in 1870, Ryan and his squad of players stepped into and organisation that knows what it stands for and when it comes to articulating that, there’s no-one who can do it better than Sinfield.Sinfield’s position now at Leeds Rhinos is director of rugby, however his passion and love for the sporting franchise goes far beyond the lines of any job description or title.During an 18-year rugby league career wearing the blue and amber of Leeds Rhinos, he became Super League’s most successful captain, record appearance-maker and record point-scorer. Sinfield on his greatest challenge & friendship with Burrow Leeds Rhinos legend Kevin Sinfield talks about completing seven marathons in seven days in aid of Motor Neurone Disease for his friend Rob Burrow. Alongside his sporting prowess, he showed exceptional leadership, and continues to do so in his role and with his work to fundraise for and support Rob Burrow and the MND Association.”To sum it up, we have three trademarks. We’re honest, we work hard for each other and we always put the team first,” Sinfield said about the franchise that’s been his home since 1997.”Within that it’s wrapped up in what we call attitude and making the right choices each day.”Sometimes you might not always fancy doing that extra training session, making that sacrifice or getting that extra hour of sleep, but it’s being that disciplined that you do it anyway because it’s going to affect your performance and it’s the right thing to do for your team-mates.”It’s a selfless attitude that’s about making the environment a really strong, healthy and supportive one as well.” To have a professional [netball] team in Leeds, that’s should have happened years ago and we’re absolutely delighted they come under our banner. I think that young children and young people need role models and the fact that they get to see netball in Leeds, is really inspirational. Kevin Sinfield Leeds Rhinos Netball’s arrival in the Vitality Netball Superleague marks another netballing outfit that has looked towards a ‘partnership model’ to develop and grow.In Leeds Rhinos, the netball team are partnering with an entity that sits largely within a sport that’s already successfully moved along the pathway to professionalism.”We’re at the cutting edge and working on creating a really, really good environment where players can thrive, develop and maximise their potential,” Hetherington said about Leeds Rhinos.”That’s exactly what Dan Ryan is looking to develop. There are a lot of synergies in what Dan Ryan and Kevin Sinfield are all about and that will flow through to the players and to the fans as well.” Our vision for Leeds Rhinos Netball is to create, for the city and the county, a team to be proud of. We want to inspire more women and girls to get involved not only in netball, but in sports activities generally and we want to be able to provide an opportunity for the talented netballers throughout the county to play Superleague with Leeds Rhinos. Gary Hetherington When COVID-19 eventually leaves all of our lives, and Leeds Rhinos can get back to working as normal, Ryan and Sinfield will have offices next to each other.Both directors’ teams will train out of the same training complex and the full benefits can be enjoyed by both sporting teams; it will be a two-way street as the rugby and netball departments look to learn from each other.”We certainly don’t think that we know it all, there’s so much that we can learn from netball and there’s so much that our organisation can learn from people like Dan [Ryan] and Jade [Clarke], we’d be very foolish not to,” Sinfield said. Vitality Netball Superleague – Opening Weekend – All matches also streamed on Sky Sports YouTube Channel Friday at 5.15pm Celtic Dragons vs Leeds Rhinos Live on Sky Sports Mix Friday at 7.15pm Strathclyde Sirens vs Manchester Thunder Live on Sky Sports Mix Saturday at 2pm London Pulse vs Surrey Storm Saturday at 4pm Team Bath Netball vs Celtic Dragons Saturday at 6pm Strathclyde Sirens vs Severn Stars Sunday at 2pm Team Bath Netball vs Loughborough Lightning Sunday at 4pm Surrey Storm vs Saracens Mavericks Sunday at 6pm Severn Stars vs Wasps Netball Monday at 5.15pm Loughborough Lightning vs Wasps Netball Live on Sky Sports Mix Monday at 7.15pm Leeds Rhinos Netball vs Saracens Mavericks Live on Sky Sports Mix “I’m really looking forward to building some relationships and friendships as well. As sports, you can learn so much from each other and that will be a huge benefit to us as a rugby club and as a bigger sporting organisation.”We can help shape it and make it a better place for the people of Leeds, provide better sporting opportunities for the people of Leeds and Yorkshire to ensure that people have opportunities.” From Sinfield’s point of view, talent transition isn’t off the table either when it comes to Leeds Rhinos’ women’s rugby league side and Leeds Rhinos Netball.”Why not? If we can provide opportunities and there’s a chance of talent transfer, why not? Other sports take advantage of it.”With unbelievable female talent, in whatever sport it is, you find that if you’ve got an individual with the right work ethic, they can make a success in most sports.”I certainly see that with some of the netball players that we’ve got coming in and we’ve got a really talented rugby league side, I’d like to think there would be [some crossover] down the track.” We gained the understanding and appreciation that it’s so much bigger than just being a part of a netball programme. To be a part of a club like this, this opportunity is an incredible one for every one of us to embrace and make the most of. Dan Ryan about their leadership and values day For now, the focus for one part of the business is the start of the Vitality Netball Superleague season and taking to court for the very first time in the competition.”We’ve got athletes who are competitors and many of them come from winning backgrounds and winning cultures,” Ryan said about his 2021 squad.”One thing that we know that we need to do as a club is to build a winning culture and that obviously takes time.”While we have very clear standards in terms of our performances being in a training space and what we expect from ourselves in match-play as well, those benchmarks and standards will continue to evolve as the team grows as well. Leeds Rhinos Netball’s 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague Squad Jade Clarke (co-captain) Fi Toner (co-captain) Vicki Oyesola Brie Grierson Tuaine Keenan Rosie Harris Rhea Dixon Britt Coleman Sienna Rushton Amelia Hall Paige Kindred Michelle Magee Emily Hollingworth Donnell Wallam “We certainly don’t want to be in the competition to make up numbers, we want to be there to compete and compete hard. What results and outcomes look like, will be determined by our level of competitiveness, our effort and our execution.”I’ve really enjoyed the athletes taking ownership of the team and also their athletic journeys,” he added. We are going to be the first players to have ever played for the franchise and that’s so exciting. I’m so looking forward to being able to work from scratch and stamp our own style on the league. Hopefully we can bring something a bit different and something that will really be exciting to watch. Jade Clarke – Leeds Rhinos Netball Co-captain “That’s been something that we’ve been really passionate about in terms of it being their team – it’s not my team or any individual’s team. It’s our collective team together and we all have a role and a responsibility to contribute and make a difference.”Lots of things have been really rewarding and now it’s about getting out on the court and truly seeing where we are and what we need to do in order to keep progressing forwards.” For all involved in the development of Leeds Rhinos Netball, February 12 is a significant day and one that formally starts their on-court journey in the Vitality Netball Superleague.”When our team plays its first game, live on Sky, it will be a proud day for the city, a proud day for the county and I think a proud day for the sport as well,” Hetherington concluded.With a commitment to women’s and girls’ sport underlying their every move, a sporting entity that houses so much knowledge and experience, and other departments that are eager to collaborate and share synergies, Leeds Rhinos Netball are in a strong position.They are being led by the work of Ryan, someone who has the creativity, motivation and drive to shape a netball programme from scratch, and on court, they have a great balance of established and young players in their ranks. In short, the foundations are all there for Leeds Rhinos Netball to enter the Vitality Netball Superleague, make their presence felt and then start pushing the competition and sport of netball forwards.Sky Sports is your home of netball. The VNSL returns on Friday with Leeds Rhinos taking on Celtic Dragons at 4.45pm on Sky Sports Mix. Every contest this season will be available to watch across Sky Sports, the Sky Sports YouTube channel or England Netball’s YouTube channel.

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Muir sets new British 1500m indoor record


Laura Muir came home in a relatively-distant second at World Indoor Tour but her time of 3mins 59.58secs made her the first Briton to break the four-minute barrier; Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay breaks world record with first place

Last Updated: 10/02/21 12:17am

Laura Muir set a new British record

Laura Muir set a new British record but top billing went to Gudaf Tsegay as the Ethiopian broke the 1,500 metres world indoor record in France on Tuesday.
Tsegay took more than two seconds off Genzebe Dibaba’s old mark as she crossed the line in a time of three minutes 53.09 seconds at the World Indoor Tour meeting in Lievin.Muir came home in a relatively-distant second but her time of 3mins 59.58secs made her the first Briton to break the four-minute barrier.
Compatriot Melissa Courtney-Bryant finished third in a personal best time of 4:04.79.Jemma Reekie was triumphant in the 800m, winning in a time of 2:00.64. Keely Hodgkinson was fourth as she came home in 2:01.71.Elsewhere, Ethiopian Getnet Wale came within 0.31 seconds of the indoor 3,000m record that has stood for 23 years. Records nearly tumbled in the 60m hurdles, too, as Grant Holloway claimed the men’s 60m hurdles in just 7.32 seconds, to take him within 0.02 seconds of the world indoor record owned by Colin Jackson and set back in 1994.There was British success in the pole vault as Holly Bradshaw won with a score of 4.73m, while 800m runner Elliot Giles continued his positive start to 2021 with victory in a time of 1:45.49.

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Wigan close training ground after positive Covid tests


Leeds and Huddersfield had previously closed their training facilities following positive tests, but both have since re-opened; following the latest round of testing on Monday morning, Warriors’ Robin Park Arena training ground will be closed for 10 days

By PA Media
Last Updated: 08/02/21 9:46pm

Wigan Warriors are the latest team to be hit by coronavirus

Wigan have become the third Super League club to close their training ground following a number of positive Covid-19 tests. 
Leeds and Huddersfield had previously closed their training facilities following positive tests, but both have since re-opened.Following the latest round of testing on Monday morning, Warriors’ Robin Park Arena training ground will be closed for 10 days.
Those who tested positive will self-isolate at home for a minimum of 10 days as per government guidelines and the club say Public Health England has been informed.Further testing has been planned for February 12 and 17 before a decision will be made by the Rugby Football League’s Multiple Cases Group as to whether the squad can resume training.On January 21, Leeds announced they would close their facilities for five days as a “fire break” after six players and a member of staff tested positive in the previous 10 days, with those affected having to produce a negative test before their return. Huddersfield followed suit the same day after reporting several positive cases at their own training facility.The start of the 2021 Betfred Super League season has been put back two weeks to March 25 due to lockdown restrictions.

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‘Monster! Cowboy!’ Who are Warrington’s rivals?


James Dielhenn

Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn

Josh Warrington is live on Sky Sports on Saturday night against Mauricio Lara – victory would unlock the door to a fight with Gary Russell Jr, Can Xu or Emanuel Navarrete which would decide the world’s No 1 featherweight

Last Updated: 08/02/21 4:18pm

Look back at Josh Warrington’s ring-walk with Vinnie Jones

Look back at Josh Warrington’s ring-walk with Vinnie Jones

A trio of dangerous world champions are on the horizon and Josh Warrington knows that he can finally lure one of them into the ring if he remains unbeaten on Saturday night.
Warrington takes on Mauricio Lara on Saturday, live on Sky Sports, knowing that victory will give him the opportunity to prove he is the world’s No 1 featherweight against Gary Russell Jr, Can Xu or Emanuel Navarrete.’The Leeds Warrior’ vacated his IBF belt to smooth over negotiations with the trio of world champions – so how dangerous are they? Live Fight Night February 13, 2021, 7:00pm Live on Josh Warrington vs Mauricio Lara, Saturday, live on Sky Sports Gary Russell JrThe WBC featherweight champion is the longest-reigning champion in the entire sport.But in the six years since Russell Jr won his belt, he has defended it just five times and has come under criticism for his inactivity.He has won 31 of his 32 fights – the only defeat came against Vasiliy Lomachenko, the pound-for-pound great, via majority decision in 2014. 0:45 Watch Gary Russell Jr knock out Kiko Martinez Watch Gary Russell Jr knock out Kiko Martinez Warrington said about Russell Jr: “Sometimes fighters just get a gut feeling and sometimes you’ve got to run with that gut feeling.”Just like with the [Lee] Selby fight, I have seen many things that I thought that we could expose, and I see it with Gary Russell Jr.”He’s a great fighter. He’s got a lot of speed, but he’s there for taking. He iss there for the taking and he has got a green and gold belt, man, the WBC belt, so I love that fight as a massive scalp.”Russell Jr is advised by Al Haymon and has never fought outside of the US.Can XuWarrington has a grudge to settle with the WBA champion from China.Xu, nicknamed ‘Monster’, was initially supposed to be Warrington’s opponent this weekend in a world title unification fight but withdrew claiming that he wanted to fight in front of a crowd.”I was close to tears,” admitted Warrington who must now edge past Lara on Saturday to tempt Xu back into battle. Watch Warrington floor Patrick Hyland Watch Warrington floor Patrick Hyland The Brit had previously said about his Chinese rival: “You put us in a phone box, a very entertaining fight. He throws a lot of punches, I throw a lot of punches.”Xu’s work-rate and speed is summed up by the incredible statistic that he once threw 1,562 punches in a 12-round fight, amounting to 130 per round.He has won 18 of his 20 fights – the defeats were in four and six-round bouts in the early stage of his career.Xu is now promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy and won his WBA belt on US soil. Three of his past four fights have been in the US.Emanuel NavarreteThe WBO champion is the newest rival on the scene, having only moved into the featherweight division in October.Shakur Stevenson was previously the unbeaten target of Warrington’s who held the WBO gold.The talented American was a 2016 Olympic silver medallist and Warrington said about him: “I’m not saying he wouldn’t be a tough fight. But he hasn’t been in deep water situations.”But Stevenson vacated his belt and moved up a division – he was replaced as title holder by Navarrete, who is now a two-weight world champion having previously held WBO super-bantamweight gold. Navarrete (R) is a two-weight world champion Navarrete twice floored the previously-unbeaten Ruben Villa four months ago to capture the WBO featherweight title. What may separate the Mexican nicknamed ‘Vaquero’ or ‘Cowboy’ is his power – 27 of his 32 wins have come inside the distance, a frighteningly high percentage for the division.He is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank meaning negotiations to fight Warrington would be between the same promoters who are currently discussing Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury.

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Kyle Anderson relinquishes Tour Card


Kyle Anderson released a statement on his decision to quit the tour, explaining: “I have had a great seven years in the PDC but I have a new child on the way next month, so it’s only fair that I give my Tour Card up so that another rising star can try to achieve their dream.”

Last Updated: 08/02/21 11:19am

Anderson did not return to the PDC Pro Tour following the lockdown

Australian star Kyle Anderson has relinquished his PDC Tour Card, instead opting to stay in Australia.
‘The Original’ has remained Down Under since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last March, having returned from the UK.The 33-year-old, who is one of only eight players to ever hit a nine-dart finish at the PDC World Championship, became a professional in 2014 after coming through Q-School, picking up a first ranking title at a Players Championship event three years later. He reached the last 32 at the Ally Pally on four separate occasions, and reached a World Cup semi-final with Simon Whitlock in 2018. Follow Sky Sports Darts on Twitter! Stay up-to-date with the latest news from around the darting world. Anderson, who was ranked 60th on the PDC Order of Merit going into 2021, is expecting a second child later this year with wife Tara, while they also have a son, Charles.”After playing in today’s DPA event and with the ongoing pandemic, I had another long chat with my management with the outcome being to relinquish my Tour Card with immediate effect,” he said.”I have had a great seven years in the PDC but I have a new child on the way next month, so it’s only fair that I give my Tour Card up so that another rising star can try to achieve their dream.”I would like to thank the PDC for the amazing opportunity that I had been given, and I will hopefully be seeing everyone again in the World Series in Australia.” The Australian star has spent seven years on the tour Anderson’s manager Mark Elkin added: “Kyle has sacrificed so much over the last seven years, only seeing his family two or three times a year, and this finally took its toll on him.”We have had numerous talks about his Tour Card and he was determined to come back. I think today’s decision has just taken a huge weight off his shoulders, he has our blessing and will always be part of our team. We will be keeping a close eye on him on the DPA Tour.” Anderson’s decision means that Maik Kuivenhoven, who had been the highest-ranked player on the PDC Order of Merit to lose his Tour Card following the World Championship, will retain his PDC Tour Card for 2021.Harry Ward has already relinquished his Tour Card this year, with Mark McGeeney having been the player to retain his professional status in the top 64 as a result.

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Speak or spar with Fury? How Ruiz can rise again


0:51

Andy Ruiz Jr explains in 2019 how his shock win over Joshua changed his life

Andy Ruiz Jr explains in 2019 how his shock win over Joshua changed his life

Andy Ruiz Jr has lost weight, is “focused on the prize” and should use Tyson Fury as the motivation to rise back to the top of the heavyweight division, says trainer Jorge Capetillo.
Six months after Ruiz Jr’s shocking win over Anthony Joshua to become world champion, he conceded the belts back in a rematch and admitted “partying” contributed to his downfall – similarly Fury’s weight ballooned amid mental health issues after he dethroned Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.But Fury is now WBC champion and plans to face IBF, WBA and WBO holder Joshua this year, a redemption which should inspire Ruiz Jr according to the trainer who knows them both personally. 1:25 Anthony Joshua’s proposed heavyweight bout against Tyson Fury is within ‘touching distance’, says Johnny Nelson Anthony Joshua’s proposed heavyweight bout against Tyson Fury is within ‘touching distance’, says Johnny Nelson Las Vegas-based Mexican Capetillo was in Ruiz Jr’s corner for his earliest fights and, more recently, was the cut-man who stitched up a terrible wound above Fury’s eye to keep him unbeaten against Otto Wallin.He has, as a result, benefitted from the generosity of both Ruiz Jr and Fury in the past year in an effort to keep him gym doors open, a place where the heavyweights could eventually meet.”It would be huge for me, professional and personally, if they could share the gym, share a chat, share how their families are,” Capetillo told Sky Sports about Ruiz Jr and Fury. “It would be positive motivation for Andy.”Andy knows that Tyson has also taken care of me. Andy speaks highly of Tyson. They share the same faith too.”Andy, like Tyson, is a man of faith and family. We all make mistakes. They have a good feeling for each other.”This is what life is about. We make mistakes, we fall down, but we have to get up and move forwards.”A fighter never loses because they get knocked down. They lose because they don’t get up.”I want Andy to prove to himself that it was not a lucky shot.”Because it was not lucky, let me tell you, because Joshua went down but got back up. Joshua didn’t run. But you saw what happened.”I would love to see Andy as a champion again.” 0:50 Ruiz Jr’s victory parade in his hometown after becoming champion Ruiz Jr’s victory parade in his hometown after becoming champion Joshua won the rematch to reclaim the IBF, WBA and WBO belts As the only man to defeat Joshua, Ruiz Jr could hold valuable secrets that Fury could learn, Capetillo said: “It would be a good plus, a good asset, but Tyson will handle Joshua because he is Tyson Fury and he is the best heavyweight in the division and the No 1 pound-for-pound.”Tyson has a huge IQ in the ring. He is a different type of fighter – reach, footwork, weight, IQ.”He has been cut, had 47 stitches, he’s been down, he’s got up. He knows how to beat Joshua.”Capetillo would love Fury and Ruiz Jr to share his gym ring for a sparring session.”It would be great, for sure,” he said. “That wouldn’t be an issue for either of them.”Tyson is a world champion, Andy a former world champion. I don’t see why not.”They don’t hold grudges, they are both willing to work.”Fury made a generous donation to Capetillo in March 2020, forever grateful for his crucial role in averting a disaster in the fight with Wallin.Now Capetillo has revealed: “Andy has been very generous with me. So I work with him to get him in the best shape possible.”He was so grateful to me for years. Even when we weren’t in camp together he never forgets about me.”He has helped me with the gym. He asks about my family.”He has been generous. He has said: ‘If you need something, let me know’.”He has paid me well when I work with him. To help myself, to help the gym. Always when he comes to work with me, he treats me very well.”He is a great kid, a humble kid with no grudges.”If you share love with your fighters, you receive love back.” Andy Ruiz Jr was Mexico’s first heavyweight champion Ruiz Jr has not fought since December 2019 when he lost the rematch with Joshua and, although he has since teamed up with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s trainer Eddy Reynoso, their time together has been limited.The pandemic’s travel restrictions plus Reynoso’s commitment to Canelo, Ryan Garcia and Oscar Valdez has tasked Ruiz Jr with remaining disciplined away from his newest trainer’s daily watch.But Capetillo insists Ruiz Jr is changed from the champion who gave in to temptations: “Mentally, yes for sure. He has slowed down. He went crazy when he became the first Mexican heavyweight champion. He met the president!”Andy is a kid. He got distracted. Now I can see he is more calm with his family. He is getting back on track, especially mentally.”He has hunger again. He has tasted what it means to be a world champion. I can see he wants more! “But you have to be willing to sacrifice. So to be around Canelo, who has this mind-set day-in day-out, is a great influence for Andy.”His weight has gone down 25lbs. He looks very slim. He doesn’t want to show up to Reynoso looking rough.”

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