BBC BLOGS - Ben Dirs

Archives for December 2011

Ward a glorious new dawn?

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Ben Dirs | 07:22 UK time, Sunday, 18 December 2011

Another chastening night for British boxing was a potentially great one for the sport in general as Andre Ward announced himself as a fighter of rare quality with a stunning dismantling of Carl Froch in Atlantic City.

How exactly two of the three ringside judges thought the American won by only two rounds is baffling in the extreme and it was left to Froch's fellow Englishman John Keane, who gave it to Ward by a landslide, to provide an accurate assessment of the bout.

Some Froch fans suspected Ward would come a cropper away from his cosy west coast base; some suspected Ward had been given an armchair ride through to the Super Six final; some suspected Froch would out-macho the slickster and bully him on the inside. Some could not have been further from the truth.

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Not quite Super Six

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Ben Dirs | 07:38 UK time, Friday, 16 December 2011

Super Six? More like the Coulda Been Super Six. Or the Shoulda Been Super Eight. Or even the Shoulda Been Fantastic Four. One day boxing will get it right, but that time hasn't arrived just yet. What is more, don't expect it to arrive on Saturday, when Nottingham's Carl Froch clashes with American Andre Ward in Atlantic City for an admittedly intriguing tournament finale.

Still, let's not be churlish. While American broadcaster Showtime might not have achieved its aims - to turn the super-middleweight division into boxing's most vibrant, raise the profile of the sport in general and create a break-out star - it should at least be praised for trying.

For as long as anyone can remember boxing has been undermined by internecine politics, the best fighters not fighting each other, the public not getting what it deserves. So persuading eight of the 168lb division's brightest stars to sign up in the first place was a bona fide coup.

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Quins show England the way

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Ben Dirs | 10:40 UK time, Thursday, 8 December 2011

A rugby ground in Twickenham, south-west London. The corridors run thick with paranoia. Urgent whispers can be heard behind office doors. Rumours ricochet round the place like shrapnel. Heads are set to roll.

But this is not Twickenham Stadium. And this is not 2011. This is the Stoop and the date is April 2009. The media call it 'Bloodgate', as if it is some unspeakable crime from the pages of a James Ellroy novel. It is only rugby, but in sporting terms it is one of the most sensational felonies of the decade.

Two and a half years on and the crime scene has been disinfected and it is all fresh nostrils and beaming smiles at the Stoop again: 14 wins out of 14 this season and a home Heineken Cup fixture against French dandies Toulouse to look forward to this Friday.

Across the way, the Rugby Football Union's bigwigs could be forgiven for peeping through their blinds and ruminating: "If Harlequins can drag a mop over their place and emerge smelling of roses, then perhaps there's hope for us, too."

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