BBC BLOGS - Ben Dirs

Archives for July 2012

All ends well in East End

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Ben Dirs | 09:17 UK time, Sunday, 15 July 2012

In case anyone was wondering, I am not writing this from another space-time dimension: the world did not fold in on itself above Upton Park on Saturday, everyone present survived and even the sport of boxing came out the other side.

If us Brits aren’t moaning about the inclement summer weather, we do like to get on our high horse about a supposed moral outrage. When boxing is involved and things get a bit naughty, there aren’t horses high enough in the land.

Before David Haye’s heavyweight clash with Dereck Chisora, a couple of journalists likened the event to a “public execution”. If by that they meant the punters had a few beers, a jolly good time and went home happy, then, by medieval standards, they were probably right. If they meant the punters were implicit in something monstrous and immoral, they were wrong.

Of course, there were underlying problems with the bout. That two young men had a punch-up at a news conference was not, in itself, one of them: believe it or not, young men have been having punch-ups for thousands of years and, I boldly predict, will be in a thousand years’ time. Probably on Mars.

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Haye v Chisora: Forget the nonsense, enjoy the fight

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Ben Dirs | 07:30 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

The most startling claim made at the final news conference before Saturday's bout between David Haye and Dereck Chisora came from the latter's trainer Don Charles: "I would go as far as to say the kid [Chisora] is a genius."

While I am aware that geniuses are not always immediately obvious - just ask the poor prostitute Van Gogh gave his ear to - I am equally certain that losing three of your last four fights, slapping a rival at a weigh-in, spitting at his brother and collecting parking meters does not a genius make.

Having headed for the news conference almost directly from the rather more buttoned-up environment of Wimbledon, the nonsense piled up so fast I needed wings to stay above it: playground insults traded by hard men through a metal fence that would have struggled to keep apart a couple of warring toddlers. How much more bonkers could this be? The answer is 'none': none more bonkers.

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A soggy Wimbledon to savour

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Ben Dirs | 19:41 UK time, Sunday, 8 July 2012

At Wimbledon

The 126th Wimbledon Championships will be remembered as 'the one when Andy Murray almost got it done'. But even without the deeds of Murray, the first British man to reach a singles final at SW19 for 74 years, the tournament would have gone down in the annals as a great one.

Heartening British cameos, Aussie woe and, lest we forget, a rare home victory after all. Shocking upsets, stirring comebacks and, at the end of a fortnight when the sun rarely shone and the Centre Court roof played a starring role, two singles champions that might just be the greatest of all. BBC Sport takes stock.

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Williams ready to serve up fifth Wimbledon title

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Ben Dirs | 12:11 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2012

It is often noted that the mark of a great champion is the ability to adapt and modify as existing parts of their games begin to creak and let them down.

When the old legs began to go, Ryan Giggs went from flying winger to linking frontman to controlling midfielder. When Steve Waugh finally realised dashing only gets you so far - usually out - he scaled down his batsmanship and evolved into a limpet.

When Muhammad Ali returned from enforced exile, he parked his bike and gambled it on heart. And so it is with Serena Williams, although the fine-tuning has been less technical, more of the mind.

Telling a woman that she plays tennis like a man might not sound like the height of chivalry, but it is the greatest compliment you could pay Williams at this year's Wimbledon Championships: a record-breaking 24 aces in her semi-final victory over Victoria Azarenka made it 85 for the tournament, meaning only Philipp Kohlschreiber (98) has delivered more.

Williams is such a potent on-court presence it is easy to forget she has been creaking for an awful long time now. As far back as 2004, a knee injury forced Williams out of the sport for eight months. The following year she finished out of the top 10 for the first time since 1998, the year before she won the US Open for her first Grand Slam singles title.

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