A day to sit back and enjoy an embarrassment of sporting riches

EVERY now and then there are days in sport which promise so much that you mark them down in your mental calendar weeks beforehand, relishing a sense of anticipation so rich and heavy you feel it could be touched, tasted even.

I’m sure you know what I mean. Once the day arrives, all that is required are friends, alcohol and assorted snacks - the entertainment will take care of itself.

For me today, May 15 2010, is one of those days. I hope a few of you out there feel the same.

Get up, get your menial chores out of the way and settle down. Make sure refreshments are within easy reach. And reach for the remote.

First up, of course, is the FA Cup Final. Seldom has the most famous game in club football thrown up the sort of story on offer today.


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Mighty Chelsea, pockets grotesquely bloated with cash and their freshly-reclaimed Premier League Trophy glinting in the sun - is it me or does the sun always shine on cup final day? - face relegated, broken, feeble Portsmouth.

At first glance, this appears to be a mismatch akin to pitting a blind-folded, sleep-deprived Bruce Forsyth against a prime Mike Tyson, circa 1988, in a bare-knuckle street fight.

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But that would be overlooking the mystical ‘magic of the FA Cup.’ In a one-off match, there’s no doubting that Chelsea would spank Pompey 99 times out of 100.

Yet there is still a nagging feeling that Avram’s boys are somehow destined to win this. Surely this cobbled-together team, cursed with the uncomfortable knowledge that this is likely to be the club’s final day in the sun for a very long time, will give their all.

And what a remarkable tale it would be if the seaside club could find a way to triumph and, in a twist of fate of which Macbeth would be proud, claim the very trophy which precipitated their sad demise two years ago.

Once the final ball has been kicked you’re gifted a window of opportunity. You have until 8pm to sober up, walk the dog, mow the lawn or complete any other business which may be hanging over you.

By 8pm though, you’d better be back in the comfortable you-shaped imprint on the sofa. Ahead lies more than three hours of quality boxing action on Sky Sports 1 - free of charge - which could end with the crowning of a new British world champion.

London’s Kevin Mitchell will fulfil a boyhood dream when he headlines the show at Upton Park, home of his beloved West Ham, and fights Australian warrior Michael Katsidis for the interim WBO lightweight belt.

This is the sort of fight for which the term ‘blood and guts war’ was coined. I can’t see any way in which this won’t be an instant classic, and fancy Mitchell’s superior skills to trump Katsidis’ brawling bravado.

The under-card even boasts a potential show-stealer, with enigmatic veteran heavyweight Danny Williams - he who sensationally stopped Mike Tyson back in 2004 - facing brash youngster Derek Chisora for the British heavyweight title in his last-ever fight.

Williams is notoriously unpredictable but absurdly courageous and rarely features in a dull fight. Sadly, I think Chisora’s youth and ambition will probably prove too much, and lead to a knockout victory in the second half of the fight.

Come 11.30pm there’s a decision to be made. Set the Sky + box and retire to bed, or stick with it and power on through - either way, Amir Khan’s defence of his WBA light-welterweight title at the famous Madison Square Garden in New York demands your attention.

Live on ITV 1 - no small surprise, given terrestrial TV’s general contempt for the sweet science - the bout sees Khan put his belt on the line in the early hours against motor-mouthed New Yorker Paulie Malignaggi, who, in the build-up to the fight, has even had the temerity to suggest the Englishman may be fuelled by performance enhancing drugs.

That is typical Malignaggi, but unfortunately for him his bark is much louder than his bite - even Khan’s apparently frail chin will not be tested by his powder-puff punches.

Amir to win by late stoppage, capping a wonderful and memorable day.

This embarrassment of riches, my friends, is the reason why we love sport. Long may it continue.

- CITIUS, Altius, Fortius. The Olympic motto is one of the most famed phrases in sports.

Unless I’ve missed something though, it doesn’t proclaim “Swifter, Higher, Stronger - but only one from each country.”

Shamefully, the International Cycling Union (UCI) are corrupting the Olympic ideal in just such a way.

Come London only one rider per country will be allowed to enter each event, a move which will undoubtedly hit cycling powerhouse Great Britain harder than any other team.

GB won seven out of ten events at the 2008 Olympics, with a further four additional medals being claimed in the same events.

Yet in two years’ time, for example, instead of brilliant Brits Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny battling it out for world supremacy in the men’s sprint as they did in Beijing, only one would even be able to race.

That is not what the Olympics are, or should be. The best must face the best, regardless of nationality. Anything else is a farce.

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