Boxing: Calzaghe provides the main attraction

RUUD GULLIT'S heavily hyped introduction of "sexy" football to the North-east may have boosted support for tonight's world championship boxing promotion in Newcastle. The main-eventers, Joe Calzaghe and Robin Reid, are, after all, uncommonly handsome given the nature of their trade, and their combined style might have outweighed the lack of substance left in a fight card hit hard by a series of withdrawals.

Only two of the originally advertised four world title fights now remain, following the cancellation of contests featuring Herbie Hide, the World Boxing Organisation heavyweight champion, and Harry Simon, the WBO's light- middleweight titleholder. The 13-fight card is now headlined by Calzaghe's third defence of the WBO super-middleweight title against Reid, plus Richie Woodhall's second defence of the World Boxing Council version of the 12- stone championship, against the eccentric Italian Vincenzo Nardiello, a former holder of this title.

"It's the business we're in," complained the promoter, Frank Warren. "In football, if a player gets injured, the team still plays. I'm not happy. But we've still had a great response from the people of Newcastle." He predicts a near-sell-out at the 10,800-seat Telewest Arena.

Warren had successfully featured established stars such as Nigel Benn and Naseem Hamed in Newcastle previously, but tonight's contestants are from the next generation, fighters who have been developed on satellite rather than terrestrial TV. It is, therefore, heartening for Warren that this show has been so well supported at the box office.

But this is hardly the dream return to the big stage that Warren had been hoping for following the settlement, at a cost of pounds 7.5m, of his 14- month legal war with his former partner Don King, and his increasingly acrimonious split with Hamed.

Calzaghe, 27, replaces Hamed as the star of Warren's stable. The Gwent southpaw, unbeaten in 25 fights (23 KOs), is fast, vicious and hard-hitting, as shown by his title-winning fight against Chris Eubank in October 1997, and two defences last year before being sidelined by hand injuries.

But Calzaghe's attempts to emulate Hamed's extravagant ring entrances are proving nothing short of embarrassing. It would be crass to judge him so were it not for the premium Calzaghe himself places upon such superficialities. Much of Calzaghe's pre-fight banter has centred on a belief that he is "better looking" than 27-year-old Reid, a former WBC champion and part- time male model who has won 26 of 28 fights (one loss, one draw, 18 KOs). It is likely that Reid will look the worse for wear after 12 tough rounds. Calzaghe should retain by decision, as should the 30-year-old Woodhall, who has a point to prove following a lacklustre performance last time out.

Sky TV will be less than happy with the disintegration of the British half of a transatlantic pay-per-view double-header that also features Oscar De La Hoya's WBC welterweight title defence against Ike Quartey in Las Vegas. Sky has already suffered a major body blow this week when Hamed signed away worldwide TV rights to the American cable giant Home Box Office, with whom Sky must now negotiate in order to continue televising Hamed's fights. But De La Hoya is the biggest non-heavyweight star in boxing and continuing his unbeaten run tonight will afford Sky some comfort.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power