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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicHunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original  manuscripts
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
lifeAiming to show breasts in a non-sexual way for cancer awareness
New Articles
i100... while following the referendum
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
Arts and Entertainment
tvBut something’s not quite right
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week