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.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine