Inside Lines: Worries for Warren as Hatton eyes big time

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The Independent Online

High-fives in Manchester last week as United punched the lights out of Panathinaikos. Bunch of fives there next Saturday as Ricky Hatton, Britain's best-followed fighter, plans similarly dismissive treatment of an Argentinian opponent, Aldo Rios, in the 10th defence of his World Boxing Union light-welterweight title. Promoter Frank Warren says he anticipates another burster at the 20,000-capacity MEN Arena, but hopes the phrase isn't unfortunate. It was Hatton's eyebrow which burst there five months ago in his defeat of the spirited Vince Phillips, who later failed a drugs test. The wound almost matched the severity of Vitaliy Klitschko's against Lennox Lewis, and it was the second time Hatton's eyes had been under the knife. He needed 28 stitches and an operation after an earlier contest. Even though Rios, 29, is reckoned to be a softer touch than Phillips - he was gloved up and ready to deputise while the American argued the financial toss backstage in April - Warren seems a distinctly worried man. "This is no forgone conclusion," he frets. The unbeaten Hatton has never been between fights for so long, his preparation has been hit by the hospitalisation with blood poisoning of trainer Billy Graham, and his seemingly invincible Sports Network stablemate Scott Harrison was stunningly outscored recently by a similarly unfancied Latin, Manuel Medina. "I'd have put my life savings on Scott winning that fight," says Hatton. Lucky he didn't, but the 24-year-old "Hit Man" acknowledges there is a lot riding on this bout. "The big fights with the big names are just around the corner, and if I go tits up in this one everything goes down the Swanee," he declares quaintly. With a new diet that includes plenty of porridge and green veg, Hatton says he is "jumping out of his skin". But it is the skin around that patched-up right eyebrow that is making Warren feel jumpy.

Moynihan: Cassani a better chief executive

An impressive tribe of Indians, but still no chief executive. So should Barbara Cassani, part-time chairman of the London Olympic bid, take on the full-time role herself? The Commons Select Committee, whom she charmed last week, seem to think so, and so does Opposition sports spokesman Lord Colin Moynihan. The former Tory sports minister has put down a question querying whether she is in the right job. "She should be the full-time CEO; that is her skill base and where she can best contribute," says Moynihan. "Seb Coe [named last week as one of three vice-chairmen] should then be the public face of the bid." Moynihan argues that any CEO "worth his salt" would have to give lengthy notice and might not be available to work on the formal bid plan, which has to be with the IOC by 15 January. A Tory front-bencher, Greg Knight, accuses London of being "behind Havana", which may be why Moynihan and fellow peer Coe are checking out the Cuban capital this weekend.

Playing board Games with the London bid

According to UK Sport's annual report, some 525 litres of urine were extracted from drugs-tested athletes last year. Departing chairman Sir Rodney Walker could be excused for wondering if the substance is also being taken by organisers of the London Olympic bid, who can find no place on the board for either Sir Rodney himself or UK Sport's international affairs director, John Scott. True, Scott did pen a pre-bid report which suggested that Paris would win, but Walker says: "There is no point in being asked to do a report if you are not going to be honest". The CCPR also seem oddly out of favour. Their vastly experienced chairman, Howard Wells, has not even been granted an interview for the hard-to-fill post of chief executive.

Will Alastair Campbell be back on speaking terms with the BBC today? Organisers of the Bupa Great North Run hope he will agree to be interviewed on camera before the start of the event, despite his deep disaffection for the Corporation over the alleged sexing-up-of-documents affair and its tragic aftermath.

No doubt Brendan Foster will do his best to convince the grouchy ex-Blair minder that any questions from Sue Barker will be gentle, non-political lobs. Mind you, should Campbell survive this, he will have to run the gauntlet of Sally "How do you feel?" Gunnell and her ever-thrusting microphone, surely a fate worse than any Paxmanite grilling. Campbell, who completed this year's London Marathon, is again running to raise funds for leukaemia research. As the Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, promises to be hard on his heels, there should be ample opportunity for political small-talk. O'Sullivan in wake of greatness.

Remember Picketts Lock? UK Athletics have now received half the promised £41m compensation for the loss of the 2005 World Championships. But what of the other half?

Apparently Sport England are holding on to it while they review the future of the sport and its governing body in the wake of the recent dismal performances in Paris. They want to see exactly how UK Athletics, now in the process of reconstruction, plan to spend it. Fair do's, but isn't it about time Sport England also asked some serious questions about the abject failure of the stone-rich Lawn Tennis Association to produce winners? As Sport England's chief executive, Roger Draper, is an ex-LTA man, such a timely enquiry should be right up his street.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

Exit Lines

I'm so in love with all those guys. Michael Schumacher thanks his Ferrari team at Monza... Actually it's more exciting being with my wife than being in the ring. Oscar De La Hoya's response when asked whether he intended to retire to a "boring life" after defeat by Shane Mosley... There could be fatalities, or even worse, injuries. Sky pundit Phil Neal on the forthcoming game in Turkey... It's not easy when someone pulls your ponytail. David Beckham on keeping his cool

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