Inside Lines: All bets off as Haye's big-fight flutter KO's sponsorship deal

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The Independent Online

Awful Audley Harrison was not the only sore loser after David Haye's winning gamble on a third-round KO in last week's big fight farce. Rival promoter Frank Warren says Haye's initial public declaration that he had bet on himself – a statement which the WBA heavyweight champion hastily retracted when told this was illegal – has cost him a major sponsorship deal with a leading betting firm. "I'm gutted because we had agreed on what was a massive sponsorship for my future shows," he tells us. "They now say they want nothing to do with boxing at the moment because of this controversy." Warren won't reveal the company involved "because I hope to sit down and talk to them again next year when the dust has settled". But he is angry that the Board of Control won't be investigating Haye's "I put money on the third round" admission, especially as it was not the first time the boxer had claimed on air that he backs himself to win. In a Sky Soccer AM interview some weeks ago he said he bets on all his fights. The rumour was rife at ringside that Haye had £100,000 on the outcome, and several in the Haye camp and some employees of Sky are known to have placed bets on a third-round finish. Bookmakers William Hill confirm they paid out six figures to punters but say these losses were more than compensated by many who had gambled on the long odds offered against Harrison, whose pre-fight bullshine is the butt of ridicule. But why hate him? After all, it's not as if he's ever hurt anyone...

Froch's damage limitation

The one we should feel sorry for in the aftermath of Audleygate is Carl Froch. Here we have a real in-the-trenches fighter who has to pick up the pieces of the sport's battered reputation next weekend when he attempts to regain the WBC world super-middleweight title in Helsinki. Not that he seeks sympathy, just exposure. Again the Nottingham "Cobra", who used to hang out with Haye and Harrison in their amateur days, is confined to little-known Primetime TV here, although his potentially explosive scrap with the Germany-based Armenian Arthur Abraham for the vacant title in the Super Six series will be screened throughout the United States on Showtime. Froch, 33, is one Britain's brainiest boxers in every sense but he has a real battle on his hands against a crude bruiser who, like him, has lost only once – albeit on a disqualification. "I tend to get drawn into a fight but if I do against this guy my trainer, Rob McCracken, will go mad," says Froch. He has been training in Sheffield with McCracken, who also coaches Britain's amateurs. Last Saturday also saw the GB Championships in Liverpool which, unlike the other offering in Manchester, were great value for money. The competition pitted GB Boxing's first-choice squad against the best of the rest from England, Scotland and Wales. All 11 winners were members of GB's podium or development squads, which augurs well for 2012. The tournament drew amateur boxing's biggest attendance for years and more than half-a-million viewers for Sunday's BBC highlights, more than for Haye v Harrison apparently. Froch says that Harrison "conned people, even me" into believing he could make a fight if it. "But one man shouldn't be allowed to ruin boxing. I guarantee this fight will be a better spectacle for the fans." He's right. Even Haye can bet on it. (Froch v Abraham is live on Primetime, channel 480 on Sky and Virgin. Call 0871 200 4444.)

'I'm sorry,' says Blair – really

Sir Craig Reedie, one of the prime movers in London's acquisition of the 2012 Olympics, has finally got Tony Blair to say the "S" word. The former PM apologised to Reedie for calling him "Tweedie" in his autobiography. The IOC member has been sent a note by Blair apologising for the error, plus a revised copy of the book which gets his name right. "It really shows the true class of the man." If only the families of the victims of the Iraq war could say the same.