Inside Lines: Price is right but Flintoff is not proving quite the ticket


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The Independent Online

All boxers need to be bravehearts, and many of those hearts are made of gold.

Last night Ricky Hatton featured the logo of Variety, the children's charity he supports, in the centre of the MEN ring canvas during his comeback fight, while the British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion, David Price, is holding an auction for the right to carry his championship and Lonsdale belts into the ring against Matt Skelton in his home town on Friday.

The unbeaten Liverpudlian will give all the money raised to the local Alder Hey Hospital's appeal fund and the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. His fight is part of a TV heavyweight trilogy next weekend, with Freddie Flintoff making his boxing debut in Manchester (both fights are on BoxNation) and Tyson Fury facing American Kevin Johnson in Belfast on Channel 5.

Price and Fury are expected to perform to sell-out crowds, but the punters are hardly flocking to see Flintoff's questionable excursion over three rounds against hand-picked American novice Richard Dawson, with only 5,000 tickets sold at the same 18,000-capacity arena where Hatton drew a full house last night.

Pick of the fights is power-puncher Price against the tough old warhorse Skelton, 45, of whom Price says: "I don't think he's going to fall over the first time I hit him." Unlike someone else he could mention.

Camacho's tragic demise

Former boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho died in hospital in Puerto Rico yesterday after being shot in the face in his home town.

The former super lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight world champion had been declared brain dead on Thursday and went into cardiac arrest on Friday night. He was then taken off life support.

Camacho was shot as he sat in a car with a friend, who was killed in the attack. Police said officers found nine small bags of cocaine in the friend's pocket and a 10th bag open inside the car.

Camacho had been fighting his demons for many years and his death at the age of 50 adds another desperate chapter to the tragic tales of retired boxers.

Vicky's back in the saddle

Victoria Pendleton, currently wheeling her way around the ballroom in Strictly Come Dancing, oddly was left without a bike after her Olympic heroics when British Cycling sold off her gold-medal-winning model.

"Fortunately [former Olympic champion] Chris Boardman has given me one for free," she says. Boardman explains: "British Cycling's system is very performance-focused and at the end of every competitive season they sell off the old models. They didn't think it through with Vic and even though she was a multiple gold winner, they forgot to make sure she still had a bike to keep in shape."

Mind you, she could always have hopped on one of Boris's.

Peake goes for a Burton

While Pendleton is a household name, that of Beryl Burton – her predecessor as Britain's Queen of the Wheels – remains comparatively unsung. But this week, Radio 4 will remind us of a heroine whose exploits on her bike make her one of Britain's greatest sportswomen.

Burton's feats include two Road World Championships (1960 and '67), five Track World Championship gold medals and 12 victories in both the National Road Race and National Track Pursuit Championship. Her most astonishing performance came when she broke the 12-hour world time-trial record in 1967 in a time not bettered by a man for over two years. She died of a heart attack at 58 while on a training spin in 1996 after battling a rheumatic illness all her life. Intriguingly the play has been written by the actress who also plays Burton, Maxine Peake, who became interested in the cyclist after her boyfriend gave her a copy of Burton's biography.

She says: "When he gave me the book he said, 'Get your hair in a curly perm – there could be a film role in this for you'. Peake, last seen playing a barrister in the BBC series Silk, adds: "I just wanted the younger generations to be aware of her. She needs to go down in history as one of the greats. It's an utterly inspirational story."

Beryl: A Love Story On Two Wheels is on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday at 2.15pm.