Sport Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing by Donald McRae

This last week I started reading three recent boxing autobiographies or biographies, but didn’t get far with any of them. They weren’t awful, but weren’t good either – plodding, literally blow-by-blow accounts offering little insight into the moral, emotional and financial complexities of what Mike Tyson has memorably called “the hurt business”.

Boxing champion Dereck Chisora spared jail for assaulting woman

British and Commonwealth boxing champion Dereck Chisora was today spared jail despite being found guilty of submitting his former girlfriend to a "humiliating" assault.

Inside Lines: Naz returns with 'new Tyson' and an eye on 2012 hopefuls

Half-time was approaching in the Arsenal-West Ham game at the Emirates last Saturday when into Frank Warren's hospitality box bounded a familiar figure, if somewhat podgier than in his fighting days. Naseem Hamed, the boxer formerly known as Prince, had in tow the new Commonwealth Games light-heavyweight champ Callum Johnson. Blithely he announced that he is to become a manager and that the 25-year-old big-hitter who won gold for Scotland is his first signing – as we reported exclusively last week. "When I watched him on television in Delhi and saw him knock out a guy with the sweetest of left hooks I leapt out of my chair. He reminds me of Mike Tyson," Hamed told us. He has mellowed at 36 but has he missed boxing? "Not as much as it has missed me," he retorts with a flash of that once-familiar arrogance. But Naz's renaissance may spell danger for amateur boxing as London 2012 approaches, for signing Johnson is just the start, he says. He is also likely to bag for his new stable at least one of the three Indian boxers who won gold in Delhi, and you can bet he will be eyeing the talent at the inaugural GB Championships in Liverpool which start on Friday. It will be a blow to Rob McCracken's Team GB to lose Johnson, who makes his pro debut in Glasgow on 4 December. He was a member of the podium squad and looked set for a 2012 berth after his display in Delhi. But he explained: "I am 25 now and the opportunity of being trained and managed by a legend like Naz was too good to turn down." Someone who doesn't feel the same way – yet – is Liverpool's 26-year-old Tom Stalker, the Amateur Boxer of the Year who captained England in Delhi, where he too won a gold medal to add to his European silver. He admits there was a temptation to follow Johnson's route, but has elected to stay with McCracken (worthily nominated for UK Coach of the Year) until after the Games because "winning an Olympic gold medal is my dream. It would be the best feeling in the world and I'd hate to miss out on that chance". Stalker is set to star in a tournament designed to show that British amateur boxing has got talent. It will be televised by the BBC who, for the first time, will screen women's boxing as several of Britain's ladies who punch will be on show, including world silver medallists Nicola Adams and Savannah Marshall. It should be a tasty fistic treat at the Echo Arena (tickets from www.echoarena.com or call 0844 8000 400).

Inside Lines: A question of trust as Baroness Sue becomes a very cross bencher

With sport forced to bite the bullet like almost everything else after the Comprehensive Spending Review, the redoubtable Baroness Sue Campbell, who wears two sporting executive hats, finds herself in a dilemma. Government quango UK Sport, which she chairs, reacted philosophically to a 28 per cent reduction in Exchequer funding – "a positive outcome in difficult times" – whereas, in her other role chairing the Youth Sport Trust, she is "devastated" by the swingeing £160m cut to the schools PE and sport budget, thus abolishing 450 school sport partnerships and making the YST, which she helped establish, virtually redundant. She claims it will "decimate" grass-roots programmes introduced for school sport over the past decade and directly contradicts the legacy promises made by Lord Coe when the 2012 Olympic bid was won. The bold Baroness, made a peer by the previous Government, is notably left-leaning but sits in the House of Lords as a cross-bencher – now a very cross bencher. Both Sport England and the British Olympic Association have noted that sacrifices need to be made but Campbell must wonder if the YST is being sacrificed for political expediency – especially as one of New Labour's babies, the UK School Games is to be supplanted by the UK Schools Olympics introduced by the Coalition. I doubt it, as sports minister Hugh Robertson has so far shown himself to be fair-minded and done his best to protect sport's interests under pressure from on high. At least there are sighs of relief that it wasn't 2012; the £9.3bn Games budget remained untouched.

Boxing: Cleverly proves himself worthy of world title shot

Nathan Cleverly's reward for his emphatic light-heavyweight victory over the previously unbeaten German Karo Murat in Birmingham on Saturday night is likely to be a world title challenge in December.

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The Last Word

Inside Lines: It's home for James, and others who have chosen to box cleverly

Boxing's return to Wembley next Saturday night will have a special significance for the future of the sport and for one of its main attractions, the Olympic middleweight champion James DeGale. It will be the first time he has fought in London since winning gold, and Frank Warren's first major promotion since the defection of flagship fighter Amir Khan to the United States. Warren intends to demonstrate with his parade of young stars that British boxing still has talent, and the loyalty card is not to be discarded like a used ticket stub. DeGale, who meets fellow southpaw Matthew Barr in his sixth pro fight, agrees: "I see this as my homecoming. Wembley is a stone's throw away from me and I've sold heaps of tickets. I'm determined to put on a performance to show just how good the game is right now." Like others in Warren's stable, DeGale, 25, is critical of Khan's move. "I respect Amir, he's a mate, but he could have shown more loyalty after what Frank did for him, especially after he was knocked out and Frank brought him right back to win the world title." Headliner Nathan Cleverly, who will challenge Italian Antonio Brancalion for the vacant European title, reveals that he, too, could have split with Warren when his then stablemate Joe Calzaghe walked away. But the brainy Welsh maths student did his sums and found it didn't add up. "If I was going to do it, it would have been then but we stuck together and the rewards are coming in," he said. The similarly unbeaten lightweight Kevin Mitchell, fresh from outsmarting Khan's nemesis Breidis Prescott, has signed a new deal with Warren and is on the brink of a world-title fight. First he has to dispose of the leading WBO contender, Ignacio Mendoza.

Inside Lines: Just the ticket: Boris and Jacques star in 'On The Buses'

Boris Johnson's latest Olympic wheeze is to suggest that "where possible" the International Olympic Committee bigwigs should use public transport rather than the chauffeured limos to which they are accustomed during London's Games. He has even phoned Jacques Rogge to discuss the notion, which apparently was well received. No doubt Bojo will avail himself of London's transport network so we await with intrigue the sight of the Mayor and the IOC president hopping aboard the No 26 from Stratford to the Olympic Park. More seriously the Olympic Development Authority say 75 per cent of the Games transport programme is in place. This sounds impressive, and the Tube service we are promised – high-speed Javelin trains – seems excellent, on paper. But Bob Crow and his merry men have yet to do their worst. Will the Games be held to ransom three weeks before they open? They are a perfect target to be hijacked by threats of strike action on the Tube and trains, just as BA might have been over Christmas and could be over Easter. Crow is the General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union which covers a multitude of possibilities for industrial action affecting 2012. If I was Seb, right now I would be sending out invites to Crow and union leaders to be VIP guests at the opening ceremony and guarantee seats for other events. Judging from his bonhomie recently on Have I Got News For You, Uncle Bob is not averse to a bit of public pampering so such a sweetener might be just the ticket.

Boxing: Golden Boy Khan turns back on Warren

In the last 15 years Frank Warren has watched helplessly as his world champions Naseem Hamed, Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe all left his promotional guidance to control their careers and it now looks like Amir Khan has done the same.

Boxing: Khan halfway to greatness says Roach

Freddie Roach insists Amir Khan is only "about halfway" towards reaching his full potential after admitting the Englishman excites him in the same way Manny Pacquiao did as a youngster.

Boxing: Mitchell's 'lesson' raises profile for tilt at world title

Dagenham fighter sees off Khan's conqueror Prescott with superb technical display

Inside Lines: Sidelined Caborn picks wrong man as firepower of Fergie glows

Richard Caborn, the ex-sports minister, may be peeved at being jocked off England's 2018 World Cup first team as he is one of sport's ace networkers, but he is out of touch in suggesting that Gary Lineker should be brought in "to do a Seb Coe" and lead the bid. As reported here, Lineker has made it clear he does not have the time or the inclination. Caborn thinks it is time for Lord Triesman – a babe lost in the wood of sports politics – to go, and he is not alone there. The sidelining of Caborn seems to be one of the reasons that the Premier League's Sir Dave Richards, his Sheffield pal, has dropped himself from the bid board, though some may consider this no great loss. As the bid rolls on its wobbly way towards South Africa and the World Cup draw, suggestions continue to flood in for personalities to add some pep. These range from Arsène Wenger to Tony Blair. (Oh no, I hear you cry.) Interestingly, the one made here last week, that Sir Alex Ferguson at least should join a host of ambassadors voluminous enough to scoff the chocolates at a Ferrero Rocher soirée, seems to have met with approval. And far less choking over the haggis and neeps from across the border than we might have anticipated. Apart from his unrivalled stature in the English game, Fergie is no mean orator, speaking with passion and without notes, as anyone who heard his moving tribute to Sir Bobby Robson will testify. And should the FA have any parochial qualms about recruiting him to the cause, they should be reminded that a predecessor of Triesman's as chairman of the FA was a Scot, Sir Andrew Stephen, who sacked World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey. One call to Old Trafford from Triesman could mean England's fading 2018 hopes are given a Glasgow kiss of life.

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