Inside Lines: High-speed Khan could face bumpy ride

Sports Diarist,Alan Hubbard
Sunday 27 January 2008 01:00

ITV's love affair with boxing seems to be waning at the wrong time, with the fight game's comeback likely to continue well into 2008. Beaten to the punch by Setanta for both the upcoming David Haye-Enzo Maccarinelli and Joe Calzaghe-Bernard Hopkins blockbusters, at least they still have the hots for Amir Khan, whose Commonwealth title bout with Gairy St Clair at London's ExCel may well outstrip the seven million viewers he drew for his last, 72-second, ring appearance. The Guyana-born Aussie sounds more like a ballet dancer than a boxer but this is no pas de deux for Khan, who admits: "He's going to be a handful." At just 5ft 4in the former IBF world super-feather champion St Clair, 32, may be short in height but he is big on guile and experience, and has never been stopped. There are those who still harbour doubts whether the high-speed Khan really is the business, and even his stablemate Calzaghe points out: "He's not the finished article. He's still got a long way to go and a lot to learn. Potentially he can become a word champion, but who knows?" We may well know next week.

Handy Andy brings passion play to sport

The transfer of pushy James Purnell to Peter Hain's vacated Pensions post is good news for sport, as it brings into play a truly committed fan to oversee the Government's sport and Olympics strategy. The new Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, 38, admits to once invading the Goodison pitch as a passionate Evertonian and when chair of Supporters Direct he campaigned vigorously against the commercialisation of the game and foreign ownership. His first meeting with the Premier League should be as fascinating as his initial engagement yesterday – watching Liverpool at Anfield.

Redgrave ready to row for Sport England

One of Andy Burnham's first tasks as sport's new political overlord will be to supervise and endorse the appointment of a new chair of Sport England. We hear that Olympic rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave is a front-runner alongside Tanni Grey-Thompson and ex-LTA chief John Crowther. Paralympian Grey-Thompson, first suggested for the post here, would face strong objections from the Tories because of her role as a patron for Labour Party fundraising schemes. Previous chairs Derek Mapp and Lord Carterhave both been Labourites. The apolitical Redgrave, long overlooked as a potential sports administrator, would restore stature and independence to a position that was emasculated by Burnham's predecessor, James Purnell.

Why can't they spare baseball a dime?

Eyebrows have been raised – as have questions in Parliament – about UK Sport's spending of £30,000 on supporting a conference on sporting legacy to which they are sending two delegates in Barbados (strangely, they never seem to hold these jamborees in Omsk or Hartlepool). Shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson points out that this comes at a time when the British baseball team cannot raise the funds to continue their bid for Olympic qualification. "I suspect most people in sport believe such resources should be spent on sport before conferences in the Caribbean."

Caborn fights to get 1966 medals for Ramsey and Co

Former sports minister Richard Caborn is hopeful that posthumous 1966 World Cup medals will be awarded by Fifa to Sir Alf Ramsey and his assistants Harold Shepherdson and Les Cocker, now that the entire England squad have been given theirs. "I have taken it up with Sepp Blatter and he seems in favour," Caborn says.

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