With an exciting period of sport during the Easter we review just some of the many happenings and events.
Joshua vs Klitschko
On the 29th April, Anthony Joshua took to Wembley Statium in London to make a second defence of his International Boxing Federation Heavyweight Champion title, this time against Wladimir Klitschko.
Lasting for 11 rounds, with a 90,000 strong crowd – the largest boxing audience in eighty years – Joshua managed to fend off Klitschko, hitting the canvas once in the sixth round. Joshua, 27, spent a significant amount of time on the defensive after his first knockdown in his professional career, dragging the fight through another five rounds to knock Klitschko, 41, to the ground twice, firstly with an uppercut and secondly with a left hook, winning by TKO.
"Both combatants have indicated a great respect for each other and a willingness to take to the ring again to face one another"
Klitschko had held some form of the World Heavyweight Champion ranking from 2000 to 2015, and the Ukrainian was incredibly humble toward his opponent in the build up to the fight, with a relaxing lack of trashtalk and hostility pre-fight. The fight itself was long and intense, with the first four rounds used by the fighters to test each other, before Joshua’s domination of Klitschko in the fifth, followed quickly by the Ukrainian’s retaliation in the sixth, sending the Brit to the canvas.
The four rounds after this short bout were again cautious and slow, with both combatants on the defensive, until the final round in which Joshua unleashed an unrelenting stream of punch after punch, until the Russian was forced to involve the referee in order to stop the fight, as he was incapable of defending himself, resulting in a total knockout.
Called “the biggest heavyweight fight since Lennox Lewis knocked out Myke Tyson” by ESPN, both combatants have indicated a great respect for each other and a willingness to take to the ring again to face one another.
However down and out they might seem, Leicester City Football Club refuse to go away.
It’s been a hectic season as the King Power Stadium. Last year’s world-beaters Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have looked lost, N’Golo Kante has remained a stalwart servant (shame that is for Chelsea) and halfway through the Premier League season, ‘dilly-ding dilly-dong’ Claudio Ranieri was gone.
Over Easter, however, the Foxes began to make headlines for all the right reasons again. Since the start of March Craig Shakespeare’s side have taken 16 points from a possible 23 in a return to form that gives the club a shot at a top-half finish.
This purple patch in form extends out of the Premier League as well. Whilst us students were either relaxing, eating chocolate or panicking over dissertations during the Easter break, Leicester City were showcasing their new and improved status in world football in the Champions League.
"The side’s Champions League effort was a valiant one that made all English football fans’ hearts swell with pride"
Having breezed to victory in their Group Stage and overturned a 2-1 deficit in the second leg against Sevilla in the last 16, a spot in the quarter-finals against Atletico Madrid was secured. The Foxes had their work cut out - Madrid, finalists in two of the last three years, are European giants where Leicester must still be considered minnows.
The away leg on 12th April was a tense affair from which the Spaniards emerged 1-0 victors. It was all to play for a week later when Atletico rolled up to a bouncing King Power Stadium. Leicester fell 2-0 behind by half time, but a Jamie Vardy goal shortly after the break opened up the second-half. It wasn’t to be, Atletico’s back-line held firm despite Leicester’s best efforts, and Shakespeare’s team bowed out of the Champions League.
It wasn’t another fairy tale ending for Jamie Vardy & Co. but the side’s Champions League effort was a valiant one that made all English football fans’ hearts swell with pride. Leicester City may not have lived up to last season’s high, but there is still no club in the world that can challenge The Foxes’ soul.
World Snooker Championship
It was the 40th anniversary of the World Championship taking place in the Crucible, and the cramped, atmospheric venue proved to be a fitting setting for nearly 3 weeks of fantastic snooker action.
The first round provided a massive shock as the bookie’s joint favourite Judd Trump was knocked out by Rory McLeod 10-8. While Stephen Maguire won his game 10-2 against Anthony McGill, having lost four consecutive first-round matches at the Crucible since his semifinal appearance in 2012.
In the second round, the pick of the matches was five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan beating also-former champion Shaun Murphy 13-7. O’Sullivan had previously hit out at World Snooker’s chairman Barry Hearn, for bullying and intimidating him, but was focused and played well. However Murphy lived up to his nickname ‘The Magician’ after hitting the pot of the tournament. It was a stunning trick shot that bounced off three cushions to knock a red in to the pot.
The quarter-finals were similarly exciting with 4 exciting games. 2016 runner-up Ding Junhui beat O’Sullivan 13-10, despite Ronnie hitting a 146. While John Higgins advanced to his first semi-final since winning the 2011 World Championship, after defeating Kyren Wilson 13–6. Defending champion and number 1 player, Mark Selby alongside Barry Hawkins were the other semi-finalists after wins against Marco Fu and Ding respectively.
“Nevertheless after yet another setback, trailing by 16-15, Selby managed to take control of the game.”
In the semi-finals, it was a close tactical battle between Selby and Ding in a repeat of the previous years’ final. However despite Ding managing to fight back and get the score to 16-13, the ‘Jester from Leicester’ ending up the victor, taking it by 17-15. The other semi-final match proved to be not quite as close however, as Higgins showed his quality, to stroll to a 17-8 victory against Hawkins.
The final was a repeat fixture of the 2007 final which Higgins had taken 18-13, and took an early lead 10 years on, finishing the first day 10-7 ahead. However the next day, Selby fought back to win six from seven frames to lead 13-11 by the end of the third session. Both the Wizard from Wishaw and the Jester from Leicester were playing well despite the immense pressure, sharing the next six frames.
The 31st frame proved to be highly controversial as the referee Selby to have not hit the black after gently rolling up to it. However it seems that the referee made the right decision, as what seemed to be the white ball nudging the black was just a trick of the light. Nevertheless after yet another setback, trailing by 16-15, Selby managed to take control of the game. With a clearance of 131 and then a break of 75, Selby took the title 18-15.
Despite being behind at various points of the match, Selby showed why he was world’s number one. Indeed with his all-round skill and mental strength, Selby became the fourth player to retain the world title at the Crucible. While Higgins despite losing the close run game appears to be an enjoying a revival in fortunes. Overall, the tournament proved to be highly enjoyable, with plenty of shocks, trick shots and other good stuff.
After several seasons of starring in the Premier League’s relegation battle, Sunderland have finally conceded to a demotion.
Relegation became a barbarous reality for the Black Cats after a bleak 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland have survived the past decade in the Premier League, though with no real triumph. The club did come close to silverware in the final of 2014 Football League Cup, however those days appear only as a forgotten oasis, as Sunderland now sit dead-bottom of the table.
“Sunderland’s relegation is hardly startling”
Having won only 5 games so far this season and with 14 points between them and the safety-zone, Sunderland’s relegation is hardly startling. Sunderland are likely to be joined in the Championship next season by fellow Northeast football club, Middlesbrough.
What is next for Sunderland? The club has had a scandalous recent history both in the realms of economics and criminality. Sunderland’s debt is currently sat at £150,000,000 and counting. Reports emerged of redundancies being made just hours after the relegation was confirmed. Last season Sunderland lost their chief executive, Margaret Byrne, as she resigned after the infamous saga regarding convicted paedophile, Adam Johnson.
Clearly the club has been in a turbulent state, however they are not to be written off, having bounced back into the Premier League two times in 2005 and 2007. Whether Sunderland attempts this arduous feat with or without David Moyes is yet to be seen.
In stark contrast, Newcastle United, Sunderland’s distinguished rivals and when all’s said and done, the superior football team, have once again earned promotion to the Premier League.
Have you ever seen a Mackem in Milan,
Have you ever seen a Mackem in Milan,
Have you ever seen a Mackem,
Ever seen a Mackem,
Ever seen a Mackem in Milan?