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Joe Joyce v Kash Ali: Heavyweight Brit labours to 10th-round stoppage win

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Joe Joyce laboured to a much-needed win over Kash Ali in the 2016 Olympic medallist’s first bout since being knocked out by Zhilei Zhang.

Joyce, who lost his unbeaten record in back-to-back losses to Zhang last year, was expected to overwhelm Ali in the undercard bout in Birmingham.

Joyce struggled to land a finisher on Ali, although he grew in confidence later on.

As Ali tired, Joyce eventually brawled to a 10th-round knockout.

With seven seconds remaining of the final round, a short right hand sent Ali to the canvas for the first time in the evening.

Although the 32-year-old tried to clamber back to his feet, he was marginally too slow as the referee’s count reached 10.

Ali had been clear underdog against Joyce, but resisted some hefty blows while landing a couple of his own, and did himself credit despite some chastising words from his corner between rounds.

Joyce, meanwhile, looked cumbersome, clearly still bearing the scars from the two hefty knockout losses he suffered to Zhang – although doubts about his jaw were dispelled as he shrugged off any blows Ali landed.

The 38-year-old had called this 10-round, non-title fight a “fork in the road” of his career, having gone from being next in line to challenge for Oleksandr Usyk’s WBO title to being on the undercard at Resorts World Arena in Birmingham as Nathan Heaney versus Brad Pauls headlined.

Joyce, who had spoken about “dark times” and being “slagged off on social media”, was expected to get back in the saddle against Ali.

Ali, though, is no patsy and attempted some big shots from the off including a giant overhand right in the third round, perhaps aware that he would struggle to outpoint the Rio 2016 silver medallist.

With a three-and-a-half stone weight advantage, Joyce’s punches should have hurt Ali more, but he brought very little energy and forward momentum for most of the fight.

The fight fell into a repetitive pattern, with Joyce doing just enough to win each round but never more than the bare minimum – and certainly not enough to dispel his doubters, despite the last-gasp knockout.

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Paris Olympics 2024: ‘Unprecedented’ security operation will be in place, says Games chief

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Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet says the Games will protected by an “unprecedented” security operation, and that preparations are “in good shape”.

But with 100 days until the start of the Olympics, he said organisers will “keep some humility, because we know in this kind of event anything can happen in the last stretch”.

Estanguet added he was “very satisfied with where we stand at this moment”.

He told BBC Sport: “My message is you can have confidence with this event.”

Amid mounting concerns over safety, Estanguet said “I would like to reassure that it’s non-negotiable. Security is the priority.”

“It’s the biggest event that France has ever organised, and we want to showcase the best of France. So definitely we are determined to be ready.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the world in Paris.”

“When I discussed this with [London 2012 chief] Seb Coe, he told me…in the last 100 days, there will be more criticism, more people worried. It’s exactly what is happening. My role is to remain calm, remain focused on what is very important to deliver.

“The venues are ready, the budget is balanced. We have very good ticket sales, the level of ambition is very high.”

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Deontay Wilder: Ex-WBC world champion confident of Anthony Joshua fight

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Former WBC world champion Deontay Wilder tells BBC Sport he is “90%” sure a fight with Anthony Joshua will happen in the future, as he prepares to face Zhilei Zhang on 1 June.

READ MORE: Wilder says Joshua fight will be revived with big win over Zhang

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Taulupe Faletau: Wales number eight set for Cardiff return

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Taulupe Faletau back in training with Cardiff
Taulupe Faletau has played 14 games for Cardiff after joining from Bath in 2022

Cardiff and Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau is set to return to action after a six-month injury lay-off.

Faletau, 33, suffered a broken arm in Wales’ World Cup victory against Georgia in Nantes in October 2023 before missing this year’s Six Nations with a calf injury.

The British and Irish Lions Test star has since returned to Cardiff training.

Faletau is available for the United Rugby Championship (URC) trip to face Ulster on Friday night.

Faletau, who has played 104 times for Wales, returns to action with the summer tour to Australia on the horizon.

Head coach Warren Gatland has lost senior figures in Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, George North, Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb to international retirement in the last 12 months.

In Faletau’s absence, Cardiff back-row duo Alex Mann and Mackenzie Martin have been capped by Wales, while Aaron Wainwright has filled the national number eight role.

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