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Tyson Fury: The rise to Oleksandr Usyk bout and undisputed shot

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On size alone, Fury should be a clear favourite against former cruiserweight king Usyk, however a lacklustre performance and controversial points win against boxing debutant Francis Ngannou in October has tightened the odds.

Fury has been here before though; his ability has consistently been questioned and each time he has come up with answers.

It wasn’t seven straight stoppage wins that attracted attention in the early part of his career. Instead an uppercut that glanced off journeyman Lee Swaby’s guard and into Fury’s own face became an unwanted viral moment.

In his eighth bout, Fury was fortunate to be awarded a points win over John McDermott – who Price later knocked out in the first round – for the British title.

“McDermott definitely should have won,“ Price says.

“After that performance people were leaning towards me as the Brit to go on and do better things. Tyson just didn’t appear to be very technically well rounded. He seemed a bit clumsy.”

Fury’s unbeaten run continued but his credentials to challenge at the very top appeared lacking when he was dropped by the unknown Neven Pajkic in 2011 and by blown-up cruiserweight Steve Cunningham two years later.

“Nobody back then thought Tyson could win a world title,” Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton – who knew Fury from the amateurs and was well on his way to winning the first of his two world titles at the time – says.

But Fury’s defensive skills, elusive agility and remarkable power of recovery have kept him rising and his record running. He has 34 wins from 35 professional fights, with a 2018 draw against Deontay Wilder the only slight hiccup.

When Ngannou’s overhand left sent Fury crashing to the canvas for the seventh time as a professional in October, he rose to his feet, regrouped and did the job.

Just as he did against Pakjic, Cunningham and on four occasions, across three fights, against Wilder.

Price believes Fury performs best when his back is up against the wall.

“That close call against Ngannou was probably the best thing that could have happened to Fury at this stage,” Price says.

“He has that chip on his shoulder again. The one he had early on his career when he wanted to prove people – including me – wrong.”



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Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe – a Champions League combination?

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Playing against Bondy’s best was no mean feat given the tally of professional footballers among their alumni – which includes Arsenal defender William Saliba – is in double figures.

Project Mbappe didn’t stop there.

While a teenage Mbappe pinned up pictures of Ronaldo and watched old footage of Zinedine Zidane, another Real Madrid superstar, there was a third role model far closer to home – Jires Kembo Ekoko, his adopted brother.

Ekoko was taken in by Mbappe’s parents when he was nine and was selected for the French Federation’s national academy at Clairefontaine before playing professionally for Rennes in Ligue 1.

Ekoko was more than a decade older than Mbappe but had a big impact.

At the age of six, Mbappe had learned the French national anthem, explaining to his teacher that “one day, I’ll play in the World Cup for France”.

It wasn’t only Wilfried and Fayza who believed Mbappe was destined for big things.

Nike came calling with free shoes when he was just 10. A little over six years later, he made his first-team debut for Monaco. But the progress between those two points was not smooth.

Allan Momege was a classmate of Mbappe at Clairefontaine.

“At the time I met him, he wasn’t the player who impressed me the most,” Momege says of Mbappe in the BBC Sport documentary.

“He didn’t stand out for me as a player during the trials. The first time I saw him play, I didn’t think, ‘Wow!’

“There were regional selections and Kylian wasn’t in the best team.”

Matt Spiro, an author and French football expert, echoes Momege.

“Kylian initially found it a bit difficult at Clairefontaine,” he says. “He was there for two years and during the first year, he certainly wasn’t the best in his group. I think even Kylian would admit that.

“Mbappe would play out on the wing and would quite frequently be in a sulky mood. He had a growth spurt, I think towards the end of his first year in Clairefontaine, and by the second year, he was really starting to look the business.

“Then people were thinking, we’ve got a very, very special talent on our hands.”

That talent was picked up by Monaco scouts in July 2013, when he was aged 14.

Moving from the Parisian suburbs to the wealthy, sunny Cote d’Azur at such a young age could have made others go inside themselves.

Not the boy from Bondy.



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Women's ODI Cricket

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The best of the action as England took on Pakistan in the final game of their ODI series.



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England vs Pakistan: Sciver-Brunt century leads hosts to 2-0 ODI series win

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Nat Sciver-Brunt’s stunning century led England to a 178-run thrashing over Pakistan in the third one-day international at Chelmsford.

The all-rounder struck 124 not out, including 14 fours and two sixes, which propelled England to an imposing 302-5.

Sciver-Brunt then claimed figures of 2-11, as Pakistan reached 124-9 in pursuit of an unlikely all-time record run chase, with captain Nida Dar unable to bat with an injury.

Only opener Muneeba Ali, with a composed 47, and Aliya Riaz’s 36 offered any resistance for the visitors as Sophie Ecclestone took 3-15, including her 100th ODI wicket.

The comprehensive victory handed England a 2-0 win in the ODI series, ensuring the visitors end their white-ball tour without a win.

The gulf in class between the sides was most evident in this series finale, as Pakistan’s fielding let them down amid a generally positive effort.

Opener Maia Bouchier made 34 but was dropped on 25, Amy Jones was dropped on six before making 27 and there was a double missed chance of a stumping and a catch when Sciver-Brunt was on 86.

The last was the most costly, as Sciver-Brunt and Alice Capsey, who made an unbeaten 39, launched a brutal onslaught of 47 runs from the last three overs.

England’s home summer continues with another white-ball series against New Zealand starting in June, before the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in October.



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