SAN DIEGO: Although four years are an eternity in sports, Canelo Alvarez still remembers every round of his two fights with Gennady Golovkin. He recalls every tactical decision and momentum shift during those now-distant meetings with arguably his greatest rival.
But as he prepares for their third meeting in Las Vegas, Alvarez doesn’t plan to call on those memories very much. Four years to the weekend after they last met, Canelo doesn’t think there’s much to be gained from preparing to fight a boxing memory.
What’s more, he believes Golovkin will scarcely recognize what he sees in the ring Saturday night.
“I think he’s going to be surprised how much I’ve improved,” Alvarez told The Associated Press near his home in San Diego. ”My strength, my resistance, everything has improved. I think maybe he doesn’t realize this is going to be a different fight. I’ve been working hard the whole time.”
Golovkin feels much the same way about a matchup that could turn out to define the careers of two of of the greatest boxers of their generation, particularly if Golovkin pulls an upset. They fought to a hotly disputed draw in 2017 and to an equally debatable majority-decision victory for Alvarez in 2018, but Golovkin said his power and tenacity have only grown in the interim — and he also expects to benefit from moving up to super middleweight.
“We’re in different times now, and that’s a lot of time since the last fight,” Golovkin told the AP through an interpreter. “It’s going to be very different. Not only just four years, but we’ve lived through the pandemic, which was very tough. It’s like an entire Olympic cycle, but even more.”
Since they last met, both fighters’ trainers say they’ve made fundamental changes to the ways they prepare and compete in their dangerous sport. The 40-year-old Golovkin (42-1-1, 37 KOs) has a new trainer and is bulking up to 168 pounds after 16 years as a middleweight, while Álvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) is newly humbled and motivated coming off a loss to light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol this year.
Their mutual dislike also appears to have grown, although Alvarez is more upfront than Golovkin about the personal animus between the rivals. Away from microphones, it seems clear they don’t like each other any more than they did in 2018, when the entire promotion of the rematch proceeded under the cloud of Alvarez’s positive test for a performance-enhancing substance and his subsequent suspension.
Alvarez took a break from his usual training routine late last month to visit House of Boxing in the working-class, sun-bleached Paradise Hills neighborhood of San Diego. Several miles away in an office park is Canelo’s usual gym, where trainer Eddy Reynoso has paused training with most of his other fighters to focus solely on Alvarez.
“Canelo is better at everything since the last time he fought Triple G,” Reynoso said through an interpreter. “I’m not being funny. He has improved with his conditioning, with his technique, with his toughness. He has more ways to beat you, and I’m not going to say what they are, but Triple G is probably not going to be ready for some of them.”
Since the last time he fought Álvarez, Golovkin replaced Abel Sanchez — the American trainer who shepherded his rise to worldwide stardom — with Johnathon Banks, the former cruiserweight champion and Wladimir Klitschko’s former trainer.
Banks said Golovkin’s camp isn’t studying film of the first two fights, not even the parts where Golovkin was clearly beating Alvarez.
“It’s hard to look back at that, because we’re so steady looking forward,” Banks said. “No matter what you see in those fights, you can’t go backwards. Both fighters are significantly different from those two fights and the last time they saw each other. … That’s one good thing about Triple G — he always, always wants to learn. He wants to be better, and he wants to be more efficient. That’s where I can contribute and show him ways to be more efficient, and he’s always paying attention.”
So Golovkin may attempt to press Alvarez even harder, while Alvarez may try to use his vaunted physicality more effectively at the higher weight. Both fighters say they’ll try to avoid a wild brawl — but both believe they’ve spent the past four years building to this moment, and neither expects to hold anything back if technique alone isn’t getting it done.
“Only one thing is pretty much the same from four years ago, and that’s that (both) of these guys are absolutely unafraid of any challenge,” Banks said. “They’re the exact same guys in that respect.”
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud unveiled the National Gaming and Esports Strategy on Thursday.
The strategy marks the beginning of a new era towards leading the sector and making the country a global hub for the gaming industry by 2030, according to state news agency SPA.
It also serves the Saudi Vision 2030 objectives, which aim to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy, create new job opportunities in different industries and ‘provide world-class entertainment’ to residents and visitors.
“The National Gaming and Esports Strategy is driven by the creativity and energy of our citizens and gamers, who are at the heart of the strategy,” said the Crown Prince.
Raising the quality of life by improving players’ experience, providing new entertainment opportunities, and achieving an economic impact by contributing to the GDP by about 50 billion riyals are the strategy’s three main objectives.
SPA’s report also suggests that this will lead to the creation of 39,000 new job opportunities by 2030.
Saudi Arabia aims to produce more than 30 competitive games in the Kingdom’s studios and become one of the top three countries containing the highest number of professional esports players.
The country intends to implement the strategy through 86 initiatives covering the entire value chain, which was launched and managed by more than 20 government and private entities.
These initiatives are divided into eight focus areas, which include technology and hardware development, game production, e-sports, additional services, and other aspects such as infrastructure, regulations, education and talent acquisition.
The gaming and esports sector is considered the fastest growing among all media sectors, and is expected to reach $200 billion by 2023.
It also confirms the kingdom’s position as a geographical link between the East and West.
Among cricket’s unfathomable characteristics for those trying to understand the game from scratch are fielding positions and their names. Even once these are mastered, there is another, higher, plane to comprehend — that of their strategic use at different stages of the match. Over cricket’s history, positions, their use and importance, have evolved, continuously and gradually.
In pictures and photographs that depict the game up until the mid-19th century, fielders are shown to be static, dressed in elaborate headgear, sometimes top hats, which gave the impression that running after a cricket ball was a rare occurrence. Bowlers delivered the ball underarm, bats were of a curved design and those holding the bat had no leg protection. This set-up must have conditioned the direction in which the ball could be hit, along with its speed, both being determinants of where fielders were placed.
Anyone who has bowled in cricket will know the vital role played by the wicketkeeper. It is highly frustrating for a bowler to beat the bat, only to find that the wicketkeeper has been unable to catch or stop the ball. Until the late 18th century, it was customary for the bowler to assume wicketkeeping duties at the end from which he had just completed an over. The lack of a specialist wicketkeeper created the need for a fielder to be positioned behind the keeper on the boundary, known as long-stop. The position has now become obsolete as specialist wicketkeepers have assumed a critical role, especially once gloves and pads became available.
Standing in an arc to the immediate right or left of the keeper, depending on whether the batter is right or left-handed, are the slips. Their job is to catch or stop balls which glance off the edge of the bat. In most cases, these are the result of mistakes by the batter, so called slips in the language of the 18th and 19th centuries. Since the development of fast overarm bowling, it is common to witness four slips at the beginning of an innings and, also, at other times when an attacking field formation is required.
All positions can be divided into areas relative to the stance of the striker of the ball. If an imaginary line is drawn between the middle stumps, the offside of the wicket is the one in which the striker does not stand, whereas the on or leg side is where the striker stands when preparing to receive the ball. Another imaginary line drawn outwards from either side of the wicket to the boundaries, enables positions to be determined as backward or forward of the line. Backward positions are designated according to the extent to which they are square or fine of the wicket: Forward positions according to proximity to the striker — close, mid or deep — and straightness.
All of this has generated a complex-looking number of about 40 potential fielding positions. These can be used in conjunction, according to such variables as the circumstances of the match, type of bowler, perceived strengths and weaknesses of the striker, state of the pitch, weather conditions, and age of ball. In an attacking phase of the match, there are other close catching positions available to supplement this approach.
In addition to four slips, a gully can be positioned at the edge of the arc of slips, a forward and or backward short leg placed almost under the nose of the striker, and leg slips in catching positions. An extreme example of this occurred in 1947 when the West Australian captain Keith Carmody placed all nine fielders around the bat in an umbrella formation.
A classic and controversial use of fielding strategy, used in combination with a potent fast-bowling attack, occurred in 1932-33 in Australia. There, in an effort to dilute the batting prowess of Donald Bradman, some of England’s bowlers directed their deliveries at the bodies of the Australians. This forced them to play shots on the leg side, where no restrictions on the number of fielders existed at that time. The ill-feeling created by these tactics led to the introduction of a law that restricts to two the number of fielders behind square.
Limited overs cricket, in which the winning team is the one scoring the most runs, has placed much higher importance on fielding than Test cricket. The athleticism now witnessed in short format cricket can be extraordinary. The sliding stop on the boundary edge designed to pull the ball back before it crosses the boundary, first seen in the 1970s, is now a common part of a fielder’s repertoire, even at Test level.
It has also found its way down to club level, largely among younger players, to the bewilderment of their elders. They probably do not care much for fielding anymore, as hand-eye coordination deteriorates and the ball seems to hurt more when stopped by ageing hands and legs. Gone are the days when they tried to emulate the great fielders of their generation, mainly those who fielded around 25 meters from the bat on either off or on side.
These positions on the off side of the wicket allowed those with anticipation, speed of foot, ability to pick up the fast-moving ball up and throw at the stumps all in one flash, to bestride the field of play. One such player was the South African Colin Bland. Although his career was rooted in the 1960s, he is still rated by many as the greatest fielder of all time. This view centers on his ability to throw the ball to hit the wicket while running at full pace, often in the opposite direction and sometimes in midair.
Evidence of the game’s evolution can be encapsulated by discernible improvements in fielding skills, coupled with the expansion and use of potential positions to accord with strategic plans. Modern professionals spend hours honing their ground fielding and catching skills, so that these plans can be realized. Eccentric-sounding fielding positions serve to enrich the drama under which these plans play out.
NEOM: NEOM announced on Thursday the NEOM Beach Games 2022, bringing leading sport events from more than 25 countries to the sustainable regional development taking shape in northwest Saudi Arabia as it aims to become a hub for sport in the region.
The series of major sport events will launch on Oct. 19 and feature kitesurfing, triathlon, 3×3 basketball, beach soccer and mountain biking.
NEOM’s CEO, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, said: “We are delighted to host the NEOM Beach Games, which brings together local and international rights-holders for five globally popular sports in one diverse location in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“NEOM is a place of unparalleled natural beauty and will be the ideal backdrop for what promises to be a period of exciting competition among world-class athletes competing in a variety of challenging sports.”
The event will start with World Cup kitesurfing over the first five days, followed by Olympic-level competition at the short-course triathlon on Oct. 29. Other events include an international 3×3 basketball tournament (Nov. 4-5) and a four-day beach soccer competition that will see 12 teams from around the world take part from Nov. 9.
NEOM will host teams from more than 25 nations across the four sports. The NEOM Beach Games 2022 will conclude on Dec. 9 with a three-day desert mountain bike race, which will host 220 male and female riders from around the world for a four-stage event, varying from 80 to120 km per stage.
Jan Paterson, managing director of Sport at NEOM, said: “We are excited to be hosting world-class events in NEOM as we aim to develop a sporting hub which will contribute to our evolving sport ecosystem. Partnering with key sporting bodies will strengthen our goals of building a high-performance culture and inspire the next generation of athletes across the region.”
DUBAI: The International Padel Federation has announced that this year’s IPF World Padel Championship, its flagship biennial tournament, will be held from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5 at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.
Organized by the UAE Padel Association, the Dubai World Padel Championship 2022 operates under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, and hosted in association with the Dubai Sports Council and Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism.
At the unveiling of the tournament, the UAE Padel Association outlined its plans to transform the 5,000-seat stadium into a showpiece venue for the six-day international competition.
“Hosting the Dubai World Padel Championship will further expand the profile of padel across the UAE, where the sport is already surging in popularity among men and women across all age groups,” said Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Juma Al-Maktoum, president of the the UAE Padel Association. “There is no limit to the growth of the sport across the Emirates, and we hope this world-class event will cement the UAE’s position as a global capital of padel.
“With the world’s best teams and players now heading to the UAE next month, we are finalizing plans to temporarily convert Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium — a venue renowned for decades of tennis excellence — into purpose-built courts that will facilitate the maximum number of spectators to follow the world-class action,” Sheikh Saeed said.
The Dubai World Padel Championship will feature separate men’s and women’s categories, with 16 national teams set to compete in each contest.
The UAE men’s national team will make its IPF World Padel Championship debut on home turf, with the eight-man squad the only one representing the Arabian Gulf against a number of the game’s leading countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Spain and Uruguay. Three additional nations from the final rounds of European qualifying will be added later this month.
National teams that have qualified for the women’s competition include Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Spain, Uruguay and the US, with two more European teams set to be decided in continental qualifiers.
Ahmed Al-Khajja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, part of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “With hundreds of elite padel players, coaching staff, their families and fans all set to visit Dubai for this international tournament, it will also provide a boost to the city’s sports tourism offering.
“Padel is a growing obsession among sports enthusiasts in Dubai and we expect the city’s padel community to come out in force to welcome the world’s best male and female players during the World Padel Championship — especially as it coincides with this year’s Dubai Fitness Challenge.”