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WEEKEND PREVIEW: The BIG 7

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Tributes to a Great Boxer You Have Never Heard of

This week, I’ll take you on a different ride. Let’s start off on a note you didn’t see coming. Shall we?

You probably know the stars of every boxing division in the world; from Anthony Joshua to Oleksandr Uysk, Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao, an endless list really. But have you ever wondered who the star of female boxing is? Scratch that. Ever wondered if women actually do professional boxing?

Well, meet Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus (34-0, 9 KO) who will defend her IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO welterweight titles against Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes in the main event of a “Boxing After Dark” broadcast at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, on December 8. Braekhus, who unified the division four years ago by defeating Ivana Habazin,  is widely regarded as the best female boxer in the world.

This weekend, Braekhus will headline the fight in California. In HBO’s 45 years of televised boxing featuring 1,100 bouts, a female fighter has never headlined the event. But that ends this weekend.

Interestingly, Braekhus isn’t a stranger to pay-per-view boxing, she’s been at it across Europe for seven years. Add to that, just in May this year, Braekhus made history as the first female boxer to ever appear on an HBO broadcast when she defeated Kali Reis on the Gennady Golovkin-Vanes Martirosyan card. That bout drew an average of more than 900,000 viewers and peaked over a million.

Cecilia Braekhus’ story is touching. Losing her mother at a tender age, spending few years at an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia before she was then adopted and whisked away to Norway by her parents, growing up in a European nation where professional boxing was banned, yet she singlehandedly took the ban away by her exploits. You can’t but love her. Let’s leave it here, and continue this conversation on Monday after she must have defended her titles against Lopes.

Forbidden sight, Superclasico in a Foreign Continent

Ok, there has been way too many fan troubles leading to this year’s Copa Libertadores final, but it’s not one the Buenos Aires police department cannot handle.

Yes, one got really out of hand making the decision of CONMEBOL to stick to an existing Argentine rule of keeping away fans from venues look like an unnecessary decision. River plate fans singlehandedly provided both the victors and victim – if there was any Victor – on the night they should have channelled all that energy into supporting their team, and push them to a historical Copa Libertadores final win. Instead, they blew their chance, so far away it landed in Madrid.

CONMEBOL have made a series of ridiculous decisions in the wake of this final. First, prioritising the importance of the final over the safety of the players who will prosecute the game, and now choosing to take the final out of South America completely would beat any segment on Trevor Noah’s show.

The final in Madrid is unfair on River Plate. Yes, Madrid has an Argentine community estimated to be as large as 250,000 so both Boca Juniors and River Plate will be fully represented, but neither will see the game at the Santiago Bernabeu as though it was El Monumental, and River can’t exact the home advantage that or support that Boca got in the first leg. It’s a shame.

Deflated Sarri-ball?

The tides are changing, and the result is coming pretty faster than Maurizio Sarri must have envisaged.

Following the defeat to Wolves, Chelsea have nothing to be ashamed of. Wolves may be a newly promoted side, but they have a top manager who could as well have been in charge of any of the top six teams at the moment. Besides, this same Wolves forced City to a draw earlier in the season, and Chelsea don’t play too differently.

A few weeks ago, this game promised a meeting between two unbeaten sides, but Chelsea have now lost twice in the last three games and will desperately attempt to avoid a third defeat in four.

After doing the double against City in 2016/17 en route to the Premier League title, Chelsea have lost their last three games against the Citizens in all competitions including the Community Shield in August. Good luck Chelsea.

Borussia Dortmund firm favourites for Rivier Derby

Schalke 04 is having the very opposite of the stellar season Dortmund are currently enjoying, but the Derby is never truly determined by form.

Lucien Favre has pushed his side to the limits, and if the goals and the way they dismantle opposing teams doesn’t prove that, then the seven points gap ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach should, more than most do it.

Dortmund have not just shown the hunger to take teams apart, they have equally shown an unmatched willingness to win games even when they are trailing against the best teams. Dortmund have scored three or more goals 10 times this season, and it might be surprising to note that Bayern (3), Atletico Madrid (4), Leverkusen (4), RB Leipzig (4), Augsburg (4), were not spared the blushes.

Dortmund have not taken any big fixture lightly this season, and the Rivierderbi isn’t one they should take lightly either.

Oh! Did I forget to mention that Dortmund is still the only unbeaten side in the Bundesliga this season? My bad.

The Catalan Derby

So much for the bad blood and the hype usually surrounding this clash. Just as Barca players don’t see this as one to lose sleep over, so do I.

Until Espanyol gets their own Diego Simeone, and work really hard to break free from Barcelona, they will remain unworthy opponents for the Derby just as Atletico were termed before 2013.

Juventus vs Inter Milan

Juventus have only lost once to Inter Milan over the last 10 meetings, this already gives the Turin side a mental edge over a side that hasn’t fully recovered from the loss to Tottenham at Wembley.

Inter Milan didn’t start the season brightly, but midway through they caught up and looked like real threats to Juve’s thrown; well, this is one of the games to prove you deserve it.

Sadly, Inter have way too many distractions. One is the visit of PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League next week, a win will guarantee Inter a place in the next round. Whereas, they equally need a favourable result to stay within touching distance of Juve.

National Sports Festival

The National Sports festival will begin this weekend after a six-year hiatus. It feels depressing writing about it all over again, so you should look through this to get a full idea of everything that has gone wrong.

Catch the major games this weekend.

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