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Anthony Joshua fighting to get fans back into arena for his December 12 heavyweight showdown with Kubrat Pulev

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ANTHONY JOSHUA is still fighting to have a few fans at ringside for his December 12 clash with Kubrat Pulev.

The 31-year-old is set to officially confirm the mandatory defence of his three heavyweight world titles will happen at London’s O2, a fortnight before Christmas, on Friday night.

Anthony Joshua wants to defend his belts against Kubrat Pulev in front of a live audience at The O2

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Anthony Joshua wants to defend his belts against Kubrat Pulev in front of a live audience at The O2Credit: Getty Images – Getty

And his team are still busy working behind the scenes to see if the 2012 Olympic icon can have a small section of his supporters witness his homecoming after more than two years away.

The Government has allowed ballet and theatre fans back inside venues but the DCMS are yet to confirm if even a small percentage will be allowed in the 18,000 capacity arena to support the British hero.

AJ has been training like a trojan at his favourite Finchley gym in North London, after the Andy Ruiz Jr double that started terribly in New York and ended successfully in Saudi Arabia on December 7.

A packed Wembley or Principality stadium in Wales is worth around £5m in ticket sales to Josh but – after exploring bizarre and exotic alternatives – promoters Matchroom settled on a more familiar spot.

COO Frank Smith said: “Fair play to everyone for taking these opportunities now, it was tough but we needed to get AJ boxing, a year out was long enough.

“I had a few calls about a Croatian amphitheatre and an off-shore super-yacht, that could have supposedly hosted, it but they were longshot dreams I didn’t really believe.”

Tyson Fury’s promoter Bob Arum insists that if AJ comes through the 39-year-old Bulgarian – and the Gypsy King wins his December 5 tune-up unscathed – that the all-English undisputed decider can be made inside just five hours.

But Smith, thrust reluctantly in front of the camera at Matchroom’s Peterborough show this weekend while Hearn recovers from Coronavirus, admits it can only run smoothly if everyone remains sensible.

AJ's team are working getting a small number of fans to fill seats for the December bout

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AJ’s team are working getting a small number of fans to fill seats for the December boutCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
tale of tape long aj rublev 3

Smith joked: “300 minutes makes it sound even easier but Bob Arum promotes Pulev and reckons his man is going to beat AJ anyway!

“These fights usually take weeks and weeks to make because there are so many intricate things that go into them, that not many people understand or ever need to, because they just want to watch the fight.

“If everyone is sensible then we can make it quite quickly, because it is the biggest fight out there and it has to happen. But let’s see what happens.”

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Joshua’s broadcasters Sky Sports sparked a heated racism conversation on social media on Thursday when they attributed some quotes to veteran brawler Pulev.

The network reported that, when asked in a press conference what aspects Joshua is superior to him, Pulev replied: “His strengths? I’d say he has a very powerful punch undeniably.

“What are his other strengths? His tan is better than mine.”

Team AJ are aware of the story but declined to comment and SunSport did appeal to Pulev’s manager for clarity but have not yet received a response.

Tyson Fury tells Anthony Joshua to grow a pair and step up to fight

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Manchester United ‘want Erling Haaland and still believe they can take Jadon Sancho’

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manchester united want erling haaland and still believe they can take jadon sancho

Manchester United have strongly retained their interest in signing Borussia Dortmund hitman Erling Haaland as well as his team-mate Jadon Sancho, according to reports. 

England forward Sancho was United’s top summer target and although a move did not materialise, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer instead signing free agent Edinson Cavani up front, United’s willingness to do a deal has not gone away. 

But it is United’s interest in Norwegian striker Haaland, who Solskjaer coached during his time at Molde, which has been renewed and the 20-year-old has a £68m release clause valid in the summer of 2022 written into his Dortmund contract, The Athletic reports. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains interested in a deal for both Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains interested in a deal for both Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains interested in a deal for both Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho

Sancho and Haaland linked up brilliantly again at the weekend for Borussia Dortmund

Sancho and Haaland linked up brilliantly again at the weekend for Borussia Dortmund

Sancho and Haaland linked up brilliantly again at the weekend for Borussia Dortmund 

The report details that though Solskjaer refused to meet Mino Raiola’s – Haaland’s agent – financial demands when the forward eventually moved from RB Salzburg to Dortmund in January, United’s long-term interest remains. 

The relationship between Haaland and Solskjaer is still thought to be strong, and United could pursue a move sooner than 2022 for a higher fee if his performances justify a steeper price tag. 

His agent Raiola has previously had run-ins in the past with Solskjaer and United, particularly over the long-term future of Paul Pogba. 

Meanwhile, despite the fact United refused to meet Dortmund’s £108m asking price for Sancho by their summer window deadline, striking a deal is still at the forefront of Ed Woodward’s mind in the near-future. 

In a pursuit which was reportedly given the codename ‘Project No 7’, even though Cavani has now taken the illustrious shirt number at Old Trafford, United are still keen to strike a deal for the 20-year-old ex-Manchester City youth-team player. 

Erling Haaland scored his fifth Bundesliga goal in five games with his strike against Schalke on Saturday

Erling Haaland scored his fifth Bundesliga goal in five games with his strike against Schalke on Saturday

Sancho neatly set up Haaland at the weekend though is yet to score in the German top-flight

Sancho neatly set up Haaland at the weekend though is yet to score in the German top-flight

A double United swoop for Haaland and Sancho could total in the region of £176million

Solskjaer retains a good relationship with Haaland despite Mino Raiola acting as his agent

Solskjaer retains a good relationship with Haaland despite Mino Raiola acting as his agent

Solskjaer retains a good relationship with Haaland despite Mino Raiola acting as his agent 

A deal for both Sancho and Haaland, with the potential fees on the table, could total as much as £176million. 

However, whether Dortmund decide to do business with United following the twists and turns of the Sancho saga this summer is another matter altogether. 

United also lost out to Dortmund in the signing of Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham, who has already been used regularly in the centre of the Germans’ midfield at the beginning of the new season. 

Haaland, meanwhile, scored his fifth Bundesliga goal in five games as Dortmund strolled to a 3-0 win over local rivals Schalke on Saturday.  

Sancho is yet to score in the German top-flight this season though he did set-up Haaland for his goal at the weekend, with the pair’s lethal partnership continuing to flourish.  

Last week, former United coach Rene Meulensteen claimed the Red Devils would have done better landing a legitimate No 9 in the summer, such as Haaland, rather than chasing an overpriced deal for Sancho. 

‘United need a real striker, a proper No 9, one like Erling Haaland,’ Meulensteen wrote in his column for Manchester United Supporters Club Scandinavia.  

Ex-Utd coach Rene Meulensteen believes United should have pursued Haaland in the summer

Ex-Utd coach Rene Meulensteen believes United should have pursued Haaland in the summer

Ex-Utd coach Rene Meulensteen believes United should have pursued Haaland in the summer

‘Just look at Bayern Munich about how important a striker is for them. Ask Tottenham or Leicester what a striker means. For me, it is strange that a striker has not been the main goal for United.

‘Marcus Rashford can play striker, but he is not a typical striker. Anthony Martial can provide goals, but he is no goal scorer.

‘Now Edinson Cavani has signed but I don’t think Manchester United should look for a 33-year-old on the last day of the transfer window.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Michael Chandler demands four-man tournament to crown UFC lightweight champ after Khabib retirement including McGregor

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michael chandler demands four man tournament to crown ufc lightweight champ after khabib retirement including mcgregor scaled

UFC newbie Michael Chandler wants a four-man tournament to find a successor to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The sport was stunned at the weekend when Khabib announced his retirement after securing a stoppage win against Justin Gaethje.

Michael Chandler hopes to be in with a shot of competing for the lightweight title

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Michael Chandler hopes to be in with a shot of competing for the lightweight titleCredit: Handout – Getty
Khabib Nurmagomedov was emotional as he announced his retirement from UFC

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Khabib Nurmagomedov was emotional as he announced his retirement from UFCCredit: Getty Images – Getty

It meant the Russian defended his lightweight title, and extend his undefeated record in MMA to 29 fights.

But the Dagestani revealed after the victory that he had made a promise to his mother to call it quits just months after his father and trainer Abdulmanap died.

Now Chandler, the former Bellator star who was on standby if either of the main-eventers had to pull out at the weekend, wants a chance to succeed the great Khabib.

And he wants the legendary Conor McGregor in the mix too.

Speaking to BT Sport, the 34-year-old American said: “I’d love the opportunity to fight in a four-man tournament for that title.

“Conor [McGregor], [Dustin] Poirier, myself, [Tony] Ferguson. There’s some names that need to be fighting for a title, so let’s make it happen.

“Let’s be honest: I’m the new guy. I’m not going to come in here and say, ‘Hey guys I deserve a title shot.’ I’d love my name to be thrown into the mix.”

Khabib cemented his reputation as one of the world’s best with a second round submission win over Gaethje at UFC 254.

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Conor McGregor told Khabib that he will continue to fight in the lightweight division

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Conor McGregor told Khabib that he will continue to fight in the lightweight divisionCredit: Instagram / @thenotoriousmma
Khabib Nurmagomedov secured a stunning stoppage win against Justin Gaethje

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Khabib Nurmagomedov secured a stunning stoppage win against Justin GaethjeCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Despite UFC president Dana White admitting he ‘has no idea’ what the future holds, SunSport believes the four fighters mentioned by Chandler, plus Gaethje who is still interim champ, are the main contenders for Khabib’s crown.

After his stunning victory on Saturday night, Khabib broke down in tears as he remembered his father.

Abdulmanap died in July after complications having contracted coronavirus.

After the emotional win, the 29-0 superstar said: “Today, I want to say this is my last fight.

“When UFC called me about Justin, I spoke with my mother and I said I wouldn’t fight without father.

“And if I give my word, then I must follow it. UFC must make me No1 pound for pound fighter in the world, because I deserve it.”

And McGregor, despite his bitter rivaly with Khabib before and after his stoppage loss to the now-retired star, congratulated him on his performance while vowing to carry on the lightweight division.

He tweeted: “Good performance @TeamKhabib. I will carry on.

“Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors.”

Khabib revealed he had promised his mother that he would retire from UFC

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Khabib revealed he had promised his mother that he would retire from UFCCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Khabib retires as ‘truly the GOAT and best P4P UFC fighter’ according to Dana White in Conor McGregor and Jon Jones snub

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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8.45am Man Utd news LIVE: Pogba in ‘France quit threat’, Van de Beek latest, Romero ‘wants contract cancelled’

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8 45am man utd news live pogba in france quit threat van de beek latest romero wants contract cancelled
GL BLOG MAN UTD NEWS 1

SERGIO ROMERO is reportedly keen to set up a meeting with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ed Woodward to cancel his contract.

The Argentine was left furious after being dropped from both Man Utd’s Champions League and Premier League squads.

Follow all the latest from Old Trafford below…

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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