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Anthony Joshua Knocks Out Pulev to Retain Heavyweight Titles

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Reigning IBO, IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, knocked out Kubrat Pulev to retain his world titles and look ahead to a potential undisputed fight with Tyson Fury.

Joshua who floored the Bulgarian twice in the third round finished the job near the end of the ninth round on Saturday to retain his IBF, WBO and WBA belts.

The 31-year-old Nigerian-born Briton was close to winning when he floored Pulev in the third round after a sweet right hand at the Wembley Arena in London.

But the challenger recovered to test the home favourite in front of a limited crowd of 1,000.

Pulev, 39, remained dangerous, without causing Joshua many anxious moments, but there was no escape in the ninth round.

Joshua landed a clubbing right upper-cut which sent Pulev to the canvas.

The Bulgarian got back to his feet but Joshua connected with another huge right hand to end the contest.

Meanwhile, Tyson Fury thretened Joshua after the reigning IBO, IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight champion defeated Kubrat Pulev.

In a video uploaded on his verified Twitter handle, Fury threatened to knock out Joshua in three rounds just like he did to Deontey Wilder.

The heat has been on for the much anticipated unified heavyweight champion bout between bot top boxers and Fury had previously stated that he is only interested in smashing Joshua’s face.

However, Joshua has reiterated his desire to fight Fury.

He told Sky Sports “I started this game in 2013. I’ve been chasing all the belts. I’ve been dealing with mandatories.

“Of course I want the challenge. It’s not about the opponent, it’s about the legacy and the belt. Whoever has got the belt, I would love to compete with them. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury. It’s no big deal.

“It’s one fight at a time, picking them off one by one. That’s all it’s about for me. I’ve got to stay focused.”

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Idrissa Gueye Benched in PSG 4-0 Trashing of 10-man Montpellier

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Senegalese Idrissa Gueye did not see action as French Ligue 1 champions Paris St Germain (PSG) defeated 10-man Montpellier 4-0 on Friday to go three points clear at the top of the table.

PSG scored three goals in a four-minute blitz in the second half to demolish Montpellier.

Gueye joined PSG on 30 July 2019 for a fee of £30 million and has made 35 appearances for the Les Parisiens, scoring three goals. The defensive midfielder was, however, not deemed worthy of a place despite manager Mauricio Pochettino making five substitute changes.

In the encounter, Kylian Mbappe bagged a double for his first goals of the year with Neymar and Mauro Icardi also finding the back of the net after Montpellier keeper Jonas Omlin was sent off early in the opening half.

The win puts PSG, who welcomed coach Pochettino back on the bench after he was forced to spend a week in isolation following a positive COVID-19 test, on 45 points from 21 games.

Montpellier are 11th on 28 points.

At the Parc des Princes, Omlin was sent off after only 19 minutes for bringing down Mbappe just outside the box.

PSG capitalised on their numerical advantage 11 minutes before the interval as Mbappe chipped the ball past Dimitry Bertaud after being set up by Angel Di Maria.

Neymar doubled the tally on the hour with a crossed shot from Mbappe’s pass. A minute later, Icardi made it 3-0 from point-blank range from Alessandro Florenzi’s cross.

Icardi then slipped the ball to Mbappe at the end of a counter attack for the French forward to add to Montpellier’s woes.

“I feel better. I can be there tonight while keeping my distances,” Pochettino told Telefoot.

“It’s always difficult to be away from the team. I’m happy to be here again. The most important thing is to spend this moment in the best possible way and to recover. Now it’s done.”

In his absence, assistant coach Jesus Perez had taken the Argentine’s place last weekend when PSG beat Angers 1-0.

Second-placed Lille will move level on points with PSG if they beat Stade Rennais away on Sunday.

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Ex-internationals Mourn Late Nigerian Goalkeeper, Joe Erico

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Nigeria’s ex-internationals on Thursday mourned the demise of Joe Erico, a former Green Eagles goalkeeper, describing him as a mentor who lived a life worthy of emulation by up and coming starlets.

The 72-year-old former NEPA FC of Lagos FC goalkeeper died January 20 after a brief illness.

Wahidi Akanni, a former NEPA FC player, described the late coach as a perfect gentleman on and off the pitch.

“Erico was one of the most patient and respectable coaches. Whenever there is an issue, just talk to him and he will sort you out. His death is a big loss to Nigeria.

“He lived for football, and he was always ready to impact knowledge. It is sad that he is no longer with us. Young players have a lot to learn from him.’’ Akanni said.

Sharing the same view, Dosu Joseph, a former Super Eagles goalkeeper, described Erico as a brilliant coach who mentored him as a young player.

“He trained me. He mentored me. Erico made me who I am today, plus the grace of God. It is sad that he is gone. We usually don’t want our loved ones to die.

“My sympathies to his family. Times like this can be trying and we can only pray for strength. I hope we get remembered before we die, because Nigeria does not honour its heroes while they are alive.

“That is why that act of heroism is reducing. If it’s not beneficial, nobody is willing to give it a 100 percent chance. That’s why young players are mindful about what they can achieve while they are active,’’ he said.

Also speaking, Emmanuel Babayaro, a former Super Eagles goalkeeper, described Erico’s demise as a huge loss to the Nigeria football family.

“I was with him around November 2020, he was an all-rounder. When it comes to football and human management, he was particular about ensuring that things went smoothly.

“I can attest to the fact that he was a good man. Football was his life, and he gave his best, I pray young starts will be as humble and kind as Joe was.

“I pray for his children and wife, that God will keep them and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss. But we should always check on our patriots. We still have a lot to learn from them.

“We still have some of them living and we should take advantage of their knowledge. Let’s engage them and tap from their experience. These are the likes of Christian Chukwu, Adegboye Onigbinde, they still have a lot to give.

“These are men that played selflessly for their fatherland. Experience, they say, can’t be bought. Erico is gone with his knowledge. We should take maximum advantage of those that are still here,’’ he said.

President-General of Nigerian Football and other Sports Supporters Club, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, said he was saddened by the death of Joe Erico, a former national team goalkeeper and assistant coach.

Ladipo said that the late Erico, popularly known as ‘Jogo Bonito Exponent’ was an icon who gave his best to Nigerian football as a player, goalkeeper and trainer.

“It’s sad to hear that Joe Erico is dead; sincerely, the news of his death has left me in a sorrowful mood. He was an icon whose love for Nigeria football cannot be overemphasised.

“He gave his best and active part of his life to football as a player, goalkeeper, trainer and coach both at the local FC and national team.

“Erico was an amiable person, very jovial, friendly, gifted in soccer and passionate about the success of our soccer. The football family, we his friends, his family and the nation will miss him,” Ladipo said.

Ladipo noted that Joe Erico, Stephen Keshi and Shuaibu Amodu were the three coaches that took the national team to Mali 2002, and unfortunately have all died.

According to him, the late goalkeeper and trainer introduced a style of play in his days on the pitch, which stood him out, and made significant contributions to football career of known players.

“He did a lot for us, most of our national players like Sunday Oliseh, Dosu Joseph, Samson Siasia, Emmanuel Amunike, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Mutiu Adepoju and others, who later became professionals, passed through him,” Ladipo said.

He prayed for Erico’s soul to rest in peace and for God to grant his family fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss, while extended his heartfelt condolences to the wife and children.

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Mahrez, Man City Go Second after 2-1 Win over Aston Villa

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Algerian international, Riyad Mahrez, played for 18 minutes as Manchester City dig deep to beat a hard-fighting Aston Villa 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

The victory, their sixth consecutive, pushes Manchester City, who began the season on a low, to the second place of the English Premier League (EPL) table but with a game in hand.

Man City moved to 38 points, above Leicester City on goal difference, with Manchester United on 39 points after a 2-1 victory playing at Fulham later on Wednesday.

After both sides had created plenty of openings, Bernardo Silva put City ahead in the 79th minute with a brilliant left-footed finish after Rodri had robbed Villa defender Tyrone Mings.

Rodri had come back into play from an offside position and Villa Manager, Dean Smith, was given a red card for his protests at the referee.

Ilkay Gundogan made sure of the three points with a 90th-minute penalty after the ball struck Matty Cash’s arm in the box.

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