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COVID-19: Anthony Joshua Test Negative, Fights Kubrat Pulev on Saturday

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WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight boxing unified champion, Anthony Joshua, has ended his short period in self-isolation when his coronavirus test came back negative ahead of his fight with Kubrat Pulev.

Joshua who entered Match room’s bio-secure bubble in London on Tuesday and had to stay in his room for the night before being given the all-clear.

As soon as his test results were confirmed, the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belt-holder made his way to the gym to carry on preparations for Saturday’s bout at Wembley’s SSE Arena.

Later on Wednesday evening, the boxer showed off his physique in an open workout session where rival Pulev and undercard fighters – Lawrence Okolie and Hughie Fury – were put through their paces in the ring.

Cruiserweight Okolie was set to fight for a world title on this bill but original opponent Krzysztof Glowacki tested positive for Covid-19 and, with replacement Nikodem Jezewski ranked outside of the top 15, it looks likely the vacant WBO cruiserweight title will not be on the line.

Nevertheless, the Hackney boxer, who has regularly received praise from Joshua after their sparring sessions, is eager to keep his momentum going and extend his record to 15-0.

Okolie said: “This one is not a world title shot but since I was an amateur I was sparring AJ, Dillian (Whyte), all these guys and coaches would come up to me and say, ‘You will go all the way’ and I don’t know if they say that to everyone!

“But I was thinking we are here and about to go all the way to what we spoke about.

“It feels good (the praise) and has always given me a little extra push because, if I can do it in sparring, I should be able to do it on fight night when it matters.”

Airdrie-based Martin Bakole is another to have sparred with Joshua and will be fighting for the WBC international heavyweight title when he takes on Sergey Kuzmin this weekend.

The Congo-born 27-year-old is desperate for more chances on the big stage and would not turn down the chance to take on his good friend either in the future.

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North Africa Sports

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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Central Africa Sports News

CHAN2020: Africa’s Festival of Football, Music and Culture

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When the African Nations Championship kicked off at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Cameroon showed the world a glimpse of what Africa deeply entails.

Beyond football, Africa’s beauty is richly defined by its excellent culture and art.

Africa stands out for its glitz and glamour, and when football, the most followed sport on the continent comes knocking, expression becomes compulsory – a watchword.

COVID-19 has denied the world of many things, but 2021 has shown it may come with a difference. And in the first month of the new year, Africa is treating the world to the spectacle it missed months ago.

Like the opening ceremony of the African Nations Championship was not enough, competing national teams, fans and players have shown the cultural strength of the continent, and you can’t but admire it.

From the most beautiful local drums, to the rhythmic dance steps and music, Africa has shown itself through CHAN.

As teams score, there is a clear elucidation of the wealth of artistic beauty the continent possesses. While players’ hairstyles are a form, their celebrations are another show of undisputed cultural creativity and credibility.

On green-lush grasses, jerseys blend with music and style as players toil with swivelling arms and legs, chasing the round leather, sweating to bring glory to their nations. Realistically, the glory doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, as their cultural suaveness keep stealing the headlines.

The first six games of the competition produced four goals, in what showed how tough, and sometimes, drab football can be on the continent, but fans had been treated to a cultural spectacle, beyond the round leather.

Tanzanian players sing from the dressing room as they match on to the pitch, and just when you think they faze their opponents, Congolese players are in a queue-like fashion, passing on the dance steps from front to back. It’s a festival of art and culture for Africans.

Cameroon is treating the world to a carnival of football, with beautiful displays mostly seen so far. However, beyond the game is the serene and tranquil ambience brought by fans and players, who have taken every opportunity to show why Africa is the seat of entertainment.

What you may not see in the AFCON is the cultural diversity and understanding shown by players, as many European-born footballers represent African countries.

It is a sight to behold for the many players of dual nationalities who are not yet exposed to the full bloom of Africa’s flowers, but these African-based players dueling for the CHAN prize, are themselves, a sight to behold- the flower itself.

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Central Africa Sports News

CHAN: Burkina Faso Defeat Zimbabwe, Gain First Points

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The Stallions of Burkina Faso ran out 3-1 victors over the Warriors of Zimbabwe on matchday 5 of the ongoing African Nations Championship.

Burkina Faso who had lost 1-0 to Mali in their opening fixture, started as favourites on Wednesday night and were quick to fire the first salvo.

Issouf Soso scored on the 14th minute before Partson Jaure drew the Zimbabweans level just nine minutes later.

In the second half, Clavert Kiendrebeogo put the Burkinabes ahead again on the 53rd minute before Ismahila Ouedraogo scored the third and final goal of the game on the 67th minute.

At the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, Cameroon played a 1-1 stalemate against Mali. Salomon Banga drew the first blood for the hosts before Issaka Samakke scored a sublime free-kick before the break to draw the Malians level.

Cameroon and Mali are tied on points on group A with a goal difference of plus one after two matches.

Cameroon will face Burkina Faso in the third and final group game while Zimbabwe will hope to pick their first point of the tournament against Mali.

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