No headgear can help Thai boxers to two golds in Incheon

The International Amateur Boxing Association opted to remove headgear in men’s bouts last year with many fighters getting their first chance to box without them at the Sept 19-Oct.

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4 Games in Incheon.

Thailand Boxing Association head Pichai Chunhavajira said the move will aid his team of seven male fighters in South Korea, with all having grown up practising other combat sports, like Muay Thai, without using headgear.

“The lack of headguards gives us the edge,” Pichai told the Nation newspaper on Saturday.

A change in scoring will also favour the Thais, Pichai said, adding he thought bouts would be more exciting.

“In the past we have rarely seen knockouts but with the new rules there will likely be KO’s after a few rounds,” he added.

“If they can make it clear they are better right from start, then it’s very unlikely that the judging will go against them. But at the end of the day, you have to be really good to win.”

Pichai has high hopes for light welterweight Wuttichai Masuk, flyweight Chatchai Butdee, light heavyweight Anawat Thongkratok and welterweight Sailom Adi.

Wuttichai looks most likely to deliver having beaten Cuban world number one Luis Oliva in the final of the AIBA’s President’s Cup in June. The 64 kilogramme fighter also beat home favourite Almasbek Alibekov en route to victory in Almaty.

“Judging from recent results, we have boxers who are potential Asian Games gold medallists,” Pichai said.

“Wuttichai in particular won the President’s Cup. It’s not easy to beat a home fighter in a boxing powerhouse like Kazakhstan.

“We also have Sailom, Anawat and Chatchai, who have Olympic experience. These boxers have been in good form and have a good draw. They are capable of producing gold-medal-winning performances.”

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Sri Lanka rout Pakistan to clinch ODI series

Fawad Alam’s unbeaten 38 was the highest score in their embarrassing batting capitulation that saw only three batsmen reach double digits.

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Set a revised 101-run victory target in 48 overs following a rain-intervention, Sri Lanka lost three wickets before romping home with Tillakaratne Dilshan (50 not out) scoring with the kind of fluency none of the Pakistani batsmen could display.

Earlier, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq was left to rue his decision to bat first at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium as his team lost the top half of their batting order to reach 55 in the 19th over.

Dhammika Prasad dismissed openers Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad cheaply to deny Pakistan a strong start and Lasith Malinga trapped Mohammad Hafeez leg before to further wreck the top order.

Hafeez was not convinced by the umpire’s call and asked for a review but could not get the decision overturned and the visitors slumped to 14-3 in the eighth over.

Their innings never got any momentum but Misbah and Alam at least offered some resistance which was broken by Dilshan’s accurate throw from point that sent back the Pakistan captain.

Umar Akmal hit Perera for a six but the bowler exacted revenge with the next delivery which the batsman could only top edge to perish.

Perera destroyed Pakistan’s middle order with his four-wicket burst while also taking a smart running catch to send back Shahid Afridi, who had stepped out to hit leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna.

Reeling at 81-8 from 26 overs, the respite for Pakistan finally came in the form of rain which forced the players off.

Their resistance, however, did not last long once play resumed and spinner Rangana Herath rearranged Mohammad Irfan’s stumps with a flighted delivery to end their innings.

The defeat marked the end of Pakistan’s disappointing tour of Sri Lanka where they lost both the tests preceding the one-day series.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; editing by Patrick Johnston)

Lyon, Clarke, Cutting in for Australia

Australia have realised they must utilise spin more effectively if they’re to win the one-day tri-series in Harare, with Nathan Lyon recalled to face Zimbabwe on Sunday.

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Selectors have made three changes from the side that suffered a seven-wicket loss to South Africa earlier in the week, with captain Michael Clarke to also make his return from a left hamstring injury which sidelined him from the first two matches.

Clarke comes in at the expense of Steve Smith, Lyon replaces the rested Mitchell Johnson and bowling allrounder Ben Cutting gets his first opportunity of the tour in place of Kane Richardson.

In a batting reshuffle, Clarke will come in at No.3 pushing allrounder Mitchell Marsh back to No.6 for the match which can guarantee Australia their place in the final against the Proteas.

Lyon’s axing for the Proteas clash has been shown up to be a mistake and his return allows Johnson to freshen up for the business end of the round robin tournament, which concludes with a final on Saturday September 6.

Clarke says the five overs bowled by Australia’s part-timers Smith and Glenn Maxwell against South Africa simply wasn’t enough in the slow conditions, and Lyon will take on a sizeable responsibility.

“I think the selectors have got to think about the conditions we’re playing in and what they think is the right attack to beat South Africa and Zimbabwe in these last two games,” Clarke said.

“We’ve got to use our spinners a bit more than what we have so far.”

Australia’s decision to drop Lyon was made to look even more misguided in hindsight by the fact Zimbabwean spinner Prosper Utseya claimed a five-wicket haul – including a hat-trick – against the South Africans on the same pitch two days later.

Zimbabwe bowled South Africa out for 231, with eight wickets taken by spinners, and although the Proteas rallied to win the match, Australia were given an insight by the hosts into the tactics required to be successful in Harare.

“We tend to prepare wickets that are slow and that turn,” said Utseya, who will be tested next month in Cardiff after being reported for a suspect bowling action prior to this series.

“So we’ll always try to play to our strengths when we’re playing at home.”

Smith is the unlucky man to miss out for Clarke, meaning Phil Hughes retains his place opening the batting.

With Smith’s leg-spinners out of the equation, Glenn Maxwell will be utilised as a part-time option, and Clarke says he’s also fit to bowl his left-arm orthodox if required. Australia: Aaron Finch, Phil Hughes, Michael Clarke (capt), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Ben Cutting, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon.

Arruabarrena takes charge at ailing Boca Juniors

Arruabarrena, a former Boca, Villarreal and Argentina left back, was appointed on Friday to succeed record title-winner Bianchi, who led the club to nine trophies a decade back, but had to go after a dismal 18-month third spell in charge.

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“It’s a matter of pride and a great responsibility to be the coach at this club for which everyone knows the strong feeling I have,” Arruabarrena, 39, said at his unveiling.

“We’re going to try to pull out of this situation, I have faith in the squad,” he said of a team he has inherited lying near the bottom of the standings with three points from four matches.

“I can talk a lot (about what I want from the team) but they’re just words…We have to work hard,” added Arruabarrena, who won league and Libertadores Cup titles under Bianchi at Boca.

“The players are hurting, they feel rage and the best way to get out of that is to try to lift their spirits and I’m confident we can do that,” said Arruabarrena, whose previous coaching experience is with Tigre and Uruguay’s Nacional.

Boca president Daniel Angelici’s decision to prematurely end Bianchi’s tenure was not popular with club members who chanted at an assembly for his and the board’s resignations.

Angelici, however, moved after Boca’s third defeat of the season, 3-1 away to Estudiantes on Wednesday after last weekend’s 3-0 loss to modest Atletico Rafaela at La Bombonera.

“This is the best moment to play against Boca,” Velez’s Uruguayan goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa said as the leaders look to extend their perfect start with a fifth successive win.

Boca’s arch-rivals and title holders River Plate, in stark contrast, will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in second place away to newly crowned South American champions San Lorenzo (0030 Monday).

River have rediscovered their long-lost identity as an attacking team under their former midfielder Marcelo Gallardo, who took charge as coach when Ramon Diaz resigned after his side won last season’s “Final” championship in May.

Sunday also marks the return of the Avellaneda derby, second only to the Boca-River “superclasico” with promoted Independiente at home to Racing Club (1815).

The derby was not played last season after Independiente’s first ever relegation and Racing are favourites for their first away win over their big rivals in 13 years.

(Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Day third at Deutsche Bank

Jason Day is three shots off the lead in a tie for third after the opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship in Massachusetts.

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The Queenslander fired a five-under-par 66 in the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs led by American Ryan Palmer who rolled in nine birdies on his way to a round of eight under.

Palmer leads compatriot Keegan Bradley by two shots while Day is joined on 66 by Americans Webb Simpson and Chesson Hadley.

The 37-year-old Palmer is aiming for his fourth career US PGA Tour win after finishing runner-up earlier this year at the Honda Classic and the Humana Challenge.

“It’s been great the past couple of months,” Palmer said.

“My short putting has been phenomenal.

“I’m making a lot more putts inside six feet. When you get the putts going from 15 (feet) and in, especially for birdie, it makes for good days.”

Palmer’s round was lowest score at the Boston course and comes after he missed the cut in his past two appearances in the event.

He started on the back nine and made bogey on the 10th. He erased that mistake with a 13-foot birdie putt on the 11th.

He capped his round with a birdie putt from 18 feet on the ninth, his last.

“I’ve had that good feeling (with my putter) since the Open Championship,” said Palmer, who needed just 21 putts in his first round.

“I took a small tip from (Shawn) Stefani, who was talking about his putting changes. I took a little something from that.”

Ian Poulter, who shared ninth here last year, posted a four-under 67.

He was joined in sixth place by Sweden’s Carl Pettersson, Bill Haas, Scotland’s Russell Knox and Jordan Spieth.

Defending champion Henrik Stenson opened with a one-under 70 and is tied for 26th, along with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy.

The world No.1 McIlroy got off to a quick start making birdie on three of his first four holes but then cooled off with four pars and a bogey to finish the front nine.

McIlroy mixed two birdies and three bogeys over his final six holes.

The top 70 players on the FedEx Cup points list after the Deutsche Bank tournament will advance to the BMW Championship in Denver.