Sport shorts: Deontay Wilder says Tyson Fury has ‘pillows as fists’ and Dominic Thiem beats Rafael Nadal in a thriller


1. Wilder: Fury has no power 

WBC heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder does not believe Tyson Fury has the power to knock him out and says the British challenger has “pillows for fists”. 

Following their drawn contest in 2018 the rivals will go head-to-head in a rematch on 22 February at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

American Wilder, 31, said: “We haven’t seen his power displayed like he’s talking about. It hasn’t been continuous, like mine. I think he has pillows as fists. That’s what I felt in our last fight.

“With the strategies that he’s talking about, I don’t really know how to take it. I don’t know if he’s trying to throw me off my game by saying he’s going to knock me out.” 

Meanwhile, the WBA, IBF and WBO champion Anthony Joshua is backing “Gypsy King” Fury to beat Wilder in the rematch next month. 

Joshua said: “I believe Fury will win. Wilder has shown you can’t blink for a second with him, it takes one punch, but it shows that a good boxer who’s young and fresh and who can make a game plan can be victorious for seven to X amount of rounds.” 

2. Halep to face Muguruza in Melbourne

Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza are through to the semi-finals of the Australian Open tennis grand slam. In the quarter-finals today Halep beat Anett Kontaveit 6-1, 6-1 in just 53 minutes while Muguruza defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3.

Both women’s singles semi-finals will be held in Melbourne tomorrow. World No.1 Ashleigh Barty plays Sofia Kenin at 3am (GMT), followed by Halep vs. Muguruza at 4.30am. 

3. Thiem beats Nadal in thriller 

World No.1 Rafael Nadal is out of the Australian Open after losing at the quarter-final stage against Dominic Thiem today. 

Fifth seed Thiem secured a semi-final spot with a thrilling 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-7 (6-8) victory over Nadal on Rod Laver Arena.

Austrian Thiem will now face German seventh seed Alexander Zverev in Friday’s semi-final. Zverev beat Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Tomorrow’s first men’s semi-final will see rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer go head to head on Rod Laver Arena (8.30am GMT).

READ  San Diego Loyal players walk off field after alleged homophobic abuse – video report

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4. Chinese ski events cancelled 

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has confirmed that the men’s alpine skiing World Cup races in China next month have been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

FIS president Gian Franco Kasper said: “Although the risk level in Yanqing is low, the health and welfare of all participants must take priority. It is also imperative athletes can focus on their performance and particularly on the completely new and very challenging course.”

Coronavirus: can you travel to China and how dangerous is it?

5. North could feature at centre for Wales

Wales rugby star George North could play at centre in the Six Nations opener against Italy in Cardiff on Saturday. 

Attack coach Stephen Jones said: “We have options at 13, which is great. We will have an attacking threat in that channel. George has fitted in at times in the position and he provides that. We want to be smart, getting our best runners in to the ball at the right time and in the right channels.”

Six Nations 2020 guide: squads, fixtures and predictions

Australia rugby union star Israel Folau has had his contract terminated

6. Fury over Folau signing 

Controversial Australian dual-code rugby star Israel Folau has signed a one-year deal with Super League club Catalans Dragons.

Folau, 30, was sacked last year by his former employers, the Australian Rugby Union, after making homophobic comments, but he’s crossed codes to resurrect his career with the French rugby league outfit. 

Former Wales international Gareth Thomas, who also played union and league, is gay and he says he’ll never watch Folau in action. 

Thomas wrote on Twitter: “So Folau has joined the @SuperLeague. Really upset by this as the game, players, and fans were so good to me.

“All I hope is that as much as Folau wanted his right to speak, then players and fans alike are aloud their right to respond. I will never watch him”

Halifax prop Keegan Hirst, Britain’s first openly gay rugby league player, said the decision to hand Folau a contract was “disappointing and frustrating”.

7. Spurs seal Bergwijn signing 

Tottenham Hotspur have completed the signing of Netherlands international Steven Bergwijn from PSV Eindhoven.

The 22-year-old has penned a deal with Spurs until 2025. He replaces Christian Eriksen who has joined Inter Milan for £16.9m.

Bergwijn said: “I think it’s an amazing move, an amazing club. Whatever I can bring, I will give it for this club and for this team. It’s a dream for every football player to play in the Premier League.” 

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8. United fans attack Woodward’s home 

The home of Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was attacked last night by fans who appear to believe he is to blame for the team’s downturn in fortunes. 

Video footage posted on social media shows the hooligans throwing flares over the gates of the property and spraying graffiti. Police are investigating.

Mob attacks home of Ed Woodward and chant he was ‘going to die’

9. Haas to unveil 2020 car in Barcelona

Haas Formula 1 team will unveil their 2020 car – the VF-20 – on the first morning of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Testing in Barcelona will take place on 19-21 February and 26-28 February. 

F1 2020 new car launch dates 
  • Ferrari: 11 February (Reggio Emilia, Italy) 
  • Renault R.S.20: 12 February (France) 
  • Red Bull Racing: 12 February (reportedly)  
  • McLaren MCL35: 13 February (Woking, UK) 
  • Mercedes W11: 14 February (Silverstone, UK) 
  • Alpha Tauri C39: 14 February (Salzburg, Austria) 
  • Racing Point: 17 February (Mondsee, Austria) 
  • Haas VF-20: 19 February (Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain) 
  • Alfa Romeo: 19 February (Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain) 
  • Williams FW43: TBC

10. Today’s back pages: Villa victory

Aston Villa’s dramatic 2-1 win over Leicester City in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final receives plenty of coverage in today’s papers. 

“Roar emotion” is the headline in the Independent, while the Daily Mirror pays homage to Mahmoud Trezeguet’s injury-time winner with a “Trez for Prez” splash. 

Villa will meet the winner of tonight’s semi-final clash between the two Manchester clubs at the Etihad (7.45pm, live on Sky Sports). City lead United 3-1 on aggregate after the first leg.

Today’s newspaper back pages

Aston Villa reach Wembley and Man Utd take ‘Bru turn’

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