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Deontay Wilder talks tough after brooding buildup to Tyson Fury fight



Deontay Wilder

Deontay Wilder talks tough after brooding buildup to Tyson Fury fight

I see me beating him up and then knocking him out,” Deontay Wilder said in his Alabama drawl soon after he arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday evening and looked ahead to his third world heavyweight title fight against Tyson Fury on Saturday night. It was a reminder that we are back in fight week in the dangerous and unpredictable business of heavyweight boxing.

The damaged kings of this division can say terrible things – as Wilder proved in March 2018 when he said: “I want a body on my record.” He tried to qualify his statement by saying that, because he was prepared to die in the ring, he was also willing to take an opponent’s life. Wilder is not a bad man. He has his own demons. He also understands boxing’s darkest truth. Many boxers are willing to risk being carried away in a box in pursuit of their dreams.

In December 2018 Fury and Wilder drew their first encounter in Los Angeles. It was the best world heavyweight title fight in years. Fury, having had just two warm-up bouts after his long break from the ring for mental health reasons, produced an incredible performance as he outboxed Wilder. But in the 11th round he was dropped for the second time in the fight. It was such a brutal knockdown that Fury was briefly unconscious as he lay stretched out on his back. He somehow dragged himself off the canvas and was firing punches at an incredulous Wilder before the end of the round. The controversial draw, with most experts and fans believing Fury had been a clear winner, set up the Vegas rematch.

All the odds seemed to favour Wilder after the American won his next two fights with chilling knockouts. He was called the most destructive puncher in the history of heavyweight boxing. As he walked to the ring in February 2020 Wilder wore a Black History Month metal mask and costume that weighed 40lb. He looked frazzled when he stepped out of his clanking paraphernalia. The American never recovered. From the opening bell Fury beat Wilder up with methodical, dazzling precision. He dropped Wilder in the third and the fifth rounds before the referee brought the contest to a merciful end in the seventh. The stoppage was instigated by Wilder’s assistant trainer Mark Breland, a former fighter, who knew the damage was too severe to continue.

Wilder protested: “I am upset with Mark for the simple fact that we’ve talked about this many times … I want to go out on my shield. If I’m talking about going in and killing a man, I respect the fact that the same can happen to me. I am ready to die in the ring and be carried away in a box.”

Breland has since been fired and replaced by Malik Scott, another former fighter whom Wilder stopped in the first round in 2014. It might seem a strange move to have appointed one of his vanquished opponents, and a man with limited experience as a trainer, but Wilder is emphatic that Scott has improved his often raw skills. He can never hope to outbox Fury – his best hope is that one of his explosive punches finally knocks out his nemesis.

Wilder has been a brooding presence in the long buildup to this fight, which was pushed back three months after Fury caught Covid for a second time in early July. He refused to say anything at the first press conference and, in his silence, Wilder seemed to tap into his personal definition of himself as a fighter. Wilder comes from Tuscaloosa – home of the usually dominant University of Alabama college football team. They are led by Nick Saban, the great college coach, who posts regular messages of support to Wilder. The mantra from Tuscaloosa and the Crimson Tide, as the multiple championship-winning college team is called, is that defeat is only ever a temporary setback. Wilder echoes these sentiments as he describes himself as a quintessentially defiant fighter from the South.

As the third fight has neared he has begun to talk more outrageously again. Wilder has accused Fury of using “loaded gloves”. This is just pre-fight hoopla rather than a serious proposition.

Wilder is the father of eight children in Alabama and his personal story remains riveting. He turned to the ring late and only after he had fallen into a deep depression. In 2005, at the age of 20, Wilder’s one-year-old daughter was in acute pain from spina bifida. The trauma of his little girl’s condition and the accompanying financial burden wore him down.

Before the second Fury fight he said: “In 2005 it became very rocky for me to the point where I lost my family and I had a gun in my lap. I was ready to commit suicide. But boxing led me out of that wilderness. It is a dark and heavy business but boxing is also a place of dreams and hope. It saved me. I put the gun away for good. And here I am today … heavyweight champion of the world.”

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Last year he was stripped of that title in comprehensive and humiliating fashion by Fury. The challenge for Wilder now will be to convince himself that he can really beat a man who got up from some of the biggest punches he has ever thrown in the first bout and then totally dominated him in the rematch. But Wilder cannot be underestimated. He has lost just once in 44 fights and overcome much adversity outside the ring.

Wilder has also said, more calmly of his defeat by Fury, “It is a blessing in disguise what happened. It changed me in so many different ways. My words are not even enough to explain and describe it. You will see on October 9. Only then will everyone understand what I mean.”

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage



UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”

Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”

Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable.”

Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.

She echoed Guterres’ comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

“But it was Russia’s war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,” Baerbock said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.

“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom



Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

Local and federal highways in the North-west have become vulnerable as bandits continue to ambush and abduct travellers.

The gunmen who abducted 29 people returning to Zamfara State from Sokoto State where they had gone to attend the wedding of colleagues have released them after the payment of an unspecified ransom.

The victims, who were mostly dealers of mobile phones and phone accessories at Bebeji Communication Market (Bebeji Plaza) in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State were abducted in Sokoto 13 days ago.

Secretary of the GSM Dealers Association in the state, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the release of the victims but didn’t give details.

One of the victims reportedly died in captivity.

Though the amount paid as ransom to secure the release of the hostages has not been revealed, Abdullahi Lawal, whose brother was among those abducted, said their relatives were asked to make donations. He said his family raised N33,000 while the phone sellers’ association “provided the remaining money.”

“Every family was told to gather N400,000 while the members of the plaza and their colleagues in the state provided the remaining money. Some family members were able to raise the money in full, but we couldn’t. I took the money to the plaza and I was told that they were still negotiating with the bandits” he said.

He said he didn’t know how much was given to the bandits “but I’m happy that my brother is okay,” he said.

From N5m to N700,000

A phone accessories seller, Sharhabilu Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the officials of the phone dealers association negotiated with the bandits to reduce the ransom they originally demanded to release the captives.

“You know that the initial money they said was N5m for each of the captives but our officials kept negotiating with them (bandits) until they reduced the money to N700k,” he said.

When asked about the person who reportedly died in captivity, Mr Muhammed said his identity has not been revealed.

“We don’t know because even the bandits didn’t tell but we’ll surely find out when they (captives) arrive at Gusau tonight,” he added.

The police command spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, didn’t respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the development.


PREMIUM TIMES reported that the wedding guests were abducted when bandits opened fire on the two buses they were travelling in a few kilometres after Bimasa in the Dogon Awo junction, Sokoto State.

They were returning from Tambuwal town in Sokoto State where they had attended the wedding of a colleague, Jamil Umar.

The captives were travelling on a Toyota Coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC and another bus owned by Gusau Local Government.

The bandits had demanded a ransom of N145 million to release the 29 hostages.

Bandits have been terrorising North-west states and a part of North-central Nigeria, killing and displacing hundreds of people and rustling domestic animals.

Travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.

Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travellers becoming a daily occurrence.

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances



Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

A motion seeking the intervention of the House of Representatives in the conflict between the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, and Justices of the Supreme Court, over issues bordering on welfare and working conditions suffered a setback on Thursday.

While the House called for a general review of salaries and allowances of all political office holders and public servants, the members were divided over which committees should handle the task.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, had moved a motion to seek the intervention of the chamber in the crisis rocking the apex court and better welfare package for judicial officers across the courts.

Luke, who moved the motion titled, ‘Need to Address the Deteriorating Working Conditions of Judicial Officers,’ prayed the House to urge the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to upwardly review the remuneration of judicial officers in line with present economic realities.

The lawmaker prayed the House to urge the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation of the judiciary for the upcoming fiscal year and provide special intervention funds for the development of the arm

He further prayed the House to mandate the Committee on Judiciary to ensure compliance and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

While the lawmakers were making amendments to the prayers, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, called for an upward review of the welfare package of all public office holders.

Wase, who stated that he appreciated the memo from the Justices to the CJN, noted that only the RMAFC had the responsibility to review remuneration of government officials.

The Deputy Speaker made reference to a part of the motion that read, ‘The remuneration of judicial officers was last reviewed in 2008 by the RMAFC when the official exchange rate was N117.74 to $1, whereas the naira has considerably depreciated.’

Wase partly said, “I think this particular element does not affect just judicial officers, maybe because they cried out now. I don’t think it is right that we have to wait every time until people write letters of complaints and there is protest before we begin to do the right thing.”

Rephrasing Wase’s proposed amendment, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “The DSP’s amendment is that we should not isolate the Judiciary and all those enumerated constitutional bodies and public office holders. They should be reviewed; a comprehensive review based on all the things that Hon Luke said – the exchange rates and this and that.”

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