Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Soothsayer

Last week Prince Naseem Hamed won the IBO featherweight title on points and not in round 4 or 5 as I predicted. His old flair had certainly left him and, judging by the amount of jeers and boos he was getting, maybe his fans had also.

EUROPE



Next week we see the start of tennis's second Grand Slam tournament of the year, the French Open at Roland Garros.

The market leader in the men's singles is Juan-Carlos Ferrero at 5.00-4/1. He stands a good chance of winning if he plays like he did in Monte Carlo, but a big question mark was then posted when he lost easily in the prestigious Masters Series in Rome.

There are bigger doubts over most of his opponents: Gustavo Kuerten is rusty after a long injury, Andre Agassi has not got the fight of old, Marat Safin is best on an intermediate or faster surface and Carlos Moya is getting too long in the tooth to maintain a two-week impetus for a major.

Lleyton Hewitt is another player not quite at his very best on clay. The value is Roger Federer at 11.00-10/1 to upset Ferrero, even though he has only won one tournament on clay. He is only 20 and his 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 thrashing of Safin in Germany last weekend makes him the most in-form player.

There have been some interesting friendlies running up to the World Cup. France has had some indifferent performances and South Korea has looked a very handy side, but co-host Japan has been woeful. After struggling to qualify, the Brazilians have put together some good results, so at 7.00-6/1 they are beginning to look like possible World Cup winners. In England's group, Argentina has been very quiet and has not played a match yet.

Sweden is now looking like the weakest team after its defeat to Paraguay. Nigeria, after beating Scotland and Ireland, could well be the surprise of the group. England's 1-1 draw against South Korea had a good first-half performance, but after the seven substitutions in the second half England lost organization. Sven-Goran Eriksson has let Trevor Sinclair fly back to England even though he is the official cover for Kieron Dyer; if Dyer does break down then Sinclair will have to deal with jetlag and reacclimatization to the heat and humidity all over again.

On Sunday morning England faces Cameroon and I believe Eriksson will keep a much more stable side throughout the match, so back England to win at 2.10-11/10. This will be part of my bet of the week.

UNITED STATES



The Lakers stole home advantage from the Kings by taking Game 1 in Sacramento; despite losing Game 2 they are 4/11-1.36 to win the championship. On Friday in Los Angeles the Lakers will look to dominate, and I predict a 8 to 10 point win; the spread is 6.5 points, so take 9/10-1.90 the Lakers to cover. The teams in the East are being ignored, the Nets and the Celtics are 10/1-11.00 and 16/1-17.00 to win the NBA, respectively.

In the NHL, Toronto took Game 1 in Colorado and just failed in Game 2 in overtime. Leafs coach Pat Quinn is in a hospital having precautionary tests and missed Game 3. This obviously worked as a positive for the Leafs as they won 2-1 in overtime. So the long-term bet is back on, and my Canadian guru is starting to wet his pants in anticipation.

The Wings lost Game 2 at home but restated their favorites tag by winning Game 3. Unlike the NBA this year the NHL has been very competitive in the playoffs, and the Conference finals could go all the way.

The kitty stands at $132.

Bet of the week

$10 double
Heineken Cup final
Munster to beat Leicester 2.25-5/4(6 p.m. Saturday)
International friendly
England to beat Cameroon 2.10-11/10 (10 a.m. Sunday)

Possible Winnings -- $48

Frank Caruana is the manager of Sportland. Contact him at Soothsayer@imedia.ru