- May 2 down the years
Hitman down and out in Las Vegas
Manny Pacquiao leaves Ricky Hatton's career in tatters. Billed as the battle between East and West, the 'Hitman' and 'Pac-Man' faced off for the IBO light-welterweight title in Las Vegas. Ahead of the fight, Hatton branded his Pilipino opponent as a 'one-dimensional fighter'. Pacquiao saved his talking for the ring and knocked Hatton down twice in the first round - first with a right-hook and second with an explosive combination. Clearly shaken, the Englishman struggled to protect the left side of his head - professional suicide against someone like Pacquiao - and would not survive the round. Several accurate and loaded left-hooks made contact and Hatton was finally sent sprawling to the canvas with a single second remaining of the round. Pacquiao's win made him one of only two men along with Oscar de la Hoya to win six world championships in six different weight divisions. In contrast, the manner of Hatton's demise led many to call for him to retire - a decision he is yet to announce.
The sport of snooker is rocked by the news that world No. 1 John Higgins is suspended for agreeing to throw frames. A video released by the News of the World allegedly shows Higgins and his manager Pat Mooney agreeing to accept £261,000 in return for deliberately losing frames.
The biggest upset in any rugby league Challenge Cup final. Wigan had won the last of their eight consecutive finals three years earlier, but with the likes of Jason Robinson, Gary Connolly, Andy Farrell, and Kris Radlkinski taking over from talismanic stars Shaun Edwards and Martin Offiah, there seemed little chance of defeat against a Sheffield Eagles club formed only four years earlier. But the Eagles went to Wembley with a game plan and some self-belief amplified by a try after only five minutes. Scrum-half Mark Aston, who won the Lance Todd Trophy, hit a high ball towards little Robinson on the wing, a tactic Australia used successfully in the rugby union World Cup final on November 22 2003. Nick Pinkney grabbed the ball in the air and went over. Then Sheffield's scrambling defence held out while Matt Crowther scored another try. They led 11-2 at half-time and went further ahead when sub Darren Turner crashed through four defenders. A converted try by Mark Bell brought it back to 17-8 but Wigan's usually prolific back-line failed to inspire a comeback. Sheffield didn't kick on from this triumph. Crowds didn't improve, and the following year they merged briefly and embarrassingly with Huddersfield before re-emerging as a semi-pro club.
The most sensational last ten minutes of any Challenge Cup final. St Helens trailed Halifax 19-12 when Paul Round's converted try pulled the score back to a single point. Soon afterwards, Mark Elia went over the line for what looked like the winning try - but John Pendlebury saved the day for Halifax with an unbelievable tackle. Throwing himself full length, he barely reached the diving Elia, but it was enough to dislodge the ball. It really wasn't Elia's day. Right at the end, he did put the ball down over the line - only for the try to be disallowed for a forward pass. Halifax lost in the final the following year and have not won the cup since.
Poor Jimmy White. One of the best snooker players of his time, he was talented enough to reach six World finals but not steely enough to win any of them. He lost four to Stephen Hendry alone, including this occasion, when no-one could have come much closer to winning the title. This was White's fifth final in a row. On May 3 the previous year, Hendry had beaten him 18-5. Here White led 9-7 overnight but went into the evening session level at 12-12. White struggled but didn't give up, levelling at 17-17 to take the Final into a deciding frame. Under the spotlight, White seemed to be coping as he worked his way towards a routine match-winning break. The gods were smiling at last. The people's favourite was about to win the big prize - on his birthday. But the gods were just playing the cruellest of jokes. Suddenly, out of excitement or whatever, White missed an easy black off its spot. His heartache became immediately apparent as he stared wistfully at the remnants of his title dream. Hendry cleared up and won the third of his five titles in a row, and dismayed all opposition by doing it with a hairline fracture of his elbow, caused by a slip in his hotel bathroom. But this final wasn't about him.
Twenty-two-year-old Shaun Murphy became the second-youngest world champion at snooker. Only Hendry on April 29 1990 was younger. In this final, Murphy triumphed 18-16 against Welshman Matthew Stevens, who'd lost by the same score in the final five years earlier May 1. Murphy began the tournament at 150-1 and ended it as the first qualifier to win it since Terry Griffiths on April 28 1979. New laws about tobacco advertising made this the last World Championship sponsored by Embassy.
The aforementioned Griffiths reached the final again for the only time since winning it nine years earlier. He did very well to hold an unusually nervous defending champion after a tight first day, but then Steve Davis recovered and turned the screw, finally winning 18-11 to take the title for the fifth time.
Still snooker and still Davis. The 'Nugget' continued to tighten his grip on snooker's most-prized event as he hammered the 1980 champion Cliff Thorburn 18-6 - the biggest win in a final until Davis himself destroyed John Parrott on May 1 1989. The Canadian was all-square at 2-2 and just about in touch at 12-5 overnight, but he was exhausted after winning his last three matches in the final frame. He had played 14 hours more than Davis and even his famous concentration could not survive that. Thorburn's landmark 147 on April 23 must have seemed an eternity ago.
The first known instance of a snooker player making a clearance from the break-off. In Auckland, Murt O'Donoghue of Australia fluked a red and went on to make a break of 134.
James Hunt won the Spanish Grand Prix. Crucially, as it turned out. He was furious at being disqualified (for an aerofoil five-eighths of an inch too wide), but won his appeal. The turn-around in points, plus Lauda's horrific accident on August 1, gave Hunt a shot at the world title on October 24 which he dutifully won with a memorable performance at a rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix.
The Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park in Dublin was watched by a crowd of 82,208, the biggest in the competition's history. Leinster's backs ran riot against Munster, with Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald, and Brian O'Driscoll scoring tries in a 25-6 revenge for the defeat by the same club in the same round three years before.
In the English Cup final at Twickenham, defending champions Bath were leading 19-12 against Wasps when a crowd invasion ended the match three minutes early. The referee took the players off and in the sanctuary of his dressing room was told there was no point going back out. Bath won the Cup for the fourth consecutive time, a record that still stands, while Wasps lost to them for the second final in a row despite leading 12-4 at half-time.
Having missed out the previous year, the men from the Westcountry regained the Cup thanks to a famous last-second drop goal by their fly-half sorcerer Stuart Barnes, star of so many finals. Bath recovered from a nine-point deficit at half-time. Right at the end, Harlequins missed drop goal attempts of their own, before Barnes dropped the ball just over the bar as the referee was about to blow.