GUILLERMO 'the Jackal' Rigondeaux has been trading punches with Katie Taylor ahead of his WBA World super-bantamweight title defence against Limerick's Willie 'Big Bang' Casey.
Rigondeaux and Taylor battled it out over four rounds of a hard-punching sparring session at Andy Lee's former St Francis club in Limerick on Monday.
According to Lee's former coach Ken Moore, Rigondeaux was very impressed with the celebrated Bray woman.
The Cuban puts his WBA belt on the line in a battle of the southpaws at Dublin's Citywest Hotel on March 19.
"Katie caught Guillermo with a cracking body shot in the third round and he acknowledged it in the ring. He told me he was very impressed with her abilities," Moore revealed.
IRELAND'S Amy Bowtell built on her growing reputation with a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory over Constance Sibille to book her place in the second round of the ITF Circuit event in Coimbra, Portugal.
The Greystones 17-year-old, ranked 905 in the world, impressed against the French No 3 seed, ranked 526.
Bowtell will meet Fed Cup team-mate Julia Moriarty in the second round after her 6-4 6-3 win over Portugal's Anna Claro.
Elsewhere, Conor Niland and James McGee tumbled to first-round defeats.
Niland was forced to retire with flu when trailing Russia's Ilya Belyaev 4-1 in the ATP Challenger Tour event in Kazan, Russia, while McGee lost to Dutch player Xander Spong 6-0 0-6 2-6 in the ITF Futures event in France.
World champion Sebastian Vettel laid down a marker for the 2011 season by setting the fastest time on the opening day of testing in Valencia.
The 23-year-old German marked his first outing in Red Bull's new RB7 car with a lap of one minute 13.77 seconds. His closest rival in a 2011 car was Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, 0.78 secs off the pace and fifth overall.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting made a return to training yesterday as he bids to be fit in time for the World Cup, while batsman Callum Ferguson was rushed into the squad for the final two one-day internationals against England.
A broken finger has kept Ponting out of the entire one-day series against England, which Australia have already sealed 4-1 with their 51-run victory in Brisbane on Sunday.