Exciting showdown in Edmonton

TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

How about For It All at Rexall?

Just doesn't resonate like The Thrilla In Manila.

Still ...

"This is Ali versus Frazier," Glenn Howard said of today's 1 p.m. Roar of the Rings final against Kevin Martin, with the winner going to the Vancouver Olympics.

So which heavyweight is he?

Ali? Or Frazier?

"I'll be Ali," Howard said.

"If you're Ali, you need a good rhyme," he was informed.

"I'm no good at that," he said.

Sweep like a butterfly, zing like a bee?

Too bad curling is only 10 ends. If this was set for 15, it would be interesting when the 13th came along to see what kind of shot Howard would need to make to send Martin's mouthpiece into the ninth row, like Ali did with Frazier.

The Thrilla was the third in the Ali-Frazier trilogy and, many maintain, the greatest title fight of all time.

The Howard-Martin match-up involves a few more bouts. But it has the potential to be the mother of them all.

Certainly there's never been one with more at stake.

Howard and Martin have been going at it the last three years as the two top guns in the roaring game, but the Ontario skip, who won the Brier in 2007 and then came to Edmonton to win the Ford Worlds, has ended up mostly battered and bruised in recent battles.

Two years ago at the Brier in Winnipeg, Martin beat Howard in the round-robin and again in the final.

Last year at the Brier in Calgary, Martin beat Howard in the final game of the round-robin and again the next night in the 1-2 game.

In those four games, Howard was outscored 26-19 by Edmonton's Martin and his back-to-back Brier-winning team of John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert.

This year, Howard went undefeated in his first six games of these Olympic trials but lost the last game of the round-robin to Martin.

On the other hand, Howard, third Richard Hart, second Brent Laing and lead Craig Savill have won two Grand Slam finals against Martin, both at the Cactus Pheasant Classic in Brooks.

"Maybe we should move this down the highway," said Hart.

"Curlers are really good at keeping score, and in the major events they've really had our number. On the tour, we've kind of had theirs," he added.

Actually, Hart said it's fine to keep it right here where they were 11-1 in the Ford Worlds and have been 6-1 so far this week.

"Edmonton fans watch with fair eyes.

"We know right now who they'll be cheering for, but we also know they cheer for good shots."

Howard's point is that the top two teams over the Olympic quadrennial have finally made it to the final.

It hasn't once previously worked that way at this event.

The top two. Toe to toe.

"It's been these two teams on top for the last three or four years," he said.

"It's everything you should want it to be. It's a great feeling. We're in the final. We have a chance.

"I'm pleased with the way I'm throwing the rock. I'm throwing it well. I'm confident. And I'll be nervous, too. If you're not nervous, you're not alive."

Stepping off the ice after the last-rock win over Jeff Stoughton in yesterday's semifinal before 10,891 fans, Hart agreed.

"I'm nervous already. We're going for the ultimate prize in curling. One team is going to be absolutely heartbroken and the other absolutely thrilled.

"We're going to be throwing ourselves out there. If everybody is on their game there's going to be some terrific shot-making.

"I was really tight for this one, tighter than normal," he said of the 11-6 win over Stoughton in which Howard made his last-rock shot to score four.

"It's the prize at the end.

"Expect to see me with bags under my eyes in the morning. I know I'm not going to get any sleep."

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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