One of world rugby’s biggest encounters will unfold in front of hundreds of thousands of fans on Saturday when the British and Irish Lions stage the ultimate scrap for survival on their tour of New Zealand.
Having missed their chances last week in the first test, while the All Blacks ruthlessly seized their own opportunities, the character of the latest Lions squad will be laid bare on Saturday (SS1 8.30am).
If they cannot answer the call, they could be condemned to a second consecutive whitewash by the world champions and the purgatory of a further 12 years to ponder emulating the class of 1971 in achieving the holy grail of winning a series in New Zealand.
The rest of the rugby programme seems to pale into insignificance, but Super Rugby does make a return this weekend.
The Sharks and the Bulls should have a typically explosive South African derby in Durban on Friday (SS1, 6.30pm).
Another all-SA clash takes place on Saturday when the Cheetahs host the Stormers (SS1, 2.30pm), followed by the Lions against the Sunwolves (SS1, 5.05pm).
The Southern Kings have made the trek to Argentina for a testing encounter against the Jaguares (SS1, 1am on Saturday).
In the boxing ring, across the Tasman Sea from New Zealand, the “Battle of Brisbane” takes place when eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao faces unheralded Australian Jeff Horn (SS1, 3am on Sunday).
The bout will have more than a passing interest for SA boxer Ali Funeka, who was Horn’s last opponent, getting sparked in six rounds in their fight in New Zealand in December.
“Horn has many chances,” said Funeka from his home in the Eastern Cape. “Pacman is old and not what he used to be. Horn didn’t hurt me, but his punches were accurate. I landed heavily on him in the first round, so Pacman might do the same. It’s a hard one to predict, but I guess it will come down to Pacman’s experience.”
Horn is as green as they come – he’s had 17 pro fights compared to the 67 of Pacquiao – but he has both youth and natural size on the champion.
Meanwhile, the world’s best cyclists are primed to show their pedal power when the famed Tour de France kicks off on Saturday in Dusseldorf, Germany, with a 14km time-trial (SS5, 3.10pm).
It will set the scene for one of the world’s most extraordinary races, which, many will be hoping, is not tainted by the all-too familiar drug charges of the sport.