Ben Dirs, Special to ESPN.com 107d

Liverpool rules the UK - but London is the greatest sporting city in the world

Mine is not to reason why certain esteemed academics concluded that London is Britain's third greatest sporting city, behind Liverpool and Manchester. But it certainly seems strange, given that London is -- was and always will be -- the greatest sporting city on the planet. Still not convinced? Maybe you can be ...

There are 12 London football clubs competing in the top four divisions in 2017-18, from Barnet in League Two to a gaggle of Premier League outfits. Fancy a bit of rough? South London's Millwall might be your thing. Fancy seeing actual trophies being won? Premier League champions Chelsea or FA Cup winners Arsenal would fit the bill. Fancy something a bit more authentic? Time to go non-league -- although the grounds of Leyton Orient, Dagenham & Redbridge and Sutton United all hold more fans than La Liga's SD Eibar.

Then of course there's Wembley, a 90,000-seater stadium which hosts the FA Cup, League Cup and various playoff finals; England internationals; and the mighty Tottenham Hotspur, at least while White Hart Lane is being rebuilt. If there's a city in the world that's more football than that, I don't know of it.

Anyone for cricket? That's handy, because London has two major grounds -- Lord's and The Oval -- which host three Tests and three one-day internationals between them this year. Middlesex are the reigning county champions, to the chagrin of ancient rivals Surrey, and if you'd been at Lord's on July 23, you'd have seen England's women beat India in the World Cup final.

If you don't mind queuing, there's the small matter of Wimbledon, the world's oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament. On a smaller scale, but still on grass, there's the Aegon Championships, just around the corner at Queen's Club. And if you're only interested in the cream of the crop, there's the season-ending ATP Finals at the O2 arena, where tennis fans can let their hair down and make a racket.

Talking of the O2, that's where many of boxing's biggest fights take place, although not even the O2 was big enough for Anthony Joshua vs.Wladimir Klitschko in April, so they went hammer and tongs at Wembley Stadium instead. But if you prefer your fisticuffs to be more intimate, head to Bethnal Green's York Hall, where prospects and journeymen trade leather.

If you prefer your violence in a team context, then there's plenty of it at the 82,000-capacity Twickenham Stadium. England's male rugby union team won there three times this year, on the way to securing their 28th Six Nations title, and will play there three more times in the autumn. England's women, who play at rugby 'HQ', too, are also current Six Nations champions.

London isn't a hotbed of rugby league -- although the Broncos are pushing for promotion back to Super League -- but it still stages the Challenge Cup final every year, when thousands of (mostly) northerners descend on Wembley, belt out Abide With Me, watch their boys knock seven bells out of the opposition, complain about the price of everything, before heading back north again.

Maybe you like American things, in which case you're in luck -- London hosts four NFL games in 2017, two at Wembley and two at Twickenham (and none in Liverpool). And for those who like rounders with a bit more oomph, there was Major League Baseball in Hyde Park in July, when the sluggers of the Boston Red Sox and LA Dodgers went blow for blow in a Home Run Derby.

But if you're determinedly British, the PDC World Darts Championship -- at which 3,000 fans, many of them three sheets to the wind and dressed up as Oompa Loompas or the Teletubbies -- at the majestic Alexandra Palace (or Ally Pally to the locals) might be more your thing. Or if you like your Britishness more sedate, snooker's Masters could well be your tipple.

Still not British enough? There's greyhound racing east (Romford) and south (Crayford), while the annual Boat Race, in which the universities of Oxford and Cambridge go at it on the Thames, is about as British as it gets (and, in the grand tradition of British sporting events, where some epic boozing goes on).

At the former Olympic Stadium in Stratford, now the London Stadium and home to Premier League West Ham, you'll see elite athletics -- in July, it was the World Para Athletics Championships; and August the World Athletics Championships. And if you want to be part of the action rather than cheering from the sidelines, you can run the London Marathon while raising a bob or two for charity.

Ride London is a three-day festival of cycling in July, which includes a 100-mile ride through the capital and out into the Surrey countryside; the Six Day London is a track-cycling event at the Olympic velodrome in October, an extravaganza of bikes travelling at impossible speeds and banging music.

Lovers of grace combined with freakish strength might have been at the World Cup of Gymnastics at the O2 in April; lovers of horses combined with freakish strength might have been at show jumping's Global Champions Tour event at Royal Hospital Chelsea. But if you like your horses to go like the clappers instead -- and don't mind losing a few quid -- head south to Kempton Park in Sunbury-on-Thames, where flat and National Hunt racing are on the menu.

Forgotten anything? Probably, because there's so much sport in London, it's impossible to remember it all. There is no greater sporting city, and there isn't a computer programme in existence that will convince me otherwise.

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