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TV Execs Deserve Scorn For Not Making Wlad-Haye

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Once there was a time in boxing where it was managers who prevented fights from happening to protect their fighters from forces greater than their talents. Who could blame them? After all, protecting their fighter was, in theory at least, their job.

Then it became promoters (who for years now have served as de facto managers anyway) who blocked too many of the fights fans most wanted to see for pretty much the same reason, although a touch of greed was always in there somewhere unless they had both sides of the equation, in which case it was two touches of greed.

Television networks, on the other hand, usually were pushing all parties toward the biggest – and hence the most dangerous – matches because, well, they were in the TV business and that’s what made the best television. Well, no more.

The latest and one of the most brazenly obvious, examples of this was the collapse last week of another round of negotiations between Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye. Both have claimed for two years that they want nothing more than to unify their ends of the heavyweight title at the expense of the other yet neither ever seems quite able to reach a lasting agreement or avoid an injury long enough for the fight to actually come off.

But the latest collapse of what was hoped to be an April 30 showdown in Germany between them was not the fault of either man. In fact, both sides agreed to a 50-50 split of the fight’s revenues, neutral officials and one of two stadium venues in Germany. In other words they were sane.

So why isn’t the fight happening? Because today even the TV executives are promoters and what they are promoting is always themselves.

Apparently the fight could not be made on or around April 30 because RTL, the Germany terrestrial TV network that televises Klitschko in Germany, and Sky-TV, which televises Haye on subscription broadcasting and pay-per-view in England, couldn’t agree on a date when the biggest heavyweight fight in years would work for them.

Klitschko’s manager, Bernd Boente, said SKY opposed an April date because it had already scheduled an Amir Khan fight on pay-per-view on April 16 and didn’t want to ask its customers to pay twice in a month for boxing, even though Khan doesn’t even have an opponent yet and Klitschko-Haye would be a far more significant fight in a division that has been insignificant since Lennox Lewis retired. With the division in the doldrums for years now, Lewis’ retirement seems like it was as long ago as when Joe Louis retired.

Both sides insist they can’t delay the fight into May or June because there are stadium issues due to conflicts with soccer’s schedules so the fight now won’t happen before July. But with Klitschko’s injury history and his plan to fight in April regardless that is wishful thinking in a division that hasn’t seen many of its fans’ wishes granted in a long time.

Haye is already hollering he won’t fight Klitschko this summer if he takes a tune-up fight (and why not you might ask since Klitschko has already said its fine with him if Haye does the same). Truth be told, if Klitschko fights Dereck Chisora (yes the next appropriate word is “who?’’) in April there’s no way he comes back to fight again eight weeks later. Judging by his track record if he fights eight months later it will only be because of Divine Intervention.

Haye, of course, could agree to the July fight and end the matter but word is he is now angling to face mandatory challenger Ruslan Chagaev (good seats available) sometime in late May, which means he won’t be available in July anyway. So instead of a relevant and interesting heavyweight matchup for the first time in years between probably the two best heavyweights in the world (excluding Klitschko’s brother, Vitali, who might well beat them both if the opportunity arose – which it won’t) we get Wladimir Klitschko against a Brit with 14 wins, nine knockouts and no chance and Haye against someone like boringly shopworn Ruslan Chagaev.

Chisora (14-0) actually said, “I’ve earned my opportunity’’ after the Klitschko-Haye fight fell through. Obviously he’s no matchmaker and no boxing historian.

How’d he earn it? Was it the stoppage of Zurah Noniashvili that did it? Or when he wiped the floor with Danill Peretyatko? Or maybe it was his two big wins over Sam Sexton that earned him this sparring session with Klitschko?

No wonder even HBO has stopped writing checks to the Klitschko brothers and Haye, who was last seen in the ring with Audley Harrison but only if you lived in England, which is a reminder that we here in the States do have something to be thankful for.

But you can’t rightfully blame the 34-year-old Klitschko (55-3, 49 KO) or Haye this time, even though Haye has now agreed to fight a Klitschko three times without yet getting into anything but a verbal sparring session with them.

Can’t even blame HBO, SHOWTIME, Don King or Bob Arum because none of them were involved either. Just blame some television executives in England and Germany and you’ll have it about right…which is why heavyweight boxing once again got it all wrong.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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