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Manfredo, Rodriguez Get Ws On FNF

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A pair of New England super-middleweights came away with unanimous 10-round decisions when ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights made its annual pilgrimage to the Conch Republic. Peter Manfredo Jr. of Providence overcame a sluggish start to win going away in his main event against Haitian veteran Daniel Edouard, while highly-touted prospect Edwin Rodriguez had a tougher time than expected with Aaron Pryor Jr. in the co-featured bout on Lou DiBella’s card.

Manfredo, now 37-6, was making his debut as a DBE fighter (he fought a November tuneup on a Jimmy Burchfield card in November since signing with DiBella), and took awhile to get himself untracked. Edouard came out behind a snapping jab from the opening bell, with the result that Manfredo was fighting in reverse gear. Emboldened by his early success in the first three rounds, Edouard was landing some right hands behind the jab by the fourth, a round he appeared well on the way to winning through the first two minutes.

The entire fight turned on a single punch. Emboldened by his early success, the Haitian stepped back to admire his handiwork, his hands at his side, creating an opening Manfredo couldn’t pass up. Like a man swatting a fly, he lashed out with a short right hand that caught his foe right on the chin. Edouard teetered for a moment and then crumpled to the canvas.

“He’s 30 years old like I am. We’re both veterans. He knows better,” shrugged Manfredo of Edouard’s fatal lapse.

Although he made it to his feet, the momentum of the fight had completely shifted. Manfredo spent the remaining seconds of the fourth and most of the fifth trying to take him out, and, once it became evident that wasn’t going to happen, spent the balance of the fight taking target practice without meeting any significant resistance.

It was another step on the way back up the ladder for Manfredo, who is hoping for one last grasp at the brass ring after a 43-fight career. (In an interview that ran prior to the fight card, Manfredo revealed that although he had earned purses of $250,000 for his runner-up role on “The Contender” and $500,000 for his 2007 stoppage at the hands of world champion Joe Calzaghe in Wales, he had sunk his career earnings into the Providence real estate market just in time to watch it tank. Having declared bankruptcy, Manfredo now works as a laborer on the bull gang at the same Dunkin Donuts Center where he had been a main event performer.)

It was a convincing win over a durable veteran, but by allowing the fight to go the distance Manfredo forced his father, Peter Sr., to climb the ring steps about six more times than he would have preferred. (Manfredo pere recently underwent hip replacement surgery.)

Edouard, who had announced prior to the bout that he would retire if he didn’t win, saw his record slip to 24-4-2 after his second straight loss.  Judges Mike Pernick and Rocky Young both scored it 98-91, as did TheSweetScience, while Bill Ray had it 97-92.

Rodriguez and Pryor had shared a bill in Fargo, North Dakota in their respective last fights. The unbeaten Rodriguez had served as a sparring partner for a pair of world champions, working first with Carl Froch before his fight against Arthur Abraham and then with Jean Pascal prior to his defense against Bernard Hopkins. It is safe to say that he handled both of them with more ease than he did Pryor on this night in the al fresco oceanfront arena in Mallory Square.

Of course, neither Froch nor Pascal is 6’4 ½”, and it was that dimension that seemed to create more problems for Rodriguez than anything. Pryor didn’t make full use of his reach advantage, but when Rodriguez was able to slip through the taller man’s defenses to land a jab, he was seldom able to do much else before Pryor was able to tie him up. It was literally the tenth round before Rodriguez even threw, much less landed, as many as three sequential punches, resulting in a fight that was much closer than anyone had anticipated going in.

Of course what neither Pryor nor the television audience knew until much later was that Rodriguez had told the elder Manfredo (yes, Peter Sr. had to make another ten trips up the stairs in that bout) after the fourth that he had injured his right shoulder. (He was taken to a local hospital for examination after the fight. DiBella later said that he was getting a catscan, and that it looks like he might have a torn rotator cuff, which “would be a tough break for the kid.”)

Referee Sam Burgos, who had warned Pryor earlier, took a dubious point for a stray elbow in the eighth round. (Pryor’s elbow was thrown back-handed, and as the fighters were disengaging.) It did not prove material in the outcome, as Pernick and TSS both had it 96-93, Young 97-92, and Richard Green a far-fetched 98-92.

Rodriguez is now 18-0, Pryor 15-3.

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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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