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We Will See What The Fight Game Can Still Be

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Anyone who says the fight game is dead or dying should pull up a chair and watch this fight. They’ll get a chance to see what the fight game can still be.

It won’t be a stylish fight. Not a lot dancing around and clinching, going through the motions. You won’t see some overgrown heavyweight huffing and puffing by the third or fourth round, throwing haymakers and hoping something somehow lands.

These are the smaller guys, the one’s who have lifted the fight game onto their backs  and kept it alive and well while the heavyweights have all but faded away.

There won’t be a lot of wasted effort in this fight. No intentional head butting or strutting. It will just be clean, tough, pure boxing the way it’s supposed to be.

If you’re a true boxing fan, you already know about this fight. You’ve known about it for quite awhile. Just hearing the name of one of the fighters – Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (25-1, 17 KOs) – is enough to make you mark your calendar and send away for tickets.

This is a bantamweight title fight between Donaire and Fernando Montiel (43-2-2, 33 KOs), a Filipino versus a Mexican, with national pride on the line. Good friends, the two are both among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world no matter what any record book or sanctioning body says.

Between them, they’ve scored 51 knockouts in 69 fights, which isn’t bad for bantamweights.

Montiel is the WBC and WBO champion, but If I was picking the winner, I‘d go with Donaire. At 28, he’s the younger of the two, but he’s already won the world flyweight and super-flyweight titles. He’s 25-1 with 17 knockouts and he‘s won his last 24 fights in a row. He’s won eight of his last nine fights by knockout. That includes his big fifth-round win over Vic Darchinyan in July 2007. Donaire caught Darchinyan with a left hook that is still talked about by anyone who saw it.

Donaire proved it wasn’t a fluke this past December when he stopped a tough Volodymyr Sydorenko in the fourth round of their fight in California. Now, Donaire is looking at the biggest fight of his career. And he says he’s ready.

“I think I’m a better strategist than Montiel, but he has more experience,” Donaire said on a conference call earlier this week promoting their Feb. 19 fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (HBO). “He has a tremendous body punch, but I have a pretty good punch too. In terms of strength, I think I have (the edge). I’m naturally strong at this weight. I’m 200 percent sure I’m ready for this fight.“

Though Donaire and Montiel are friends, that doesn’t count for anything when the bell rings. Both know they have to put their friendship on hold the night of the fight. And both know they‘ll still be friends when it‘s over.

“I don’t hate (my opponents), but I try to hit them as hard as I can,” said Donaire, who moved to California from the Philippines when he was 10. “When you’re in the ring, the person in front of you is just another hurdle you need to jump.“

Articulate and personable, Donaire is a devastating puncher who just happens to look like the kid next door. The second most famous fighter coming out of the Philippines, he’s also an excellent ring technician. He adapts to what his opponent gives him.

Montiel has his own following in Mexico. He’s one of  only four Mexicans to have won titles in three different divisions. The others are Cesar Chavez, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and Marco Antonio Barrera.

“I always thought I was one of boxing’s elite fighters,” Montiel said through an interpreter. “But my fight in Japan (when he stopped Hozumi Hasegawa in the fourth round last April and unified the title) was one of those wins that put you at another level. I think that fight opened up the Donaire fight, which for me, was great.“

Montiel said he was impressed by the way Donaire handled Sydorenko in December. But Montiel says he’s not Sydorenko

Sydorenko just stood in front of him and got hit,” he said. “I’m not going to stand in front of him like that.

“(Donaire) has a lot of speed and he’s an intelligent fighter. But the question to me is, how is he going to react when he faces a guy who is just as quick and intelligent as he is? I don’t think he’s faced anyone equal to him. This is the first time he’ll have faced someone who is just as good as he is.”

“It’s going to be a tough fight and it will be up for grabs. But I believe I can win this fight, and that‘s what I‘m going to do.”

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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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