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Hopkins' Draw Versus Pascal Was Blessing In Disguise

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The February 9th edition of the Montrealgazette.com is reporting that the rematch between WBC light heavyweight title holder Jean Pascal 26-1-1 (16) and former middleweight/light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins 51-5-2 (32) is expected to take place on May 21, 2011 in Quebec City, the site of their controversial first fight. Pascal held on to his title on Dec. 18 when the 12-round bout with Hopkins was scored a majority draw.

Early in the bout the 28 year-old Pascal scored two knockdowns over the 46 year-old Hopkins, and then proceeded to be taken to boxing school by the skillful and savvy vet over the last two thirds of the fight. Pascal may have held onto his title with the draw verdict, but inside it must feel like a loss to him, and that's certainly how a majority of the boxing public sees the fight. Although to Pascal's credit, he is only the second fighter to have Hopkins down since Segundo Mercado dropped Bernard twice in their first fight, back in December of 1994. But maybe it's a bad thing to drop Hopkins because he gets up and finishes the fight strong, at least that's been the case in the two fights in which he's been down.

Watching Hopkins fight and seeing the way he's managed his career has been a thing of beauty and I'm still convinced it's under-appreciated by a lot of boxing observers and fans today. Here's just another example of Hopkins understanding the sport and matchups. Remember how for the better part of a year the undefeated and quick handed Chad Dawson was issuing challenges to Bernard? And Hopkins, who we know can make whatever fight he wants, obliged Chad on Friday Nite Fights and in the media, but never put the wheels in motion to make the fight a reality. Why? Because Hopkins is no dummy and fully understood that Dawson's youth, reach, speed and combination punching would provide him many obstacles and stumbling blocks that he's no longer capable of addressing.

The best thing that happened for Hopkins and opened up a new path for him to add to his legacy was Jean Pascal upsetting Dawson last year. Based on Pascal's convincing win over Dawson, Jean became the new force in the light heavyweight division. And guess what, that didn't escape Hopkins, who knew he matched up well with Pascal, who is a strong and hard punching fighter who lacks experience on the big stage.

Let me be clear, Pascal is not a lumbering fighter. He possesses very fast hands and feet. It's important to note that Pascal has no idea of how to use his speed, and because of that, when facing someone like Hopkins, the speed does him virtually no good (except in terms of getting in a couple of quick lucky shots in early, which Bernard was then able to deal with for the rest of the fight.) Hopkins probably figured based on his uninspiring 12-round decision over Roy Jones in his last fight, Pascal would jump at the chance to retire the living legend, and he did. And therefore Hopkins scored a default victory over Dawson by beating the fighter who beat him, at least in the eyes of the public.

In order for Pascal to fight Hopkins again, Chad Dawson, who was supposed to fight Pascal next, had to be taken care of. Now it looks as though Dawson will fight on the undercard of Pascal-Hopkins II, with him being guaranteed a shot at the winner for the title in his next fight. So in hindsight, the fight being scored a draw was the best thing that could've happened for Hopkins. Now, he can fight a rematch with a fighter he believes he owns psychologically and has already defeated in the eyes of the public, as opposed to having to defend the title against the fighter with the more difficult style in Dawson.

At one time it was the more rugged and physical fighters like Robert Allen, Antwun Echols and Segundo Mercado who gave Hopkins the most trouble. However, that's no longer the case. The younger and less experienced Hopkins was more willing to engage and never wanted it to appear to the fans that there was an opponent who he had trepidation about when it came to trading and straight up fighting. The older and more experienced version of Hopkins doesn't care about that. He'll talk a mean game at the press conference, but once in the ring he'll box and try to take them into the later rounds and open up when he thinks it's safe.

At this time in his career, Hopkins sees everything and fighters his size who rely on their strength and power as their means to beat him are dependent upon landing a lottery punch in order to have a shot at winning the fight. If you look at his career over the last five plus years, it's the quicker and busier fighters like Jermain Taylor and Joe Calzaghe who give him more problems. And that's why he shied away from facing Dawson. In Pascal, Hopkins is facing a strong fighter who will only look to take his head off the way Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik tried to. Pascal got lucky and caught Hopkins early in the fight and I suspect he'll spend a lot of time looking to score that third knockdown in their rematch. And while he's looking for that, Hopkins will probably be banking rounds on his way to a non-controversial decision victory.

Early prediction on the fight and the aftermath: Hopkins will beat Pascal to win the WBC light heavyweight title, and then say he has bigger things than Chad Dawson on his plate and relinquish the title. Immediately afterward he'll lobby for a fight with David Haye or perhaps maybe one of the upper-tier cruiserweights. Yes, if Hopkins gets by Pascal, it's doubtful we'll see him fight Dawson.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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