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D'Roundup: There Will Never Be Another Like Fedor

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Fedor Emelianenko Beat UpDo you remember where you were on May 15, 2004, the night Roy Jones Jr. fought a rematch with Antonio Tarver? I remember being at my University nightclub, the Turret, talking about the then-in-progress match with a random patron.

“So what do you think happened?” he asked.

“Of course Roy won!” I replied, incredulous that the result wasn’t a given.

Later on, the truth came out that a counter left hook had ended RJJ’s reign atop the pound-for-pound list. Jones never had the same aura of invincibility that had powered his virtuoso career up to that point.

Watching Fabricio Werdum slap on a triangle just 69 seconds into the first round at last June’s Strikeforce show was a similar moment—if you blinked, you’d miss the realization that Fedor had slipped. Saturday night at New Jersey’s Izod Center further bronzed that reality when Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva earned a second-round doctor’s stoppage over Emelianenko.

“B*llsh*t!” “Kill the doctor!” “Eff this!” “Let him continue!”—those were the alcohol-laced epithets of the venue spectators when the decision was announced and they were deprived of a third round. One genius even threw a full bottle of water in the direction of the cage—with the missile landing near the bewildered official M-1 photographer.

The first round did not provide a dominant display from the Russian. In the second round, as Silva got top position and rained down punch after punch on Emelianenko, the audience began cheering at Fedor’s escape attempts rather than any offense he put up. With tremendous will, Fedor survived the second round and made it back to his corner.

Neither the anger of the spectators nor the speculation of M-1 Global’s Vadim Finkelstein can deprive Antonio Silva of his rightfully-earned victory. Whatever slight chance of a comeback Fedor could have launched in the third, the momentum had turned against him. Not just in the fight—but perhaps in Emelianenko’s career.

What others refused to accept was made crystal clear by the Russian in his post-fight interview:

“Something went wrong from the very beginning and I didn’t re-adjust myself. Maybe it’s the time to leave.”

Going from Fabricio Werdum to Antonio Silva in the first round of one of the strongest heavyweight tournaments assembled in recent Mixed Martial Arts history was like going out of the frying pan and into the fire. In losing, the realization that he wasn’t what he used to be was probably far more painful to Fedor than his facial trauma. He might have been the anti-star who shunned the media spotlight as a personal or cultural choice; he might not have had the wider appeal of UFC-backed heavyweights or the mythological ability ascribed to Rickson and Royce of the Gracie clan, but Emelianenko was known by core fans and educated media to be the very best of his era.

Like Sonny LoSpecchio’s speech about real love in A Bronx Tale, “They come along like the great fighters, every ten years. Rocky Marciano. Sugar Ray Robinson. Joe Louis. Sometimes you get ‘em all at once.”

For a time, we had Fedor. The tapes will always be there—standing with Mirko Cro Cop (“Right leg, hospital; Left leg, cemetery”), dominating Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira—the truth is there, always preserved for future generations to find.

We are expected to tune into the April 9th edition of the Strikeforce tournament to see whether Alistair Overeem can knock off top-rated heavyweight Fabricio Werdum. The winner of that match-up has to be considered the favorite to win the whole thing. But having Fedor in the mix was as exciting as the idea of having Roy Jones Jr. or Sugar Ray Leonard competing in the Showtime Super-Six super-middleweight boxing tournament.

There will be other champions. But there will never be another exactly like Fedor Emelianenko—The Last Emperor.

Brian J. D’Souza is a Canadian writer who has covered Mixed Martial Arts for ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, CagePotato.com, Heavy.com and FIGHT! magazine.

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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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