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Donaire Has Chased Dream..Will Nightmare Result?

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Nonito Donaire has his dream. Now he has to be careful it doesn’t become his nightmare.On Feb. 19, the 28-year-old miniature Manny from General Santos City will step into the ring against unified bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel in a fight Donaire has chased for some time. That it has finally come to pass is a reflection of economics more than anything else but for fight fans it is a long-awaited confrontation between two guys who are going to decide who is the best bantamweight in the world – at least until the SHOWTIME bantamweight tournament is finished and a new challenger emerges.

Until then the issue is to be decided between the hard punching Donaire and the supremely intellectual Montiel, who knocks people out as much with his plan as he does with his hand.

Donaire (25-1, 17 KO) on the other hand is all about aggression and speed, a clone of his countryman, Pacquiao. If Donaire supplants Montiel as the WBO/WBC bantamweight title holder it will be his third world championship at a different weight (IBF flyweight, WBA super flyweight), a far cry from Pacquiao’s six (forget about that eight nonsense) but enough to remind the world that among the little men he stands tall.

Of course, so does the quick handed and sly Montiel (44-2-2, 34 KO), which is where living your dream can become a problem. Less than a year ago Hozumi Hasegawa thought he was living his dream when he had the opportunity to add Montiel’s WBO title to the WBA bantamweight championship he’d worn for five years.

That dream went south in less than five rounds as Montiel outwit and outhit Hasegawa. What that should mean to Donaire is simply this: beware what you ask for because you might get it and it might hit you…repeatedly.

“This is an all-or-nothing fight,’’ Donaire said last week. “This is a fight that is not going to last the whole 12 rounds. This is the biggest fight of my career.’’

More importantly, it figures to be the most difficult one as well. Although some feel that at 31 Montiel is on the shady side of the street there seems little reason to look at him that way.

He has beaten some of the best bantamweights in the world and he’s done it in a style that is as much about planning and execution as it is raw skill and nerve. Although Montiel has plenty of the latter, he has so much of the former young Donaire seems to sense that this night will be different than all the others he has known in boxing.

“Montiel is the most complete fighter I have faced,’’ Donaire conceded. “He’s been there for quite a while. People say he may be shot because he’s been fighting for such a long time but he’s been fighting guys at the top of his weight class. He’s capable of anything.

“He’s the smartest guy I’ve ever faced. I’ve faced tougher guys than that but as far as smarter I would say he’s the most strategic overall fighter I will have faced.

“He knows the ring well. His advantage is height and speed. I think I’m a better strategist than Montiel. His strength is experience but I also have my strengths.

“His other strength is his ability to adapt to styles. He can be versatile. He has a tremendous punch, a good body punch, but in terms of strength I have it. In terms of experience, he does but I’ve fought enough guys to say I do also. It’s going to be a long fight.’’

If it is it will be a tactical one decided as much by who will be the thinking man in the ring that night. But, truth be told, the same is true if it’s a short night because if that’s the case it will be because someone was lured down a dark alley he thought was well lit until he got hit.

“One mistake from me or one mistake from him and it’s going to be over,’’ Donaire said. “He may come out of there unscratched but it won’t last 12 rounds.’’

It may not. Fact of the matter is most of Montiel’s fights don’t and most of the reason why is Montiel out-quicks his opponents, landing two and three punch combinations and then disappearing until his opponent implodes.
It is something Montiel is confident about because he’s done it time and again. Done it to bigger men than Donaire and to more experienced ones.

“Obviously, he’s a fighter with a lot of speed,’’ Montiel said. “He moves around the ring and is an intelligent fighter. The question to me is what is going to happen when he fights a guy that is just as intelligent, just as strong, just as good as he is?

“That is the question – when he fights someone that is equal to him (what happens). I think it’s the first time he will find a fighter (in front of him) that is just as good as he is.’’

For Donaire, it is a scenario somewhat like the night he faced then undefeated Vic Darchinyan. He was a 7-1 underdog then, a kid who was not supposed to survive that night but ended up starching Darchinyan with a shot so powerful it became RING magazine’s Knockout of the Year.

The likelihood of delivering the same kind of punch to Montiel is slim both because he is far better defensively than Darchinyan and much bigger. At 5-7 Montiel is taller than Donaire and, more importantly, not a novice to the bantamweight division as Donaire really is.

Yet when last seen at 118 pounds Donaire was standing over a thrice fallen former WBA champion named Wladimir Sidorenko, becoming the first man to stop him when they squared off last December. Sidorenko is no Montiel to be sure but he was a true bantamweight, a fact that seems to have left Donaire at ease at least with the idea of successfully moving up in weight from flyweight and super fly, a walk Pacquiao made so successfully it has inspired Donaire to do the same.

“In the last fight (vs. Sidorenko) I felt stronger and faster,’’ Donaire claimed. “In the last two weeks of camp I’m usually cutting down (weight), actually three weeks, but this time I was focusing on strategic moves and not having to worry about the weight too much. It’s like Manny Pacquiao going up – he feels very comfortable. I feel strong. I look bigger and the speed is still there.

“I think I can fight as heavy as 130, 135 because of how much bigger I have become. I’m naturally strong and naturally fast. Manny is an inspiration in my career. I’m inspired to see no impossibility. That’s what he wants me to do, keep moving my feet to see how far I can go.’’

Come Saturday, moving his feet would be a good idea for Nonito Donaire. A better one would be to move his head because if he doesn’t a wise old underdog named Fernando Montiel could turn a young man’s dream into a long nightmare at the office.

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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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