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RASKIN’S RANTS: Of Hump Day, Hopkins, and Horrible Hairstyles

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Those blonde highlights (see below) we think suited Manny well, but there isn't much the Pacman does that doesn't fill us with gooey admiration. That Bieber Bob, however…Can a boxing column cure your work-week blues? That’s what I’ve come to TheSweetScience.com to find out.

For obvious reasons, nobody likes Mondays. Wednesday is known as “hump day” because it’s a grind to get over. And it just so happens that the two least popular days of the week are the days when my columns will appear. So my job here is simple: Add at least one tiny ray of sunshine to every boxing fan’s Monday and Wednesday routine. If I can accomplish that, I’ll target bloodshed in the Middle East and the global economic crisis next.

Each week, one of my articles will be a traditional column or feature story and the other will be a collection of “Raskin’s Rants.” And going forward, I aim to mix a miniature reader mailbag—maybe one or two e-mails and my responses—into each of these “Rants” columns. So please send your questions, comments, and profanity-laced tirades to raskinboxing@yahoo.com, and starting next week, your rants will accompany mine.

Until then, happy hump day, and here’s my first collection of random observations as a Sweet Scientist:

• Apropos nothing, how mind-blowing is it that in 1997, just as I was starting on the boxing beat, Floyd Mayweather vs. Augie Sanchez was being billed as a potential major rivalry?

• I’ve been waiting about six months for Mike Tyson to produce an interesting tweet, and he finally did a few days ago: “The best moment in my life was when I retired from boxing. That Mike overstayed his welcome.” That beats the hell out of “Muhammad Ali is one of my heroes” and “Always embrace who you are.”

• Looking for a euphemistic word to apply to HBO’s freshly minted three-fight contract with 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins … let’s go with “ambitious.”

• Then again, if you bet me on when Hopkins is going to retire and you set the line at age 50, I’d feel more comfortable taking the over.

• I viewed the proposed Juan Manuel Marquez-Erik Morales fight as a cringe-worthy mismatch, and I don’t like Marcos Maidana vs. Morales one iota more. Morales isn’t a shot fighter; he can still beat the fringe contenders. But Maidana is a legit top three or four junior welterweight and the biggest, hardest-punching fighter Morales has ever faced. I know it’s difficult for any great fighter to walk away, and if Morales can pass all the medical tests, I have no issues whatsoever with him continuing to box. But I think his management team had it right when they put him in with Jose Alfaro, Willie Limond, and Francisco Lorenzo.

• Speaking of Maidana-Morales, what ever happened to pay-per-view cards where the main event had at least an outside chance at being the fight of the night? This undercard will reportedly include Michael Katsidis vs. Robert Guerrero and an intriguing bout between Winky Wright and Matthew Macklin, and the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley undercard features Humberto Soto-Urbano Antillon II and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.-Jorge Arce. I’m not complaining about getting high-quality undercards, mind you. I’m just saying that it would be nice to see a PPV main event in which it was hard to pick a winner.

• Well, it’s official: The http://bit.ly/hpBhHv is no longer Manny Pacquiao’s worst hairstyle.

• Other than the occasional tonsorial misstep, is there anything Pacquiao can’t do? While he was in Las Vegas last week promoting the Mosley fight, he took time out to buy into some No-Limit Hold ’Em cash games at Bellagio, where he apparently cleaned out two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Frank Kassela.

• It’s nearly impossible not to be excited by the news that three of the four episodes of the Pacquiao-Mosley prefight documentary series Fight Camp 360 will be shown on CBS. Just two requests for the production team: (1) No staged shots of Manny shadowboxing on a rooftop; (2) It just isn’t Fight Camp 360 without a promoter in a Sweatsedo, so let’s update Bob Arum’s casual wear collection.

• Quick prediction for this Saturday’s bantamweight showdown on HBO: Nonito Donaire over Fernando Montiel by stoppage in about 8-10 rounds. And I have a feeling that, unlike the one other major fight of 2011 so far, Tim Bradley vs. Devon Alexander, we will be clamoring for a rematch afterward.

• I still don’t understand why they stopped that Stevie Forbes fight on Friday night. That cut didn’t inhibit his vision. If anything, it gave him an extra eye hole to see out of.

• Feel-good story of the weekend: Don George bouncing back from a brutal defeat with a sensational first-round knockout win over undefeated Cornelius White. Unexpected sight of the weekend: an athlete celebrating while wearing a Cubs hat. You don’t see that every day … or every year … or every 102 years.

• I kid, Cubs fans. As a Philly sports fan, I’m allowed to. Our four teams have brought us exactly one title in the last 28 years. We’re no Cleveland, but we know what suffering is.

• Gratuitous plug of the week: If you’ve ever wanted to hear a boxing writer publicly admit to watching robot porn, you won’t want to miss the latest episode of http://ringtheory.podbean.com. And if you just want to hear some intelligent, original, humorous boxing banter featuring Showtime analyst Steve Farhood, you’ll find that in there too.

• Damn you, Rico Ramos. Now I have to completely re-think my gambling rule, “Never bet on the guy who has to have his lip ring cut out by his cornermen just before the opening bell.”

• So ESPN2 Friday Night Fights is going 3-D this week? This should be interesting. Especially if B.J. Flores is in studio, as the enhanced technology might just elevate his commentary to 2-D.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at raskinboxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his Ring Theory podcast, http://ringtheory.podbean.com, twice a month.

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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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