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Keeping Up With WBO Champion Ana Julaton; Plus Action Heroes

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Life for Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton has changed as quickly as San Francisco weather.

No longer does Julaton stay in ramshackle motels near the Sunset Strip, now she travels with a gun strapped former Secret Service agent and resides in a posh guest house reserved for foreign dignitaries and celebrities.

Winning three world championships really changes things.

Julaton (7-2-1) defends the WBO junior featherweight world title against Franchesca Alcanter (18-9-1, 9 KOs) on Friday at Craneway Pavilion in Point Richmond, California. The title fight will be shown on Philippine television and Canadian TV.

One thing that doesn’t change is Julaton’s gracious manners and hospitality. It’s not just relegated to her but the entire team including advisor Angelo Reyes and body guard Glen Mariano. All are focused on the pending world title defense.

On Friday, Julaton has her sights drawn on Kansas prizefighter Alcanter who recently traveled overseas to battle Germany’s Ina Menzer.

“She hurt Menzer,” said Reyes, who studies opponents diligently looking for clues and tendencies like a forensic detective. “Franchesca can be dangerous if you take her lightly.”

Despite only 10 professional bouts, Julaton displays the poise of a prizefighter with 30 or more fights. While working in the boxing ring with famed trainer Freddie Roach, she moves effortlessly and without hesitation. Punches, slips, counters and foot movement flow together smoothly like intricate machinery.

“I think my background in martial arts helps and me being a teacher,” said Julaton, who teaches martial arts when not boxing. “It’s neat to apply it to boxing.”

At the Wild Card Gym the female world champion spars with former men’s world champion Rodel Mayol and current female world champion Rhonda Luna. There are no easy routes taken.

Already she is the second most popular pro fighter in the Philippines. Her whereabouts and sightings by tabloid television are reported almost daily. Her signing with Canadian promoter Allan Tremblay has resulted in her fights being aired on that country’s primary sports network.

“All she has to do is keep winning,” says Reyes.

It’s a lot of pressure for the articulate brunette who’s as comfortable in front of a camera as in fighting and sparring with world champions.

If Julaton gets flustered at all its when she is recognized by fans on the street who flock to her immediately when reality hits. In one recent moment at the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax Avenue a pair of middle aged women tugged her arm to see if she was the boxer.

It’s a familiar occurrence wherever she goes.

Body guard Mariano has already recognized that her fans are every where after two years. Whether in malls, restaurants or just walking in local neighborhoods, the fans come up to her looking for autographs and photos.

“A lot of boxers are not open to meeting people,” Mariano says. “Ana has a soft side.”

But that soft side is not inside a boxing ring.

Julaton’s last fight was a slugfest that resulted in more blood on the canvas than is usually seen. Though the Daly City resident suffered a bad gash she continued to battle it out with equally strong Mexican fighter Maria Villalobos. Julaton won by split decision and captured the fan’s applause with her grittiness and determination.

It’s a major strongpoint and one she uses to help propel the sport of female boxing.

“I feel very lucky that I get to talk about other female fighters,” said Julaton, 30, who is one of the better paid female boxers in the U.S. “There are a lot of great stories. It’s just about getting the word out.”

Meanwhile, her advisor Reyes, works feverishly toward moving Julaton toward greater recognition with possible bouts against other world champions like Argentina’s Marcela Acuna and Mexico’s Jackie Nava.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Reyes says. “She needs to be compensated for the danger.”

After the interview the team gathered their gear, loaded the SUV and the body guard straps on his sidearm. Once more they head out to the gym to work on technique and conditioning.

Some things never change.

Action Heroes

Golden Boy Promotions held a press conference for their April 9 pay-per-view date featuring three marquee fights.

Tijuana’s Erik Morales (51-6, 35 KOs) looks to win a fourth weight division world title but first must pass through Argentina’s human Rock of Gibraltar Marcos Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs).

“I know that people are worried for me but I know what I can do,” said Morales at ESPNZone in L.A. Live on Tuesday. The former junior feather, featherweight and junior lightweight world champion fought and won three fights last year.

Also fighting is Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KOs) who looks to face perennial warrior Michael Katsidis (27-3, 22 KOs) in a lightweight romp.

“I know he’s a tough fighter and I expect it to be the toughest of my career,” said Guerrero, who is tabbed by several boxing publication’s Pound for Pound list. “Maybe this will be the fight that launches me as an elite fighter.”

Winky Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs) returns from a two year layoff that he blames on scared fellow elite fighters. But now he faces Britain’s Matthew Macklin (28-2, 19 KOs).

“Hopefully after I win this fight people will be looking at me differently,” said Wright who will be training at Justin Fortune’s Gym. “I want to fight Sergio Martinez for the middleweight title. It would be a great fight.”

The Golden Boy fight card takes place at the MGM Grand on April 9.

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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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