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RASKIN’S RANTS: From Bam-Bam To B-Hop To B-Day Wishes

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Rios AcostaHey, some of us LIKED that rendition of “Maggie's Farm” on the Grammys!

It was a slow week for quality mailbag material until after the Brandon Rios-Miguel Acosta fight, at which point a solid email came in. So let’s start with that for our mini mailbag (or, as it was known a few web ventures ago, “I’m Raskin, You’re Askin’”), then dive into some Rants.

 (By the way, a quick reminder, if you have a question or comment for the mini mailbag, you can hit me up at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com.)

Hey Eric,

I just got done watching Rios beat up Acosta. You were right that Rios isn’t trying to be the bad guy, he was very reserved and likeable in his interview after the fight, and I, for one, think he can make everyone forget all about that “shaky” Roach impression if he keeps going like this. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen cojones like Rios showed, since it looked like he had no shot at winning after three or four rounds. When was the last time we’ve seen a young fighter dig that deep to win a big fight? And in light of what happened in the Marcos Maidana-Victor Ortiz fight, could Rios have done anything more perfect to distance himself from his bitter rival?

What a performance, what a win, “Bam Bam” thank you, man! Insensitive Freddie Roach impression or not, I’m rooting for this guy.

Thanks for your time,

Smackie

Hi Smackie,

Smackie? Where the heck do you get a nickname like that? If it’s either drug-related or you earned it by beating your wife, I guess I don’t want to know.

Your observation about Ortiz is a good one. Rios and manager Cameron Dunkin have very real disdain for Ortiz, they’ll talk trash about him with no provocation whatsoever, and they especially like telling stories of how his behavior in the gym over the years made his surrender against Maidana entirely predictable.

And speaking of Maidana, you don’t have to go back far at all to find a young fighter who showed cojones like Rios did. Amir Khan looked like a beaten man in the 10th round against Maidana last December and found a way to win. But your point is well taken. Whereas Khan knew he was in a position to win if he survived Maidana’s assault, Rios’ mission was starting to feel almost hopeless after four rounds. And that says very good things indeed about Rios, that it looked hopeless to the outside observer but never did to him.

Okay, let’s get to the Rants, starting with a few more Rios-Acosta observations:

• My favorite random little moment from the fight was Rios trainer Robert Garcia giving himself a quick squirt from the water bottle in between the seventh and eighth rounds. Hey, a trainer has to stay hydrated too, I suppose.

• Rios-Acosta was a perfect example of why I don’t bet on boxing. When Steve Albert and Al Bernstein explained that Rios was a 2-1 favorite in what I perceived to be a pick-’em fight, I was wishing I was in Vegas so I could jump all over that. Ten rounds later, I was delighted to be anywhere but Vegas.

• Just one minor criticism for Rios: The primal victory scream has got to go. Bob Dylan’s present-day live vocals are easier on the ears than that.

• Speaking of famous singers, I thought Cyndi Lauper held her own nicely against Antonio DeMarco in the Rios-Acosta co-feature.

• Also, a fine job by Fred Rogers alongside Brian Kenny on the ESPN2 Friday Nights Fights studio this weekend. Yes, Bernard Hopkins, I will be your neighbor.

• According to FNF’s Joe Tessitore, former 105-pound titlist Roberto Leyva threw his IBF belt in the ocean as a tribute to his late father, a fisherman who was lost at sea. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a new favorite fighter! Hopefully this can develop into a competition for which titlist can find the most creative way to dispose of his bogus alphabet trinket. I won’t be satisfied until there’s a belt tossed into the mouth of an active volcano.

• While on the subject of Leyva, what does it say about a guy when he looks chubby at bantamweight?

• I caught wind of an intriguing rumor last week that there was a conflict between Freddie Roach’s reality-show deal with AMC and the Showtime/CBS Fight Camp 360 series and that we might not see Roach on the latter, but it turns out it was untrue—or at least had become untrue by the time I asked a Showtime rep about it. “The rumors are false,” I was told. “There are guidelines that both networks have discussed and agreed to, and Freddie Roach will appear on Fight Camp 360 on Showtime and CBS.”

• If you thought the world of pay-per-view had bottomed out with Evander Holyfield vs. Sherman Williams, think again: Coming up March 11, it’s Michael Grant vs. Tye Fields on pay-per-view! If that sells more than two dozen PPVs, government leaders should take it as a sign that the American public is not quite broke enough yet.

• Happy belated 34th birthday to Floyd Mayweather! Hey, remember when Roy Jones was 34, still on top of the world, and picking and choosing the fights he knew he could win? How did that turn out? Just sayin’, Floyd, the window to take the toughest fights and actually win them doesn’t stay open forever.

• I have to disagree with anyone who has opined that there’s a double standard in play in HBO turning down Sergio Martinez vs. Sebastian Zbik but approving Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Zbik. Martinez-Zbik is a mismatch, whereas Chavez-Zbik is roughly an even fight. Martinez is the middleweight champion of the world and a top-five pound-for-pounder who should only face elite opponents; Chavez is little more than a prospect and should still face non-elite opponents. It’s not a double standard. It’s simple matchmaking logic.

• Let’s wrap up Raskin’s Rants with Raskin’s Recommendations: The Adam Carolla Show (http://www.adamcarolla.com/ACPBlog/category/podcast/) featured Amir Khan last Thursday and is definitely worth checking out, as long as you’re prepared for Carolla to annoy you at times with his casual-fan level of knowledge of the current boxing landscape; perhaps I’m a little late to this party, but I’m finding the opinionated musings of Carlos Acevedo in his “Sound & Fury” column (www.TheCruelestSport.com) to be some of the most entertaining boxing blogging out there (at least until he starts ragging on me); and, of course, there’s a little podcast called Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com/) that several inside sources have told me is the greatest thing in the history of boxing journalism. I guess maybe I’ll check it out one of these days and see if they’re right.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at http://ringtheory.podbean.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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