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What's Next For Nonito? BORGES

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Donaire MontielNonito Donaire wants to unify the bantamweight title, a process promoter Bob Arum wants to begin May 28 on HBO against WBA title holder Anselmo Moreno. Only problem is some people associated with Donaire say Arum’s promotional contract with the WBC/WBO bantamweight champion runs out that month. Arum disagrees. Of course, he does.

Oscar De La Hoya, Arum’s most hated promotional rival, would like to promote Donaire or, failing that, drive up Arum’s cost for keeping him on the reservation but to do that he has to be sure Arum’s promotional agreement is up in May. Assuming De La Hoya cares about that, of course, which is always open to debate because this is boxing where the only thing a contract guarantees is that someone somewhere is disputing its validity.

Donaire’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, has said several times he has no problem with a Moreno fight and why would he considering that the light-hitting southpaw has only 10 knockouts among his 30 victories (30-1-1)? He’s not opposed to staying around at 118 to fight Abner Mares either if Mares can survive a night with Joseph Agbeko in pursuit of the IBF 118-pound title next month.

Then again, Duncan is also not opposed to seeing Donaire move up to 122 pounds for a brief stay and then on to 126, where two money-making opponents await in Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa, a position he’s held for quite some time.

Of course, if Mares wins and Donaire stays with Arum it all but makes a full unification of the bantamweight title impossible because Mares is promoted by De La Hoya and Arum hasn’t done a co-promotion with him since the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton fight in 2009.

So where is Donaire headed? Nobody knows for sure and Duncan isn’t talking because he’s been ordered not to by Donaire’s advisors even though no one in Donaire’s camp knows more about boxing than Dunkin does. Go figure.

Why is it that boxing so often ends up in this kind of confusion? Here’s Donaire coming off a spectacular second round, one-punch KO of Fernando Montiel, poised to become the latest little man to make it big, and nobody can be sure what his next move will be even though a lot of people are claiming it’s a May 28 HBO date with Moreno.

HBO believes they have that fight set for May 28 and maybe they do. Then again, maybe they don’t.

Arum believes he’s ready to do for Donaire what he did for Pacquiao and maybe he will. Then again, maybe he won’t get the chance.

De La Hoya, among several other promoters, is ready to sign Donaire when his contract is up, assuming it really is. Maybe they will. Then again, maybe they won’t.

Trapped in the midst of all this is Dunkin, who has done a brilliant job moving Donaire, Kelly Pavlik, Brandon Rios and James Kirkland, among others, through the maze that is prize fighting. Surely he’s got his ideas on this but when reached in Las Vegas Tuesday all he could say was, “I’m on a gag order from his attorney. Nonito has gone to the Phillipines, I think. It’s a strange situation but I can’t talk. I can’t even comment on what he might be doing. Until I hear back from them I can’t do anything.’’

Managing a fighter first requires you be able to talk about him, both publicly and privately. Unlike some managers in boxing, Dunkin has never been one to seek the spotlight, believing the fighter is the person people want to hear from, but he has always been frank and informative about the careers he’s directing.

Right after Donaire stopped Montiel, Dunkin seemed more interested in moving his fighter up to 122 pounds, where he feels he’ll be stronger and even more dangerous than he is at 118. Although many were calling for Donaire to unify the bantamweight title Dunkin didn’t particularly see a sound business reason for pursuing that unless he could land Mares, which isn’t likely if his fighter remains with Arum.

He may still feel that way or he may not but however he feels he’s keeping it to himself, waiting for Donaire and his wife to return to California and for their attorney to let him off the choke chain. Of one thing you can be sure however – if Agbeko defeats Mares and is wearing the IBF bantamweight title Dunkin probably doesn’t want anything to do with him.

That is not because Donaire couldn’t beat him or that Agbeko is King Kong. Rather he is the worst of things for a boxer – a significantly dangerous tough guy who brings nothing to the table from a business sense but trouble from a boxing sense.

One could argue he would bring 1/4th of the bantamweight title and that would be true if he defeats Mares but trying to wrestle that belt out of his hands is not worth the difficulty for a rising star like Donaire. An insurance company would say the risk-reward ratio is out of whack there, and that’s before you factor in negotiating with Don King, Agebeko’s promoter.

But who knows? If Donaire believes unifying the bantamweight title is important enough to him he may insist upon it and there’s not much Duncan could do but counsel him otherwise.

“I have no idea what’s going on, honestly,’’ Dunkin said. “I’ve never had this happen to me in boxing.’’

Not talking and not knowing are two different things to be sure but one thing seems certain – Donaire would be well served to follow up his big victory over Montiel with another appearance on HBO. But should he make it against a light-hitting southpaw with seven successful title defenses?

While it’s true Moreno twice was taken the distance by Wladimir Sidorenko, a fighter Donaire blew out in four rounds last December, that doesn’t guarantee Donaire looks good against him even if he’s fairly confident he’d win. Southpaws, even ones who hit like it’s a pillow fight, can be confusing, irksome and difficult to look good against even in the best of circumstances. Why follow a massive KO win with an opponent like that?

Cameron Dunkin may have an opinion on that but he’ll have to get back to you on it.

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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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