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Steward Grades Cotto, Says Mayorga Badly Wanted Pacquiao Fight….WOODS

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Steward Grades CottoWe heard Mayorga in the buildup talking about a fight with Pacquiao. He really, truly believed he'd beat Cotto, because he knew how hard he was training, and get a Pacquiao date. (Hogan Photos)The older I get, the better I'm able to to grasp the fact that I don't know squat.

Well, that might be a little harsh. I think I know squat. But you'll have to give me another decade or so watching and dissecting boxing matches before my knowledge base gets to where I want it to be.

After watching the Miguel Cotto/Ricardo Mayorga fight on Saturday, I couldn't nail down my take on the bout as firmly as I would've liked. I knew I saw Mayorga fighting a damned solid fight, and like I wrote on Saturday night, I would've been giving the Nicaraguan a bunch of 9.5 rounds, if our scoring system were tweaked so we could better indicate just how close a round was. But what I couldn't figure out was, were the rounds close because Mayorga was all that, or was Cotto just a bit off his game, or maybe not fighting the right strategy against the wildman?

I called Manny Steward, Cotto's trainer for this bout, and his previous outing, against Yuri Foreman last June. I asked Steward to grade Cotto, and admitted that I needed help clarifying exactly what I saw on Saturday. Steward set me straight.

“I give Miguel an eight out of ten,” the Hall of Fame trainer/manager told me. “Mayorga fought his best fight.”

Steward said inside sources told him that Mayorga trained like he did back in his heyday, when he beat Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis and Vernon Forrest, in 2002 and 2003. Steward heard Mayorga had been training nonstop since January. “He made up his mind that he'd fight the fight of his life because he wanted a fight with Manny Pacquiao, which would've given him enough to retire comfortably on. He was in unbelievable shape. I didn't expect him to be in that good shape. Cotto was never in a comfort zone.”

Steward like Cotto's reliance on the jab, his footwork, that he didn't expend energy on wasted motion, that he didn't back up straight to the ropes, that he went in for the kill in the last round.

“I like knockouts,” he said, succinctly, when asked if he was concerned the judges might be trippin, and if for that reason he told Cotto to finish the job after the 11th. “I don't like decisions.”

Bob Arum is steering the course for Cotto, so Steward hears what we've heard, that a July date with Antonio Margarito is a smart bet for the Puerto Rican's next gloveup. “Or Chavez Junior,” he said. “Then Pacquiao maybe. When I started with Miguel I saw a five fight series. These are the only three that make sense. If he does those five, he has to be considered one of the greats.”

Back to that penchant for KOs. Steward has hammered the gospel of the knockout to Wladimir Klitschko for many moons. He's hoping that repetition will spur action when the younger brother gets it on with David Haye, date TBD.

Steward also told TSS that his kid Andy Lee, who showed a flair for drama when he dropped and stopped Craig McEwan in round ten after losing some rounds big, had a bug going into the fight. “He couldn't eat, he told me he had no appetite,” Steward said. “But this was a good weekend for boxing. I'm kayo crazy! If we can continue this, boxing might be okay this year.”

For awhile now, Steward has been preaching, as an adjunct to his power of the KO sermon, that the “pop pop padwork” of the new breed of trainers, where they do showy padwork sessions, which serve to make nice sound effects, are perhaps not such a useful tool for preparation. He thinks and hopes that maybe his sermons are being heard. He said he's seen more boxers getting fuller extension, punching through their targets, and looking to finish with an exclamation point.

Interestingly, he's a big fan of one fighter not known for his pop, Tim Bradley. Steward said he thinks a Manny Pacquiao-Bradley fight would make for entertaining viewing. He and I agree that Bradley's single greatest asset may well be his desire. Steward likened Bradley to Marvin Hagler, who also didn't look like a smooth operator, but who simply got it done. “Bradley and Pacquiao, that's a helluva fight,” said Steward.

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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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