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Strangers in a Strange Land : Losers? …..WOOLEVER

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Strangers in a Strange LandAFTER THE “O” GOES – Last Saturday night was a very good evening for many boxing fans.

It was not a good night for the previously undefeated pair of Serhiy Dzinziruk or Craig McEwan, who shared a HBO broadcast Foxwoods card; and who each got thumped.

On a night when the eyes of the global boxing community were focussed on USA events, European ex-pats Dzinziruk and McEwan were among those defeated in high profile bouts that ignited brutal energy from east to west coasts.

For Dzinzurik and McEwan, besides the obvious physical toll, emotions may have taken even more jarring blasts. The losses represent a hard reality check in their quests for fortune and glory, as in : will there be any?

That doesn't mean McEwan, a Scottish to LA transplant or the Ukranian born, previously German-based Dzinziruk have anything to be ashamed of. They were both well prepared and fought honorably, if less than successfully.

Dzinziruk got stopped by Sergio Martinez, one of the very fiercest pound for pound boxers there is. McEwan got conked out after decent showing against Andy Lee, a decent fellow prospect. Disappointing? Of course. Derailing? Shouldn't be.

Still, the fact that neither relatively untested hopeful failed to emerge from the weekend with as much “moral victory” as old warhorse Ricardo Mayorga may be the most precise indicator of how much stardom presently lies ahead.

Either loss could still be make or break situations.

Perhaps each fighter reached their limit last weekend, but they do not seem like the type to fold in the face of adversity.

Besides, they've come too far to turn back now.  

I remember some of McClain's early bouts at Desert Diamond outside Tucson, when he was still fresh off the airplane from oversea. McEwan was thrilled about moving into a low rent hotel across the street from Wild Card Gym, just so he could try and convince Fred Roach to train him. Hopefully the thrill is not gone.

From what I saw a few years ago, McEwan will try and make the loss into part of a longer learning process.

The same goes for Dzinziruk, who has pretty much followed his stated plan about relocation to the letter so far, though defeat was not in the initial equation. From my limited, poorly translated contact with Dzinziruk following his victory over Joel Julio, I got the impression he was indeed a boxer to keep an eye on. Fighting on the Felix Sturm – Sebastian Sylvester undercard, which included Marcos Maidana; that night Dzinziruk looked better than anyone except the still under-rated Sturm.

As far as life in the highest clouds goes, a boxing dream of fame and glory is very often an American dream, whatever part of the planet you first lace them up.

Dzinziruk and McEwan lost their fights, but that doesn't mean they're real losers, at least not based on the courage of continental convictions.   

Career-wise, the record book accurately reflects important losses; no minor detail.

The “more to the story” this time involves relocated workers from outside the box and inside the ring, who ventured forth to the States seeking to increase their vocational value. Each man looked upon these once-distant shores and saw hope for a better future. Each man got over here and performed on the big stage square.

The dukeout dream may not have some completely true, but they followed it to fruition. Living that dream involves a lot of blood, sweat and maybe involuntary tears.

None of those are minor details either. Dzinziruk, McEwan, and a lot of other visitors including Americans abroad who don't get the win; are still a valuable part of what makes their sport great. They fought hard and represented their homelands and themselves with integrity.

Rarely does the record book say it all.

Welcome to America, boys. Protect yoursef at all times. 

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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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