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Roach Never Misses The Obvious, And That's Huge

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Last week Manny Pacquiao's head trainer Freddie Roach, talked with the Philippine Star/Philstar.com and shared his thoughts on his fighters' upcoming title bout with former three division champ Shane Mosley on May 7th. While he was disclosing his thoughts on the fight, Roach took time out and praised Mosley's trainer Nazim Richardson, but acknowledged at Mosley's age, 39, how much can he really do to make him a better fighter. And then added that Mosley's legs are gone and that really showed in his fight with Floyd Mayweather last year. This is something everyone who saw the fight surely agrees with him on.

Obviously, Roach has a ton of respect for Mosley and waited a couple years before he let this fight come to fruition. As most know I think Freddie sometimes gets a little too much credit from the media, and that like some other great trainers from the past, happens to have a once in a generation fighter in his stable. But that's not the point here. The point is Roach never misses any of the obvious deficiencies that other trainers sometimes do in the opponents their fighter is about to face.

Roach pretty much encapsulated what Mosley will bring on fight night to the letter when he said, “He can take you out with one punch, the right hand,” Roach told The STAR over breakfast at the Sofitel Hotel. “Mosley’s a good counter-puncher. He’ll use his left as a decoy. What he wants to do is to land the right. I don’t think he’ll box Manny because he doesn’t have the legs to fight from a distance. He’ll come on strong in the first four rounds, looking to knock out Manny.”

If that doesn't summarize what Mosley is most likely going to try to do against Pacquiao, then he'll have to grow a third arm between now and the fight to throw off team Pacquiao. Or anyone else who knows what they've been watching during Shane's career. Because that's all Mosley can do at age 39, – go right hand crazy.

Think about it, what other weapon does Mosley have that he can try to employ against Pacquiao in order to have a shot in the fight? The fact is, he doesn't. Right now Pacquiao is faster and can put his punches together better than Shane. That might not have been the case in 2002, but they're fighting in 2011. And Pacquiao can beat Shane stepping back fighting as the counter-puncher, or his hand speed and southpaw angles will enable him to hang with and eventually better Shane when he tries to push the fight and force Manny to slug it out and trade with him. In other words, Mosley will try to make Pacquiao open up and slug with him so he can bring his right hand home.

In a perfect world, Richardson would love to have Pacquiao bring the fight to Shane. That would make Mosley's right hand more effective because he then could time and catch Pacquiao on the way in. He'd also get more on his right hand and wouldn't have to reach for the shorter Pacquiao while he's pulling away looking to set up his own attack, or counter.

Most know Pacquiao is prone to attack and has the mindset to want to oblige Shane when he tries to force the fight. However, Manny and Roach are too smart to go along with that fight plan just to prove they can beat him at his own game. Simply because by doing that, they'd be giving Mosley his best and only real chance at scoring the upset. No doubt, Pacquiao will go after Mosley during patches of the fight, but only when the time is right.

Roach wouldn't make a prediction during the Philippine Star interview on the round he thinks the fight will end, but said, “it’ll probably be after the fourth round, maybe, the fifth or sixth,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Mosley’s got power and some hand-speed so we won’t rush things.”

That about says it all.

Some think that boxing strategy has to be rocket science, which is a fallacy. A lot of times if a fighter's trainer could just get him to take one thing away from his opponent, or make him do something he's uncomfortable doing, it's the difference between winning and losing. Granted, the trainer needs the right fighter to carry out the plan, but if the trainer's sharp, and the fighter is special, history is usually made.

Most fight observers knew Marvin Hagler didn't like to fight as the aggressor and was only average at cutting off the ring. And after watching Roberto Duran extend Hagler 15 rounds, and Sugar Ray Leonard out-box him for the better part of 12, some have said all you have to do to beat Hagler is move and make him go forward. Really? Try moving laterally and out-boxing Hagler while on the move if your name isn't Sugar Ray Leonard. Do you think Angelo Dundee could've navigated Tony Sibson, Wilford Scypion or Caveman Lee past Hagler using the same strategy that Leonard did? Of course not.

Pacquiao is a once in a generation fighter who listens and believes in his trainer. And his trainer often breaks it down to a few things for him to do in order to carry out the plan they've devised to insure victory. In addition to that, Roach never misses the obvious. And it seems that Freddie has the perfect read on Shane Mosley circa 2011, and not just how he'll fight Pacquiao, but even more than that understands the only way he can fight his fighter. A lot of times seeing the obvious is huge. And even though it sounds easy on paper, it isn't.  If it were, there'd be more than a handful of good trainers around today.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.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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