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Arum’s Featherweight Feast Recipe Calls For Additional Baking…RASKIN



Gamboa_Returns_March_26Yuriorkis Gamboa fights on HBO this Saturday night from Atlantic City. Juan Manuel Lopez fights on Showtime on April 16 from Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

As you probably deduced based on the inconsistent dates, locations, and networks, they are not fighting each other.

There are fights that fans are dying to see, fights that make fans’ stomachs turn, and fights in between the two extremes that are perfectly acceptable but impossible to get pumped for. That last description fits these upcoming bouts, Gamboa vs. Jorge Solis and Lopez vs. Orlando Salido. You shrug your shoulders, you plan to tune in or at least set the DVR … but you find yourself looking past these fights and ahead to an eventual meeting of the winners.

And you ask, “When is Gamboa-Lopez going to happen?”

Or, if you’re the worrying type, you remove the word “when.”

For about the past year, Top Rank President Bob Arum has taken heat from the hardcore fight fans and boxing media for delaying this natural battle for supremacy at 126 pounds. Arum hears what these boxing enthusiasts are saying. He hears, but, for better or worse, he isn’t listening. He’s sticking to his plan. And he busted out a metaphor straight from the Teddy Atlas cookbook—err, playbook—to explain his philosophy to last week.

“You don’t want to pull the cake out of the oven before it’s baked. You gotta wait for the cake to bake,” Arum said. “You gotta be patient. So I’m going to be patient with this, and when it happens, it’s going to be as big a blockbuster as it can be.

“To do a successful event, we have to reach more than just the boxing public. With the boxing public, there is a demand for these fights to take place sooner rather than later because boxing people know how good of a fight it is and they can’t wait to see that kind of matchup. I’m aware of that. But that’s not what pays the bills for these fighters. Otherwise, what the hell do they need me for? My job is to maximize their revenues; it’s a business.”

The Lopez-Gamboa showdown appeared to be imminent dating back to October 10, 2009, when Gamboa blew past Whyber Garcia and Lopez barely survived Rogers Mtagwa in co-featured bouts on the same Madison Square Garden card. We thought maybe a meeting of the two twentysomething uber-talents would be next—especially since Lopez’s unexpected struggle with Mtagwa served as a reminder of the danger in slowly building toward a fight. But Arum had some choice words for those demanding the bout at the postfight presser, and here we are a year and a half later, still building.

It’s frustrating for the hardcore fan, but talking to Arum, you get where he’s coming from. And you especially get it when you look at what happened in January with Timothy Bradley vs. Devon Alexander.

“That is the perfect, perfect example!” Arum insisted. “HBO couldn’t wait to do that fight, and I suppose that’s part of being a premium network, you try to put on what you think is the best fight. But it doesn’t really build a career. If you’d given that fight another year, it wouldn’t have changed how the fight was fought, of course, but it would have been a major, major event. Instead, it was not a major event and it disappointed with the ratings. It was an abysmal flop for what the promise was.”

All of that analysis is colored by Arum’s not-so-impartial opinion. It could be argued that the ratings numbers actually weren’t bad; Bradley-Alexander reportedly attracted a 2.3 rating, which exceeded all but one HBO boxing broadcast from 2010. But according to boxing writer Thomas Hauser, inside sources said HBO executives were hoping for a 4.0 rating. And given the money committed to the fight and the time spent hyping it as one of the biggest possible fights in the sport, a 2.3 rating is not the success it would be if, say, this weekend’s Gamboa-Solis fight pulls in that number.

Bradley vs. Alexander made all the sense in the world for serious fight fans. It paired two of the top three fighters in the talent-rich 140-pound division and it positioned the winner, Bradley, to face Amir Khan for undisputed rulership of the weight class this summer. Why wouldn’t we want to see this?

But there’s another side to the equation: the business side. Bradley-Alexander was billed as “The Super Fight” but it featured no superstars, and it drew an announced crowd of 6,247 to a stadium that packed more than 93,000 for WrestleMania III. Even had the fight produced Vazquez-Marquez-like fireworks (which it most certainly did not) and been an artistic success, it would have been deemed a commercial flop.

That’s what Arum is hoping to avoid with Lopez-Gamboa. He wants both fighters to build large enough followings for the fight to score big on pay-per-view and earn them each multiple millions of dollars (while also maximizing Top Rank’s take, of course). But there are three dangers to playing the waiting game:

1) Somebody loses. When you’re talking about two undefeated fighters, one of them letting his “O” go is no small deal from a marketing perspective.

2) Somebody defects to another promoter. Arum was reminded of this danger just last week, when Nonito Donaire suddenly bolted for Golden Boy (legal wrangling pending). Who’s to say Gamboa or Lopez won’t get fed up waiting for the big fight and start pursuing other promotional options?

3) The public’s interest starts to decline. Think about it: Doesn’t it feel like the hardcore boxing community is buzzing about Gamboa-Lopez a little less than it was a year ago? After Donaire dented Fernando Montiel’s cranium, some of the buzz shifted to Donaire vs. Gamboa or Donaire vs. Lopez. Obviously, if Donaire is with GBP, then neither of those fights can realistically be expected to happen. But the fact remains that some hardcore fans and writers proved immediately willing to shift their gaze away from the Lopez-Gamboa fight.

This is precisely what Arum thinks is about to happen with Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather, and he went back to his cake metaphor to illustrate it.

“The cake was baked for that fight over a year ago,” Arum said. “And there will come a point in time when the cake gets stale. Is it stale yet? Probably not. But we’re approaching a point with the public where they’re just so fed up contemplating that fight that it’s akin to the cake getting stale.”

Gamboa vs. Lopez is by no means getting stale yet. But it will eventually, and it’s a complicated judgment call that Arum has to make, determining that moment when the interest of the hardcore fans and the interest of the general public are at a collective peak. He said he believes “when it happens, I’ll know.”

Until then, we get fights like Gamboa-Solis and Lopez-Salido. They’re not sexy fights. They’re not even-money fights on paper. But they are important fights—provided they’re leading us somewhere. Arum just needs the right guys to win and keep winning and remain in his promotional stable until both guys have begun to cross over beyond the hardcore boxing fan.

Piece of cake.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura



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



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



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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