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LOU DIBELLA Talks With WOODS On Sergio's Next Fight, Why He Should Be HBO's Poster Boy, Mosleys's Chances vs. Pacquiao, More

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PavlikMartinez_Bailey_6The promoter featured a massive grin after Martinez beat Kelly Pavlik in April 2010. His smiles have been a bit wider since Martinez emerged as a P4P player. (Hogan)When Sergio Martinez shocked the boxing world, if not himself and his crew,  and knocked the consciousness out of Paul Williams in Atlantic City last November, the power grid in boxing shifted more than a bit.

Martinez (47-2-2 with 26 KOs) is promoted by Lou Dibella, the former HBO exec who left that nest and has been making a go in the promotional waters since 2000. Dibella is right there in the mix with the Great Whites in the business, Arum, King and Golden Boy, but he's set himself apart, to a degree, because he doesn't eat, sleep, live and breathe the sport like maybe some of the others do.

And let me be succinct…to me, this is a virtue.

Dibella, who lives in New York City, makes time to pursue other interests and passions, whether it be as the owner of a minor league baseball franchise the Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA-Giants); as the executive producer of the 2009 film, “Love Ranch,” which starred Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci and received a theatrical release; or as a consumer of live rock music, of acts like Furthur, featuring ex Grateful Dead players Bob Weir and Phil Lesh.

I sat down with Dibella and picked his brain recently. Mainly, I was curious to see if the fact that he promotes a guy who can plausibly lay claim to being the top boxer on the planet, pound for pound, has changed his life to any large degree, and if moving forward he seeks that top dog slot currently occupied by Arum, and coveted by Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer.

“I do have a great deal of satisfaction, because no one believed in Sampson Lewkowicz and Sergio, and I did. And no, I don't really want that number one slot,” he told me. “Right now Richard and I are friendly, but when we were sparring he called me a “mom and pop' company. I don't view that as an insult. I probably have a closer personal contact than most promoters do with their fighters. When you're too big, you can't have that. I'm happy being in the situation I'm in now. I like being “small.”

So, there's no sense of vindication in play?

“No. It's nice to be with a guy this good, and this loyal. It does give the company a lift. So does having Berto. The undue criticism he's had to deal with ends with his next fight, against Victor Ortiz. Having guys like this gives us more international recognition and exposure. Sergio has the ability to be the poster boy for HBO,” Dibella told me. “He's the one guy with amazing ability who can fight regularly. He loves to fight, and he's in the prime of his career.”

OK, we all realize Lou's got a dog in the hunt…but what about it, is the Argentine-Spaniard Sergio the best and brightest boxer in the game today?

“Yeah, he is right now,” Dibella said without hesitation. “The most talented fighter alive is Floyd, and he might be an alltime great, but he hasn't been active in a year. Manny's great but he's been carefully matched, and he's been moved around weight classes skillfully. Every fight Sergio has taken has been huge recently. I have to say, I was shocked Ring magazine had Nonito Donaire ahead of Sergio in their rankings.”

And Dibella expects even greater things for Martinez in the next few years. He told me he could see Martinez fighting the king at 168, when the king comes to the fore, in maybe a year and a half. The New York-based dealmaker said he's been talking to the Felix Sturm people, about a fight pitting Martinez against the WBA middleweight titlist. That fight could happen in June or July. Martinez loves to fight, isn't one of these dabblers who wants to lace 'em up once or twice a year for big bank, and spend the rest of his time waltzing around, playing big shot.

Peter Manfredo (age 30; 37-6) is another possibility for Martinez. The net started buzzing when his name was floated. Those opposed to the idea say the Rhode Islander would have no chance, and hate the idea. Dibella points out that this is a business, and that he could probably squeeze about 15,000 people into the Dunkin Donuts center, the arena in Rhode Island. “Hey, in his last fight, Sergiy Dzinziruk put up a hell of an effort,” Dibella says. “Sergio got touched up. He's 36, he can't do that every fight. Manfredo is also a really decent guy, and it'd be great to give him a shot. Also, he's a lot better at 160 than at 168. Sergio's got to be allowed to be a favorite in a fight!”

SPEEDBAG Dibella and I touched on the rapidly approaching Pacquiao-Mosley fight. I expressed some amazement that so many folks are coming out of the woodwork and giving Mosley a solid chance at an upset. I see no chance of that happening, and asked Lou his take. “Mosley is one of the best liked guys out there. And he can punch, so this helps explain why some of the sentiment has changed. People are thinking, If Mosley lands that big shot he landed on Mayweather, on Pacquiao, then maybe Pacquiao gets stopped. I still think Pacquiao is a prohibitive favorite. I can't see Mosley having enough left in the tank to beat Manny.”

—If Berto does what I expect, and gets the better of Victor Ortiz on April 16th in Connecticut, what might come next? “We won't probably get Pacquiao or Cotto, but we're not afraid of anyone,” Dibella said. ” If Mike Jones wants to step up, and people are willing to pay, we'll do that.”

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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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