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Saturday Night Is A Suicide Mission For Erik Morales

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MoralesFanRally4Maidana_BlevinsThumbs up for Morales' heart and guts. But Lotierzo thinks he'll be going down, hard, on Saturday. (Hogan)

As of this writing Manny Pacquiao is considered by most boxing observers to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. It's been six years since he suffered his last loss, when he was out-boxed by Erik Morales in March of 2005. And to Pacquiao's credit, he avenged the loss to Morales twice by stoppage in 2006. Since losing to Morales, Pacquiao has been on a tear and has won titles at 135, 140, 147 and 154. On the other hand Morales, 34, is 3-4 since beating Manny and has been soundly defeated fighting between 133 and 147.

In another twist of fate, Morales fights Marcos Madiana 29-2 (27) this weekend for the WBA interim super lightweight title in Las Vegas. And next month Pacquiao, 32, defends his WBO welterweight title against Shane Mosley, 39, in Las Vegas. Pacquiao is nearly a 7-1 favorite to beat Mosley and Morales is a 6-1 underdog to Maidana. Talk about two fighters going in different directions. Pacquiao in all likelihood will end Mosley's career and Maidana will probably end Morales'. Hopefully, neither Morales or Mosley will suffer a horrific beating at the hands of the young lions they're fighting. However, I wouldn't bet on it.

At one time Morales and Mosley were two of the greatest warriors and fighters in boxing, but today they're finished as world class fighters and are only getting the chance to get devastated in their final marquee bout because of their name and what they've accomplished throughout their decorated careers. Since Mosley doesn't fight for another month, let's focus on Morales.

Morales 51-6 (35) has been a professional fighter for the better part of the last two decades. He's a certain Hall of Famer and sadly because of the way his career has wound down and Pacquiao's has ascended, Morales's accomplishments have been somewhat forgotten. When Morales was fighting between 122 and 130 he was a genuine terror. His resume is littered with outstanding/great fighters who he beat. But he's never been anything special as a lightweight. All the wars he had prior to his days fighting above 130 stretched him physically at both ends and like a worn rubber-band, once it snaps, it's done forever. Morales is finished as a world class championship caliber fighter. There was even a time that it appeared Erik recognized it and stepped away from the ring. But like all great boxing warriors the trait that made them great eventually gets them destroyed at the end of their career.

Not only is Morales an old 34, he's fighting a guy in Maidana who is naturally bigger and stronger than he is, and if that weren't enough, Maidana is fighting with a chip on his shoulder after being convincingly defeated in his last fight versus Amir Khan. Maidana is an attacker, he could care less what his opponent has in his hands power wise when he fights. Add to that he knows Morales wasn't a big puncher at 130, what kind of a puncher does he believe he'll be facing in him at 140? I'd bet that Maidana is relishing getting into it with Morales. If Maidana knows one thing it's that he won't have to look long or hard for Morales, and the first time he touches him with something big, he'll have the knock down drag out slugfest he likes. Not only is it probable that Maidana will make Morales flinch with everything he lands, do you think he's the least bit concerned with what Morales will be sending back at him? No. Actually, he'll probably feed off of it and grow stronger and more confident as the fight progresses.

Recently Maidana said, “I'm going to come out throwing punches, guns blazing. If he can withstand it, great; if he can't, then good night.” That's not a comforting thought for Morales being that Maidana is the younger, hungrier, stronger and bigger fighter who actually had Khan shook a few times when they fought. And it required Khan to fight the signature bout of his career to better Maidana who's fought at 140 or above his entire pro career.

Last week Morales said, “Everybody says Maidana hits too hard, I don't believe that. I can handle him.” Which just goes to show that the heart and spirit of Morales is still willing, and unfortunately that's what'll lead to his downfall and provide Maidana with one of the signature wins of his surging career. No way will Morales's body be able to cash the check that his heart and character will attempt to write when he meets Maidana at center ring this Saturday night.

During Morales's sabbatical from boxing circa 2007 – 2010, he blew up to 190 pounds. He said, “Lots of meetings and eatings. No working out. I just kind of moved from restaurant to restaurant. I ate everything I wanted and drank everything I wanted.”  The more you get into this fight and look at all the variables surrounding it, it's a wonder that Morales is only a 6-1 underdog for his upcoming suicide mission.

Because of the names Maidana and Morales fans will most likely watch the fight. But this won't be a competitive bout. I just wonder how, after all his years in the business, Morales doesn't know enough not to make his first big fight back against the exact type of fighter who is most suited to derailing and maybe hurting him. Tim Bradley would have been a better choice for him to fight in this spot.

Frank Lotierzo can reached 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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