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The Power Bowl-Ghost Guerrero vs. Michael Katsidis

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Guerrero and Katsidis are in a buoyant mood at the final press conference for “Action Heroes.” But the smiles will be erased come Saturday, when the combat begins. (Hogan)

In the world of boxing Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero drifts in an out of the mindset of boxing fans and potential foes like his nickname.

Fans are beginning to know him and potential opponents are beginning to fear him.

Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KOs) finds himself in a yet another move up a weight division as he faces Australia’s Michael “The Great” Katsidis (27-3, 22 KOs) for the interim lightweight title tomorrow at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

HBO will televise this fight and several other compelling battles on pay-per-view.

Little by little the prizefighter from Gilroy, California has grabbed attention with his blend of speed and staggering power as he moves up each weight division. The former featherweight and junior lightweight world champion is now in the hunt for a lightweight world title.

It hasn’t been easy.

Aside from learning the various tricks of the trade the past 10 years Guerrero has been sideswiped by his wife’s battle with leukemia the past several years. It’s been a war on two fronts as he comforted his ailing spouse and fought off opponents in the ring.

“I’m finally able to concentrate on just boxing,” said Guerrero with a look of relief on his face now that his wife has emerged healthy from her last battle. “We decided to move our training camp to Las Vegas for this fight.”

If not for proof of his handiwork it would be difficult to believe that the amiable Guerrero is a prizefighter. Let alone one of the most dangerous and capable boxers pound for pound. He smiles easily and seems more like someone who should be enrolled in law school or medical school.

Other than some barely noticeable scars from head butts, his career as one of the more feared boxers would be difficult to detect. The tone of his voice is always friendly and he smiles easily. But inside the boxing ring, he might as well be an axe murderer.

The southpaw boxer-puncher caught the eye of a few when he knocked out Blythe’s David Vasquez in one round. Up to then, Vasquez had fought several punishing fighters and gave them fits with his iron chin. He had also worked as a sparring partner for Brazil’s Acelino “Popo” Freitas who at the time was knocking out people with regularity.

On May 4, 2003, Guerrero and Vasquez met in a Coachella casino and the end came to a sudden end for the hometown boxer. After barely a minute Guerrero exploded with crackling lefts that pierced Vasquez’s iron chin. It was over in the first round. I remember watching with surprise. Nobody had ever hurt Vasquez like that.

Not many people know about Vasquez’s ability to absorb big blows so the victory went under the radar of most fight fans. But that victory marked the emergence of Guerrero as a talented prospect.

Eventually after victories over veterans like Juan Polo Perez and former world champion Enrique Sanchez it slowly became apparent to at least other fighters that Guerrero was not just another left-handed boxer. Another thing was though he was not known as a knockout puncher in the beginning, eight knockouts in nine fights began to create recognition that the Ghost could crack.

In December 2005, the Gilroy boxer would lose for the first and only time against Gamaliel Diaz, a crafty Mexican fighter who knew all the tricks and more.

Diaz was losing badly to Guerrero but found some chinks in the southpaw’s style. He quickly realized that Guerrero was a basic one-two fighter who almost always began everything with a right jab in those days. With that knowledge and by using every trick in his vast array, the Mexican fighter pulled out a victory over Guerrero by decision.
Guerrero has not lost since that fight.

Changes in his tactics and weaponry have transformed Guerrero into one of the more clever and resourceful prizefighters in the world.

Victories over various styles of top tier fighters like Joel Casamayor, Jason Litzau and Vicente Escobedo are added proof of his growing prowess inside the ring. Whether his opponent is skillful, powerful or willful the Northern Californian has been able to find an antidote.

“Robert gets better and better,” said Bob Santos, who manages Guerrero. “I think he’s even stronger at this weight.”

Sugar Shane Mosley, who is preparing to fight Manny Pacquiao on May 7, predicts that Guerrero will eventually be fighting at an even heavier weight class very soon.

“He hits like a welterweight,” said Mosley who sparred with Guerrero on numerous occasions in Big Bear Mountain. “Robert’s pretty tall and he has good speed and power. He’ll be fighting as a welterweight pretty soon.”

On Saturday he’s fighting as a lightweight and against one of the most dangerous lightweights in the world Katsidis.

“I’m really happy that this fight here I’m fighting against the number-one in the world,” said Katsidis, who trained in Thailand for this fight. “I’ll fight the best.  I’m fighting the best now because that’s what I want to do.”

Guerrero is eager to meet the great Australian slugger mostly because he knows that it will be power versus power.

“I’m really excited to be fighting Katsidis,” said Guerrero while training in Las Vegas. “He has the kind of style I like. He’s like me. He’s coming to fight.”

It should be the fight of the night.

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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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