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BORGES The Danger Is You Don't See The Danger: Might Adamek Be Looking Past Mountain McBride To Klitschko Bout?

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adamek_mcbride_frontThe danger is that you don’t see any danger. That, more than anything else, is the risk of tune-up fights.

Many a fighter has gone to the arena thinking he was going to a high-paying sparring session. Future plans had already been made. Assumptions came with them. The opponent who stood between those assumptions and reality is easily dismissed. Then the first bell rings and he turns out to be unwilling to be dismissed. He is more than you thought he’d be.

Or maybe he is what you thought he’d be but you are simply less. Ill-prepared psychologically or physically for a sterner challenge than this guy was supposed to provide.

That is the biggest danger for heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamak Saturday night when he steps into the ring at Newark’s Prudential Center in front of a raucous and highly partisan crowd against an aging Irishman whose moment came and went in an instant six years ago and nothing has happened in between but a battle with the bottle and five losses in his last six fights.

Adamek, a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion, is one more victory away from an agreed to September fight in a 62,000-seat soccer stadium on the Poland-German border against Vitali Klitschko. Klitschko is two years older and two inches shorter than 6-6, 280-plus pound Kevin McBride, who Adamak faces next for two reasons: he’s big and he’s not dangerous.

Or so the people around him think.

On paper they would seem to be right. Although McBride did knock out Mike Tyson in 2005, it was more a case of Tyson imploding and quitting on the floor because McBride was being unreasonable in his willingness to absorb punishment and at least trying to fight back.

McBride broke Tyson’s will not with his punching power but with the resiliency of his chin and his spirit, two things he will also bring to Newark on Saturday. While McBride himself may not be considered formidable, those two character traits are.

Adamek is saying the right things of course. They always do. He may in fact mean them and if he does McBride is in for a long night.

But if Adamek has been spending his time with visions of Klitschko rather than McBride in front of him, he has a problem. If he thinks he will come in and quickly dispose of McBride that too is unlikely not only because of McBride’s ability to absorb punches as if he were one of those Joe Palooka blow-up punching bags but also because Adamek, truth be told, is a blown up light heavyweight himself who has gone the distance with Jason Estrada, Chris Arreola and Michael Grant, three guys who are hardly the flower of heavyweight boxing.

One could rightly argue they are all superior to McBride but that is not the point. The point is what does Adamek believe?

“Fighting Kevin McBride is a good test for me,’’ he said recently. “Size, yes it is very important, but not the (most). I'm not short, but when I am fighting I'm moving my head, bending my knees, moving side to side, being flexible, making it hard to touch me.  With every fight I think it gets more difficult to hit me.

“I do not look past McBride or take him for granted. This is boxing, one punch can change the situation. Just one punch can change everything. This is my test before Klitschko. I respect McBride. “

Sure he does. Adamek is 43-1 with 28 knockouts. He is a former world champion in two weight classes. He is one night away from fighting for the heavyweight title in his native country. He respects Kevin McBride about as much as the American military respects the Peruvian military.

They have guns and ammunition so attention must be paid. But not too much attention and not for too long.

It is hard to avoid slipping into that kind of thinking for a fight like this. McBride is 38 years old and had been doing occasional work as a street paver when not serving as a stay at home parent for his two young children when his friend and advisor Jerry Quinn called to tell him they had just been offered an unexpected opportunity.

McBride had not fought in 2 ½ years before coming back last year to fight in the British reality show “Prizefighter.’’ He split two fights, both three round exhibitions on the same night. The second was a disputed one point loss to Matt Skelton. Nothing that happened that night or any night since he beat Tyson so long ago pointed to an opportunity like he now has.

“When I got off the phone I went right out and ran in the streets like Forrest Gump in the movies,’’ McBride (35-8-1, 29 KO) said. “This was me second chance. It only takes one punch to change the chapter.’’

True, but few think McBride carries that kind of megatonnage. A ponderously slow mover and a puncher whose attack comes in wide, arching waves that often seem more slaps than snapping shots, it would be difficult for Adamek to study McBride and not come away convinced his superior hand speed, boxing ability and professional pedigree are not enough to carry the night quite convincingly and, frankly, quite easily.

It would be human nature to think that way. It might also be a mistake.

“A lot of people say ‘Why do you fight before the Klitschko fight?’’’ Adamek said. “You know every fight is a danger but I can’t stay home with nothing to do. I need to practice. This is my way. It will only help me prepare.’’

McBride is not in Newark to help Adamek do anything but lose a date with Klitschko. He is here in the classic spoiler’s role, a fighter few boxing people give even the slightest chance to win.

That, Adamek’s promoter knows, is what makes him dangerous.

“This is a very important fight and we’ve seen lots of fighters in this situation look past the guy in front of him,’’ Kathy Duva of Main Events said. “In this situation, Tomasz is putting a lot on the line. This man (McBride) pretty much made a name for himself by scoring one of the biggest upsets ever and ending Mike Tyson's career. We are not taking that lightly at all and nor should anyone else.”

No they shouldn’t but that doesn’t mean they aren’t.

“Training camp was very peaceful,’’ trainer Roger Bloodwirth said of his seven week stint in the Poconos with Adamek. “It allowed us to focus, cause we're not taking this man lightly at all. Anybody that takes a 6-foot-6, 270 pound man lightly, well he needs to be hypnotized.’’

The latter was a reference to McBride’s advocacy for being hypnotized by a sports psychologist in recent weeks to eliminate doubt and focus the mind. He did the same thing before Tyson and on a night when he was a bigger underdog than he will be on Saturday, McBride finally hypnotized the youngest man ever to win the heavyweight title until he simply collapsed to the floor in frustration, a broken man from the combination of McBride leaning his heft against him and refusing to acquiesce.

It was that unexpected refusal on McBride’s part to willingly play the role he’d been hired for that broke Tyson. Can the same thing happen to Tomasz Adamek?

You wouldn’t think so and it probably won’t…just as long as Adamek isn’t among the people thinking like 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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