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Will the Trend Be Orlando Salido's Friend? BORGES Doesn't Count On It

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TSS Universe, do you think Salido can keep the upset training chugging on Saturday? (Chris Farina)

Orlando Salido is hoping to become part of a boxing trend on Saturday night.

No less than five matches last weekend produced surprising upsets, the biggest coming when 35-year-old Nobuhiro Ishida destroyed middleweight contender James Kirkland in one round, knocking him down three times and making him look as if the two years he spent in prison had robbed him of both a chin and his reflexive ability to avoid incoming fire.

Kirkland had won twice since being released from prison against minimal competition and his handlers felt they were taking no particular risk matching him with Ishida either. Ishida had no significant victories in his career and there was no reason to think he had the kind of power to drop Kirkland three times in the opening round, as he did before the bout was mercifully stopped before Kirkland hurt his head or Ishida hurt his hands.
One night earlier, old warhorse Marco  Antonio Rubio stepped into the ring with undefeated Canadian middleweight prospect David Lemieux (25-0, 24 KO at the time) with the belief that he could do what Lemieux’s promoters never considered possible. He believed he could win even though he knew why the match had been made.

Rubio had been brought in to serve as a stepping stone for Lemieux, a familiar job in boxing in which a respected older fighter becomes a trial horse by which guys like Lemieux prove their mettle after being tested. Well, Lemieux failed the test when Rubio banged him out in the seventh round.

Those types of upsets give hope to a man like Salido, a former two-time IBF featherweight champion who faces the No. 1 featherweight in the world Saturday night in Puerto Rico, Juan Manuel Lopez.

Lopez is undefeated (30-0), a powerful puncher and a great finisher (27 KO). He is widely perceived to be heading for a showdown with the undefeated former Cuban amateur champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0), who just went the distance in defeating Salido himself after Salido was stripped of the IBF title he held before that fight because he gained more than the mandatory 10 pounds between the weigh-in and fight night.

Salido is quite naturally being seen as a measuring stick for Lopez as he and Gamboa slowly close in on each other. What he is not being seen as is a threat to young Lopez unless Lopez cooperates with a foolhardy approach or a late fade.

“He is a measuring stick,’’ Top Rank vice president and long-time skillful matchmaker Carl Moretti said of Salido. “But he’s a dangerous measuring stick if Juanma gets caught up in things.’’

Salido (34-11-2, 1 NC, 22 KO) half agrees with Moretti. He believes he’s dangerous but doesn’t agree he’s a measuring stick. He’s the kind of guy who can take a good shot and land a better one if the opening is there and if there’s one thing about Lopez it’s that openings are there. For all his skill on offense, Lopez can be hit more easily than the Red Sox starting pitching at the moment and that is the moment Salido is looking for.
Against Gamboa, Salido landed one telling combination that appeared to knockdown Gamboa, although some later insisted it was a slip. The referee was not among them but Salido was never able to follow up on that. If he gets the same opportunity against Lopez he plans to make better use of it.

“I am not intimidated to come to his home country for this fight,’’ said Salido, who is Mexican. “I know what I am capable of doing and I will be ready for war.

“This is a great opportunity for me. My confidence is sky high for this fight. I know this could be my last (title) chance and I want to take advantage of it.

“I believe he’s the best featherweight in the world but he likes to fight and that will be to my advantage. We both have power.’’

In other words, Salido believes he can do to Lopez what Ishida did to Kirkland. He can hurt him in a way from which there is no escape.

“I know it will be a war,’’ Salido conceded. “It will be tough for both of us. I know Juanma comes with everything the first few rounds. I will have to be smart and stay focused. The longer the fight goes will be to my advantage. He’s not the same fighter at the end that he is at the beginning.’’

Frankly, Salido is right about that but getting to the end with Lopez is a hardy undertaking. Since winning first the WBO super bantamweight title and then the WBO featherweight championship only one fighter, Rogers Mtagwa, has gone the distance with Lopez and frankly Mtagwa is tougher than the IRS to get rid of.

Salido will have his work cut out for him if he is to continue the upset trend in boxing but he has come to Puerto Rico intent on doing it. He knows he went the distance in a losing title try against Juan Manuel Marquez, who is one of the very best fighters of his era, and he took out the same Mtagwa who went the distance with Lopez in five rounds in 2006.

In other words, he has reason to believe. I don’t happen to share that belief because Lopez, to me, is a cut above Salido’s level. Then again, so was Gamboa and Salido was more than simply competitive against him, seeming at times to have Gamboa wondering if he needed a better matchmaker.

“Salido is a very good fighter,’’ Lopez conceded this week. “He is strong and will come after me all night long. I have to be smart and try to win as many rounds as I can, but if I hurt him I will go for the knockout.’’

That is understandable and would not be out of character for Lopez but if he tries too soon or simply becomes too intent on doing to Salido what Gamboa could not that is where the real danger lies for him.

If he gets caught up in proving a point instead of just winning a fight, Juan Manuel Lopez could become a victim like James Kirkland, David Lemieux and the others last weekend because boxing is the ultimate reality TV show. It is a sport where one fist landed on the right spot and at the right moment can correct many wrongs and even out many other factors.

Orlando Salido has learned that the hard way in his own career and would like nothing more than to deliver that lesson to Juan Manuel Lopez. It is possible he could because in boxing anything is possible.

I just wouldn’t count on it happening this time.

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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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