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AVILA ASKS–Who Moves On: Andre Berto Or Victor Ortiz?

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image003Two fighters dripping with talent and expected to be superstars by their respective promoters meet to decide which way the pendulum sways. Will it be WBC welterweight titleholder Andre Berto or California’s “Vicious” Victor Ortiz?

Speedy Berto (27-0, 21 KOs) defends the world title against hammer-fisted Ortiz (28-2-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday, April 16, at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. HBO will televise the match along with Amir Khan’s title defense that takes place earlier in the afternoon.

Both boxers have puzzled promoters, matchmakers and fans alike.

On one side there is the much ballyhooed Berto whose speed and footwork have enabled him to remain unbeaten. Good jab: he has that. Good power: he has that. Good defense: he has that. The only thing missing is a good win.

Last year he seemed headed toward determining whether or not he can be described as an elite prizefighter. An earthquake suddenly disrupted plans for Berto to fight Sugar Shane Mosley and that fighter moved on to fight Floyd Mayweather last April. Berto had lost his chance.

Though born in the U.S. Berto fought for Haiti during the Olympics in 2004. The fleet-footed boxer didn’t fare well in the Olympics but most saw him as a can’t-miss prospect as a professional.

Most of Berto’s wins have come easily and suddenly except for those bouts against top-tiered talent or world champions. In those instances Berto had problems against Luis Collazo, and also against Cosme Rivera. But, in retrospect, that was years ago. He just needs a win against a well known fighter to gain respectability.

“I feel I’ll always get a little criticism,” said Berto, who is making his sixth world title defense. “I’m fighting Victor Ortiz. I’m going in with a guy with a lot of speed and power. He’s going to bring some action and try to prove himself.”

Berto has got that right.

Ortiz, like Berto, was emblazoned by his promoter Golden Boy Promotions to be the second coming of Oscar De La Hoya. Fans loved his smile, his looks, the power in each fist and the remarkable story of his life.

The Kansas transplant was about to ascend the throne being assembled for him when he was derailed by Argentina’s wrecking ball Marcos Maidana. Both fighters took turns knocking each other down with Maidana hitting the deck three times. Ortiz was floored twice but after the second knockdown that took place in the sixth round, he suddenly motioned to the referee that he wanted no more. Fans were disappointed.

Golden Boy has tried to rebuild not just his confidence but his fandom in a contrived but deliberate fashion. Wins over Nate Campbell, Vivian Harris and Antonio Diaz were good but when he faced Lamont Peterson last December and fought to a draw, most observers were disappointed. Not just because it ended in a draw, but that many felt Ortiz should have been able to stop Peterson when he had him hurt. Instead, Peterson fought on and seemed to gather momentum.

“I know where I’m going and what I’m about. I must be champion and I will be champion,” said Ortiz making his first prizefight at 147 pounds. “Berto has been talked about as the next thing. I don’t agree. April 16th I must and will bring back the belt.”

Both fighters need a win and both know the loser could be a future gate-keeper for the remainder of that boxer’s career.

“Victor Ortiz is a good kid and can fight. He is limited in a lot of areas. He’s trying to box but needs to be set on his feet to throw punches. He’s a tough kid,” said Berto analyzing Ortiz’s style and ability. “Lamont Peterson, later in the fight, hit him with a lot of tough shots. If I had hit him like that, he probably would go to sleep. He definitely comes to fight.”

Ortiz seems equally concerned and optimistic.

“I’m going to be crowned, no matter what. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve been here a while and finally they’re going to give me a shot. It’s my time! Winning The Ring title definitely is important to me because it shows I’m the best in the world.”

On which side will the pendulum strike?

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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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