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AVILA RINGSIDE AT PECHANGA-Ruslan Provodnikov TKOs Ivan Popopca

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TEMECULA-Russia’s heavy hitting Ruslan Provodnikov finally cracked through the resilience of Chicago’s Ivan Popopca with a counter one-two to win by technical knockout on Friday.

“I’m surprised again and again at some of these Mexican fighter’s hard heads,” said Provodnikov.  “It was frustrating.”

The Russian fighter’s only loss came against a Riverside County fighter but this time Provodnikov sought the help of trainer Buddy McGirt. It did the trick as he out-maneuvered and out-punched Chicago’s Popopca.

Provodnikov didn’t waste time and immediately went to the body of Popopca in the first round of a fight which served as the main event of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. The Chicagoan-Mexican landed some combinations but took a lot of counter left hooks during exchanges.

Popopca began finding the timing of the Russian fighter toward the end of the second round with a one-two and an uppercut. But Provodnikov had done more damage to the body with left hooks all through the round.

The tempo increased in the third round as Popopca began utilizing his jab to establish space and disrupt the Russian fighter’s timing. Some combinations to the head and body scored but Provodnikov did land a powerful right hand that didn’t seem faze the Mexican fighter. It was Popopca’s best round.

Russia’s Provodnikov returned to the body punch to keep Popopca from using that jab effectively. Body blow after body blow was landed by Provodnikov in the fourth round.

Big left hand bombs rained on Popopca’s head in the fifth and Provodnikov went in to finish the fight. Bomb after bomb echoed in the arena but Popopca stood his ground and when the Russian fighter finally tired, Popopca fired a three-punch combination at the bell to let everyone know that he was going to still stick around.

“I was beginning to get worried because he took my best punches,” said Provodnikov. “I was expecting a knockout.”

It didn’t come.

Provodnikov was tired in the sixth round and allowed Popopca to land his combinations to the head. Three punch combinations rained on the Russian fighter who looked like he was trying to conserve energy after the previous round.

Things suddenly changed after that rest.

A constant steady barrage of well-time left hooks won the seventh round for Provodnikov. Every time Popopca landed anything the Russian would counter with a solid left hook that seemed to shake the floor.

It looked like Popopca was able to withstand everything Provodnikov fired but in the eighth round, some well placed left hooks to the body began to open up the Mexican fighter’s head. A perfectly timed counter right hand decked Popopca with a thud. He beat the count but when the fight resumed the Russian fighter lined him up against the ropes and unleashed a five-punch combination that snapped the head back of Popopca and forced referee Pat Russell to stop the bludgeoning at 2:16 of the eighth.

“I feel I was a little better technically,” said Provodnikov, adding that he acquired McGirt a month ago to help him prepare. “He told me to just box and not throw just one punch.”

The advice proved rewarding.

Other bouts

Marvin Quintero (22-3, 18 KOs) returned to Pechanga, the site of his first loss in the U.S. and made amends with a third round knockout of Denver’s Mario Santiago (13-7-1) in a lightweight bout. Both boxers came out winging big punches with Quintero absorbing some big blows and Santiago losing the last 10 seconds of the first round.

The second round was completely different. Quintero was the crisper puncher and out-boxed Santiago who was caught early in the round and just couldn’t regain momentum in the round.

Quintero needed only 12 seconds to catch Santiago with a right hook that stunned the taller fighter. Immediately after that punch the Tijuana boxer unloaded seven quick blows on Santiago and referee Tom Taylor decided to stop the fight in the third round.

A light heavyweight bout saw Mike Gavronski (2-0-1) from Tacoma and West L.A.’s Tyrel Hendrix (5-1-2) floor each other in the first round and it didn’t let up. After four rounds of blood and guts the bout was scored a majority draw. Gwen Adair scored it 40-36 for Hendrix, but Max DeLuca and Fritz Werner had it 38-38 for a majority draw.

Riverside’s Sindi Amador (3-0) beat L.A.’s Katarina De La Cruz (2-7-1) by unanimous decision after four rounds of a junior flyweight bout. Amador had the speed advantage and seemed to overwhelm De La Cruz. But in the third round she slowed a bit after throwing so many punches and De La Cruz began scoring with some straight right leads. Amador captured the fourth round with her speedy combos to win 39-37 and 40-36 on two score cards.

Dashon “Fly Boy” Johnson (12-4-3) knocked out Willie Walton (4-4) at 1:18 of the first round of a welterweight bout. A right hand floored Walton for the first knockdown. A five punch combination forced referee Russell to stop the fight.

Riverside’s Danny Ruiz won his pro debut by unanimous decision against Moreno Valley’s William Fisher (0-3). Both fought hard and it was too bad somebody had to lose. The scores were 40-35, 38-37, 39-36 all for Ruiz. Fisher fought hard but started slowly.

Undefeated Garrett Simon almost took a loss against L.A.’s David Johnson in a four round heavyweight match. Johnson gives almost everyone trouble and Simon was no exception. The holding and hitting by Johnson proved a big puzzle for Simon who never used an uppercut though Johnson charges forward with his head down. Nevertheless, Gwen Adair scored it 40-36 for Simon but Max DeLuca and Fritz Werner scored it 38-38 for another majority draw.

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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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