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BORGES Maybe Sad, But It's True: Wladimir-Haye Is Most Anticipated Heavy Clash Since Tyson-Lewis

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haye-klitschko2It says as much about the sad state of heavyweight boxing today as it does about the skill and appeal of Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye that their July 2 settlement meeting in Hamburg will be the most anticipated heavyweight title fight in nine years.

Not since Lennox Lewis squared off with Mike Tyson on June 8, 2002 and beat him senseless could the word “anticipation’’ be used to describe the general public’s view of any boxing match involving the carousel of champions who have populated the heavyweight division since Lewis’ retirement, but this is the moment. Whether that proves patience is a virtue, all things come to those who wait or fooled you again remains to be seen, but at least Klitschko-Haye is a heavyweight title fight that begs to be seen.

Perhaps a few diehards might say that was the feeling before Lewis faced Klitschko’s big brother Vitali a year after the Tyson fight but that would be rewriting history. After the elder Klitschko fought bravely and with resolute determination against a less than well prepared Lewis many wished they’d paid the event more attention but in the days and weeks leading up to it few expected it would be anything but what it ended as – which was a bloody win for Lewis after he gouged a hole in Klitschko’s eyelid deep enough to store all your Easter eggs inside.

Truth be told, no one but Klitschko looked at that fight with “anticipation’’ until HBO ran the replay. That night he saw the fight as an opportunity but the world saw it…well most of the world didn’t see it, which is the point.

But Klitschko-Haye has both international appeal and a story line that should sell the fight in the US if properly marketed even though it will not be contested here. It will be fought where it should be fought, in the 55,000-seat Itech Arena in Hamburg, an outdoor stadium big enough to jam in Klitschko’s many German and Ukrainian followers as well as all of Haye’s British loyalists.

Haye, a former cruiserweight champion before winning the WBA heavyweight title a year and a half ago, is a showman with a flair for the crass and the dramatic. The fact that he can punch like a wrecking ball makes those other skills saleable.

Klitschko (55-3, 49 KO) will be making his 11th defense of the IBF and WBO titles he first laid his hands on in 2006 and because of that is generally considered the best heavyweight in the world unless you ask his family members, who would probably say that title really belongs to Vitali.

Both have said they never intend to settle that issue, which only goes to show that despite ample evidence to the contrary there is a level beneath which not even boxing will not sink. (EDITOR NOTE: Oh but wouldn't some promoter be willing to put aside conscience, and stage Klitschko vs. Klitschko? So really, I think boxing could sink to that level, if the Klitschkos gave the all clear, LOL). Since Klitschko vs. Klitshko will never happen, Klitschko vs. Haye is the best alternative, one that has been proposed several times before but was skirted by (depending on who you want to believe) Haye, Klitschko or their various handlers.

Klitschko The Younger is more technically sound than Haye but the WBA champion is the more explosive puncher. Although both can do considerable damage it is Haye (25-1, 23 KO) who seems the more likely to deliver a one-punch knockout while Klitschko is most often content to work behind his heavy jab and straight right hands, inflicting extensive damage over time.
In other words, they both have a puncher’s chance and no one but their staunchest allies can be sure which of them has the best chance. That air of mystery is what makes the fight intriguing and lends the word “anticipation’’ to any description of how the public will view it.

It brings an interest to the division not seen since Lewis-Tyson because there is a whiff of danger on both sides. Each has shown concussive power and each has shown enough weaknesses to be viewed as vulnerable to such power. That is what brings tension and interest to a boxing match, most especially in the heavyweight division.

One-sided walkover bouts, which both Klitschko and Haye have been part of since winning portions of the heavyweight title may please German promoters and British fight fans but they do not attract wide-spread interest and attention. Klitschko-Haye should do that because they are generally believed to be the divisions’ two best heavyweights (unless you favor Vitali) yet each comes with enough fragility to be seen as putting himself at risk.

In the end, that is all fight fans ask of their champions. They want to see skillful fighters or heavy-handed ones take a risk. They want to see in them not only some form of greatness but a willingness to prove that greatness. Regardless of how this fight ends, the perception going in will be that both have fulfilled that requirement.

Finally it seems both realize there is no longer anywhere else to go. No more Samuel Peters or Chris Arreolas or Audley Harrisons. No one but each other is left, which is what fight fans have been longing for since Haye won the WBA title from Nikolay Valuev by majority decision.

That was a lackluster win to be fair but Haye is such a showman and such a puncher that the boxing public was willing to ignore it if he ended up with one of the Klitschkos. After lambasting aging former champion John Ruiz and Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison in his first two title defenses, Haye understood the time for his incessant threats to maim the Klitschkos had passed. It was time to fight or fade into the woodwork.

Long claiming to be in search of the Klitschkos, David Haye has finally found one of them. If he can dethrone him he will have set up an even bigger payday for himself and for boxing with Klitschko’s big brother but it would be unwise for him to get ahead of himself. Come July 2, David Haye will have his hands full with Vitali’s little brother. Fortunately for fight fans, the IBF-WBO champion is in the same boat with David Haye.

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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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