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The Sad Saga of Thad Spencer

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The 5’11”-200lbs. Spencer began his professional journey on May 3,1960 with a third round knockout over Frankie Rowe. He racked up five more wins before losing a four round decision to Shirley Pembleton. Not the stuff that legends are made of. Nevertheless Thad would reel off twelve straight victories. Among his victims were Jeff Davis and Jimmy Fletcher. In 1964 Thad scored straight kayo including a fifth round stoppage of former world title challenger Tim McNeeley. Then disaster struck. On December 14th Thad was halted in nine rounds by Amos “Big Train” Lincoln.

In 1965 Thad came back strongly avenging a 1963 loss to Chuck Leslie and outpointing Billy Daniels and Roger Rischer. In a rematch with Lincoln, Thad was outscored over ten rounds. After opening 1966 by again outpionting Leslie and Daniels he traveled to England producing a two round kayo over Jack Bodell and a points win over Brian London. Just as Thad was gaining momentum he was upset in seven by spoiler Bill McMurray. Undaunted Thad closed out the year with the biggest win of his career, a ten round verdict over Doug Jones. Thad had finally hit the big time.

Thad’s star would shine its brightest in 1967. He derailed his former nemesis Amos Lincoln in eight rounds and thus gained entry into the WBA’s eight-man elimination tournament. On August 5th at the Houston Astrodome Spencer convincingly took apart ex-champion Ernie Terrell. Thad’s impressive performance made him the odds on favorite to become the new titleholder. Enter Jerry Quarry. On February 3,1968 Thad met Quarry in Oakland. Jerry had struggled to win a disputed decision over ex-heavyweight king Floyd Patterson in his tournament opener. Many felt Thad would move past Quarry and into the finals. As usual in his sensational and erratic career Jerry did the unexpected. Quarry gave Thad a one-side beating that was mercifully stopped in the twelfth and final round. The star had now fallen. How far it would fall in such a short period of time amazed the boxing experts. Thad turned in one more credible performance. In his next fight Thad took a jaunt to England to meet Leotis Martin. Leotis had lost to the eventual tournament winner Jimmy Ellis the same day the Thad had whipped Terrell. On May 28,1968 Spencer and Martin hooked up in what many say was one of the best heavyweight fights on British soil. When the smoke had cleared Leotis had emerged as a ninth round kayo victor.

Almost six months after the Martin loss Thad was invited back to England to meet their “Golden Boy” Billy Walker. When Thad entered the ring it was unbelievable. His once chiseled body was covered with flab. His reflexes and his timing were hideous. Walker was at best a glorified club fighter but he belted Thad all over the ring until it was stopped in round six. From top contender to also ran in less than a year. The downward spiral to oblivion had begun. Six months later Thad traveled to Fresno and was halted in one round by the touted Mac Foster. He tried a comeback in 1970 drawing with Charlie Reno and losing a ten round duke to Tony Doyle. In 1971 he dropped decisions to Ron Stander and Doyle again.

After his victory over Terrell in 1967 that had made him on the threshold of the heavyweight championship, Thad failed to win the next nine starts. Eight losses and a draw. Five times he was knocked out. The last by Jose Luis Garcia in two rounds in 1970. How could a fighter’s fortunes change so dramatically? Such was the tragic demise of Sad Thad Spencer.

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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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