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Pawel Wolak Will Work Construction Until The Title Shot Comes

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Wolak_Moore_100605_001aWolak is a volume guy, with an above average chin. He's a rough diamond in the Top Rank stable. (Chris Farina)

The mere fact that boxing entails you keep the other guy from knocking your head off your neck makes it the hardest sport to master. But there are other things that separate boxing from lesser athletic endeavors. Take for instance the fact that in boxing, eight times out of ten, even a highly regarded professional with title-shot capability needs to work a 9 to 5 job, to make ends meet, until the proverbial ship comes in.

New Jersey's Pawel Wolak has worked a construction job full-time for the last two years. At the end of the day, when guys like him are looking forward to kicking their boots off, and cracking a cold one while kicking back in the easy chair, the 29-year-old Wolak pauses only to strip put of his overalls, and put on his workout gear. After a day spent doing brickwork, doing scaffolds, real heavy duty construction work, Wolak switches gear into pugilist mode. And if he does sigh, and if he is sometimes tempted to blow off his “second job,” he only has to think about his wife, and his two year old son, and he snaps back into focus. Because junior middleweight Wolak wants a title crack, at a Cornelius Bundrage, or a Miguel Cotto, but he needs to pay the bills for shelter and sustenance until that bigtime opportunity arrives.

“I want to build on my popularity, I want to be seen, I want fans,” he told me in a phoner during some free time which was made available because it was raining, and the gang at Adams European Construction had the day off.

Wolak won some new fans with a solid showing against Yuri Foreman on March 12; his constant pressure forced Foreman's corner to advise their fight to stay on his stool after six rounds. He wants to add to his fan club with another scrap, possibly against 25-5 Delvin Rodriguez, day and site TBD, with July 15 looking like a likely date. “I think that's a good fight,” he said. “I don't want to take step back. On paper, I should win. He's had a few losses, and me coming off a win. I've been winning lately.” Indeed; Wolak has won eight in a row since he lost to Ishe Smith (UD10) in August 2008. If those two were to meet today, to be frank, I'd like Wolak, because it feels like he's made a leap, put things together. He agrees.

The fighter said he picked up boxing late, after wrestling in high school. He started training at 19, and after a solid apprenticeship, he feels in his bones that his time is now. He told me that he's been catching everyone he's sparred with for awhile now. He's more so mastered walking people down, closing the distance, using his stamina to solid effect. “That's just the way I fight,” he said. “I could try and be more refined, but that's my temperment. I'm just going to fight every second of every round. I'm 29 now. I've become a man. I know how to train now. I've always been tough, now it's coming together. Mentally and physically I'm good.”–

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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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