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Don't Call Him Old, Just Call Him A Legend: Hopkins Beats Pascal, Is Oldest Man To Win Title…WOODS

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HopkinsPrepares4JonesJr2_Vega8Hopkins said after he felt 36, not 46. He said he's saved his best fights for last, that every fight til the end will be a thriller. (Hogan)

All must hail the cagiest pugilist of this, and maybe any era, after 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins schooled 28-year-old Jean Pascal in the main event at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday night. Hopkins was looking to be the oldest man to win a legitimate title, to surpass George Foreman, who was 45 when he won a crown by beating Michael Moorer in 1994, and after a bit of a slow start, he got cooking, rendered Pascal into a sad stew of uncertainty, and passed Foreman in the record books. A timely, sharp jab, and lead rights that rarely missed proved problematic for Pascal, who helped the Philly fighter out by not pressing the action, and forcing the elder man to test his stamina to the max. After 12 rounds of professorial magic on the part of Hopkins, the judges weighed in, and bless them, they didn't screw it up. They scored it 115-113, 116-112, 115-114 for the wiliest of pugilists.

Hopkins won the stat battle, going 131-409, while Pascal, who some will say was criminally weak in the volume department,  was 70-377. He said afterwards he wants to go out “a winner, not punch drunk, not broke.” He said yes, he did get hit with clean shots, but that he can take a nasty shot if need be. He called Pascal a “strong bull” who will come back if he doesn't get too disappointed. He said Pascal needs to take some mustard off his shots, and not go overboard in loading up. He said he'd like to fight Lucian Bute in Canada after he fights Chad Dawson. Pascal after called Hopkins a “great legend. We need a part three and the fans want to see a part three.” He said Hopkins “has a lot of tricks. It was a close fight, he won the fight.” he admitted he's still “green” and that his two bouts with Hopkins will bring him to the next level.

Hopkins is 192 days older than Foreman was on his special night, on the night of May 21, 2011.

Hopkins (51-5-2 entering; age 46; from Philadelphia; ex longtime middleweight champion, ex light heavyweight champion) needed extra time to make weight, and on a third attempt, he was 174 pounds, 14 ounces, on Friday, while the WBC and TSS light heavyweight champion Pascal (28-0-1 entering; age 28; from Haiti, lives in Montreal) weighed the same. Both were 186 pounds unofficially on Saturday night.

Ian John-Lewis was the ref. He made Pascal return to center ring to touch gloves with Hopkins before he'd let the bell ring to start round one. 17,560 people were in attendance at the Bell.

The two men fought in December, and battled to a draw, though Pascal knocked Hopkins down in both the first and third rounds. Hopkins outlanded the younger man, 153-86, helping bolster his case as he told the world he was robbed. Pascal got under Hopkins' skin, not something many men can boast, when during a pre-fight press conference he accused Hopkins of being a “cheater,” of using PEDs (“Are you willing to take the test?”), and demanded he take a pre-fight test to insure his cleanliness.

In the first, Hopkins didn't get knocked down. Pascal ran excessively to start. Hopkins caught him with a left as he moved in to attack with a minute left, but Pascal landed a couple more meaningful blows. His trainer asked him to “make him work” after the round.

In the second, both men got fiery early. Chad Dawson, looking to meet the winner, was in the booth. He said he'd fight either man happily. Hopkins tried to make Pascal miss badly, and then counter him.

In the third, Pascal landed some clean shots, as he looked to run less, and throw more. Hopkins then looked to make his mark with 1:40 to go. He lead with his head shortly after he scored with a combo, and a sharp right. Hopkins was properly warmed up now.

In the fourth, a right hurt Hopkins at the end of the round. “They must think they got an ordinary emeffer in there,” said trainer Naazim Richardson to Hopkins after.

In the fifth, Pascal started slow but landed a few clean shots after a minute. The ref warned Hopkins for using his head. He then held Pascal with his left in a headlock and whacked him with his right. Hopkins shuffled, stuck out his tongue and clowned at the end of the round. The older man acted as the aggressor in this round. Pascal's trainer Marc Ramsey asked his guy to keep closer to Hopkins after the round. The score could've been 4-1 Pascal or 3-2, Pascal, after five.

In the sixth, Hopkins ran out of his corner and bombed with a right. He told the judges that he wanted it more. The ref warned both men to break clean after two minutes. Hopkins didn't comply. He thumbed Pascal with a jab. He followed Pascal to his corner, then Pascal followed Hopkins to his. This gamesmanship, the Graterford style stuff, had to favor the vet.

In the seventh, Hopkins did a few pushups at the start of the round while Pascal was still on his stool. A right landed clean on Pascal at 1:55. Again, a right lead hit home in the last minute. I had Hopkins up 4-3 after the seventh.

In the eighth, Manny Steward said Hopkins looked better than he has in any fight since he fought Tito Trinidad. Hopkins landed nasty right, after a setup jab, at 1:32. His jab was quick and timely, and his right hand was sharp and accurate. Left hooks by Pascal excited the crowd, but he likely lost the round. I had Hopkins up 5-3, while Harold Lederman saw it 4-4.

In the ninth, Hopkins came out jabbing. A short right had Pascal's gloves touching the canvas, but it wasn't ruled a knockdown, as it looked like maybe he slipped. But on a replay, it looked like a real-deal knockdown. Hopkins may have stolen the round with a lead right late. He did in my eyes; I had it 6-3 Hopkins.

In the 10th, a lead right had Pascal's glove hitting the canvas, but again, no knockdown was called. The fight went over its alotted DVR time during the tenth.

In the 11th, Pascal got the crowd jazzed, as he was more busy than we'd seen.

In the 12th, Pascal landed a couple power shots, and Hopkins answered. But Pascal scored with a right hand, and buzzed Bernard. Hopkins moved, buying time.  He bought enough to go to the cards. Lederman saw it 115-113 for Hopkins.

SPEEDBAG Manny Steward did double duty in Montreal. He worked Chad Dawson's corner in “Bad's” win over Adrian Diaconu, and then the main event with Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman.

–FYI HBO will run Wlad-Haye live, at 4:45 ET on July 2, and then re-run the bout after dark.

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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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