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Roach Says Juan Manuel Marquez Has Given Manny Problems Like No Other

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Read the body language on display after their 2008 fight. Looks like Marquez thought he won, and Manny doesn't look too confident he'll get his hand raised, does he? But the body laanguage in play today has more to do with weight, and age, quite possibly. (Hogan)

It has been too long in coming and so you have to wonder if it’s too late getting here, even though short of one other possibility it’s the only fight most people want to see Manny Pacquiao in.

With the stalemate between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. dragging on into its third year, promoter Bob Arum announced as expected last week that he’d reached agreement with Juan Manuel Marquez for a Nov. 12 showdown with Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that would complete boxing’s best trilogy since Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti retired.

Marquez is the one fighter who has given Pacquiao fits, his style sometimes mesmerizing him and often leading him into traps where trouble brewed. The result has been two controversial endings, the first a 2004 draw when both were featherweights and the second a 2008 split decision for Pacquiao when they fought as 130-pound junior lightweights.

In both cases many observers felt Marquez deserved the win, most especially in their remarkable first fight in which Pacquiao dropped Marquez three times in the opening round but didn’t win three minutes of the rest of the fight as the remarkably resilient and resourceful Marquez not only fought his way back into the fight but to the point where, in this corner at least, it seemed his hand should have been raised.

The second fight was nearly as debatable, although a stronger case could be made for Pacquiao that time even though it didn’t seem from this corner that he’d done enough to win. Or rather, to be fair, it seemed that once again Marquez had done more to win.  

That three long years have passed between their last meeting and this one does not bode well for Marquez, however, because while he has remained a lightweight, Pacquiao has blossomed into a full-fledged welterweight who has seemingly retained all the speed and power he brought to the lighter weight divisions while losing nothing, including any fights since adding another 15 pounds.

Equally concerning is the fact Marquez will be 38 by the time they touch gloves (message of Shane Mosley: they’ll only once, and barely) and go at each other a third time. Marquez remains in good shape and still among the most skilled fighters in the world but there have been clear signs of slippage in him that have not been evident in the 32-year-old Pacquiao.

He was badly beaten by Mayweather in his only previous foray into the welterweight division – where to be honest he looked under-sized and over-matched – and has been dropped by Michael Katsidis before giving him a schooling in a TKO victory. One could excuse the Mayweather loss because he may still be the best fighter in the world and one could argue he came back strong to stop Katsidis, stopped the somewhat faded Joel Casamayor and twice beat up Juan Diaz since losing that split decision to Pacquiao so whatever slippage occurred has been slight.

That may be true but any slippage against a fighter as strong, quick and aggressive as Pacquiao could prove fatal for Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KO), especially since he will be forced to fight at a catchweight of 144 pounds.

What that weight means is that Pacquiao is giving away nothing. Despite the fact the welterweight division has a 147-pound limit, he seldom gets much above 143 so he will not be dieting down. Meanwhile Marquez will have to come up nine pounds from the 135 he’ll fight in July when he defends the WBA and WBO lightweight titles he holds against former champion David Diaz. Coincidentally, that’s the same Diaz Roach saw as the turning point for Pacquiao.

Yet other than Mayweather is there another fighter fans would rather see Pacquiao face? Zab Judah? Timothy Bradley? Selcuk Aydin? Mike Jones? No, no, 1000 times no.

Some floated the idea of Pacquiao moving up to middleweight to challenge Sergio Martinez but trainer Freddie Roach quickly squelched that idea as, to be kind, ridiculous because of the size difference (five inches in height, eight inches in reach, true middleweight vs. junior welterweight at best). That left Mayweather, Marquez and everyone else and with Mayweather still seemingly semi-retired and everyone else of little interest to the public the logical challenge is Marquez, who has always felt he won both of their encounters and didn’t get the decisions only because of the greater power of Pacquiao’s celebrity.

Whatever the truth or not of that, even Roach concedes no one has given Pacquiao the kind of problems Marquez has in the past.

“One hundred per cent,’’ Roach said when asked if he believed Marquez had given Pacquiao more problems than anyone he’d faced since Erik Morales beat him six years ago when he was a one-armed and one dimensional fighter.

“Marquez is a difficult fighter. Very skilled. Very steady. Very resourceful. But my fighter is a better fighter now than he was then. Manny could only move in one direction and he only punched with the right hand then.

“The (David) Diaz fight (which came immediately after the second Marquez fight) was the turning point. Everything started to fit together. In the Oscar fight it all did. Marquez is a tough guy. A great fighter. But Manny is a better fighter than he was before.’’

Depending on how you look at the outcome of those fights two fights and the ravages of age and size on Juan Manuel Marquez, he may have to be.

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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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