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Mike Tyson, A First Ballot Hall of Famer, Without A Doubt…LOTIERZO

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mike-tyson.2Since he turned pro on March 6th, 1985 and stopped Hector Mercedes 1:47 into the first round, there have been many superlatives written and said regarding Mike Tyson, the fighter and former undisputed heavyweight champion. The things said about Tyson were usually centered around his physical skill-set and impressive ring accomplishments. This weekend Tyson 50-6 (44) will be officially inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. The case for Tyson is open and shut and Mike is a first ballot hall of fame fighter based on what he brought to the ring as a fighter and what he accomplished during his 20 year boxing career.

Over the past 26 years we've been reminded that Tyson was the youngest heavyweight champ in history at age 20, and that he's also the youngest ex-champ in heavyweight history (both records still stand). Tyson also lost and re-won the title and was the first unified and undisputed champ since Leon Spinks won the WBA/WBC heavyweight title from Muhammad Ali back in February of 1978. Tyson is also the first heavyweight boxer to hold the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles simultaneously. Only Joe Louis scored more first round knockouts than Tyson in title fights and Jack Dempsey is the only heavyweight champ to have scored more career first round knockouts than Mike. Tyson also holds the distinction of being the biggest favorite in a heavyweight title bout when he was upset by James “Buster” Douglas as a 42-1 favorite on February 11th 1990 in Tokyo Japan. These are just some of Tyson's notable accomplishments.

In regards to Tyson the fighter, he may have been the best blend of two-handed power, hand speed and combination punching in heavyweight history. During his first reign as champ Mike exhibited terrific head and upper-body movement and was hard to hit. Standing at just 5'10″ (don't believe the tale of tape listing him at 5'11″) Tyson, like former champ “Smokin” Joe Frazier, made his short reach work to his advantage with his pressure and defense as he worked his way in and forced his opponents to fight him on the inside. It also cannot go without being mentioned that Tyson was the fastest starter in heavyweight history and was his most dangerous during the first two rounds of the bout. However, unlike the two most famous swarmers before him, Rocky Marciano and Frazier, Mike's effectiveness eroded as the fight progressed, whereas Marciano and Frazier grew stronger and became more dangerous as the bout progressed. In reality the only negative thing that can be said about Tyson the fighter is the fact that he was a psychological front runner and tended to come undone when he was met with resistance by an opponent who stood up to him and fought back and wasn't intimidated. And that's a pretty big character flaw to have when you're matching him up with some of the greatest of the greats who've held the heavyweight title.

However, there is one thing that separates Tyson from the other big punchers who have come along both before and after his retirement. And that is Mike could always deliver his power and find the target, win or lose, with the exception of one bout during his career. And that's what made him such an exciting fighter and why most boxing fans were more than willing to shell out $50.00 for a fight that in their heart they believed wouldn't last more than a round or two. There's been a lot of heavyweights during the modern-era who had one-punch fight altering power, such as Max Baer, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Earnie Shavers, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and Tyson. The difference is those fighters had more than one fight during their careers in which for one reason or another they were never able to deliver their Sunday punch and force the opponent to have to withstand the best they had to offer.

That only happened to Tyson once. In every other fight of Tyson's 58 bout career including the two no-contests that he fought, only Lennox Lewis made it through an entire bout against him without really ever having to stand up to the best Mike had to offer. And in fairness to Lewis that didn't happen by accident. It was due to him utilizing his height, reach, jab and power to prevent Mike from landing his Sunday best and getting inside. Then again in fairness to Tyson, he was 38 and past his prime and fighting more from memory and desperation.

The one thing that stands out about Mike Tyson among other heavyweights who could really punch is that it didn't matter who he fought, in order for them to beat him they were going to have to answer and stand up to his power without going down or submitting mentally as a result getting caught by it. In five of the six fights he lost, to Buster Douglas, Evander Holyfield twice, Danny Williams and Kevin McBride, they all had to catch some hell and stand up to Mike's best before they went on to beat him. And that's a testament to Tyson's boxing ability and skill-set. Tyson was certainly no 'walk-in take two or three to land one' brawler. He could box and had terrific punch placement for a heavyweight who was blessed with two-handed power. And in addition to that, Tyson knew when to throw what punch and was outstanding at watching his opponent and what they were open for.

I will not go into where Tyson ranks in the all-time pantheon of the greatest heavyweight champs in boxing history. I will say it's moronic for anyone to say he's not worthy of the hall-of-fame, if any of you exist. Lastly, I'm not sure that there are 10 heavyweight greats who I'd definitely bet on to beat Tyson during his prime or on one of his best nights.

Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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