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Hall Should Not Call Stallone; DeNiro, Maybe….BORGES

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4513928931_b503dd8d7bIf the International Boxing Hall of Fame wanted to induct an actor Sunday shouldn’t it have been Robert DeNiro? Or maybe Luis Santana?

It’s bad enough that the sport’s Hall of Fame (one of two, of course, this being boxing) has degenerated into the Hall of Very Good over the years with the election of far too many fighters with less than stellar credentials but with the induction of Sylvester Stallone the newly opened actor’s wing isn’t even that.

If the people who run the place in Canastota wanted to make a politically correct statement with Hollywood affiliations they could have opted for Hillary Swank, who won the Oscar for Best Actress a few years back for the job she did in “Million Dollar Baby’’ playing Maggie Fitzgerald, a struggling waitress turned female fighter trying to make it in the world’s toughest sport while coming from the same hard scrabble background of most of her male counterparts.

They could have honored Robert Ryan, who played a broken down has-been in the classic 1949 film “The Set Up’’ or John Huston, who directed the film version of “Fat City,’’ the great boxing novel written by Leonard Gardner. They could even have inducted Humphrey Bogart for the final role of his career, the shady down-on-his-luck sportswriter Eddie Willis in “The Harder They Fall.’’

Frankly, that wouldn’t have made much sense either, this being the Boxing Hall of Fame, not the Acting Hall of Fame but at least Swank, Ryan, Bogart and DeNiro could act. Stallone? Not so much.

To be fair about it, Stallone wrote and starred in “Rocky,’’ the Academy Award winning rags-to-bandages 1976 hit that was nominated for 10 Oscars and won three. An entire generation was inspired to become fighters or fight fans because of it and for that the he deserves the sport’s gratitude to be sure. But it’s highest honor? Why?

Stallone went on to turn “Rocky’’ into five sequels, each a bit lamer than its predecessor. Sort of like what happened in Godfather III or with Roberto Duran, who made more comebacks than Rocky Balboa.

Stallone also helped create “The Contender’’ reality TV series that sadly drew a larger audience during its brief television run a few years ago than most real boxing matches do these days. That is not Stallone’s fault. He was trying to help the sport and did again but it was not hall of Fame TV, to be frank. (EDITOR NOTE: Thought maybe RB would insert a little FRANK Stallone crack here…) Certainly it was no “Jersey Shore.’’

How that resume put Rambo into the Boxing Hall of Fame is beyond me, but then so was the election of Mike Tyson, who lost badly to three of the top four fighters he faced (Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Buster Douglas, while defeating former light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks in 91 seconds in the final fight of Spinks’ career) and never once got off the floor to win a fight.

Certainly Tyson was the youngest fighter to win the heavyweight title, which gives him historical significance but then again he was also the youngest fighter to lose the heavyweight title so there you have it. His was a story of promise never fulfilled, a story more of what might have been than what actually occurred. A story the opposite of Rocky, actually.
But at least he was once a unified heavyweight champion and a cultural icon big enough that, like Ali, one name was enough to identify him. Like Tyson, Stallone was a mythmaker and a phenomenon who made millions from boxing. What he was not was a Hall of Fame actor like DeNiro, whose portrayal of Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull’’ is considered one of the cinema’s great performances.

“Raging Bull’’ is on every list of greatest films ever made. Rocky? Like Stallone, Hall of Very Good.

If the International Boxing Hall of Fame wants to one day reach the same level of respect as the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown or the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio it needs to re-think what its doing. The Hall needs to be a place difficult to attain, a place where you can argue long and loud about why this guy or that isn’t in instead of the other way around.

A long parade of convertibles filled with names that will attract a crowd on a Sunday afternoon in June is all well and good but the people in the cars need to be people who qualify for more than the Hall of Very Good. People like Robert DeNiro, if you must, not Sylvester Stallone.

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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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