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Kaliesha West Clashes With Ava Knight on Saturday

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Ava_Knight_and_Gloria_Salas_small-2Knight (r) lands on Gloria Salas.

WBO bantamweight champion Kaliesha “Wild, Wild” West defends her title on Saturday against Ava “The Lady of Boxing” Knight.

The long awaited rematch takes place at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena a venue, normally used for rodeos and other outdoor events. All of the other fights will be Muy Thai with the lone boxing match featuring the talented female bantamweight fighters.

West, a super quick 118-pounder with knockout power from Moreno Valley, Calif. knows all about the equally quick and powerful Knight of Oakland. They fought nearly three years ago with Knight winning a close decision.

Mirror images they are.

Though Knight beat West in their first encounter back in November 2008, a lot has changed for both prizefighters. On one side West has traveled the world from one hemisphere to another in search of fighting the best. On the other side Knight has been futilely looking for the same search but has not had the same luck.

A lot has changed.

Knight finally stepped back in the boxing ring after a long stretch without a fight. This past January the Oakland-based boxer shook off the rust with a devastating first round knockout win over Coachella’s tough Gloria Salas. You could see the rust come off each second the match lasted.

Now she returns to contest for West’s bantamweight world title despite only one round in 22 months. No problem, she is very confident.

“Even though I haven't fought much, I've been in the gym for the whole time basically,” Knight said.

Before fighting Salas, the boxer-puncher met with Mexico’s Ana Maria Torres for the WBC junior bantamweight world title. Knight lost by decision but fought with a bad back that required months of rest following the fight. During that time she also lost her former trainer. Things looked bad but a move from Chico to Oakland proved beneficial when she discovered a new trainer, Ben Bautista.

“Now I am trained by Ben Bautista who has not made it a point to change my style but to perfect the things that are good and correct mistakes,” says Knight who can fight from 108 pounds to 126 pounds. “I have changed my style from just one way to fight, to many. Being in the ring with so many different sparring partners has led me to adjust very well to different styles, which in the end has made me switch things up when needed.”

Fans aren’t quite aware of Knight at the moment, but she has the athleticism and mentality to fight anybody in the world from 112 pounds to 126 pounds and win titles in all of those divisions.

Losing and putting on weight is not a problem for Knight.

“Eight pounds may be a big difference to many, but I have done it before. I’ve been down to as low as 108.5 and up to 118,” said Knight. “Since the last fight in January I ate, of course a healthy and protein rich diet to build up to a healthy, strong 118.”

West has a different physical build. Though a mere 5 feet, four-inches in height, she is a solid 118-pound fighter who can move up. In the last two years she’s added more power to her blows and proved it with back-to-back knockout wins over Angel Gladney and Brazil’s Vannessa Guimaraes.

The Moreno Valley boxer has always had speed. But in the past two years she’s added one of the best left hooks anywhere that she turns into an uppercut in the blink of an eye. Other dimensions added are some riveting combinations that tie up opposition until she lowers the boom. When it comes, it comes suddenly.

West had 40 amateur fights before becoming a professional. For women that’s a lot of amateur bouts and experience that has led her to winning the bantamweight world title. She was the first woman to win a world title at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Last year she was selected Fighter of the Year and this past month entered the Pound for Pound list of best female boxers in any weight division.

One big question mark remains for West, who was involved in a horrific car crash on the freeway. Can she still bring those physical tools to the fight on Saturday against Knight?

Knight has speed, power and determination that she’s unleashed against all of her competition. Though not as well known as West, the Oakland prizefighter also has power in her fists that can turn the fight around in a split second. Rust is her only enemy in this contest against West.

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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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