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Smokin' Joe Frazier Long Overdue For A Statue In Philadelphia…LOTIERZO

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joe-frazierIn a special to the Philadelphia Daily News on June 15th, former Pennsylvania Governor/Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell penned a column titled '”Up Goes Frazier?” Smokin' Joe overdue for statue.'

Ed Rendell is not someone I've found myself agreeing with during his tenure as Governor, and he is one of the biggest “see me out there politicians” I've ever observed. However, for once I'm in total agreement with the former Governor who has been known to call into sport talk radio shows and who also works as an in-studio analyst on Philadelphia's Comcast Sporstnet after Eagles games during the NFL season.

Rendell wrote, “There is a statue of a Philadelphia heavyweight champion prominently displayed in front of our great Art Museum. Is it Joe? Nope, it's Rocky (apologies to Sly Stallone, who is also a great Philadelphian). So consider the paradox. We have a statue of a make-believe movie champ, but we have nothing for the Philadelphian who is clearly among the top 10 heavyweight champs of all time. Yo, Adrian, does that sound fair to you?”

I must admit, Rendell has a point and it's hard to come to grips with the reality that the city of Philadelphia hasn't honored Frazier nearly to the degree they have a fictional fighter like Rocky Balboa. And it's not a coincidence that Rocky Balboa hit the meat in a slaughterhouse during training. The idea was pilfered from Frazier for the movie “Rocky.” Joe really did work in a slaughterhouse after he was the only American fighter to capture a Gold Medal at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo before he was backed by the Cloverlay corporation, which he bought out in 1974.

On September 1, 2012 a statue of former undefeated heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano will be erected in his hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts. It will stand 20 feet and be unveiled on what would've been Rocky's 89th birthday. It will also be molded on Marciano's famous right hand that knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott in their 1952 world title bout, at a cost of $250.000. The effort to finally immortalize Marciano in a statue has been a three year journey and it will be erected outside the city's sports stadium which bears Rocky Marciano's name.

Make that Rocky's 2, Joe's 0 on the statue-meter.

Hopefully, it won't take 60 years for Philadelphia to acknowledge Joe Frazier, as it's most famous and perhaps accomplished fighter. Frazier, 67, has been a pillar to the Philadelphia boxing community since he took residence at age 16, and it would be great if unlike Rocky, Joe lived to see the homage paid to him by his adopted city while he were still alive.

Philadelphia is a funny city in a sporting sense. The people of Philadelphia are huge sports fans and hunger for their teams to capture championships as much or more than any other city in the country. But until the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Philadelphia was in the midst of a 25-year championship drought since the 1983 Sixers won the NBA title. Yet Rocky Balboa has been honored and had homage paid to him more than Joe Frazier? And to think Joe ruled the heavyweight division during a time when being the heavyweight champion of the world was the most prestigious title in sports and really meant something. 

“Frazier never has gotten the tribute and praise due him either nationally or, shockingly, even in Philadelphia. Joe has been given the Order of the Palmetto by his native South Carolina, the state's highest civilian award, but has received no tribute from the City of Philadelphia (in part my fault)”, said Rendell. Again, I agree with Governor Rendell.

In case anyone needs to be reminded, Joe Frazier won the biggest and most anticipated and comprehensively covered boxing match/sporting event in history, Muhammad Ali didn't lose it. Most sports fans, even in 2011, are well aware of the fact that the first bout between Frazier and Ali (better known as “The Fight Of The Century”) was one the greatest events of the 20th century. And Frazier conclusively won the unanimous decision and erased all doubts as to who was the better fighter when he dropped Ali with a signature left-hook in the 15th and final round on Monday night March 8th, 1971.

Joe Frazier was the quintessential blue-collar fighter who brings his lunch, goes to work the second the bell sounds, and swatted away at the body until there's nothing left of his opponent. He is one of, if not the best, swarmer in boxing history. And nobody cut the ring off and went to the body better than did Smokin' Joe Frazier. His left-hook to the head and body is no doubt one of the signature punches in the annals of boxing history. Not to mention that Frazier met and defeated stellar opposition during his career. And only two fighters can claim victory over Joe, George Foreman, who is considered by many to be the strongest and hardest punching heavyweight of all-time, and Muhammad Ali, who is regarded by most historians as the greatest heavyweight ever. Not once did Joe Frazier ever lose to a fighter he should've beat, not once. How many all-time greats can say that?

Joe Frazier has a history of being shortchanged. He came out as the foil for Ali in boxing's greatest trilogy. He could more correctly be seen as an equal. And he has ceded the Face of Philadelphia Boxing to someone who wasn't a fighter at all. Philly has always prided itself on having “real” fighters. It should put its money where its mouth is, and honor the realest of the real fighters.  

Fans interested in learning more about the Joe Frazier Sculptural Tribute or making a contribution can register at http://www.joefrazierscorner.com/

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted 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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