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LOTIERZO: “Canelo Is Not The Next Julio Cesar Chavez”

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AlvarezRhodes_Chavez8Saul “Canelo” Alvarez 37-0-1 (27) is a very aesthetically pleasing fighter to watch. He has quick hands, is physically strong, throws straight rights and lefts and can pivot to either side and disguise his uppercut to look like a hook and vise-versa. He holds his hands high and has what appears to be adequate head and upper body movement, along with good basics and fundamentals. When he decides to cut loose and lets his hands go, he gives the impression that he could end the fight or seize control of it whenever he wants to, which of course is not the case. He also likes to mix it up, smartly, on his terms. 

The unknown about Alvarez is something all fighters hope they can go their entire career and never have to answer for sure– that is how tough they are and how good of a punch do they take. These are questions that we'll have the answer to regarding Alvarez in the near future. But in all fairness there are a handful of fighters at the top of the junior middleweight division that would probably handle him right now, such as Miguel Cotto, Paul Williams, Antonio Margarito and Alfred Angulo. Cornelius Bundrage was rated above him but after this past weekends 12th round stoppage of Ryan Rhodes 45-5 (31), I expect that to change. In fact I expect Alvarez to be matched with Bundrage next, which would be the right move. However, if Cotto beats Margarito in their rematch, Cotto-Alvarez would be a huge fight and the time might be just right assuming Cotto has the expected tough bout with Margarito and he comes out on top.

This past weekend Alvarez was matched perfectly. His opponent Ryan Rhodes, had the experience to extend him rounds, but lacked the speed, power and overall skill-set to really be a threat. And Alvarez, whose style is terrific eye candy, will look like a world beater against limited and second tier challengers. So the intended mission pertaining to his ascension was accomplished. Alvarez got 11 rounds of experience under his belt and wasn't fighting for his life versus Rhodes, which enabled him to try things and tinker with his style a little bit. The problem is, and it's not really a problem, his management and promoters don't care about what the fans and critics say, as long as he draws their interest and they cover him when he fights next. The catch is he was in a no win situation versus Rhodes. Had he gone through him in a couple rounds, the discussion would be that Rhodes was an old journeyman, and Alvarez is being protected. Had the fight gone the distance, then the talk would be centered around how Alvarez couldn't get rid of a 34-year old journeyman who he had every advantage over. That's why the ending was perfect. Alvarez gained experience, worked on his defense and was able to display his offensive arsenal whenever he wanted, and then got the desired stoppage before the clock expired in the 12th and final round.

Based on his showing against Rhodes, a fighter who was thought to be his sternest challenger by many observers, here are a few observations: Alvarez isn't a big puncher and actually doesn't punch quite as hard as I originally thought. I'd say he's an adequate banger, but that's it. He does put his punches together and can throw every punch in the book and doesn't have to have his feet set, although they usually are, when gets off. Seldom does he throw just one punch at a time, but I get the impression he feels everything must be perfect and lined up just right before he feels as though he can be effective when he does cut loose. And I observed when Rhodes changed things up by moving his feet and backing away and then pressed forward, Alvarez was unsure of himself and was a little tentative about what he wanted to do. On a positive note, it was a thing of beauty watching Alvarez tag Rhodes repeatedly with quick right hand leads whenever he switched and fought as a southpaw. That was the one look that Rhodes tried to give Alvarez to no avail and “Canelo” made him pay every time. And Rhodes confirmed after the fight what was obvious during the bout, that the soon to be 21-year old is most effective when he goes to the body.

It looks as if Alvarez will be managed to get the most out of his ability. It seems that his brain trust is just as interested in him developing as a fighter as they are making him a superstar and multimillionaire. He is limited as to how far he can go and there are fighters he has to be kept away from until the time is right, and perhaps forever. And I don't expect him to be around for a long time. But he'll be must-see for the near future and probably be involved in some action packed fights down the road.

Lastly, I've seen enough of Alvarez now to conclude I don't think he's on his way to greatness and he's definitely not Mexico's next Julio Cesar Chavez as some writers and fans have suggested, not even in the same universe. But it would be a welcome and needed injection for professional boxing if he proves me wrong.

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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