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If Haye Beats Wladimir Klitschko, Wlad’s Legacy Will Suffer Greatly…LOTIERZO

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This is Wladimir’s signature fight, and it comes late, at age 35. Wlad has to be hope he isn’t following Michael Spinks’ footsteps…

Wladimir Klitschko 55-3 (49) has held the the IBF heavyweight title since April of 2006 and the WBO version of it since February of 2008. Which means that for at least three plus years Klitschko has held no less than half of the so-called legitimate titles that a heavyweight fighting in 2011 can hold, with the WBA and WBC being the others. Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir’s older brother, is the current WBC title holder and his next opponent, David Haye 25-1 (23), is in possession of the WBA title. Klitschko has gone 13-0 (10) since he last lost to Lamon Brewster, who he stopped in a 2007 rematch almost threes after he lost to Brewster via a 5th round stoppage back in April of 2004.

Presently, Klitschko is in the midst of the most dominant and impressive run of his career. In his last 10 consecutive title bouts, Wladimir has been utterly dominant. Not only has he remained unbeaten, you could count the rounds he’s lost on one hand. In reality, he hasn’t been involved in a fight that could even be considered competitive since he won a unanimous decision over the unbeaten and overrated Samuel Peter in September of 2005 in a title elimination bout. And I couldn’t care less how the fight was scored officially. Wladimir won at least eight of the 12-rounds the fight went, despite going down three times because of him being hit and pushed as he was trying to get away from the wild swinging Peter, who more resembled a bull in a china shop than an upper-tier heavyweight contender.

Since Klitschko, 35, signed to meet the cocky and tough talking former cruiserweight title holder, David Haye, the odds favoring him have dropped. As of this writing Wladimir is less than a 2-1 favorite to retain his IBF/WBO titles. In part because he’s now in his mid-thirties and also because many observers and pundits believe Haye is the most skilled and dangerous opponent he’ll have been confronted by since he began his current run of 13 consecutive wins back in late 2004.

Unfortunately for Wladimir Klitschko, this will become his signature fight and probably the one he’ll be most remembered by. For Klitschko, the perception of his career and title tenure is that he’s feasted on very inferior and limited opposition. With Haye being seen as his biggest challenge, he can’t lose. And if he does, especially if it’s in a devastating fashion, it’ll be almost as if his four plus year strangle hold on half of the heavyweight titles never even happened. I’m not saying that’s fair or accurate, but that’s the way it is.

Only former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis was older than Wladimir Klitschko when he fought what basically turned out to be his career defining fight against Mike Tyson at age 37. Yes, I’ve excluded both Jersey Joe Walcott and George Foreman because they both beat many hall of famers before they defeated Ezzard Charles and Michael Moorer after the age of 35. And as we’ve seen during the last 25 or 30 years, boxing can be unforgiving even to certified all-time great fighters who lost their signature fight at the end of their career.

Here’s an example that should scare Klitschko. Think about former light heavyweight/heavyweight champ Michael Spinks and how he’s thought of today by some fans, if he even is. Spinks was destroyed by a prime Mike Tyson in one round in his last fight, and that’s what most boxing fans and writers sadly remember about him. Yet Spinks was one of the most accomplished fighters and champions of boxing’s modern era. Think about Spinks for a moment. Over half of his bouts were title fights. He dominated one of, if not the deepest era in light heavyweight history. Spinks could use the ring and box, step back and fight as a counter-puncher or press the action and fight as the attacker. Michael had dynamite in both hands and scored one-punch knockouts with his hook, uppercut and right hand over first class opposition (how many all-time greats can say that). Not to mention he never lost at his natural weight while fighting a resume of who’s who at 175. And lastly, he was the first reigning light heavyweight champ to defeat the reigning heavyweight champ, Larry Holmes, who happened to be undefeated when they fought. Sure, Holmes was 36 but Spinks still accomplished what 48 heavyweights couldn’t, and Michael clearly won their first fight to make history.

Today, most fans wrongly remember Michael Spinks for losing to Mike Tyson, a fighter who was younger, stronger, bigger and had the perfect style to beat him. In addition to that, many, despite them being wrong, flirted with the thought that Tyson was the greatest heavyweight champ in history the night he stopped Spinks in 91 seconds. Some fighters don’t get the benefit of history for one reason or another, and Michael Spinks is one of the greatest examples one could use to illustrate that. And if it can happen to Spinks, think about how tough history will be on Wladimir Klitschko if he loses to David Haye. Wladimir doesn’t posses half the credentials or resume that Spinks did, so you better believe Klitschko will be brutalized by the boxing media and fans if he loses his signature bout at the age of 35 at the end of his career. And if Haye himself proves to be a less than dominant champion (in the event he beats Klitschko), Wladimir’s legacy will suffer even more.

Again, I’m not saying whether or not that’s fair – it’s just the way it will unfold if Wladimir Klitschko loses to David Haye early next month. And for that reason, among others, Klitschko must beat Haye and capture his WBA title belt. No, beating Haye won’t solidify Klitschko as a great fighter. Actually, if Klitschko wins, it’ll be said that Haye was an overfed cruiserweight with a porcelain chin. But a win is a win and Klitschko will own three of the four universally recognized heavyweight title belts in boxing. And the debate will continue as to how worthy or unworthy he is in comparison to past title holders and champs who held the title an extended length of time. Which is a life-time better than the other discussion that’ll be unfolding if he loses to Haye.

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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