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Does Canelo Have the Chops to Take on Pac-Man? NGUYEN

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Though the Canelo Alvarez hype machine was already in full gear before Saturday night, his domination of Ryan Rhodes, a respected fighter who was expected to give Alvarez major problems, only served to heighten expectations for the budding star.  Even if the fight was far from a barn burner, Alvarez showed improvements on his already mature game, causing even more stir about how far he can go.

Alvarez had little time to celebrate his twelfth-round stoppage of Rhodes before names were hurled at him regarding potential future opponents.  Among the most frequently mentioned were Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., whose superstar status in Mexico could create major money with Alvarez' popularity within the Mexican market.  Also, other pundits have suggested a possible bout with undisputed middleweight champion Sergio Martinez as an interesting option.  While it's fun to consider how Canelo would fare against Chavez and Martinez, it's hard to imagine Golden Boy cashing in on Alvarez, who is clearly their crown jewel, right now.  Alvarez-Chavez would mean both Golden Boy and Top Rank putting their two biggest investments at risk, and doing so before it could develop into a true superfight.  And Alvarez-Martinez?  Don't believe for a second that Golden Boy is interested in making that fight happen.  And who can blame them?  Alvarez is only twenty-years old, is a natural 154 pounder, and still has much to learn before taking on the likes of a Sergio Martinez.

But, nevertheless, it is still fun to play the part of matchmaker, even if the likelihood of things becoming reality are beyond slim.  It's interesting that in all the talk of potential big fights for Alvarez, perhaps the most entertaining fight to be made has received little mention.

Let's suspend our disbelief for a moment and consider a matchup that would be a guaranteed face-melter:  Canelo Alvarez vs. Manny Pacquiao.  How could this not end up being a classic throwdown?  It would pit two aggressive, skilled fighters against each other, neither of whom would be willing to take a step back.  Both men are totally offensive-minded, and neither of them conjure any memories of Pernell Whitaker, making a high-contact affair a certainty.

And, unlike Pacquiao's last few fights, this one would have a great chance for competitive suspense.

Granted, Alvarez has never faced anything from the same realm of existence as Manny Pacquiao, so there would always be the possibility that Alvarez could fall victim to Pacquiao's killer bee swarm and be added to the ever-growing pile of bodies Pacquiao continues to leave in his wake.  Still, there are some intriguing elements that Alvarez possesses that could feasibly give Pacquiao some trouble.  First, Alvarez is a big 154-pound fighter, and even at a catch-weight, Alvarez would still own a functional size advantage over Pacquiao.  To this point, none of Pacquiao's bigger opponents have really been able to translate their naturally greater bulk into any type of edge over Pac-man.  Alvarez, though, could make his size and strength more of a factor than Pacquiao's previous victims.  Alvarez is not as plodding, methodical, or predictable as Antonio Margarito, and it's hard to envision him being as tentative and gunshy as Shane Mosley or Joshua Clottey.  And if Alvarez could get to Pacquiao's body, a place where Pacquiao admitted Margarito hurt him badly, Canelo's bigger frame and strength could become an increasingly telling factor.

The reality from this fightwriter's perspective?  A fight between the two at this point would probably resemble Pacquiao's matchup with Miguel Cotto, a fight where Pac-man had to eat some hard punches before he could fully assert his pronounced advantages.  Canelo's inexperience against truly elite competition would ultimately lead to his ruin, as would hundreds of lightning-fast punches coming from angles he never knew existed.  Bottom line:  it would be very fun while it lasts.

Admittedly, though, a matchup between Alvarez and Pacquiao at this point would need some mediation even  to be considered a pipe dream.  It just doesn't make sense for either side financially to risk things now.  If ever the stars would align for this fight, it wouldn't be for at least a couple of more years, when Canelo's commercial appeal would be in the neighborhood that would have Pacquiao's braintrust consider him as a viable candidate as a dance partner for Pac-man.  Also, a couple of years might be what it would take for boxing's Cold War between Golden Boy and Top Rank to thaw to the point where each would be willing to risk its meal ticket.  

While the business sense isn't there just yet, the fighting sense just might be.  So, weigh in TSS Universe.  How would a fight between Canelo and Pac-man shape up?

Follow John Nguyen on Twitter for updates and commentary:  @jnguyenboxing

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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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