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PREDICTION PAGE: Woods Says Wlad Beats Haye By KO (6)..What About You?

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Wladimir-Klitschko-David-Haye2The final press conference to hype Saturday's clash between Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye today in Hamburg yesterday, and I admit I didn't think we'd get to this point.

I thought by this point in the promotion, Haye would've slipped in the tub and pulled out his back, or sustained a “rib injury” during sparring. To his credit, that hasn't happened. Unless there is a shocker of a situation, and there is an 11th hour “injury,” fight fans will get what they've been wanting for two years. Check that, one of the fights they've been wanting to see; the big one, Manny-Mayweather, hasn't come to fruition yet. And while I've been underwhelmed by the wattage of the buzz here in the Stats for this tangle, that doesn't mean I won't wake up Saturday morning with that pre-big-fight-buzz.

You could sense the genuine animosity in the air as Wladimir got his turn at the mike in Hamburg. He promised to make Haye eat the infamous “severed heads” t-shirt he wore two-plus years ago after the Saturday clash. He called Haye “princess” while chiding him for being a half hour late for the presser.

“I believe David Haye is not such a bad guy…the way he acts, the way he talks, the way he does certain thing..I believe since you became champion, since you beat Mormeck in France…you got a certain attitude which is not so good for your life, not only in the ring but also outside of the ring…I believe it's gonna be a good lesson for you on July second in the ring. I know you're in good shape, I know you're prepared, I do respect you as a fighter, not as a person,” he said.

He said he'd give Haye “reality rehab” treatment, and would knock him out, which would teach him a lesson in humility. He referenced Haye's refusal to shake his hand. Presidents did, Muhammad Ali, Max Schmeling, Mike Tyson, Dalai Lama, all these folks shook his hand, Wlad said. For his disrespect, he will be KO victim number 50.

Wlad toyed with Haye, tortured him with a psychological assessment, saying he refused to shake his hands, and wore sunglasses in his presence, to mask his fear.

Haye then took the mike. He admitted he knows many thought he'd pull out with an “injury,” and then said come fight night, he'll show a new strategy and tactics than he's shown before. He's taken to calling Wlad a “big robot,” and said he's totally healthy ahead of the gig. “I'm so happy the fight's happening now and not a couple years ago because I'm so much of a better fighter now,” Haye said. “I cannot wait to get in there and do what I'm gonna go. Myself and trainer Adam Booth have constructed what I believe to be the perfect gameplan to beat Wladimir. He's stuck in his rigid ways..he gets stuck in his way, he can't flow, can't change, can't adapt like I can.” He then plugged his iPhone game, skillfully, and said we'll see in the game what we'll see in the fight, before promising a knockout defeat.

Wlad's trainer Manny Steward called this bout the second biggest deal of his career, after his guy Lennox Lewis met Mike Tyson in 2002. He said Wlad has been charged in the leadup to the event but “cool.” Manny said he does respect Haye as a fighter and won't assume that the Brit has an iffy chin. I think that chin will seem iffy around round five, when he eats a right he doesn't see after being blinded by a Wlad jab.

The two fighters took questions from the press after they talked. The most interesting portion came after they talked, when Vitali asked Haye to show up at the press conference after the fight. Haye answered, “I hope you show out, and don't go with the ambulance.” Wlad didn't care for that attitude. Haye busted on Wlad, warning him not to take in any “poisoned water,” which was a reference to the allegation after Klitschko-Brewster I in 2004 that Wlad had been given tainted water, which doped him up. Haye made the card, if you were scoring the presser, that much closer with that crack.

They did a two minute staredown, and whispered nasty nothings at each other, before parting ways.

My take: Haye wasn't alltogether convincing. His words sound hollow, flat, robotic. Now, it would be the best thing for boxing if he beat Wlad. The Klitschko stranglehold on the division has sapped all drama from the supersized weight class. A Haye win would inject life into it. Of course, I will find it hard, when watching as a fan, to root for the guy who makes flippant jokes about gang rape, and fought like a rabbit, alternately fiesty and scared, when he won his title, via majority decision, from Nicolay Valuev in November 2009.

I see Haye using similar tactics against Wlad, and see Wlad not departing much from his winning ways. His trainer Steward thinks that the big Ukrainian may be fighting with a bee in his bonnet on Saturday, but the Klitschkos are where they are because they are two of the most mentally disciplined guys in the sport today. Wlad, especially, rebuilding himself after being outed as chinless and stamina-free wonder by Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster…that is a stunning achievement. Watch Wlad Saturday and you will see him setting the tone with the jab, sizing Haye up for several rounds, before mixing in some “twos” after the “ones.”

My prediction: Wlad by TKO in round six.

SPEEDBAG: I asked my older daughter Annabelle, age four, who would win, Wladimir or Haye? I pointed at the image attached to this story. She pointed to Wlad, and said he'd win. Why? “Cause he has those,” she said, pointing to his three title belts. Makes sense to me…

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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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