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Avila, Mayweather and Ortiz Invade LA

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Mayweather_Arellano_and_Ortiz_by_Kat1Because of the unusual time for the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz public press conference, we set out on our journey in the late afternoon. The temperature in Riverside was a perfect 95 degrees.

Photographer Katherine Rodriguez was having a bit of a difficult time because of a flat tire so I killed time by making a few phone calls. A mere three minutes later Katherine zoomed by in her Lexus and I followed her to her home. Ten minutes later we were hitting the freeway toward L.A. about 62 miles to go. The Avila express was underway.

The drive usually goes fast because Katherine always has a lot of interesting things to say. But my AC is not working so I have to leave the windows down. Her hair doesn’t like the hurricane forces and tangles it up for all 62 miles.

We’re pretty experienced with press conferences. Whether it’s in L.A., Hollywood or Beverly Hills we’ve got everything down to a science.

Our target today is L.A Live a section of downtown Los Angeles that is home to Staples Center, Nokia Theater, several high-priced hotels and condos, ESPN Zone etc. The Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions public conference will be held on the massive courtyard.

We arrived early to pick out a parking spot. One thing about the downtown area is there are no free spots to park. We hunted for a reasonable parking fee and found it a block away from LA Live. Our first job is to go grab something to eat.

El Cholos is our destination and we walk into the Mexican style restaurant eager to sit down in the patio and eat some food. I order the mandatory margarita and she orders lemonade. We’re also waiting for photographer Al Applerose and Dr. Enrique Gonzalez.

I’ve already downed a margarita before Applerose arrives. I couldn’t wait. They serve the best margaritas dollar for dollar in the world.

After stuffing ourselves we head to LA Live and see all of the people crowding around the stage outdoors. We see some web site writers, fighters and publicists as we walked toward the signing area.

The press has arrived in force. TV crews galore, newspaper columnists, web writers, web bloggers and more photographers than the eye can see have scrambled to mark their spots.

Of course the press conference didn’t begin as planned. It was supposed to begin at 8 p.m. but was nearer to 9 p.m. when the fighters and promoters arrived. Giant plumed smoke rocketed in the air all along the stage.

A large 100 foot screen showed an impressive collage of previews and collection of each fighter’s past. The graphics and storyline was top notch. At the end it showed Leigh Simons was the creator of the impressive graphics and previews. Man, what a way to start a press conference. The people were wowed.

I didn’t see the New York City presser so I’m not sure what happened there. But in L.A. it was clearly Victor Ortiz’s town. His impressive knockdown war with formerly undefeated Andre Berto to win the WBC welterweight crown has elevated the Ventura-based prizefighter to mega hero status.

Cheers erupted when Ortiz walked the catwalk toward the main stage. Flash bulbs erupted and handshakes were given as a smiling Ortiz absorbed all of the fans cheers and back slaps. His smile was from ear to ear.

Mayweather appeared and boos rained on the undefeated fighter who’s fought in many of these mega fights before. Plus, the actual fight takes place in his hometown of Las Vegas. It was a subdued Mayweather who walked toward the stage this time. Nothing like when he arrived for Ricky Hatton shouting “Fe, fi, fo, fum I smell the blood of an Englishman” years ago.

Richard Schaefer, Golden Boy CEO, said that Ortiz has the power and Mayweather the skills and experience. Then MGM Grand exec Bob Halloran wrecked the spirit of things by proclaiming Ortiz a 7 to 1 underdog. Then he kept pontificating the differences in skills and experience until Schaefer realized the fans were losing their gusto and jumped in.

“This guy here is not an underdog,” said Schaefer pointing toward Ortiz.

Wise move.

Ortiz’s team is led by Rolando Arellano a fiery boxing manager who broke in with former Oxnard great Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas. If you thought he talked then, he was relatively shy in those days compared to now.

With the staccato of a Southern Baptist minister the manager  Arellano said “I’m unleashing a Mexican pitbull to drag him (Mayweather) all around the ring.”

Ortiz pumped up the crowd with his bravado and left with “I’ll be dead before somebody takes this title. Come get it Floyd!”

Mayweather, as canny a fighter as ever there was, calmed the crowd with his soothing manner. Called Ortiz a good fighter who showed his heart and spirit. The boos still bounced through the courtyard and suddenly stopped when the multi-division champ acknowledged the passing of Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez. The boos stopped.

The Las Vegas star talked about Hernandez being his hero and how they eventually fought. Everyone in the crowd listened intently.

Mayweather didn’t boast, didn’t tease and didn’t clown. This was the real Mayweather and he was speaking from the heart about his role in the boxing world including leading the charge to require Olympic style blood testing for all pro sports.

Everyone in the crowd including the press was greatly satisfied with the momentous press conference. Many said it was the best they ever attended.

You can add me to that bunch.

The fight takes place on Saturday September 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It will be shown on HBO pay-per-view and on theaters across the country and on close circuit screens.

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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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