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All Due Respect George Peterson, But We Need To See If Long Tall Paul Is All There…WOODS

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MartinezWilliams2_Bailey_5Peterson says this isn't a comeback. Williams said he knows he's the same fighter he was. OK. But viewers will still tune in to see if the Martinez KO lingers. (Hogan)

You might have heard, his last time out, Paul Williams was knocked out.

KTFO, actually.

It was conclusive, it was swift, it was severe, it was the KO of the year for 2010. Sergio Martinez' left hand sent Long Tall Paul to the mat in Atlantic City face first, arms splayed out, woozy, done for the night.

That happened on November 20, and LTP has been asked about that moment again and again and again since then. We keyboard tappers can be pesky like that. We can occasionally go overboard concentrating on the negative, focusing on recent, somewhat catastrophic events, instead of summing up a fighter's career as a whole, seeing an event in context.

Some of us, and some message boarders, might have gone a bit overboard in proclaiming Williams exposed, in theorizing that perhaps he'd be damaged goods from that moment on.

So I asked Williams, who was in town for a press luncheon at the Palm West in NYC on Wednesday, is it annoying having people remind you about being knocked out all the time?

“I'm really laid back, it doesn't bother me, it let's me know that they've been watching me, I turn the negative into the positive,” said Williams, who turns 30 on July 27.

Good enough. Any person is wise to turn negatives into positives, if at all possible.

So I followed up with LTP, and asked if he had any question in his mind that maybe something was taken from him on Nov. 20, if perhaps he worried his chin was fatally compromised?

LTP didn't get a chance to respond. His trainer-manager George Peterson hopped in. “Any time, anybody can get knocked out if the punch lands the right way. If anybody doesn't understand that, they got to get out of the business. Because that can happen, to anybody, and I know they've seen that. So to ask a question like that, a person asks a question like that, he's got to understand his limits.”

I pressed on, asking Peterson if he thinks the fightwriters are too quick to write a guy off after a loss. Promoter Dan Goossen had referenced that earlier, talking about how everyone, all the great fighters, all the great teams, lose, and he thinks it's a shame some are so quick to toss them to the scrap heap. “They are limited,” Peterson continued, “they're limited in their understanding. It pisses you off, because people think they represent some expertise…that pisses me off.”

I asked Peterson if he objected to my questions, and he indicated that he thought the line of questioning was off base. I told him that I ask because I don't know. There is a perception, I'd argue a viable one, that occasionally, a devastating one punch KO can alter a fighter. Mentally, and physically. Peterson indicated that this was not so, or at least, not a possibility with his guy, and that my question was sort of stupid.

Good for him. Peterson's doing his job. Pesky mutts like me needle the fighter, ask him if he's still up to the task. In that, I'm doing my job.

So, I continued with Peterson, there was/is no need to “build Williams back up,” to help him settle himself, and assess how much if at all the KO took out of him?

“He never went anywhere,” Peterson said. (During the press conference, the occasionally gruff Peterson grumbled that his man had been dissed and dismissed prematurely. “Paul Williams is not dead, there has been no funeral,” he said. “I don't like the term 'comeback.'…All the greats lose. It's not a comeback, just a continuation.”) “Does he look like the same guy to you?”

Yes, outwardly. But inside, we don't know. Don't know about the wiring in the chin and brain, which isn't even fully understood by neurosurgeons. Don't know if there's any doubt lingering in LTP's mind, whether he will be a bit gun shy. That's where the drama is. Cuban foe Erislandy Lara, he of the 310-10 amateur record, may not help us answer that, but I know he'll try. The southpaw has a 15-0-1 mark, with 10 KOs, and had stopped four straight opponents before drawing in his last scrap, against Carlos Molina on March 25. He didn't draw rave reviews for that bout, which ran on ESPN's Friday Night Fights. He has a tendency to be one and done when he gets tired, or drifts mentally, and not pile up combos, and LTP might simply swarm him, beat him with volume. The 6-1 LTP should be able to leverage his height and reach edge on the 5-9 Lara, who will probably look a weight class smaller than Williams in AC.

Williams told me that he'd like to fight two more fights, this one against Lara, and then a tiebreaker with Sergio Martinez next. LTP, who called himself an “old lion” during the PC,  said he wanted Martinez this fight, and wasn't sure why that didn't happen. He said he'll rely on Al Haymon, and Team Martinez and HBO to figure out the timing on that one. Williams started boxing at 17, and is looking forward to concentrating on business, which included real estate holdings.

I give props to Team Williams for not stepping in against a steppingstone cooperator in his first fight back, this will be a competitive fight.

SPEEDBAG WBA super bantam champ Akifumi Shimoda meets Rico Ramos on the AC undercard. The Japanese fighter came to the lunch with a surgical mask on his face. That is a common practice in Japan, his translator Nobu Ikushi told me, especially when someone has a bug or is allergic to things. No, bettors, Shimoda doesn't have a bug, he said, he is just taking precaution against germs.

—Chris Arreola drew laughs when he asked everyone to get their tickets, and get HBO to tune in. Then, he added parenthetically, he used to steal cable.

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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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