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Rios-Antillon Could Easily Make You Forget Klitschko-Haye Stinker…BORGES

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Rios_Antillon_PC_110606_007aRios talks trash, but backs it up, unlike Haye and Klitschko, both of whom showed straw-weight hearts and cajones last weekend.

One of the beautiful things about boxing is that the stench of a bad fight – no matter how odorous – doesn’t often linger because soon a more stirring example of the sweet side of The Sweet Science comes along.
Fortunately for anyone who laid their eyes on David Haye’s pathetically pacifistic “effort’’ to unify the heavyweight title last weekend in Hamburg, Germany that sorry vision should be wiped out this weekend by Brandon Rios and Urbano Antillon, two lightweight brawlers who are squaring off on SHOWTIME and seem sure to be everything Haye and Wladimir Klitschko are not.

First off they both come to fight, not to feint or faint. Secondly, neither is likely to remove his shoe to claim a broken toe undid them, as Haye tried after losing a 12-round decision in one-sided fashion to the ever cautious Klitschko.

Lastly, and most importantly, Rios and Antillon dislike each other in a way that is not a con job. Haye ran such a con on the public and the media, claiming he found both Klitschkos so abhorrent he would decapitate them. As he found out, it’s easier to wear a T-shirt with a picture of a decapitation than to actually carry one out. The former only requires a few dollars. The latter requires a few cojones, which he clearly lacked. Haye’s problem against Klitschko (who himself will never be mistaken for Braveheart) was not a broken toe. It was a broken heart.

Now maybe he and Klitschko did dislike each other but neither was prepared to do much about it. Rios and Antillon, on the other hand, are far more prone to act upon their distaste for the other when they square off over the WBA lightweight title Rios presently holds.

Each is a come forward brawler, two free swingers who care more about taking you out than the risk involved to do so. That has made Rios a rising star and it’s what has brought Antillon a most unusual thing – a third shot at a world title after two unsuccessful tries.

Antillon (28-2, 20 KO) came up short against Miguel Acosta in 2009 (he was stopped in the 9th round of a quite entertaining fight) and lost by a hair to Humberto Soto last December. The latter was a fight so closely contested a rematch was set for earlier this year but Soto pulled out with a late injury.

That landed him a date with the trash-talking Rios, who thus far is most famous for making disparaging remarks about Manny Pacquiao’ s trainer, Freddie Roach. Rios later claimed he was not mocking Roach’s on-going battle with Parkinson’s even though an HBO camera caught it all on tape in the days leading up to Pacquiao’s destruction of Rios’ stablemate, Antonio Margarito, last November. Rightly or wrongly it was written off as the mindless act of a 25-year-old who at times acts before he thinks.
Saturday night Antillon is hoping that repeats itself and Rios seems game after having convinced himself that Antillon is not only trying to take away his livelihood but also insulted his wife. When the fight was first being hyped several months ago, Rios stood at a podium and claimed, “He’s opening his big f—— mouth and taking about my wife. You don’t mention my family. He made it personal.’’

Frankly, with these two guys it was personal from the outset even though Antillon is still trying to figure out what he said about Rios’ wife. That will be of little import on Saturday however because he knows the more important fact for him is that unless he wins there will be no fourth world title fight in his future.

“I know you don’t get this many opportunities in boxing,’’ Antillon has conceded. “I’ve put in the time. I’ve put in the work. I’m ready to become a world champion. I hope Rios is prepared to bring his best because that’s what he’s going to get from me.’’

Antillon will have to be at his best to hold back Rios (27-0-1, 19 KO), who won his portion of the fractured title with a sixth round knockout of Acosta in February. That’s the same Acosta who stopped Antillon, a fact likely to make Rios bolder than normal – which is a difficult concept to imagine.

“It’s not like I hate him but I don’t think we like each other,’’ Rios joked. “I don’t like him. He says he is going to test me and that I’m not ready for what he is going to bring to the table. I hope he tests me, but he had better be bringing a really big table. If it’s a small table, he is definitely getting knocked out.

“I worked very hard to win the belt. No way I’m giving it up in my first defense. Not against this guy!’’

“This guy’’ is one of the most dangerous uncrowned lightweights in the world, a fighter who will try to pressure Rios and take advantage of his youthful inexperience and the flaws in his sometimes wild style.

The difference between Rios and Haye is that while Haye makes threats he does not intend to follow through on, Rios comes to the arena with only one set of intentions: bad ones.

“This is a great fight for television and the fans,’’ Rios promised. “We are both going to be getting after each other.’’

After being subjected to watching Klitschko paw at Haye with his jab for 12 rounds and then jumping straight back and grab him behind the neck every time Haye moved toward him, Rios-Antillon promises to give fight fans what they pay for and what they deserve – a real fight.

While neither is the most skillful practitioner of the sweet science both are emotionally invested in what someone who steps between the ropes is supposed to be invested in: they are fighters who take things personally even when there’s nothing to be taken personally but the presence of the other anywhere near them.

“He’s an idiot for continuing to still talk about what he says I said about his wife, and I’m surprised he’s still talking about it,’’ Antillon said several days ago. “He’s an immature kid who is going to get taken to school. I am totally confident and ready and deep down know I am going to win this fight. Rios is a strong guy but he leaves himself wide open a lot.

“People know what they are going to get in our fight. Fans want action, and that’s what they are going to get from the opening bell — non-stop action.’’

Antillon’s trainer, long-time southern California fixture Abel Sanchez, believes Rios’ fixation on what Antillon may or may not have said about his wife will lead him right into the spots they most want him to be – inside the hurt locker.

The ring is no place for wild emotion. It is a place for precision, aggression and a well-thought out plan. Sanchez is sure Antillon has one. As for young Rios? Not so much.

“This is going to be a great fight for as long as it lasts,’’ Sanchez said. “If he needs to come in with a big chip on his shoulder, if that’s what is motivating himself for this fight, then I think he’s making a mistake.

“I definitely think that’s been a distraction for him. He better be totally prepared because Urbano has never been more confident.’’

Neither has Rios but then again when has he ever not been? While Sanchez cautions fighters to rein in their emotions, the  man who knows Rios best believes it is that emotion which has brought him to this moment and it is what will get him through it.

“I know Brandon and it is not a big deal for him to be mad at an opponent going into a fight,’’ trainer Robert Garcia said. “Actually, it’s a good thing for him. If it wasn’t, I would worry about it, or say something but Brandon needs it. It won’t affect how he performs. I would be more concerned if he wasn’t on edge before a fight.

“Brandon is a true fighter who is 100 percent healthy and fit. He’s ready for 12 hard rounds if that’s how long it lasts. We’re all looking forward to Saturday night.’’

So is promoter Bob Arum, who believes the antidote for the dyspepsia fight fans felt after Klitschko-Haye is a night at the fights with Brandon Rios and Urbano Antillon.

The truth of that will be revealed Saturday night on SHOWTIME but I wouldn’t bet against it. I also wouldn’t bet against Antillon this time, either.

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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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