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Decision Harms Williams More Than Lara If He Doesn't Make Changes…LOTIERZO

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williams-lara.fn.01.280wThis past weekend marked the return of former welterweight/junior middleweight title holder Paul Williams 40-2 (28). The last time boxing fans saw Williams in the ring he was catching a crushing over-hand left from middleweight title holder Sergio Martinez that left him face down on the canvas for the count. Well, it appears that Williams' last opponent Erislandy Lara 15-1-1 (10) did his homework and studied the tape of Martinez-Williams because Lara couldn't miss Williams with his left hand regardless of the variation in which he threw it. Williams, who is nearly 6'2″ with a 78 inch reach, (the same as former light heavyweight/heavyweight champ Michael Spinks) fights as a swarmer and constantly crowds his opponent. But due to his height and low guard, Williams' head is usually vulnerable and wide open for his opponents overhand and looping lefts on the way in and often even while he's inside.

Williams-Lara went the 12-round distance and when it was over – Judges Don Givens 116-114 and Hilton Whitaker II 115-114 both favored Williams and Al Bennett scored it even at 114-114. Since the fight there has been outrage over the decision, and as of this writing I haven't heard of a single person who watched the fight that thought Paul deserved the decision or won the fight. During the HBO broadcast it was said by Harold Lederman and Bob Papa that Williams won no more than three rounds, which is something I totally disagree with. Giving Williams the benefit of the doubt, a case could be made that he won five rounds, but four is probably the more realistic number. The bottom line is, Erislandy Lara clearly won the fight and the wrong man had his hand raised when it was over. And believe it or not, Williams is more of a victim by winning the decision than Lara is by getting hosed out of it.

Prior to the fight Williams said he wanted to beat Lara and then fight a rubber match with Martinez and retire, with his wish being that he could accomplish this and retire at age 30. However, after seeing him in the ring against Lara, he's not ready for Martinez yet. Against Lara, Williams had no timing, no balance and at times looked as if he didn't have a clue on how to get out of the way or redirect Lara's lead and overhand lefts. Actually, Paul's reflexes looked shot Saturday night and all that he can do is press forward and try to bang away with his right hook to the head and body. His accuracy was really off and he rushed his punches and combinations against Lara, who for all intents and purpose fought a pretty vanilla fight, but stuck to the plan and didn't make any mistakes or try to be somebody he isn't.

Lara may have been set back by the decision going against him, but I doubt it'll amount to being anything more than losing the zero that accompanied his record in the loss column before the fight. He'll get another high profile bout and a chance to show that he's worthy of boxing fans to keep their eye on. As for Williams, winning a decision that he didn't deserve will keep him in boxing that much longer, which will translate into taking more big shots and perhaps getting knocked out again. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think that'll be the case.

That is unless Paul Williams makes some drastic changes.

For starters Paul needs a new trainer. George Peterson hasn't done a thing to improve Williams as a fighter. He's been the beneficiary of Paul's immense talent and toughness. Based on the way Paul fought against Lara and Martinez both times, it's painfully obvious that he's working with a trainer who can't give him even the most rudimentary advice. Williams is too skilled and talented to waste his natural physical gifts, which is what he's been doing the last year or so if not longer. Not to mention that he gives away his height and reach willingly, and chooses to fight a style that cuts careers in half being that he's a swarmer. You saw the listlessness and diminished reflexes that were on display versus Lara.

Granted, Lara is a very good fighter and is fundamentally sound, but he should've never bettered Williams for at least seven of the 12-rounds the fight went. Had it not been for Paul's toughness and volume punching, he would've been run out of the ring. At this time Williams looks like he could be at the end of his career and at a definite crossroads. But I don't want to write him off yet because he could become a major force again if he makes the needed change regarding his corner. I hate when fighters blame their trainers after a loss or two. However, if anyone can look at Paul Williams and determine he's getting the most out of his ability, I question whether or not you know what you're watching when he fights. Hopefully, it's not too late for him and he'll do what's best for him as a professional fighter.

Paul Williams is a very tough and determined fighter. He won't go away easily, and the decision win over Lara will become the devil in disguise because it will keep him in the ring and making the same technical mistakes. In time he'll eventually con himself into thinking that he really won the fight and is still the fighter he was when he beat Antonio Margarito and Winky Wright. Sadly, those days are gone forever unless he brings in a trainer who can get the best out of him and cause him to stop relying on his toughness. I respect his loyalty to George Peterson, the only problem is nobody is hitting George and the sand running through Williams' career hour glass is waning rapidly. He must make a change and upgrade his trainer because his career and health are depending on it.

I'm one who wholeheartedly believes the fighter makes the trainer and still stand by that. But in the case of Paul Williams, he's not working with a top-tier trainer and needs that little bit in the form of adjustments that the top trainers bring.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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