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Amir “King” Khan Speeding Toward Greatness…AVILA

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KhanPrepares4Judah4_HoganphotosLOS ANGELES-Inside the world famous Wild Card Boxing gym a small gang of reporters gathered around the ring to see one of the new wave of pound for pound fighters, WBA junior welterweight titleholder Amir “King” Khan.

Most of the photographers brought their fast lens because if not, you run the risk of getting a series of blurs in most of the photo shots. Khan is that fast.

The lightning reflexes of Khan (25-1, 17 KOs) will be tested by IBF junior welterweight titleholder Zab Judah (41-6, 28 KOs) next week in Las Vegas. Once upon a time Judah had those same kinds of bullet-quick reflexes too. He still has some of that quickness but he absolutely has the same kind of staggering power.

There’s the rub.

Two major questions will be answered when Khan meets Judah in a unification bout: can Khan emerge as the heir apparent to Manny Pacquiao and can he win the big fight?

Judah thinks not.

“He’s got all the talent in the world to lose and come back,” said Judah. “That’s what happened to me and that’s what he is going to learn the hard way.”

Judah was referring to his unification title fight with Kostya Tszyu in November 2001. At the time Judah was undefeated and because of his overwhelming speed and power was the odds-maker’s favorite to dethrone the Russian. Instead, he was knocked out in two rounds.

“Listen I don’t like to compare fighters to my time but come July 23, he’s going to learn the lesson I learned,” said Judah, 33. “It’s no disrespect.”

Ever since Khan tasted defeat several years ago, the lean super quick 140-pounder has rebooted with the help of famed trainer Freddie Roach to rocket toward winning the world title and making four successive defenses.

Last December his bout with Argentina’s rough housing Marcos Maidana helped showcase not only his fighting skills but battling heart as well. It was voted “Fight of the Year” by numerous sports publications. This past April he returned to England where he shut out rival countryman Paul McCloskey for six rounds until an accidental head butt caused a bad cut on McCloskey. Khan won by decision against the southpaw.

“With McCloskey he didn’t want to fight. He was losing six nil. Then the head clash happened. I think I would have knocked him out. It seemed to me he just didn’t want to fight,” said Khan, age 24. “At the end of the day he was a southpaw and I’ll hopefully use that as an advantage against Zab Judah.”

When Judah met Khan during the opening press conference in Los Angeles he told the younger champion that he was going to lose his title.

“No disrespect, it’s what we do. We talk,” said Judah about the face to face verbal confrontation.

Khan says that Judah told him he would steal the title.

“Zab was saying he’s going to steal the belt but nothing about winning the belt. That shows what kind of champion he is, to want to steal the belt. I told him I’ll let my fists do the talking,” said Khan.

The British prizefighter has a checkered following: people either like him or loathe him in his native country. But that can be a very good thing. Look at the career of Oscar De La Hoya, who had the same type of relationship with boxing fans.

Ironically, it’s De La Hoya’s company, Golden Boy Promotions, that is guiding Khan’s career in America.

A win against Judah could advance him toward a junior welterweight reckoning with WBC junior welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley. A meeting between those two would catapult the winner toward super-stardom. But first Khan must pass through Judah.

“The danger is understanding Judah’s southpaw stance. He doesn’t fight like a traditional southpaw. He attacks from the left side. The game plan has been really well done. We had a couple of fights to watch. The (Lucas) Matthysse fight gives us a pretty good blueprint,” said Roach, who is training Khan at the Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood. “We’re going to have to nullify that jab and take it away from him. I think Amir should win every round. Judah is tricky with his shoulder rolls, he’s a little bit Mayweather and a little bit Pernell Whitaker.”

Whitaker is now training Judah.

“Of course my fighter is going to win,” said the Hall of Fame boxer Whitaker. “But we can’t underestimate the opponent Khan.”

Judah predicts that Khan will learn a lesson that the New Yorker learned a decade ago in valuing his speed and power over experience.

“I don’t like comparing fighters to other fighters but he’s going to learn a valuable lesson,” predicts Judah. “It’s going to be a great fight.”

Khan predicts an overwhelming victory.

“My speed is going to beat him,” Khan said.

Fights on television

Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Pawel Wolak (29-1) vs. Delvin Rodriguez (25-5-2).

Fr. Showtime, 8:05 p.m., Diego Magdaleno (19-0) vs. Alejandro Perez (15-2-1).

Fri. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m., Abner Cotto (10-0) vs. Carlos Claudio (10-6-3).

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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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