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Joe Cortez Deserves Most Blame For That Crazy Ending…WOODS

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The immediate reaction to the ending of Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz was, in many quarters, damn, that was a cheap shot!

Then people got their DVR’s cookin–and once again, apologies to my late pal George Kimball who looooathed the idea of covering an event off TV, which had us at odds because I think I can usually communicate what happened at an event better, because I have access to instant replay–and pored over, frame by frame with Zapruderish attention to detail. And then sentiment shifted somewhat. (Maybe with an assist from Twitter. My theory is that writers’ analysis can tend to shift more quickly than used to be the case, because colleagues and peers might open up their eyes to a point they missed, or realize their call was erroneous, not shared by the majority, and thus needing to be adjusted.)

Many folks still didn’t care for Floyd’s move. They determined after some study that the sneaky combo didn’t seem illegal, as it looked like ref Joe “I’m Distracted But Well Meaning” Cortez had in fact called for action to resume, but more of them focused on Ortiz’ part in the fray.

First, people came around to the realization that hello, Ortiz started the bad blood with a ludicrously obvious head butt. I’d written as I watched the first three rounds about two attempted butts which were not commented upon by the HBO team. They pondered and said to themselves, wait a second, what if I were in a fight, and someone fouled me in such a blatant fashion? The temptation, for most of us, would be to retaliate. Yes, ideally, you want the referee to mete out punishment, not take it into your own hands. But most of us can at least understand why a fighter might go all Dirty Harry on a foe. (There is a reason I use this dated film reference, wait for it.)

Then, they studied the attempt at reconciliation, saw Ortiz step back a quarter step, and saw Floyd crack him, and saw Ortiz look at Cortez for help, before he was hit by the second launch. The Zapruders shook their heads. What was Ortiz thinking? Why did he react in that fashion, why didn’t he–hello??–fight back.

Some fans started to have flashbacks. They thought Ortiz’ eyes looked OK, and wondered if he didn’t stay down, to try and earn a DQ win. They saw him smiling after the bout, they saw him smiling and hugging Floyd like they were best pals RIGHT AFTER HE GOT SUCKER PUNCHED AND KNOCKED OUT and wondered if he was secretly relieved that it was over. Basically, they again found themselves asking themselves about Ortiz’ heart. Fair or not, they saw some elements, they thought, that were on display back in 2009, when Ortiz indicated that he didn’t want to absorb more punishment, and opted out against Marcos Maidana.

Such speculation is allowed. Is it polite? Does it involve a bit too much mind-reading for my taste? Maybe…I think we all, the writers, the fans who put in their two cents on message boards and social networking sites, need to be mindful of maintaining a degree of respect for any and all who enter the ring and give full effort. Even if they give full effort, and then the going gets tough, and their resolve diminishes. Not every fighter can have a Gatti heart, after all.

After people had some time to rewind, and watch, and watch again, more folks had more of an issue with Cortez. Ole “Firm But Fair,” or, is it “Fair But Firm,” I can never get that straight, seemed to be paying more attention to the timekeeper, or someone else ringside, than he did the fighters. He should have, in retrospect, kept them separated, with explicit and ultra-firm directions, while he hashed out that ringside issue. Instead, after Ortiz twice went to Floyd to say I’m sorry, once with a kiss on the cheek, the 66-year-old Cortez re-started the action. “Don’t be doing that!” he commanded to Ortiz. Then, “Let’s go.” And then, as the fighters came together, to begin fighting again, Cortez drifted away. He appeared confused, not in the moment. He walked towards the commission officials ringside, and interacted with someone or someones there. “Time in?” he asked, as Ortiz  offered Floyd his hands, and a mini hug. Victor began to step back, his hands at his side, and Cortez wasn’t looking at the boxers as Floyd attacked.

As much as anyone there’s your culprit in this portion of the sordid affair. I attach some blame to Ortiz, for getting crazy, and starting the atmosphere of fouling…and to Floyd, for going cheap when he could have simply used his skills as the best boxer in the world to get the job done…but Cortez, if he had handled the situation by the book, would have prevented all talk of a suckerpunch ending.

If we’re parceling out blame, Cortez has to receive the lion’s share, because he is there to keep order. When in the fog of war, when emotions boil over during a stressful time, the ref has to be the voice of reason, the person to keep order. Cortez didn’t.

He was neither firm, nor fair, he was flawed.

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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”.

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