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Ward Is Back In The Ring..MARKARIAN

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WardFrochOaklandPC_TJHogan_141For the first time in over a month, super middleweight champion Andre Ward stepped in the boxing ring to continue his preparation for the Super Six Tournament Final against Carl Froch on December 17th. The fight was originally set for October 29th but postponed in September because of a cut Ward received in sparring over his right eye.

Ward boxed eight rounds on Wednesday, four rounds each against two sparring partners, and is back to what he likes to call “beast mode” at King’s Gym in Oakland, Ca. “I feel good. We were still doing road work,” Ward told me, referring to the nearly six-week hiatus outside the squared circle.

There were no signs of scar tissue from the cut that needed seven stitches above the right eye and he was not favoring it in the ring from my point of view. It looked like business as usual.

Virgil Hunter, Ward’s trainer said, “If the fight was next week we’d be ready. We are going to stop Froch. Put money on it.”

The 58-year-old former probation officer told me that he was not pleased with the way Carl Froch and his camp reacted to Ward’s injury. Immediately after news broke of the cut, Froch blasted Ward claiming a lack of professionalism on Ward’s part.

Hunter sat with TSS to discuss the Froch mindset, his popularity in Europe, and Ward’s first day back in the ring.

Ray Markarian: Now that you guys are back into full training mode. What has changed since Andre got injured?
Virgil Hunter: Well, he has picked up the focus where he is supposed to mentally. Anytime you go through a situation and somebody ridicules you for the natural things that occur in boxing by throwing way off comments about different things, is only going to give Andre the necessary fuel. That is what I have noticed most.

RM: How do you feel about Andre’s training today?
VH: He is on point. He looks like he fought Abraham yesterday. He is coming out of the garage from an injury. And you seen it yourself, he didn’t even take a breath.

RM: In what way does Froch’s camp doubt you?
VH: Well I am talking about the cut. It is bad enough to get cut. But then to have somebody make their little comments about how we should have handled it. You know, we don’t have to tell Eddie Hearn or Carl Froch anything. They have their own definition of professionalism. When they found out (about the injury) they were upset about it and made their comments. But like I said, their definition of professionalism is very different from ours.

RM: Did the Froch camp contact your team personally?
VH: No, they just love the airwaves, man. Froch loves the spotlight. He doesn’t get that much publicity over there in England. I don’t know why he is not well liked. He seems like a cool guy. For some reason his own countrymen have him on the black list. I think some of the comments he made about Joe Calzaghe, who is an icon over there, has something to do with it. Rightfully so, you don’t disrespect the man who paved the way for you. You can’t knock Joe Calzaghe, Nigel Benn, and some of the other middleweights or super middleweights from Europe and expect fans to embrace you. They paved the way for Froch. So when you get a platform, don’t badmouth the guy that made the division exciting and made fans interested in you. Show respect. Calzaghe already made a legacy. If he fights you he fights you. If he doesn’t he doesn’t. All of his talk proves nothing.

RM: Froch does a lot of talking no doubt. How do you think Andre Ward deals with the trash talk?
VH: I don’t think it is going to affect his intensity. Andre is going to be he who he is. But at the same time, Carl Froch is going to find out a lot about Andre Ward come December 17th. I know Eddie Hearn said ‘Froch is going take Andre to places that he has never been before.’ But you know Andre is one passenger that Froch is going to really want to get rid of as quick as possible. He is going to want to drop him off at the nearest corner. Because wherever they go will be an unpleasant ride. We are willing to go places that we have never been.

RM: Can you give me a place that you have never gone before?
VH: They seem to have a place in mind. We will go with them. And we will be a terrible passenger.

RM: You told me earlier that Andre is going to stop Carl Froch on December 17th. Can you elaborate?
VH: Andre is going to stop Carl Froch. I will show why after the fight. Let me put it like this, if Carl Froch is the fighter that he says he is, we are going to stop him. Now when it gets going rough Froch might be like all the rest of them, Abraham, Kessler, Green, when they start fighting to protect themselves or survive, they are hard to stop. We might not stop him if he fights to survive. But if Carl Froch is the fighter that he says he is and there is no quit in him, he is a gallant warrior, a beast, and things go bad for him, I expect him to keep fighting. If he keeps fighting he is going to get stopped.

RM: Do you have a special method for Mr. Froch?
VH: No. I actually like Carl and his wife. I have met them. He is a good guy. I am speaking strictly from a boxing point of view. I am not personal. He is who he is. He does have a little bravado. But if that’s what he needs to get fueled up so be it. After the fight is over it is not going to be personal. I wish him and his family well in life. They have not done anything wrong to us. He is doing what he feels like he needs to do for the fight. So this is all pertaining to the fight.

RM: Do you study his fights?
VH: Well, without disclosing the opponents, there are three fights that I watch in particular. I watch him on an average of four to five times a week.

RM: Really, you just watch the three fights?
VH: I just watch his fights with three particular guys.
RM: OK so now that everything is back on schedule. What is coming up in the next few weeks?

VH: Well, we have some great sparring coming. I don’t want to disclose the participants but a couple of them are world ranked fighters. And because we had a camp for the original fight date, we are already conditioned. The eye didn’t stop us from conditioning or drilling and things like that. So actually, it is a good thing because we could have more rest days. If the fight was next week we’d be ready to go.

RM: Any fear of over training?
VH: We never over train.

RM: No?
VH: I have never bought into some of the methods that certain fighters have. We have never over trained. He gets a lot of rest.

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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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