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RASKIN’S RANTS: On Fight, Round, And Upset Of The Year Candidates



KirklandAngulo_Fernandez12Well, I’m finally over 1,000 followers on Twitter, so thanks to all of you who made this utterly meaningless feat possible! In honor of you, the readers who have supported my boxing writing lo these many years, I’m going answer not just one, but TWO emails this week in the mini mailbag. Let’s start with one that was sent in as a “Tough Question” for Ring Theory but works nicely in the mailbag:


Following the recent announcement that there would be a performance bonus of $100,000 for the winner of the next Nonito Donaire fight, the easy question is “why in the name of all that is holy is there not a bonus for the winner of EVERY fight?” Your tough question is to imagine yourself as a boxing promoter and tell us why you think there shouldn’t be.



First, let me say that I love the idea of winner bonuses and knockout bonuses. For the most part, they would eliminate fights where a guy shows up looking strictly to survive.

However, you’re asking me to explain from a promoter’s perspective why bonuses don’t make sense, and I can give you two valid reasons a promoter would offer—as well as one reason that a promoter would never say publicly.

Reason #1: It doesn’t work in fights where the two boxers’ purses are wildly disparate. Look at the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight as a example; according to reports, Mayweather was guaranteed $25-million, and Ortiz was guaranteed $2.5-million. If you set the bonus at, say, $500,000, that means something to Ortiz but means nothing to Mayweather. If you set the bonus at $5-million, that means something to Mayweather, but is an outrageous amount to give Ortiz, since it triples his purse.

Reason #2: Bonuses open the door for bribery and corruption (wider than it’s already open). If there’s a million-dollar bonus for the winner of a major fight, couldn’t you see someone from one of the fighters’ camps offering the referee or a judge $100,000 to help his guy win? The system is already plenty corruptible, and direct bonuses that depend upon the result of the bout create a lot of new incentive for such ugliness.

Reason #3 (the reason no promoter would ever admit): Why give the underdog a financial incentive to win when all you really want is for him to lose? Todd duBoef wished Omar Narvaez had given a more entertaining effort against Donaire a couple of weeks ago. But he sure as hell didn’t want Narvaez to knock off “The Filipino Flash.”

Ultimately, performance bonuses are a cool idea, but you’ll never see them become the norm. There are only occasional instances where they make sense for both fighters and both promoters and can be seriously considered. And by the way, did you notice Manny Pacquiao’s response when Jimmy Kimmel asked him about a winner-take-all fight with Mayweather last week? Pacquiao completely avoided the question until Kimmel asked it a second time, then he said, “Of course.” That was Pacquiao telling a little white lie on live television. No fighter would ever risk getting $0 out of a $100-million pie.


Great Column. Great Podcast. GREAT FIGHT!

Thanks for reporting the Porpramook-Yaegashi fight. I would certainly have missed it otherwise, and it was a phenomenal scrap. Yaegashi has a terrific left hook.

As Dettloff would say: Kudos Mr. Raskin.

I think the Japanese commentary made the fight even more fun. I had no clue what they were saying, but knew exactly what they were talking about. How much fun would it be if Jim Lampley ever got that excited? (You know, without resorting to yelling, “Bang Bang Bang.”)

I have a great idea. Just to settle things, maybe you and Bill should engage in four-rounders against Fischer and Rosenthal. Stream it live online and charge for it. The proceeds could buy Fischer a haircut for that ridiculous ponytail and Rosenthal a less nerdy hat. Joe Cortez could be the ref, to make sure no one actually gets to land a punch without getting a stern talking to.

Keep up the good work. I always enjoy your articles.

—Matthew Swain


Actually, I should address the non-Matthew readers first: If you’re not sure what Matthew is talking about, he’s referring to my blog last week about my top pick for Fight of the Year as of now, Akira Yaegashi vs. Pornsawan Porpramook, with the YouTube video of the fight embedded ( Read it/watch it if you haven’t yet, then come on back to this Rants column.

Matthew, you make a great point about the Japanese commentary. No disrespect to Lampley, Joe Tessitore, etc., but boxing doesn’t always require a blow-by-blow man. These aren’t the radio days anymore. We know what we’re looking at. Today’s best blow-by-blow guys direct traffic well, set up their partners well, sometimes make insightful points of analysis themselves. But we don’t need someone saying “a left, a right, a jab,” etc. Fights broadcast in foreign languages are proof of that. We all knew exactly what we were looking at in Yaegashi-Pornsawan. But just hearing the varied excitement levels in the Japanese broadcasters’ voices added something to the experience. The same was true of the 2006 Fight of the Year between Somsak Sithchatchawal and Mahyar Monshipour.

As for your comments on the Golden-Boy-hired new Ring gang, those are personal insults you’re hurling about their style choices, and as a professional, I can’t condone your attacks. (But it does seem that I’m not above running them in my mini-mailbag.)

Okay, enough mailbaggin’, let’s get Rantin’:

–I don’t retract my declaration that Yaegashi-Pornsawan is the Fight of the Year, but round one of James Kirkland vs. Alfredo Angulo certainly replaces round eight of Yaegashi-Pornsawan as the leader in the clubhouse for Round of the Year. By the way, remember when Dettloff and I railed against Joe Cortez’s teabag stoppage of Kirkland in the Nobuhito Ishida fight, and said the appropriate thing to do would have been to calmly take up a count and see how Kirkland looked at the end of that count? I know, I know, maybe Kirkland was spared career-shortening punishment by Cortez. But he also might have been deprived of the chance to show his recuperative powers.

–As I noted on Twitter, here’s a rare situation: Kirkland has now been on both the winning and losing ends of 2011 Upset of the Year contenders. My pick to win that award is probably either Ishida-Kirkland or Orlando Salido-JuanMa Lopez, and I have to say, Kirkland defeating Angulo makes Ishida-Kirkland an even stronger candidate in retrospect.

–For whatever reason, I thoroughly enjoyed Alex McClintock on the Queensberry Rules blog calling Ann Wolfe “the baddest b—-t on the planet.”

–Oh, Glen Johnson. I’m one of your biggest fans. I’ve never had a bad word to say about you before. But do you really think you deserved the decision against Lucian Bute? Sorry to say it, but if you’d been given that decision, it would have single-handedly overcompensated for the last 13 years of bogus decisions against you.

–Regular Ring Theory listeners know that Bill Dettloff enjoys commenting on how you can see Johnson’s brain right through his wrinkled scalp. This has to be the all-time greatest Johnson brain-through-scalp photo:

–That was an interesting start to Bute’s ring entrance. But if I wanted to watch the movie “Drumline,” I’d … well, I’d question everything about myself as a man.

–I second TSS editor Mike Woods’ opinion expressed on Saturday night that we retire the phrase “matinee idol” on the grounds that nobody under the age of 35 knows what it means. From now on, when a boxer is good-looking, let’s say he’s a “mimbo,” since that reference still has three or four years until nobody gets it.

–There’s something kind of familiar about that Showtime “Staredown” show. I wish I could put my finger on what it reminds me of …

–So Denis Lebedev, who just got done smacking Roy Jones and James Toney around, is fighting Antonio Tarver next? Hey, Michael Spinks and Bob Foster, stay close to the phone.

–Say a prayer for the great Joe Frazier. And for the poor schmuck who recently wrote an article saying Frazier doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

–Is it just me, or does Manny Pacquiao’s singing get a little worse every time? His falsetto is the greatest advertisement for lip synching that I’ve ever heard. With that in mind, great work by whoever conceived last week’s duet with Jimmy Kimmel. Limited vocal range is always relative, right?

–Let’s end with a gratuitous plug for last week’s episode of Ring Theory (, featuring guest David Greisman. I think I managed to avoid the scenario I suggested last week that would see me land in the “Podcasters Behaving Badly” department. Unfortunately, my performance did qualify me for “Podcasters Coughing Badly.” I apologize to any listeners who didn’t want my lugeys in their ears.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura



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



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



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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