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Atlas Foundation Dinner Is TONIGHT!

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td06 31lHe sounded tired when I called him at 10 PM last night, and it felt like maybe I’d only get a couple minutes of Teddy Atlas’ time to ask him about tonight’s Atlas Foundation dinner, the 15th annual fundraising gala.

The Foundation raises money to help people who have fallen through the cracks, and the ESPN analyst/trainer does it in memory of his physician father, Theodore, who was known for doing house calls on Staten Island, and often accepting a meager payment on the barter system if the family was indigent.

Atlas told me he flew in from Russia a couple hours before. He was there for four weeks, training his student Alex Povetkin, who defends his WBA heavyweight title against Cedric Boswell on Dec. 3 in Finland. “We’re doing our annual turkey giveaway, giving turkeys to about 800 needy families, on Saturday morning,” he told me. “Then that afternoon I’ll hop on a flight back to Russia. Yes, I’ve been busy, but there’s lots of demands. We always get cases where people have nowhere else to go. This year, even more so with the tough economy.”

We fightwriters, and I definitely include myself in this indictment, spend excess time focusing on soap operatics, on boxers misbehaving, and promoters sniping at each other and the like. We miss positive stories on the fight game. Like the Atlas Foundation, which will tonight at the Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island raise money which enables them to hand a check to a 10 year-old girl and her family to help pay for the medicines she needs to stay alive following her liver transplant. The surgery cost $300,000 and the insurance company covered it. But they don’t cover the 14 or so medications she might need for the rest of her life, which cost a couple thousand dollars a month.

Fight fans are welcome to attend the gala, as walk-up tickets are still available.
They will hear the passionate Atlas make a call to stamp out the disease of violence, especially gun-related violence. He was truly touched when meeting a three year old girl who need a prosthetic eye to replace the one put out by an errant bullet. “A little girl of two shouldn’t get her eye ripped out by a frigging bullet,” he said to me, steeped in the same passion we hear in the corner when he’s telling his student to do the right thing, act like a pro.

They will hear about how the Atlas Cops and Kids clubs give at-risk kids a place to go, and a reason for steering clear of street temptations. Yes, they will hear about how boxing and many of the people involved aren’t all thugs, creeps and cons.

I want to acknowledge Atlas, and how he is going out of his way to raise the money which helps out in this, the richest nation in the world, which houses so many citizens who apparently aren’t horrified that for many, proper health and medical coverage is seen as a luxury. He will get back to getting Povetkin ready for Boswell soon enough, but really, he works on the dinner year-round, trying to rope in the celebs, such as Willem Dafoe, Brian Cashman and Vinny Gudagnino from “Jersey Shore,” who draw up to 1,000 people to his dinner.

As for Povetkin, Atlas says he won’t let him look past the 42-year-old Boswell, a 35-1 fighter from Georgia who hasn’t been tested all that much.

“I know what he is, he has size, reach, a good skills package, pretty fast hands, technically he’s pretty good. His attitude and style is to box, control center ring, get off, get out, get countering opportunities. He knows how to do things. We have to take the fight to him, test him in areas we should test him in. He hasn’t been in too tough situations, hasn’t been in deep waters. We should set the pace to benefit us. We can’t take him lightly. He knows this is his one shot. That makes him potentially dangerous.”

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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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