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Rest In Peace, Ron Lyle

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George Foreman, to TSS, when asked for a comment on Lyle's passing: “Another big oak has fallen. I'll miss him!”

He was an ace baseball player, a force on the basketball court and he could throw a tight spiral 70 yards. But Ron Lyle will forever be remembered as a hard punching sonafagun.

The ex heavyweight contender died Saturday in Denver, at age 70, from septic shock, according to Reuters.

Lyle retired from the ring in 1980, and returned for four bouts in 1995; he finished with a 43-7-1 mark, with 31 KOs.

He was born in Ohio and grew up in a Denver housing project, one of 19 children born to a minister and a missionary mom. He went off the rails as a teen when someone chased him with a pipe, and he upped the ante, and borrowed a pistol, and shot the man dead. Lyle did 7 1/2 years for second degree murder, but he made the time work for him, for the most part. He got the worst of it in a knife fight, and very nearly died in a Colorado Penitentiary, but when he healed up, he began boxing. He had the same success at the sweet science as he did most any other sport he tried his hand at.

In 1969, he got out prison, and by 1973 he was on everybody's radar as a possible foe for Ali, Frazier or Foreman. Frazier was impressed, he said Lyle looked like he was “poured out of concrete.” Jerry Quarry got the best of Lyle when they tangled in February of that year, but Lyle soldiered on, and beat the guys you have to beat to get to the big stage. He downed Oscar Bonavena, Jimmy Ellis and Boone Kirkman, and a February 1975 loss to Jimmy Young didn't queer his Ali lottery ticket. They tangled in May 1975, and Lyle was ahead after ten. But Ali could and did turn it on when he had to, and he had to in round 11. A left-right-left, after he'd buzzed Lyle bad with a left and then a smashing right, made the ref call it a night for the challenger.

Lyle beat another bomber-type, Earnie Shavers, in his next scrap, and was rewarded with a tango with George Foreman. They met–that's an inappropriate term–they took turns whaling away at each other at Caesars, and in five rounds, they hit the deck five times. In the fourth round of their January 24, 1976 confrontation, Foreman went down about a minute in, and evened the score with a right hand with a minute left. With two second remaining, Lyle sent George to the floor again, off a right hand. In the fifth, Foreman was nearly out of it, but summoned some wind, and he took a turn pummeling Lyle. Lyle fell face first to the floor, and could not beat the count. The fight will remain as an all-time great example of a heavyweight slobberknocker, the epitome of two muscled brutes taking turns throwing anvils at each other.

“I should have relaxed when I had him in trouble, but I got tense and then I got tired,” the loser told the Denver Post later. He spoke of his love for the savage science. “I loved it. I loved it. I loved luring a guy into throwing a punch, then landing my own right hand and hurting him and dropping him. I loved it. It was the only way I was ever able to express myself. I loved the fight crowd. They're the most exciting crowd I know – the high rollers. The night life. The politicians and movie stars. Business people. Street people. Ladies of the night. And they all come for one reason – to see you knocked down and pull yourself up. They want to see you put it on the line. And when you do, that's like you telling them, 'This is what I have to give you tonight.”'
Lyle had another brush with the law, as a pal from the joint, posse-member Vernon “Rip” Clark, ended up shot dead in the boxer's house on New Year's Eve night 1976/1977. Did Lyle shoot him during an argument about money or did the men struggle for Clark's gun, causing it to go off and fire a fatal bullet? Lyle, now 35, was acquitted of charges, but a bout with young gun Larry Holmes went out the window. His chances dwindled, and while he beat some second tier fighters after (Joe Bugner, Scott Ledoux), by 1980, he was in the steppingstone category. Gerry Cooney, age 24, stopped him in round one of their Nassau Coliseum bout.
He missed the buzz, the money, the magnetic aura you enjoy when you're the man who drops and stops other men, and sought a rematch with Foreman around 1995, but he didn't have fast hands or feet the first time around, and at 53, this was even more apparent. He walked away for good after a win.
Excuse please the too-candid summation: Ron Lyle lost his three signature bouts, against Quarry, Ali and Foreman. But his legacy isn't stained and to be short-lived. Boxing served the man well, providing him a focus and reason for being, and probably kept him from one of two ends, neither pretty. And he did boxing well, showing skill, character and perseverance. Rest in peace, and tell Mr. Frazier we said hello.

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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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