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Who Would You Rather Be Saturday, Cotto Or Margarito?…LOTIERZO

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Cotto Margarito final PC 111130 002aWho would you rather be Saturday night heading into their rematch, Miguel Cotto 36-2 (29) or Antonio Margarito 38-7 (27)? One fighter, Cotto, has to fight the demon inside knowing that regardless of whether or not Margarito hit him with loaded gloves, not much happened good for him when he hit Margarito. And then there's Margarito, who knows for certain whether or not he had the advantage of hitting Cotto with loaded gloves the last time.

In reality it's easier to continue on with the premise that Margarito did have an advantage and also knew it, which then leaves some doubt in his mind as to how badly he can damage Cotto this time when he does connect and land cleanly.  Margarito has been in two high profile fights since he stopped Cotto back in 2008, and we know for a fact that he wasn't aided by any special hand wrappings against Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao. Is it a coincidence that he appeared less confident and took a shellacking in both bouts?

There can be no doubt that on the way to the ring Saturday night Cotto will be concerned about whether or not he can hit Margarito hard enough to keep him off of him, just as Margarito will wonder if he can break Miguel's will without the advantage he perhaps had the last time they met. They've both looked bad during their training for this fight, but based on everything that's gone on around them it would appear that Margarito owns the psychological advantage.

For me, the only intrigue of this fight is the mental aspect that both boxers will be forced to contend with. Because in reality they're both very damaged fighters who aren't nearly the same men they were mentally or physically when they crossed paths in 2008. Both have been beaten up and punched around the ring in subsequent fights and surely don't posses the fire and desire they once had. Based on what they've been through as fighters, they're now more civilized. Cotto is much more of a boxer and counter-puncher now and looks to get out of exchanges more than to initiate them. Margarito has always been a one trick pony who pushes the fight and is willing to take a few in order to get in position to land a few of his own hooks and uppercuts. Only he's slower and less effective doing it now.

Surely Cotto will use his feet and look to pick his spots while going for Margarito's repaired eye socket. Margarito knows this and will accept those terms for the chance to get near Cotto and try to bring his memory back to one July summer night back in 2008, the last time they shared the same ring. And to me, that gives Margarito a slight edge. And the reason for that is despite not knowing who's the more damaged and shot fighter, I do know that one of them (Margarito) wants to turn the bout into a war and the other one (Cotto) more than likely would like to keep it at a measured pace and let the better skill set determine the outcome. This shouldn't come as news to anyone including both fighters and therein lies Cotto's most formidable task, trying to bluff Margarito into accepting that he can't win.

Margarito being the boxer who wants the fight to become a bloodbath will approach it with less pressure because his only objective is to get to Cotto and re-impose himself physically as quickly as he can. On the other hand, Cotto has to score and fight as if he's not afraid to engage with Margarito. Miguel can't let Margarito see that he's the least bit worried about him trying to make it a war. Because if Cotto is too obvious in breaking off the exchanges and trying to get away, a fighter like Margarito will become a real bully and feed off of that and grow even more aggressive and determined. Boxing Margarito and trying to gain some of his respect is a must for Cotto. The question is – does he possess the needed tools to pull it off?

From a mental perspective, Margarito has the psychological edge going into this bout. The fact that Cotto is faster than he is along with being a better boxer and puncher doesn't concern Margarito. Antonio believes that Cotto doesn't want any part of him when it comes to trading and fighting it out. Granted, that may be selling Cotto short, but that doesn't matter to him. He is completely convinced that once he forces Cotto to break off the exchange and looks to get away, it's all downhill for him from that point on.

Regardless of how much Margarito may have declined as a fighter, he will have in front of him in Miguel Cotto a fighter who he believes that even without the loaded hand wraps he can break his will and make him believe he can't win, and that's big. As to the fighter I'd rather be, it's Antonio Margarito. But Miguel Cotto is too much of a warrior and professional to count out. Whatever Miguel has left as a fighter both mentally and physically, he'll leave in the ring on fight night.

The only question that remains to be answered is, is it enough to beat Margarito this time?

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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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