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Trainers Talk Ahead of Ward-Froch

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002 IMG 6453WARD, FROCH CAMPS PREPARE TO WRAP UP;

TRAINERS EXTREMELY CONFIDENT

AS COUNTDOWN TO DEC. 17 SUPER SIX FINAL CONTINUES

 

Virgil Hunter: “Froch Really Doesn’t Have a Clue What He’s Getting Into.”

 

Rob McCracken: “…Carl Has Done More in the Division than Ward…”

NEW YORK (Dec. 5, 2011) – Less than two weeks from one of the most important fights in the history of the super middleweight division, the trainers for world champions Andre Ward (World Boxing Association) and Carl Froch (World Boxing Council) are brimming with confidence as training camp begins to wind down. The eagerly awaited inaugural Super Six World Boxing Classic Final is slated for Saturday, Dec. 17, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).

Says Virgil Hunter, who trains Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), of Oakland, Calif.: “We’re real pleased with how it’s all going in camp. We never actually left. We had a setback (after Ward was cut on Sept. 22), but we never stopped. We just modified things when we couldn’t spar. We’ve been sparring for about three weeks.

“I haven’t seen any difference at all with Andre; there’s been no noticeable drop off for anything.

He’s the same now as he was before the cut. He understands the nature of game.

“We’re just determined to win in a dominant fashion. That’s what we focus on. It’s not personal. We just want to win, and that’s what we plan to do.’’

Offers Rob McCracken, who handles Froch (28-1, 20 KOs), of Nottingham, England: “Carl’s camp has been fantastic. He’s just an exceptional worker and will carry out whatever you want from him every day. He never questions anything. He doesn’t have weight issues; he has the genetics to do that, and very few in the sport can say that.

“We’d worked 10 weeks before the cut, but then took a three-week break. So we will have had nine more solid weeks of camp going in. That’s quite a bit of training, but the three weeks off refreshed him. A similar thing happened when he fought Arthur Abraham, and Carl came back sharper than ever.

“Ward pulled out because of a cut. That’s part of boxing, and Carl knows that. But this is a personal fight.’’

Both Hunter and McCracken have had lengthy relationships with their boxers – who represent each trainer’s top client. The insightful Hunter, who’s also Ward’s godfather, has coached the boxer since he was nine years old. He was with Ward during the run to the 2004 Olympic Games gold medal and has been there every step of the way since.

The respected McCracken, a former British champion and world title challenger at 160 pounds, is the current head of the UK Olympic team. Froch, who often works with the amateurs, has been with McCracken for more than 10 years.

Some industry experts consider Ward a slight favorite to defeat the confident Froch and win the high-stakes 12-round bout for the WBA and WBC titles, vacant The Ring magazine championship and the Super Six World Boxing Classic Cup. But, as always, Ward will enter the ring with something to prove and taking nothing for granted.

“Andre always fights with a chip on his shoulder, but it’s a healthy chip and it’s what fuels and motivates him,’’ Hunter said. “One minute you’re the best in the world, the next minute you’re not. Just the criticism alone is something he has no control over, but it’s enough to motivate him continuously.

“He has his dreams, he has his goals, and until he hangs ‘em up he’ll be motivated. It’s just the type of kid he is. He’ll never be in a situation where he’ll not be motivated because when the tournament is over they will have somebody else for him to fight. Or there will be someone else where they say maybe this guy will be a good test, or that guy will be a good test.

“The way Andre is winning right now, no one seems to think he’s being tested. So if there is a test out there, we welcome it and we’re ready for it.”

Chip or no chip, McCracken believes Froch is the real deal and the one to beat.

“Carl trained with me nine months before his first pro fight and before that I watched him in the 2001 World Championships,’’ McCracken said. “While Carl was becoming the first English boxer to win a medal at the World Championships, I could see the raw talent and that he had all the ingredients.

“Carl and Ward have pretty much proved themselves as the two best; well, Carl definitely has and Ward, who won an Olympic gold medal, is the other best super middleweight in the world alongside Carl.

“But Carl has done more in the division than Ward has.”

So, who’s going to win?

“Andre’s biggest key is that he has the element of surprise,’’ Hunter said. “Froch really doesn’t have a clue what he’s getting into. He just doesn’t know. He’s on the outside looking in. It’ll be interesting to see when he finds out. Then, we’ll adjust accordingly to whatever his intent is.

“Andre is determined. He has a family, and he wants to be great, which is enough stimulation to put everything he has into winning this fight.

“I don’t think that you could ask for a better conclusion.  It’s going to be a great fight and I’m looking forward to it. Froch is a confident fighter who has passionate fans. He’s the type of fighter you want to fight. He says he’ll keep pushing the petal to the metal and I think he’s a man of his word. I’d be very disappointed if he tucks it in, after what he’s been saying.

“We’ve worked hard to win this tournament and we intend to win the tournament. We’re now at the point where we have one more obstacle to overcome. It doesn’t matter if it’s a knockout or a decision. We want the KO if it comes, or a stoppage. Personally, I’d like to see him quit or his corner stop it.’’

Says McCracken: “The reality at this level of fight is intriguing because no one knows for sure how it will play out. We’ll both have game plans and we’ll both try to come out and implement them. But there will be points in the fight where they’ll have to fight on instincts.

“Ward is unorthodox, very fast and very talented. He will only do one of two things. He’ll try to go in and out or try and bull himself inside.

“Carl has the longer reach and is physically stronger. He knows he has to be smartly aggressive. He’s proven himself time and again, against everybody’s he’s been in with. Carl will be ready for anything. He’ll adjust when necessary and do whatever it takes to win.

“But we're expecting a fantastic fight between two tremendous boxers.’’

The event, originally scheduled for Oct. 29 at Boardwalk Hall, will be promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions, Matchroom Sport and Antonio Leonard Promotions, in association with Caesars Atlantic City and sponsored by Corona.

Tickets are on sale at the Boardwalk Hall box office or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 736-1420 or online at ticketmaster.com. All tickets purchased for the original event date will be honored on Dec. 17.  If ticket holders are not able to attend on Dec. 17, refunds are available at the point of purchase. The non-televised undercard begins at 6 p.m. ET.

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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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