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Ward and Hunter Could Well Clean Up in End of Year Awards

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WardFrochOaklandPC TJHogan 61ANDRE WARD AND VIRGIL HUNTER:

THEIR YEAR OF SUCCESS SHOULD LAND THEM 

FIGHTER AND TRAINER OF THE YEAR AWARDS

  

 

 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Dec. 20, 2011) – It has been a tremendously successful 2011 for Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs), who after a twenty-six month journey is now the Super Six World Boxing Classic champion; the WBA champion; the WBC champion; the Ring magazine champion and the No. 1 Super Middleweight in the world. 

Right there with him, is Ward's crafty veteran trainer and godfather of 18 years, Virgil Hunter, who like Ward is soft spoken, but filled with wisdom.  Hunter recognized the talent and drive in Andre from the moment he walked into his gym.  Virgil began training the 9-year old Ward and guided him to a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics.  

Andre always believed that Virgil was the man who was going to elevate his game to the highest of levels and we've all been witnesses to just that. This past Saturday, December 17, as Ward was presented with three championship belts and the Super Six Cup, those beliefs were confirmed more-so.

Ward decimated the gritty British fighter with a unanimous decision at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.  

Already named Sports Illustrated's Fighter of the Year, Oakland, California's Ward had one word for his impressive evening and undefeated run through the two-plus year tournament: “Supernatural.”

“These are all great fighters. That's why you don't hear me talking badly about them before the fight. I know what I'm getting into. I just want to be a little bit better on the night of the fight.”

Earlier this year in May, Ward put on another destructive performance against former middleweight titleist and one of the hard-hitting favorites to win the tournament in Arthur Abraham.  Ward scored a near perfect shutout against the former champion in a lopsided victory that would send him to the final.

Hunter's work alongside Ward has earned him to be named “Trainer of the Year” with Andre's one-sided run and the culmination of his last two bouts in a tournament filled with high-profile, top-level competition, all directed by his trainer.  The man currently stands above everyone else since Andre's upset of Mikkel Kessler and has had Andre prepared to finish his opponents with sheer dominance on his way to obtaining the WBA, WBC, Ring championship belts, along with the Super Six World Boxing Classic title.  These are tremendous accomplishments by both fighter and trainer, especially when you throw in the fact that Hunter started with Ward when he was a nine year-old and has built him into an elite world-class fighter from scratch, taking him from US Olympic Gold to a decorated world champion as a professional.

Roger Mayweather deserves credit for Floyd Mayweather, but Floyd fought only once in 2011.  Freddie Roach, the winner the past two years, has recently struggled with Manny Paquiao against Juan Manuel Marquez in his last bout and most recently Amir Khan.  

There are other trainers that could deserve this recognition also, but for utter dominance of their fighters, Virgil Hunter stands alone in 2011.   

Hunter, also trains Brandon Gonzales, Karim Mayfield, Michael Dallas, Marlow Moore and Heather Hartman.

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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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