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George Plimpton Wins BWAA Liebling Award

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Plimpton Wins Boxing Writers’ Liebling Award 

 

JANUARY 3, 2012 — George Plimpton, the elegant literary adventurer who graced boxing with witty, insightful prose and once had his nose broken in the line of duty, will receive this year’s A.J. Liebling Award. The Boxing Writers Association of America presents the award in memory of Liebling, the legendary New Yorker wordsmith who called his favorite sport “The Sweet Science.”

Plimpton, who died in 2003, at age 76, was the author of one book about boxing, “Shadow Box,” and wrote about fights and fighters for Sports Illustrated, Harper’s, and Esquire, most memorably during the heyday of Muhammad Ali. It wasn’t Ali who broke his nose, however. Archie Moore delivered that blow during a sparring session that Plimpton had arranged. What Ali, who was never good at remembering names, did was give the tall, patrician Plimpton a nickname he couldn’t forget: “Kennedy.”

Plimpton came to prominence in the world of literature as the editor and one of the founders of the Paris Review. He was also a prominent figure in New York’s social scene, with his lockjaw accent, unfailing good humor, and boundless enthusiasm for new experiences. It was his enthusiasm that led him to become America’s leading participatory journalist.

Following a trail blazed by Paul Gallico in the 1920s, he became the amateur who forever took his place among professionals and wrote memorably – and hilariously – and about his inevitable failure. Among other things, he played quarterback for the Detroit Lions, goalie for the Boston Bruins, and tympani for the New York Philharmonic. At the behest of his editors at Sports Illustrated, he wound up in the ring at Stillman’s Gym with Moore, who was then the light-heavyweight champ and a bit of an intellectual himself.

There is no available evidence that Liebling ever sparred with a world champion, as Plimpton did when he went three rounds with Moore in 1959, but little doubt exists that the two writers were kindred spirits. Plimpton himself acknowledged the connection when he was reunited with Moore while working on a story for Esquire more than 30 years later. One minute they were talking about Moore’s loss to Rocky Marciano; the next Plimpton was thinking about Liebling: “(He) had once written that if you got hit on the nose by a professional prizefighter, you were linked to a kind of genealogical tree of people who had bopped each other on the nose. It stretched back to Victorian times. It also meant, because Archie had bopped me on the nose in our ‘fight,’ that I was connected not only to Marciano but to Joe Louis, back through Jack Dempsey and John L. Sullivan to Jem Mace and also to Piano-Mover Jones!”

In winning the Liebling award, Plimpton, who wrote or edited 26 books, including the classic “Paper Lion,” joins such previous honorees as Pete Hamill, John Lardner, Larry Merchant, and F.X. Toole. He will be honored at the BWAA’s annual awards banquet in the spring. John Schulian was chairman of the committee that selected Plimpton. The committee’s members were Dave Anderson, Bernard Fernandez, Richard Hoffer, and Ed Schuyler. All are past winners of the BWAA’s Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism.

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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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