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Rest of the Action from Top Rank Live Show in Texas

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Pavlik Jaco 120331 001aSan Antonio, Texas – They say everything is bigger in Texas, but you wouldn’t know it from the size of the fighters who frequent the increasingly popular live fight cards popping up all around the Lone Star State.

Saturday night’s Top Rank Live show at the Illusions Theater of the Alamodome was no different. More than just the return of former middleweight champion Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik, the fight bill was chock-full of fan-friendly bantam, feather and lightweights eager to make names for themselves in front of the estimated fifteen hundred fight fans in attendance.

The night kicked off with junior middleweights, as Bryant Perrella (2-0, 2 KOs) used youth, a four-inch reach advantage and his superior skill set to sharply pound his way to a TKO victory over the winless Arturo Lopez (0-2, 0 KOs).

The bout was halted by referee John Schorle—yes that John Schorle—at 2:08 of the fourth and final round.

Lopez was visibly upset afterwards and probably had right to feel that way considering he appeared to be fully alert with less than a minute left to go. Still, the fight was never in doubt and Lopez didn’t appear to have enough firepower to change anything over the next fifty plus seconds.

Schorle was the third man in the ring for several other matches during the night, most notably Kelly Pavlik’s win over Aaron Jaco later that evening.The Texas crowd either didn’t notice, didn’t care or believed his controversial disqualification of Carlos Molina against James Kirkland the preceding week in Houston was justified.

Next up were featherweights. Undefeated Saul Rodriguez (4-0, 4 KOs) landed a crisp left hook seconds into his fight with Ricardo Valencia (1-3-1, 0 KOs), and ended it seconds later with a beautiful barrage of furious hooks and uppercuts. The fight was halted with only nineteen seconds having gone by in round one. Valencia was still on his feet, but just barely, as the referee wisely waved off the contest.

Light heavyweight prospect Eduardo Alicea (3-0, 2 KOs) defeated Edwynn Jones (1-4-1, 1 KO) in probably the most lackluster affair of the evening. Alicea boxed his way to a careful unanimous decision win by controlling the fight with his jab. He was the busier man throughout and deserved the clear decision.

A very game Victor Sanchez (1-3-1, O KOs) came to the ring with mean intentions and did his best Jack Dempsey impression against undefeated prospect Luis Zarazua (3-0-1, 1 KO). Sanchez got it going early by rolling his shoulders, bobbing, weaving and bouncing up and down to get in position to throw fierce uppercuts and hooks, many of which he landed.

Zarazua was obliged to engage, which led to a good scrap, though he was content to stand his ground and wheel in forceful counter shots. At times, Sanchez seemed to forget that Dempsey would never stop moving and soon discovered why. The less he moved, the more Zarazua would land sharp, straight punches that stunned him.

In the fourth and final round, with the fight still hanging in the balance, Sanchez let his hands go like a windmill despite appearing to be dead tired. He hurt Zarazua with a left hook which helped him pull out a majority draw by scores of 39-37 (Zarazua), and 38-38 twice.

Hometown kid Adam Lopez (2-0, 1 KO) stalked fellow bantamweight Ramon Bayala (0-3-1, 0 KOs) around the ring until he ran into a perfectly placed counter right which dropped him in round number three. Lopez was noticeably dazed but made it to his feet, even landing hard shots of his own by the end of the round. The final round saw Lopez continue his hard charging ways against the Puerto Rican counterpuncher to the same success he carried through most of the fight, and he wasn’t knocked down or hurt again. Lopez took home a well-deserved unanimous decision despite suffering the unexpected scare.

All three judges had it 38-36 for Lopez.

If there’s any one young Top Rank prospect worth getting excited about for his potential of someday being a world champion, it’s probably nineteen-year-old lightweight prospect Ivan Najera (7-0, 7 KOs) who defeated James Lester (9-8, 4 KOs) by spectacular first round knockout. Najera fought fiercely and aggressively, and he had Lester down twice in the first round. The last knockdown left Lester sprawled face first and helpless on the canvas in what was the knockout of the night.

Finally, despite all the talk about the show being Kelly Pavlik’s return to the ring, the main event of the evening actually featured two exciting featherweights, Frankie Leal (17-6-3, 10 KOs) and Evgeny Gradovich (13-0, 7 KOs).

It was a stirring firefight with good action throughout. Gradovich, nicknamed “the Mexican Russian,” employed a strategy of coming forward and wheeling uppercuts. Leal countered by holding a high guard and throwing straight punches to try and head his opponent off at the pass.

The crowd seemed entertained as the fight played itself out. Leal would hurl one-twos at Gradovich and stay behind a quick jab. Gradovich would try and follow that jab back to Leal’s chest and, once there, fire off his punches.

Gradovich started getting braver in the fifth round and started coming forward even more while throwing punches from every angle imaginable. Up, down, left, right—he’d throw whatever he thought would land, and seemed to just get the better of Leal as the fight progressed. Sure, Leal would have his moments. His control of distance kept him in the fight until the bitter end, but Gradovich was just too strong and too willing to engage.

Gradovich finished him off in the tenth and final round with a brutal left hook that hurt Leal badly. The brave warrior made it to his feet, but referee Rafael Ramos stopped it at 2:15 of the tenth and final round.

Leal was taken away on a stretcher as a precautionary measure which underscored the fierceness of the shot he took as well as the indomitable will it must have taken for him to climb to his feet before the count of ten. We hear Leal was “OK and resting up” not long after the finish, thankfully.

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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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