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What Canelo Alvarez Needs To Show Us

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AlvarezMosleyFinalPC Hoganphotos 2Before I get started here, can we talk about how bad of a matchup this is for Canelo? Of course he’s going to win. It’s practically a foregone conclusion. But in order to take the next step in his career and prove he’s more than just Golden Boy hype, he needs to look great (see: not just ‘good’) against an old Shane Mosley. While I think the days of calling him “Sugar” are long over, Mosley is naturally gifted enough to make Canelo look less than spectacular. After all, he did make Manny Pacquiao look less than impeccable. Mosley has the chin, wits, and experience to at least make it an awkward fight, and if Canelo looks as pedestrian as Chad Dawson did against the Bernard Hopkins last week, his stock drops. Against Hopkins, nobody looks good, so it wasn’t all bad for Dawson. But for Canelo on Saturday night, he can’t afford that type of fight. It’s all about expectations. Because Alvarez is expected to dominate this fight, anything less than domination will fall short of making him look the next big thing in boxing.

If Alvarez were fighting against someone like James Kirkland (which would be awesome in my opinion), it would be expected to be a more dangerous fight. In that case, looking good (but not great) would still look like a strong performance. That simply is not the case for the young Mexican star on Cinco De Mayo against Mosley. It’s probably unfair, but it’s the way it is.

All that said, in order to look like a true threat to the 154-lb division (and subsequently set up some very compelling fights), he needs to show us the following:

Canelo needs to hurt Mosley
Even if this is a very faded Shane Mosley, he still has a very solid chin. He hasn’t been truly hurt in years, and he’s faced some solid punchers. If Alvarez can connect with some clean power punches and drop Mosley, that says something. One knockdown validates the kid’s power.

Land combinations
Alvarez is a good boxer, but he occasionally looks for one big punch (or two) at a time. Against Alfonso Gomez, he was so supremely confident that he could land one goodnight left hook that he lost most of the first five or six rounds. He needs to use his hand speed and youthful legs to set up 4 and 5-punch combinations this weekend. If he has any real shot at beating the other title-holders around his weight class, he’ll need to show some improvement in his combination punching. Given the age differential, the speed discrepancy should be noticeable as early as the first round.

Have good accuracy numbers
There will certainly be a correlation between his combination punching and accuracy, but he needs to be efficient. Shane hasn’t been a great defensive fighter for a few years now. His once lightning-quick reflexes left him years ago. Especially if Mosley struggles to get off as he has in last few fights, he should become a punching bag for Canelo. If Alvarez can’t land more than 35% of his power punches, it’ll be a giant red flag.

Win almost all of the exchanges in the pocket
Alvarez might have the opportunity to simply tee off on a shot fighter like Pacquiao did against Oscar De La Hoya. But if Shane comes to fight like he says he will, Alvarez should be able to pick him apart. He should be stronger, considerably faster, and have the reflexes to make Shane miss, not the other way around. Mosley has looked very frustrated in recent fights and has really struggled to get off. If we see Alvarez retreating because he’s on the losing end of exchanges in the pocket, that’s definitely another red flag.

In all candidness, Alvarez needs to do all of those things to live up to the massive expectations that come with the promotion he’s gotten. Like I said, I think this was poor matchmaking. Sure, Mosley’s name still carries some weight to the average boxing fan, but he’s made for some ugly fights lately and Saul Alvarez (and Golden Boy) can’t afford to win a snooze-fest.

I’m well aware that Saul Alvarez is still a very young fighter. Looking less than amazing in this fight is not the end of his career by any means, but it will tell us a lot. Is he destined to be a really good fighter or the next great fighter? I personally think he will be a fantastic fighter and champion for many years. He certainly needs to correct some flaws/holes in his game and get better, but what 21-year fighter old doesn’t?

Many observers think Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. is nothing more than hype. He has a chance to prove people wrong if he can get by Andy Lee and make a fight with Sergio Martinez. While I don’t think Canelo is ready for that type of challenge regardless of Saturday’s outcome, this is his chance to prove he’s worth every bit of hype HBO has given him. Not coincidentally, a potential Chavez, Jr-Alvarez fight in the future would do huge business in Mexico.

My prediction: We see a dangerous, hungry Canelo put on the performance of his career en route to a stoppage. We’ll see a future middleweight (160-lb) champion of the world stop a future Hall of Famer when the ref has seen enough in the 10th round. I hope that Shane is taking this fight for the right reasons and has his health as his primary interest. If he takes the pounding many (me, too) are expecting, I sure hope it’s his last.

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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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