Connect with us

Articles

Rodriguez-Wolak I Was A Classic, Wasn't It?

Published

on

images-New Poster 657683384Here is the story I wrote for the June 6, 2012 BWAA award dinner program, about the 2011 BWAA Fight of the Year.

I have a theory I call the “American Idol-Boxing Theory.”

As “American Idol,” the Fox rags-to-riches singing contest which catapults waitresses, karaoke kings and woebegone wannabees from the minor leagues to the bigs, has proven, America is filled with superstar warblers, people who only needed a break to prove their worth as performers. In the boxing world, I believe that there are a good ten fights which take place annually in lesser venues which could well win the BWAA's “Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Award,” for Fight of the Year.

But because the off-the-beaten-path classics are off TV, and more eyeballs don't take in the back and forth tussle, those epic tradefests, with awe-inspiring action which restores your faith in what makes this sport of ours, the sport to which all others aspire, they don't make the cut. Thankfully, the 2011 Ali-Frazier Award winner, the maniacally spirited clash between two boxing idols, Delvin Rodrigiez and Pawel Wolak, was shown on ESPN's Friday Night Fights, allowing well over a million fight fans to see what it is that separates boxing and boxers from other sports.

When the July 15, Rodriguez-Wolak fight was booked at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, no one foresaw it as a Fight if the Year candidate. The 31-year-old Rodriguez (entering at 25-5-2 with 14 KOs) was seen by pundits and even some of his backers as a boxer at a crossroads, with one foot pointing towards Retirement Road. The Connecticut-based boxer had lost three of his last four fights. The 29 year-old Wolak (entering at 29-1 with 19 KOs), the Polish-born New Jersey resident, was on a severe upswing. He'd won eight straight, five by stoppage. The Polish Jerseyite had a fighting style that matched his personality and lifestyle; he was wide open, no mysteries, squared up. Wolak, who worked his construction job 9-5 happily while edging up the ladder towards a title fight, liked to get dirty during the day. He liked to feel tired limbs and have a hard time scrubbing the detritus of the day when he went home to shower before going to the gym for training; that told him he was giving his all. Same thing in the ring….Rodriguez had to fend the Raging Bull off, stick, move, rinse and repeat for every minute of the ten rounder.

So…this Friday Night Fights main event which turned into the Fight of the Year was of slightly more than moderate interest to fight fans coming in, with many expecting the volume edge and thus the win would lay with Wolak, more comfortable at 154, at the end of the night.

The Roseland crowd provided a dense backdrop of noise virtually the whole way through. Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas called the classic for ESPN, and Teddy sounded like he'd gulped a couple Red Bulls from round one on. “They're earning every bit of their pay tonight!” Atlas enthused during the fifth. One wondered watching live, if it went to the cards, would the judges pay more attention to Wolak's busy hands, as he was throwing more than 100 punches a round through five, or like Rodriguez' selectivity? While I was watching, on the edge of my couch, yelling at the screen, drawing the ire of my wife what with the baby sleeping in the next room, I saw Rodriguez landing the cleaner, harder shots through six. Atlas had Wolak up one point at that time, but there was nothing trainer Fernely Feliz could've said to buck up Rodriguez; he was fighting his face off.

Watchers of this classic likely have an image stamped in their head, that of Wolak's grotesquely swollen right eye. That party favor started puffing up in round seven. “That eye looks like a golf ball!” Teddy shouted. The doc took a hard look at the abomination post-round, as Smoger leaned in, and made his stance known. “It's ugly, but I don't mind,” he said. “How you feelin?” the doc asked. “Good,” Wolak replied immediately, not risking getting the bout halted. “Good job by the doctor, good job by the referee, they know this is not opera,” Atlas said, as the eighth started. It was another tradefest. If you hear a little extra clapping, that's me,” Atlas said after. That round, I screamed at the TV, and woke the baby, and got yelled at by the wife.

“Doc said let 'em roll,” Smoger told the New York commission to start the ninth. The whole crowd stood, the vendors stopped selling their wares, all knew they were present at rare event: two men were putting the entirety of themselves on the line, every ounce of strength and pride, and they were totally suspending their instinct to survive. Winning had superseded survival.

“I have it dead even!” Atlas screamed over the din. The men paused only to take half-gulps of breath in the last, yet another tossup frame. “Was that brilliant? Was that absolutely brilliant?” Tessitore bellowed at the close.

Indeed it was.

The judges did their jobs, declaring the only rightful result: that neither man lost. The Fight of the Year for 2011 was a draw, but all who watched it know that in reality, both men won that night. They showed fight fans the best sides of themselves, and reminded us what the sport can be on any given night.

Wherever their careers go, both men know that their legacy is immense, having taken part in a Fight of the Year. Rodriguez wanted to share some of the glory with some of those other idols, the ones who haven't gotten television exposure and maybe never will.

“The guys who fight off TV, are coming up, they get to TV as hungry fighters, and give great fights,” he told me for this piece. “Many don't get to the position they deserve. But I give thanks to God now I'm starting to get recognition.”

Comment on this article

Articles

2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

Published

on

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.

WATCH RELATED VIDEOS ON BOXINGCHANNEL.TV

 

Continue Reading

Articles

Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

Published

on

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.

WATCH RELATED VIDEOS ON BOXINGCHANNEL.TV

Continue Reading

Articles

2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

Published

on

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

WATCH RELATED VIDEOS ON BOXINGCHANNEL.TV

Continue Reading

Trending