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Kelly Pavlik Takes It One Day At A Time

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Pavlik Sigmon weighin 120607 002aPavlik at weigh-in before last bout, against Scott Sigmon. His team is wise; they are putting him back in right away, not wasting time, helping to keep him focused on boxing, to minimize the possibility he drifts. (Chris farina-Top Rank)

Bias alert: I root for Kelly Pavlik. I identify with the kid, with some of the jackpots he’s been involved in, some of the choices he made to kill time, and numb emotions. So it is mildly worrying to hear the Youngstown native who has transplanted to California to re-start his life and boxing career become slightly defensive when asked the question that basically anyone who has followed his career, from prospect coming up the hard way, to middleweight champion, to sliding ex champ battling personal demons and Johnny Law wants an answer to: are you sober?

“Right now I am in training,” he said on a conference call to hype his July 7 bout against New Yorker Will Rosinsky, on the undercard of the Nonito Donaire-Jeffrey Mathebula in Las Vegas. “You see people mentioning the last couple incidents, but that is a three-year-old question. I will talk about my fight coming up and the opponent I am fighting.”

Fair enough. Man wants to concentrate on the task at hand. Actually, he deserves props for not giving in to the media pre-occupation with dirty laundry. Over the decades, we have lost a clear understanding on what is news, and what is gossip, and Pavlik is basically telling us, when he refuses to offer his sober date, that the answer is personal to him, and should be labeled gossip to us, and is thus none of our business. Fair enough. But whether Pavlik is heading out to bars, or sitting in his apartment sipping brews after training, or in between fights, does bear asking, I’d argue, because when he is in a place where he is sober, is understanding that booze does him no favors, and is not his friend, but is actually a demon disguised, Pavlik has a chance to get back to the top of the mountain. This time, he will try to do so at 168 pounds.

Now, I hear on the grapevine that Pavlik is indeed behaving himself, focusing on training fully, and it looked that way two weeks ago, when he busted up and stopped Scott Sigmon on ESPN.

Promoter Bob Arum was asked if the boxer can get back to his 2008 form. It’s probably no coincidence he used some rehab-speak in his answer. “He was on a roll in those days and it was one success after another,” Arum said. “We hope to replicate that now. Let’s see how he does in this fight – we expect him to do well and then we are going to step him up to a much bigger fight in his next fight in the fall. But it’s one step at a time.”

Manager Cameron Dunkin says he too is optimistic Pavlik can get back to where he was. “I agree, just take one fight at a time,” he said. “This presented itself and it really showed me a lot about Kelly and his character. He jumped right on this fight in five minutes. There wasn’t even a question whether he wanted this fight.” (Some will recall the fiasco from last summer, when Pavlik pulled out of a scheduled bout with Darryl Cunningham in the 11th hour, leaving Showtime, Top Rank and ticket-buyers on Ohio high-and-dry. It wasn’t clear then if the kid wanted to do the boxing thing, so Dunkin has to be happy his guy is re-committed.) “It’s just the drive he has in him and how much he wants this again and that was just like the old Kelly. Kelly would just say to me ‘make the fight, make the fight,’ whoever it was. ‘Let’s go and I’ll take care of it.’Let me tell you, his skills are better than they’ve ever been. The stuff he does with his jab now and his hands are up. I just see so many basic things that he is doing now that he’s never done in his career. I look to see a great Kelly Pavlik again – as good as or better than the first one so that is what I’m looking forward to.”

OK, the kid doesn’t want to reassure folks that he’s put a cork in the bottle, but he does seem to have his head on straight regarding his near future in the ring. “I am ready for the big fight now,” Pavlik (age 30; 39-2 with 34 KOs; fighting third fight under trainer Robert Garcia) said. “I have been pro for 12 years now. I have been in the ring with Taylor twice and Hopkins and Miranda and Martinez – we’ve got our fights in and it has to be after this fight the big fights. On July 7 we have a game kid in front of us so I can’t even think about that right now. We’ve got to take care of business Saturday or we won’t be worrying about any of that.” He singled out Carl Froch—good choice, I think, an action fight is guaranteed, and Froch isn’t someone a sniper with a massive hand and foot speed edge over Pavlik, who has probably slipped a bit in those departments—as someone he’d like to target. He also mentioned Lucian Bute, and I think that’d be a great comeback for Bute, to see if he can get his head screwed on straight after being mugged by Froch. Pavlik is also impressed with Andre Ward, and would like a crack at him, he said.

Readers, weigh in….Where do you see this Pavlik comeback going? Back to where he was in his heyday? Or has something been lost, never to be regained? Will he maintain his focus, or slide off the rails? Could he beat Froch, Bute and/or Ward? Go to the Forum, and discuss.

Remaining tickets for The Home Depot Center’s Donaire / Pavlik World Championship fight card, priced at $100, $50 and $25, can be purchased online at AXS.com or by phone at 888-929-7849 as well as The Home Depot Center Box Office (open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).Suites are available by calling 1-877-604-8777. For information of group discounts, please call 1-877-234-8425.

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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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