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Big, Bad Wlad

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Klitschko does not campaign in the most robust of heavyweight eras. But, as seen here against Saturday's foe, Tony Thompson, Wladimir would be an ace in any era.

He’s six foot seven inches tall and two hundred forty-five pounds of chiseled athleticism. He possesses one of the most effective jabs in the history of the sport, and he’s arguably one of the most powerful punchers of all-time.

His combinations are fast and fierce, and he can end fights in the blink of an eye.

He’s been heavyweight champion of the world for over six years, and he’s won fifteen fights in a row since his last defeat (way back in 2004 to former titlist Lamon Brewster) which he avenged three years later by knockout.He holds every legitimate heavyweight title he can, the lone exception being the one he will not fight for against elder brother, Vitali.

He’s big. He’s bad. He’s Wladimir Klitschko – ruler of the heavyweight universe.

It’s a shame he isn’t more appreciated.

Sure, he’s got Eastern Europe as a dominion of adulation, but American fight fans have been far less receptive to him.

Could it be his sheer size? Is it ingrained into American consciousness to never root for Goliath?

Surely not. Mike Tyson was the biggest, baddest bully on the planet in the early 1980s and he is well loved to this day for it. Similarly, Muhammad Ali would verbally abuse his opponents before shellacking them to submission, and we build museums for the guy.

While not physical giants like Wladmir Klitschko, Ali and Tyson sure fought like giants in the ring. Would either of those guys be considered underdog-types? Besides, big fellows like George Foreman, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe weren’t ignored by the public the way the Klitschkos seem to be either.

Maybe it’s just the era.

Is this heavyweight division one of the best ever? Clearly not. Is it one of the worst? Maybe. Is it easy to dominate and destroy the way Wladmir Klitschko has done over the past six years? Absolutely not. Contenders come and go and not one of them seems to be able to sustain success the way Klitschko has. If the division was that bad, surely someone would have made themselves the clear number three guy by now behind the Klitschkos.

This era is no different than just about any other.

Look back through heavyweight history and you’ll see the same story over and over again. The current crop of heavyweights is never as good as the one from the past. You can dig up Ring Magazine articles of from the 1950s of boxing writers opining for Jack Dempsey while Rocky Marciano was around…and articles in the 1920s of Dempsey’s contemporaries opining for Jack Johnson…whose fans undoubtedly missed people like James J. Corbett and John L. Sullivan.

The heavyweight division is never really dead; it’s just that people always think it is. It’s silly, really.

By most accounts, there have really only been two historically deep decades: the 1970s of Ali, Forman and Joe Frazier, and the 1990s of Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe. Would Wladimir Klitschko be a champion in either of those eras?

More than likely (and despite the uproar of ill will this sentence may elicit from some of our fine TSS readers) the answer is probably yes.

That’s not so say that Klitschko is necessarily better than those guys. Maybe he’s not, but tell me which one of those seven fighters went undefeated. Any of them?

All of them lost (more than once I might add), and all of them were champion at one time or another. Klitschko, who has experienced three losses himself, would likely be the same in any era he fought in.He might not keep the title for six years in those eras, but he’d damn well win it at least once.

Maybe it doesn’t really matter, though. Joe Louis’ “bum of the month club” didn’t keep him out of Canastota, and Wladimir Klitschko’s slim pickings won’t keep him out either. In fact, he’ll likely be remembered, should the 36-year-old champion finish his career out the way most people believe he will, celebrated alongside the likes of The Brown Bomber as one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all-time.

The key for fight fans like you then is to appreciate him while you can.

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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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