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The King of Khan

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KhanGarcia Hogan38When Danny “Swift” Garcia stopped Amir “King” Khan at 2:28 of round number four on Saturday night, his life changed forever. No more the undefeated but unknown titlist whose best win to date was over the aging Erik Morales in a nip and tuck affair for a title belt Morales was practically handed by the WBC in the first place, Garcia now has to be considered one of the best fighters in the world.

Let that sink in.

It was a spectacular win for the 24-year-old WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine junior welterweight champion. It appeared from the onset that he would be outclassed by the sharpshooting Khan, but a perfectly timed left hook changed everything in the blink of an eye.

It was that devastating punch in the third round that took the steam out of Khan’s fists and made his legs too rubbery to be effective. Garcia followed it up to his advantage to send his opponent back down to the canvas twice more in the next round before referee Kenny Bayless determined Khan had suffered enough.

It was an absurdly impressive performance for a fighter who, although being young and undefeated, had yet to really move the needle for pretty much anyone outside Garcia’s immediate family. That has most assuredly changed now.

Danny Garcia is a likeable sort. He’s humble but confident, and he puts up with the antics of his father in a way that befits unassuming nice guys everywhere who know their embarrassing family member is off their rocker but loves them anyways. He’s just one of those guys who’s easy to like.

More importantly, though, he’s damn good fighter.

Garcia isn’t remarkable at anything really, but he’s solid at what counts most. When Khan was peppering him with fast and furious shots in the first two rounds of the fight and even caused a cut over Garcia’s right eye in the second, he remained poised and ready to strike. Garcia remained calm under the intense pressure and showed focus where others might panic.

Khan was darting in and out with nary a consequence early on in the fight. At times, he was making Garcia look slow and borderline amateurish. So much so, in fact, that when the good natured Garcia came out of his corner in the third to pat gloves with his opponent in a gesture of sportsmanship, HBO analyst Max Kellerman opined on the psychology of what it could mean.Surely, Max reasoned, Garcia was beginning to concede that he was being bested by the better man, right?

Wrong.

Garcia kept punching when it seemed like things were not going his way.He did it the way a sweet scientist should do it, too. He didn’t just abandon his game plan and start trying to hit homeruns with every punch. He didn’t forego the subtleties of timing and placement. He used a measured and calm approach that’d make any pugilist proud.

Even when he had Khan stumbling around punch drunk and ready to go in the third and fourth rounds, he kept enough composure to avoid the brave fighter’s return fire. Meanwhile, Garcia kept sending back punishing potshots until his foe could take no more.

In another one of the apt Kellerman’s soliloquies Saturday, he talked about how maybe Amir Khan was too old school for his own good.Basically, he argued that Khan was the busy type of fight-anybody-anywhere-boxer fight fans used to see during boxing’s golden era.

Maybe Max is right. Khan has been the kind of fighter (at least inside the ring) that fans can really get behind. He fights tough fights and doesn’t seem interested in “gimme wins” like less noble competitors of the trade. Boxing needs more guys like that.

There is something old school about Danny Garcia, too.

He doesn’t have that athletic flair we’ve come to expect from boxers these days. He isn’t blindingly fast. His foot speed is made even less exceptional by his apparent lack of hand speed. He’s got decent power but no one will confuse him with Joe Louis anytime soon. His defense is decent, but he eats too many punches per round to be considered anything more than average.

Simply put, Danny Garcia is no phenom. In fact, there is seemingly nothing at all that is really that impressive about him except that he keeps winning.

Garcia stays true to the fundamentals of the sport, though. When he sees openings to punch, he does so with vigor and enthusiasm, and he never gives up. It’s likeable, it’s commendable and it’s the oldest trick in the book: fight brave and smart.

Danny Garcia isn’t a superstar. He doesn’t have any big time endorsement deals, and a report from the arena last night suggested the crowd at Mandalay Bay was something like 90% in favor of the fighter from across the pond.

But Danny Garcia is a legit force in the sport now. He blasted out in four rounds a fighter who many (including the fighter himself) had proclaimed the king of the junior welterweight division. In fact, before the fight Khan’s people were insinuating a date with pound-for-pound kingpin Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was on the horizon for their guy next, but the only fighter to leave the ring in Vegas with the possibility of anything like that was the undefeated (and no longer unheralded) junior welterweight champion of the world, Danny Garcia.

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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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