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Grady Brewer Stays Ready

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Fernando-Guerrero-Grady-BrewerBoxing might not exist without guys like Grady Brewer (30-14, 16 KOs). Guys like Brewer stay focused and ready to fight anyone, anywhere, and they’re good enough at their craft to win fights no one thought they could.

Sure, it’s the one-percenters in the game who get all the accolades and attention. Those guys live off the fat of the land and reap enormous benefits the likes of which only the wealthiest of the wealthy are able to understand.

Even more, when it comes time to enshrine into Canastota the best of the era, the same thing will hold true: those who benefited the most during their time in the sport will also be the first (and likely only) ones served by the voters. It’s like that in every sport.

But make no mistake, the kings of the boxing world (the ones who come to the rings with their “posses” and hangers-on shouting ridiculous things like “money team”) don’t have what they have without guys like Grady Brewer.

I caught up with Brewer last weekend after his recent bite fight win over Giorbis Barthelemy. We talked about his career and what he still hopes to achieve at the ripe old age of forty-one.

Brewer was born in 1970 in Lawton, Oklahoma. If you know anything about boxing, it’s that almost nobody in boxing is from Lawton, Oklahoma.

Like most successful pugilists, Brewer picked up the gloves early. While other kids in the early 1980s were enthralled in silly things like the mythology of Star Wars, Brewer was lacing up his boxing gloves at the tender age of eleven to participate in the manly art of fisticuffs.

Brewer made a name for himself at his local Boys Club. He won 40 fights as an amateur including the Oklahoma Golden Gloves, but he didn’t see himself as a professional fighter until much later in life when he won a local toughman competition.

“I started when I was young,” Brewer said. “I was doing it for trophies and fun.”

Brewer didn’t become a professional boxer until he was twenty-nine years old. When most fighters are reaching the pinnacle of their careers, Brewer was just getting started.

At first, things started as well as he could have hoped. He won his very first fight by first round knockout, but the victory party would not last long. After starting out undefeated in his first five professional fights, Brewer lost in his sixth to journeyman Jesse Gonzalez (a guy who lost his next three straight to other guys you’ve never heard of).

It was an auspicious start for the fighter who would one day be crowned on national television a contender.

Things didn’t really get any easier afterwards either, but Brewer knew he found what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to be a professional prizefighter.

”I started to enjoy it even more then – the glory of it. I love boxing. I love it.”

Brewer’s ninth professional fight was against future middleweight world champion Kelly Pavlik. He was knocked out in just two rounds.

There would be nine more losses on his ledger between 2001 and 2006 against a mixed bag of opponents. For every loss to a notable name like Jermain Taylor or Peter Manfredo, Jr., there were multiple head scratchers against has-beens and never-weres.

“I took some fights that I didn’t have time to train for, so I lost maybe one fight or two because of that,” Brewer said of those days. “I know I would’ve won those fights had I had the proper time to train. I know that in my heart.”

Despite the grimness, Brewer remained undeterred.

In a sport like boxing, a fighter’s career can be devastated by just one loss. After three or four, a fighter might not ever be seen or heard from again (at the world level at least). Sure, he can find fights here or there on riverboats and Indian casinos, but any semblance of a legitimate boxing career flies right out the window. Eleven losses on a fighter’s resume are nails in a coffin.

Grady Brewer’s career was all but over, but then, somehow, it really started.

Being cast on ESPN’s reality television show, The Contender: Season Two, turned out to be just the opportunity Brewer needed. Likely brought there by the producers to just be an opponent, to round out the group, Brewer came out on top of an impressive field that included future world titlists Steve Forbes and Cornelius Bundrage.

“It definitely turned my career around,” Brewer said about being on the show and winning the tournament. “From that point on, I felt like losing just wasn’t in the equation for me.”

Brewer’s career took off after that. He rode an eight-fight win streak all the way to 2010 when he ran into formidable contender Erislandy Lara. Lara won by tenth round TKO, so by 2011 Brewer was once again written off as just a competitor. He was then matched up against undefeated prospect Fernando Guerrero to be just that, but knocked the young up-and-comer out in four rounds.

Perhaps it would have been fitting to end his career at that point, but Brewer chose to fight on. He lost his next two fights but has now won two in a row, including his IBO Inter-continental junior middleweight title win this month over the aforementioned disqualified Barthelemy. Brewer plans to continue his career and aims to prove his naysayers wrong.

“I’m just looking to either defend it or fight a world champion,” he said. “It’s whatever comes next. I’m ready for whatever.”

Brewer knows the opportunities can come from nowhere. He’s seen it before, and he knows how to capitalize. When asked about his chances of securing a big fight, Brewer’s approach is the same he’s used his whole boxing life. He said he was still as driven as ever (if not more) and knows what he can still do if given the opportunity.

“My chances are as good as anyone’s,” he said. “My thing is to just stay ready.”

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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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