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Another Enjoyable Edition of “The Fight Game”

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Fight Game round4 whtReaders, forgive me for being tardy, for letting my DVR back up, for not watching and re-capping and commenting on the third installment of “The Fight Game,” Jim Lampley's magazine news show which ran on Sept. 23.

The host touched on the dueling cards which fell on Sept. 15, both in Vegas, which he pointed out many, myself included, felt would be a dilutive, counter-productive scenario. I had begged–OK, not begged, I will beg for a couple things in life, but this isn't one of them–for chieftains Ken Hershman of HBO and Stephen Espinoza of Showtime to sit down, break bread, drink vino, and agree to trade off fight Saturdays. But it turns out that in this DVR age, the deluge didn't swamp fight fans, or force them to pick and choose between Sergio-Chavez or Canelo-Lopez, but instead resulted in an atmosphere where boxing trended harder in the minds of sports fans, because of the wealth of product available.

Lampley touched on Sergio Martinez' brilliance against Julio Cesar Chavez Junior, noting that the Argentine was far busier against Cheech, throwing 76 tosses a round, than he had been in his previous three outings, when he threw 57 a round. Going in, we heard from Team Martinez that we'd see a different, better Sergio, because he was more pumped to face Junior, than he had been to meet Sergiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin, and that made sense then, and played out as predicted.

Lampley called round 12 of this fight as “round of the year” and dissected the scrap with Roy Jones, who joined him in studio. In a rematch, Jones said that Junior now knows he can take Martinez' best shots, and can put him down. Both men could benefit from the knowledge gleaned in the Sept. 15 scrap. The knockdown and the positive urine test will result in Junior getting more serious, Roy said, going in to a rematch. Would Sergio fight more cautiously next time? Probably, because he won't have the same chip on his shoulder. “Chavez gonna come a lot harder this time,” Jones predicted. “TFG” then replayed the last round.

Lampley then pivoted to the Showtime card, featuring Canelo Alvarez. Lampley right away noted that his foe, Josesito Lopez, was “lesser opposition than he deserved.” He then said that Showtime refused to give HBO footage of that Canelo fight, and busted on that decision, a loss of valuable publicity, he said. Note: I emailed Showtime's Stephen Espinoza to ask for some clarity about this issue so when I hear from him, I will share that info with you all.

Lampley noted that Victor Ortiz and Paul Williams, who'd both been slated to fight the Mexican, were both ringside to watch Canelo-Lopez, and lauded Williams for his heroic demeanor in the face of being paralyzed from that motorcycle accident.

On to the dueling cards, which boiled down to a HBO-Showtime and Top Rank-Golden Boy tussle. Lampley showed that both sides sold ample tickets, and drew a good gate, though the Martinez-led card did better, 16,939 to 12,860, and $3 million to $1.6 million, and also exceeded PPV expectations. Lampley brought on ESPN's Dan Rafael and MaxBoxing's Steve Kim to analyze the busy Saturday night. Kim said that this occasion worked to the benefit of all, but said in the long term, it is a dangerous precedent. Rafael agreed, and said that he doesn't think “anyone wins.” He said fans could have benefitted if they could have attended both shows. He threw a shot at Golden Boy, for not realizing that “they had the lesser fight.” He said “99 percent of the top media guys that I'm aware of, including Steve” were at the Martinez-Chavez card. Lampley asked if any numbers were inflated, and Rafael said ticket sales numbers for the Golden Boy card were regarded with a raised eyebrow, after a release went out touting a sold-out show was found to be flat-out wrong.

Lampley then asked about the pot positive, and how that might affect a rematch between him and Martinez. Kim said that marijuana can cause laziness, but no, it is not a PED. It is an indication that Junior doesn't treat the process of preparation seriously enough.

Rafael said that he will watch the fourth Pacquiao-Marquez fight, but that he'd rather see Pacquiao-Mayweather. Kim said he'd rather see other fights other than the fourth tussle between the rivals, and said it is a shame that Top Rank and Golden Boy's enmity prevents many no-brainer matchups.

Lampley offered up highlights of Gennady Golovkin, who he termed “explosive.” He touched on prospects for Golovkin moving forward, and spotlit Matthew Macklin as a strong possibility for Golovkin. The replay of Macklin going all pitbull on Joachim Alcine looked fearsome.

Lampley then showed Andre Ward in action. He said Junior might bring Ward from Oakland to Vegas, for a PPV payday, but that Ward should fight and beat Martinez first. Martinez, though, is still focused on Mayweather. Ward-Pavlik could occur, the host said. Ward then joined Lampley, via a remote. He said then are not a lot of options now at 168 for him, and that when he moves to 175, he won't go back to 168.

The Gatti List followed Ward. Leo Santa Cruz got a shoutout, but we saw no video of the fighter who might be the “most efficient” boxer offensively today, Lampley said, because Showtime didn't play nice. Next, Jorge Arce, then Victor Ortiz, Vitali Klitschko, Andre Ward, and Canelo “Cool Assassin” Alvarez came next. No video of Canelo, because of Showtime, “Cool Assassin” Lampley noted, lol. Sergio Martinez came next, then Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Brandon Rios, and Mike Alvarado followed. Lampley finished by saying that he is tasked with promoting all HBO fare. The Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka tussle Oct. 13 will be rock-solid, he said, but jaws will drop during the Rios-Alvarado undercard faceoff. Lampley said he wouldn't predict this being fight of the year, but… “You don't ever expect to see Gatti-Ward I or Corrales-Castillo I again. But if you see something like it October thirteen, it shouldn't come as any shock.”

My take: As expected, another tight production, mixing a fast pace, with some information, some drama, some opinion. I'd be more than happy to see “The Fight Game” get re-signed by HBO, only this time, to run once-a-week.

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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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