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WBC Watch Auction Raises $1 Million For Pension Fund

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wbc-logoPride, nostalgia and memories have mingled, blended and gelled during these past days: on September 15th, three dramatic, high quality WBC fights, then the unveiling of the monumental statue of Rocky Marciano, created by renowned Mexican sculptors Mario Rendon and Victor Gutierrez. And finally, the presentation of 12 great WBC boxing legends who, alongside quality Swiss watch company Hublot, raised $1 million USD in an auction to establish the first boxing pension to offer a helping hand to former champions who've hit hard times.

On that night, so many exciting and unforgettable memories were recalled because I was witness to the extraordinary sporting lives of these 12 sporting legends. I lived their entire careers and I felt mutual affection, for them all – my idols – whom I consider my children, as I think of all boxers.

Ray Sugar Leonard was the highest bid of the night: $140.000. It was exciting how, starting from scratch, the bids inceased and then surged minute by minute, from one table to the other, until the MC tapped his gavel on the the podium to seal the final and highest bid. Mike Tyson was very close. Also Lennox Lewis, George Foreman and Julio Cesar Chavez, whose watches were each sold for more than $100 thousand USD.

I remember the WBC nominated the great Roberto Duran, who was also honored by Hublot, challenger to the champion Sugar Ray Leonard, and in so doing one of the most thrilling fights in history was accomplished. Roberto Duran was already one of the greatest boxers of all time, and Leonard, for me, one of the 10 greatest of all time. Mike Tyson was just 20 when the WBC gave him the opportunity to face the then-champion Trevor Berbick, whom he knocked out spectacularly, to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history. He then walked all night though Las Vegas with his green and gold belt tightly buckled around his waist.

Lennox Lewis, official challenger, saw how Riddick Bowe tossed the green and gold belt in a trash can at a press conference in London in order to avoid him. The WBC ignored Bowe as champion, and so Lennox fought and won the title to become one of the greatest champions in history.

Also at a press conference with Tyson and Lewis, in a brawl between them and their 20 giant bodyguards, I was knocked down for the first time in my life and seriously injured. But my affection and admiration for both has never diminished.

Joe Frazier didn't want to fight Foreman, the gold medalist at the Olympics in Mexico. The WBC gave Joe 48 hours to sign or he would lose the title. Foreman knocked him out in Jamaica after five visits by Joe to the canvas in three rounds. Larry Holmes, owner of the best jab in heavyweight divison, and for me one of the greatest of all time, fought for the title against the great Ken Norton after the WBC ignored Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks, because Ali refused to face Norton, his official challenger. This was one of the the saddest nights of my life, yet the Holmes-Norton fight was one of the best I've ever seen. When Larry Holmes conquered the title, he went and dived into the pool at Caesars Palace, that was at the door of the arena, with his trunks, shoes and the green and gold belt around his waist.

Julio Cesar Chavez was no favorite of the Mexican press, or any other, to face Azabache Martinez for the WBC super featherweight title. But Julio overwhelmed Martinez to win the title. No one imagined that night one of the most dazzling stars of 300 years of documented boxing was born. JC made 37 world title fights. The immortal Joe Louis occupies second place, but only with 27 title fights. Chavez also fought professionally for 14 years without losing, and 10 years as undefeated world champion, a truly amazing record.

Oscar de la Hoya won his title against JC Chavez. From there he embarked on a brilliant career as WBC champion, to be, so far, the only professional boxer who has sold over 2.2 million PPV in his fight against Floyd Mayweather, also an extraordinary record.

Jeff Fenech and Azumah Nelson, two of the 12 Hublot champions, met up in the ring, and Azumah defeated Jeff. Azumah Nelson is considered the greatest champion from Africa. Fenech undoubtedly one of the greatest of all time spanning the Far East and the Pacific.

In my years at the World Boxing Council I've been priviledged to witness the lion-hearted courage, wonderful skills, the sheer sheen of star quality, and countless other attributes of these boxers who transformed into champions and evolved into legends for their greatness in the ring. They are all 12 of my cherished idols. Truly extraordinary, unnforgettable and historic!

Those memories will indelibly remain with me and so many others, and given meaning to my life.

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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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