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Viva Morales

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GarciaMorales2 Hogan132Do not weep for them when it ends. If anything, during these final stages of their storied careers, these heroes of the ring serve as stark reminders of one of life’s all too ignored truths: its brevity.

Everything in this world comes to an end, even for guys like Erik Morales.

Don’t think you know better than them either. The men and women who choose the rugged sport of boxing to leave their indelible marks upon have done so with the full consent of their will. It’s what they want to do. Let them do it.

We boxing writers have become fakers of sorts. We fake being appalled by a fighter who holds on too long, yet we look indifferently and uncaringly upon the wake of no-named, no-hopers our hero has left by the wayside on his way to the top of the sport. Poor Erik Morales, we say, for being sprawled out helpless on the floor, made human again by the forceful blow of Danny Garcia.

Let’s be real about this. Morales deserves just as much a chance to fight now as he did when he was young. So does Evander Holyfield. So do they all, those who beckon to dance the painful chorus of pugilism into the twilight of their careers. It’s their right. They’ve benefited from it and so have we. The least we can do is let them finish how they choose.

Erik Morales was one of the greatest fighters who ever lived. He was everything we say we want our fighters to be. He built his impressive resume fighting the very best. He was the epitome of deft skillfulness and willful aggression. He was a man’s man. He was El Terrible.

Now, Morales is old.

He’s a step too slow. His jab has no snap. He can’t get out of the way of punches, and his once feared combinations look like a game of pattycake next to the punishing blows of a 24-year-old like Garcia.

“Time passes,” he said with a look of resignation on this face after being thoroughly outclassed by the young and vibrant Garcia (whose own best case scenario, by the way, is to someday face the same cruel fate of growing old).

In reality, time passed long before Morales noticed it, but it was his right to decide when he’d acknowledge it, and it appears now he has done so. No one told him when he should start fighting. He decided that. Why should we tell him when to stop?

Morales might have damaged his reputation with the loss. Not because he couldn’t simultaneously ward off both a good fighter in Garcia and Father Time, but because he might have turned to a PED (clenbuterol) to help him do it.

Regardless, it didn’t appear to help him if he did, and something tells me it won’t be obsessed upon by historians when it comes time to tell the tale. After all, unlike many of his contemporaries, Morales’ body carries the weight and weariness of age in what appears to be a natural looking way.

However minusculey damaging his last fight may have been to his legacy, something more important has seemed to go unnoticed on fight night. It wasn’t his lack of speed or endurance. It wasn’t his inability to get out of the way of Garcia’s hook or the lack of crispness in the once feared punchers’ fists. No, it wasn’t anything he used to do at all.

No, down on there on the canvas, his head lying slightly askew outside the ropes, his body contorted into a twisted heap of what used to be a fantastic fighter, we saw what probably drove us all to truly love him so much in the first place.

Because faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, where it appeared he had brought something akin to a knife to a gun fight, Erik Morales was still trying to get up and fight when his corner stepped in to stop it.

Viva Morales.

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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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