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Meet Jennifer Han, of the Fighting Han Family

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Han in wraps in blueDown in the west Texas town of El Paso, you can be sure Jennifer Han (8-1-1, 1 KO) is hard at work perfecting something. It’s what she does.

Jennifer is a college graduate, a national champion in various styles of martial arts, a former professional kickboxer, a reality show star, and (oh, yeah) a boxer.

Don’t let her various interests confuse you. She’s been exceptional in all of them, including what TSS readers might find most important–six amateur national championships in a decorated amateur boxing career where she was also part of the inaugural USA women’s team.

Almost any professional prizefighter you talk to for more than a few minutes will likely make you feel like a lazy bum, but none of them to the extent this super featherweight might. She’s smart, successful and, perhaps most importantly, determined. Case in point, in her last fight, a win over Kita Watkins, she forced herself to gain ten pounds in four days so the typically 127 pound Han could fight someone tipping the scales at over 140.

Han is well known in her hometown, but it’s probably time people outside of it start recognizing her too. She comes from the fighting family of Hans, consisting of herself and her younger siblings (two brothers and two sisters) along with their parents, who own and operate a martial arts studio.

Her younger brother, Abraham Han, is an undefeated middleweight prospect Top Rank seems to be excited about, and Jennifer is now training with him in an official capacity (the two have trained together for years) under New Mexico’s Louie Burke, whose also trains TBRB’s 7th ranked competitor at junior middleweight, Austin Trout.

“He’s been an amazing coach,” she said. “He’s changed his whole schedule for me. I train with him in the morning along with my brother and Austin, and then they continue in the evening. He’s been really great.”

Jennifer told me she wasn’t sure Burke, who had never trained a female fighter before, was interested in training her at first. She said she had lots of opportunities to be around him because of his work with her brother, and that they had even worked a corner together which might have been the linchpin in the deal.

“I look forward to see how much I improve under Louie,” she said.

Jennifer told me she was used to training with her brother. She said her entire family trains together all of the time and that though only she and “Abie” were professional prizefighters, it didn’t matter. It’s what they did as a family, and it’s what they’ve always done.

Jennifer is the cheerful sort, but not in a silly way. She’s warm and friendly, and she seems the kind of person who genuinely loves her life. She was especially excited this week because she just found out she was going to be fighting on Top Rank’s October 27th fight card in El Paso. The televised portion of Azteca America’s broadcast will feature Takalani Ndlovu (33-7, 18 KOs) against Alejandro Lopez (23-2, 7 KOs) and her brother, Abraham, will fight on the card as well.

“My brother and I haven’t fought on the same card since my pro debut, so I’m really excited. We’re going to rock El Paso!”

It can be difficult for women fighters to get enough fights to stay active. I asked her about her experience and she was quite candid in her response.

“In general, it’s difficult to get matches, especially if you don’t have a promoter,” she said. “I’ve been matched up with fighters multiple times only to see the fight fall through! This year is kind of a slow year…but things are rolling now.”

Jennifer told me she loved her time as a professional kickboxer, but she said she’s found more opportunity in boxing. She expects even more opportunities to open up for women fighters now because of the tremendous success of women’s boxing in the Olympics.

“It was awesome! You saw the sold out venues and how exciting all the fights were. I was so happy and so proud. I was so amazed and excited to see Claressa Shields win the gold! I think the success in the Olympics will definitely propel women’s boxing into the future. I stayed amateur so long waiting for it, but I didn’t really think it was ever going to happen. Every time [it was considered] it got shot down!”

Jennifer enjoyed her own tremendous success as an amateur boxer, but she said the move to the professional ranks was the right move at the right time for her, even though this debut was the only one of her ten bouts she lost.

“After that fight, I think I had to make some adjustments to fit into the professional,” she said. “I thought I had won, but I was probably fighting too much in the amateur style. But I’ve made those adjustments and I love the professional ranks.”

Whatever the adjustments were, they worked. She’s undefeated since then with eight wins and a disputed draw on her ledger. Now, she says, she’s ready for the next step.

“I don’t know when, but that is what I am preparing myself for,” she said. “Who fights just to win? I want to be a world champion in boxing. God willing, I’ll get that opportunity soon. I’m 29 years old and I’ve put the work in.”

With her track record, it’s hard not to believe she’ll get it done.

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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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