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THE POSTFIGHT BREAKDOWN: Bute-Grachev

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ButeAndrade2 Greenhill 2aHaving just watched the Lucian Bute-Denis Grachev fight, here are some of my observations.

Firstly, I thought the fight was quite close. I don't think Grachev quite did enough to deserve the decision, but I don’t see how anyone could have scored this fight 118-110 in favour of Bute either. To be honest, I wasn't that impressed with Bute. Sure, he boxed well at times against a limited opponent. However, I thought he was looking to land his left uppercut too much which lead to him not throwing the jab enough. This is why Grachev was able to close the distance every time he came forward. Bute should have been circling counter clockwise behind his jab, away from Grachev's right hand and looking to land his straight left. Instead, it was Grachev who always managed to get his lead foot on the outside of Bute's which put him in position to land his trailing power hand.

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Notice how Grachev’s lead foot is always outside of Bute’s lead foot as he’s throwing the right hand. This is the golden rule when facing a southpaw.

Grachev didn't bother throwing the jab much himself. He didn’t need to. Because Bute was standing side on without using his right hand, Grachev was able to close the distance nearly every time he came forward.

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Notice how Bute’s right hand is redundant -low and not in any position to defend or attack. A good jab may have blunted Grachev’s advance. Instead, as Grachev comes forward, Bute doesn’t provide any resistance and Grachev can get inside easily without having to throw a jab himself.

Bute spent too much time standing there with his right hand below his waist looking to land his uppercut from behind his right shoulder, obviously in an attempt to disguise the blow.

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The jab is the most important weapon for any fighter against a pressure fighter. Bute didn’t use it nearly enough.

Bute's best moments finally came in the 12th round, when, you guessed it, he began circling counter clockwise along with throwing his jab and straight left hand.

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With his back to the ropes, Bute throws a jab, followed by a straight left, before exiting on the blind side of Grachev. This is what Bute should have been doing the whole fight.

More from the 12th round.

Bute throws a right jab followed by a left straight.

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Denis Grachev isn't a bad fighter at all. Yes, he carries his hands low and he looks rugged at times but he's got a good understanding of positioning and he's also very effective at avoiding shots by moving his head at the last moment as he works his way inside.

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Notice how Grachev slips a rare Bute jab as he’s looking to close the distance.

Once inside, Grachev throws short, crisp punches. I felt as though Grachev could have gone to the body more when Bute was up on the ropes but apart from that, he did most things pretty well.

I think it's safe to say that Denis Grachev is better than what Bute's handlers had previously thought before the fight.

As for Bute, I'm not so sure. He was too predictable at times with the left uppercut. There were too many periods during the fight when Bute wasn’t using his right hand much at all. I know he's constantly looking for left hand counters, but you can't do that without first being creative with the lead hand, otherwise you run the risk of allowing your opponent to walk you down. Bute should have been setting things up behind his jab along with shoulder and head feints. Apart from the jab, the right hook of Bute didn’t feature enough either. Again, had Bute used his jab more, then he would have not only had a better chance of keeping Grachev from pushing him back, but his left hand counters would have been better disguised also. Maybe it was just me, but I thought Bute seemed like he was lacking in confidence too. In the past his left uppercut has looked like dynamite. Last night, I thought he seemed hesitant in fully committing to the shot as it definitely lacked the speed and snap that it used to have.

Going forwards, there's talk of a rematch with Carl Froch. Being brutally honest, I saw nothing from Bute last night that makes me feel a second fight would look any different from the first. In fact, I'd go as far to say that Froch would likely take Bute out even sooner next time. There's no way Bute will ever be able to hang with Froch if he continues to neglect the jab and throw nothing but left uppercuts without first setting them up. Also, I'm not 100% confident in Bute's punch resistance anymore either. Grachev didn't seem heavy handed to me but every time he landed clean, Bute seemed hurt and headed to the ropes. As we all know, once Bute has his back to the ropes, he doesn't seem to know how to defend well in that position.

Lucian Bute's far from finished as a fighter, but he can no longer be considered among the elite anymore. There are some out there that have never considered Bute among elite. Maybe he's been overrated all along? Looking at his last two fights, this could certainly prove to be the case.

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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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