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Andre Ward Meets Kelly Pavlik on Jan. 26

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LOS ANGELES (Nov. 27) – On Saturday, January 26, World Champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (26-0, 14 KO’s) of Oakland, CA takes on Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs) of Youngstown, Ohio in what promises to be a thrilling WBA and WBC Super Middleweight World Championship Bout.

This event will be the first boxing event at the Galen Center at USC in Los Angeles, CA, home to the USC Trojans Basketball and Volleyball teams. “The layout of the Galen Center couldn’t be better for the presentation of a boxing event and we are excited to host these world class bouts,” said USC Senior Associate Athletic Director J.K. McKay.

When Ward captured his first world championship in 2009, defeating WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler, he went on to challenge three other world and former world champions in his next five bouts. World titleholders Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Chad Dawson all tasted defeat at the hands of Andre Ward. Next in line is the very powerful, former world champion Kelly Pavlik, who promises to take both title belts from Ward.

The co-featured bout has Riverside’s Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) challenging heavy-hitting knockout puncher Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) from Las Vegas, NV by way of Haiti. Both Arreola and Stiverne will put their power on display with the winner guaranteed to fight for the heavyweight world championship in his next bout.

This exciting HBO® World Championship Boxing doubleheader is being presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with Antonio Leonard Promotions and SOG.

The Ward-Pavlik bout will be promoted in association with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc.

“Televising Andre Ward in an intriguing showdown against Kelly Pavlik is a great way to start the new year,” said Kery Davis, Senior Vice President of Programming, HBO Sports. “Combined with the heavyweight showdown between Cristobal Arreola and Bermane Stiverne, boxing fans can look forward to an exciting night of action on HBO.”

An injury earlier this year limited 28-year-old Ward’s activity in 2012 to one fight — a thorough destruction of Chad Dawson in September. Pavlik, 30, has fought three times this year and posted wins (two via TKO and one unanimous decision) against opposition with combined records of 53-6.

“Kelly Pavlik has been determined to get back onto the top of the heap in boxing,” his promoter, Top Rank’s Arum said. “I know he’s ready to give it his all against one of the best champions today. I really believe this will be an exciting, competitive fight.”

“I’ve heard all the talk about Kelly Pavlik, but I know better than that. He’s beaten plenty of the big names,” Ward said. “Bob Arum has done a great job of keeping Kelly busy until an opportunity like this came along. You can bet that a former world champion like Kelly Pavlik, being afforded another title shot…he’s going to be primed and ready. We are going to be ready too and it’s going to be a tremendous show.”

“Andre Ward’s a hell of a world champ,” said Pavlik, who’s trained by California-based Robert Garcia. “He’s the super middleweight king right now. He went through a tough tournament and proved where he’s at. He beat everybody that he was supposed to fight and he’s top dog. When I was champ, I was the one being pursued. Now he’s champ and I’m in hot pursuit.”

“Andre Ward has conquered every challenge he’s faced as a pro and has improved each and every time,” said Promoter Dan Goossen. “He captured Olympic Gold in 2004; emerged from the tournament as a long shot to claim the Super Six World Boxing Classic and won both the WBC and WBA super middleweight titles in the process.”

The Arreola-Stiverne fight shapes up as a bout unlikely to go the distance given the knockout rates of both combatants. Arreola, 31, has stopped all but five of his 35 victims, while the 34-year old Stiverne – whose only loss on his impressive record came more than five years and 11 fights ago — has allowed only two of his 22 conquests to hear the final bell.

The always-entertaining Arreola was thrilled to learn the fight will be in front of his hometown fans, “I’m going to make 2013 my year.” I’m excited to be back on HBO and fighting someone worthy and good in Stiverne. He’s a tough fighter but my will and strength will break him down. I’m not going to let anyone stand in my way!”

An irritated Stiverne, who is trained by Don House, said about the fight with Arreola “It should have been done a long time ago.” “I don’t know what he’s been doing besides running from me. I’m looking forward to the fight. He is a tough customer, but nothing that I can’t deal with. I’ll get the job done. I’m not concerned about a knockout. We have a plan that we want to execute. If the knockout comes, it comes.”

“It’ll be a great fight between Arreola and Stiverne,” Stiverne’s promoter, Don King, predicted. “It’s the next step in bringing the world championship back to America. The fight is a must see.”

“Boxing fans love the heavyweights and we have two of the best and biggest knockout artists in the business going toe-to-toe,” Goossen stated. “Chris is back to full health and in great shape already. He is determined to become the first world heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. But he will not overlook Stiverne who has run over his heavyweight opposition — including former world title challenger Ray Austin — in impressive fashion. It will be a great night of fights at the Galen Center.”

Tickets priced at $300, $200, $100 and $50 (plus fees) will go on sale shortly.

Doors open at the Galen Center at USC at 3:30 pm. The first non-televised bout starts at 4 pm. The two HBO® World Championship Boxing bouts will begin at 6:45 pm.

The event is sponsored by Corona.

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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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