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“The Fight Game” Recap

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Jim Lampley’s “The Fight Game” unfolded after the Nonito Donaire victory over Jorge Arce in Hoston, and the HBO boxing senior sage put forth a potpourri of issues and topics.

First off, Lampley mulled over the Donaire victory. He asked Roy Jones to hang around the arena, and they re-hashed the scrap. Jones did voiceover while we saw video of Donaire bashing his faded foe, who announced his retirement to Larry Merchant after the KO ending.

The Marquez stunner win of Dec. 8 was then dissected. Jones said Marquez went to the body early to help set up the later work up top. RJJ pointed out how Pacman scored his knockdown, in round five. The last half of round five was show, sans talk, which I found interesting, and almost an artistic exercise. Then, we saw the Mexican’s crackerjack KO. Jones said he was desperate, but not reckless. “What I liked most about it was he continually attacked to the body,” Jones said. The fighter noted that the ten second warning is the most dangerous time in the round, because you can let your guard down.

Lampley chatted with Max Kellerman, and talked about the one that got away, Mayweather-Pacquiao. It would have been big like Ali-Frazier, and the biggest sports clash, period. And, he said, it may still happen. But prime vs prime, “that’s gone and it ain’t comin back.”

Next for Floyd? Max said Floyd would have made more and might have had an easier time with Manny than his potential foes, Canelo and Robert Guerrero. That is irony, for a man nicknamed “Money.”

Lampley talked up the Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado fight, and the Sept. 15 Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr clash, but that one is the runner up as TFG Fight of the Year, to the Marquez-Pacquiao scrap. Lampley segued into the cloud hanging over the bout, the Heredia-PED angle. Lampley referenced the Erik Morales Tweet post-fight which “joked” that the Mexican pharmacy was better. Lampley likes Danny Garcia’s work but said Donaire is TFG Fighter of the Year, because “he committed to random drug testing” as much as for who he fought and beat. Lampley dropped a velvet covered hammer on the lack of testing in the sport. Lampley named Dr. Margaret Goodman as TFG Person of the Year; she now heads up the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency. VADA busted Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto, he reminded us.

Lampley then gave us a Larry Merchant retrospective. We saw him offer a leaden-tongued Ali a ten million dollar check to unretire, and fight him; heard Larry call the Tyson-Douglas shocker; and learned that Larry’s “oh shoot” face is in the iconic photo of Ali standing over a fallen Liston. Larry savaged Shane Mosley, sized up the De La Hoya win over Vargas, smooched Manny Pacquiao, busted on Mayweather, and offered his wish to kick Floyd’s butt. “I guess I thought I’d never outlive Betty White in showbiz,” he said, chuckling, when Lampley asked why he was exiting.

Lampley asked where boxing was when Merchant was being a columnist. He loved boxing always, and the boxing writers, and they turned out to be heroes to him as much as the fighters. And the future of boxing? “It’s more global,” he said, and it is “no longer mainstream”….but there is more of it on TV than ever: It’s “like Broadway, a very lively corpse.”

Merchant offered his Gatti List, an all-time Gatti List, the guys who most made his juices flow. Gatti himself made the cut, and so did Evander Holyfield, and also Bobby Chacon. (he dropped the Warren Zevon-Chacon lyric, which made my night.) Brandon Rios made the cut, a Larry nod to the present, and finally Ray Leonard. “He was a great in all senses of the word,” he said.

“Larry, you have been my editorial conscience for 25 years, I don’t work very well without you,” Lampley said in closing,” don’t change your phone number, Ok? We’ll be in touch.”

“You’ll be the first one to know if it does change. Thank you Jim,” said Merchant.

Lampley posted TFG pound for pound list: Marquez, Donaire, Martinez, Ward and Mayweather is No. 1.

He finished with a word on PEDs. A positive test can wreck a whole date, he pointed out, but that doesn’t mean we can’t test the heck out of the athletes. We have to, in fact; if a PED-aided boxer kills another, Lampley said, the fallout will be immense and catastrophic. Fix it, he implored.

“That’ll do it for this addiction..addition of The Fight Game,” he said in a marvelous Freudian slip I enjoyed quite a lot.

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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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