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Stern View: Ramblings on Last Weekend’s Action and News, from Peterson to Broner

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This last weekend in boxing was notable not only for the fact that there were actual fights on multiple nationwide broadcasts, but also for Lamont Peterson showing he still belongs on the elite stage and is ready again to face elite fighters. The weekend also included a seemingly endless Showtime broadcast whose only notable moments in the ring were emotions shown after the action stopped. In England, David Price proved he was an English heavyweight. In New York, Malik Scott showed once again that judges hate boxing.

The marquee match up of the weekend featured Lamont Peterson, coming off an extended hiatus from the ring resulting from testing positive for drug test, dismantling Kendall Holt and defending his 140 pound belt. Lamont Peterson demonstrated the gulf in class that exists when a world class boxer meets a world class puncher. Peterson, the boxer, flawlessly executed a smartly laid out game plan, stopping Holt, a hellacious puncher who freely admitted to never having a fight plan in the past, in the 8th.

Peterson and Holt both rose from the horrific childhood conditions that exist often unseen, unheard and ignored in all American cities to become world champions. Kendall Holt reportedly bounced around the foster care system from the age of 6 after his mom was imprisoned and his father’s abuse was discovered. Holt’s spotty career in recent years has included him bouncing around from trainer to trainer and manager to manager all the while Holt tried to raise his own son as a single father. Lamont’s and his brother Anthony’s story has been well chronicled. Homeless and raising themselves at the age of 10, the Peterson brothers entered Barry Hunter’s gym in Washington, D.C. and have remained with Hunter since. Barry Hunter, a modern American super hero, has been Peterson’s trainer and manager his entire amateur and pro career.

Fighting in front of a large crowd in his hometown, Washington, D.C., Lamont Peterson started out slow. Content to throw his jab and circle from the outside, Peterson freely gave up the first three rounds in exchange for the opportunity to measure, time and gauge Holt as well as to avoid Holt’s early dangerous power. In these rounds, Peterson, who took some jabs, clearly saw Holt’s heavy punches, ducking Holt’s left hooks and slipping and pivoting away from Holt’s right crosses.

In the fourth, Peterson began to press the action walking in behind his high guard. Peterson applies very smart pressure, always looking for his opponent’s punches, Peterson uses his legs to drop deep in his stance or twists sharply with his waist to avoid punches. Because Peterson does not bend over far at the waist to duck or weave, Peterson is almost always on balance to deliver a counter. Holt began to unravel after Peterson ducked Holt’s mid-range left hook and stepped in with short left hook of his own. Holt backing up from the pressure with his left hand down took a short lead right cross. Seconds later, near the end of the fourth, a hard overhand right lead began the combination that put Holt down. Holt arose to survive the round, but was in no condition to survive the fight.

From that point on Peterson applied pressure and surgically destroyed Holt, who despite pre-fight claims that this time would be different was unable to adjust. Peterson vicious inside game, digging hooks with both hands to the body, coming up to the head with hooks and straights was on full display. Tony Weeks stopped the beating in the 8th.

With his Golden Boy contract secured after the easy victory and with Golden Boy’s rich stable of elite 140 pounders to contend with, Lamont Peterson can return to where he belongs, in the ring with the best in the sport.

On Saturday night, Showtime presented a card from Detroit, MI. Perhaps inspired by Sunday’s upcoming Academy Awards, the Showtime broadcast was long, drawn out and featured middling, but serviceable talent. This was not the Oscar’s, but the Floyds.

In the main event, Ishe Smith defeated Cornelius ‘K-9’ Bundrage for a junior middleweight belt and for the right to be the last standing Contender reality series alumni. Both fighters claimed pre-fight that their opponents would have to kill them to win. Unfortunately, they produced action that made the audience want to die. Not even a reality series slow motion camera, editing and sound effects could have made this fight exciting. Bundrage fought like he was defending the Detroit Unified School District slap boxing championship. Ishe Smith, who does either just enough or not quite enough, did just enough this time to become the first Las Vegas born fighter to win a major title belt. On the undercard, J’Leon Love with a good jab, decent foot movement and but mechanical and slow and pushing everything else, defeated a game, but limited Derek Findley.

What made the broadcast worthwhile was watching Ishe Smith’s reaction to his victory. Smith and Bundrage were 34 and 39 years old respectively on fight night. Boxing is a sport that leaves very few boxers financially secure. Both men may have been better served spending the last 17 years of their lives competing to become plant supervisor. But shift work even with its security does not lend itself to the outsized hopes, dreams and emotions that a career as a prizefighter provides. Upon hearing the decision, Ishe Smith collapsed on his knees to the canvas overcome with tears while still gently cradling his infant child’s head in his wrapped hands. No matter how much fans and writers dismiss the of the plethora world title belts, Smith’s reaction showed the worth these titles still hold to the men who work their whole lives to gain them.

Other thoughts and observations:

David Price proved he belongs in the storied history of British heavyweights when he did what British heavyweights do when hit by large Americans… he fell down.

Floyd Mayweather showed class real class and authenticity in the ring after Ishe Smith’s win. His ease amongst other fighters and the respect they show him bodes well for his future outside the ring – one that may be better served as a mentor and trainer than in the corruptive world of promotion.

Heavyweight Malik Scott joined the array of smooth boxers denied clear wins by judges who lack the ability to see what happens in the ring. Much like Steve Cunningham, Malik Scott is a fine practitioner of boxing as a sport, not the sports-entertainment variety or the self-sacrifice to achieve transcendence in the ring variety of boxing, but of the hit and not get variety.

If you think Showtime’s $250 to 300 million dollar deal with Floyd costs them a lot, it will cost fight fans $360 to $420 dollars over the life of the deal.

Finally, what may have been the best news of the weekend was Adrien Broner revealing in an interview with an ESPN teleprompter that after Ricky Burns he wants to move up to junior welterweight. This is a move that would save those of us who like to see great fighters take on great challenges a year of Adrien Broner engaging in Peter McNeely ‘Cocoon of Horror’ fights where the only thrill is for those fans receiving a vicarious testosterone rush for latching on to Broner.

 

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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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