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Meet Prospect Gabino Saenz

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Saenz Wesby 110709 001aFeatherweight prospect Gabino Saenz is excited about his opportunity to appear on the untelevised undercard of HBO World Championship Boxing’s Timothy Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov card. The 23-year-old is undefeated and hopes to make a statement.

“It’s definitely a privilege to be on that card,” Saenz (seen puting down Qunice Wesby last July, in photo by Chris Farina) told TSS. “I’m honored.”

Saenz will take on Cesar Valenzuela (3-1-1, 1KO) this Saturday night in what should be a showcase for the young slugger’s skills. He said he was thrilled to be getting such solid exposure in his young career, and credited promotional company Top Rank for making it happen.

“I really feel like they care for their fighters,” said Saenz.

Ditto, he said, of manager Cameron Dunkin, who has equally high hopes for his fighter.

“Gabino is a very exciting fighter,” Dunkin said. “He comes to fight and has tremendous power, especially with the left hook, and he can box. He’s got a lot of skill and balance, but his punching power is what really stands out.”

Dunkin discovered Saenz while the fighter was racking up a 137-12 amateur boxing record in California.

“I knew about him for a long time in the amateurs – he had a big name. He had an outstanding amateur career – he won the National PAL twice, he won the Desert Showdown several years in a row, the Blue & Gold. He did very well.”

Saenz has enjoyed similar success thus far in his young professional career, but the fighter said he was glad to have faced a little adversity already just eight fights in. In 2012, Saenz earned a draw against Gil Garcia and a majority decision win over DeWayne Wisdom. While Saenz said both he and his handlers believe he had won each fight handily, he also noted the positives of being put in tough spots early on in his career as it could pay dividends later. He said he considers each a positive experience that will help him move forward.

The fighter said he liked to keep his approach inside the ring simple.

“I just have to outwork the person,” he said. “It’s the hurtin’ business. I’m trying to hurt them every round. If the knockout comes, it comes.”

Saenz has been trained by his father, Gabino Saenz Sr., and Ray Bradley, father of light welterweight champ Timothy, since he was just a boy. The fighter said him and his dad enjoyed a close relationship and that his dad had been his coach in just about everything he’s ever done. When asked how the father-son dynamic played out in the corner, Saenz said it was different than most other father-son boxing tandems in the sport.

“It’s a blessing. Our situation is different. He’s not the type of father who wants it more than I do. He’s really supportive. I know a lot of fathers want it more than their sons and it’s not like with him. My dad wasn’t a boxer or anything like that. He’s just supportive of everything I do.”

Saenz also said he has enjoyed a close relationship with the Bradley family. Ray Bradley, he said, has trained him since the fighter was twelve years old. He likes the combination of Bradley and his father in the corner, as well as the bond he’s built with undefeated welterweight titlist Timothy.

“It’s a good combination. It works really well. I’m proud to have them in my corner.”

Saenz is equally proud of what he does when he’s not boxing. The fighter is employed by the city of Indio and is the director of the Teen Center's boxing club, so when he’s not in the corner as a fighter, he said, he’s in the corner as an advocate, trainer and friend of the city’s youth.

“I’ve always had a passion for the youth,” he said. “I’m still pretty young so I can relate to them. The bond you make with them goes beyond the ring. It’s great to make those relationships and help somebody out.”

Saenz finished up his talk with TSS with an eye towards his immediate future. He said he wanted to stay busy in 2013, and he hopes this Saturday’s undercard will put him on the map with HBO’s TV execs.

“I’m looking to stay pretty busy. Cameron says there are a lot of Top Rank shows coming up. I can’t put anything ahead of this next fight. I take things one fight at a time. Top Rank is the best in the business so I’m pretty sure they’ll guide me on the right path. I just do what I do. I train to fight.”

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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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