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Free Advice For All Boxers: BE BUSIER THAN THE OTHER GUY

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Feel free to dismiss this as the unasked-for advice of a mere keyboard tapper if you wish, but this bit of “wisdom” goes out, once again, to all the pro boxers and trainers the world over.

If you want to give yourself or your guy the best chance to win a professional boxing match, I urge you to throw more punches than your opponent. Notice I didn’t say land…I said throw.

Yeah, I know, top grade, Ivy League, stop the presses type counsel. But it bears repeating…

Once again, my mantra, Be Busier, came to mind, on Saturday, when Zsolt Erdei had some decent moments in Monaco against Denis Grachev, but lost a split decision. Why? If you had to boil it down to a bitter syrup to swallow, it’s this: Grachev was the busier man.

I watched the bout, which was on a card topped by Gennady Golovkin’s demolition of Nobuhiro Ishida, on Wednesday morning, at the urging of Erdei’s advisor, Greg Leon. The Bronx-based dealmaker called me Tuesday, asked if I’d seen the bout, and told me he thought his guy had gotten the shaft. I told him I’d watch the scrap, a ten rounder, and part of a four-man mini-tournament of super middleweights/light heavyweights.

So I did, and I got the gist of the faceoff within a few rounds. By round six or so, I’d have guessed that if the punches were tallied up, Grachev, formerly a kickboxer, threw more than twice as many punches as the 38-year-old Erdei, a Hungarian hitter entering with a 33-0 record. Round after round after round, Grachev was the first man to let his hands go when the bell rang to begin a round, and time again, he’d set and fire, re-set and fire, re-set and fire multiple times before Erdei would let his hands go once. Did Erdei slip and block a boatload of those launches? Sure. But without the benefit of super-slo mo, I couldn’t tell you what percentage landed. Thus, I had to guesstimate, same as those three judges did in Monaco. And I’d rather be the guy throwing more than the guy throwing less, especially if maybe two or three clean, hard, showy shots are landing each round.

In the first,  Erdei conceivably could have won with defense, slipping and ducking, but the Russian Grachev might have thrown more, and might have won that way. In the second, Grachev (12-1 entering; age 30) threw a stiff counter right, hurled several power shots through first two thirds of round, and was just plain busier. Grachev won with volume in the third, by coming forward, not being screamingly effective but by just being the busier man. Sometimes he missed badly but was pushing the fight forward, sending the message to the judges: I want this more than the other guy, do the right thing, reward me.

The fourth looked perhaps even, but Grachev was the busier in the first two thirds, while Erdei landed a few power punches in the last third. He showed the quicker hands, and had an accuracy edge, but just needed to throw more.

In round five, Grachev was busier, same as in the other rounds. Erdei was looking like he was in sparring mode most of the round. The sixth looked even or maybe Grachev got the nod.  Grachev started the round off by throwing first. Erdei scored several cute, quick counters, especially left hooks, but the volume edge went to Grachev.

In the seventh, Grachev was a bit more aggressive, and nothing showy was landed by either man, but Grachev won by tossing more. In the eighth, Erdei was too often throwing a single shot. He’d throw an orphan jab. His right cross might have been the single best shot of the round; that happened a few times, Erdei landing the best power shot of the round, which likely helped him immensely on the cards.

In the ninth, it was  Grachev with the steady pressure, nothing showy but busier. In the tenth,  Erdei was busier in the first half of the round, but then drifted again. He might have landed the two best power shots of round but, yep, broken record time, he wasn’t as busy.

After watching, I felt kind of bad, but I’d told Leon I’d give him straight talk after I watched. On Wednesday early afternoon, I called him, and told him I thought his guy hadn’t been shafted. To the contrary, I thought the judges were quite kind to Erdei. Phil Verbeke gave Erdei the nod, 96-94, while Stanley Christodoulou and Terry O’Connor scored it 96-94 for Grachev.

I noted that it is quite likely that in person, up close, the power of Erdei made more of an impression than it did on video, so I wasn’t going to label my near shutout for Grachev the last word on this faceoff. But back to my main point…in every damned round, Grachev threw more than Erdei. That might have something to do with the fact that Erdei had last fought in June 2011 and had been rehabbing a few injuries. And my guess about the volume looked solid; it turns out CompuBox tallied the bout, and their numbers were posted on Boxing Scene. Grachev went 147-828, to 146-427 for the loser. Right, Grachev threw 401 more punches than Erdei. Maybe our friends at CompuBox could satisfy my curiosity, and crunch the numbers, and tell us how often the guy who threw more won the bout.  My guess is a heavy majority of the time.

Leon was quite gracious as he listened to my take, and talked about what he’d like to see next for Erdei. He’d love to have his guy go back to Monaco, for the tournament final card, on July 13. Grachev will fight Edwin Rodriguez, who beat Ezequiel Maderna (UD10) to reach the climax fight. Erdei could fight Maderna, and if he wins, Leon says, he could do a rematch with Grachev, or face Rodriguez if he beats Grachev.

So, was Erdei rusty? “Oh yeah, I think he lost form after round six but I thought he won it with the tenth round,” Leon said of Erdei.  He hurt his jab hand in round six, Leon said, but he had his guy a 96-94 winner.

In other news, Leon said that Jean Pascal is meshing nicely with Angel Heredia, the trainer-supplement advisor who has done wonders with Juan Manuel Marquez. Leon advises Pascal, the Montrealer who fights Lucian Bute on May 25 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

“They’ve sold over 15,000 tickets already,” he said. “Jean is in Vegas with Angel training and he’ll be sparring in a couple weeks. He’s confident he’s ready for Bute.
It’s the  biggest fight of his life, the winner is the clear cut superstar in Canada.” There is a rematch clause, Leon said, and a WBC diamond belt will be up for grabs.

And so has Heredia whipped up some stellar supplements for Pascal, to help his stamina or strength? “I haven’t talked with Pascal about specifics,” Leon said. He will learn more about the training regimen in a few weeks, he said.

Another client, vet Allan Green (32-4), will be on that Bell Centre card, taking on 12-0 Eleider Alvarez, a Colombian banger who makes Montreal home.

Another in the Leon stable is Joachim Alcine (33-3-1), who takes on a new Eddie Hearn signing, Brian Rose (22-1) on April 20. Alcine wants to rebound off a K01 loss to Matt Macklin on Sept. 15.

 

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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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