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TSS Gift Guide: “Thomas Hauser on Sports: Remembering the Journey”

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Sorry, Whitey Bulger and Derek Sanderson. Books about those two Boston Bad Boys are destined to stay unfinished for a spell more, because I am deep into Thomas Hauser’s new book, “Thomas Hauser on Sports: Remembering the Journey.”

This is book number 44 for the Manhattan author, best known as a “boxing guy” but someone whose output has ranged from a children’s book to murder mysteries, along with copious sweet science-related text.

I chatted with Hauser, who contributes to TSS, about this book.

Here is a short Q n A.

Q) Why this book now? Tired of boxing?

A) The University of Arkansas Press will continue to bring out my annual collection of boxing articles. The next one will be published this autumn. But I’d written enough articles in other areas for those articles to be published in book form. “Thomas Hauser on Sports” is everything I’ve written over the years on sports other than boxing. In February, the University of Arkansas Press will publish “An Eclectic Mix”, which is a collection of all the articles I’ve written over the years that have nothing to do with sports.

If I had to choose one single entry to read in “Remembering,” what would it be, and why?

Probably “Are Baseball Players Happy?” It deals with an intriguing issue. There’s some interesting underlying data. And it offers an inside look at Marvin Miller. Also, a lot of the articles have a nostalgic theme. For that, I’d recommend “I Could Always Hit a Baseball” and “Destroying the High Temple.”

What book are you working on now, and when will it be released?

My next collection of boxing columns will be released later this year under the title “Straight Writes and Jabs.” Also, I just finished writing a novel about Charles Dickens and am in the process of looking for a publisher.

Hauser is remarkably skilled at boiling down the BS, sifting information, determining what is pertinent and forming into a cogent essence that is digestible to all. His language isn’t flowery, he doesn’t try to bowl you over with the majesty of his phrases. But I have long appreciated the resolve he shows in his reporting, the thoroughness and the diligence contained in his work. I found that in the piece Hauser recommended, “Are Baseball Players Happy?” The writer undertook a project for Sports Illustrated, back in 1982, to try and determine if baseball players were happy, if they were more or less or equally happy as us “regular” folks. Hauser sent out a questionnaire, and got a tremendous response from members of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Then Miller, the head of the MLBPA, reared his head. He put the kibosh on the project and the trove of info didn’t get the widespread attention it deserved, or the followup which would have made it an even more compelling project. That story, and so many more in “Remembering” remind me why I’ve been a fan of Hauser’s work since first becoming aware of it, in the early 90s. He examines human nature and dissects behavior through the filter of sport, which makes the results more palatable than if the same were done in a more clinical way. The result is substantive material, with enough “icing” to make it go down easy.

I recommend the book. Whitey, you will have to wait…

 

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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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