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Ivan Robinson, Tyrell Biggs Enter PA. Boxing Hall of Fame

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A two-time conqueror of Arturo Gatti, an Olympic gold medalist, a deceased legend and a world-renowned referee headed the 10-member Class of 2013 that was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.

That brings to 281 the number of inductees that have been enshrined by the Veteran Boxing Association Ring One began staging its Hall of Fame induction dinners in 1968. Sunday’s festivities were the 45th such affair.

Joining Ivan “Mighty” Robinson (pictured), Tyrell Biggs, the late, great Charley Burley and Steve Smoger were trainers Fred Jenkins Sr., John Mulvenna and Norman Torpey Sr., welterweight Mario Saurennann, heavyweight Roy “Tiger” Williams and ring historian Chuck Hasson. Torpey also was inducted posthumously.

Robinson, one of Philly’s most renowned amateurs, was favored to win a berth on the 1992 U.S. Olympic squad that competed in Barcelona, Spain, but he failed to live the dream he had harbored since he took up the sport, at age 5, in 1976 when he lost on a controversial, computed-scored decision at the Olympic Trials. He went on to post a 32-12-2 record, with 12 victories inside the distance, losing his sole shot at a professional world championship when he was outpointed by IBF lightweight titlist Philip Holiday in 1996. But Robinson, 42, probably is best known for winning two epic battles with Arturo Gatti, the first of which, a 10-round split decision on Aug. 22, 1998, was voted Fight of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America and The Ring.

Many fight fans have elevated Gatti’s three classic fights with Micky Ward to a status surpassing even Robinson-Gatti, but those who were there in Boardwalk Hall for Robinson’s signature moments will never forget how he met the ultimate warrior’s fiery resolve with flames of his own.

“I’m pleased that so many people recognize what I did in my fights with Gatti,” said Robinson,who was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in November 2012. “I will always love Gatti. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be as known as I am today. And I don’t (begrudge) Micky Ward for the acclaim he gets for his fights with Gatti (two of which were won by Gatti). They were great fights and he deserves all the praise for what he did.

“My only regret is that me and Micky Ward never fought. I wanted to fight him, he didn’t want to fight me. I guess it was about money; it usually is when a fight doesn’t get made. But don’t get me wrong, I love Micky Ward, too. I’m just glad to be in the mix of fighters who are always mentioned for being in great fights like the ones we had with Gatti.”

Biggs, like Robinson, got only one shot at a world title, losing by seventh-round technical knockout to undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson on Oct. 16, 1987, in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. But Biggs – who posted a pro record of 30-10 with 20 KOs — will forever be known as one of nine American gold medalists in boxing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and as the first-ever gold medal winner in the super heavyweight division, which made its debut that year.

A former high school basketball star, the 6-5 Biggs, who overcame drug problems, works with young boxers at the Mitch Allen Recreation Center in North Philadelphia and is still recalled for his Olympic glory and courageous but perhaps doomed showdown with Tyson, who was then at the very top of his game.

“It’s a good thing to have kids want to, you know, follow in your footsteps,” he said. “When I started boxing, I never thought I’d be inducted into a Hall of Fame of any sort. This is a great honor for me.”

Burley, who was 75 when he died on Oct. 16, 1992, in his hometown of Pittsburgh, was not represented Sunday by any family members. But the man widely hailed as the best fighter never to have fought for a world title – and one of the best ever by many ring historians – was hardly forgotten. Not only was Burley’s smiling face on the cover of the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame program, but “Black Dynamite,” who posted an 83-12-2 record (50 KOs), already had been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, World Boxing Hall of Fame and The Ring Hall of Fame.

Smoger, the third man in the ring for the Lamont Peterson-Lucas Matthysse fight the previous night in Boardwalk Hall, worked his first pro bout in 1984 and he quickly rose through the ranks with assignments in more U.S. states and more countries than any referee in boxing history. Among the notable fights worked by “Double S” are Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones I, Hopkins-Felix Trinidad, Larry Holmes-Ray Mercer, James Toney-Vassiliy Jirov and Andre Ward-Carl Froch.

Jenkins, who since 1976 has overseen the boxing program at the ABC Recreation Center in North Philadelphia, learned many tricks of the training trade from such illustrious predecessors as Milt Bailey, Wesley Mouzon and Quenzell McCall, and put what he picked up into use in helping develop, among others, David Reid, “Rockin’” Rodney Moore, Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown, Marvin “Machine Gun” Garris, Zahir Raheem, Anthony Thompson and current heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings.

 

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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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