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Will We See Sergey Kovalev-Bernard Hopkins?

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Did you see Sergey Kovalev do his thing on Friday night, on NBC Sports Network, on a Main Events card?

The guy looked like a bit of a beast, a hammerfisted terminator type who seems like the sort who could fight 50 rounds, and would come after you looking to knock your block off in every minute of every round.

OK, he wasn’t fighting Bernard Hopkins, he was fighting Houstonian Cornelius White, a man whose best win is over Yordanis Despaigne, and who lost to Don George in 2011 (TKO1). Nevertheless, you didn’t have to be the sunniest of optimists to watch Kovalev and like his upside, a lot.

So when word came down that the IBF talked about it, and decided to install Kovalev as their No. 1 guy at light heavy, and order, or ask, IBF light heavy champ Bernard Hopkins to fight the Russian-born boxer in a mandatory title defense, I was kind of pumped.

Who wouldn’t like that scrap, seeing if the 48-year-old Hopkins could defuse another bomber, if he could render someone Pavlik-d once again? Kovalev would be an immense step up from Karo Murat, who was set to be Hopkins’ mandatory defense on July 13, before visa issues made it impossible for him to come to Brooklyn from Germany, and scrubbed the whole card.

So, will Hopkins take the challenge? He was keen to do as the IBF requested when his mandatory was Murat; Kovalev is a different animal. Will Hopkins still see that belt as a needed bargaining chip, an enticer, a door opener? Or does he see Kovalev and think, Nah, I’m ageless, but not crazy. That guy isn’t the right style for me right now.

I reached out to John David Jackson, the ex junior middle and middleweight champ who trains Kovalev, and used to work in Hopkins’ corner, as well.

“It’s on Bernard,” he told me. “Does he want the fight? Probably not. But if he wants the title he has no choice. Will he take the fight? From a warriors’ perspective I think he’ll take it, what other options does he have?  If he vacates then his bargaining chip is no longer there. From a danger point of view, it’s not the fight he wants, but at this point he can’t pick and choose.”

What about Nathan Cleverly, I asked. He doesn’t have the pop Kovalev does and while he’s a volume guy, Hopkins might rather try his luck with the man from Wales who holds the WBO 175-pound strap. JDJ agreed that Hopkins might pick that route over the Kovalev avenue. I think he knows how Hopkins thinks…the ex champ sparred with Hopkins starting in 1990, and was in his corner from the 2006 Antonio Tarver fight until the 2010 Roy Jones fight. Oh, and he took on Hopkins, in 1997, and dropped a TKO7 to the Philly ace. Jackson fought just twice more after that.

“Other than (late long-time trainer) Bouie Fisher I know him better than anyone,” Jackson said. “He’s always been good to me, I have nothing but respect for him.” So, would he take the Kovalev fight if he were Hopkins? “I don’t want to see Hopkins get hurt, he hasn’t had a real hard fight in years. Kovalev is a lot different. He punches in bunches. Hopkins can’t go against this man, this young gun, he doesn’t have the ammo to keep him off of him.

“Hopkins picked the right guys recently, Pascal is nothing to brag about, Chad Dawson beat him, and he beat Tavoris Cloud, hats off to him…but his best days are behind him.”

So, what would Kovalev do to Bernard? Knock him out? “I can see that happening, but I think it would be stopped before that,” the trainer said. “I have no ill feelings toward Hopkins, I don’t want to see him get hurt, but this is the business were in. You see young versus old and he’s the old now.

 

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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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