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World Series of Fighting 4 Features “Bo Jackson” of Combat Sports on Saturday

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BURBANK, CALIF.-The world’s best kickboxers led by Tyrone Spong and Ray Sefo are bringing mixed martial arts to Southern California.

Yes, you heard it right. MMA.

A roundtable of fighters gathered in Burbank on Tuesday, literally right next door to the studios were President Barack Obama was visiting. The World Series of Fighting organization scheduled a lunch but had no idea the most powerful man in the world was barreling through with an army of Secret Service agents and law enforcement officials.

Sefo, Spong, Nick Newell and famed Cuban boxing trainer Pedro Diaz arrived at Morton’s Steakhouse in Burbank to discuss WSOF 4 that’s taking place Saturday Aug. 10, at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. NBC will televise.

It was an informal gathering of fight writers and fighters at the famous eatery where ironically UFC holds a lot of their press luncheons.

Spong, the multi-talented fighter in various combat styles spoke at length about his interest in not only MMA and kickboxing, but also in professional boxing. He’s now being tutored in boxing by the great Cuban trainer who also works with world champion junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux and heavyweight contender Odlanier Diaz.

One of the fight writers called Thong “the Bo Jackson” of combat sports because of his ability to participate and excel in various fight regimens.

“I consider it a real honor,” said Spong about the label. “I want to accomplish something that I think is special.”

Spong (1-0) is tangling with Angel Deanda (11-2) an MMA fighter from Northern California. Don’t be confused by his record. The fighter from Suriname has more than 70 fights and more than one world title.

Growing up with several sisters and his mom, Spong was forced to be the protector of the family though he was quite young and small. Then he grew.

“Cause I was so small, I took no s*** . I had pretty sisters. I was defending their honor,” said Spong who now weighs more than 200 pounds.

Now Spong lives in Boca Raton, Florida and trains in every aspect of fighting. The different fighting sports do not confuse him.

“I’m a good actor,” Spong said. “I can see something and copy it.”

Despite a language barrier Diaz and Spong work daily on his boxing.

“He’s the best boxing trainer in the world,” says the kickboxing champion. “He’s a perfectionist.”

There’s only one drawback…getting up at 5 a.m. every morning is a Diaz requirement.

Ironically, one of his heroes growing up was Sefo who was well aware of Spong even before he was a champion.

“When I first met him (Soong) in Holland it was an honor for me,” Sefo said. “I only heard good thing about him. He was 18 or 19 then.”

Sefo is the president of WSOF but he stepped down to prepare for his 101st and final fight in the U.S.

“To be honest, the first four weeks of training were really tough,” said Sefo who dropped nearly 20 pounds since training began. “Anything can happen no matter how ready you are. I put in the time and put in the sacrifices.”

Opposing the multi-champion and member of the Hall of Fame will be Dave Huckaba (20-5), an MMA fighter with a reputation for striking.

“We’ll play it by ear,” Sefo (2-1) says.

Newell, a former wrestling standout, will also be on the card and is anxious to perform against Keon Caldwell, a former The Ultimate Fighter participant.

“I watched every show,” Newell said.

And speaking of the President. Newell says he once spoke to the Chief.

“Well, I got a text from him,” Newell said.

Others on the fight card are Tyson Griffin vs. Gesias Calvalcante, Jorge Santiago vs. Gerald Harris, Marlon Moraes vs. Brandon Hempleman, and several other bouts.

Doors open Saturday at 4 p.m. at Citizens Business Bank Arena with ticket prices all $29.

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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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