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Get Ready For Debut of HBO’s Gatti-Ward “Legendary Night”

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LEGENDARY NIGHTS: THE TALE OF GATTI-WARD, AN ALL-NEW INSTALLMENT OF EMMY®-WINNING BOXING DOCUMENTARY SERIES, DEBUTS SATURDAY ON HBO

HBO Sports, winner of nine George Foster Peabody Awards and 33 Sports Emmys® for documentaries, presents a new installment of the acclaimed LEGENDARY NIGHTS boxing documentary series this month when THE TALE OF GATTI-WARD looks back at one of boxing’s greatest rivalries, spotlighting the three-fight slugfest between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward. Blending archival footage and new material shot this summer, the exclusive HBO presentation debuts SATURDAY, OCT. 19 (12 midnigh ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, immediately following “World Championship Boxing: Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov,” which begins at 9:45 p.m.

Other HBO playdates: Oct. 21 (9:15 a.m.), 24 (5:10 p.m., 12:05 a.m.), 26 (11:00 a.m., 4:45 a.m.) and 30 (1:00 p.m., 1:00 a.m.), and Nov. 3 (7:55 a.m.), 7 (9:00 p.m.) and 15 (7:30 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Oct. 23 (6:00 a.m., 10:00 p.m.) and 29 (11:30 p.m., 4:50 a.m.), and Nov. 2 (2:45 p.m.), 10 (8:45 a.m.) and 12 (4:30 p.m.)

The special will also be available on HBO On Demand and HBO GO.

“2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the third fight of the landmark Gatti vs. Ward trilogy, so now is the ideal moment to revisit this classic rivalry,” says Ken Hershman, president, HBO Sports. “This retrospective will offer new perspectives and deliver revealing insights on the two ring warriors who produced this all-time great moment in boxing history. Combined with the ‘World Championship Boxing’ presentation from Denver, this ensures a memorable night of boxing programming on HBO.”

LEGENDARY NIGHTS: THE TALE OF GATTI-WARD revisits the unforgettable three-fight trilogy authored by junior welterweights Arturo Gatti of Jersey City, NJ and Micky Ward of Lowell, Mass. Over the course of 13 months, these two throwback sluggers engaged in 30 electrifying rounds of action, with Gatti winning both Atlantic City bouts (Nov. 23, 2002 and June 7, 2003), following Ward’s dramatic triumph in the opener (May 18, 2002) in Uncasville, Conn. The film also documents Ward’s journey this past June to Canastota, NY for Gatti’s posthumous induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

The first 2002 battle was named Fight of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America, and the three fights have been widely celebrated as one of boxing’s greatest rivalries.

THE TALE OF GATTI-WARD features HBO Sports’ acclaimed blend of new interviews and thrilling fight action, highlighted by previously unseen archival footage and new material shot in summer 2013. All three fights aired live on HBO, featuring the ringside commentary of Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and the late Emanuel Steward on the first and third fights. Lampley, Merchant and George Foreman called the second bout.

In a remarkable twist, Ward wound up being Gatti’s trainer for his final pro fight, against Alfonso Gomez in July 2007. Gatti fought 21 times on HBO in his pro career, while Ward appeared six times on HBO.

Interview subjects include: HBO Boxing host Jim Lampley; boxing commentator Larry Merchant; referee Frank Cappuccino; promoters Lou DiBella and Kathy Duva; Micky Ward and his wife, Charlene; former fighter Dicky Eklund; Gatti manager Pat Lynch; trainer Buddy McGirt; and writer Ron Borges.

Celebrating the most memorable fights in the network’s 40 years of presenting the sweet science, LEGENDARY NIGHTS captured the Sports Emmy® Award for Outstanding Edited Sports Series when it debuted in 2003.

LEGENDARY NIGHTS: THE TALE OF GATTI-WARD is executive produced by Rick Bernstein; directed by Bentley Weiner and Gabriel Spitzer; senior producer, Dave Harmon; creative director, Bill McCullough; editor, Fernando Villegas; writer, Aaron Cohen; director of photography, Thom Stukas; original score composed by Jose Cancela & Amy Beauchamp; narrator, Mark Wahlberg.

Highlights of LEGENDARY NIGHTS: THE TALE OF GATTI-WARD:

On the fighters:

Boxing commentator Larry Merchant: “Micky defined the essence of the journeyman fighter. After all, he was still working as a road grader while his career was going on, but he was a serious prizefighter and he raised his game to a place that few fighters of that type or stripe ever do.”

Gatti manager Pat Lynch: “It’s funny, the first time I met [Arturo Gatti] he told me he was going to be a world champion, which I kind of shrugged off. You know, this young, 19-year-old kid coming down from Canada. Not cocky, but confident.”

Gatti promoter Kathy Duva: “At one point, somebody said he was sort of ‘boxing’s answer to the Grateful Dead.’ You had this same group of people that kept coming over and over and over.”

On the first fight:

HBO Broadcaster Jim Lampley: “I was trying to tell all my friends why this was must-see TV. It was truly an insider’s prizefight. I don’t know how many of the fans who came to Mohegan Sun [for the first fight] that night really understood what they were about to see.”

Fighter Micky Ward: “It’s weird, but I was actually proud of [Arturo]…I know how hard it is to go through that and continue…I can actually say I was proud of him for being that tough.”

On their friendship:

Micky Ward: “Arturo will be a part of me forever. The memories will be in my mind forever. Our fights will be in my head forever. We’ll be linked forever throughout boxing history together. So we’ll be together forever.”

Ward promoter Lou DiBella: “I think they both understood in their own ways the historic significance of what they’d just gone through.”

Kathy Duva: “Somehow the whole became much greater than the sum of its parts. The two of them together created history. Neither one could have done it by himself. But together, they became iconic.”

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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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