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VADA Sponsors Free Health Event to Help Fighters Take Control

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index a86cbDr. Margaret Goodman, former ringside physician for the Nevada State Athletic Commission and founder/president of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), said she’s excited VADA can help offer an educational opportunity to professional and amateur boxers, MMA fighters, trainers and managers.

On Friday, November 15, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada is hosting the health event from 5:45 -8:45 p.m. Admission is free and is being sponsored by VADA as well as the Cleveland Clinic. Program topics will include recognizing signs of a concussion, the effects of repetitive head trauma, maintaining optimal nutrition amidst the challenges of rapid weight loss and understanding performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

“The core mission of VADA has always been education,” said Goodman. “Fighters cannot make an informed decision regarding their health and future if they don't have the facts. Too often fighters are simply told what to do without sufficient explanation.”

Goodman wants to change that. She said education is important for all parties involved in combat sports, but especially to its participants. Moreover, she said young fighters typically don’t have the access they need to educational resources that can help them make informed decisions.

“Not every fighter, especially when they begin their career, has access to experts,” said Goodman. “As a result, they develop poor eating habits resulting in eating disorders, they don't recognize the symptoms of a concussion, they train when they should rest, they have misinformation regarding handling the stress of competition or getting over a loss, or they subject themselves to medications or PEDs that may be illegal and harmful.”

Per its mission statement: “VADA aspires to educate participants, commissions and the public about the risks of using performance enhancing drugs as well as the benefits of utilizing effective nutrition and training practices.” It seems to have found a likeminded partner.

Since 2011, the Cleveland Clinic has examined the cumulative effects of repetitive concussive and subconcussive injuries to the brain in a group of professional boxers and MMA combatants. One of the speakers scheduled to appear, Dr. Charles Bernick, is the Associate Medical Director at the clinic and the principal investigator of the study.

Other speakers include anti-doping advocate Don Hooton, notable sports psychologist Dr. Caroline Silby and training and nutritional expert Jimmy Smith.

Hooton is president of The Taylor Hooton Foundation (THF), which was formed in memory of Hooton’s son, Taylor, a 17-year-old high school athlete from Plano, Texas who took his own life after PED use. It is believed Taylor’s suicide was related to the depression he felt upon discontinuing his use of anabolic steroids. The foundation was formed to provide advocacy against performance enhancing substance abuse by young people.

“This is our foundation’s first opportunity to become actively involved with combat sports,” said Hooton. “But we are hoping that leaders of this sport will recognize and appreciate the importance of our messages, especially as they relate to their young fighters. We hope that they will see the value of having us educate young combatants across America, to help drive the message that drug use will not be tolerated in this or any other sport.”

Another speaker at the event, Dr. Caroline Silby, has a Ph.D. in sports psychology and competed in the 1984 Olympic Trials. She said she was happy to help with the project after speaking with Dr. Goodman.

“I think we are all involved because we want to provide athletes with the best chance for a successful sport experience while simultaneously preventing them from having to experience long-term emotional or physical distress due to their involvement,” said Silby. “When those of us who work with athletes in a variety of disciplines come together to openly discuss with the athletes topics of importance to their performance as well as health and well-being, we create opportunities for awareness and empowerment.”

Smith, a training and nutritional expert, concurred.

“I believe that fighter safety is an issue that continually needs to be monitored and updated,” said Smith, who believes there are safe alternatives to dangerous PEDs.

“I've worked with multiple mixed martial artists from a variety of organizations from the UFC on down,” said Smith. “The topic of natural performance enhancement interests me the most, and it's important to fighters because it will give them the edge.”

Goodman, who has poured her own time and financial resources into advocating for a cleaner sport, said VADA’s mission has always been about education.

“In every career, education is the key,” said Goodman.  “Seminars such as this one sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic is groundbreaking in protecting the fighters in every aspect of their career…It was what I really wanted for VADA: reaching out to fighters and trainers to [help them] take control over their career and future.”

Kelsey McCarson is a boxing writer for The Sweet Science and Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @KelseyMcCarson.

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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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