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UPDATED SAT. NIGHT: Rodriguez Can’t Make Weight For Andre Ward Fight

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UPDATED ON SATUDAY AT 6 PM:
Edwin Rodriguez stepped on a scale Saturday morning, and was 179.8, under the maximum of 180 pounds which was the mandate of Team Ward, and agreed to by Team Rodriguez on Friday, after the Mass. boxer was two pounds over the super middle limit of 168. The fight was a go at that point, though another potential hurdle popped up, when a story soon after appeared on BoxingScene.com. The story said Team Ward, represented by Ward attorney Josh Dubin, was demanding that the WBA champ Ward be compensated for being at a weight disadvantage as is stipulated in the WBA rulebook.

“The Association may may penalize any boxer who fails to make weight by imposing a monetary fine, and demoting or suspending the boxer,” it is stated in portion A in Section 9, Failure to Make Weight, of the WBA rules book. The stipulations further read that the boxer who doesn’t make weight “shall forfeit 35% of his purse.” That percent is upped to 45% of his purse if the fighter who doesn’t make weight refuses to try and make weight.

Some thoughts on this matter: We don’t know if Rodriguez tried to make weight, after failing on the scale Friday, so we don’t know if that 45% figure could or would be put into effect. Also, the WBA rules also make clear that specific contractual language set up by the principals can supersede their regulations about missing weight and the penalty for the same. I am not privy to any language in the contract which speaks to this situation, so we can’t assume the WBA rules should or shouldn’t be imposed here.

And, as I read it, when the WBA puts forth that “the Association MAY penalize any boxer who fails to make weight…” that also means that they may choose NOT to impose a penalty. So, if indeed Dubin and Team Ward tried to hold to what Dubin said to Boxing Scene, that “Andre Ward is not going to step in the ring tonight if the WBA isn’t going to apply their rules,” well, I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me the WBA has inserted into their rules book wording to give them wiggle room in a situation like this, and I don’t see how Dubin and Ward could hold to that threat and be on firm ground. But as I said, I’m no lawyer, so it’s probably best for the F. Lees to delve into that side of the contretemps…

A person close to Team Rodriguez told me late this morning that there would be no further trimming of Rodriguez’ purse, beyond the 20% cut that was chiseled off, and half dispensed to Ward, and half to the California commission. I actually think that 45% cut sort of make sense, in this sort of deal, as I think there should be a severe penalty for guys who don’t make weight. The penalty should be painful, and act as a dissuader, and it is arguable whether a $200,000 penalty on a $1 million purse acts as enough of a deterrent to the action which diminishes the sport as a whole.

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Reason-defying scorecards, boxers behaving badly, getting snagged for domestic beefs, scale fail shenanigans—this boxing, this theater of the unexpected, keeps on keeping us keyboard tappers busy with unplanned detours into un-needed drama. The latest chapter unfolded on Friday in the late afternoon, when Massachusetts super middleweight Edwin Rodriguez weighed in two pounds over at the weigh-in ahead of his Saturday clash in CA against Andre Ward. He was given time to get to 168, but couldn’t and wouldn’t attempt the late-innings cut. Thus, Rodriguez’ purse was docked 20%, $200,000, and even if he beats Ward, he cannot lay claim to Ward’s WBA title belt. Additionally, the fight itself will be cancelled if Rodriguez weighs more than 180 pounds during an AM weigh in. His promoter, Lou DiBella, was left none too pleased. Ward (26-0 with 14 KOs) made weight, coming in at 167.8. He said after that he was surprised Edwin was over, as he talked so much trash coming in, and you’d expect him to be on message across the board in that case. Ward at the Thursday presser busted on the Dominican-born Rodriguez for starting out camp too heavy. You can imagine the look Rodriguez gave weigh-in emcee Rob Schneider (ex SNL) when the comedian says, “There’s some tension already building, you can feel it” right before E-Rod hopped on the scale.

Truth be told, Rodriguez looked shell-shocked after the debacle.

The scrap will screen on HBO.

“La Bomba” had made 168 for his March contest in Monaco against Ezequiel Maderna (UD10 win), and was 171 3/4 for his last bout, in July against Denis Grachev (TKO1 win). The 28-year-old had been telling people “this is my time” leading up to the scrap, and his attitude had made believers in a handful of fans, judging by a scan of social media. The 24-0 hitter, who boasts 16 KOs, doesn’t have a single best win that leaps at at you when you inspect his resume, but DiBella and ex manager Larry Armey had done a solid job getting him to this point. A person close to the promotion told me that Rodriguez did the sauna in the morning, and wasn’t able to shed a drop of sweat. And, I asked, can we assume he won’t go over 180 Saturday morning? “That’s the plan,” the insider said, with grim humor. I’m guessing trainer Ronnie Shields will be tasked with keeping room service away from E-Rod’s room this evening.

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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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