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AC Has Seen Some Heavyweight Action

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MANSOUR-PRICE CONTEST RECALLS LONG TRADITION OF ATLANTIC CITY HEAVYWEIGHT BOUTS

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Amir Mansour and Kelvin Price

Photo Credits: Larry Levanti/Main Events

Atlantic City, NJ-When Amir Mansour and Kelvin Price step into the ring Saturday evening, Dec. 14, to face each other in the 10-round main event at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City (NBC Sports Network Fight Night, 8pm ET), they will keep alive a long tradition of outstanding heavyweight boxing at this seashore resort.

Heavyweight veterans and prospects fill the rest of the seven-bout card. Among them: former IBF cruiserweight champ Steve USS Cunningham, of Philadelphia, PA; unbeaten David Rodriguez (36-0, 34 K0s); of Mexico, first-timer Andrew Peurifoy, of Sicklerville, NJ.

It's a chance for these men to show off their ability in a city which has played host to some of the biggest heavyweight fights and fighters in the sport's long, storied history.

Atlantic City's heavyweight boxing heyday, which peaked with Mike Tyson's one-round destruction of Michael Spinks in 1988, goes all the way back to 1921 when heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey came here to train for his July 2 title defense against Georges Carpentier, of France. Their outdoor fight at Boyle's Thirty Acres near Jersey City drew more than 80,0000 people in a makeshift stadium and produced boxing's first Million Dollar Gate. Dempsey won by knockout in four rounds.

Dempsey returned to train here in the summer of 1926 for his Sept. 23 defense in Philadelphia against Gene Tunney, of New York. That fight, which Dempsey lost by decision after 10 rounds, drew a record crowd of 120,757 in a pouring rain at Philadelphia's Sesquicentennial Stadium.

Not much major heavyweight action took place in Atlantic City until 1973, when former WBA champion Ernie Terrell, of Chicago, was judged the loser after 12 uninspiring rounds against Chuck Wepner, of Bayonne, NJ. In those days, the referee was the sole arbiter and when Harold Valan raised Wepner's hand at the end (his scorecard read 7-5 in rounds for Wepner), he was chased by Terrell's trainer Sam Solomon, who went after Valan with the scissors he used to cut the bandages from Terrell's hands. It remains one of boxing's most dubious verdicts.

When legalized gambling came to this resort in 1978, so did televised boxing and the casinos jumped into the mix, each one trying to stage the biggest fights for their high rollers.

Nearly every major heavyweight boxer of the last 30 years has appeared here, beginning with a pair of 1983 title defenses by Larry Holmes against Scott Frank, of Oakland, NJ, and Marvis Frazier, of Philadelphia. Frank lasted five rounds but Frazier never heard the bell for round two.

In a comeback early in 1988, Holmes was blitzed by Tyson, then a feared slugger, in four rounds.

Other heavyweights champions who boxed here include Evander Holyfield, whose 1991 war with George Foreman was a classic, as well as Tim Witherspoon, Buster Douglas, Riddick Bowe, Pinklon Thomas, Lennox Lewis, Michael Dokes, Ray Mercer, Hasim Rahman, Chris Byrd, Bruce Seldon, Bonecrusher Smith, Greg Page, Oleg Maskaev, Leon Spinks, James Toney, John Ruiz, Michael Moorer, David Bey, Oliver McCall, Tony Tubbs, Roy Jones, Jr., Francisco Damiami, Shannon Briggs and Tommy Morrison.

Some of them boxed here on their way up, some on way down, others in title fights.

The last official heavyweight title fight here was June 2, 2007, when Briggs lost his WBO belt to Sultan Ibragimov after 12 less-than-scintillating rounds at Boardwalk Hall.

Current champ Wladimir Klitschko, in his only fight here, got off the floor twice to outpoint Samuel Peter in 2005 at Boardwalk Hall.

In addition, a slew of outstanding heavyweight contenders appeared here, including Andrew Golota, Gerry Cooney, Carl “The Truth” Williams, Tex Cobb, Razor Ruddock, Alex Stewart, Jesse Ferguson and David Tua.

With those giant footsteps to follow, there is no doubt both Mansour and Price, as well as the rest of Saturday's card, will put forth their best effort to make Atlantic City heavyweight boxing proud.

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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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