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Mendez Wants To Render Judges Obsolete on Jan. 3

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DEERFIELD, Fla. (December 19, 2013) – International Boxing Federation (IBF) Junior Lightweight World Champion Argenis “La Tormenta” Mendez (21-2-1, 11 KOs) has vowed not to leave the outcome of his January 3 title defense against No. 1 mandatory challenger Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs), airing live on the 2014 ESPN Friday Night Fights season opener, in the hands of the judges.

Mendez, fighting out of Brooklyn (NY), will make his second world title defense against Barthelemy at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 2004 Dominican Republic Olympian learned an invaluable lesson in his first world title defense, fighting a controversial 12-round draw with Arash Usmanee last August, in which most observers felt Mendez clearly won, on the first event ever presented by his promoter, Iron Mike Productions (IMP).

“I definitely learned that, when you’re in the ring,” Mendez explained, “you have to give it your all. Sometimes, what you and our corner think isn’t what is going through the judges’ minds. Honestly, I don’t know what fight the judges saw. There was no way that bout was a draw. Unfortunately that fight wasn’t the first time this has happened to me. I’ve been robbed twice before, once in Denver (vs. Jaime Sandoval), and the other time in Mexico (vs. Juan Carlos Salgado). I knocked both guys down during our fights. Now, I’m more determined to get in there and be more aggressive to make sure there is no doubt that I am the winner. I’m definitely not going to leave it to the judges. I know for sure that I’m going home with my title.”

The irony of the Jan. 3rd fight is that Mendez’ head trainer for the first time is two-time world champion John David Jackson, who used to be Barthelemy’s head trainer. Also, Barthelemy also was a controversial winner in an IBF eliminator for the No. 2 spot over Usmanee, in which the large majority felt Usmanee was robbed. Unbeaten Cuban-born Barthelemy then knocked out Fahsai Sakreerin (39-3-1) on June 21 in an official IBF title eliminator to earn his first world title shot versus Mendez.

“John David Jackson has been great,” Mendez remarked. “He’s definitely been teaching me how to be more aggressive, throwing more punches and improving my power. He’s great strategizing and together we have worked out a great plan for this upcoming fight. Along with Jackson, I also have former two-time world champion (IMP stable-mate and fellow countryman) Joan Guzman in my corner. I doesn’t get any better than that! I have two world champions in my corner helping me prepare for his fight. In addition, Jackson trained Barthelemy in for his previous two fights. We already have the blueprint, my job is to go out there January 3rd and execute.

“I really think Usmanee won his fight with Barthelemy and that’s why I gave him the opportunity in August to fight me for the world title. I honestly thought that he was the better fighter.”

Mendez finds himself in the rare position of being the headliner on an ESPN Friday Night Fights show to conclude one season and then come right back to kick-off its next year of programming.

“I plan on expanding my fan-base by headlining both the finale and premier of the ESPN boxing season,” Mendez concluded. “Everyone is getting a chance to see what I bring to the tale and why I am world champion. I would like to thank the entire ESPN family for giving me the chance to prove myself to the boxing world. The support ESPN has given me is incredible. I play on repaying them by having an exciting title match that will have all boxing fans on edge. Hopefully, my upcoming bout will bring bigger and better opportunities for me.”

The first 2014 installment of ESPN Friday Night Fights on Jan. 3 is being presented by Iron Mike Productions, Seconds Out Promotions and Warriors Boxing. Tickets are priced at $35, $65, $100, $150 and $250 and are available at Target Center’s Box Office, online at AXS.com or by calling 888.9.AXS.TIX (888.929.7849). Doors open at 6 p.m. ET, first bell 7 p.m. ET, and the ESPN broadcast starts at 9 p. m. ET.

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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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