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The Death of Boxing

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Someday there will just be rumors of fights, stirring legends from long ago, shadows on the wall. Children will disobey their parents to sneak into forts with furniture for pillows and walls made of bedspreads. They’ll tell stories using flashlights as microphones.

“Do you believe in dragons?” they’ll ask with mischievous smiles.

“How about ghosts and goblins and trolls?”

And what of times gone by? When giants walked the earth? The times when heroes mastered them? The times when fair maidens unfurled their gorgeous locks as rope to men who yearned to prove themselves? The times when men road beneath rail cars from town to town to settle scores?

“Where have all our heroes gone?”

Some will ask of Leviathan. Others, of a myth called boxing. Oh Modernity, we celebrate you!

The age of Leviathan, by the way, has already long passed. There are no more whaling adventures, at least not for the lot of us. That kind of romantic barbarism was part of a different age. While it still happens on the fringe, it is now frowned upon by society. We are far removed from such cruelty, such danger. We live a life on land, safe and warm in our beds a night. Our thermostats are set to still and quiet comfort. Our pillows are soft and fluffy. Our hearts and minds shiver at the threat of danger—nay, the mere thought of something uncomfortable. We are wildly timid.

The sea is too great for us. Too mysterious. We worship the safety of predictability. Our digital lives are far too important to shatter amid the rocks of impending shores. We find safe harbor among the crags of fluorescent flooded cubicles. The sound of the sunless beams sooths us. It is the low hum of a pacifier.

Our deaths will likely be quiet. So very quiet. We find meaning in small things, terrifyingly miniscule in their depth. We read and think in 140 characters or less. We fill our hearts with science, a system of thought that presupposes everything in our world is measurable.

Our minds are empty, save for all the things we want to see and buy and eat and wear and consume or all the things we want to yammer on about just so other people can hear us. We must do as the television tells us. We must obey existentialism. We are today.

Ah, but the drums! There is still a faint beating in the distance. Can you hear it? It’s unlike anything I’ve heard before, except that I know I know it. I’ve read of such sounds and wonders in the world of the past. They are legends from long ago, the kind Edgar Allan Poe wrote about before his body turned back into dust:

Keeping time, time, time, in a sort of Runic rhyme,
to the tintinnabulation that so musically wells,
from the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells
– from the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Is this the fleeting sound of boxing?

Boxing is for only a few souls now. Fewer still tomorrow. The age after, it will be on the fringe, like whaling. It will happen, but no one will hear of it anymore. The age after, it will be gone altogether. Then, it will become history. After history, legend. After legend, just a myth. After myth, the world will die.

But there are still some now who tarry on, some who admit with their eyes a soul more barbarous than they’d like. In Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Ishmael is one such as these. Whenever he feels the seduction of savagery in his soul, the tug of malice, whenever he yearns to knock the cap off of a passersby for no reason but to see it fall to the ground, it is then that he heads to the ocean. Not as a passenger, but as a traveler.

Call me Ishmael, too. Call all of us so. We frail few, the last remnant watchers of boxing, as we march ever toward our destiny, singing melodies from long ago in observance of an old time ritual called pugilism. No matter the drum has faded, no matter the bells have stopped ringing, we keep marching on in time. Can you hear it in the distance? It has gone ever faint now; slowly receding from the front pages of the paper, there now to the middle, again now just a blip on the back page, and now into the slippery recess of cyberspace.

But we still tarry along, soldiers of a soulless age, movie extras who believe we might be the star of another show, but too afraid to lose what we have in this one to find out if it’s true. As the week goes on, as the numbness of modern life slaps us back down to our depravity, we listen for sounds of the past. They are almost gone now, but not yet forgotten, not yet forgotten, not yet forgotten. Boxing is dead, maybe, and we are its ghosts. But we rise from our graves on Saturday nights. We float in ethereal space. We are alive. We will be alive forever. Because someday there will just be rumors of fights, stirring legends from long ago. We will be part of that story, the wraiths, bit players in a bigger story than anyone could have hoped for, a legend more intriguing with each retelling.

Wherever we are when boxing is no more, whether we are dancing with the angels in heaven, twisting with demons in hell or emptying ourselves into a bottomless oblivion, we will be better off for having lived the life we chose. And those who tell the mysteries of our day, the one’s we know by heart, will be better off for it, too.

Yes, boxing is dead, maybe, but it doesn’t know it yet. And we won’t admit to you either.

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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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