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Vazquez-Shafikov Tops HBO2 Card Feb. 22

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MIGUEL VAZQUEZ vs. DENIS SHAFIKOV WORLD LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE RUMBLE

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THE RETURN OF CHINESE ICON ZOU SHIMING HIGHLIGHT “RING OF GOLD”

Saturday, February 22 on HBO2® From the Cotai Arena at The Venetian Macao

Olympic Gold Medalists Ry?ta Murata and Egor Mekhontsev

Featured on Non-Televised Undercard

MACAU, CHINA (February 11, 2014) — The Year of the Horse will get off to a galloping start when world championship boxing makes its 2014 debut at The Venetian® Macao's Cotai Arena. International Boxing Federation (IBF) world lightweight champion MIGUEL “Titere” VAZQUEZ, of Mexico, and two-time Chinese Olympic gold medalist ZOU SHIMINGheadline “Ring of Gold,” Saturday, February 22. Vazquez will defend his title against undefeated top-rated contender DENIS “Ghengis Khan” SHAFIKOV, of Russia,and Shiming will risk his undefeated record in an eight-round flyweight bout against the young seasoned YOKTHONG KOKIETGYM of Thailand. Both fights will be televised on HBO2, beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Promoted by Top Rank®, in association with Tecate, the “Ring of Gold” HBO2 telecast will feature Fran Charles handling the blow-by-blow while former world champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Hall of Famer Larry Merchant will add expert analysis and commentary.

Remaining tickets for Ring of Gold can be purchased via Cotai Ticketing; prices start at HKD/MOP 80, with ferry and hotel packages also available.

Rounding out the troika of 2012 Olympic gold medalists will be RY?TA MURATA and EGOR MEKHONTSEV, from Japan and Russia, respectively, in separate bouts on the non-televised undercard. It is exceptional for so many Olympic gold medalists to be featured on the same boxing card. The “Ring of Gold” undercard will also feature former world champion and current No. 2-rated contender AKIFUMI “Sugar” SHIMODA of Japan, in a 12-round Word Boxing Organization (WBO) International featherweight title bout against fellow former world champion MARVIN SONSONA of the Philippines, and undefeated Hong Kong super flyweight sensation REX TSO in a 10-round rumble with MAKO MATSUYAMA of Japan, with the World Boxing Council (WBC) Asian super flyweight and the WBO Asia Pacific junior bantamweight titles at stake.

Vazquez (33-3, 13 KOs), of Guadalajara, México, captured the IBF lightweight title in 2010 when he won a 12-round unanimous decision over Jihoon Kim. Since winning the world title, Vazquez has successfully defended it five times during his four-year reign. Vazquez will be facing undefeated top-rated contender Shafikov (33-0-1. 17 KOs), from Chelyabinsk, Russia. A southpaw with an aggressive style, good skills and movement, the former European junior welterweight champion Shafikov has good punching power and is not afraid to use it.

Zou (3-0), from Guizhou, China, and trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, won his professional debut on April 6, 2013, via a dominant four-round unanimous decision over gritty Eleazar Valenzuela. He followed that up with six-round unanimous decision victories over Jesus Ortega and Juan Toscano on July 27 and November 24, respectively, last year, and all at CotaiArena. One of the most popular Olympic athletes in China, Zou was the world's greatest light flyweight, capturing gold medals in the World Amateur Championships in 2005, 2007 and 2011, along with gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games. He also owns an Olympic bronze medal from the 2004 games, making him his nation's first Olympic medallist in boxing as well as its first boxing gold medallist in the World Amateur Championships and the Olympics. He will be graduating to an eight-round bout when he facesKokietgym (14-3, 10 KOs), of Roi-Et, Thailand. The vastly more experienced Thai enters this fight having won six of his last seven bouts, with two of those victories coming by way of knockout.

Murata (2-0, 2 KOs), from Tokyo, a sensational prospect at 160 pounds, captured the Olympic gold medal in the middleweight division at the 2012 Olympics held in London. It was the first gold medal won by a Japanese boxer since Takao Sakurai in 1964, and also is the first-ever boxing medal in a weight class other than bantamweight or flyweight. The six-foot Murata also became the 100th gold medalist in Japanese Olympic history. He made his pro debut last August, knocking out OPBF middleweight champion Akio Shibata (21-7-1) in the second round. Murata followed up that victory on December 6 with a fourth-round stoppage of David Peterson (13-1). He will be facing battle-tested slugger and one-time world title challenger Carlos Nascimento (28-3, 22 KOs), of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who enters this fight having won 12 of his previous 14 bouts, nine by way of knockout. Their fight is schedule for eight rounds at middleweight.

Mekhontsev (1-0, 1 KO), of Asbest, Russia, won his pro debut on December 4, knocking out Peter Cajigas in the third round. Trained by his father Leonid, Mekhontsev captured the Olympic light heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 summer games and as a heavyweight he won gold at the 2009 World Amateur Championships and the 2010 and 1008 European Amateur Championships. He'll be battling fellow undefeated prospect JaritramAtthaporn (3-0, 1 KO), of Bangkok, in a six-round light heavyweight bout.

Shimoda (28-3-2, 12 KOs), of Tokyo, captured the World Boxing Association (WBA) super bantamweight title in 2011, dethroning defending champion Ryol Li Lee via a unanimous decision aided by three knockdowns. Shimoda's title reign was short-lived, losing his first title defense, to Rico Ramos, six months later. He immediately moved up to featherweight and enters this fight riding a two-year unbeaten streak. Sonsona (17-1-1, 14 KOs), of General Santos City, Philippines, captured the WBO junior bantamweight title in 2009, winning a decisive unanimous decision over defending champion Jose “Carita” Lopez . Sonsona lost the title in his first defense on the scale coming in two pounds over the division limit, against Alejandro Hernandez, though the official decision was a draw. After losing to Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in 2010 a battle for the vacant WBO junior featherweight title, Sonsona returned to the winner's circle and enters this fight on a two-year winning streak with his last two victories coming by way of knockout.

Tso (8-0, 5 KOs), is the Pride of Hong Kong. This will mark his third time fighting at Cotai Arena where he has begun to develop a very big following. In his last bout, on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios event last November, Tso scored a first-round knockout of Susu Sithjadaeng Tso will be facing Mako Matsuyama (7-7-1, 3 KOs) of Tokyo, who enters this fight having won a unanimous decision victory over Masatoshi Nakamura last November. They will be facing each other in a 10-round bout for Tso's WBC Asian super flyweight title and the vacant WBO Asia Pacific junior bantamweight title.

The undercard will also feature local favorite, “The Macao Kid”KUOK KUN NG (2-0), from Macao, China, who will be in a six-round super featherweight and a four-round super welterweight bout, respectively.

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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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