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Next For Prodnikov Could Be Demarco, NOT Rios

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Ruslan Provodnikov is a VIP, a very important fighter, in the grand scheme of things.

No, not because he fights in a fan-friendly manner, one easy to digest and appreciate by the mass of boxing fans. But more so because he is Exhibit A of what can happen if you keep on soldiering, keep on gloving up, saying yes to fights while becoming a mainstay on a Triple A field, like ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights.”

Provodnikov (23-2) looked to be the sort who’d always have a home on ESPN, but would only likely get called up to the bigs, to HBO or Showtime, as a B side assignment to boost the record of a future star.

And if the 30-year-old is not a “star” now, he’s darn sure on my short list of boxers who I keep track of, and want to know when they’re fighting next, and against who. That said, I checked in with Ruslan’s promoter, Arthur Pelullo.

He told me that a planned Provodnikov-Brandon Rios faceoff is all but dead, and that instead, he’s keen on having The Siberian Rocky glove up June 14, probably against Antonio DeMarco.

He said that Bob Arum, who is co-promoting Ruslan’s next fight, because he got an option to do so based off Provodnikov’s faceoff against Timothy Bradley, in the 2013 BWAA Fight of the Year last March, is down with DeMarco. “But HBO won’t do it, they want to wait for the results of the Thomas Dulorme-Karim Mayfield fight on March 29. They’d like Ruslan to fight the winner.”

Pelullo doesn’t love that plan and would still like to convince HBO to go with his and Arum’s plan. “You never know how things come out, we don’t want to wait,” he said. “It’s a terrible thing to wait. What happens if someone gets cut or hurt in the Delorme-Mayfield fight, and can’t go forward? There are a lot of variables.”

Ruslan last tangled in October, when he stopped Mike Alvarado in Colorado, Alvie’s home turf, and took the man’s WBO title.

As for the Ruslan-Rios pairing, Pelullo said that Rios’ past scale fails make him too much of a wildcard. “Unless Rios makes 140, it’s dead,” he said. Rios has said he’d be willing and able to do that, but Pelullo isn’t buying it. He said that Arum, Rios’ promoter, cannot ensure that Rios can make junior welter. “I can’t take that chance with Ruslan’s career,” said Pelullo, who is counting down to Saturday, when his boxer, Brayan Vera, fights Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a rematch, on HBO.

Pelullo said that coming off two losses in a row, having tested positive for a banned substance in his last bout, against Manny Pacquiao, Rios is more trouble than he’s worth. “I don’t need that craziness in my life,” he stated.

UPDATED THURSDAY AM: Brandon Rios checked in with me, standing up for himself. He said that Pelullo isn’t in his life, so he’s not suitable to judge the degree of lunacy therein. “There’s no point talking about this fight because it’s not going to happen,” Rios said. “Yes, I can make 140, Bob don’t know what he’s saying. And it’s funny because his manager is still talking like I was the one that wanted this…Ruslan Tweeted me and said that he would like to fight me.”

My take: I like to see fighters who are willing to fight five times a year, guys like Provodnikov, do so. Waiting to see the other shoe fall often results in nothing but delay. How about Provodnikov fight ASAP, and then get the winner of that Dulorme-Mayfield tiff?

Regarding Vera and Junior, Pelullo is hopeful that we don’t see a scale fail from Cheech on Friday. The contracted poundage max is 168, he said, and Junior will have to pay out a chunk, which Pelullo wouldn’t disclose, if he is over. The promoter said he’s been seeing promotional footage of Junior wearing plastic to shed water weight, so he’s a tad bit worried. And what would he do if Junior was several pounds over? “It would be up to Vera,” he said. “But I’d tell him not to fight.”

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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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