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Greg Brady Gets The W On Niagara Falls, NY Card

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Greg Brady put a hometown exclamation point on the first pro fight card in a long time in the Buffalo area with a second round dismantling of the previously unbeaten Joel Shojgreen on Thursday night at the Niagara Falls Convention and Event Center.

Brady won his fifth straight fight by kayo and improved to 5-1.

Ever since the Nick Casal and Ruslan Provodnikov ESPN-televised fight card that fell apart unexpectedly in 2012 after Casal was victimized in a brutal golf club attack that put his skull all over the internet, at least two other fight cards have been announced only to be quietly unplugged. A similar fate seemed destined for Nick Casal’s final return to the ring when both headlining bouts fell through this week due to Casal’s and Vincent Arroyo’s out-of-town opponents not gaining medical clearance.

Promoter Mercedes Vazquez-Simmons pushed the show on forward nevertheless and was awarded with a surprisingly good, if abbreviated, show and an appreciative crowd.

Even with the cancellations and mind-numbing deep freeze, turnout was not as big of an issue as expected. (Three ways to know how cold it is: 1. The wall of ice at the bottom of the American Falls is almost three-quarters as high as the falls, 2. My car said it was 8 degrees without the stiff western wind, and 3. the ring girls looked like a different species with the South Beach attire.)

Maybe I arrived too late, because the only press seats available happened to be in a cloud of eau de ring girl. Thirty minutes after the official start time, there was maybe 300 paying customers in the hall with more trickling in when the lights went down for the night’s inaugural bout between two women, marking an unmistakeable contrast of femininity with my seat neighbors.

The women’s junior bantamweight four-rounder found the pride of Standing Rock Boxing Gym in Massena, NY, Michelle Cook overmatching her Louisiana-based opponent Ivana Coleman. Wearing Iroquois Confederacy shorts and representing the Mohawk Nation, Cook scored a third round knockdown and swarmed Coleman after the 8-count and hurt her with the straight right she was landing at will. Coleman came back and landed a few punches in the fourth, but took as good as she gave and certainly not enough to overcome losing the first three rounds.

In the second fight, the vicious right hand of Jesus Gonzalez to the chin folded Niagara Falls High School, Class of ’13, Jake Ventry’s legs into a box under the ropes, scoring a 1:43 minute first round knockout. Ventry was momentarily out cold, and ring announcer Henry “Discombobulating” Jones had to make a point to reassure the crowd that the hometown kid was all right.

Ventry was found fuming with his teenage entourage after the fight, saying “he was through with this crooked-ass sport,” apparently upset that Gonzalez, of a 1-4 pro record, had something like 100 amateur fights in his homelands of Bethlehem, PA.

A junior welterweight match of young unbeatens followed as Emanuel “Pinky” Colón of Buffalo entered the ring with the messianic opening of Marc Anthony’s Vivir Mi Vida, bringing a celebratory atmosphere to ring that included some clowning into his opponent Andre Byrd’s face. The party died down in the first round when Colón landed his first punch, a left hook, right on the button that dropped Byrd. Byrd rose up without much difficulty, but he was snakebitten and wouldn’t be able to shake it. Waiting for his legs to come back or for Pinky’s stamina to calm, Byrd resorted to diving for Colón’s midsection to clinch, grasping around his waist with prayer-hands.

It didn’t make for great fighting, but it disrupted and frustrated the hell out of Colón who took matters into his own hands, using his elbows to keep Byrd off him and offering an intentional butt into Byrd’s left eye. It cost him a point, and Byrd smartly took his time recovering despite the abuse being charged on the Floridian Byrd from the Pinky crowd (Colón, it must be said, was wearing short shorts with one dazzling pink thigh while the rest was white, black and of course Boricua red, white and blue.

In the second, Byrd went back to hugging and running, absorbing a point deduction for holding along the way that didn’t discourage him a bit. Colon’s midsection, pleading for mercy. All kinds of invective being hurled at the Florida fighter, crybaby, pu*sy. Point taken for holding. Byrd running for his life. Colon hurting Byrd with leaping right hand into the tiring fighter at the closing bell of round 2. Colon visibly frustrated by Byrd’s clinching.

A Serbian Buffalo transplant that one ringside observer insisted resembled Rocky Marciano, Milos Pantelic, faced another Floridian in Mike “Concrete” Bissett in a cruiserweight six round action fight. As the first round wore on, Pantelic felt Concrete out and starting finding purchase for power right hands and lefts to the body. The second started with Pantelic wobbling Bissett with a left and Bissett timing a perfect right on the chin as Pantelic was coming in, shocking him to the canvas. Legs visibly woozy, Pantelic endured a vicious body assault while pinned to the neutral corner for a good 1:30 of round two, managing to nod appreciatively at the man doling out the punishment while surviving the round.

After visiting the familiar corner to start round 3 to absorb more punishment from the man with Mississippi tattooed between his shoulder blades, Pantelic mounted a comeback towards the center of the ring that put his man on his heels, winning the round decisively. Visibly tiring, Concrete stumbled through round 4 eventually walking into a Pantelic right hand that hurt him enough to force the third man Paul Brown to stop the fight.

The ersatz main event had to follow and it stole from the same script: short and dramatic. Greg Brady and Joel Shojgreen’s felt each other out in the first, both landing technical points without opening up. In the second, the proverbial hell was loosed almost immediately. Shojgreen came from his corner and landed three consecutive rights, each one landing and the final one knocking Brady’s arse to the canvas.

Brady, giving a classic Buffalo nickname new life in “Juice,” sprang up to give heart to his army of 100 or so in attendance, fighting back furiously and eventually overtaking Shojgreen with short right hook that finally dropped him. After the count, Brady jumped at his chance and swarmed Shojgreen who had no defense left and was sent backpedaling into the bottom of the corner. Some may have given Shojgreen another chance, but referee Charlie Fitch played it cautiously and called it.

At the press conference following the fight, Brady’s admitted he was surprised that Shojgreen dropped him, but his army drowned him out with competing and affirming shouts of joy.

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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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