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New York Boxing Commission Tightens the Belt

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No offense to Buffalo’s Greg Brady, but the biggest story of last Thursday’s Niagara Falls fight card that featured his coming-out party as a cruiserweight prospect may have taken place outside of the ring.

Brady, who survived a second round knockdown to score his fifth consecutive kayo victory, was thrust into the main event only after the real main event fell apart when both Nick Casal’s partner, Shakha Moore, and Vincent Arroyo’s opponent, Marlon Lewis, failed their prefight physicals.

With Lewis there was last minute concern over a recent MRI. He suffered a one-round knockout his last time out in November. It’s on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jSJILPnw_Q). Lewis takes maybe fifteen punches to the head in the fight and goes down three times. The referee doesn’t even give him a chance to recover the third time and stops it. Lewis never comes close to losing consciousness or shows signs of any lingering impairment, but who really knows. The Commission deserves the benefit of the doubt over legitimate concerns over a fighter’s brain scan.

Shakha Moore was a different story. Moore was excluded for having undergone LASIK vision correction surgery. LASIK leaves a corneal flap that carries the remote possibility of becoming disturbed from something like a punch in the face. Certainly it wouldn’t be sporting for the man to hurt his eyes, but it doesn’t seem like a life-threatening issue, and – insurance wonks and attorneys aside – that should be the measuring stick for blocking a boxer’s chance to compete two days before a bout with 3,000 tickets sold. I know the Casal camp along with most boxing people in the Buffalo area were incredulous that such a thing could happen.

A Boxing Commission official I spoke to ringside at the Niagara Falls Convention and Event Center couldn’t help but recognize what everyone involved with the card recognized, that things might be getting a little weird for boxing in New York State in the wake of Magomed Abdusalamov’s life-threatening injury sustained in the ring last November in Madison Square Garden.

The Dagestani heavyweight Abdusalamov was never knocked down but took a beating in a ten-round decision loss, suffering injuries from which he will most likely never recover. Last month, his wife served notice that she’d be moving forward with a $100 million lawsuit against the New York State Athletic Commissions, stating he suffered “significant and permanent brain damage” due to “improper, untimely and inadequate medical care and treatment” by New York State.

The official expressed that no new regulations or requirements are on the books for prospective pugilists, but agreed that the interpretation of those books may be changing as the state is obviously being more careful. On fight night, promoter Mercedes Vazquez-Simmons stated that this may give the fight world pause in putting on cards in New York.

How this might effect boxing in the home state of Carmen Basilio, Gene Tunney and Mike Tyson to name just a few, remains to be seen. Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s camp has not committed to Las Vegas for his May fight against Marcos Maidana, saying they wanted to kick the tires on the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

Or will this only affect smaller cards that don’t have the major financial backing of network TV? The Showtime/Mayweather Promotions card at Turning Stone Casino on Friday night went off without a hitch.

Talking with Nick Casal’s father and manager Ray Casal the day after the fight, Ray said they were looking to set up a fight out-of-state as soon as possible. The Casal camp wants to fight in places like Buffalo, Niagara Falls, or Verona (Turning Stone Casino), but going into his 30th month of an expected stall during what should be his prime of athletic life, Casal needs to fight now to get back to to where he wants to be, and his camp is rightfully anxious to get back in the ring.

We will continue to monitor the standards and practices of the Commission, and the Abdusalamov lawsuit.

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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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