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A Star Was MAYBE Born; Yes, Tureano Johnson Is No Loser

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Maybe a star wasn’t born on that Main Events NBC Fight Night card Friday night, but a contender, a player at 160 damn sure was.

OK, raise your hand if you knew who the heck Tureano Johnson was, and what he was capable of doing, before Friday night.

That’s not many, that’s not many, you’re in trouble out there…

All action, fan-friendly, cajones to the wall, predatory style, what was not to like from the Cuban-trained hitter, who lives in the Bahamas?

Well, for one thing, if we want to be know it alls, and nitpick, if you’re his trainer, you probably want that tenth round against Curtis Stevens back, and you want your kid to fight a little bit smarter i.e. cautiously, so he skates to the finish line with the win intact…instead of breaking down in tears, which he was after he got TKO’d, and got emotional speaking to his promoter, Gary Shaw, postfight.

The stoppage–was it good? was it bad? was the ref in error? should Steve Smoger ref every fight every night?–dominated social media, with many folks not liking the timing of the plug-pulling by Gary Rosado in PA.

Me, I’m a “always better too early than too late kind of guy,” who supports the referee, who made the best call he could in the heat of the battle, after seeing Stevens land a filthy left hook, which buzzed Johnson badly. Rosado then saw Stevens flurrying, and Johnson not defending himself that well, and not answering back. and he did what he thought was the best course of action for the health and well-being of the boxer, which is his primary job. And remember, he didn’t have the benefit of that super slo-mo replay that we all do at home…

I reached out to the “loser,” and wondered how he viewed the stoppage. “I don’t agree with the stoppage, but I have to accept it,” the 30-year-old Johnson (14-1) told me. “I just think nothing can be done about it. I can’t change it, so I’ve got to move on.”

He told the world the same when he Tweeted, a bit after the bout ended, “I could have taken a knee or clinched. Tell the fans I understand that.”

Noted. And props go to the man for not crying a river, understanding the ref was looking out for him.

And if there’s a next time, what does he do differently, if anything? “Hopefully learn to tie up better,” Johnson told me.

His promoter, Gary Shaw, on Monday still thought his kid “deserved a chance to finish the fight.” He said he is of course totally mindful of the health and safety of the boxer, but noted that he agreed with those who pointed that if the guy who reffed the main event, the Steve Cunningham-Amir Mansour fight, Steve Smoger, worked the Stevens-Johnson bout, the result could have been different. OK, could have been…Or maybe Stevens keeps whaling away, and Johnson gets knocked cold, and pitches face first to the mat. Instead, he is ambulatory, and while disappointed, pumped to show that he has more to offer than he showed on Friday.

Shaw has a sparkling idea of a match that could easily draw interest, I think, from HBO. “I’d love to see Tureano against James Kirlkland,” he told me.

Shaw isn’t looking back on the ninth round break, and wishing the Johnson corner told their guy to run out the clock. Me neither. You dance the sort of dance that brought you to the county fair finals, in my view. The Johnson method, balls to the wall, pure aggression, is what the fans respond to, and what sells. And guess what? He should be rewarded handsomely for fighting in this manner, and this loss shouldn’t affect his prospects, not one stitch. He risked greatly the whole way through, and for that, he deserves ample reward. What about a rematch with Stevens, is that a possibility? Shaw says Johnson asked him to set it up, and he’s happy to do it on a Main Events card, to boot. “It shows what a warrior he is,” the promoter stated. “Or I’d like Johnson versus Kirkland on an HBO opener, that would be spectatuclar. He’s proved his mettle.”

That he did; Stevens’ promoter Kathy Duva agrees. She also agrees with me, and thinks the stoppage was righteous. “I thought the stoppage was correct,” she told me. “Curtis was teeing off on Johnson, his hands were down by his sides. Everyone taking issue with the stoppage, they wanted Curtis to knock him more silly? I also think the aftermath bore out the correctness of the stoppage, it took Johnson a few seconds to realize what happened.”

Duva also pointed out that Johnson, after round eight, walked back to the wrong corner, and that it took him a bit to realize this. “Nobody can really judge how conscious he was or wasn’t. I agree, it’s better too early than too late. He lives to fight another day.”

Duva agrees with Shaw, and me, that the “loss” doesn’t diminish a guy who came in an unknown. “He should get tons of opportunities,” she said. What about against Stevens again? “I couldn’t ask those two to do that again to each other with the budget I have,” Duva said.

Shaw said he knew what he had in Johnson when he signed the Bahamas resident two years ago, but didn’t advertise that going into the Stevens fight, for fear of scaring off Team Stevens. “We thought he’d wint he fight. We didn’t build him up,” he noted. “He’s not a “typical” Cuban fighter. Everybody told me he was a real fighter, TV friendly, a real good puncher.”

They weren’t lying. I’m much looking forward to seeing what this all-action Cuban/Bahamanian does in his next tangle.

Follow Woods on Twitter.

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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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