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What’s Next For Pugilist-Specialist Rigondeaux?

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He might well be the best pure pugilist on the planet. His ability to execute his gameplan, with subtle brilliance, doesn’t go unnoticed by a multitude of fight fans. However, in a world which seems increasingly to punish subtlety, and reward excess, the over the top, Guillermo Rigondeaux is, while being regarded almost universally one of the top pound for pound talents, is still finding his place, clarifying his role in the fightgame milieu.

The clarification process will proceed on July 19, on a Macau card promoted by Top Rank.

I reached out to Rigo’s manager, the genial Irishman Gary Hyde, who many of you may not know has a history as smuggler extraordinaire. http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/10392313/the-high-priced-underground-economy-smuggling-champion-cuban-boxers-espn-magazine

So, Gary, what poor bast…er, what lucky fella is going to try to solve the Rigo riddle?

“The opponent isn’t confirmed, but Jonathan Guzman has been mentioned,” he told me.

Guzman is a 24-year-old Dominican with a 16-0 (16 KOs) record built on a tasty diet of journeymen and sub journeymen, for the most part.

Hyde admitted to me he’s pleased that this bout signals Rigo’s last fight on a Top Rank contract. The Vegas outfit latched on as co-promoter, with Caribe, when Rigo derailed the Nonito Donaire express on April 13, 2013. That bout took place in NYC, known to many folks as a concrete jungle, where many a mugging has taken place. Rigo’s mugging of Donaire was pulled off not with a brutish act of thuggery, but one that was more akin, actually, to a slick pickpocketing of a wide-eyed tourist. That mark, from, say, Iowa, was in town to take in the sites, the Lady Liberty and the Empire State Building, but was destined to take the bus ride home demoralized, having been prayed upon in a jungle of concrete and savagery borne of resignation, felt by citizens who seize upon a felonious lifestyle to make ends meet

Yep, Rigo is a different sort of predator, and his methods aren’t of the sort which can be appreciated by the masses like a concussion craver, a Golovkin, a Kovolev, etc, is.

If it is Guzman, Hyde told me, that’s not the desired foil for the 33-year-old Cuban defector, who boasts a 13-0 (8 KOs) record. Hyde and Rigo want XL challenges, or what passes for XL challenges in the junior feather territory. “I want to be finished with this contract, with the hope of moving on to a more lucrative deal,” Hyde continued.”

I’d heard Rigo, who holds the WBA crown, with Scott Quigg holding the WBA’s junior version of the same, seeks a clash against Carl Frampton, the 18-0 Irishman? Correct, Mr. Hyde?

“Not at all,” he replied. “I tried to get him interested but he will avoid Rigo at all costs. I like a fight against Leo Santa Cruz (27-0-1, holds WBC super bantam crown).”

(((NOTE: A few hours after this story posted, the WBC sent out this release, which seems to indicate Frampton-Santa Cruz is a near-term possibility:

WBC superbantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz wants to  defend his title against undefeated Carl Frampton and is willing to travel to Belfast for the biggest purse of his career….so far! In an interview, Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KO’s) said that he would travel to Belfast if he can get a wage. “Facing Frampton in Belfast is my first option. I’ll be ready to fight him in July. I don’t care if I have to fight in Belftast. I know Frampton is a good boxer but I’m the champion and I can KO him! ” Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan, himself an ex world champion, said: “If Santa Cruz comes to Belfast I can make him an offer he won’t refuse. I’m happy to know that Santa Cruz is willing to travel here. If this fight takes place in July it’s just perfect for us. We’re negotiating with Golden Boy and we hope we can reach an agreement.”))))

As for Rigo’s next promotional home, is it possible Rigo finds a place at Golden Boy?

“Quite possible, Mike,” Hyde said.

Here’s hoping that Rigo’s clarification process clears up, that his talent is recognized in a manner it should be, in a more perfect world….

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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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