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RINGSIDE REPORT: Hopkins Wins Unification Bout

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Bernard Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs) unified the IBF and WBA light heavyweights with a controversial split decision over Beibut Shumenov (14-2-0, 9 KOs) in front of a crowd of more than 6,800 at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C. The controversy was not that Hopkins won, but that the decision was split.

Hopkins, however, was not focused on the semantics of the outcome, just the next steps.

“Whatever the fight is, I want to be the undisputed light heavyweight champion before 50,” said Hopkins after the fight.

Hopkins craftiness exposed the flaws in Shumenov’s technique, mainly his wide-open, but immobile stance. Regardless of the flaws, the Nevadan by way of Kazakhstan showed that he has a chin of steel.

“Shumenov is a gallant warrior,” said Hopkins. “He will be champion when I leave from this I’m pretty sure. He’s going to learn from this.”

Hopkins played to the D.C. by wearing the colors of the Washington Redskins. The fighter who once entered the ring with an executioner mask now came in wearing an alien mask and to the adulation of the majority of the crowd. Shumenov’s sparse fan base sat to the side of the ring waving Kazakhstani flags.

As was the case with Hopkins fights of late, he was judicious with his punches. He spent the first round feeling out Shumenov, landing a small amount of punches. In the second round Hopkins threw punches and grappled with Shumenov in the first half of the round, but Shumenov threw more in the second half. The third was the first round that Hopkins dominated from start to finish.

Shumenov wide-open stance left him open to lead rights from Hopkins, who landed a few in the fourth. In the fifth, Hopkins missed with a wild left hook, but still landed a few power shots.

The sixth and seventh rounds saw little action, with Hopkins seeming to do enough to win both. In the eighth round, Shumenov left himself open and Hopkins nailed him with an unusually high number of rights.

Shumenov pressed Hopkins in the ninth and tenth rounds. While neither was dramatic, both were very close.

In the 11th, Hopkins left himself open to an overhand right and Hopkins put him on the canvas, bringing the crowd to its feat with chants of “B-Hop.” Shumenov got to his feet and Hopkins again wobbled him with a right and left hook. Shumenov clinched his way out of dire straits and made it through the round.

The twelfth round saw a mix of Hopkins power shots.

Two of the final scorecards read 116-111 for Hopkins with the other reading 114-113 for Hopkins. An example of Hopkins punching efficiency comes from the COMPUBOX numbers, showing that Hopkins threw 383 punches and landed 186, while Shumenov threw 608 punches and landed 124.

The main event was part of a tripleheader aired on Showtime that comprised one of the biggest fight cards ever to be held in the District of Columbia.

Shawn Porter (24-0-1, 15 KOs) defended his IBF Welterweight title and surprised the Armory crowd with a brutal fourth-round knockout of Paul Malignaggi (33-6-0, 7 KOs). The former two-time champion entered the ring a crowd favorite, but experienced the most devastating loss of his career.

Malignaggi and Porter went after each other early in the fight. An accidental head butt in the middle of the first round opened a cut under Malignaggi’s eye. In the final minute of the second round, Porter nailed him with a vicious left hook and wobbled him with a series of rights.

Porter sent Malignaggi to the canvas at the beginning of the fourth round. The challenger quickly rose to his feet, and Porter gave him a devastating amount of punishment. After Porter knocked him down again 1:24, referee Sam Williams had seen enough and stopped the bout.

“I definitely needed a victory like that over a guy like this,” said Porter. “I’m going to enjoy this and let my team handle [what’s next].”

As for Malignaggi, he said that he did not want to make an emotional decision about his future and that he was going to take some time to decide.

WBO Middleweight champion Peter Quillin (31-0-0, 22 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Lukas Konecny (50-5-0, 23 KOs) in a fight that was much more contentious than the final scorecards indicated. Konecny, who Quillin called a “tough customer,” is from the Czech Republic and fought all of his previous 54 fights in Europe. He used this title shot and first bout in the U.S. to show his grit.

From the opening bell, it was clear that Quillin was the more physically gifted fighter and spent most of the first and second rounds pawing with his jab to set up the big punch. Konecny, meanwhile, attacked with a flurry of body shots. In the third and fourth rounds, Quillin began to land more punches, but Konecny responded by working his way inside to land a barrage of hooks to the body. The action was more of the same in the fifth, but by the end, Konecny was bleeding from the mouth.

The challenger looked tired as he started the sixth round and a brief pause to retie his shoe did him no favors. Quillin’s punches seemed to be crisper and the fire Konecny showed in the first few rounds seemed to be fading. At the end of the eight round, he was bleeding from the nose.

Konecny roared back in the ninth, landing more blows and punctuating the round with a vicious left hook. He continued to apply that same level of pressure in the 10th and 11th rounds as well. Quillin controlled the final round and the judges’ scorecards read 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109.

“I’m going to home and watch the tape (of the fight) and see what improvements I need to make,” said Quillin.

Konecny call Quillin a “good champion, but not a great one.”

On the undercard, welterweight Sadam Ali (19-0-0, 12 KOs) dispatched Michael Clark (44-10-1, 18 KOs) with a vicious left hook that resulted in a knockout a little more than two minutes into the first round. It was the second first-round knockout in a row that Clark has suffered.

Light heavyweight southpaw Marcus Browne (10-0-0, 7 KOs) cruised to an eight-round unanimous decision over Otis Griffin (24-16-2, 10 KOs). Browne was a 2012 Golden Gloves national champion.

Junior welterweight Zachary Ochoa (7-0-0, 4 KOs) remained unbeaten with a fifth-round stoppage of Hector Marengo (6-8-4, 4 KOs). Ochoa had sent Marengo to the canvas twice before his corner stopped the bout.

David Grayton (7-0-0, 6 KOs), a welterweight from Washington, DC, had a short night, knocking out Howard Reece (2-5-0, 1 KO) in the first round.

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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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