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A Life Lesson Courtesy of Andy Lee

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Andy Lee was in big trouble on Saturday night.

Facing junior middleweight contender John Jackson on the undercard of Cotto-Martinez at Madison Square Garden in New York, Lee looked to be on his way to his third loss as a professional, something it doesn’t seem his career can presently afford.

Jackson, son of hard-punching 1990s stalwart Julian Jackson, did his best impersonation of his father against Lee. His power was absolutely explosive and he looked calm, relaxed and in control right up until the point Lee put him on the canvas.

Lee had visited the blue mat in Round 1, a place he had not found himself during his previous 35 fights as a professional. While both of Lee’s losses were by knockout, on both occasions, against Bryan Vera in 2008 and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2012, the action was halted while Lee remained upright and on his feet.

Lee went down hard in Round 1 against Jackson, but quickly rose back to his feet, only to find things above still just as bad for him as when he left.

Jackson had everything going for him on the night. He looked smooth from a distance and landed at will from inside. Lee, fighting out of a crouch, tried to stay behind a long jab. But it just wasn’t there for him. While the punch was typically one of his better punches in his long career at middleweight, it seemed awkward and slow now just six pounds south.

Nothing else was working for Lee either. The southpaw did his best to land straight lefts, but Jackson easily dodged them and punished Lee on the inside once the Irishman had missed.

A press release by Team Lee said Lee was courageous, showed character and determination. Press releases always say these types of things about fighters. It’s the job of the person writing them to make the subject of the release look as good as possible.

But this release was spot on. Lee was all those things and more against Jackson. After establishing virtually nothing in the previous four rounds, Lee showed grit and determination in the face of ever-coming danger. Despite seeming slower than his usual self and lacking almost any kind of timing to his punches, Lee continued to try to win in every moment of the fight. He kept setting his feet and throwing counters with real force, even though he was widely missing much of the time while Jackson was not.

Now here we get to the life lesson. Quitters come in all shapes and sizes, and there are many different methods to use. Some are easy to spot because they simply don’t care enough to hide it. But some go through the motions to hide what is really going on from others, and sometimes even themselves.

It’s the same in boxing. A fighter can quit sometimes and still go through an entire 10 or 12 rounds of a fight. There is a difference between just fighting and fighting to win. The latter is what’s important in both boxing and in life.

Lee fought to win, and he actually pulled it out when all looked lost. After getting pummeled up against the ropes, Lee was again hit hard by Jackson to the point of stumbling backwards again. The end was surely near. But here’s where Lee did something many would not. Just after getting knocked back off his balance, Lee reset himself and readied his punch. Just as Jackson came towards him to finish the job, Lee walloped him with as good a right hook as you’ll ever see. Jackson went down as if Lee had thrown a bolt of lightning at him. Perhaps he had. The fight was over.

“I am elated with my knockout win here at MSG and would like to pay tribute to John Jackson,” said Lee after the fight. “He is a tough and talented fighter. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank HBO, my promoter Lou DiBella, Adam Booth and all of the Boxing Booth Team.”

Maybe there is something in his post-fight comments, too. Lee is a consummate professional and a real gentleman in a sport that could use a few more of them. Actually, Lee is a consummate professional and a real gentlemen in a world that could use a few more of them, too.

Regardless, Lee, who turns 30 this week, gave us regular folk something to think about. Next time you’re in deep waters and you feel as though you just might drown, maybe think about Andy Lee. Against Jackson, Lee was all but at the bottom of the ocean. He might as well been attached to an anchor. Lee was sunk. But Lee swam hard and not without purpose. Even when things looked bleakest, he had a plan. Lee was making it out of the water.

Maybe you can, too.

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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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