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Andre Berto Looks Rust Free, Gets UD10 Over Steve Upsher

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Andre Berto looked darned decent, after being on the injured reserve for more than a year, on the TV opener of Showtime’s Saturday night telecast, which unfolded in Cincinnati. The Floridian, a former titlist who many thought was on a hard downward slide, didn’t look excessively rusty in getting a UD10 win over Steve Upsher.

Now, Upsher is a C plus fighter, so we won’t go overboard with praise. But the judges liked the work, to the tune of 99-91, times three.

Berto went 232-453 to 112-478 for the loser.

Berto told Jim Gray he was slightly surprised that he was so on point. He noted his shoulder held up well and that tons of sparring got him ready. He admitted that he was down during his layoff, and applauded the people who kept up his spirits. Hunter, he said, asked him to work fundamentals, not get KO happy. Next? He’d not mind rematches with some guys he lost to.

Philly’s Upsher, coming in off a two fight losing streak, was 145.5. Berto last fought in July 2013, and was shaking off a torn tendon in his right shoulder, which needed surgery. The Floridian turns 32 on Sunday, and was 148.5 on Friday. He’d lost three of his last four, to Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero and then Jesus Soto Karass.

In the first, the 29-year-old Upsher was backing up, as Berto came out pretty nasty. He then landed a right on Berto. Also, a couple hooks landed on Berto, and he shook his head no (no means yes?) once.

In the second, Berto came out double jabbing. He added a two behind it, and started the round strong, with furious intent. Left hooks for Upsher, low and high, weren’t weak. A straight right knocked Berto back a half step near the end.

In the third, Upsher moved and didn’t throw. He got tagged time and again and decided to press forward some, because he was getting eaten up. Berto threw a bombs away right, and was getting excited, maybe feeling he was into a flow.

In the fourth, Berto started with combos. Upsher decided to work more this round, and his long jab didn’t look cruddy. But he simply waiting too long in between launches for too much of most every round. Virgil Hunter, who took over for long-time corner man Tony Morgan, asked for better angles, and jabs, and constant focus.

In the fifth, we saw swelling on Upsher’s face. Berto worked backing up some, then roughed up Upsher, smacked and shoved him back. A double jab backed up Berto and we saw what could happen when Upsher concentrated on being first and imposing himself on the opponent. The Berto right uppercut landed a wee bit and you knew he was getting more so into a power punch mode. Cornerman Rod Salka told Upsher not to let Berto hurl four punch combos.

In the sixth, Upsher looked to bull Berto to the ropes but his ferocity was lacking. When he double jabbed he scored well. A left hook and right follow landed clean on Upsher late. “He’s not too far away to go,” said Hunter after the round. In the seventh, Berto was in command. He was hopping and popping, and he liked the swelling right eye on Upsher. Salka threatened to pull the plug soon.

In the eighth, Upsher landed a right hand, as it was one of his busy rounds. Salka asked him if he was alright. The trainer asked him to come forward on Berto. In the ninth, Upsher didn’t act like he knew he needed a KO to win as much as maybe you’d like. But he was trying to take it to Berto at times. In the tenth, Berto took it to Upsher, not going into a shell mode. That let Upsher tag him with a right, but Berto took the round. We went to the cards.

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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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