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Manny Pacquiao – Less Baseline and More Ring Time

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Who can blame the guy? Who among us wouldn’t want the chance to chase another dream within a dream at least once in our lives, provided we are among the fortunate ones to be living within one?

One of the most all-around, kindest and good hearted individuals in sports chose to briefly undertake a new sporting endeavor; one in which he could hold the titles of boss as well as worker. Manny Pacquiao has never been one to verbally lambaste any of his opponents and this in and of itself is a quality that millions find beyond admirable.

We’ve all seen the photos of the Philippines in a condition of utter desertion whenever he fights. The streets are cleared, the shops are empty and even the shrapnel ceases to fly between warring factions around the island nation.

Lately, Manny’s been seen on the basketball court as a coach and player for a squad within the Philippine professional basketball ranks. The multi-division as well as former lineal champion from General Santos City recently stated in an international media conference call that his preferred day to shoot some pro hoops is Sunday, although he’s been told to temporarily hang up the high tops as he prepares for his November 22 bout with light welterweight titlist Chris Algieri in Macau, S.A.R., China.

“It (basketball) won’t affect my training,” said the former pound for pound champion fighter. “I don’t train on Sunday and that’s when I have my games. It helps me practice my footwork, balance and it keeps me in great shape.”

Unless matters have drastically changed in the past few years, the “Pac Man” is of course suited up in his team colors to help put many a keister in the bleachers. Prior to his December 2012 bout with Juan Manuel Marquez, former NBA greats Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller visited Pacquiao during his training camp in Los Angeles. It’s not likely that the cameras cut away just as Manny began to drain jumper after jumper. By stark contrast, his amiable nature made it all the more humorous as he was made into the brunt of jokes courtesy of Barkley and Miller whenever his jump shot looked more like a potential act of vandalism akin to throwing a brick through a window. It’s all good fun and besides, who’s going to tell him that he can’t play on the team just as no one would tell him straight to his face that even the most tone deafened person found his singing to be (kindly stated) dreadful? It’s not worth the time and aggravation to ponder the situation because of once more, the likability of the man.

The question was posed to Manny during the media call whether or not he’d settle for a friendly game of one on one with the one and only Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It’s not too far-fetched, is it? We’ve hoped with waning optimism for many years now that the two would face off in the ring, so why not settle for a “1A” (little “a”) type of showdown to satiate our pugilistic palates? Better yet, why not a game of two on two? Manny picks up Floyd and the Pac Man’s best friend, Buboy Fernandez guards Leonard Ellerbe. Imagine the wall-like picks that the two seconds in command could set. It may sound somewhat entertaining but likely none of us would drop even a ten spot on pay per view to see it. It wouldn’t make sense so for now, Manny needs to purely focus on the task at hand.

Should he unfathomably lose to Chris Algieri next month, then his ring reputation would suffer tremendously as would the Asian peninsula resort destination which rakes in more gambling revenues in one year than Las Vegas can hope for in seven to eight. Odds-makers will likely have Pacquiao as a heavy favorite. In the meantime, we can rest assured that the only form of hardwood upon which Manny will hone his trade will be one upon which he skips rope. Legendary promoter Bob Arum couldn’t be more satisfied with such a change of venue.

“At first, I wasn’t very pleased with him playing basketball because an injury could wreak havoc on the plans for the fight.” said the longtime boxing mogul. “He told me that’s it,” Arum added during this morning’s conference call. “After the bout, if he wants to try out for the New York Knicks, then that’s fine with me.”

The older we get, the more brittle we become, so maybe someone can tell the great Pacquiao that even the Knicks are fine without his services and that he can stick to the day job he discovered when was just a teen.

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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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