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Sadam Ali Fights Abregu Nov. 8: “I’m Ready To Step Up!”

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This is the big one. He wants bigger ones, duh, but to this point in his career, the stage he will be on, the TV platform he will be on, the caliber of foe he will face…this is new territory for Sadam Ali.

I reached out to the Canarsie, Brooklyn boxer, aged 26, to get a sense of where his head is at as he counts down to Nov. 8, when he will meet Luis Carlos Abregu, underneath the Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev main event, on HBO.

“I’m from Brooklyn, we work hard, we want to be at the top, and we know it won’t be easy,” the boxer with the 20-0 (12 Kos) record told me. “This is the big one. I’ve been highlighted on HBO, but that was a long time ago, and this is where I envisioned myself being…I just didn’t know when.”

Advisor Anthony Catanzaro and all of Team Ali has eyes wide open; they know Abregu has pop. They just think their kid has attributes which will trump pop on Nov. 8. Catanzaro told me movement will be key, and he likes his kid’s hand speed to stand out on fight night.

“Abregu is a tremendous power puncher,” said the fighter, who lives with mom and dad, four sisters and his little bro in Canarsie. “People say this is a risky fight, but the way I look at it, I want to prove that I’m capable of being at the top. People say he’s fought better guys, I agree. But I feel I’m better than him…We’re both hungry, he feels he wants another shot at even bigger fights. I feel he’s in my way, because that’s where I want to be. I know it will be a great fight!”

Boardwalk Hall will be the staging ground for the clash, which features a boxer, Ali, who doesn’t have a signature foe/win leaping off the page at you, against one, Abregu (36-1 with 29 Kos), who holds wins over Antonin Decarie (2013) and Thomas Dulorme (2012) and lost respectably to Tim Bradley in 2010. Yep, Abregu has danced on similar sized stages before, so we sort of know how he’ll look. Ali, not as much…

“I have to be smart, have a Plan A, B and C,” Ali told me. “I have to be defensively aware the whole fight, because I could be doing great for six rounds, and then boom, he lands something. Things can change in any moment, no matter how bad he’s doing.” I’ve seen Ali do this before, box smartly, with an eye toward winning points while retreating, so it’s plausible he could do it in AC. Now, if Abregu lands the odd showy bomb and Ali isn’t as busy as maybe he could and should be, it could be a hard hill to climb for him. He does move pretty well, does slip and slide pretty well, can dictate tone with his jab at times. He’s pretty refined, so he could make the sometimes lung-y Abregu look silly at times? Yes. Does the Argentine possess more power and seasoning than anything Ali has dealt with? Yes. Will there be a time when Ali will be tested, will need to hold and clear his head? Entirely possible….Yes, this will be testing time.

Sounds like the kid, who fought for the US at the 2008 Olympics, knows that focus is a huge part of the right gameplan for fight night. Trainers Andre Rozier and Lenny Wilson and Willie Vargas are good ones to keep him apprised of that in camp and in AC, on fight night….

Ali told me he’s been happy with his career progress; the righty, who can box smart, bang a bit, doesn’t mind the odd trade, likes to give fans their money’s worth, but without sacrificing recklessly, debuted in January 2009. He recently signed to Golden Boy, and Catanzaro has been patient and wise in stepping him up incrementally. Of course, there is a time when all athletes who want to leave a solid legacy footprint step up, and this is where Ali will be Nov. 8.

“I’m ready to step up,” he told me. “I want to be special, he wants to stay in the position he’s in. This is my career on the line, I lose, it’s ten steps down, I win, it’s twenty steps up. I leave it in God’s hands.”

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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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