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Nadjib Mohammedi Hooks on With Ex Kovalev Trainer Abel Sanchez

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UPDATE: I checked in with trainer Abel Sanchez, to get the lowdown on his new guy, Nadjib Mohammedi. Honest Abel told me this isn’t some bid that we should call Project Takedown Kovalev. No sir. “My project is to make Nadjib another champion,” he told me. “I wish Kovalev all the success possible, as long as he doesn’t interfere with my project!”

For the record, Sanchez trained Sergey for eight fights…

Sanchez said he likes Mo’s building blocks and that, “I just need time to convert him to my type of fighter! He’s very strong, he just doesn’t know how to use it…yet.”

And is it a balance issue, or weight transfer or…?

“No, it’s delivery, timing, technique and momentum,” Sanchez explained. “He is experienced and is not caught up in being undefeated. He is willing to learn and to give me time to make him unbeatable!”

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Boxing is home to characters, capital C types, but because the red light district of sports boasts such an array of weird, wild, wonderful and eccentric souls, we must be careful not to overuse the ‘C’ word.

I feel confident employing it when I describe Vince Caruso, the American advisor to IBF No. 1 light heavyweight contender Nadjib Mohammedi, the hitter who scored a second KO (2:16 elapsed) and is hoping to snag a crack against IBF light heavy champ Sergey Kovalev, on whose undercard he toiled on Nov. 8.

Caruso, a Jersey boy who lives in Arizona, is best known in fight circles for his association with Marco Antonio Barrera, being a proponent of THC therapy, Eazy-E’s legacy and his predictions on sporting outcomes, which I’ve found tend to be pretty darned solid. I chatted with him Monday and he told me that Mohammedi is making some waves with a new training hire. It seems that Mo is going to be working with Abel Sanchez, the tutor responsible for refining the style ond skills of the Bieber-faced banger Gennady Golovkin, the Good Boy with the Rude Fists.

Caruso let me in on how that pairing came about…

Basically, Frenchman/pop star Jon Ali advises Mo, his bestie for 15 years, and Ali and Caruso hit it off when Mo beat a man who was working with Caruso, Anatoliy Dudchenko, this summer.

Caruso was impressed with the work ethic and humility of Mo and his team, which he told me contrasted with Dudchenko’s attitude pre and post fight in a cruddy outing. They stayed in touch and Ali reached out to Caruso when Mo’s trainer was denied entry into America before the Nov. 8 Mohammedi bout in AC. Caruso came to the rescue; he asked Sanchez, who’d be in Jersey repping contender Sullivan Barrera, if he’d consider cornering Mo.

“I’ve known Abel twenty years,” Caruso said to TSS. Sanchez liked what he saw of Mo in AC, as his aggressive attitude is what Sanchez preaches.

Caruso sat down with Ali and the 36-3 (22 KOs) Mo after the bout, and they all talked about how to get to that next level. What if Sanchez were added to the mix full-time, and Mo could get some new skills? He’d been with his trainer since he was a teen, so some new blood could be a breakthrough concept. Plus, how bout this…Sanchez trained Kovalev for awhile, before John David Jackson, and they parted ways, and guess what, wouldn’t Sanchez have some superior insight into what strategies and techniques might be most effective in downing the Russian ace who showed Bernard Hopkins that there is no such thing as agelessness on Nov. 8.

“Nadjib did his thing, won the fight, and Abel said come to (the Summit Gym) in California. Last Monday, we loaded up the car, went to Big Bear, stayed the night, sat down, had a business meeting for a half hour,” Caruso said. They were all on the same page…So the plan is to start training in January, and help refine the strong and aggressive Mohammedi.

“Nadjib don’t go backwards,” Caruso said. “He has the heart of a lion, the strength of a bull. He needs some technique. But he fights like a Latino! He’s a bomber!” In other words, perfect for the likes of Sanchez, who wants closers. A fight with Kovalev could be easy or difficult…now it’ll be easier. “As they say in pro wrestling, you can’t fake gravity, you can’t fake his punch. But he’s not going to win of he doesn’t refine his skills.” The power, Caruso, reiterates, is considerable. He said Sanchez told him his forearm was buzzing after holding pads for Mo in warming up before the Nov. 8 fight. Like, buzzing in a badarse way, in the way it does when a certified bomber smashes pads. Caruso was pretty much rubbing his hands together in glee thinking about the work Mo will get in camps with Barrera, and yes, Gennady Golovkin, Sanchez’ prize pupil.

Caruso says promoter Kathy Duva and Team Mo will likely look to start hashing out a plan for next maybe late December or in January. “They will talk and then Jon and Nadjib will ask for my advice,” Caruso told me. “They will be letting Kathy know they want no more Demetrius Walkers, even if it is a non-title match, we want bigger names.. We want credibility. How about guys like Ryan Coyne, or Marcus Oliverira? We don’t even want a Gabriel Campillo. We don’t want a guy with more than two losses, really. If Mikkel Kessler were fighting we’d do that. I think Mo can wipe out seventy five percent of the guys at 175 right now. How about Seanie Monaghan, if they’d take that?”

Me, I love the enthusiasm Caruso has when he takes on a fighter. It is refreshing, and I think, it can be a difference maker for a fighter who could use some ego boosting. And I will say, the Sanchez-Kovalev angle makes a Kovalev-Mohammedi about three times more intriguing than it might otherwise be.

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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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