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A Look At Melissa Hernandez-Layla McCarter III

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Twice they’ve crossed paths and each time it ended differently. Layla McCarter and Melissa Hernandez represent two of America’s best female prizefighters, yet fly under the radar of most boxing fans in the U.S.

“I find it frustrating because I know I’m one of the best and don’t get half of the attention that’s needed to make be able to live off of my hard work,” said Hernandez.

Very few boxing fans realize that Hernandez and McCarter are among the top female fighters pound for pound. They don’t have undefeated records but have a skill level far beyond most of the current female boxers holding world title belts.

McCarter (35-13-5, 8 Kos) meets Florida’s Hernandez (19-5-3, 6 Kos) on Friday, Nov. 21, at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas. The last time they met was seven years ago and it’s the last time McCarter lost a fight. Both have a lot of pride and are fearless in the boxing ring.

Hernandez, 34, usually enters the ring as the shorter fighter but has honed her boxing skills to razor sharpness over the years. The Puerto Rican-born prizefighter has won super bantamweight, featherweight, junior lightweight world titles and lightweight world titles. She’s traveled to other countries like Panama, Canada, Australia and Argentina. Wherever she’s offered a fight Hernandez has been willing to show off her skills.

She also knows who can fight and which boxers are merely fabricated champions.

“I see Jelena Mrdjenovich, Delfine Persoon, Ana Sophie Mathis, Cecilia Braekhus, Marcela Acuna in no intended order as the top pound for pound fighters,” said Hernandez.

Another pound for pound boxer is McCarter, who many consider at the top of the list.

McCarter, 35, is one of the few female fighters in history with over 50 professional fights. The Las Vegas-based boxer has won world titles in the featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight, junior welterweight and finally the junior middleweight division.

Two-year absence

The last time McCarter entered the boxing ring was two years ago, when she traveled to South Africa to face Noni Tenge for the vacant world title in the junior middleweight division. She stopped the South African in the eighth round to win the WBA title.

Efforts to meet Cecilia Braekhus for the welterweight world title were unsuccessful as were attempts to fight Holly Holm, who is now solely participating in mixed martial arts. McCarter has confidence the long period of inactivity will not affect her skills.

“It has been 2 years since I fought last but have always been in the gym. Catching up physically was not too difficult but getting my head back into the game was tougher. I’m there now though, 100%,” said McCarter, who trains in Las Vegas.

It’s rare when McCarter or Hernandez is able to perform in front of home crowds. Instead, both are often invited to other countries in South America, Asia or Africa, where winning decisions can be very difficult. So keen is their skill that both have been able to capture victories abroad.

“I think the current culture in the USA encourages an inflated male ego and keeping women down,” said McCarter. “In some other countries I’ve been more respected as a champion… regardless of my sex.”

Here they are finally back in the boxing ring to decide who’s best. Each has a victory over the other and knows the formula to winning the fight.

“You beat her by fighting your fight. Not falling into her boring spell. Off-set her,” says Hernandez, who won their last encounter back in April 2007. “She’s a veteran in the game. (Need to) change her speed up.”

Very few female fighters can exchange with Hernandez and come out on top. Plus, her defense can be perplexing to opponents.

McCarter remembers the keys to victory when she defeated Hernandez in their initial encounter.

“Defeating Melissa starts with a good jab. With my reach advantage footwork and speed I should be able to establish a distance that benefits my counter punching style, making her reach and taking advantage of her mistakes from every angle,” said McCarter, who defeated Hernandez in February 2007. “Plus, I am punching way too hard now. When I land the first good punch, whatever plan she had will fall out of her head.”

Those lucky fans that attend the untelevised female bout will be treated to something special.

Hernandez and McCarter are proven skilled fighters and definitely among the best pound for pound fighters in the world.

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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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