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Saul “Neno” Rodriguez Brings Swing Time to Glendale Card

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Knockout punchers aren’t born every day, but even as an amateur Saul “Neno” Rodriguez exhibited rare punching power, despite the larger gloves and head gear.

He’s a man now, though thin and wiry, he has that rare and unique ability to stop opponents cold with left hooks or right hands. Pick your poison. Sort of a like a 21st century version of Alexis Arguello. When he connects his opponents feel it.

Next on the Rodriguez (14-0-1, 11 Kos) hit list will be Argentina’s Juan Ramon Solis (21-8, 8 Kos), a veteran of 30 bouts. They’ll meet in a super featherweight match on Saturday, Dec. 6, at Glendale Civic Auditorium. The Top Rank card will have some bouts televised on UniMas.

When Top Rank signed Rodriguez a couple of years ago, Rodriguez was still learning the pro game under trainer Eduardo Garcia. The old sage who taught Fernando Vargas and both sons Robert and Mikey Garcia saw something in Rodriguez that enticed him to work personally with the youngster from Riverside.

Rodriguez always showed speed and power in his punches, but he was wide open for counters when he entered the pro ranks. As an amateur he could dispense with defense for his own explosive offense.

“They’re always talking to me about defense,” said Rodriguez about his stable mate Mikey Garcia and trainer Eduardo Garcia. “They’re always telling me to tighten my defense.”

Rodriguez spars often with Garcia, who just may be one of the top 10 boxers pound for pound in the world. If you leave an opening for Garcia he instantly capitalizes with deadly precision as his record shows. He’s won titles as a featherweight and junior lightweight. Now he’s moving up to lightweight or junior welterweight.

“I learn a lot from Mikey,” says Rodriguez.

When he goes to Oxnard to train under Robert Garcia he has the whole Oxnard training membership to work against. It’s served him perfectly to this point. Now he is on the verge of breaking into the next level where the monsters roam.

In his last two fights the competition was stiff and was supposed to take him to the later rounds. It didn’t happen. Rodriguez blitzed through Puerto Rico’s Orlando Vazquez in two rounds and finished him with an uppercut that left British television broadcasters half a world away in awe. Before that, Miguel Zamudio was prancing along trying to use his length and movement to keep the dangerous Rodriguez at bay. He was feeling kind of good about himself when a left and right came out of the dark and down he went.

In the old amateur days Rodriguez was a pretty good attraction all by himself. Whenever his bout would come up crowds would form around the ring because they knew some hard-hitting was about to happen. The lanky Riversider seldom disappointed.

Now 21, Rodriguez has begun to attract the pro crowd who see his blazing hands and attack dog mentality always set on go. Can he be the next Arguello?

It’s a dangerous road he’s on and it begins this Saturday against an Argentine fighter who has never fought in the U.S.

“Argentines can awkward,” said Rodriguez. “But my amateur experience helps me adjust to any fighter.”

Other fights

Brian Viloria (34-4, 20 Kos) meets Armando Vazquez (21-11, 4 Kos) in a flyweight bout set for 10 rounds. The former junior flyweight and flyweight world champion seeks one more title opportunity. The former U.S. Olympian has been a pro for more than 14 years.

Jose Felix Jr. (27-1-1, 22 Kos) faces Luis Solis (15-5-4, 12 Kos) in an eight round super featherweight match. Felix is trying to get back into the world title mix after losing to Costa Rica’s Bryan Vazquez this past April.

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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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