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Andy Lee, Miracle Man

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Most people don’t believe in miracles anymore, but maybe they should. Ask Andy Lee. I bet he does. Ireland’s best known middleweight has won his last two fights in miraculous fashion and has gone from disappointing afterthought to WBO middleweight champion.

But take note of something else, too. Lee’s two miracle wins weren’t something that just happened to him. Like the Hebrews leaving Egypt who followed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, Lee’s exodus from also-ran status in the middleweight division was participatory. No matter what situation he found himself in, he always believed he could win. He must be the type who believes in miracles.

If you want to study resilience in a prizefighter, Lee would be a good place to start. The southpaw has had a rough go since being beat up by Julio Cesar Chavez back in 2012. Lee lost longtime trainer, mentor and friend Emmanuel Steward just a few months after bravado got the best of him against the mammoth Chavez. Despite being up on the cards early and Steward pleading with him in his corner to box from a distance, Lee stood and brawled with Chavez in the middle rounds and was stopped on his feet in Round 7.

After Steward’s death, Lee packed his bags and headed back across the ocean to train under Adam Booth. Lee faced four middling journeymen from February 2013 to April 2014 and went 4-0 with 2 KOs. But Lee barely scraped by Frank Horta in the last of them, and he hadn’t looked in any of them anything near the prizefighter Steward once hailed as his southpaw Tommy Hearns.

It seemed at the time that Lee’s career had peaked. His better days as a prizefighter were now behind him, and he was now destined to simply be an opponent for up-and-comers looking for a name fighter to add to their resumes on their way up the ranks.

Such was the case when Lee moved down to 154 pounds to face undefeated John Jackson, son of former junior middleweight stalwart Julian Jackson, in June 2014. Lee lost almost every second of every round in the fight. Jackson was too fast and too strong. He battered Lee around as if the Irishman had never been hailed as a future middleweight champion.

The end was surely near for Lee now. But then something miraculous happened.

Lee was getting pummeled along the ropes when he let loose the right hook that separated Jackson from his senses. Whether the punch was lucky or not, it landed clean and turned a certain Lee loss into a miraculous win.

Lee was even luckier after the fight. After former WBO titleholder Peter Quillin vacated his title to avoid facing the undefeated Matt Korobov, several other fighters were offered a bout against Korobov for the title and passed. WBO junior middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade lobbied for the bout, was offered it but then declined it. British 160-pounder Billy Joe Saunders was offered the slot too, but chose a tussle with Chris Eubank, Jr. instead.

It’s a wonder Lee was called for the fight at all, but he was. And when it happened, he jumped at the opportunity.

But as soon as the bell rang on Saturday, Korobov just seemed too good for Lee. It wasn’t that it was a complete mismatch. No, Lee’s skill and ambition always keep him in fights. But Korobov was the sharper fighter on the night. He was throwing more and landing more. He looked focused and relaxed. He was there to win. Lee was just the opponent.

And just like the last fight, Lee was losing just about every round. But then something miraculous happened. Again.

In Round 6, Lee was hit flush by a Korobov left hand in the middle of the ring. Some would have retreated, but Lee stood his ground and threw his now-famous right hook the very same time Korobov started one of his own. The latter’s never landed.

Never hook with a hooker, the old boxing adage goes. Korobov was out on his feet the second Lee’s punch exploded onto his chin. He stumbled around drunk with numbness while Lee flurried his way to the stoppage win, capturing his first (and long-awaited) world title along the way.

But maybe a new boxing adage is emerging, too. Never give up on Andy Lee, The Miracle Man, the Irishman with the best right hook in the world, because he’s the type who always believes he can win.

He’s the type who believes in miracles.

Another Miracle

The charity fundraiser fight between Jermell Charlo and myself raised over $9,000 for Corbin Glasscock, a six-year-old diagnosed with bone cancer. The boxing community truly rallied behind Corbin and his family, and I am forever grateful for all those who have contributed. The donor list reveals a who’s who in boxing, and stands as a testament to the good the boxing community can do together when given an opportunity.

One last plea: let’s get the total over $10,000 for Corbin and his family. It may seem like a large number, but I assure you it is a drop in the bucket compared to some of the medicine his family has to purchase to give Corbin his best chance to defeat cancer. Some of the pills he has to take cost a few thousand dollars a pop! It’s a tremendous expense and burden on a family already loaded down with enough.

Please donate whatever you can spare. Every little bit helps: www.GoFundMe.com/TeamCorbin.

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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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