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Gary Russell Jr. Comes Back With Win

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Featherweight contender Gary Russell Jr. put on a boxing clinic against veteran Chris Martin tonight and scored an easy unanimous decision. Two judges scored the bout 100-90 and one somehow found a round for Martin and turned in a card with a 99-91 result. Russell out landed Martin by a 293-67 margin. It didn’t feel that close.

Russell Jr.’s fight with Martin was not originally supposed to be televised until Anthony Peterson’s camp suddenly replaced his opponent, Yakubu Amidu with the 39-year-old veteran, Hector Velazquez, just three days before fight night. Showtime then bumped the Peterson fight off camera and replaced it with the Russell/Martin bout.

Russell Jr. (24-1, 14 KOs) took to the ring for the first time since losing a majority decision against Vasily Lomachenko for the vacant WBO Featherweight title, in a fight most viewers thought was not nearly as close as at least one judge found it. Russell was looking to get back on track after his first loss in 25 fights by taking on Christopher Martin (28-4-3, 9 KOs), a loser of two of his last three fights, including a 6th round KO Miguel Marriaga on October 1st.

On to the rounds:

Round One: Russell’s pressing the action and his fast as ever hands are already giving Martin problems. Russell digs to the body with fervor. Martin’s few punching attempts appear to be in slow motion compared to Russell’s. Russell’s hand speed and accuracy are making it nearly impossible for Martin to get off. The difference in quickness is almost alarming. Russell finishes the round by out landing Martin by a 20-1 margin.

Round Two: Martin is so slow that it would appear his only chance is to try to mug Russell. To do that, he’d have to be able to get close to him. Something Russell is just not allowing. Martin continues to lope around the ring and Russell just keeps hitting him. Russell doing some great work to the body.

Round Three: Russell bullies Martin into the corner. It seems like he could go for it almost anytime he wants to. This round looks a whole lot like the first two. Russell boxing beautifully and pretty much doing whatever he wants. Martin heads to his corner shaking his head. I can’t say that I blame him.

Round Four: Russell lands a combo that backs Martin up. Maybe Russell just wants to get work in. He’s landing 6-10 punches at a time with nothing coming back. Total mismatch. Martin gets Russell into the corner and lands a solid left to the body. Russell spins out and hits Martin with 5-6 consecutive blows. Martin lands another decent body shot, but can’t get close enough to build upon it.

Round Five: Martin finds himself against the ropes again and takes a number of hard shots to the body along with a couple upstairs. Russell is both patient and surgical. Russell lands a shot to the body and steps on Martin’s foot, causing him to lose balance and his glove touches the canvas. Referee, Jack Reiss, rightly calls it a slip. Maybe that’s Martin’s best chance. To hope that Russell knocks himself off balance by hitting Martin so often. Through 5 rounds, Russell has landed 124 shots to Martin’s 27. Yeah, you read that right.

Round Six: Martin gets Russell in the corner and takes a beating for it as Russell just lands at will. Martin has nowhere to go. Whether it’s the ropes, the middle of the ring, from distance, or in tight, he’s just being thoroughly outclassed. Russell is now taunting Martin. All but begging to come into the corner and get him. Russell has a nice up jab.

Round Seven: Russell moves Martin into the corner, lands several combinations. Martin’s glove nearly touches the canvas, but he’s more off balance than hurt. Russell is increasing his output as he goes along. A lot of these punches are not being thrown with great force. Russell is playing with him at this point. Russell lands a hard shot to the body. Their heads clash and Reiss pauses the fight and rules correctly an accidental head butt. Russell got the worst of it—which is the first time you could say that in this fight on any level—but is not bloodied.

Round Eight: Russell digs a right to the body that stops Martin in his tracks. Martin just can’t let his hands go due to Russell’s always being in his face and body. Russell seems very comfortable. Perhaps too comfortable. Not that there’s any risk to him in the fight, but it would be great to see what he could do if he could floor it. At least it would be more entertaining. Russell goes upstairs and down. Martin seems to be slowing down. Which is no small statement considering how inactive he’s been overall.

Round Nine: Russell opens the round with 15-20 punches before Martin responds with a looping left that was practically depressing to see. Russell seems comfortable to land at will, but he’s not putting his weight behind that many of his punches. I’ll say this, his stamina is pretty impressive. He’s as busy and nearly as quick now as he was in the early rounds. Russell’s corner asks him how his left hand feels. If Russell is pulling his punches, a hand injury would explain that. Still, Russell threw 134 punches in the 9th.

Round Ten: Every round looks the same. Russell is doing whatever he wants. You do find yourself wishing he wanted more. This is just too easy. Anything less than a shutout on all the scorecards is nearly unfathomable.

Russell built up his 24-0 record against subpar competition. The first time he truly stepped up in class was in his title bout against Lomachenko. He did not fare well. I’m not sure what tonight’s bout tells us other than Russell is a supremely physically talented featherweight who simply hasn’t fought many rounds against high class opponents. Russell wants his next fight to be for a belt. I’m not certain he’s going to get it until he gets in the ring with an opponent who asks something more from him.

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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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