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THE BIG 5-0: Happy B-Day To B-Hop

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Photo Credit: Greg Gorman

BOXING LEGEND AND FUTURE HALL OF FAMER

BERNARD HOPKINS CELEBRATES 50

PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 15, 2015) – Boxing legend Bernard Hopkins is known by many names – “The Executioner,” “The Alien” and “B-Hop” to name a few. Beginning today, he will have yet another moniker – “50-year-old.”

This is an important milestone in the life of the future Hall of Famer. He is celebrating a birthday that for most athletes comes long after their retirement. It is remarkable that he is not only still active, but just months removed from fighting at the very pinnacle of his sport.

Hopkins is a surefire first ballot addition to the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) when he becomes eligible. His decade-long run as world champion, combined with unifying all of the belts in the division, gives him a claim to being the greatest middleweight of all time. The fact that he put together a second-career that saw him unify light heavyweight titles lends credence to Hopkins’ claims that he is “not of this world.”

“I come from an old school of boxing where you fight the best out there and prove yourself,” said Hopkins. “I want to be an example for the young fighters coming up that in order to be successful in the sport, you have to protect yourself at all times. That means in and out of the ring. I’ve been able to do that as I am still fighting while also celebrating my 50th birthday. This is my testament to success.”

Throughout his career Hopkins never backed down from facing the best. His fight-by-fight reads like a who’s who of Hall of Famers, world champions and top-flight boxers. Hopkins faced all three fighters inducted into the IBHOF in 2014, having beaten Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad and dropping a decision to Joe Calzaghe. He holds multiple records for his run at middleweight, including the longest reign as world champion (10 years, two months and 17 days) and for the most consecutive title defenses (20).

At light heavyweight and into his forties he continued to make history. In May 2011, Hopkins defeated Jean Pascal for the WBC Light Heavyweight World Championship, passing George Foreman as the oldest boxer to ever win a world title (46 years, four months and six days).

He broke his own record two years later when he defeated Tavoris Cloud for the IBF Light Heavyweight World Championship (48 years, one month and 22 days). In 2014 he set another record as he became the oldest fighter to unify world titles when he defeated Beibut Shumenov to add the WBA Light Heavyweight World Championship to his IBF crown.

“No one can deny the legacy that I’ve created in this sport. I am really proud of what I did, who I fought, how I matured along the way. I feel really good about something no one can take away or deny my place in the sports’ history,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins’ does hope to leave a legacy beyond the sport of boxing, specifically as a pillar of health and fitness for the African-American community and the over-40 crowd. Both of Hopkins’ parents passed away before the age of 50, due to complications of diabetes and heart disease. This has led the champ on his crusade for clean living that gives him satisfaction in the organic foods that he cooks himself.

“We only live once and our bodies are our temples. I am not going to eat something that is not good for my system,” said Hopkins. “I fuel myself with energy producing foods. Without this daily habit my body would have given up on me a long time ago.”

Hopkins has also long fought for the rights of his fellow boxers. Famously testifying before Congress in support of the Muhammad Ali act. In 2014, Hopkins appeared at the United States Capitol building to help raise the profile of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health’s comprehensive study of professional boxers and the effect their sport has on their brain.

In the last decade, Hopkins has been contributing to the sport as a promoter. Since his 2005 middleweight title unification bout with Oscar De La Hoya, Hopkins and “The Golden Boy” have formed a partnership with Hopkins owning a percentage of Golden Boy Promotions and helping promote their fights all over the country.

On January 20th, Golden Boy will honor Hopkins’ 50th birthday with a special edition of Golden Boy Live! on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes live from the 2300 Arena in Hopkins’ hometown of Philadelphia. Philly’s own Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter will headline the night of fights. He will take on Rene “Gemelo” Alvarado in a 10-round featherweight bout.

“I believe in investing in this sport and that means stepping up to the plate as an athlete and as a promoter,” said Hopkins. “I have an opportunity and a responsibility to the fighters and the fans to make this sport the best it can be.”

Whether you admire him for his work inside the ring, or the way he lives his life outside, there is no denying that Hopkins is one-of-a-kind. When he eventually leaves the sport it will be bittersweet, as he once said:

“Enjoy this while you can. Don’t worry about when or how I’m going to leave or break down. You guys are all humans, I understand you, but you don’t understand me.”

Wish Bernard a ‘Happy Birthday’ on Twitter @TheRealBHop and use the hashtag #BHOP50.

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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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