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Houston Fight Report – Alfonso Lopez Stops Juan Manuel Reyes

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A gray-haired gentleman in his forties, with his lovely wife clutching his arm, said it best on Saturday night as he exited the Ayva Center in Houston, Texas. “Well, that was different,” he said to his better half as the two strolled to their car after witnessing the eight bouts featured on fledgling promotional company G&M Boxing’s inaugural Fight Night series.

The main event featured Alfonso Lopez, a super middleweight from Corpus Christi, Texas who made it just about as far as any club fighter from the Lone Star State could hope for. Lopez has been on television numerous occasions and his claim to fame is once losing a majority decision to former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.

Lopez dominated Juan Manuel Reyes in the main event of the evening. The latter fighter employed a half-witted strategy of bending down low at his waist and attempting to grab Lopez as the much larger fighter, now campaigning at 175 pounds, pummeled Reyes until the bout was halted after three one-sided rounds.

But that wasn’t nearly the most interesting fight on the card, nor was it the worst mismatch. And there were plenty of both.

Interesting was the set-up at Ayva Center, a converted night club with ample room for the around 1,500 attendees who came to see the fights. It appeared G&M put a lot of money into making everything look nice. There were at least 25 pretty girls with staff shirts on standing around the venue who didn’t have a clue about how seating worked or just about anything else. But they all had the same outfit on so you knew they worked there.

Notable light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara was in attendance sitting ringside, but wasn’t noticed by anyone until one of his crewmembers won one of the various raffle drawings conducted by the announcer and ring card girls between every fight. The winner took home a large Floyd Mayweather “The Money Team” poster but seemed more excited to tell the audience how his friend, Fonfara, was scheduled to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. soon on Showtime.

Above the ring on all four sides were large, 50-inch flat panel televisions. One had to wonder two things about them. First, was the makeshift construction of such large items really all that safe sitting atop a ring that seemed to move and shudder at the slightest of combatant footsteps? Second, since they were only 50-inch panels, who exactly were the TVs intended for? If you were close enough to the ring to also see the television set, you didn’t need it.

There were picture-taking opportunities with all the featured fighters after they won their bouts. That makes more sense if you saw the one-sided matchmaking of the fights. At least three of the undercard fighters in the blue corner appeared to have never boxed a minute in their lives before the bell rang on Saturday for their “professional” debuts. One poor sap, Anton Fuller, slid down slow to the mat as if he would stay there until someone came along to scrape him up to bury him after Hector Garcia knocked him silly in Round 1 of a scheduled four rounder. Don’t worry. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation was on hand to momentarily halt the fight card after the slew of egregious and outrageous mismatches to make sure everyone at the venue wasn’t drinking out of glass bottles. They must be poured into a plastic cup! This for everyone’s safety, of course, except for the three or four young men who came to the ring in swim trunks, basketball shoes and only a vague concept of how to hold their hands up like a boxer. Don’t bury your head about them too low. They had some guy in their corner with them who didn’t even carry a towel and probably has never thrown or even eaten a punch in his life either.

That’s not necessarily an indictment of G&M Boxing. Every young fighter with some money behind him fights these types of fighters, or something close, during his first few bouts. It was just something too easily recognizable because those in attendance witnessed four of them in the row, all quick and ugly knockouts of fighters who had almost no business being in the ring that night. But don’t shake your finger at anyone too hard in righteous indignation. Chances are that your favorite fighter, whether it be Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr. or Muhammad Ali, knocked out a few of these guys along the way, too. That’s boxing. It maybe shouldn’t be. But that’s it.

Nonetheless, the final four bouts on the card were entertaining. Junior middleweight Rogelio De La Torre defeated Ramon Barber by majority decision in a four rounder. The two men put on the fight of the night, likely the even draw one of the judges scored it, except for the fact that De La Torre was in the red corner with the rest of the expected winners and the other two judges remembered poor Barber was brought into the venue to lose.

The two most interesting fighters on the card—meaning the ones you might someday care about even if you live outside of Houston—were Devonte Williams and Tomas Dorsey. Williams, a 21-year-old junior middleweight from Houston, knocked out the tough-but-outclassed Anthony Hill for the sixth win of his career. Williams works with Edward Jackson, a local strength and conditioning coach who does the same for Andre Ward, Erislandy Lara and Bryant Jennings. The lanky and well-schooled Williams was the 2013 National Police Athletic League champion in the 152-pound male senior open division and appears to have real potential as a prizefighter. Moreover, he was matched decently and had to work to get his knockout win, something G&M Promotions should probably consider for future shows, too.

But the most fascinating fighter of the night goes to heavyweight Tomas Dorsey of Houston. The 40-year-old, 205-pound bowling ball of muscle stands only 5 feet, 6 inches tall but has speed and power to die for. He cut down Armando Herrera, a fighter who outweighed him by over forty pounds, with the skill and precision of a young (and shorter) Mike Tyson. Dorsey has legit power. He knocked Herrera down a total of three times in three rounds from both head and body shots. And perhaps most interesting was how decent the height-challenged fighter’s defense appeared. His shorter frame gave the hard-swinging Herrera a small target, and his fast, athletic movements made him the better man of the night.

In short, G&M Boxing is a welcome addition to the local Houston fight scene. Yes, they have some kinks to work out if they are to catch up with the area’s premier promoter, Savarese Promotions. Yes, they offered some sadistic mismatches on the early part of the card. Yes, they probably need to learn where to focus their efforts a little bit. But the fight card was well attended, and the fighters they promoted on the card (aka the red corner) were in shape and ready to fight. These men were the types who have dreams about bigger things. Most of them will fail. But there were some on the card who looked like they might accomplish something in boxing, the roughest and toughest of sports.

Watching them try isn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday night in Houston.

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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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