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Alfonso Gomez Predicts War with Yoshihiro Kamegai

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Alfonso Gomez (24-6-2, 12 KOs), a two-time world title challenger and former star of “The Contender” reality television series on NBC, faces Yoshihiro Kamegai (25-2-1, 22 KOs) of Japan on Friday night, March 20th at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.

His prediction? “War!”

Gomez is a scrappy battler. He placed third in a field of 16 in “The Contender” back in 2004, a group which included Sergio Mora, Ishe Smith and Peter Manfredo, and went on to have one of the better post-reality TV series runs in boxing.

The 34-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico has defeated notable contenders Ben Tackie and Carson Jones as well as the late Arturo Gatti, a 2013 inductee into the Boxing Hall of Fame. Gomez also earned a technical decision win over veteran tough guy Jesus Sotas Karass in 2009 and a round 6 stoppage over Jose Luis Castillo in 2010. His last three losses, all coming after his decision loss on “The Contender” to Manfredo in 2004, came against world-class opposition: Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and Shawn Porter.

Gomez said he’s thankful for the path he’s had in the sport, one fraught with both stifling setbacks and unlikely opportunities.

“It was great,” Gomez said of his TV fame. “It gave me the kind of exposure that many fighters, even world champions, don’t have. In turn, it gave me great opportunities that I was able to capitalize on…like defeating Jose Luis Castillo and headlining against Arturo Gatti. Those kinds of victories catapulted me into even bigger scenarios, like the ones with Cotto and Canelo, which ultimately I did not win those fights. But the experience factor and the lessons learned? That’s something I know that only being there can teach you.”

After a 10-round decision loss to Porter in 2012, Gomez stayed out of the boxing ring for almost two years. He said he pondered whether he’d ever return, but after feeling his body recover from the rigors of a fighting man’s life, Gomez said he discovered he still had a deep love for boxing within his heart.

“I had a lot of injuries going into the Canelo fight, as well as the fight with Shawn Porter, so like any wounded caterpillar I just decided to go into my cocoon and evolve into a better being. So I guess you guys kind of saw that in my last fight against Parades, a much more poised, more experienced fighter and a more intelligent boxer who fought a tough, young kid who had a very impressive record, a good fighter.”

Caterpillars aren’t wounded when they enter their cocoons, but the metamorphosis they undergo within them is the salient point. Gomez said he’s emerged from his stasis as a professional a smarter, better fighter than he’s ever been, something he believes fans got a taste of during his 10-round win over Ed Paredes last year.

“I went in there and showcased what I believe now. This is a perfect opportunity and opponent to do that again.”

Gomez expects a tougher bout against Kamegai, who was on the losing end of a Fight of the Year candidate last year against Robert Guerrero.

“I’m fighting a solid, jabbing Samurai warrior, a Kamikaze who is willing to die in the ring. So I expect that type of fight, even better than the one he had with Guerrero because nobody likes to lose twice in a row.”

Gomez said his whole life has prepared him to be in this position. He expects not only a rough, good fight, one that will elevate his career and the sport in general, but a win over Kamegai, one that will be a giant leap forward for him as a marketable boxing commodity.

“I do believe that this fight will be tough. But I also believe I will overcome the toughness of Kamegai and really prove to people I am a fighter who is at a different level mentally and physically, one who is ready to take on even bigger challenges.”

Gomez seems to have his head on straight. That’s something that shouldn’t be taken from granted when dealing with someone who has been involved in as many rough fist fights as him. But he said he’s healthier than ever now, in both body and mind, and even when he started to wonder what life might be like for him if he just stayed out of the boxing ring for the rest of his life altogether, he realized he still had much more left in the tank.

“There’s always the doubt in your head, but ultimately I was raised to believe I was the descendent of kings. My mom used to say that when we were kids. I used to laugh at her. I’d say ‘Mom, I’m not the descendent of kings!’ And she’d say, ‘Yeah you are. You can do anything you want.’ So that got encrusted into my head so much that at this point I just can’t turn away from it.”

Gomez loves boxing. He loves training. He works with his dad and is close to his team and handlers. And while he’s headlining the card on Friday night, he’s a man who has had to fight his way from the very bottom of the sport to get there.

Ironically enough, Gomez said his first professional prizefight was at the very same venue where he’ll fight Kamegai. Back then, Gomez was merely the opponent brought in to be a body. But Gomez won a four-round split decision over Pedro Antonio Ochoa and carved out his role as a spoiler.

“That’s the story of my life. When I die, the epitaph on my tombstone will read: He overcame life’s obstacles.”

Gomez lost the second fight of his career to Ishe Smith, the same one he’d later place higher than in “The Contender” series. Most of his time after was spent taking whatever fights he could get, fighting as substitutes for other promoters, taking fights on short notice, etc. Even after his television fame, Gomez found himself being brought in as an opponent. Gomez wasn’t supposed to defeat Gatti or Soto Karass, but he’s ever the spoiler, this hard-nosed scrapper.

“I’m so happy to come into this fight on an even playing field.”

Gomez vs. Kamegai is a fight that could get lost in the shuffle of boxing’s absurdly busy spring schedule, but it absolutely shouldn’t. It has the potential to be a real barnburner, one that might even turn out to be a Fight of the Year candidate. And if you doubt Gomez is the kind of fighter who could participate in such a thing and win it, he’s ready to prove different to you.

“They have no idea who I am. They have no idea what I have evolved into. I can’t wait for Friday so I can show it.”

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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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