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Lanell Bellows Embraces the Underdog Label

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Lanell Bellows isn’t supposed to be here. Hell, considering where he grew up on the tough streets of Compton, you could argue he’s fortunate to be anywhere. As an only child living in an area where gang-related activity was the norm, Lanell had to learn to be a fighter. There was no big brother or any siblings to look over his shoulder or steer him in the right direction. As Lanell told me, “self-defense was a must. I didn’t learn it through boxing, I learned it through hands-on training.”

Lanell Bellows (seen above, landing, in Team Bellows photo) had to manage these hard knocks on his own. And so he did.

Always a fan of the fight game (he speaks of Tyson, Ali, and Hagler with reverence), it was not until he reached the ripe age of 22 that he actually stumbled into a boxing gym after moving to Las Vegas. I guess you could say he never really left. He took to the science and strategy of the sport right away. He was in love.

Lanell believes when it comes to boxing, “You get what you put in. You are responsible for your own actions in this sport.” The only child in Lanell was drawn to the idea of it being “all on my shoulders. I can be the reason for my own reward.”

His short amateur career resulted in a quarterfinal finish in the Nationals to make the USA Olympic team in 2011. Lanell (12-1-1; age 29) got one more shot at making the team later that year in Mobile, Alabama and fell just short. Still, considering he had been fighting on mostly heart and brute strength, his results were exceptional and surprising. Especially to Lanell himself, who began to think this could be a career.

Having scrambled for pro fights on his own, since debuting in 2012, he knew at some point he would have to step up into a bigger gym to forward his career. That’s when he left the Richard Steele gym and joined the Mayweather Boxing Club. He quickly earned a reputation as one of the hardest workers in the gym, garnering the notice of Floyd Mayweather Jr. himself, who asked Lanell to spar with him when he was training for the Cotto fight, which occured in May 2012.

Lanell held his own against the slick moving champion and Floyd took note. At the end of their session, the champ threw his arm around Bellows and said, “you’re with me now, I’m going to take care of you.” The door to Mayweather Promotions had just opened and Lanell eagerly walked through it.

So Lanell began to fight under the TMT banner. Having come to boxing late and having fought just 33 times as an amateur, Bellows experienced some early struggles. A split draw against Roberto Yong that saw the newcomer hit the canvas for the first time was followed by a majority decision loss to the veteran Eddie Hunter four fights later. Lanell took these results personally and decided going forward, he would never leave it in the judge’s hands again or at least make sure his performances would be too decisive for them to be ruled as anything other than victories on his ledger. The question he asked himself was: “what must I do to never feel this way again?”

Early career setbacks like these could discourage a fighter from going forward or at least reduce their heart for the game. Not so with Bellows. Lanell looked at those two results as opportunities to learn and gain experience. He may be 29 now, but he still feels young as a fighter. He puts in his work and has quickly become a student of the game. He’s still learning about himself and what he has to offer. As he told me, “I’m still figuring out how talented I am.”

Since that loss, Lanell has rolled off six consecutive wins, culminating with a clear unanimous decision victory in a rematch with Hunter. Bellows did not consider it his greatest performance, but it was his first time going 8 rounds and he finished the fight feeling fresh and held dominant results on the scorecards (2 of the 3 judges gave him every round).

I asked Lanell if he feels a sense of urgency to make his mark having come to boxing late and having only 14 pro fights under his belt. His reply slightly surprised me. “There’s no sense of urgency,” Lanell said. He pointed out that he is still only 29 and due to his late start he has not suffered the “wear and tear” other fighters have at his age. What Lanell may have to make up for in experience, he does not need to add in health and conditioning.

Known as one of the hardest workers in the Mayweather Camp (some would say “THE” hardest worker), Lanell puts in the hours and training and does so with great rigor and commitment. This is a man who knows himself. He is aware of what he needs to learn, the work that he must do, and the priorities he needs to set. He referred to himself as “humble, but hungry.” He wants to get everything he can out of the sport while he’s in it and with the shape he’s in and the accelerated pace of his learning curve, he appears to be on the right track.

It’s common in this sport we love to think of most fighters as tough guys who may not be the most likable people. From those looking on from just outside the sport, the opinion is often worse than that. Either way, it would be hard to spend any time with Lanell Bellows and not be charmed by his gravelly Iversonesque voice which exudes decency, his patience and willingness to be open, and the warm way he speaks of his children. Lanell’s motto is F.O.E., Family Over Everything.

When not training or in the ring, Lanell enjoys nothing more than hanging at the homestead with his two boys and watching movies with them. I could feel him light up when discussing his two boys Lanell Jr., and Lavell. He’s a young man who adores his mother, who visits him frequently, and loves those tough California streets he grew up on.

Don’t think he’s soft though. As Lanell told me, “I’m chill out of the ring, but I’m an animal in it.” He’s a puncher/boxer known as “Mr. Knocc Out,” and that’s what he’s coming to do. That family around him doesn’t sap his strength. It adds to it. He knows just what he’s fighting for.

Lanell has big goals. He was once a young man who put on boxing gloves and sparred with his friends in the front yard, never thinking more would come from it than that. Now he wants to be the super middle weight champion. He’s aware that his background in the sport makes him the underdog. It’s not a label he runs from, it’s one he embraces. The thing about Underdog is he was an overachiever. So is Lanell Bellows. That glove just fits.

Lanell Bellows fights next June 20th, on the undercard of the Adrien Broner-Sean Porter fight.

You can follow Lanell on Twitter: @lanellbellows, Facebook: Lanell Bellows, and Instagram: KO Bellows

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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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