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Robert Guerrero Notches Badly Needed Win over Aron Martinez

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Robert Guerrero needed a win badly. He had lost two of his last three fights, both wide decision losses to elite welterweights Floyd Mayweather and Keith Thurman. His only win came against Yoshihiro Kamegai, a B-level fighter at best who managed to drag Guerrero into a deeper end of the pool than The Ghost’s handlers probably wanted.

So Guerrero was matched with Aron Martinez in a 10-round welterweight contest on Saturday. The bout was telecast live on NBC’s Premier Boxing Champions. Martinez is a scrappy fighter who by his own admission would need to rely on conditioning over boxing skill to beat Guerrero. The 32-year-old had lost two of his last three fights, was a light-hitter with only four wins by knockout and had only been in contests scheduled for more than eight rounds three times in his career, losing twice.

But Guerrero found himself in the deep end of the pool again against Martinez. He survived a Round 4 knockdown to swim past Martinez in a hotly contested split-decision. Judges at ringside scored the bout 97-92 and 95-94 for Guerrero, and 95-94 for Martinez. The latter two scores are probably more indicative of the fight. It was close.

Guerrero was surprised early by Martinez’s aggression, and he almost let it hard-charging fighter drowned him with it. “He was coming in head-first,” said Guerrero. “It threw me off a bit.”

Martinez landed solid right-hand counters from a distance in Rounds 1 and 2, and used those successes to bulldoze himself into Guerrero’s chest. He corralled his opponent into the ropes and over to the corner time after time, letting loose a barrage of hooks, uppercuts, crosses—everything he could muster. It worked. By Round 4, Martinez had spilled Guerrero down to the floor like a late night Martini.

But Guerrero rose to his feet, and came back strong. In Round 5, the two continued to fight in close. Guerrero was paying special attention to the body now, while Martinez continued his onslaught of bull-rushes.

In Round 6, Guerrero thought better of things and decided he needed to use his feet to create distance in the fight. He aptly stepped back, threw punches with good torque on them, and made his mark on Martinez’s face and torso without the danger of the previous dogfighting. Guerrero fought smart and brave in the rest of the fight. He used his southpaw jab to keep Martinez from bullying him to the ropes, and threw hard hooks to the body to slow him down more and more as the fight wore on. Martinez only fought brave. He was not able to adjust to Guerrero’s skill from long-range, and he seemed to tire as the fight wore on.

After the fight, Guerrero spoke fondly of a cousin who suddenly died last week, dedicating the fight to her. “Tell God I said hello,” he said with both a swollen eye and a smile.

Guerrero will likely land more PBC dates in the future. At age 32, he appears to be on the downward slope of his career though. He still seems capable of being a scrappy opponent for top-level welterweights, but does not seem likely to win big fights against highly rated contenders.

Still, Guerrero has made a good life for himself. He fought Mayweather in 2013 in the biggest and most lucrative fight of his entire life and pocketed a cool million dollars according to ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael for his work on Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson against Martinez.

With the loss, Martinez likely goes back to a life of obscurity, a fighter who will be drummed back up in the future when a promoter intends to get a star-level fighter a win. There’s good in that for him, too. Because the saving grace for Al Haymon’s PBC series has been the fights have the feeling of being better than they are intended to be. Haymon doesn’t seem to have a good matchmaker in the house, so he pits fighters he wants to showcase against fighters everyone at Team Haymon headquarters thinks their fighter can easily beat. But they’re usually wrong. Guerrero won the fight but could have just as easily been handed a career-threatening loss had the judges at ringside seen things a different way.

So Martinez might find himself in a similar position on a PBC card in the near future. Heck, Guerrero might, too.

Other Notable Action

Former quarterback turned heavyweight boxer Dominic Breazeale defeated Yasmany Consuegra by Round 3 knockout to open the NBC telecast. Breazeale’s powerful right-hand was the key to the fight. Consuegra dominated the first round by landing flush shots on Breazeale seemingly at will, but Round 2 was spoiled for him when Breazeale landed a long right-hand at end of it to put Consuegra down to the mat for the first of three travels there.

Consuegra came out firing in Round 3 but was dumped to the canvas by a right uppercut. He rose to his feet but was clearly shaken. Breazeale sent him back to the blue mat shortly thereafter for the third and final time. Consuegra crawled up to his feet, but the referee wisely halted the action there.

Breazeale appears to be a good athlete. He seems smart when he talks and has a nice disposition about him. But he doesn’t seem like a natural fighter. The 2012 Olympian will likely be built up as much as possible until he is forced to fight someone with talent who is a natural fighter. When that happens, unless something drastically changes, he will lose.

The fights continued on NBC Sports network. Featherweight Jesus Cuellar stopped Vic Darchinyan in Round 8. Darchinyan has now lost five of his last eight fights and three of his last four. His last three losses have come by way of knockout. It is probably time for the 39-year-old to retire. Cuellar, age 28, is a solid-looking featherweight but will have a tough time making his mark in such a stalwart division. Current featherweight stars include Gary Russell, Jr., Vasyl Lomachenko and Abner Mares. Future fights with Russell and Mares seem likely and would make for good television no matter what the result.

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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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