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WBC Champ Deontay Wilder Overwhelms Eric Molina in Alabama

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WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder smashed Eric Molina just like he ought to. Or maybe he ought not to have? After all, Molina had no business fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world on Saturday night at the Bartow Center in Birmingham, Alabama (or at least the heavyweight championship of America since Wladimir Klitschko is the true and lineal champion).

No matter. Wilder, age 29, did what he should do when he’s put in the ring with a guy he should knock out. He knocked him out. But it wasn’t easy.

Molina looked timid at the start of things, almost as if he was fully aware he was there to be a sacrificial lamb for Wilder’s Alabama homecoming party. He was passive, sullen-faced and disinterested in throwing punches until he landed a counter uppercut at the very end of Round 1. Wilder was patient. He stayed behind his jab and was content to box from a distance.

The action picked up in Round 2. Molina was apparently just playing possum in the first. He let loose some power shots and Wilder was obliged to answer them with his own. Molina clearly wanted to counter Wilder, but the champion was not falling for it. He was patient with his jab and stayed vigilant in his effort to fight from a distance.

Molina staggered Wilder with a left hook in Round 3, but the champion weathered the storm and landed solid counters at the end of the round when Molina kept trying to throw his vaunted uppercut from too far a distance. Wilder dropped Molina at the end of Round 4 with a left hook. He was badly hurt, but made it to his feet and over to his corner on steady enough legs after the round’s end.

In the fifth, Wilder knocked Molina across the ring with a right hand. He hit him with another to lay him on top of the ropes, and Molina turned his back to eat a Wilder left on his way down for the count. He rose but Wilder dumped him back to the canvas again with a barrage of punches as Molina tried to retreat. Molina used pure guile to make it through the last 20 seconds of the round without going down again.

Molina is a brave man. He landed good left hooks to the head and body of Wilder in Round 6 until Wilder smacked his chin hard with a left hook of his own. By the end of the three minutes, Wilder was battering him in the corner until the bell sounded to save him.

At the start of Round 7, Wilder cracked Molina with a left hook. But Molina held on and answered back with clever shots of his own. He might not have deserved the title shot, but he was damn sure trying to win it.

Molina did good work to the head and body in Round 8. Wilder looked tired. So did Molina, but the latter threw punches with more zip on them. He must of felt pretty good about it, too. He came out in Round 9 trying to do the same, but Wilder put the “bam” in Alabama (h/t Showtime’s Mauro Ranallo who coined the term in the broadcast) and knocked Molina out with a destructive counter right hand to end things there.

Referee Jack Reiss stopped it immediately as Molina lay flat on his back.

It was Wilder’s first defense of the WBC belt he lifted from Bermane Stiverne in January. In that fight, Wilder was in deep waters. But Wilder’s 83-inch reach and rocket-powered punches helped him jab-cross his way to the unanimous decision victory, the best of his career.

That very same Wilder was on display tonight. He looks tall. He looks athletic. He looks talented. He looks promising. And now he looks like he has a heavyweight championship belt around his waist, one that he’s now defended in front of his hometown fans.

But he doesn’t look a match for Klitschko. Not yet.

In the Showtime opener, Puerto Rican fighter Jose Pedraza defeated Andrey Klimov, of Russia, for the vacant IBF lightweight title. Judges at ringside scored the bout 119-108, 120-107 and 120-107 for the 26-year-old newly crowned champion.

Pedraza, a switch-hitter, fought predominantly as a southpaw through the first half of the fight and used good movement to create proper punching angles. His right hook to the head and body was particularly effective, as was his jab. Klimov did his best to cut the distance, but he was slower and less capable of making his punches matter.

The pace of the first five rounds was set by Pedraza. He landed punches, moved and landed punches again. Klimov tried to cut the ring off but he was reduced to being a punch-eating plodder. Pedraza, nicknamed “The Sniper,” was exactly that as a southpaw: He did his damage from long-distance.

But Pedraza turned to an orthodox stance in Round 6. Klimov took that as an invitation to throw more punches, so he did. As a righty, Pedraza fought more like a stalking, pressure fighter. He moved forward instead of using cute boxing techniques, and threw more punches with deadly intent. From this side of the plate, Pedraza did good body work and used a front-hand uppercut to Klimov’s head. It was more of the same in Round 7, and Klimov’s face began to look marked and haggard.

Pedraza was a different fighter as a righty. He threw punches with almost reckless abandon and was extremely effective with entertaining aggression. Klimov did his best in Round 8 to deter him by loading up on some power shots, but Pedraza walked through them with ease.

The southpaw Pedraza returned in Round 9 and stayed for the final four rounds of the fight. He jabbed and moved his way to the easy-breezy win. The victory showed Pedraza’s talent, his skill from both stances and his real potential for becoming a legitimate lightweight star.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME®

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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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