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Blame The Media And Fans If Wilder Picks Another Easy Win Next

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He’s received some noteworthy attention in 2015, having won the WBC heavyweight title in January and then defending it this past weekend with a ninth round knockout over challenger Eric Molina 23-3 (17).

Because he’s built a reputation as being a puncher, most of the analysis on him is partisan. He’s either Thomas Hearns as a heavyweight, meaning he’s the real deal and can put anyone he hits cleanly to sleep……or he’s Alex Stewart with a more imposing build and projection, meaning he’s feasted on second and third tier opposition but will come up short in the big spot against the supposed elite heavyweights currently in the mix chasing Wladimir Klitschko.

Obviously I’m talking about the 6’7″ 230 pound WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 34-0 (33). And based on his showing against Molina, there’s a lot to chew on and dissect regarding his place among the best heavyweights in the world and who he’ll next fight. This being the week after he beat Molina, I’ve read three names being floated as possibly being his next opponent – Alexander Povetkin, Chris Arreola and Tony Thompson.

All three, in-spite of not being contenders like we had in the 1970s and 1990s, are a dramatic step up from Eric Molina, who was stopped twice before in the first round before facing Wilder and was barely a fringe contender. And yet Molina further exposed Wilder’s chin and some of his technical deficiencies and vulnerabilities in a losing effort.

However, that doesn’t make Wilder a bad guy for fighting him. Let’s be honest, if Wilder, Tyson Fury or Wladimir Klitschko were going to fight a killer every time out, they’d probably fight once every two years, if that. And yet I have no doubt and will suggest that it’s not likely we’ll see either Chris Arreola 36-4 (31) or Alexander Povetkin 29-1 (21) swapping punches with Wilder in his next bout. And if I’m looking at it from Wilder’s managerial perspective I can’t blame them. Arreola isn’t the most skilled or sophisticated stylistically fighter in the heavyweight division and everyone knows that – but Chris is very willing and fearless. Add to that he can punch and always lets his hands go, especially early in the bout. And if you noticed against Molina, who is known for having a decent right hand, Wilder fought cautiously and with trepidation early because he was concerned about it. Arreola, unlike Molina, who he stopped in the first round when they fought, would come out winging and looking to instill some fear and worry into Wilder’s psyche, something that if it happened would handcuff Wilder and make him glove-shy like we saw during too many patches versus Molina.

Because of his willingness to fight wide open and because of his mindset, Arreola is a bad match for Wilder. And that’s compounded by the prospect that Arreola is at a crossroads in his career and really needs a win over a name opponent. Make no mistake about it, Arreola would be sky high for the opportunity to get a shot against Wilder and be the first to derail him.

As for Alexander Povetkin, he presents a different set of obstacles for Wilder than Arreola. Arreola is easy to find and hit, and Wilder can punch. So it’s not like Wilder couldn’t catch Chris during one of his wild assaults and stop him. But that doesn’t apply to Povetkin. Actually, Povetkin would test Wilder’s stamina and chin. Alexander is very durable and determined. The only time he was out manned or out gunned occurred when he fought Wladimir Klitschko back in October of 2013. Wladimir, who is physically bigger and stronger than Wilder and is also a bigger puncher, had Povetkin down four times, yet Alexander still went the distance with him. And as overmatched as he was, I never got the feeling Povetkin really submitted or wanted out. Povetkin is a grinder and takes a good punch. In a Wilder vs. Povetkin clash, it’s a safe bet that the fight will go the distance. This is a scary thought if you are managing Wilder. Knowing Deontay will have to fight and hold off Povetkin for 12-rounds is a long time to hope nothing will go wrong for Wilder.

As of this writing Arreola and Povetkin look to be out of alignment for Wilder to fight when it comes to the risk/reward factor. If Wilder beat either Arreola or Povetkin, he wouldn’t get all that much credit for it. Actually, the conversation would go something like this……Arreola has been stopped twice and usually lost when he stepped up in class. On top of that he lost twice to Bermane Stiverne, who happens to be the fighter Wilder beat to win the WBC title. As for Povetkin, they’d say, he lost the biggest fight of his career and was never in it against Klitschko. He couldn’t put away a cruiserweight title holder in Marco Huck, who moved up to challenge him a few years ago. Plus, Povetkin is slow footed and there to be hit by someone with Wilder’s style and reach. So based on the factors mentioned, I just don’t see Wilder fighting either Arreola or Povetkin, although I wouldn’t mind being wrong.

The question is…”What would you do next if you were guiding Wilder?” Especially when his team knows their fighter will be torn apart the next day for beating either Arreola or Povetkin and won’t be lauded for the accomplishment. Keep in mind they have to bring him to the biggest money fight possible against Wladimir Klitschko. And at the same time juggle keeping him active and undefeated. Because if they know nothing else, the boxing public discards fighters wrongly once they’ve lost. If Wilder lost a split decision to Povetkin, he’d be written off as a future hope by the fans and media because that’s how they/me/we are.

I think we’ll see Wilder in the ring next again versus Tony Thompson 40-5 (27) or Carlos Takam 32-2-1 (25). Thompson is big and slow and can’t punch and he’s a big target. He’d be there for Wilder to pot shot and out speed. And Tony isn’t much of a threat to hurt or stop Wilder. Takam has an impressive record over washed up fighters and title challengers. The numbers suggest he can punch a little bit, but the names on his record dramatically refute that.

There will be interest in Wilder’s next fight. It won’t be against an opponent who the fans want to see, count on that. Unlike Floyd Mayweather, Wilder hasn’t made his money yet. And I’m quite sure the Wilder faction understands that once Deontay loses, the interest in him will suffer in a big way. So if you’re unhappy with whom Wilder defends his title against next, remember, because of the template set by fans not having much interest in prominent fighters once they lose, we can harbor some of the blame for how the game is played.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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