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Antonio Nieves vs. Stephon Young

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In a battle of undefeated Junior Featherweight prospects, Antonio Nieves (12-0, 6 KOs) and Stephon Young (13-0-1, 5 KOs) fought to a split draw on the undercard of the Andre Ward/Paul Smith main event in Oakland tonight. One judge found the fight for Nieves 77-75, the second for Young 78-74, and the final card came in at 76-76. Final punch stats for the fight found Nieves landing 143 of 499 and Young just 64 of 329. Young was wobbled by Nieves in the first and the favor was returned to him in the third. Despite the punch stat difference, the fight did feel more even than the numbers suggested.

Round One: Nieves starts as the aggressor. His hands look pretty quick. Throwing combos downstairs and up. Young looks naturally bigger. Nieves is more active than the southpaw, Young. Nieves lands a hard straight right which wobbles Young near the end of the round. Young holds on. He was genuinely stung.

Round Two: Young looks recovered to begin the round. Lands a pair of straight rights on Nieves’ chin. Another straight right and a left hook lands for Young. Nieves seems to have the quicker hands, but Young bounces back nicely after getting buzzed in the first. Close round. Round Three: Nieves way busier overall. 35 of 124 on the punch stats to begin the round vs. Young’s 11 of 63. Pace slows some but then Young lands a hard straight right which hurts Nieves. Nieves backing up, but not holding. Nieves gets his legs back fairly quickly, but this should be Young’s round.

Round Four: Neither fighter going inside much. Young working the jab, but most are landing on the gloves. Young is looking to load up where Nieves is letting his hands go more. Both guys are trading but nothing substantial lands. Not an easy round to score. If the judges want to reward activity then Nieves may get the benefit of the doubt.

Round Five: Nieves almost always throws multiple punches where Young is content to take one shot at a time. Nieves lands a nice left to the body which lowers Young’s arms. A fine left hook around Young’s glove lands, but he takes it well. It’s hard not to want to reward Nieves for his volume.

Round Six: Young still not matching Nieves’ activity. There isn’t a lot separating the two fighters, so unless the judges find Young is landing much harder blows—which there is no evidence of—then Young would do well to pick it up. Nieves is willing to work the body. Young isn’t being hurt by these shots, but he is being outworked.

Round Seven: Young is more aggressive this round. Maybe his corner got in his ear. He is moving forward more now. Nieves backing up more than at any other time in the fight. Nieves throwing some combos, but Young is matching him more closely. Nieves is busier in the last half of the round. Another round that could go either way.

Round Eight: Steph Curry’s appearance at ringside creates more excitement than the fight. Chants of “MVP!” fill the arena. Both fighters are letting their hands go more, but neither is fighting desperate. They have closed the distance and are fighting at closer quarters. Nieves gets cut over the left eye. Young is pressing the action while Nieves is backing up. Young is having his best round since hurting Nieves in the third. Of the eight rounds, only this one and the first and the third look easy to score.

While I would have favored the freer hands of Nieves over the pot-shotting of Young, the decision was a reasonable one. Neither fighter offered much in the way of separation from the other. Both fighters flashed some power and quick hands, but there were no signs of either progressing to elite status anytime soon.

Photo courtesy of Antonio Nieves Facebook

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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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