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The Klimas-Kovalev Story

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Klimas and Kovalev Pose with Championship Ring

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

Egis Klimas: The Man Who Believed in the Krusher When No One Else Did

Kovalev’s Journey From Unknown to Superstar

Las Vegas, Nevada: On July 25, 2015 WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) will defend his three world titles for the second time against IBF mandatory opponent Nadjib “Iron Djib” Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs) but the road to success was not an easy one for him and his manager, Egis Klimas, who reflects on the journey.

Kovalev was introduced to Klimas via a mutual friend, Anatoliy Rubinchikov, and the two met for the first time in Kazakhstan prior to Kovalev’s professional debut. Klimas was travelling to Kazakhstan with his long-time friend and trusted advisor Don Turner, so the two of them met with Sergey together. Turner said he knew instantly that Kovalev was a special fighter, “He was an interesting guy. He was shadow-boxing and he never changed the expression on his face and I thought this guy is for real. So I told Egis that this guy can’t miss.”

After their meeting it was decided that Sergey and his fellow countryman, former IBF Featherweight World Champion Evgeny Gradovich, would go to North Carolina to train at Don Turner’s gym. During that time Turner remembers a quiet Kovalev, “Sergey was quiet. He don’t talk much. He never talked that much. He just trained hard. He trained real hard.”

Don Turner Celebrates Ringside Kovalev’s Victory Over Pascal

Turner’s gym is located deep in North Carolina farm country, surrounded by corn and tobacco fields. According to Turner, “My gym is like old-time fighters. You isolate yourself and focus just on boxing. Fighters today don’t want to fight; they want to play. Fighters of 40 or 50 years ago they trained like nine or ten months a year. Today these guys train for six or seven weeks at a time. Sergey and Gradovich were one of only a handful of fighters that didn’t want to leave my camp. Sergey and Gradovich were serious.”

Klimas added, “Sergey and Gradovich were the only ones who lasted at Don’s gym. It is a huge hangar in a field surrounded by fields. The closest town is like ten miles away. Sergey never complained to me once. Now he tells me a lot of stories about that time, but when he was at camp he never complained.”

During this time Klimas paid for Sergey to fight on various cards trying to secure him a promotional deal, but he was unsuccessful. “I spoke with many promoters,” explained Klimas. “I went to Top Rank, Golden Boy, DiBella, Gary Shaw and Sergey was on all of their shows. Nobody could really see him because he was stepping in and knocking guys out in two rounds. Also, I couldn’t get the very good guys to fight him so everyone would just say that he beat another bum. They couldn’t really see what I saw. I saw his training; I saw his work ethic and his attitude. The promoters didn’t see much of him. He would usually fight on the first fight on the card so there was really nobody around to watch and they thought that I was just building a record for him.”

Finally, Klimas was ready to give up and leave the boxing business but the counsel of Don Turner changed his mind. Turner said, “I told him to keep doing and I said, ‘Why don’t you go to Main Events?’ I told him not to quit boxing because he put too much money into it. I said, ‘Man, you at the threshold of making money. Why you gonna quit?’ It is just like everybody that comes to the camp; they be two or three fights away from making money and they want to leave.”

“When he was already 18 fights and I knew to go deeper I would have to have a promoter, Don Turner said I should talk to Kathy Duva from Main Events because he knew her very well,” said Klimas. “He said she is a good promoter and he had a good relationship with her back in the day. I went to New York and called her and we decided to meet. She came with Jolene [Mizzone, Main Events’ matchmaker] and we decided to make a deal.” That deal would prove to be the turning point. In his fourth fight with Main Events, he knocked out previously-undefeated champion Nathan Cleverly to secure the WBO Light Heavyweight World Championship. Now, three years later, he is the Unified WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion.

Main Events CEO Kathy Duva continued, “I didn’t know what to expect from Sergey when I met with Egis the first time, but I left that meeting convinced that Egis was a manager we wanted to work with. While Jolene and I were meeting with him, we lost an important fight. Egis went from selling us on Sergey to helping us find a replacement without missing a beat. A few months later, Sergey rematched Darnell Boone on one of our cards and I was sold on Sergey. I’ll be forever grateful that Egis and Sergey came into our lives.”

When asked about his relationship with Egis, a grateful Kovalev added, “I’m very happy I got to meet with Egis. Egis believed in me and I believed in him and our union worked to get high stage of boxing. I wish the best to Egis!”

About Kovalev vs. Mohammedi

WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) will compete in his first mandatory title defense against Nadjib “Irondjib” Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs) on Saturday, July 25 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. The co-feature will include a ten-round light heavyweight match-up between Jean Pascal (29-3-1, 17 KOs) and Yunieski Gonzalez (16-0, 12 KOs). Tickets are on sale now and start at $25. Tickets can be purchased through TicketMaster and all MGM Resorts Properties Ticket Offices. The HBO World Championship Boxing® telecast begins at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

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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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