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Bradley Vs. Vargas–Hearing Things

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It’s boxing. Stranger things have and yet still continue to happen. We shouldn’t act so surprised anymore at rotten decisions, feigning shots to the child factory region or anything else that draws our respective ire. To the trained eye or at least to the purest administrator of the eye test, the final ten seconds of Saturday evening’s welterweight clash between Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley and Jessie “El Nuevo Generacion” Vargas was more a case of a seasoned referee slightly cracking under pressure as opposed to displaying his usual grace under the same conditions.

Vargas literally did save the best for last. He connected with a thunderous right cross to Bradley’s chin. The former multi division champion from Palm Springs, California almost went face to floor with the canvas, but he didn’t. He used what he had left in his veteran bag of tricks to stay afoot to the few moments left in a bout he had deservedly won.

The shot from Jessie was simple yet effective.

A thought–judging by the sparse attendance at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, the Las Vegas based fighter could have reared back to row ZZ in the upper balcony section to gather even more power for himself.

Bradley knew he had to survive for just a bit longer, so he didn’t just try to get on a bicycle. He tried to jump a train. None of this should have seemed awkward to even the most casual boxing fan. If the object of the sport is to not get hit, then it goes without saying that once a fighter momentarily yet dangerously has his clock cleaned, then he should try his best to not get hit again. That’s all Tim tried to do. After a brief clinch, referee Pat Russell was simply looking to make Vargas aware that the tangling had to go, yet perhaps he wasn’t aware of where time stood in regard to the amount left in the round.

To be sure, the majority of us can decipher the clear audible differences between a sound akin to sticks breaking and a loud ringing of a bell. One is wooden and the other is some sort of metal. One echoes while the other resonates. Sounds easy enough, yes? Russell heard the customary clicking of sticks at ringside to signal ten seconds left in a round. He was in the middle of conversing with Vargas and he made a quick yet baffling decision. Pat thought the fight was over. He didn’t wave his hands high into the air to signal that he’d called the fight due to a knockout or a fighter’s inability to continue. Rather, he used a short flick of the wrists just as our parents would to signal, “no more of that.”

Either way, the job is much harder than it looks.

Jessie Vargas, through no fault of his own, thought that Russell was calling the bout to a close and ran across the ring in a very understandable celebratory fashion. Alas, it was not to be.

Let’s be fair or more to the point, frank with ourselves. Mistakes happen. The scene at the Stub Hub Center was much like when a time out is called in a football game just as a kicker has booted a potentially game winning field goal. The ball splits the uprights, but the score doesn’t count because the clock was halted just in the nick of time. The time-out goes as planned and then the kicker shanks the same kick just moments later. It’s gut wrenching to watch and likely tenfold in misery for the athlete in question. Jessie Vargas had to be crushed when reality set in.

The fact is that Bradley won the bout in a convincing fashion manner and he didn’t have to use his ramrod of a head to do it. Tim almost got another raw deal. He almost showed up at McDonald’s at 10:31am only to be told that breakfast was no longer being served. In any case, the right man won and the right decision was made. Thankfully, what we didn’t see was an all too familiar case of an up and coming fighter being pushed through with another questionable decision simply because he made it through the contest upright. Likewise, we didn’t see a recognizable fighter get by on his name alone. In that regard, the result was a refreshing one.

Bradley’s only 31 and he never deserved the harsh criticism leveled upon him after his 2012 win over Manny Pacquiao or his victory over Juan Manuel Marquez eighteen months later. He’s still a very good fighter with a still tremendous upside and Saturday evening, Jessie Vargas showed those with HBO why he belongs in the conversation for the near future. The snafu in the ring didn’t change anything.

Boxing isn’t the theater of the unexpected as much as it is that of the unsurprising.

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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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