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Abraham Scrambles Stieglitz In Their Fourth Fight

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HALLE, WESTFALEN – Arthur Abraham brought his three-year, four-fight rivalry with Robert Stieglitz to an indisputable conclusion with a mesmerizing 6th round TKO. Until just moments before that, the contest had been typically close and typically exciting.

“At this level there are no easy fights, no mater what happens,” summarized a slightly marked Abraham. “This was very hard to achieve, but the important thing is that I won.”

Gerry Weber Stadium is a very cool looking place. Known for tennis and framed in green, watching the crowd’s late afternoon arrival in the relatively isolated countryside, you could imagine what it might have been like in Pierce Egan’s Boxiana days. as a swarm converged across the hills for a bare knuckle battle.

Abraham and Stieglitz had already fought 29 rounds against each other, but the rivalry remained unresolved. Abraham had a 2 – 1 lead in the controversial series, but Stieglitz had the only stoppage between them in the deadlock.

All judges and ref Earl Brown hailed from the US. Let’s hope that says something about fairness. It didn’t bode well for Stieglitz that nobody on his side of the line-up card was victorious prior to the main event.

Perhaps in relation to the previous trilogy, there were three sets of introductions from entertaining UK ring announcer Russ Bray.

They traded exploratory jabs in the first frame as both wound up with wild rights. The initial round was basically even, but just before the bell Stieglitz landed a single counter to the point of Abraham’s chin. It was the only clean tag of the session, so we gave it to the challenger.

During the pause trainer Ulli Wegner, unusually calm, asked Abraham for more action. Abraham delivered, but paid the price with a broken tooth and a bloody nose as Stieglitz’s busier work rate gate him a slight early edge.

Both men threw multiple combinations and started to find the range in round two but there was still little to spate them on the scorecards.

In the 3rd, Abraham knocked Stieglitz off balance with right hands that started to land with increased frequency. Abraham was credited with a flash knockdown in the 4th but replays showed it was actually a slip from tangled feet. To his credit, Stieglitz kept fighting without complaint.

In a consistent pattern, Stieglitz continued to pepper for much of a round until Abraham roared back behind big right hands. For the reserved Abraham, it was an act of extreme bravado when he motioned a wind-up with his right glove, but it was also a hint of what was to come.

Abraham’s strength had him in control by the middle rounds, but he looked like he was getting winded. It still appeared to be anybody’s fight in the 6th session, when a very compact, very devastating right counter caught Stieglitz on the temple and froze him into one of those surreal, spellbinding scatterings of consciousness that terrifies and thrills a crowd.

Stieglitz’s body planked and his face showed a disconnection from reality. He looked like a short-circuiting robot as his hands moved in instinctive spasms, while he crumbled to his knees in a reflex action, some spark inside still trying to fight back.

Stieglitz took the count and jumped up just in time, looking ready for more. Just as ref Earl Brown prepared to motion them in, Abraham pointed to Stieglitz’s corner, where trainer Dirk Dzemski stood holding a towel aloft in concession.

It was one of the most dramatic TKOs we’ve seen, and an absolutely great call by Stieglitz’s corner. Official time was 1:14.

“I didn’t pay enough attention to his right hand,” admitted Stieglitz, now 47-5-1 (27). “My trainer made the right decision.”

For Stieglitz, it was the brutal type of loss that has to make a fighter consider their future in the sport. The good news is that Stieglitz’s team at SES Promotions seems like the type to always put the fighter’s health first.

For WBO champion Abraham, it was his first knockout since 2012 and improved his already considerable marketability in Germany. The fight drew a 16.2 market share for broadcaster SAT.1, with 3.61 million viewers in a country much smaller than the US.

It might not be his most prudent move, but it would sure be nice to see what happens if Abraham and GGG start trading hooks. Too bad the necessary financial incentive for Abraham is probably prohibitive.

A rematch with Andre Ward has also been mentioned as a possible option, but that seems highly unlikely though I think Abraham did a better job against a then-prime Ward than Abraham was given credit for in the Super Six tournament.

A match with WBA “whatever it is” super-middleweight titlist Fedor Chudinov would be highly entertaining, but certainly not the best risk/reward move since the relatively unknown Chudinov looks like GGG did a few years back, a formidable force about to emerge.

It would also be highly entertaining and probably highly profitable if Abraham and Felix Sturm finally engaged, but Sturm’s plans are reportedly still pending a spiritual revelation in Mecca, during more important reflections.

As Egan might have noted about Abraham: “The German can be righteously content that the sporting fancy continued to smile brightly upon his rugged personage, and will be quite induced to witness his next bold adventure in the noble arts. This was a spectacle of pugilism’s near-highest echelon, until landed the cruel finisher which sent those witnesses back to their comfortable chambers in awe and lust for continued conkers. In the pubs, they toasted the victor until dawn.”

Whatever the time or twilight zone, it was a fine evening at the fights that made it look like the sport is indeed, timeless.

For now, Abraham, 43-4 (29), remains atop a comfortable boxing scene in Western Europe. “King Arthur” may not truly rule the 168-pound division, but he has earned the newly-trending moniker “Abra-hammer” in these parts.

He definitely put the hammer down on his rivalry with Stieglitz tonight.

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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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