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Golovkin vs Lemieux – Pay TV Material?

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2015 has entered its final third and as is such, boxing begins to provide us with at least one or two bouts which can potentially involve more than just one person occupying the living room couch.

Gone are the days where one fighter is the biggest selling point regardless of the competition.

A few decades ago, a young miscreant from the Catskill Mountains of New York by way of Brownsville, Brooklyn was able to polarize many a fight as well as sporting fan to the point of fixation over his exploits in the ring. Granted, his biggest nights in terms of eyes and interest came much later in his career, yet Mike Tyson ignited an almost atavistic peculiarity within us that made his often quickly executed destruction of his terrified opponents a sight to behold.

Anticipation of the eventual knockout followed him from the first bell and the oddities that often flowed from his lips in post fight interviews made even the shortest night a fun one. Another first round knockout? Not exactly the squarest return on one’s pay TV investment, yet the punishment of sitting through an indigestible undercard made the wash in the main event the nicest sort of letdown.

Ahead we jump two to three decades and on to the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. This Saturday evening, boxing’s current knockout king, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (33-0, 30 KO’s) will lay the majority of the middleweight division’s titles on the line as he faces IBF champion David Lemieux (34-2, 31 KO’s).

The unbeaten Golovkin has recently entertained crowds from New York City to Monaco to Los Angeles. He’s provided many a change in facial expressions for those who are not only enthused by his crushing knockout power, but his delightful and good natured attitude outside of the ring as well.

With the exception of one fight in December of last year, Lemieux has not fought anywhere other than his hometown of Montreal. Promoters and pundits alike had set him up to be the pugilistic sidekick to Lucian Bute in the Quebec city, yet he suffered two consecutive knockouts in 2011 to Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine, respectively. The last three years for David have been much better, as he’s prevailed in all of them (seven of nine by way of knockout).

In other words, we may indeed see Golovkin matched with someone who has the audacity to fire back and do so with perhaps comparable power. So, the question must be posed: now that the “big two” of boxing have now met or are near the twilight of their respective and stellar careers, is Gennady Golovkin taking part of the torch of big time fights or having it tossed to him like a grenade without a pin? More to the point, is Saturday’s contest on pay TV in the United States going to be an experiment or the norm for the Kazakhstani fighter with the huge smile? What’s known to us is that he knocks out the opposition with intense fury and might. For some, such as sports radio and TV personality Stephen A. Smith, that’s enough to push “GGG” as not only an unbeaten champion, but with as many knockouts as victories (as he professed to a caller from Washington, D.C. on Tuesday afternoon over the air) as well.

How many pay per view buys can Saturday night’s telecast aspire to collect? One quarter million? Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions believes that his fighter is ready for the spotlight based on the raucous turnout of his previous outings.

“HBO wouldn’t have given us the green light to put this on pay TV if they didn’t believe in it,” said Loeffler last week during a media conference call. “A great indicator of those sales is ticket sales. We sold over 15,000 tickets in the first week. Gennady is breaking through into the mainstream. We knew that neither fighter had been a part of a pay per view like this, but we think fans will really respond to this.”

Perhaps when one lives in one of the five boroughs of New York City or within a few hours’ train ride of Madison Square Garden, a ticket to see a potential slugfest may prove to be an evening to savor. However, are casual, as opposed to hardcore fight fans prepared to spend $49.95 or more to see the bout at home? Let’s face it, the majority of us won’t consider watching hardly anything in standard definition these days, so the HD markup of ten dollars is scarcely an issue. Is the sports world ready to embrace as well as push for crossover appeal towards an extremely likable fellow from the former U.S.S.R.? His grasp of English is near to that of Manny Pacquiao and he’s much in the same mold inasmuch as a gentleman outside the ring and a whirlwind within it.

Are we ready to move forward? Are times changing or are we staying the same? Time will tell.

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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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