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Born on October 20th, 1955…. Aaron Pryor, ‘The Hawk’

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Former Light Welterweight Champion of the World Aaron Pryor was born on October 20th, 1955 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Known as ‘The Hawk’, the fearsome Pryor took an extensive amateur background and turned into a professional career that saw him scale the heights of the boxing world.

On November 12th 1976, after sitting as an alternate for the 1976 Olympic team, Pryor turned professional. Over the course of the next 4 years, Pryor worked his record to an impressive (23-0) with 21 stoppages when on August 2nd, 1980 he faced the experienced Antonio Cervantes (87-10-3) for the WBA Light Welterweight title at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati. Pryor got up off the canvas in round 1 and he was behind on the cards when he ended it in 4th via TKO.

Pryor would be a fighting champion, as he defended the belt 5 times, winning all 5 by stoppage before his most memorable fights, a pair of matches with all-time great Alexis Arguello, whom he first fought in 1982. Prior to meeting Arguello, Pryor was scheduled to fight ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard in a bout that Pryor wanted badly. The match, which Pryor had already signed for, fell through when Leonard was diagnosed with a detached retina and retired from boxing. Pryor is reported to have pulled his car over to the side of the road and cried when the fight with Leonard fell apart.

It would be on November 12th, 1982 (exactly 6 years after his first pro bout) that he first met Arguello, the three division champion who was trying to win a title in a 4th weight class and was more than a 2 to 1 favorite to defeat Pryor. What resulted was history in the making, and a signature moment for Pryor’s Hall of Fame career, as 23,000 plus spectators watched him TKO Arguello in the 14th round of a scheduled 15 in a fight that was later called ‘The Fight of the Decade’ by The RING Magazine. The RING also went on to call it the 8th ‘Greatest Title Fight of All-Time’. Arguello would use the boxing commission’s failure to administer a post-fight urine test on Pryor, as well as the evidence that Pryor trainer Panama Lewis was recorded between rounds 13 and 14 asking for a specific black bottle to lobby for a return bout.

For the re-match, in September of 1983, Pryor trained for 2 weeks with Emanuel Steward, after Panama Lewis had his license revoked for allegedly tampering with the gloves of Luis Resto when Resto fought Billy Collins Jr. Despite the turmoil, Pryor had an easier time of the fight, dropping Arguello in the opening round and never looking back until the stoppage came in the 10th. Shortly after the match, which was his 8th defense of the belt, Pryor retired for what he later called a ‘short rest’ and the WBA stripped Pryor of the title.

By the start of 1984, Pryor had returned and he was scheduled to return in a big money fight with WBA Lightweight Champion Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini, but Mancini got beaten by Livingstone Bramble, so the match never materialized. Like with the Leonard fight years earlier, Pryor shed tears over the loss of the opportunity.

The International Boxing Federation was coming into being around the start of 1984, and when Pryor announced his return, the nascent sanctioning body bestowed upon him their World title. Pryor would defend the title twice before the IBF also took the action of stripping him of the belt they had given him, due to inactivity, in late 1985. Pryor would go on to have problems getting a license to box because of problems with his eyes, and Pryor would be denied licenses in New York, California and Nevada. Pryor’s decline was further exacerbated by alcohol and drug problems that further derailed his career. Old rival Alexis Arguello is reported to have met Pryor sometime in 1986, and described him as “110 lbs” and went on to say that he felt that Pryor had not even recognized him. Despite all the problems, on August of 1987, after a layoff of 29 months, Pryor returned to the ring and absorbed the only loss of his career when he was KO’d in the 7th round by journeyman Bobby Joe Young. Pryor fought three more times in his career, culminating in the December 4th, 1990 fight against Roger Choate (6-3). He won all those fights, but all descriptions of the fights paint a picture of a fighter long past his prime. Pryor retired for good in 1990.

Pryor continues to live in Cincinnati with his wife Frankie. They raised 4 children together, and Pryor is said to be drug and alcohol free since 1993. In retirement, Pryor has been helping to guide the careers of sons Stephan and Aaron Jr. Pryor opened a gym and he has done work as a deacon with the Baptist Church.

In December 1999, the Associated Press voted Aaron Pryor as the “Greatest Jr. Welterweight of the Century”, and Pryor is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has an overall career record of 39-1, and he was the dominant force in the boxing world at Light Welterweight from 1980 to 1985. Pryor retired from boxing with an impressive 11-0 record in World Title fights.

Happy Birthday to ‘The Hawk’, Aaron Pryor.

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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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