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“A Nasty” Anthony Crolla Beats Darleys Perez; Murray Is Gutted

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Crolla achieves emotional World title dream

Manchester man lands belt with brutal body shot – Murray edged out in Germany

Anthony Crolla says it will take a long time for his incredible WBA World Lightweight title win over Darleys Perez at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night to sink in.

Crolla delivered a stunning body shot in the fifth round to KO the Colombian champion in their rematch in front of a vociferous hometown crowd to rip the title from Perez and complete his fairy tale comeback

The Manchester favourite was roared to the ring by the fans and absorbed that energy for his second crack at the title after a controversial draw with Perez in July – and set about the champion with gusto. Crolla, who turned 29 during fight week, said ahead of the fight that he felt confident he could both hurt Perez and take the champs’ power.

Crolla enjoyed success early in the piece and most pertinently hurting Perez at the end of the fourth round to the body, and with 42 seconds of the fifth round to go, ‘Million Dollar’ sunk home a lethal left hook to the body that poleaxed the visitor and saw a crazy year in the life of Anthony Crolla come full circle.

Just before Christmas in 2014 as he was in camp for a January World title battle with Richar Abril, Crolla was recovering from a brutal attack in a hospital bed after confronting intruders at his neighbours house, and he didn’t know whether he’d box again.

A successful rehabilitation led to a shot at Perez at the Manchester Arena in July only for the fight to end in a controversial draw – but Crolla’s brilliant performance ensured that he’s ready to write a sparkling new chapter in his life.

“This is what I have dreamt about since I was a kid,” said Crolla. “To achieve it, well, it is going to take a long time to sink in – I’m absolutely made up. I couldn’t have picked a better setting to have achieved my dream, all my family and friends were in the arena and the fans were incredible.

“The people who have been with me from day one were all there and I am so happy to have done it for them too. It’s a tough time of the year for people to dip into their pockets and pay for tickets so I am grateful to them and I hope they had a great night.

“It’s just under a year since the attack and all that has been well-documented, I promised myself when I was laying on that hospital bed that I would come back stronger than ever and that’s what I have done.

“I knew after a few rounds that he was feeling the pace and he made a few noises when I hit him with some shots, he was sharp though and he was hitting harder than he did last time, I took a few stupid shots early on but I thought I would get to him and it paid off. I felt confident before the fight that I could get him out of there.

“That’s the best body shot I’ve thrown in my career. I was touching him up top and I knew as soon as he went down that he was going to struggle to bet the count. He was sat down for a few minutes after the decision so it caught him perfectly, I’ll look forward to watching it back again and again.

“I am capable of more than that – it was a good finish but it wasn’t a great performance.”

Crolla’s trainer Joe Gallagher was pleased with his charges’ performance though, and now has three World champions in his Bolton gym, with the promise of more to come in 2016.

“It was a good fight while it lasted,” said Gallagher. “It was nip and tuck, Anthony caught him early in the fight with a body shot and I told him not to get carried away to the head, look to the body and take the legs away from him. I thought Perez was beginning to come apart a little bit but what a beautiful shot that was.

“I thought to myself at times, if you can’t win when you have a two-point deduction in the fight like we did in the first one, you are not going to win. When you have seen some iffy decisions in the past, I’ve told the boys, you have to look to win World titles by KO, and Anthony has set that example.

“I wanted a nasty Anthony Crolla, that has always been in him and he pulled it out tonight. He knew he could hurt Perez and he did it.

“I’m so proud of all the boys in the gym, they have all had their setbacks but they’ve worked very hard to get the rewards that they are enjoying now.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn added: “Perez started well and looked fit and sharp, but in the fourth round Anthony started having success to the body and Perez looked uncomfortable. Very rarely at World-level do fighters not get up from body shots, when the count was at five I shouted to Anthony ‘stay calm’ but then I looked over and you could tell he was not going to recovered. It was a beautiful shot.

“I always say that he’s the nicest guy there is, and it’s true. I was worried that with the first fight being close, that was his chance gone, and he was so relaxed in the dressing room that I was a little concerned too, he was laughing and smiling, but that was just how relaxed and composed he was.

“Kevin Mitchell has a really tough fight with Ismael Barroso but Crolla vs. Mitchell is a massive fight, Jorge Linares and Crolla is a really big fight, there’s Luke Campbell and Ricky Burns, Terry Flanagan could be a stadium fight in the summer – there’s some huge fights ahead for Anthony and he completely deserves it.”

Over in Germany, Martin Murray came agonisingly close to making it a double-celebration for north-west fighters in World title bouts, only to come up on the wrong side of a split-decision in a tense clash with WBO World Super-Middleweight belt holder Arthur Abraham.

Abraham now joins Gennady Golovkin, Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm as champions who retained their crowns despite being pushed all the way by Murray.

Murray tried to finish it off but Abraham held on and made it safely to the bell. In the ninth he came again. Murray’s counters were good but the champion seemed to have regained all his wits quickly enough.

The challenger tried to impose himself upon Abraham in the latter rounds after that success, but crucially in the 11th round, the referee took a point from the St Helens’ man for holding.

Murray pushed the Armenia-born German all the way but scores of 115-112, 112-115 and 116-111 saw him come away from the bout in Hanover empty-handed, and his first reaction was to think about his future.

“Obviously I’m gutted,” said Murray. “I really thought it was my night and when the final bell went – even though we were in Germany – I still thought I had it. I still thought I had done enough. When they said it was a split decision even then I still thought I’d got it.

“I know I’m too good to retire but the way I am feeling now, what can I do? It was my fifth shot. I just can’t keep doing this. I just can’t keep doing it to my family.”

Hearn believes that Murray still has plenty to offer though, and has urged the 33 year old to return strong and aim for a fifth shot at glory next summer.

“There are so many big fights at Super-Middleweight for Martin and I want him to have a little rest, come back in the New Year and go again in a big fight at World-level in the summer,” said Hearn. “Abraham is so underrated. People say he’s one-dimensional, but he has a wonderful defensive guard, he hits hard, he’s strong and fit, and he’s very hard to beat. I hope he keeps his head up as he put in a great performance and he should be proud of himself.”

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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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