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The Great White Hope?

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This Saturday night in Atlantic City, New Jersey Wladimir Klitschko takes a supposed step up in class when takes on the rugged Ray Mercer. This big Ukrainian is the consensus choice among boxing insiders to be the heir apparent to Lennox Lewis. Some even believe that Klitschko, a 1996 gold medalist and current WBO heavyweight titlist, could down Lewis right now. Sorry, but I think that talk is a wee bit premature.

I'm not saying this guy can't fight( because he can) or that he doesn't have the God-given physical tools needed( at 6'7, 245 pounds, he has more than enough size) but the truth of the matter is that outside of a win over Chris Byrd, he's beaten about the same level of pretender that a Michael Grant once went through as a prospect.

Francois Botha, Charles Shufford, Derrik Jefferson, Monte Barrett, Phil Jackson, Axel Schulz and David Bostice all dot his resume and were taken care of in dominant fashion. But what I still can't get out of my mind is his one loss- a knockout loss to Ross Purrity, in which he would run out of gas in the 11th frame after dominating much of the action. Yes, yes, I realize that Sonny Liston's first loss was to a Marty Marshall, that Larry Holmes had once reportedly quit in an amateur bout to Duane Bobick and that a young Cassius Clay came within a split glove of getting stopped by Henry Cooper. But still, running out of gas against Ross Purrity?  Color me suspicious. And don't forget that his brother quit on his stool against the light-punching Chris Byrd. Are the Klitschko's, the 'Quit'chko's? Are they protected frontrunners who are lucky to be under the safe promotional umbrella of Universum? Even guys who have been vanquished by Klitschko aren't believers.

” In my opinion he's really nothing,” says Francois Botha, who got stopped in eight rounds by Klitschko back in March. Botha, who has also been in there with the likes of Lewis, Mike Tyson and Michael Moorer says that he was plagued with influenza EMB and a liver infection prior to facing Klitschko.” I believe that Ray Mercer will knock him out. He's a very basic fighter, just jab-right hand, I blocked all of his shots. If I had a little bit of energy left in me the fight probably wouldn't have gone two or three rounds. In my opinion he's really not that good. He took eight rounds to get rid of me and I was actually a dead man after the first round. I was very, very weak.”

Max Kellerman of ESPN2 thinks Klitschko is given his lofty status because he could be the only guy to down Lewis at this present time.

” Klitschko, is the one guy out there that seems to pose a threat to Lennox Lewis,” stated Kellerman. “because of his size and his pedigree, he's a gold medalist. He's reminds me of a heavyweight Diego Corrales, very smooth, effecient machine. 
He deserves the number ranking based on his win against Chris Byrd.”

But Kellerman says that win is also tainted. ” Chris Byrd has complained that his eyes were burning in that fight and he couldn't see. And were that in and of itself, maybe you say,' Well, Byrd is being a sore loser' or whatever. Many fighters have now come forward and complained about their eyes burning when they faced a Universum fighter.

” Chris Byrd is one, Obed Sullivan I've heard is another, Richard Hall is another, Montell Griffin is another, Freeman Barr is another and all these fighters are complaining that their eyes are burning, so it makes you think mayb there's some legitimacy to that. Nevertheless, until these allegations are proven, you have to give Klitschko a lot of credit for beating Byrd- a guy only two fighters have been able to beat.”

Wow, there are so many conspriracy theories floating around that you'd think Oliver Stone should be writing this piece. The only thing missing is allegations of a third punch landing from a grassy knoll. But it has to be said, Klitschko is the prototypical 21st century heavyweight, who is a good athlete and can hurt you with either hand.

But I just wonder what happens when someone gets inside his lengthy reach and makes him throw it into reverse gear. And he has to do it outside the safe confines of Europe where he won't necessarily be the crowd favorite.

Will Mercer be that test that he needs? Well, he was back in 1996, the 2002 version of Mercer I'm not so sure. Since his life-and-death struggle with Lewis at the Madison Square Garden six years ago, Mercer has been beset by promotional, managerial and health problems. And he hasn't been the most active fighter to boot. Not exactly the type of recipe you need to cook up an upset of Klitschko. Mercer, comes in with a reputation of having a solid jab and a cast-iron chin but reports say he was less than stellar in those departments in his last fight against journeyman Brian Scott in October. But hey, if Purrity can outlast Klitschko, it wouldn't be completely out of the realm of possibility for Mercer to still be competitive or go more than a few rounds.

But lets say that Klitschko passes this test with flying colors and eventually proves all his critics wrong, could he capture the imagination of the boxing world? Afterall, he's white and he can fight. Perhaps, but only to a certain degree in America. Yes, he may be white, but in this country we like our Caucasion fighters, corn-fed and white bread. Klitschko, is seen as more Ivan Drago than Jack Armstrong.

But while Kellerman agrees with that notion to a point, he thinks a great heavyweight can trascend all races, color and creed.

” Yes, because he's European and people want an English speaking heavyweight without an accent,” concurred Kellerman.” And yet you think a white heavyweight is marketable but you know what? A dynamic heavyweight is marketable. Mike Tyson, was huge and he was black, they want someone who can capture their imagination. Klitschko, part of his appeal is that he's a tremendous offensive fighter.”

We may not find out everything we need to know about him against the 41-year old Mercer, but we'll know a lot more than before.

JOSE SILLYMAN

Have you heard the latest pablum coming from that blowhard Jose Suliaman, the president of the WBC? He says that his organization will not support another bout between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales because in his words,” that it could be detrimental to the image and integrity of boxing by supporting the perception that those things are done only in the interest of the business. Once again, integrity is the basis for the WBC not to participate in a third fight.”

Ok, where do I start? First, forget this talk of a robbery in Barrera-Morales II, over half the ringside media hand Barrera winning-some by as much as four points. Hell, this isn't even half as questionable as the first bout when Barrera got jobbed. Secondly, I think Suliaman is more upset that Barrera said openly that he would not accept the green belt of the WBC and after getting the decision he would hoist a WBO belt afterwards. And lastly, Jose, integrity over business?
Ok, please explain to me how your organization had any business rating one Mike Tyson as it's top ranked heavyweight. I'd say that was a business decision.

This guy sounds more like a promoter( or a puppet of one) than a president of what is supposed to be an impartial sanctioning body.

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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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