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RASKIN’S RANTS: Bute, Bouie & Booties




ButeAndrade_Snow_2Well, the heavyweight championship showdown between Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye is in the books, and it was so compelling that I’m going to start this week’s column by answering an email about … Lucian Bute:


Have you heard that Bute is calling out Pavlik? After Pavlik was dominated by Hopkins three years ago, TKO’d by Martinez, went through rehab, and struggled against an ordinary boxer in his last fight, now Bute wants him. Bute has looked good against his recent opponents, but they are all very limited. How far is Bute from “fraud” status?

—Steve the Greek


Good to hear from one of my favorite boxing-loving Canadians. And nobody can accuse you of being a homer, as you’re coming down hard on “your boy” Bute. Before I get to the heart of your comment, a quick correction: Martinez did not TKO Pavlik. With the help of a cut, he beat him by decision in a competitive fight. In retrospect, that loss doesn’t really count as a strike against Pavlik.

As for Bute, yes, his opposition has been soft, but by virtue of his exclusion from the Super Six, his options have been limited. All of the best fighters in the division other than him have had tournament obligations for the past two years. So it’s hard to claim he’s ducking anyone. Especially because, by all accounts, he wanted to fight Mikkel Kessler next and it was Kessler who avoided what I believe would be a likely one-sided defeat by turning down the fight.

All things considered, I think Pavlik is a reasonable choice of opponent. Yes, his name value probably exceeds his actual pugilistic stock at the moment. But finding advantageous risk-reward ratios is a time-honored tradition in boxing. I’d make Bute the clear favorite, but I don’t think he’d beat Pavlik with ease. Sure, I’d rather see Kelly shake off the rust with one or two more tune-ups first. Still, if Bute-Kessler can’t be made, Bute-Pavlik is a fine substitute.

To me, the word “fraud” doesn’t apply to Bute. He’s certainly less proven than Andre Ward or Carl Froch, and that’s why they’re both currently ranked ahead of him at super middle in any objective ratings. But he’s the number-three guy at the moment, he’s beaten a couple of decent fighters, he’s only had one fight that made him appear “exposed” as something less than he was purported to be (the first Librado Andrade fight), and he is a talented fighter in my opinion. I’m willing to give him a little more time before facing the toughest tests. He can wait for the Super Six to finish, call out the winner, and then we’ll see what happens. But for now, he’s no more a fraud than Joe Calzaghe was a few years into his title reign, and we know how that turned out.

Okay, it’s Rants time. And I suppose I have to address this Klitschko-Haye thing:

• This was pretty much the worst-case scenario for boxing and for fans’ hopes of having something to look forward to in the heavyweight division. It’s not Klitschko winning that was such a disaster (though Haye winning would have opened up more appealing future possibilities); it’s Klitschko winning without doing anything memorable. And yes, it’s the same old story on that front. But I’d hoped one or both fighters would sense that this fight meant more than others and was being viewed by a larger audience than others and would seize the day. In the end, neither seized much of anything.

• I saw a couple of people refer to this as “the best win of Klitschko’s career.” If that’s true (and I don’t believe it is—how quickly we forget two dominant victories over a highly rated Chris Byrd), then doesn’t that say everything that needs to be said about why Wladimir’s tenure at the top has been unfulfilling?

• Even though he won handily, Klitschko still looked shaky and vulnerable in spots. Against a semi-decent heavyweight like Haye, I came away more convinced than ever that Wladimir would be in serious trouble against any elite heavyweight from the past 50 years. Vitali might be a different story, with his awkward style and reliable chin. But Wladimir? While he’s among the top two of his terrible era, I’m not so sure he would have ranked among the top five in the ’90s era or the ’70s era. One fellow writer on Twitter called him an “ATG.” If that stands for “all-time good,” I agree wholeheartedly.

• I couldn’t help but notice that in HBO’s excellent opening to the broadcast (the edited piece that preceded the World Championship Boxing theme song), there wasn’t one mention of Vitali. HBO was building up the significance of this fight, and of course, the existence of Vitali detracts from that.

• Okay, time to rip Haye a little bit. You know what a fighter with a broken toe should do? Don’t move too much, come forward, throw some bombs against the chinny champion, and see what happens. Basically, he should have done … exactly what we all said he should have done even when we thought he had 10 healthy toes. Haye proved in the first few rounds that he was actually a credible opponent in terms of ability, but he was not a credible opponent in terms of willingness to do the things he needed to do in order to have a chance of winning.

• And, really David, what the $%&@ were you doing raising your hand just before Mike Buffer announced who those three scorecards favored?

• Something to think about: Would Haye have pulled out of the fight with a broken toe three weeks ago if he hadn’t already put his reputation on probation with the pullout last year?

• All is not lost, David Haye. Your modeling career will hit the stratosphere should either surgical booties or shiny silver capes become en vogue.

• Here’s how you know Klitschko-Haye was a fight for which it was easy to pick a winner: Even Teddy Atlas couldn’t bring himself to predict the upset.

• Can’t say I’m shocked to hear that Paul Williams is contemplating retirement. His process for selecting a comeback opponent felt like an aging cop in his final week on the job doing everything possible not to have to put on the bulletproof vest.

• Can’t say I’m shocked to hear that Jermain Taylor is coming back. He’s a fighter.

• Excellent observation last week by Editor Mike about how Floyd Mayweather is starting to look his age facially. On a related note, Floyd makes Sidney Crosby look like Tom Selleck in the moustache-growing department.

• I’m definitely curious to see the Mayweather-Victor Ortiz episode of Face Off With Max Kellerman—if for no other reason than to find out which phony personality each participant decided to use.

• Rest in peace, Bouie Fisher. Bouie is on that short list of people about whom nobody has a bad word to say (except maybe Bernard Hopkins, but everybody gets on Bernard’s bad side at some point, right?). Anyway, it was pleasing to learn the day before Bouie died that he and Bernard had mended fences. And Fisher’s legacy as a trainer will live on every remaining time that we get to see Hopkins take some younger, more athletic fighter to school.

• I’m setting the over/under line on the quality of Kimbo Slice’s boxing career at “Dustin Diamond.”

• I don’t know who that Brian Kenny guy was that ESPN2 had in the studio this week, but he was really good at that job. Let’s hope we see more of him.

• Speaking of guys I’d like to see more of, Sebastian Lujan remains one of my favorite under-the-radar badasses in boxing.

• Ring Theory ( returns this week after a mini-vacation, with special guest Al Bernstein of Showtime and joining me and Bill Dettloff. I’m almost as giddy about having Al on as I am about announcing the updated scores of my Quick Picks competition with Dettloff. It’s only a matter of time before Bill starts claiming to be making predictions with a broken pinky toe.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura




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




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




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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