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Another NFL Player Threatens To Take Up Boxing As A Second Career

Frank Lotierzo

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TooTallCardToo Tall wasn't too skilled away from his area of expertise. He thought because he was big and bad he could rule the ring. The ring brought him down a peg. Same will go for Edwards, we're guessing.Alright, it's no secret that almost every man on the planet at one time or another has been involved in a fist-fight/street fight. Most guys did their share of brawling as middle-schoolers up through the time they graduated college or say age 23 or 24. It's funny how many guys look at pro fighters and say boxing, or MMA for that matter, isn't street fighting. And they say it like they're making a point. Really, boxing/MMA aren't street fighting? Of course they're not. They're combat sports with rules. What's funny is, a lot of boxers were led to boxing because they were good street fighters, and I'm sure that pertains to MMA as well.

Most professional athletes realize that they can't compete at the highest level in a different sport. You'll never hear Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis even joke that he could cover Kobe Bryant in the open court. And you'd never hear Kobe Bryant say even on a bet that he could block Ray Lewis at the line of scrimmage. Yet for some reason there are some football, basketball and hockey players who think because they won a few street fights, they can go into boxing and have success. However, you never hear heavyweight fighters say they could be a starting power forward in the NBA or a starting linebacker in the NFL.

It was recently reported in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that if the NFL imposes a lockout on players during the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards says he will look to become a professional boxer and probably fight in April. Edwards has never actually fought in the ring, but says he's used a boxer's type workout to stay in shape and improve his hand usage to shed blocks. Which is night and day different than trying to deliver punches or shed them.

Edwards, 26, stands 6-5 and weighs 268 pounds. His size and bulk would, in actuality, be a drag on his in-the-ring effectiveness. He obviously believes that because he can perhaps make the focus mitts crack when he strikes them, he must be the next Earnie Shavers disguised as an NFL defensive end. It's almost mind boggling how some football players and body builders who never set foot into a ring foolishly think because they're big and have football or weight lifting strength, that they're a potential life taker in the manner of Sonny Liston and George Foreman. I guess if Edwards isn't dreaming of being anything but a novelty act, it's not the worst thing he can do. However, the potential is there for him to get chin-checked and embarrassed.

Only one former NFL player transitioned from football to professional boxing and had moderate success. That was Charlie Powell,  who fought Muhammad Ali and finished with a career record of 25-11-3 (17). Powell played in the NFL for nine years and was a defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. Powell also fought and lost to Mike DeJohn and Floyd Patterson.

I guess Alonzo Highsmith would be next in terms of marginal success. And he fought as an amateur for a while before he was recruited by the Nebraska Cornhuskers. And he was much better proportioned physically to be a boxer than Ray Edwards, standing 6-1 and usually weighing between 225-235 pounds. Highsmith retired from boxing after four years with an impressive career record of 27-1-2 (23). Incidentally, the fighter with the most impressive record that he fought was former New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, who was 15-1 when Highsmith TKO'd him 20 seconds into the second round. Two years after beating Gastineau (whose boxing career was nothing but a sideshow), Highsmith was stopped in his second to last fight by Terry Verners 7-20-2 (5).

Who can forget Dallas Cowboys defensive end, Ed “Too Tall” Jones' excursion into the ring? Remember when he said he was going to knock out reigning heavyweight champ Larry Holmes a week before he made his pro-debut in 1979 versus Abraham “Jaqui” Meneses, all 5-6 of him? And “Too Tall” needed a standing 30 count against Meneses in the last round just so he could survive the round and win a decision. Jones smartly retired undefeated after six fights and went back to the NFL and played better than he ever had before.

The fact of the matter is, football, body building and wrestling strength doesn't translate into ring strength. Just as boxing strength doesn't translate into football or body building strength. Boxers salivate when football players and body builders or power lifters wander into the gym with the mindset they can handle boxers. In my experience, they usually tried to get in the ring with the fighters their size who didn't have an imposing physique. And then they get their clocked cleaned by a guy who wasn't even leaning on his punches or trying to show him up.

Boxing, and other combat sports take years to master. Just because you're a big NFL lineman doesn't mean you can punch or take a punch. History is replete with former NFL and NBA players trying to become serious boxers in their mid to late twenties. And recently only Alonzo Highsmith managed to achieve moderate success, and he boxed before he was a big time college or NFL player. Not to mention a majority of his fights looked like setups. In other words, fighters were possibly paid to come in and make him look good. I say Ray Edwards should heed the advice that Wilt Chamberlain's father gave him when he was going be trained by Cus D'Amato to challenge Muhammad Ali back in 1967. It went something like, you'd be best served working on your foul shots than fighting Ali. And smartly Wilt changed his mind and didn't sign the contract to face Muhammad.

As far as the case pertaining to Ray Edwards, it's plausible that if there's a work stoppage in the NFL this coming season, it'll be short lived. Therefore, he would be best served working on his stunts and bull rushes, they'll come in handy when the strike is settled by October 2011 at the latest.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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