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Khan-Bradley: A Year Ago It Would've Been Bradley, Not Now

Frank Lotierzo

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KhanMaidana_Hogan_26As most boxing fans are probably aware of by now, if WBA junior welterweight title holder Amir Khan 24-1 (17) gets past Paul McCloskey 22-0 (12) on April 16th, he's slated to meet WBC/WBO junior welterweight title holder Timothy Bradley in July. For the better part of the last couple weeks Khan and Bradley have been taking verbal shots at each other, and apparently they are serious about really wanting to face each other. Take note, Floyd Mayweather. If you had any intention of clearing up the confusion in the welterweight division as to who is the best fighter in it, a fight with Manny Pacquiao could be made in a week.

The pairing of Khan and Bradley comes at the perfect time because they both recently fought on HBO's “Boxing After Dark” and won high profile bouts against two of the best the junior welterweight division had to offer. In December of last year, Khan won a unanimous decision over the hard punching and highly regarded Marcos Maidana. And this past January, Bradley won a technical 10-round decision over undefeated WBC junior welterweight title holder Devon Alexander. And as recently as February 19th, Bradley appeared on “Boxing After Dark” and appealed to Khan to make the fight happen. Last weekend, Khan obliged Bradley on HBO's “Boxing After Dark” and asked the same thing of him.

What's going on in boxing? Can it be that over the course of one week boxing will see the often talked about but much delayed Wladimir Klitschko-David Haye heavyweight title clash made along with Khan and Bradley (two of the best junior welterweights in the world) being tentatively set.
Had Khan and Bradley signed to fight a year ago, most fans probably would've favored Bradley to come out on top. Ever since Khan was knocked out by Breidis Prescott in the first round two and a half years ago, Amir's reputation has taken a hit, as it is the case when all big name high profile fighters are the victim of a one-punch knockout. But since then, Khan has looked good against stern opposition and hasn't looked the part of a fighter who may have been psychologically damaged. And his showing against the hard punching and aggressive Maidana was impressive. In fact Khan was in the greatest shape of his career, and it was that conditioning which pulled him through a few rough patches during the fight when it looked as if Maidana was trying to impose his will over Khan.

Actually Khan boxes much better than he used to, partly because he's aware, much in the way that Wladimir Klitschko is, that he has defects that have to be guarded. Some fighters never recover after being the victim of a devastating knockout, and some like Khan and Klitschko escalate their game because they accept their deficiencies by over-compensating with their defense along with fundamentals and basics. Khan also puts together terrific combinations and can be a debilitating body puncher. Bradley's body might be hard for Khan to get to, but his accurate combinations will go along way in impeding Timothy's aggression.

As for Bradley, he wasn't very impressive against the clueless Devon Alexander. I think when all is said and done, Bradley's physical strength was the difference and swung the fight in his favor. Alexander was clearly the better boxer but Bradley really pressured him and forced Devon to have to fight more than he allowed him the latitude to box. In the rounds Alexander won, he got off first and disrupted or slightly impeded Bradley's aggression, which was what he needed to do in order to win the fight. The only problem for Alexander was, that took a lot out of him physically and he couldn't sustain it. That's why just when it seemed he was back in the fight, he lost the following round because he had to catch a breather. When Devon couldn't get off first, he was forced to punch with Bradley, and as you saw that favored Bradley.

It's doubtful we'll see that scenario when Bradley faces Khan. Khan is physically bigger and stronger than Alexander. And Khan punches better than both Alexander and Bradley. And if Bradley can't push the fight effectively, Khan is liable to take him apart on the way in. So from a match-up perspective, it looks as if the style contrast favors Amir Khan. Khan's chin will always be an issue when he fights, but Bradley is no banger and will not be able to force Khan into doing anything he doesn't want to do.

With Khan and Bradley set for this coming July, it looks as if the junior welterweight division will finally get sorted out.

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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