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Martinez Batters Dzinziruk…KIMBALL

George Kimball

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Martinez Batters DzinzirukTSS U, please weigh in. Give the suits the benefit of your wisdom…Who do you want to see Martinez fight next? (Hogan Photos)The suits at HBO got some splainin’ to do.

You may recall that the network’s reward for Sergio Martinez’ Fighter of the Year performance in 2010 was (a) forcing the middleweight champion to forego his mandatory against  Sebastian Zbik, effectively getting Maravilla stripped of his WBC title, and then, in defiance of all logic, strong-arming Martinez and promoter Lou DiBella into a fight against the immortal Ukrainian Sergiy Dzinziruk, whom HBO insisted would be a more competitive opponent.

We hold little brief for Sebastian Zbik, but it’s hard to see how he could have been a more unworthy opponent than Dzinziruk. From the opening bell, Martinez treated the WBO junior middleweight champion with utter disdain, battering him from pillar to post for the less than eight rounds Dzinziruk managed to remain erect. Martinez not only thoroughly out-jabbed (147-80) a boxer whose stock in trade was supposed to be his jab. Martinez knocked down Dzinziruk, who had never before been off his feet as an amateur or as a professional, five times in all before referee Arthur Mercante intervened on humane grounds to stop the one-sided rout at 1:43 of the eighth.

Martinez, who also presumably retained his WBC “emeritus” title, was rewarded by becoming the organization’s second “Diamond Belt” champion in running his professional record to 47-2-1.  (Dzinzurik, who retains his Body Odor 154-pound title despite suffering his first loss, is now 37-1.)

For all the heroics he displayed in his stirring wins over Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams last year, Saturday night’s win at the Foxwoods Casino was undoubtedly Martinez’ most impressive win – not because of the opponent, who didn’t offer much opposition at all, but because he beat Dzinziruk at his own game while thoroughly imposing his will upon him throughout the evening.

After dominating the first three rounds behind his jab, Martinez scored the first knockdown of the evening in the fourth when he drove Dzinziruk to his haunches with a left and then caught him on the top of the head with another left, causing the Ukrainian’s knee to touch the canvas just long enough to elicit a count from Mercante.

The second knockdown, a round later, was more emphatic, as Martinez landed two successive right-left combinations to drop Dzinziruk on his backside just before the round ended.

Dzinziruk managed to stay on his feet through the sixth and seventh rounds, but in the eighth Martinez followed a jab with a hard left to the jaw that sent him down again. Dzinziruk arose somewhat shakily, and was shortly dispatched to the canvas yet again by another right-left combination. Mercante allowed the fight to resume, albeit briefly, when Martinez caught Dzinziruk with a short right (he was already on the way down when Martinez missed a sweeping left and then landed another right) the referee took him into protective custody.

The Argentinean champion (fighting for the first time in eight years without trainer Gabriel Sarmiento, who withdrew from his corner on three days’ notice, citing mysterious “personal problems) afterward called out both Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. He will get neither wish, and may have cemented his position as the fighter nobody wants to fight. As spectacular as Martinez’ performance may have been, if there was a lesson to be drawn from all of this it is that HBO should henceforth let promoters promote and leave the matchmaking to the matchmakers.

Ireland’s Andy Lee, who went into his bout against Scotsman Craig McEwan touted as a prospective future opponent for Martinez, didn’t do much that was likely to frighten the champion, and had to rally from the deep hole he had dug himself on the scorecards to score a come-from behind tenth-round knockout.

Lee, who had beaten McEwan in their amateur days back in Europe several years earlier, dominated the first round, wobbling the Scotsman and bloodying his nose.

“It was probably the worst thing that could have happened,” said Lee. “I thought I could take him out after that, and kept loading up, trying to knock him out with one punch.” McEwan, who seemed emboldened by each succeeding round, was consistently backing Lee up as he won the next five rounds in succession. Lee, who seemed confused and dispirited during this interlude, looked as if he were sleepwalking. Having surrendered so many rounds that he had pushed himself to the brink (“I knew I was losing the fight, but I told myself ‘if he’s going to beat he he’s going to have to kill me,” said Lee later), Lee eventually began to punch in combinations, and in the ninth dropped McEwan with a right-left combination.

Although HBO’s Jim Lampley would describe Lee’s coup de grace as a “career-saving punch,” going into the tenth two of the ringside judges had the fight even at 85-all, as did The Sweet Science.  McEwan was already on rubbery legs when Lee landed a huge overhand left. Referee Steve Smoger waved it off at :56 without a count, but McEwan remained on the canvas for nearly a minute. Lee is now 25-1, McEwan 19-1.

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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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