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Yuri Foreman Has A Message For Those Who Say He Quit…WOODS

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photo by Chris Farina

He had the look of someone who might just have had enough. Yuri Foreman, as he sat on his stool in his corner after the sixth round, after six rounds of not feeling like himself, of taking punishment from a New Jersey wrecking ball named Pawel Wolak, looked like an athlete who wasn’t quit sure if he wanted to stay being an athlete.

On the advice of his corner, in this case trainer Pedro Saiz, who has worked with Foreman for more than four years, Foreman figuratively threw in the towel before the start of the seventh round of his junior middleweight bout on the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga undercard at the MGM in Las Vegas.

Right after, Foreman told viewers that he didn’t feel like himself, felt “mushy,” and that he’d take some time off to assess his options.

I called the 30-year-old Foreman on Thursday, and checked in with him. I was wondering if the guy who had been fighting for 18 years might have done more assessing, and decided that it was over.

“After a break, to re-charge my batteries, I will be hungry again,” he told me. “I love sports, I love boxing a lot. But I have been doing it for 18 years. As I get ready for fights, my preparation is good, I train so hard. But this one, I was doing on habit. I was not as driven.”

Foreman’s had a full plate the last year and a half. He won a title, defended it against Miguel Cotto, tore his knee in a loss to the Puerto Rican, had a baby boy, suffered the loss of a beloved co-manager, Murray Wilson, a father figure to him, had surgery on the knee, rehab. He admitted that it was all a bit much.

He’d like to strengthen that knee more, so he could restore some mobility not in evidence enough against Wolak. He will focus on his rabbinical studies as he continues to get his mental energy back to where it needs to be a world class fighter. And he will, he said, he will not let anyone busting his chops for being “Yuri Boreman” or for staying on his stool rather than eating more Wolak leather get to him.

He said Saiz, seeing that he’d lost every round,  told him before the sixth round that if he continued to eat clean shots, he’d stop the fight. “If you’re not doing more, I’ll stop it,” Saiz told him.

“He’d never seen me getting hit like that,” the boxer told TSS. “In one fight I got hit more than in all my other fights combined. I was out of my element. I respected his decision. I thought he was right.”

We all know the critic’s long knives can get slicing and dicing when a fighter waves the white flag. But I applaud Saiz for his humanity, and really, knowing what we know now about the effects of trauma on the brain to boxers, football players, hockey players, is it fair for any of us to judge harshly from the safety of the sidelines? “If I continued, it was going to be more of the same,” Foreman told me. “I don’t know what I could say to people who said I quit. Some call me “Yuri Boreman.” Well, I got into sports not to silence critics. That’s not my job. People who don’t like you, there’s very little you can do. And sacrificing your health in the ring, to show you have big balls, it’s foolish.”

Foreman was a good sport, allowing me to probe his mind a bit. I admitted to him that I thought it..interesting that he chose 80-something Al Certo to train him for this bout. Certo and he bonded well in training, but Certo was sick and couldn’t be in Vegas. I offered my theory, with hesitance, that maybe Foreman was subconsciously picking a grandfatherly type to sort of replace the presence of the sage Wilson. “I like your picture,” he answered. “But that was not the case here.”  A mutual friend suggested they work together, Foreman told me. He admitted that he worried that maybe Certo wouldn’t have the energy for the task, but he found that not to be the case. He said he will continue on with Certo.

“I wasn’t ready for this fight, in the end,” he said, in closing. “I need a mental rest, and I think I’ll feel much better.”

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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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