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Mikey Garcia vs. Matt Remillard: At the Junction for Title Function….AVILA

David A. Avila

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Mikey_and_Eduardo_Garcia_smallA shot at the featherweight crown dangles in front of undefeated boxers Matt Remillard and Mikey Garcia.

California’s Garcia (24-0, 20 KOs) faces Connecticut’s Remillard (23-0, 13 KOs) on Saturday on the undercard of Cuban Yuri Gamboa's title defense at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. A portion of the Top Rank card will be televised on HBO.

Most times the word undefeated means a particular prizefighter hasn’t traded punches with anyone in his talent category. More than a few “undefeated boxers” are out there protected by promoters because of their drawing power or lack of talent.

Garcia and Remillard don’t have these accommodations. They’re simply rising up separate ladders: Garcia from the West Coast and Remillard from the East Coast. And here they are at the junction for title function.

In the case of Garcia, the Moreno Valley, California prizefighter fought an elimination bout and won the right to meet Gamboa. But it was possibly felt that the danger of little known Garcia beating Gamboa to a small audience and small purse didn’t make sense… and it didn’t.

Top Rank’s brain trust felt another fight alongside Gamboa’s title defense might familiarize the boxing public with Garcia’s talent. He’s a speeding bullet looking for a target.

Remillard is not a patsy. The rugged power boxer has paid his dues and made more than a few heads turn including elite boxing trainer Buddy McGirt.

“He’s the real deal,” said McGirt, who now has a boxing gym in West Los Angeles. “He’s got a lot of skills. He’s going to be too much for Garcia.”

In Riverside where Garcia is trained daily by his father Eduardo Garcia, the pair are a common sight at local gyms from Coachella to Maywood, California. Sparring partners are a premium and it’s difficult to find willing partners more than one time.

“When Mikey goes inside gyms, guys suddenly leave complaining of being sick,” said one promoter who asked to remain anonymous. “He hurts them.”

“I saw three of his (Remillard) fights on video,” said Garcia, age 23. “He comes forward and throws a lot of punches.”

Garcia is the youngest of the fighting family from Oxnard and he’s tutored by his father and future Hall of Fame trainer Eduardo Garcia. The family moved to Riverside County a year ago and has brought their fighting style to the region.

“I’ve never seen anyone like Mikey,” says Willie Schunke, whose gym II Feathers Boxing Gym is where the Garcias prepare for fights. “Mikey doesn’t take much time off. He’s always in the gym working.”

Last year was a busy one for Garcia who engaged in five bouts, including an IBF title elimination bout with veteran Cornelius Lock of Las Vegas. The Nevada prizefighter had upset one contender, Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez, and two prized prospects Juan Garcia and Orlando Cruz. The Moreno Valley boxer stopped Lock in the 11th round.

Both Garcia’s realize this fight will be decided by mistakes.

“I don’t think he’s a smarter fighter but we got to feel out what he does best,” said Eduardo Garcia, who guided both Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas and Robert Garcia to world championships. “He (Remillard) wants to fight and throws a lot of punches and that’s what we like.”

Remillard, 24, lives in Harford, Conn. and beat rugged Jose Hernandez of Texas and former world champion Mauricio Pastrana, a former junior flyweight now fighting at featherweight. Steadily Remillard has gained popularity for his no-nonsense ethics in the ring.

“He’s there to fight and not to run around,” said Mikey Garcia. “I like to see what he does the first few rounds then make adjustments later on.”

The winner should be fighting Gamboa if he wins.

WBA and IBF champ Yuri Gamboa

Cuba’s Yuri Gamboa (19-0, 15 KOs) defends the IBF and WBA featherweight world titles against Mexico’s Jorge “Coloradito” Solis (40-2-2, 29 KOs) on the main event of the Top Rank fight card.

Solis has hung around the top of the featherweight standings with some notable wins including a victory over formerly undefeated Francisco Cordero of Colombia. Most people remember Solis for his losing effort against current welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao back in 2007. That was the only time Solis was stopped by knockout and now he faces a similar talent in speedy Gamboa.

Gamboa, a former Olympic star for Cuba with more than 300 amateur fights, has faced superior competition since turning professional in 2007. Though not tall, Gamboa’s advantages are extremely quick hands, power and the ability to either box adeptly or power through opponents with his southpaw style.

Should Gamboa and Garcia win they could face each other later this year.

Fights on television

Fri. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m. Antonio Escalante (24-3) vs. Alejandro Perez (14-2-1).

Sat. HBO, 10 p.m. Yuri Gamboa (19-0) vs. Jorge Solis (40-2-2).

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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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