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Roy Jones Coming Back, Only He Knows Why…BORGES

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Hopkins v Jones Jr IIFrank Graham, a New York sports columnist back in the days when there were three baseball teams and about 15 newspapers in that city, once wrote of a crotchety old outfielder named Bob Meusel who suddenly became willing to answer writers’ questions late in his career after years of discouraging them saying: “He only learned to say hello when it was time to say goodbye.’’

The same words can now sadly be used to describe Roy Jones, Jr.

When Jones was at his zenith his physical gifts were breathtaking. Although breaking nearly every rule of sound defensive boxing, Jones was so quick of both hand and foot that few fighters could touch him and when they did they paid a heavy price for trying. Although he would often retreat straight back when pressured while carrying his hands so low they seemed to be in his pockets (if he’d had pockets), his reflexes allowed him to survive such technical deficiencies until the calendar conspired against him, eroding those gifts and leaving him an empty and often defenseless shell who became a target for any opponent with quick hands and the boldness to come forward and throw them.

Even though he was widely considered to be the best fighter in the world for much of a decade, Jones for years refused to travel to Germany to try and unify the light heavyweight title by facing undefeated Dariusz Michalczewski, who at one point held the WBA, IBF and WBO titles simultaneously after defeating Virgil Hill.

Although Michalczewski had a boring style, his record climbed to 48-0 before two late-career losses in title fights sent him into retirement in 2005 at 48-2. For several years before those two losses, much of the boxing world clamored to see Jones square off with the transplanted Pole who fought only in Europe. People believed there was more reason for Michalczewski to fear using his passport than Jones should have had for using his but still people wanted to see the two of them mix to settle the issue.

Roy Jones, Jr. steadfastly refused, instead fighting every form of municipal employee (cop, fireman, postman, teacher, trash man) while insisting he would not go to Germany because of that country’s well deserved reputation for stealing decisions from visiting fighters, especially Americans. Few in boxing felt it would ever get to the judges but Jones had never forgotten the shock of having been denied the 1988 Olympic gold medal in Seoul in a tournament in which the organizers were so ashamed of the decision that stole the gold medal from Jones that they named him the tournament’s outstanding boxer. How you can be the outstanding boxer in an Olympic tournament and not come away with gold was beyond everyone but the corrupt officials running the Games.

Jones never forgot a man’s pocket can be picked even if he’s wearing boxing shorts and has no pockets. Victimized once by corruption and vision-impaired international judges, Jones refused to put himself at risk again in that way. At least he did until he’d reached the point where, frankly, every time he goes into the ring it’s a risk.

Now stripped of the high-twitch muscle reactions that once separated him from his peers, Jones can’t win any more no matter where he fights if the opponent is capable. Yet he has decided to fight on, it was announced this week, agreeing to travel to Russia to do it. Why only he knows.

Jones has agreed to face cruiserweight contender Denis Lebedev in Moscow on May 22 despite the fact Lebedev is 11 years younger and is coming off the only loss of his career, the kind of split decision defeat in Berlin to German WBO champion Marco Huck that Jones once feared would be his fate if he journeyed overseas. Jones should still fear such an overseas trip but not for the same reasons.

Desperation of one type or another can drive a man to do foolish things and in the past few years it has driven Jones into places he would never go when he was young and had little to fear but bad luck. It took him into an ill-advised but long awaited rematch with the apparently ageless Bernard Hopkins (which he lost). It took him twice into harm’s way against Antonio Tarver (who he ducked repeatedly when both were young) and Glen Johnson and each knocked him cold.

It even took him overseas to Australia, where comebacking former light heavyweight champion Danny Green disposed of him in one sad round, Jones going down once in a heap and then sprawling on his face as he rolled over before getting up and taking a beating until the referee mercifully saved him.

That loss was a year and a half ago and was followed by his lopsided losing decision to Hopkins yet here he is again – the Reluctant Dragon reluctant no more even though he’s lost two straight, three of his last five and is 6-6 since becoming the first former middleweight champion to win the heavyweight title back in 2003.

Jones was never the same after that night with John Ruiz and is now a ghost of the fighter the world wanted to see face Michalczkewski back when Jones refused to take the kind of risk he now seems to welcome. When he should have used his passport he refused. Now he should only use it to go on vacation.

The old Jones, the one who was young, would recognize that. But that is the odd thing about boxers. Too many of them insult both the sport and its followers when their skills are at their most robust and then, after they become yesterday’s news, beg to hang on when, like cranky old Bob Meusel, it is time to say goodbye.

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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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