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Boxing’s Big Mac

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Long before Mark McGwire was launching tape measure home runs in Oakland and acquiring the nickname “Big Mac”, West Coast sports fans used to cheer the feats of another “Big Mac”. MacArthur Foster a heavyweight boxer from Fresno, California won his first 24 professional bouts all by knockout. Six came in the first round, four in the second round and seven in the third round. By the spring of 1970 he was the number one rated contender for Joe Frazier’s crown.

Mac turned pro in November of 1966 and by the end of 1967 he had racked up nine kayos. Among his victims were veterans Floyd Joyner and Roy “Cookie” Wallace. He piled up seven more kayos in 1968 and in 1969 he made some serious noise in the heavyweight ratings. With Muhammad Ali banned from boxing, Joe Frazier and Jimmy Ellis shared the heavyweight crown. The division needed some new blood and much felt Foster was the answer. Mac added six more knockouts in 1969 stopping Roger Rischer, Thad Spencer, Roger Russell, Cleveland Williams (twice) and Bob Felstein. Although Williams was well past his prime he could still punch and Mac took all he had to offer and come back to win both times.

After stopping Jack O’Halloran in one round on April 9th, 1970 for his 24th straight kayo victory, Mac decided to come east to New York. In his Madison Square Garden debut was to take on veteran contender Jerry Quarry. A victory over Quarry would no doubt ensure a big money fight with Frazier. On June 17th as Jerry Quarry was to do several times during his exciting career, he upset the odds stopping a tentative Foster in six rounds. Quarry outboxed his less experienced foe until lowering the boom in the sixth. Mac showed none of his storied power. Quarry used the Foster victory as a springboard to match with the comeback Muhammad Ali. Three months later Mac returned to stop shopworn ex-contender Zora Folley in one round. Mac rolled off three more victories and then signed to meet Muhammad Ali. Ali had lost to Joe Frazier in the March 8, 1971 “Battle of the Century”. Now Ali was taking on all new comers proclaiming himself to be the “People’s Champion”. Mac met Ali on April 1st, 1972 in Tokyo, Japan. Although
Mac went the fifteen round distance, Ali won by a very comfortable margin. Mac looked slow and ponderous and did not the power of a fighter with a record of 28-1, all 28 wins by knockout coming into this contest.

The loss to Ali was probably the highlight of Mac’s career. He would score knockouts over journeymen Sam McGill and Charley Williams. Then he was out-hustled over ten rounds by Bob Stallings. Mac closed out 1973 dropping a ten round duke in England to Joe Bugner. Foster had one fight in 1974 being outscored by slick Henry Clark. Mac took 1975 off and had his last bout in 1976 losing a ten rounder to Stan Ward.

Although overrated at the beginning of his career Mac proved to be a competent fighter. He finished with a 30-6 record, all wins coming by knockout and he was only stopped once, Mac’s biggest claim to fame may have been in a late 1960’s sparring session when he reportedly flattened Charles “Sonny” Liston!

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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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