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Hopkins Is All Business, The Business Being Winning…FOLSTAD

Rick Folstad

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If there’s a sentimental favorite in tonight's rematch, it’s got to be the 46-year-old from Philly with the busy mouth and the secret of eternal youth. You know the guy. Fiftyish. Trim. Shaved head. Likes to go 12 rounds.

He’s an ex-con with nothing to prove, a guy who likes to preach and who somehow manages to keep slipping the inevitable rush of old age.

Bernard Hopkins wasn’t the favorite in their first fight last December. Jean Pascal was. Pascal was younger, tougher, quicker and stronger. At least that’s what all the newspapers in Canada told us. Heck, Pascal had beaten “Bad” Chad Dawson. Hopkins’ chances of beating Pascal were somewhere between long-shot and when-pigs-fly.

They filled the dark skies of Canada that night.

Of course, that’s been Hopkins’ way for several years now. He just pulls another rabbit out of his hat, makes the fat lady disappear right before your very eyes. He’s like an irritating tic. He won’t go away and no one knows how to get rid of him.

In his first fight with Pascal, Hopkins turned in another one of those miracle, how-can-he-still-do-that? performances. He made it look like he could still mix it up with all the top light-heavyweights in the world if they didn’t mind waiting in line.

Somehow, they called that first fight with Pascal a majority draw. Jaws dropped throughout the world. Except in Canada, where a lot of eyebrows were raised but no one complained too much. After all, Pascal is one of theirs. 

Hopkins must be pretty sure of himself if he’s willing to go back up to Canada to fight Pascal again for the WBC light-heavyweight title. This time the fight will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal (HBO), a potential back alley where Hopkins could get mugged again by the judges. It’s a big risk for a guy who isn’t exactly a knockout artist. At least not anymore.

But the thing about Hopkins is, after 58 fights and 51 wins, he still comes into the ring with the idea that he can tear your head off or out-box you or out-smart you if that‘s what it takes to win. There’s no such thing as a “nice guy” in his fight plan or his vocabulary. He hasn’t mellowed inside the ring, but instead, he’s kept it all business, and the business is to beat the other guy.

That was even more obvious last week on a conference call when someone asked him about the Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley fight held a few days earlier.

Hopkins said that at the end of the day, Mosley talked a good fight and then he went out and, well, he fought.

Hopkins didn’t say Mosley went out and fought the good fight. He said Mosley would have gone out more of a winner if he had shown more effort to win and didn’t worry so much about touching gloves before every round.

Hopkins called it a sign of submission by Mosley.

“It’s called body language and I’m not bragging about my upbringing,“ said Hopkins. “I was a guy on the streets when I had that mentality. Some would call it a bully. I don’t brag about being that, and I speak against it now. But when I was younger, they would see me coming up the street and everybody would go into their houses.”

You lock your door when there’s a wolf outside.

“Part of that body language of submission is to praise the guy,” he said. “You don’t want that bully around the corner to take your watch or your chain or your wallet. So you want to be friends with him. You want to be nice with him. So, translate that into boxing. Translate that to the (Pacquiao-Mosley) match.

“Listen, if Pascal starts trying to shake my hand every round, I know I got him mentally and now I’ve got to make it happen physically, because at the end of the day, we’re fighting. The referee says ‘shake hands and come out fighting.‘ He doesn’t say, ‘shake hands every round.“

Hopkins said when a guy wants to be friends and fight at the same time, everyone sees it.

“(Mosley) submitted early in the fight after he was knocked down. Something happened and he submitted after that.“

Submitted? I’m surprised Hopkins even knows how to pronounce it.

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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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