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Froch Adjusted, And May Have Closed The Book On Johnson's Inspiring Career..LOTIERZO

Frank Lotierzo

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FrochDirrell_McKie_28This past weekend super middleweights Carl Froch 28-1 (20) and Glen Johnson 51-15-2 (35) completed the semifinals of the Showtime Super-six tournament. And the fight was an outstanding bout for the majority of the 12-rounds it was contested. When the majority decision was announced it pretty much confirmed what everyone watching surmised, and that is Froch will be advancing to the finals to meet Andre Ward 24-0 (13) to determine who the top 168 pounder in the world is – this side of Lucian Bute 28-0 (23).

The Froch-Johnson bout was a tale of two fights, and don't let anyone say that Carl Froch is not a tough guy. From about the fourth round on he stood virtually in front of Johnson and controlled the fight. And that was after Johnson got out of the gate quick and perhaps won three of the first four rounds with his sound fundamental attack of moving forward behind his straight jab and then throwing his right hand to the head with a left-hook to the body immediately behind it. Then he stopped letting his hands go with regularity and that's about the point where Froch stayed focused and began firing three and four punch combinations without much return from the pressing Johnson, age 42. After 10 rounds the fight was close and still up for grabs, however Froch clearly swept the last two rounds by launching and landing some multiple punch combinations to the head and body and perhaps closed the book on Johnson's truly inspiring 18 year boxing career. 

The fight pretty much exhibited why it's so important for fighters to get off first and change the dynamic of their opponents' attack and force them to re-adjust. When Johnson was pushing the fight and letting his hands go, as he was in the early going, he had Froch reaching and missing. Froch's low left hand looked in the early going as if it were going to be his undoing as Johnson was scoring with right hands over the top. Then again that was in part set-up because Johnson was dictating the pace and ring geography. A fighter carrying his left hand low isn't such a travesty if he knows what do to with his right defensively. If the right is in the  correct position he can parry or block the jab, block the hook and smother the uppercut – something Froch wasn't doing for the first third of the fight. However, once Johnson's work-rate decreased ever so slightly, Froch began to initiate the exchanges and win the rounds, in some cases not by much. And when Froch got off first, instead of missing with his looping shots around Johnson's guard, he was getting through with his lead punches and opened Johnson up more for his finishing right hands and hooks. And by the midpoint of the fight, Froch answered every run Johnson attempted.

Granted, Johnson landed more of the highlight reel shots that usually invoke a response from the crowd, the only problem was there weren't enough of them. Which sadly has been the case for Johnson during a lot of his bigger and more high profile fights down the stretch. When all was said and done the right fighter had his hand raised, although I do find fault with judge John Stewart who scored the fight 9-3 in rounds, 117-111. I just didn't see how he came up with Froch winning nine rounds.

Froch will no doubt be installed as the underdog when he meets Andre Ward in the Super Six final later this year. That said, Carl has shown in his tournament bouts versus Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson that he is tough and has the ability to adjust and keep his cool during any rough patch during the bout that he's encountered along the way. In addition to that Carl has improved and grown even more cocky and confident along the way, and it appears that's he's even fed off of that and will no doubt be a formidable foe for the undefeated Ward who has also been impressive during the tournament.

In closing, let's hope that Glen Johnson decides to call it a career–and what a career it was!– and moves onto the next stage of his life. Glen has fought everybody who was somebody and never once embarrassed himself or the sport of professional boxing. Actually, he's been a tremendous ambassador for the sweet science. But one cannot ignore the fact that he's taken a lot of punches to the head during his nearly 70 bout career and at age 42 it's best that he walks away now with what seems to be relatively good health and dignity. No doubt if he chooses to, Johnson by virtue of his experience would make a tremendous trainer or manager down the road. Like his contemporary and former adversary, Bernard Hopkins, Johnson knows the sport of boxing inside and out.

Watch Lotierzo discuss Froch's win with Dave Bontempo on BoxingChannel.TV here http://bit.ly/mCUDRK

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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