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Kaliesha West Retains Title in Draw with Ava Knight

David A. Avila

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Ava_and_K-West_by_KatKnight (left) and West smiled after, but during the tussle, there was no time to grin. (Katherine Rodriguez)

PICO RIVERA-WBO bantamweight titleholder Kaliesha “Wild Wild” West looked to avenge an earlier defeat to Ava “The Lady of Boxing” Knight by changing speeds, and had to settle with a split draw to retain the championship on Saturday.

Can everyone say rematch?

A crowd of more than 1,500 at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena saw West (13-1-3, 4 KOs) and Knight (6-1-3) headline a historic and lengthy fight card that included boxing, mixed martial arts and Muy Thai for first time in California. International Fight Showdown promoted the card.

West and Knight were the main event and both electrified the crowd with their blend of speed, power, skill and guile on a very cool night outdoors.

Knight started slightly quicker with some combos to the head, but West countered with some quick jabs to keep Knight from attacking freely in the opening round of the outdoor arena.

“She had a good jab in this fight,” said Knight regarding the difference from their first encounter in November 2008 and this one. “It was a real good one.”

West got her jab going and fired a quick double left hook that landed in round two and sparked a smile from Knight. A right hand by the Oakland fighter was immediately countered by a left hook and a right hand from West as if punctuating a point.

“Kaliesha never used her jab in the first fight,” said Juan West, her dad and trainer. “That was the plan.”

The third round saw Knight land a pretty counter right hand. But West found the range for some quick left hooks that kept landing repeatedly in the round. Even at the bell a left hook landed to end the stanza.

“I thought I stunned her, maybe hurt her twice in the fight,” said West. “One time she smirked after I hit her.”

West’s quick left hook counters were causing Knight to pause. Her right hands landed but West countered with several left hooks and some stiff jabs in round four. Still, Knight was never humbled and continued to press forward.

Several left hooks by West stunned Knight though she never seemed hurt by the blows. A one-two combination started the big round for West who won her most convincing round in the fifth behind stiff jabs.

Round six saw Knight jump on West with a barrage of body shots and kept throwing. West retaliated with some left hook counters and snapping right hands that caught Knight but she returned with yet more body blows. A big left hook by West ended the round as Knight landed another shot to the body.

“That was our plan to attack the body,” said Ben Bautista, who trains Knight. “We knew we could hurt her to the body.”

After several snapping left jabs from West and some unsuccessful jab retaliations by Knight, the Oakland boxer dropped her hands either from frustration or tiredness. West immediately landed a one-two that seemed to show she was not suffering from the same problems.

Round eight was Knight’s best round so far as she dug in with some riveting body shots and big right hands to the head. West countered with some digging left hooks but Knight wouldn’t let the advantage slip and added some jabs to punctuate the round.

“I didn’t listen to my coach,” admitted Knight. “I was supposed to work the body and didn’t do it till later.”

Jabs turned the fight again in West’s favor in round nine as she used it to get in close then unload with her other punches. Two jabs and two left hand counters followed every power right fired by Knight. Both lit up the round with combinations and kept it going until referee Ray Corona called it over.

West and Knight seemed to both feel the fight was up for grabs and looked to jump forward to gain the momentum. Body shots by Knight were met by neck breaking jabs from West as each sought to win the round without sacrificing the advantage. The short peace was erased by a savage exchange of blows that ended at the final bell. Both fighters hugged each other and walked around the ring.

One judge scored it 96-94 for West, another 96-94 for Knight and the third tabbed it 95-95 a draw for a split draw. West keeps the WBO bantamweight title.

“I thought I won the fight,” said Knight. “Of course I want a rematch.”

West smiled when asked if another fight was mandatory.

“It’s in our contract,” said West.

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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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