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Heavy Indeed…WOOLEVER IN GERMANY

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1Poetkin1Povetkin holding his new belt aloft. You'll notice ancient Evander next to the victor. If public sentiment isn't too horrid, we'll likely see Povetkin offer Holyfield a crack at the title.

ERFURT, THURINGIA – Blood, guts, big whaps and bigger balls. Welcome to Messehalle Erfurt last Saturday evening.

Let it be noted in even the most cynical duke out documents that for one rare night in the current era of top flight European heavyweight boxing, there were brutal brawls between highly skilled participants who let it all hang out.

Alexander Povetkin outfought Ruslan Chagaev in an entertaining waltz. Robert Helenius slammed persistently courageous Sergei Liakhovich in a bloody barnburner.

Expectations for previously elusive fireworks amongst top heavyweights were finally met and surpassed. Povetkin – Chagaev featured some excellent give and take and got people on their feet. Helenius – Liakhovich featured Liakhovich taking an amazing amount, and giving back some too.
After the frustrating fizzle of Klitschko – Haye, it's too bad the Erfurt bouts weren't more widely viewed. It's an insignifigant point among serious Hurricane Irene considerations, but the contests probably would have played great on Times Square, though Liakhovich's battered bravery might not have provided optimal PR for the game along Broadway.
Wladimir is a class act and Hall of Fame professional, but if he had Helenius's finishing mindset, Klitschko might be more popular than Manny Pacquiao. In terms of effort and work ethic, too bad Liakhovich couldn't swap paychecks with the Big Toe.
Povetkin had scattered Russian cheering sections ringside by the dozen that made for an interesting international environment. The battle with Chagaev wouldn't classify as a true slugfest, but there was plenty of competent conking from both sides. The fight could stand as a respectable top 10 heavyweight contender clash in any of the “better eras”.
For a while in the middle rounds it appeared the still powerful Chagaev would expose Povetkin as an overhyped Olympian. When Povetkin proved his premiere punching pedigree there was a real buzz in the crowded arena with around 4,555 patrons.
Any missing drama was delivered when trainer Teddy Atlas gave Povetkin the “you can do it for your (deceased)-father” prompt as the bout was slipping away. Atlas told German TV he was waiting for the proper time to employ that motivation. There were no US fighters on the card, but Atlas established an American presence, and Povetkin saved his fight when he used “US style” combinations inside.
Chagaev's body language said it all at the final bell as he shook his head and slumped in frustration.
“He was the better man and deserved to win,” acknowledged Chagaev. “It wasn't my night but I'm still disappointed.”
“This was a very tough fight,” said Povetkin. “I wanted to win because my father wanted me to win.”
Seeing the basically unmarked Povetkin strolling along elegant Erfurt avenues with his lady the next morning, it looked more like he had been on vacation than in a rocking ring around 10 hours earlier. Povetkin may indeed continue the holiday mode if gossip regarding an optional November defense of his artificial title against Evander Holyfield in Zurich proves accurate. Holyfield was a highly visible and highly esteemed presence throughout the successful Sauerland Event promotion.
The cynics will howl, but Povetkin-Holyfield will be a very hot ticket in Switzerland. Anyone who complains probably hasn't been there.
Scheduling Helenius – Liakhovich after the main event turned out to be a great move as the co-feature stole the show, between Helenius's offense and Liakhovich's absorbing it. One-sided as the contest concluded, it was no easy win for the “Nordic Nightmare”. Helenius had his hands full, and Liakhovich showed the kind of inside punching that troubles Helenius.
Anyone who's had their nose broken with a padded glove has an idea of the pain Liakhovich felt in round two. Anybody who's been punched again and again by a large professional boxer like Helenius on said nose for six more rounds is either named Liakhovich or few and far between.
Watching “The White Wolf” get painted red, and especially the finishing uppercut, one couldn't help but hear Mike Tyson's old “nose into the brain” quote. Still, Liakhovich kept himself in the fight with counter combinations and earned the dubiously punishing honor of carrying on a fruitless struggle.
Not fruitless at all in defining individual fortitude and frantic fan appreciation.
Helenius solidified his highly ranked contender status, right after Povetkin. If Tyson Fury still needs an opponent for Belfast in three weeks, Helenius seems like the type to accept a decent offer. Chagaev and Liakhovich earned what should be mandatory gatekeeper status for the top ten, especially if Haye starts squawking about another big fight.
Helenius will be mentioned more an more as a potential Klitschko opponent, and he will draw pretty well when the time, probably next summer, comes, but Liakhovich showed there is still defensive work to be done.
All four heavyweights gave the types of effort it will take to for the division to recover from self-inflicted promotional and participatory wounds.
Inspiring brutality. Only in a scene like boxing. A scene like Erfurt.

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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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