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STERN VIEW: Solo Boxeo Ringside Report

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A relaxed and knowledgeable boxing crowd filed into the Georgie Duke Event Center in Vacaville, CA on a rainy Saturday to witness a pair of prospects, Manuel ‘Tino’ Avila and Alan Sanchez, who both hail from Fairfield, CA, a tough burb 5 miles down the interstate. Several hours later, the crowd filed out to even harsher weather, but content after both prospects scored KO victories.

The Georgie Duke Event Center is your standard municipal community center. The center houses a small P.A.L gym where main event fighter Manuel Avila trains. The presence of Solo Boxeo Tecate T.V. light towers squaring the ring, the lack of a bad seat, a quality D.J. and waitresses with full trays of beer slowly transformed the sterile main room designed for youth floor hockey, quincineras, and craft fairs into a Night at the Fights.

Preston Freeman, 2(1)-0, and Eduardo Hernandez, 0-5-1, opened the evening with a welterweight bout. Freeman originally from St. Louis, MO, and now training and fighting out of Salinas, CA, entered the ring in crisp white trunks and shoes while sporting a gold mouthpiece. Young, fresh, quick, a powerful and efficient puncher, at ease in the ring, Freeman is a boxer who will be a joy to watch develop. His opponent, not so much.

Even opponents with no real hope of victory want the opportunity to shine in the ring. The only thing sparkling for Eduardo Hernandez were his grey hairs glimmering silver in the lights. A man reaches a certain age where, no matter the quality of his conditioning, his flesh can no longer resist the sagging forces of gravity. Eduardo Hernandez is at that age. (EDITOR NOTE: His Boxrec entry does not list his DOB.)

After Freeman spent about 45 seconds stepping back and around from Hernandez’s slow, wide reaching advances, Preston’s corner decided the time had already arrived to take the horse to the glue factory. A shout of “Walk him down,” could be heard from across the ring. Preston obliged his corner and finished Hernandez with a series of thunderous uppercuts. No count was necessary though Hernandez needed several minutes and several attempts to rise from his stool before exiting the ring, hopefully for the last time.

Next, James J. “Hollywood” Taylor, 2-0, met Manuel Alejandro Reyes, 0-1, at junior middleweight. Hollywood wore black and white shorts with black stars and a black Chuck Taylor All Stars T-shirt. Taylor is a unique talent, not necessarily a good or successful boxer, but unique nonetheless. Hollywood, with his front knee bent at a 90 degree angle, back leg reaching almost straight back, body and chin upright to the sky, and hands resting close together at the middle of his chest, looked more a praying mantis than boxer.

Reyes, a southpaw counterpuncher, backed straight up all night and could not match Hollywood’s speed or power. Thus, he was unable to make Hollywood’s chin pay despite the crowd’s apoplectic pleas to for him to throw to “los cabeza.” Hollywood has a nice cross to the body, commits to every action and good enough timing this night to keep his chin raised in victory.

The intermission between the opening bouts and the televised portion of the card provided time for the beer to take effect and gave the D.J. his opening to switch from ranchero to old school hip-hop. Stoic, middle-aged working men caught unaware in the moment could be seen bobbing their heads, cup in hand.

Welterweight Alan Sanchez, 12(6)-2-1, met Miguel Angel Munguia, 26(22)-26-1, in the co-feature. Mungia wore black trunks and a red Santa Claus hat. A quick glance at his records showed he was here to gift Alan Sanchez a quick KO. Mungia spent his winning years as a featherweight before turning into a monthly opponent. Tonight, giving up 8 inches in height and nine years, he boxed at 149 pounds.

Sanchez received enthusiastic cheers from his numerous friends and fed Mungia a steady diet of long right crosses over Mungia’s shoulder roll guard. Sanchez, who can be patient when necessary, sensed no danger from Mungia and was willing to take in order to give back. In the second, Mungia went down after a series of 1-2’s. He got up, but the referee waived off the fight seconds later when Mungia took a knee after tasting a 1-2 near the ropes.

Alan Sanchez fans have progressed from wearing ‘Team Sanchez’ shirts to ‘Sanchez Mania’ t-shirts. If Sanchez mania is to spread beyond Fairfield, he needs to progress to a higher level of opposition like he did early in the calendar year.

The swing bout featured bantamweights Bruno ‘The Aloha Kid’ Escalante, Jr., 6(3)-1-1, against Pablo Cupul, 6(4)-10. Escalante is trained by by Brian Schwarz of the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos, CA. Schwarz works closely with Nonito Donaire. Cupul, originally from Merida in the Yucatan province of Mexico, has the high cheek bones and chiseled facial features of the Mayans who once ruled that region.

Escalante, a southpaw, boxed with the hand speed, precision punching, balanced pivots and head and foot movement one would expect from someone who works with Nonito Donaire’s people.

Cupul fought with the fearlessness, pressure, and fierce joy of combat one would expect from someone representing a warrior culture. Cupul’s pressure forced Escalante to be at his sharpest. Escalante outboxed Cupul for much of the first 4 rounds, landing the cleaner punches and combinations. But, Cupul made him work.

In the fifth and final round, Cupul’s relentlessness paid off. He caught Escalante with a hard inside right hand that sent Escalante running and holding and brought the largely Hispanic crowd to its feet. Cupul could not finish him off. Escalante made it to the bell. Cupul did not receive nor deserve the decision, but when the bell rang and he climbed the ropes in each of the four corners to acknowledge the crowd’s cheers, he earned that right.

It is a rarity in this boxing age to see two young highly touted prospects meet 10 fights into their careers. The main event featured two former nationally ranked amateurs whose dreams of future championships are not yet foolhardy. Manuel ‘Tino’ Avila, 11(4)-0 and Ricky Lopez, 9(4)-2, met to prove which super bantamweight was ready to advance those dreams. Manuel Avila passed the test with an 8th round KO.

The fight was tense throughout. The lively crowd quieted in concentration mimicking the intensity of the fighters. Avila used a sharp disruptive jab, textbook counter rights and hooks and superior reflexes and quickness to keep Lopez from implementing his fight plan. Despite suffering a cut over his left eye in the 2nd round and being forced on the ropes on several occasions, Avila slowly outclassed the Lopez, finishing him in the 8th and final round after Lopez went down first from a counter right and the second time from a left hook at the tail end of a 1-2-3.

Manuel ‘Tino’ Avila, when on his game like he was Saturday night, shows real promise. One senses there is a cool, cruel killer in him that will allow him to properly utilize his physical gifts and take him as far as he can go in the ring.

 

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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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