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Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis, the Mozart of Boxing?

David A. Avila

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Every so often a young boxer falls through the cracks and is lost for awhile until climbing out on his own.

Meet Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis.

Pendarvis is one of those boxers whose fighting abilities were spotted early on. Even people without boxing knowledge could see that at the age of 16 the Los Angeles youngster had extraordinary reflexes and abilities. He was a young Mozart of boxing.

Now, 26, and living in Lancaster, CA, the ultra-quick Pendarvis (17-3-2, 6 Kos) fights Canada’s undefeated Dierry Jean (24-0, 16 Kos) tonight (Friday, May 10). Showtime will televise the main event from Miami, Oklahoma.

It’s only the second time in Jean’s career that he’s venturing outside of Canada to fight. This time he has left-handed speedster Pendarvis, who is defending the USBA junior welterweight title that he claimed by knockout of Michael Clark last December.

Calling Pendarvis’s decade-long journey a rocky road is like calling hunger a minor distraction. It’s been arduous and painstaking.

“I learned how to distance myself from people that don’t have the same morals,” said Pendarvis. “God gives everyone lessons.”

For years Pendarvis and has younger brother survived the streets of L.A. and survived by staying in the boxing gyms. Then a few years ago the younger brother was tragically killed in the streets. It only made him closer to the sport of boxing that he and his brother appreciated.

“He loved it,” said Pendarvis. “He boxed too.”

As a young teen prodigy Pendarvis was able to spar with a Who’s Who in boxing list such as Sugar Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Ricky Hatton, Carlos Baldomir, Diego Corrales, Amir Khan, Manny Pacquiao, and many others. The first time I encountered Pendarvis was in Big Bear Lake when he was there to work with Oscar De La Hoya about a decade ago.

“Let’s get it on,” said Pendarvis when asked to spar the mega stars. “A lot of the guys would tell me that I’m slicker than the guys they were going to fight.”

Being too good has its disadvantages.

Because Pendarvis is an extremely skilled boxer, left-handed, and with great speed, other fighters’ management refused to match their fighters against him. It made no sense to them to pair their fighter who had a great record and match them against Pendarvis. It wasn’t until another fighter with nothing to lose because of age accepted a fight. His name is Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera and because he was near 30, he just didn’t care.

Pendarvis and Herrera met in October 2009 at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif. It was a match that boxing die-hards knew was going to be a good one. People from L.A. drove the 50 miles and those from the boxing-crazy Inland Empire all showed up for their junior welterweight showdown.

That night the two exchanged back and forth blows furiously for eight rounds with each showing their alacrity and skillset. Herrera was usually the slicker and faster fighter when he fought, but this time Pendarvis was his equal in those departments. Each round was very close with the judges favoring Herrera’s overall punch output to Pendarvis’s accurate counters. Herrera won by majority decision in a fight that split the crowd down the middle on who won.

Herrera said Pendarvis was “very quick” but felt he was busier and won because of it.

Pendarvis felt he won and said, “I want a rematch.”

It remains a debate among those who saw the fight.

Since that fight Herrera has advanced to fights against Ruslan Provodnikov, Mike Alvarado, and nearly had a fight with Brandon Rios, but pulled out because of injury. Pendarvis wants his turn now.

Canada’s Jean has never been beaten but that doesn’t impress Pendarvis. Not after facing the best in the world in sparring sessions and beating favorites in their hometowns.

“I helped a lot of fighters become champions,” says Pendarvis with a quiet confidence. “Now it’s my time.”

ShoBox kicks off at 11 PM ET.

 

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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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