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Golden Boy Scoops Up Zachary Cooper

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Zachary Cooper just became a Golden Boy. The welterweight fighter signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s promotion team last week. It was certainly a banner day for the young boxer. Getting there was not easy, though.

Zach learned boxing from his grandpa, a former pro himself. He taught Zach how to move, throw a jab, set up his punches. The fight game was in Zach’s blood at an early age and he showed natural ability almost from the outset. However, growing up in Seattle, there simply weren’t as many opportunities to hone his craft. The boxing scene in the city of rain is modest, and the number of available fighters so small that as Zach told me, “you end up fighting your friends.”

After blasting his way through just ten amateur fights, Zach decided to go pro. Eventually, he found himself in the Mayweather gym, training with Floyd’s uncle, Jeff. While working in the “Money” gym certainly had its benefits, it did not lead to Zach getting fights easily. While Zach was effectively in their camp, they were not promoting him, leading Zach to hustle to find his own ring opportunities.

Zach fought three 4 round fights in 2013 and just once all last year. He took the first two by KO, but suffered two disputed draws in his last two fights. The second draw was so laughable that his opponent’s corner was surprised by the scoring. Zach isn’t making excuses though. As he put it, “It’s my fault. I should have knocked them out.”

Cooper admits seeking a career in boxing has been a challenge. He knows it would have been easier to get a 9-5 and perhaps settle down and start a family. Boxing is Zach’s calling though: “When you want something as bad as you want to breathe, you will do anything.”

Zach was soldiering on looking at setting up a local fight event in Vegas when he got the call from his manager that Golden Boy was interested in him, calling him a “talent waiting to be scooped up.”

So what kind of fighter is Zachary Cooper? I asked Zach about his style, but he defied easy categorization. As he said, “You never heard of Muhammad Ali wanting to be somebody else.” While Zach has a great appreciation for offensive fighters, he also believes in the benefits of defense. According to Zach, “with good offense you are formidable, with a great defense you are indestructible.”

His philosophy is “you have to fight like a cop on patrol lives his life. It only takes one shot.” He challenged the perception that “defense is boring.” He points out that Floyd Mayweather is the biggest draw in the world of boxing and guys like Timothy Bradley have made their share of quality, attractive fights.

At the same time, he believes in going for the knockout too. He’s not big on leaving things in the hands of judges, which is of course a more than reasonable viewpoint if you’ve been awake and watching the average quality of scoring by those officials at ringside for the last forever and a day. “I’m coming to kill anything that gets in my way,” he said.

It should be mentioned that Zachary Cooper does not lack for confidence. He speaks like a man on a mission and is all business–eating and sleeping boxing on a daily basis.

He’s not afraid of courting controversy either. While Jeff Mayweather is in his corner and may be the least colorful member of that family, his choice for his strength and conditioning adviser will certainly raise eyebrows. You may remember Victor Conte from the BALCO/steroids in baseball scandal. A sizable number of major league baseball players, including, most famously, Barry Bonds have been connected to the San Francisco area business and steroid distribution center. I asked Zach if he was worried about the connection to such an infamous figure. He said, “I know it’s coming. When I start knocking people out, people are going to claim I’m juicing.”

He continued, “My response is you can test me anytime, anywhere. You can come to my home. I am clean.”

Zachary Cooper is not afraid of criticism. Take a look at this Twitter page, the amusingly titled @IHATEZACHCOOPER (Note the ALL CAPS). It’s like a pre-emptive strike. “Bring it”, it seems to say. And that is Zachary Cooper. He wants whomever would like a piece of him to come at him hard. He doesn’t believe they can handle what will come back. Whether it’s in the ring or on social media.

At 29, and with only four pro fights and ten amateur fights behind him, Zach is more than eager to get going. He believes that “God made (him) wait” for this moment. While he may be a little older for a fighter set to take off, he pointed out that he does not have many miles on him and thanks to a more focused diet (no fast food at all) and conditioning process, he feels better than he did at 22. In fact, he feels so good that he may actually move down in weight from 147 to 140.

While Zach does not have a fight lined up just yet, he’s training like he’s going into the ring next week, so he will be ready whenever that call is made. He hopes to fight at least six times in the next year, moving from four rounders to six rounders at first.

Zachary Cooper does not believe he’s good. He knows he’s great. He has the type of personality that is likely to translate well with fight fans. Oh, there will be lovers and haters, but there won’t be ambivalence. If his ring performance matches his level of confidence, he will be one to watch.

I for one am not betting against him.

Photo credit : Chris Robinson

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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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