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Jailhouse Rock: Ruenroeng vs. Casimero Report

Matt McGrain

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Amnat Ruenroeng’s backstory has been a source of fascination for those western journalists and fight-fans interested in the more obscure corners of the fistic globe. Ruenroeng appeals to the old-school in all of us; ex-con makes good in the most savage of noble pursuits, what would have become of him without boxing? People eat that stuff for lunch.

Sometimes though, boxing doesn’t remove the jailhouse from the fighter so much as enhance it. Think Tyson and the ear or Liston and that probable dive in Maine. Usually though, the jailhouse in the fighter is controlled by the rules at hand, by the unshakable truth of combat and a referee who, at the very least, is determined to protect the fighters to hand.

Those essential tenants were abandoned today in Bangkok, Thailand where the visit of the #10 flyweight John Reil Casimero (out of the Philippines) to the back yard of the #3 flyweight, Ruenroeng, descended into farce. Instead, Ruenroeng was allowed to break almost every single rule of the ring by a referee Larry Doggett who was very clearly guilty of at the least ineptitude. Like much in life that is truly ludicrous, it was funny and tragic in equal measures.

Things got off to an alarming start, with Casimero rushing Ruenroeng and landing a right hand to which the Thai responded with a charge, grab and judoesque throwdown. That the referee neglected to rub down Casimero’s gloves was a shadow of things to come.

Perhaps as much as the next minute was fought clean, which is frustrating because it showed what an interesting contest was to hand – Casimero leading with straight punches and charging, the more skilled Ruenroeng trying to outwait him with baited counterpunches. Ruenroeng received a stern warning for wrestling with about a minute left to go in the first but Doggett neglected to break a clinch in the final seconds, instead allowing the two to hug it out for an inordinate length of time, and then failed to take any action when Ruenroeng aimed a savage right hand at Casimero after the bell.

Ruenroeng scored a legitimate, fast-handed knockdown near the beginning of the second but Casimero appeared only to have been flashed and when Ruenroeng went back to work it was with a stern jab to the middle of the body rather than power-shots aimed at the head. This was good strategy. The guillotine choke-hold he placed on Casimero as the round wound down was a little more questionable, however.

So was his determination to wrestle Casimero to the ropes and pin him there at the opening of the third; the Filipino got in on the fun appearing to drive a knee into his opponent’s thigh as he was pinned there. After Ruenroeng finally obeyed the referee’s command to break or fight out, the two swapped jabs until Casimero caught his man with a counter-hook every bit as sweet as the one that Ruenroeng had used to drop him in the second – only for the referee to inexplicably rule a slip. Ruenroeng, upon regaining his feet, launched himself at Casimero and placed him in the guillotine once more. Doggett did not even issue a warning. A deliberate trip followed, then another attempted throw. Finally Daggitt called time…but only to arrange for Ruenroeng to have his bootlace re-tied.

More wrestling and another throw followed in the fourth, after which Ruenroeng attempted to bow in apology only for the long-suffering Filipino to try to take his head off with a haymaker. Ruenroeng responded with a rear naked choke hold and a punch to the back of the head. The referee, again, refused to take action. Astonishingly, Casimero then got a telling off after being placed in another guillotine and responding with a low blow. He shook his head in disbelief as immediately upon resumption of the action, Ruenroeng once again appeared to try to lock in a rear choke. He then threw Casimero to the floor; then a choke hold; then a throw; then he wrestled Casimero to his haunches and punched him while he was down – at no time did Ruenroeng ever find himself in close lateral proximity to Casimero without inexplicably placing his forearm across the Filipino’s throat; at no time did he find himself in an elevated position without trying to sink in a guillotine – but he would also happily leap in – literally, leap forwards – and go for the hold. In the sixth he pushed Casimero through the ropes and appeared to try to throw him from the ring. It was the height of surreal.

I will spare the reader a continued description of every foul either man sunk in; suffice to say that while Doggett’s performance was bizarre, so was Ruenroeng’s. The Thai has a fascinating history, is ranked #3 in the world and the division’s king Roman Gonzalez has HBO exposure. Doubtless the broadcast giant will be looking for worthy and interesting opponents for Gonzalez and doubtless Ruenroeng fits that bill. He has excluded himself from a career payday with this performance; the amount of clinching alone is enough to prevent an HBO executive picking up the phone, never mind the most bizarre pattern of fouling I have ever seen in a “title” fight. Presumably the IBF, whose trinket the two wrestled over, will want to investigate not only Ruenroeng’s performance but also that of Doggett – only idiocy or corruption can explain his behaviour.

Ruenroeng achieved full mount after a throw in the eighth in a final nod to the MMA/boxing hybrid the bout had clearly become, a contest that seemed to embody the worst of those two separate worlds; Casimero probably should have quit the ring at around this point. He would have been entitled and I suspect most neutral observers would have sympathised. He stayed and fought on, receiving repeated warnings for borderline low-blows from a referee who should never be let anywhere near a boxing ring ever again, under any circumstances.

He belatedly issued Ruenroeng with a point deduction in the eleventh, arguably as many as ten rounds too late and by which time any chance Casimero had of establishing and executing any gameplan had been destroyed by literally dozens of dangerous fouls. A unanimous decision in favour of Ruenroeng (now 16-0) was the result, for what little that is worth; hopefully Casimero (drops to 21-3) will get another shot at the Thai on more neutral ground.

There’s no point in him – or anyone else – travelling to Thailand to take on Ruenroeng in the light of this debacle.

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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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