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Teper Rises, Price Drops

Phil Woolever

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PRICE REDUCTION – Much of the critical reaction to Erkan Teper’s surprising two round butt kick of David Price for the vacant EBU (European) heavyweight title related to the unfulfilled expectations of Price, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, overly hyped as a strong candidate for the real world championship.

Perhaps a bit more attention should be paid to the accomplishments of 33 year old Teper, now 15-0 (10),  a still generally unknown commodity whose consistent attack paved the way for Price’s downfall Saturday night in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Most of the reported, small amount of wagering put down for this affair supposedly backed Teper, which means either at least a few folks were aware of his strengths or that Price’s critics remained skeptical.

At the weigh-in, Teper, 252, looked less like a boxer than a beer salesman, but he sure looked like a fighter once the first bell rang. 6’5 Teper charged into the 6’8 Price immediately, and worked from awkward, relatively low angles before firing big, downward shots that bothered Price, 249, from the first one that landed.

Teper mauled his way in, while Price fired wide counters from both sides. Price stayed busy enough, with jabs that looked five meters long, but Teper did an efficient job of keeping his gloves up next to his face and picked off almost all of Price’s leads.

The first round was close and somewhat sloppy, but there was a growing sense of Teper imposing his will. He followed Price around the strands and opened a nick on his left eye.

Most punches Teper landed were grazing or off the mark, but tell that to the leather as it spanks you down. In the 2nd session, a deceiving short left inside caught Price clean and dropped him, stiff as an uprooted tree trunk, under a neutral turnbuckle.

During interviews with German TV, a jovial, sportsmanlike Teper tried to pretend Price had been a formidable challenge tonight, but the truth is Teper was unmarked, if not completely untouched.

Teper, from Ahlen, is one of the few German born heavyweights in territory currently crowded with Eastern European expats. That makes for plenty of interesting, entry level collisions between a wide range of big bruisers.

In Teper’s case, it looks like his resume of local unsung heroes (Timur Musafarov SD 8), usual suspects (Michael Sprott TKO 1) and solid tutors (Johann Duhaupas UD12) has served him well enough so far.

Teper now has a foothold beyond Germany in big boy land. The Euro belt may not add up to much in the credential department, but it could still increase marquee value for a decent payday against a better known opponent.

For Teper, the most attractive option is probably to go after WBA “Regular” titlist Ruslan Chagaev, if Chagaev isn’t really stuck for eternity by contractual obligations to meet Fres Oquendo and Lucas Browne.

Right now, Teper also shapes up as one of the better possibilities for rising Anthony Joshua, but whether either undefeated prospect wants to take the risk/reward of a premature crossroad fight may require more financial bother than its worth.

If Teper really wanted to make the biggest jump possible, he might try to convince Deontay Wilder to give him the upcoming WBC shot in September. That fight makes sense for both sides in a number of categories like opponent credibility, promotional expenses, potential fireworks and general marketability. That probably makes the bout a very long shot to happen.

Would Team Teper, who unexpectedly outbid Price’s bigger promoter Sauerland Event, be wise to exploit Wilder’s search for a credible opponent with a hard to resist, bargain basement compromise, solely on belief that Teper is ready enough, and may not get such an opportunity again soon? Is the European belt enough of a calling card? Such are the questions of promotional management.

The question of Price’s future is less comfortable.

“I just want to apologize to my team, my family, my friends and all my supporters who came out to Germany for me,” said Price afterward, without need. “It’s too early to come to a proper decision about my future. I’ll have to have a long think.”

Anyone who’s been in noteworthy rings as much as Price, 19-3 (16), has nothing about fighting to apologize for. Unfortunately, his think should include viewing his losses against Teper and Tony Thompson, plus consultation with medical specialists about head trauma.

32 year-old Price may not be finished, but he has a long way to go before regaining credibility.

For boxing fans, Erkan Teper still has a lot to prove, but right now he doesn’t have anywhere near as much to prove as David Price.

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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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