Dougie’s MASSIVE Monday Mailbag
Read on for all the fan feedback on Khan-Barrera that you can handle in this week’s MMMB, plus questions about Lucien Bute and Ola Afolabi. Enjoy!
KHAN, CUTS & A GOOD NIGHT OF BOXING
Well, we can add Saturday as one more to the list of good fight nights in recent weeks. From Matthew Hall steamrolling Bradley Pryce to Roman Martinez stopping Nicky Cook to Ola Afolabi’s head-spinning knockout of Enzo Maccarinelli, it made for an exciting night. The main event was only disappointing in the sense that we weren’t able to see how Amir Khan would close the show. Khan was simply too fast, too long and too strong. From the pride point of view, I would look at this fight and say that, due to the cut, Barrera was saved from being totally embarrassed. But, on the other side of that coin, Barrera himself will most likely look at the result of this fight based primarily on the cut itself; not the guy who was peppering him with shots for five rounds, which was the real problem. Hopefully the right people will say the right things in Barrera’s ear about where his career will go next.
And as far as Barrera’s cut, I have to mention the comical though fairly accurate descriptions given by one of the commentators, lines that for some reason just sound funnier when spoken by a Brit. “It looks like something you would see in a road accident.” And my favorite, “It’s like trying to stop a flood with handkerchiefs.” Thanks. — Jesse, New Jersey
That “handkerchiefs” comment cracked me up a bit, but there was nothing funny about watching one of my all-time favorite fighters — one of the few of my generation that I consider to be truly great — look so helpless and ineffective against a talented and gifted fighter, but a young gun I don’t even consider to be among the top 15 lightweights in the world. The disgusted look on Barrera’s face and the manner in which the blood poured down on it made him look eerily like the version of Julio Cesar Chavez that was chopped up by a young, super-sharp Oscar De La Hoya in their first fight back in 1996. That same year Barrera and Kennedy McKinney engaged in an awesome 12-round battle that announced the Baby-Faced Assassin’s arrival. In the minds of many fans, Chavez passed the “Mexican idol” torch to Barrera that year. Barrera dropped it in ’97 against Junior Jones, but picked it up again and again from that point on with memorable ring wars and performances against Morales, Hamed and Marquez — all of which I had the privilege to cover from ringside. Barrera didn’t have the winning consistency that Chavez had during his extended prime over three divisions (from ’84 to ’92), but he matched JC Superstar’s excitement and drama, and he exhibited more versatility in the ring. Barrera’s one of the smartest fighters I’ve ever covered. I hope he uses that brain of his and hangs up his gloves after reviewing Saturday’s fight.
I also enjoyed the three featured undercard bouts on the Integrated Sports pay-per-view broadcast, I just wish there wasn’t so much time between the fights. I know it’s not the fault of the producers of the show (it’s the promoter of the event), but I’m used to Bob Arum’s independent PPV cards where as soon as one fight ends the next one is rushed right to the ring.
Hall’s looks, style and interview demeanor make him the perfect Manchester fighter. By the time Hatton is ready to call it quits maybe we’ll be looking forward to Hall butting heads with Alfredo Angulo or James Kirkland.
I liked Martinez’s chances against Cook, although I was disappointed with his performance until he landed that sweet left uppercut. “Rocky” normally fights with more fire. Although he lacks their size and talent, he’ll be fun to watch against Robert Guerrero and Jorge Linares if those fights can be made. Hey, how about Martinez-Juarez? Rocky vs. Rocky? The loser has to drop the nickname.
Hats off to Afolabi. I knew he had the talent to beat Maccarinelli but I doubted that he had the focus and fire to actually pull it off (although, had I know he was 20-to-1 underdog, I might have put a few bones down on the brotha). That monster right cross he landed was the most memorable punch of the weekend. He shot a nice crisp jab early in the fight, showed excellent head and upper-body movement, counter-punched off the ropes well (which is what he always does in sparring), but allowed himself to be outworked in the middle rounds. Against a better conditioned cruiserweight (someone like champ Tomasz Adamek), Afolabi’s loosey goosey style and mentality will cost him a decision even if he’s competitive. But he came back nicely against Maccarinelli, and I’m very happy for him.
NOT A “BLOODY MISMATCH”
Doug: Sorry I haven't been in touch for a while. Like you, I switched jobs, and am now at the point where I can start resuming my normal life. Congrats on the move to The Ring. RingTV.com has now become my go-to boxing website. No offense to Steve Kim and the rest of the crew at your old site, but it is not close as good without you. In my opinion, you are one of the few top-quality writers and journalists in the game. I really can't read anyone besides you, Mike Katz, Dan Rafael, and maybe a few others.
As for Khan-Barrera, I watched the fight and disagree with your headline. It was not a “bloody mismatch,” or at least we don't know that it was. It was certainly bloody, but that was because of a vicious accidental headbutt early in Round 1. Yes, Barrera — a notoriously slow starter — was taken out of his game in the first 3 rounds by the hand speed of Khan and the cut. It didn't look that much different from Diaz and Marquez early on, except Barrera didn't seem as hurt by Khan's punches as Marquez was by Diaz's. But in rounds 4 and 5, and especially in Round 5, it looked like Barrera was starting to find his rhythm and was landing some good shots on Khan. Khan, by the way, wasn't landing every blow he threw, or when he did land, land them cleanly. Not even close. I wonder how the fight would've turned out had Barrera not gotten cut. — Eric
You make a good point about the first three rounds of Khan-Barrera looking like the first three of Marquez-Diaz, Eric, but I think you watched the fight with your “Baby-Faced Assassin” goggles on. A key difference in the fights is that even though Marquez was being moved and stunned by Diaz’s punches, he was able to land multiple shots in return. Barrera landed one notable punch (a left hook near the end of round two) in nine minutes of one-sided action.
Another difference between those fights, which I admit has nothing to do with your argument but I think we should keep it in mind when discussing Barrera’s future, is that Marquez was in with a former titleholder and top contender. Barrera was in with an unproven kid.
You wonder “how the fight would've turned out had Barrera not gotten cut”. Well, with the cut, I think the Khan-Barrera looked a lot like Chavez-De La Hoya I. Without the cut I think it would have gone a lot like De La Hoya-Chavez II. Barrera would have lasted longer, had a few moments, but would have eventually been forced to bow out by the start of the late rounds. Just one boxing writer’s opinion (and one who’s followed Barrera for most of his career as both fan and member of the media).
Thanks for the very kind words about my writing. It means a lot coming from a knowledgeable, longtime fan like yourself. I disagree that MaxBoxing.com (note how I’m not afraid to actually mention the name of another website) is not as good without me. It’s not the same, but I think the quality of the writing from Kim, Gerbasi & Co. is as good — if not better — than ever. It’s fun reading the site as a fan and not an editor or owner.
GOOD, BUT NOT CAREER-DEFINING
Hey Dougie, let me start by saying I thought Khan fought a beautiful fight. He moved in, threw his combos, and moved right back out. He kept his hands up, and only took two really hard, clean punches. However I do not think his performance was a major indication of his arrival at the title picture. Barrera looked so slow and shot. Let’s not forget Barrera is a slow starter, and this only went to the fifth round. That gash was one of the worst I've ever seen. It was so bad, as soon as his corner put the grease on it, it started gushing right away. It visibly affected him, and he still fought on. He has always been a warrior and let me just say this cut was twice as bad as Robert Guerrero's last week. The combination of the early ending and cut make it so that we cannot call this performance “career defining”. I think he can be special, but we need to see him against a good, prime fighter, such as Julio Diaz who can give him a good test. He'd destroy David Diaz ala Pac Man with D. Diaz's lack of speed and power. He also seems to throw arm punces in the heat of his combinations, but his display of foot speed was fantastic. All in all it was a good performance, yet inconclusive. Keep it real, like always. — Alex
Khan’s performance was interesting. It showed without a doubt that he has improved his defense and technique. I was impressed with his form and his focus given that he’s only six months removed from getting KTFO by Breidis Prescott. However, it proved almost nothing in terms of how the young man might fare against a real 135-pound contender. Of the 10 lightweights currently ranked by THE RING (which doesn’t include “my son” Edwin Valero, my son’s biggest hater Jorge Barrios and everybody’s favorite sparring partner Urbano Antillon because they are still ranked at 130 pounds), I would only favor Khan to beat No. 3 David Diaz (as you predict) and No. 7 Michael Katsidis and No. 8 Yuri Romanov because of the way their styles mesh. And despite being tailor made for Khan, Katsidis is still dangerous. Even with Khan’s technical improvements and the confidence booster in beating Barrera, I’d only make him even-money against No. 9 Prescott and No. 10 Anthony Peterson.
But who knows? Maybe that’s what Khan’s team will do, take on David Diaz or the winner of Katsidis-Jesus Chavez next, win that fight and wait for the outcome of Hatton-Pacquiao (and target the Mad Hatter, should he pull the upset, in what would be the biggest all-British showdown since Lewis-Bruno or Benn-Eubank II) or wait for champ Juan Manuel Marquez to finally show his age. If they play it semi-safe, Khan will make A LOT of money in this sport, proving once more how foolish it is to write a fighter off a talented young after one loss no matter how devastating.
Whudup Dougie Fish,
What’s your assessment of that performance by my countryman? I thought he looked very good for the first 3 rounds, and then sort of gave up the next 4. Maccarinelli was taken out by his fatigue more than anything else, but I’m still impressed with Afolabi. I think he’s slowly shaking off the sparring partner mentality, but I still saw shades of that during the fight. He was very inactive at times. Where do you think he goes from here? What do you think his chances are against Cunningham and Adamek?
(Ps: what is it with Nigerian boxers and the cruiserweight division? AK Laleye, Hino Ehikhamenor, Ola Afolabi, Emmanuel Nwodo, Pat Nwamu, Herbie Hide are all of Nigerian heritage and active cruiserweights. I guess it’s our natural weight.) Keep up the good work there at The Ring. — Bim
Hey, 200 pounds is a good weight class to be in these days. Your countrymen can make some decent dollars if they stay dedicated and ready for opportunities like Afolabi was. All the cruiserweights you named are very good boxers. (Interestingly enough, like Afolabi, most of them have gym reputations that exceed their pro accomplishments. “AK”, a very cool cat that I’ve met and talked to numerous times, is kind of like Afolabi’s Las Vegas counterpart in the gym. He’s sparred with everyone of note out there.) Anyway, there should be a tournament to determine the best Nigerian cruiserweight. I’ll put my money on Afolabi because I wish I put my money on him before the Maccarinelli fight.
I saw the fight exactly as you did, Bim. I thought Afolabi was sharp for three rounds and then looked like a world-class sparring partner for the next four. I’m glad he sensed Big Mac’s fatigue and behaved like a world-class FIGHTER in rounds eight and nine. Perhaps this victory and the interim title belt he won will help him shed the remnants of the sparring partner mentality. I’d make him a “live dog” versus any cruiserweight in the world but I would pick RING champ Adamek and No. 1 contender Cunningham to beat him because of their experience, technique and excellent conditioning. However, I’d go with Kryptonite over top five RING contenders Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, Guillermo Jones, Firat Arslan, and Marco Huck. The cruisers have some interesting names, don’t they?
Lucien Bute put on one of his classic performances against Fulgencio Zuniga. I've always liked Bute's controlled aggression, precision punching, footwork and head movement. The guy hits without getting hit and if he hurts you, he's all over you with combinations. This fight also showed what a bad ass tough guy Andrade is. Luckily for Bute (and everyone else in the division) there are not a lot of guys like Andrade who can take a beating and just keep coming. In the rematch though, I don't think Andrade will come close. Bute will not make the same mistake twice (I hope). I'd love to see Bute in with Kessler. If he beats Kessler than surely he breaks into the top 10 p4p. By the way that uppercut to the body is Bute's favorite punch… Your thoughts on Bute's chances against Kessler? — Stephen, Montreal
Although I agree with Showtime commentator Steve Farhood that Kessler has sort of been on vacation since his loss to Calzaghe, I still consider the Dane to be “the man” of the 168-pound division. The fact remains that Kessler’s only loss is to a first-ballot hall of famer, and prior to that competitive loss he absolutely dominated at least five RING-rated top 10 contenders. Andrade never came close to competing with Kessler. Andrade won one round in the first 11 with Bute and nearly had your boy out in the 12th. Don’t forget, Bute didn’t just suffer a last-minute knockdown, he was stunned and reeling for most of the final round. And his fatigue wasn’t because of the movement he exhibited against Andrade (he’s used to moving a lot), it was because of Librado’s relentless pressure. That’s not going to change in the rematch if a second bout happens, so I don’t think that’s going to be an easy fight for him, but I give Bute credit for his willingness to get in the ring with Andrade again. Bute has heart and class.
That said, I favor Kessler over Bute. Kessler’s just as skilled as Bute (a little sharper, technically speaking) but bigger and stronger. I think to out-box or out-hustle Kessler a fighter must possess a very good chin, fast hands and an excellent inside game. Bute’s chin is solid and his speed is good, but I’m not confident his infighting skills are enough to overwhelm Kessler. Maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to see that 168-pound showdown, and I’d love to see the winner take on Chad Dawson at 175 pounds.
Dougie can be reached at [email protected]