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Dougie’s MASSIVE Monday Mailbag

18
Apr

WITH A HEAVY HEART.

Hey Doug,
Stunned @ the news about Edwin Valero today. It really upsets me that a young lady died, children lost both their parents to something so horrific, and (selfishly, I know) I lost my favorite fighter. The signs were there in retrospect, but it's still really stunning and unexpected…

As for last night’s fights, although my prediction of a Sergio Martinez victory turned out to be correct, Kelly Pavlik looked like he was on his way to winning in the middle rounds. It seemed like a fight that was going the way of showing why weight classes were invented (Manny Pacquiao somewhat makes us forget). That second cut really turned things around for Sergio and to his credit he took great advantage of it. I'm not too sure I wouldn't pick Pavlik to win the rematch, although it's probably in his best interest to move up a weight class. Martinez also seems like his optimum weight is @ 154, but with the thin middleweight class I feel like he can hold the title for quite some time.

Last but not least what a performance by Lucian Bute. I wish he were in the Super Six.



(P.S. Sorry to hear about your family issues, whatever they may be I sincerely hope the things get better for you.) — Jesse in Fort Worth, Texas

Thanks for the kind thoughts, Jesse. I was in the Dayton, Ohio area for my sister-in-law’s memorial services so I already had a heavy heart when I woke up to the buzzing sound my cell phone makes when I receive a text message. The message was from trainer and good friend Rudy Hernandez, who met Valero the same time I did, back in the summer of 2003 when he first arrived to Southern California as a skinny 8-0 featherweight. Rudy provided the young fighter with his best sparring — Urbano Antillon and Jose Armando Santa Cruz — and vouched for Valero’s talent and potential to Teiken’s venerable Mr. Honda before the influential Japanese promoter signed him.

His Sunday morning text read: “Valero murdered his wife.”

My heart sank. The simple message instantly knocked me into a surreal state. I had a sick feeling in my gut as I replied: “Oh my God. Are you sure? Did it happen in Venezuela?”

His immediate reply: “Positive! In Venezuela.”

Another text from Hernandez a few minutes later stated that a representative of Teiken Promotions (which I believe still had some legal ties to Valero) confirmed it two hours before he informed me (around 10:00 a.m. ET).

Hernandez continued: “I hope he rots in jail. People were disgusted by him when I was out there” (for Jorge Linares’ last fight and shortly after the news of his wife going to the hospital with severe injuries).

I couldn’t disagree with Hernandez’s sentiment for Valero but I just felt sad for his wife, their children, his wife’s family, and yes, even for the murderer himself. He’s going to have to live with the atrocity he committed for the rest of his life, and quite Frankly, I don’t see how anyone can do that without going completely crazy. Maybe he was insane to begin with. Maybe he was consumed by inner demons. Whatever the deal was with Valero, his wife is dead, his children are now without parents, and the sport of boxing has yet another ugly, tragic tale to tell.

On a brighter note, what a performance by Martinez. I like that he’s not afraid to mix some guts and aggression in with his athletic stick-and-move (and move some more) style. He took advantage of the cuts he opened up and he closed the show. I think he’s a worthy new middleweight champ and I hope he stays at 160 pounds where rematches with Pavlik and Paul Williams will rekindle excitement in the division.

Bute annihilated a motivated, thinking version of Edison Miranda and I have to give undefeated beltholder his due props. I thought he’d have to settle for a decision and I believed that he would have to stink out the late rounds to keep his belt. I was wrong. He blasted Miranda outta there in a manner that will solidify his claim as the world’s best 168 pounder.

I’m fine with him being out of the Super Six. Bute can continue to build his name in the U.S. with impressive HBO-televised performances, while the tournament produces a fellow super middleweight star for him to fight in the near future (late 2011 or some time in 2012).

YOUR VIEW OF PAVLIK-MARTINEZ

Dougie,
In reading the summaries and commentary of the Pavlik-Martinez fight, I see two different narratives emerging. One is that Pavlik figured Martinez out in the middle rounds and was on his way to a stoppage win or sweeping the final four rounds until the punch or punches in the 9th round that created the cuts. Those cuts blinded Kelly and took him off his game, allowing Martinez's comeback. In this view of the fight, Martinez was lucky to cut Pavlik in round 9 because he did not have the power to keep the bigger man off of him, and things were looking bleaker for him with every round until the cuts.

In the second version of the fight, Martinez was in control during the entire fight, and took a little bit of a breather in the middle rounds to preserve himself for the late rounds. In this view of the fight, Martinez was the superior fighter and the fact that Pavlik suffered those devastating cuts was incidental to the outcome.

Even though I'm a Martinez fan and was rooting for him, the fight I saw was the first version. I thought Martinez was being gradually worn down by Pavlik and was on his way to being stopped if not for the fortuitous cuts. Maybe I was partially influenced by the HBO broadcast, who seemed to see the fight in this way.

Which version of the fight did you see? Best. — Sugar Sam, Chicago, IL

I lean towards the second version (even though I predicted a late-stoppage victory for Pavlik) but I believe elements of both views of the fight took place.

I thought Pavlik was beginning to figure out Martinez’s style and close the gap better in the middle rounds, and I believed that it was possible for him to get that late stoppage he was gunning for, but I also thought that the southpaw challenger was always in control of the fight.

Those cuts above Pavlik’s eye didn’t happen by accident and the punches that produced them weren’t of the Hail Mary/desperation variety, so full credit must go to Martinez. Put simply: I don’t think Martinez got lucky. I also don’t believe that Martinez “took a breather in the middle of the fight.” I think he sucked it up when the going got rough, let his hands go and busted Pavlik’s face up in the process. Martinez gave Pavlik something to worry about and then out-fought him down the stretch.

IS BUTE THE REAL DEAL?

Hi Doug,
So, what did you think of Lucian Bute’s performance? You previously said that you didn’t think that he could blast MirandaÔǪ Well he just did!

Ok, I agree that Miranda isn’t even close to be a pound for pound type of fighter and that, in fact, he isn’t even an elite fighter at 168. So, Bute’s victory shouldn’t be seen as a career high mark. Still, he was a limited but dangerous foe and Bute did what a real champion is supposed to do: get up for every fight, stay sharp and be on his A game.

Honestly, the part that impressed me the most about it is the way he changed his style for this fight. I was expecting Bute to control the fight with his feet (at least for the first few rounds) and then breaking Miranda down progressively, possibly finishing the Colombian after 6 or 7 (with some flurries to the head or maybe his trademark hook/uppercut to the liver). But he did something we’re not use to see him do: plant his feet to the ground, outslug the slugger (at close range!!!) and put pressure on the crazy Colombian from the onset of the fight.

I’m not kidding, this guy is getting really versatile; he can fight going forward, backward, he can potshot, moves well, has good ring generalship and is really slick but he’s also good at throwing long combinations, hit to the body and now shows us that he has one punch knockout power to the head. That sounds impressive to meÔǪ I’m not afraid to say that, to me, he’s the real deal! What do you think? Am I exaggerating?

I’m also wondering, what do you thing is next for him? Who will he fight? I suppose Brinkley or Bika for the summer but they shouldn’t pose much of a threat. What do you see coming for this fall? Pavlik is out, maybe Hopkins, the Pascal/Dawson winner, or even Stieglitz. How do you think Bute would fare in those different bouts?

In other words: what’s your take on Bute? How far do you see him going? Personally I see him beating about any brawler, slugger or straight up European type boxer but I’m not too sure of how he fares against speedy fellow slick boxers (Ward or Dirrell). What do you think?

Anyways, have a good week and thanks for the mailbags, they are always enjoyable. — Arthur Billette, Quebec City, Canada

So what are you trying to say, Arthur? That you’re a Bute fan? Tell us how you really feel about him. LOL.

Yeah, of course I was impressed by Bute’s performance Saturday. And, yes, I think he’s the real deal at 168 pounds. I think Bute’s the best super middleweight in the sport (no disrespect to Ander Ward or Carl Froch, who probably believes that he’s the best 168 pounder ever) and the versatility mixed with power that he’s shown in his recent fights is the reason I do.

What’s next? Probably a mandatory defense against Jesse Brinkley. After that, I have no idea. I wouldn’t mind watching him figure out Sakio Bika. I don’t care to see him unify titles against Stieglitz (and I don’t think the German beltholder or his promoter want any part of Bute). I think the Dawson-Pascal winner is a natural choice for a mega-fight that I’m sure HBO would get behind that matchup in a big way. It wouldn’t be a PPV-level fight in the States, but it would be a major Championship Boxing main event and I would not be surprised if a Countdown show was produced to help market it.

A showdown with Hopkins is also an interesting option for Bute. The fight wouldn’t be well received in the U.S. (by the American boxing media) but it would be a big event in Montreal.

I don’t know how Bute would fare versus talented, slick/fast boxers like “the Dres” (Ward and Dirrell) but I can’t wait to find out.

SO THIS IS HOW IT ENDS

After a great weekend of boxing, what a gut shot it is to read about Edwin Valero's wife. What a damn shame. — MT

The sad and disturbing news about Valero definitely ruined my day, Sunday. A “shot to the gut” is a good ay to describe what I felt when I read Rudy’s text message.

It is a shame because it’s so f___king awful. It’s as bad as if he was killed in the ring (however, with this senseless crime he just ruined his name forever, not the integrity of pro boxing).

And yet, I refuse to let Valero’s failings and evil doings take away from the accomplishments and efforts of the fighters who were in action on Saturday. I received over 100 emails with “Valero,” “Damn shame” or “What a waste” as the subject on Sunday, but I wasn’t going to devote my entire Monday mailbag to a murderer. Martinez and Bute deserve accolades for their victories and Pavlik and Miranda deserve credit for trying their best in losing efforts.

Valero was an amazing talent and I truly believe he had the potential to develop into a bona fide crossover star. Fighters as fierce and gifted as he was don’t come around very often. However, there are talented up-and-comers who aren’t plagued by the inner demons that I believe will take Valero’s place, and they’ll be better for the sport in the long run. Three guys I’ve enjoyed watching over the past year — Ismayl Sillakh, Eloy Perez and Jesse Vargas — will make names for themselves before the year is out (Sillakh, a light heavyweight has already put fans and media on notice with his showing on the Hopkins-Jones II undercard). Frank Espinoza’s three lads with Golden Boy Promotions — Ronny Rios, Luis Ramos and Carlos Molina — are tough and talented but also decent human beings (as are Sillakh, Vargas, and especially Perez).

Middleweight prospects Daniel Jacobs, Matt Korobov and Fernando Guerrero are developing nicely and may one day inherit the 160-pound division (and once Shawn Estrada gets his career rolling the East L.A. native can spark a nice round robin with his former amateur peers). There are others that I could mention, but you get the message: The sport rolls on.

VIERA/VALERO TRAGEDY

Doug,
I was going to write you about the great fights from this weekend, but I'll keep this short.

The tragedy that has occurred has nothing to do with whether Edwin Valero ever returns to the ring. The true loss is the life of a 24-year-old mother of two.

I don't know if you are acquainted with Viera's family, but I hope they know that the thoughts and prayers of many people around the world are with them. — Matthew

I hope so too. Well stated Matthew.

THE MADMAN, THE MEDIOCREMAN AND THE WISEMAN

Hey Doug! Straight down to my points-your thoughts??

1. Edwin Valero!!! F****!! this guy is a completely psychotic degenerate. So that's it, that's the end. A lot of people would say black eye for boxing. I say it was boxing that kept him away from this kind of s__t for this long. This guy should have been in LA training. That was his only way to keep sanity (Johnny Tapia syndrome). Him + Venezuela = certain doom just as you predicted. I feel sad for that young woman who had a horrible life and an even worse ending. I know you are deeply saddened by this and I hope you or no one else refers to this psycho as your “son”.

2. Pavlik was going to get his ass handed to him by “Maravilla.” Too bad
Sergio is 35. He definitely is superstar material — Skills, Speed, Looks, Swag (although that showboating could get him in trouble some day). Thank you, Maravilla, for putting an end to the most pathetic middleweight
reign ever. (Lockett/Rubio/Espino) and we dissed Jermain Taylor for this? Pavlik is an oversized middleweight, a tough guy with a chin and a big heart — but he is a very mediocre fighter and a product of the legendary Top Rank matchmaking. What’s the future like for Kelly Pavlik now? Youngstown is probably on the verge of disowning him.

3. Brother Nazim is the star of 24/7. Homey oozes wisdom. No one can keep it real like this Brother and I think that Nazim is going to be that X factor on May 1. He might be the best corner voice a fighter can ask for. I still think Floyd wins a UD but Nazim's presence in that corner along with Shane's skill and heart….I don’t know anymore.

Keep up the great work! — Asim

Thanks for writing, Asim. I’ll give my thoughts to yours in order:

1. I agree that what Valero did is not a black eye for boxing. What happened has everything to do with him and nothing to with the sport. He’s a deeply disturbed individual who committed a most heinous and despicable crime. I agree that the sport helped him focus his inner rage but I’m not sure that what happened Saturday or early Sunday wouldn’t have happened outside of Venezuela (although I had hoped that getting out of his home country would help him get his life together) or at a later date if he didn’t accept the help he needed. The signs were there. He’s always been a control freak — with his career, his training situation and his family. His former trainer Joe Hernandez told me years ago that he never let his wife leave the tiny apartment they occupied when he lived in Southern California. His wife and two kids never looked happy, never even smiled, when they were seen with him in recent years. I remember how sad and solemn they all looked — his wife, two children and his mother — sitting ringside for his first title defense in Tokyo back in January of 2007. The out-of-the ring fight with his former stablemate (Daniel Ponce-DeLeon), the bar/club brawl in Venezuela, the DUI charge in the U.S., the various automobile accidents, the shooting incident with his wife last year (which some insiders believe Valero committed), and then the recent reports of violence against his sister, his mother, and his wife from Venezuela all pointed to a young man who was self destructing. And yet, I was still shocked by the news Sunday morning. I shouldn’t have been, but I was. I wanted to be optimistic. I had hoped going to Cuba as he had planned would spark the beginning of a recovery period for him. It was not to be, and it’s such a horrible waste. Needless to say, Valero is no longer “my son.”

2. Martinez exceeded my expectations and proved me wrong. I thought Pavlik’s pressure and power would eventually get to him but along with the skills, speed, looks, and ‘swag’ that you mentioned the Argentine southpaw also possesses balls with a capital ‘B.’ I agree that Pavlik’s middleweight title reign was pathetic but I don’t believe that he’s a mediocre fighter (even though you are correct that much of his success was do to shrewd matchmaking). If Martinez is as good as you say he is, “Superstar” material in fact, then there shouldn’t be too much shame in losing a competitive decision to him with bad cuts above both eyes. And if Pavlik is as ordinary as you say he is, should anyone be that excited about Martinez’s victory? I am impressed with Martinez’s victory because I think Pavlik is a good fighter. It’s going to take more than decision losses to a first-ballot hall of famer at 170 pounds and talented southpaw badass like Martinez for me to dismiss Pavlik as “mediocre.” One thing I’d like to point out about Pavlik’s string of “bad luck” is how most fans and boxing writers are not blaming his plight on his promoter. You mentioned that his success was a product of his matchmaking (and you credit Top Rank for it). But you — and just about everyone else — do not blame that same matchmaking, or Top Rank or Bob Arum, for his losses to B-Hop and Martinez (even though it’s obvious that those two boxers are bad style matchups for the flat-footed Ohioan). Here’s my question: If Pavlik was promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, would hardcore fans and the boxing media simply chalk the two losses up to the fighter’s shortcomings or would they criticize his matchmaking and put at least some of the blame on the promoter’s “poor choices.” I already know the answer. I’m just wondering how many fans will admit to having a double standard when it comes to GBP and Top Rank.

3. I wholeheartedly agree with your opinion of Richardson on 24/7 and in Mosley’s corner. I like that he helps keep Shane grounded and focused (i.e., out of “Floyd’s world”), I love that he’s not going along with the same old “gameplan” of simply bum-rushing Mayweather and is focusing on boxing and constantly switching up his offense, and I’m very happy to see him work the “sticks” as much as the mitts in the gym (more on that in a later article) and focus his instruction on Mosley’s technique and defense. I disagree with your prediction of the big May 1 showdown and Brother Nazim is a big reason that I do.

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