Dougie’s Friday mailbag
TOP FIVE WISHES FOR 2011
The year is pretty much up now and what a great year it has been for boxing from November onwards. And what a better year it would have been if it wasn't for all those failed negotiations, fractured catch-weight alphaghetti titles, and all those no-nothing s__theads who still insist that our sport is some long dead fad from the previous century. Here's a big holiday cheer for each one of them in the form of a massive bomb exploding inside a whoopi-cushion factory. And here's a similar big fat raspberry for Bobby “The Weasel” Arum for giving us fans the match-ups we wanted to see. Happy Holiday Bob! Okay Doug. Now that I got those Christmas donations out of the way lets talk about what's happening and what should be happening.
Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal. Here's hoping that this isn't the unbearable stink-fest that fans are dreading. On a plus note Pascal is a determined exciting fighter and I'm predicting him to be too young and strong for the old man and win by either late-round kayo or commanding unanimous decision.
Win or lose, here's also hoping that Hopkins retires afterwards and replaces old rival Roy Jones for a spot behind the microphone.
Andre Berto-Saul Alvarez/Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley. Once again congratulations to Mosley for his golden opportunity to be Pac-man's next supposed punching bag. As for who should be next to win that much-coveted Golden Pac-ticket I believe that an undefeated, hard-hitting contender like Andre Berto should get his chance while other fans and writers are leaning towards Saul Alvarez as a possible opponent. Fine. Why not match these two young contenders against each other and if there is a clear cut winner then let that guy be next in line to challenge Pac. As for Mosley is there any chance of him winning at least a round or two? Sure, everyone thought that Shane was going to get wiped out by Antonio Margarito but this is a different monster he's facing altogether. Your thoughts?
High Five. Here's five big Christmas wishes I’d like to see happen which could make 2011 a kick-ass year:
5) A further extension of Larry Merchant's contract along with a brand new one for Bernard Hopkins. Imagine the fireworks.
4) All titlists will go by Tim Bradley's example and spend more energy towards fighting the best possible opponents and less concern towards clinging on to those crappy titles.
3) More of Sergio Martinez. He really kicks ass!
2)Real action fights like Alfredo Angulo-James Kirkland, Jean Pascal-Tavoris Cloud, and Tomasz Adamek-David Haye. Now those are what you call fights!
1) Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather. 'Nuff said. Of course I'll also like to see more attention given to our sport besides all the negative crap, less cautious and meddling referees, no more “catchweights”, and all those alphabet bastards vanished to some other alternate reality. Hey, what true sensible fan wouldn't want all of that.
Well I'm done for this year, Dougie. Merry Christmas and I'll get back to you next year. Have a good one! — Todd Johnson, Orillia, Canada
Thanks for writing in, Todd. It hasn’t been a very good year but at least 2010 closed strongly. I’ll answer your statements/questions in order:
Pascal-Hopkins: I don’t think the fight will be unbearable but I don’t think anyone should expect a thriller. B-Hop’s bread and butter for the better part of the last 10 years has been to keep his opponents from doing what they do best while systematically breaking them down over the course of the bout. If he’s in against a plodding, stalking or stationary opponent (Trinidad, Pavlik) he usually dominates from start to finish. Against opponents with fast hands and some lateral movement Hopkins’ isn’t as dominant. Pascal has fast hands, quick reflexes and mobility. These attributes should serve him well. However, Pascal does not posses the best footwork or technique. He keeps his hands low, tends to lunge in with his chin up when he punches, and often falls into a pattern of lobbing one shot at a time. These are technical/defensive flaws that a relatively younger Hopkins could have taken advantage of. After his last two performances (vs. Enrique Ornelas last December and Roy Jones Jr. in April) I’m not sure what the 45-year-old version of Nard can do with Pascal, but my gut tells me he can make things difficult for the young champ.
Unlike Dawson, I think Hopkins will work his jab more consistently and give Pascal a thing or two to think about before lunging in with quick lead power punches. Pascal likes to operate from the outside and dart in lightening quick with an in-and-out attack. Hopkins is going to try to time and counter Pascal on his way in. Whether he catches Pascal or not, B-Hop is going to grab and hold Pascal when the young man is inside. Hopkins will try to wear him down with his usual rough stuff on the inside and I think Pascal will try to fire back in close. It could get ugly, especially if punches stray low or land to the back of the older man’ head. Pascal slows down in the late rounds. I think Hopkins is going to try to make his move by applying a little pressure and working the younger man to the ropes in rounds nine, 10, 11 and 12. We’ll see how he does. I think Pascal has a lot of heart and will answer whatever challenge the great old-timer brings to the ring.
I think Hopkins will acquit himself very well for a 45-year-old fighter but he won’t be able to get enough done against the champ to spring the upset and Pascal will win a competitive unanimous decision.
Win or lose, Hopkins is a great fighter in my opinion. I’d love to see him get back behind the microphone and do some boxing commentary but I don’t want to see him replace Jones on HBO. I like RJJ’s commentary.
Andre Berto-Saul Alvarez/Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley: I don’t think Berto has done enough to earn a shot at Pacquiao and I don’t believe “Canelo” is anywhere near ready to challenge the Filipino superhero. I like the idea of them fighting each other, but I think Alvarez needs at least three more developmental fights before he takes on a talented young titleholder such as Berto. Alvarez looks good against slow, plodding, old veterans such as Carlos Baldomir and Lovemore Ndou, but what happens when he’s got to deal with speed? He didn’t handle all that well when he fought Larry Mosley a few years ago. I gave the kid a break, though, because he was just a teen.
Is there a chance that Mosley wins a round or two vs. the Pac-monster? Sure. He won one round vs. Floyd, I guess anything’s possible. LOL. Pacquiao is not a defensive specialist. If Antonio Margarito can reach him with right hands and left hooks to the body, so can Mosley. If Margarito can hurt him to the body, so can Mosley. So it’s not like he has no shot at all in the fight, but the odds are seriously stacked against him. Why? Because going by his fight with Sergio Mora, his reflexes look totally shot
to my eyes (I know a lot of people thought Shane dominated most of those 12 rounds). I saw a old guy who simply can deal with movement and speed, and becomes frustrated with it as well as with his own inability to pull the trigger the way he once did. Pacquiao has the footwork to befuddle Mosley and unfortunately for the Southern Californian the pound-for-pound king also has the power to bust him up good.
Five things I want to see happen in 2011:
5) GBP and Top Rank get along enough to make a dream lightweight showdown between Juan Manuel Marquez and Humberto Soto.
4) The winner of Fernando Montiel-Nonito Donaire to fight the winner of Showtime’s bantamweight tournament.
3) The winner of Tim Bradley-Devon Alexander to fight the winner of Amir Khan and whoever the British beltholder fights in March or April (it could be Victor Ortiz or Zab Judah) for THE RING junior welterweight title (if the magazine’s belt isn’t up for grabs in January).
2) David Haye to defend his heavyweight belt against Tomasz Adamek in either Madison Square Garden or The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
1) Fight fans and the boxing media MOVE THE F___ ON if Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. don’t fight each other.
BOXING IN QUEBEC
How are you doing?
Let me tell you first that I did really like your last article on boxing in the Province of Qu├®bec . I think you got it right and that you spoke to the right people. Yvon Michel is a promoter but also is a savvy analyst. He knows his public, that’s for sure!
Richard Cloutier is a relatively new boxing writer in Qu├®bec or at least he got more exposure in 2010. I also like his work and I think what he told you was accurate. Finally, Joe Tessitore’s comments were also right on. All in all, I think it was a great article and I’m glad you wrote it. That way many readers of The Ring will get a better understanding of the fight scene in Qu├®bec.
Now with the fight: I'm still going with my boy here (not surprisingly) and I expect it to be a win for Pascal by TKO, probably in the 10th or the 11th (which is a bit more risky). I believe that his speed, his erratic style, his physical strength, his heart and the location of the fight will all play in his favour.
Like you said many times, Doug, Hopkins has problems with speed and Pascal is fast enough to give problems to about anybody. I think the hurt will add on Hopkins during the fight and Hopkins won't be able to keep on with the rhythm of the fight. The referee or his corner will eventually stop the fight. I wouldn't rule out a disqualification too.
The main reason for this is that, as everybody knows, Hopkins is a crafty fouler and knows how to use those tricks to take a breather. The thing is, he won't be in the US and I don't believe the referee (Michael Griffin, a good ref) will let him do that. He will penalize Hopkins and for this reason Bernard will have to adapt but he won't be able to. This leads us to two options: or he will stop fouling, which means he won't be able to slow down the fight anymore and this will lead to the late TKO or Bernard will go on with his fouling and will eventually get disqualified.
We'll see if I'm right but I believe it will be a better fight than what most people expect. Hopkins will be seriously threatened by Pascal and he will try to roar back. It will be his last stand but he'll lose nonetheless. Pascal is developing more and more his own style and I think his recent success is directly linked to it. He was a poor man Roy Jones but he's now grown into an erratic and explosive boxer/brawler (Hopkins compared him to Aaron Pryor but I don't know the Hawk enough to know if it's really accurate).
Anyways, I'll be at the Coliseum on Saturday and I don’t know if you’ll attend but I definitely think that you ought to come one of the days. I’m sure you’ll love your time in La Belle Province! — Arthur Billette, Qu├®bec City, Canada
I won’t be in Quebec City tomorrow, but I’ll definitely be watching on Showtime and I look forward to writing the post-fight column on Pascal-Hopkins for RingTV.com. I’m sure I will eventually cover a fight in Quebec. There is too much talent in the province and the fight scene is too strong for me not to. If Pascal eventually faces Lucian Bute I can guarantee you that I’ll be ringside for that super fight. Who knows? Perhaps David Lemieux will develop into a middleweight challenger or even champ and engage in a big enough fight to get the U.S. media to venture north for one of his fights.
I think Hopkins is going to be competitive with Pascal, at least in spots. Pascal has indeed developed his own style but it still comes with plenty of technical flaws that a master boxer can exploit. I just wonder if Hopkins will be quick enough to catch Pascal when he lunges in with his hands down or misses with a big shot and spins himself half way around (as he often does). If Hopkins can still pull the trigger when he sees an opening, we’ve got a fight and for the old man’s sake he better hope Pascal doesn’t fight like Aaron Pryor. If Pascal fought like “the Hawk,” Hopkins would indeed get stopped late. However, while Pascal does lob power shots from awkward angles as Pryor did, he does not fight with the same intensity, pressure and volume punching as the hall of famer.
Thanks for the kind words on my article about boxing’s popularity in Quebec. Michel, Cloutier, and Tessitore were the perfect sources to give fans who are unaware of the strong fight scene in your area a good overview of how it is and why it is. For the record, I also wanted to also talk to boxing analyst/trainer Russ Anber and Librado Andrade, who has fought there more than a few times. I’ll get them next time.
I enjoyed speaking with Michel, by the way. I can tell that he’s very smart about the business end of the sport, but also understands it from a technical/athletic perspective, and is just as passionate about the sport as Quebec’s fans are. I wish we had more promoters like Michel in the States.
RANDOM OBSERVATIONS AT THE YEAR'S END
It's long time I haven't wrote you so I just wanted to keep in touch. As a good boxing nut I watched all the great and not so great boxing matches at the end of the year. I saw some amazing things as Audley Harrison emulating 'the wisp' and winning a round without throwing a punch :). I saw the great battle between Michael Katsidis and JMM that is still my FOTY and the war between Marcos Maidana and Amir Khan that is my second choice.
As anyone else I was shocked by the way Martinez destroyed Williams but in a hindsight it was a logical outcome. As you mentioned between the first and the second fight Martinez transformed into a true MW while Williams overlooked the fight, didn't put any muscle in his legs and upper body and was thinking about a future showdown with Pac or Floyd. The more concentrated fighter won. When you look at the situation when the KO happened if only Williams had set his left hook with a jab he was never going to get KOed. Williams has great heart but lacks fundamentals and he won't be relevant if he doesn't change his trainer.
Another random observation is that the bantamweight division is just stacked with talent now. I would put it in front of the JWW, WW and SMW divisions. We have Montiel, Donaire and the great 4 fighters from the tournament!
I wish you and you family a Merry Christmas and happy (full with good boxing) new year!!! — Lubomir Vezenkov
Thanks Lubby, happy holidays to you too. Good to hear from ya.
I agree that the bantamweight division is among the best in the sport right now. In fact, I think it’s THE deepest weight class. Apart from Montiel, Donaire, Agbeko, Mares, Perez and Darchinyan, the 118-pound division is also home to Anselmo Moreno and Nehomar Cerme├▒o, both of whom are excellent boxers who can hang with any of the other top bantamweights in my opinion. Japan-based Russian Sasha Bakhtin is a bantamweight up-and-comer you should keep an eye on.
Williams is 41 fights into his pro career. I think he is what he is regardless of who’s training him.
Marquez-Katsidis is my choice for fight of the year. Soto-Antillon is a close second. I put those two lightweight battles, Segura-Calderon and Escalante-Roman in front of Khan-Maidana.
THRIVING QUEBEC BOXING SCENE
I don’t know how many years I been reading you, but this is probably my
favorite article you’ve ever written. The title itself practically gives me goose bumps. You had me at hello.
As happy as I am to see boxing doing well up here, it hurts me to know that the Khan-Maidana/Marquez-Katsidis/Marquez-Lopez fights did not do so well at the gate. They were all such good fights. However, I think it helps the ticket sales in Quebec that there is no longer a hockey team there (the Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche in ’95).
It blew me away to read the names Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Maurice Richard in one of your articles, and I didn’t know that Jake LaMotta and Marcel Cerdan fought here!
I’m going to the Hopkins-Pascal fight and I think that even if the fight is less than explosive it will still be a fun night. Hey, worse case scenario I get to boo Paulie Malignaggi in person.
Anyway, I’m confident that Pascal will win but I have to admit, Hopkins makes me nervous. Ultimately I’ll go with Pascal by UD based on their respective previous fights and the crowd behind Pascal.
Thanks for a great read. — Steve, Montreal
Anytime, Steve. It’s my job.
I also like Pascal by UD, but I wouldn’t put a lot of money on that prediction because Mr. Hopkins has proven me wrong more than once before (I picked Tarver and Pavlik to beat him). That’s really saying something isn’t it? We are afraid to count Hopkins out even at age 45. He must be a great fighter.
I bet that if you meet Malignaggi in person after his fight you’ll like the guy.
I wouldn’t be able to pick Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Maurice Richard out of a police lineup but I’m glad reading their names in my article gave you a rise. You can thank Mr. Cloutier for their reference.
Yes, Cerdan and LaMotta both fought in Montreal. The Raging Bull fought his first bout with Laurent Dauthuille there (a non-title bout that he lost). His rematch with Dauthuille is famous for his furious final-round rally and KO that enabled him to keep his middleweight crown.
It does suck that those recent fights in Las Vegas did so poorly at the box office. The recession has hit Sin City very hard. I’ve never seen it dead as it is now. At least those three bouts entertaining fans who watched on TV, helped the year end well for the sport and may hopefully set up bigger bouts in 2011.
WHEN YOU DO VISITÔÇª
Something tells me you are going to make into to Montreal one of these days. When you do come if it is during the Jazz Festival bring your family and stay a week. You won't regret it. Same goes for Quebec City. The old part of the City is a fun and romantic place.
I'd like to see Pascal TKO Popkins and retire him but it ain't going to happen… — Stephen, Montreal
“Popkins.” LOL. I like that.
I know I will eventually make it up to the two major cities in Quebec, probably sooner rather than later. If I have a great time I’ll probably bring the family up the next time I’m there.
By the way, folks, Stephen from Montreal is a different “mail-bagger” than Steve from Montreal. I’m going to have to give one of you dudes a nickname.