Dougie’s Friday mailbag
What up Dougie! I’ll go easy on you today with just two real quick thoughts:
1) Wouldn’t it make sense for someone like Sergio Martinez, who is in the top of the Pound for Pound lists but still relatively (or completely) unknown to casual fans, to fight a tune up bout on Friday Night Fights, or would that be seen as a step back? Think about it, ESPN reaches far more homes then HBO and they would market the hell out of it on every single Sports Center, etcÔÇª even if it is a lesser opponent.
2) Do we give WAY too much credit to the Freddie Roaches and Robert Garcias of the world? I mean their best fighters came to them when they were already established and many of them champions for the most part. “Teachers” like Nacho Beristain and Manny Steward started off with their best fighters from a very young age and MADE them champions. Just saying.
Good going keeping boxing alive!! – Adrian “Dre” Milwaukee, WI
Actually, fans like you are keeping boxing alive. I’m just tagging along for the ride.
Your two thoughts are quick, but also deep.
It makes sense for someone like Martinez to fight tune-up bouts on basic cable between his HBO fights, but it doesn’t make dollars. So the RING middleweight champ and his management probably do view a showcase bout on Friday Night Fights as a (financial) step back. If “Maravilla” was a young man – let’s say in his early-to-mid 20s – I’d say he and his team were being short sighted, or even greedy, because they could increase his future fanbase and marketability with regular appearances on ESPN2. However, the classy southpaw is 37 years old with more than 50 pro bouts under his belt. Who knows how many fights he’s got left in his body? The man needs to make as much money as possible with as few fights as he can. HBO is the perfect network for a veteran fighter in Martinez’s position.
However, some of these young cats who have recently emerged as world-class fighters – such as Adrien Broner and Danny Garcia – would do well to heed your advice instead of waiting around for HBO and Showtime dates (and the good money that comes with fighting on the two major boxing networks). They would hone their skills and increase their star potential by showcasing their talent and personalities on FNF (even against lesser opposition) between appearances on subscription cable and pay-per-view shows. They would also help out their struggling sport. One of the reasons boxing was healthier in the 1990s was because world-class fighters fought more than two or three times a year – and they did so by fighting on various networks. It wasn’t odd to see the likes of Tommy Morrison, James Toney and Shane Mosley fighting on ESPN or USA network’s Tuesday Night Fights a month or two after they fought on HBO.
Regarding trainers, I think we give them too much credit when their fighter wins and we often blame them too much when their fighter loses. There are many ways to evaluate a trainer’s worth. I’ve always believed that our highest praise should go to those who put in the time to develop young talent into a champ from scratch. Many of the trainers I revere have done this, including Steward, Beristain, Ken Adams, Joe Goossen, Abel Sanchez, Bill Miller and the late Amilcar Brusa and Bouie Fisher.
However, there is something to be said for trainers who have the ability to improve almost any fighter – with any style – that they work with. Roach hasn’t taken many fighters from 0-0 to a major title (Brian Viloria is the only guy I can think of), but he generally brings the best out of the pros that he trains. Manny Pacquiao was a former champ gifted with crazy talent and desire, but he was also raw as sushi when he first walked through the door at Wild Card. Roach advanced him from a card carrying badass to bona fide super star over the course of the last decade. NOBODY thought Pacquiao would achieve as much as he has, and Roach deserves much of credit he gets for the Filipino icon’s ring accomplishments.
Roach also deserves major props for resurrecting James Toney in the previous decade. “Lights Out” was thought to be finished by 99.9 percent of the boxing community in 1997 (when he lost to Drake Thazdi) and ’98 (when he was inactive). But Roach gradually brought Toney back to form from ’99 to 2002 – in a division (cruiserweight) that was thought to be too heavy for him – and in ’03 he won THE RING Fighter of the Year award by beating Vassiliy Jirov (for the IBF cruiserweight title) and Evander Holyfield. Roach also took in Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., a guy who is just as lazy as Toney was but with only a fraction of the ability, and turned what I thought was a modest talent into a major beltholder/contender in just a few fights.
Garcia’s career as a trainer is still in its infancy compared to vets like Roach and Steward, but I must note that the former 130-pound beltholder has trained Brandon Rios, who won a major lightweight title last year and is THE RING’s No. 1-rated lightweight, since the amateurs. So he’s already developed one titleholder. And Garcia also trained Victor Ortiz from when the former welterweight beltholder was a 16-year-old amateur through his first 22 pro bouts. My guess is that his little brother Mikey will a featherweight title soon and more fighters from his growing stable – including those Garcia has trained from the start of their careers – will win major belts in the coming years.
What’s your wild rabbit? – Louie S.
LOL. I guess you’ve seen that Hennessy commercial with Pacquiao (it’s a good one). I can break it down into three parts (or rabbits): interaction with fellow fans, following (and chronicling) the development of the fighters (especially prospects and underdogs), and learning about the craft of boxing from the gym rats – which includes trainers and cut men (old and young), boxers (pro and amateur, male and female, child and adult) and select managers.
CALZAGHE VS. FROCH
Wasup dude? Slow week huh? Even slower weekend coming up. Want to know your opinion on something. Joe Calzaghe retired undefeated and beat a couple of legends (one badly faded, the other still serviceable) on his way out the door. Carl Froch, in my opinion, has done more over the last few years to solidify his legacy than Joe did his entire career! I’d take Froch’s run starting with Jean Pascal and ending with Andre Ward and soon Lucian Bute over Joe’s run starting with Sakio Bika and ending with a badly faded Roy Jones jr.
If they fought heads up I’d pick Joe C to win by Unanimous Decision because I know two things: 1. Carl ain’t knockin’ Joe out, period! Dude had a pretty good set of whiskers.
2. Carl ain’t outboxing Joe or even keeping up with the fast pace the he set. Joe ain’t knockin Carl out either, by the way. So, even though I think Joe is the better boxer, I believe that Froch has fought the superior competition. What do you think? Holla Back! Fleetwood
I agree that Froch has had a more impressive run in the last 3¾ years than Calzaghe had in the final seven years of his hall-of-fame caliber career. Calzaghe had some impressive victories – the most notable (in my opinion) were against Charles Brewer (UD), Byron Mitchell (TKO 2), Jeff Lacy (UD) and Mikkell Kessler (UD). The problem is that he would always face two-to-four no-hopers between those stellar showings.
Froch has an old-timer’s mindset. He’s not looking for soft touches, and you can tell that he really believes that he can beat anyone on a god night. Hell, he was lobbying hard for Calzaghe before Joe jumped to light heavyweight. Had they fought I agree with you that Calzaghe’s fast tempo and solid whiskers would enable the Welsh wizard to score a competitive and close decision over the Cobra.
HELLO FROM JAPAN
First time writer all the way from Japan! Love your mailbags. I just became a great fan of boxing so I always read your mailbags and use the readers’ and your opinions as guidelines to deepen my knowledge of this awesome sport. Anyways, my question to you is:
I’ve seen great Japanese boxers but they only fight here in Japan, win their titles here in Japan and defend them here in Japan. They don’t seem to be interested in fighting outside their home turf. That also considerably reduces the number and quality of opponents they can fight doesn’t it? Also the only available boxing organizations here are the WBA and the WBC. Why is that? Would you consider that to be a “world champion”? Does that mean that given the current conditions, there is absolutely no way a Japanese boxer could become an all time great? What would have to happen so all of that changes? For example, look at Takahiro Aoh or Takashi Uchiyama, who are champions that somehow seem stuck or unable to make significant progress into the hall of fame despite their fighting quality.
The sole exception which comes to mind is Toshiaki Nishioka, who has fought in Mexico and the US to defend his WBC title against a bunch of quality opponents including Jhonny Gonzalez and Rafael Marquez.
Arigato! – Lightning Kikuta
Thanks for the email Kikuta. I think the general policy of only recognizing the WBA and the WBC, and the reluctance to leave the country that many top Japanese fighters (or their managers) have, does limit their international recognition, and of course it hampers the likelihood of the very best to make it to the hall of fame.
However, I think things are changing that will help the truly talented Japanese fighters gain more attention from fans worldwide (even the boxers who don’t fight outside of the island). The internet has given hardcore fans everywhere access to Japan’s domestic fights; bouts they barely heard or read about in previous decades. So thanks to Youtube.com, fights like Akira Yaegashi’s 10th-round TKO of Pornsawan Porpramook are being watched and raved about by American fans and media. ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael chose Yaegashi-Porpramook as the Fight of the Year for 2011.
Boxing websites cover more Japanese action than ever before, and when a Japanese fighter consistently kicks ass on the world-class level – as Hozumi Hasegawa did from 2005 to ’09, or the way Nishioka is doing now – that fighter gets credit for his accomplishments.
Eight Japanese fighters are currently ranked in the top five of THE RING’s divisional ratings. Two of them – Uchiyama and Nishioka – are rated No. 1 in their respective divisions (junior lightweight and junior featherweight). Nobody disputes these rankings, which is saying something. It means that the boxing world respects Japanese fighters.
The question that you pose is how will these Japanese standouts advance beyond the divisional rankings to pound-for-pound status? It will be difficult if they don’t seek challenges outside of Japan. However, I won’t criticize them too much for being home bodies. Apart from Uchiyama and Aoh, all of THE RING-rated Japanese fighters reside below featherweight. And let’s face it, the American cable networks (HBO and Showtime) are not that interested in the lighter weight classes. Those fighters are better off fighting in Japan, where they can stay busy and make a decent living.
Three things need to happen to help Japanese fighters earn “elite” status: the Japanese commission needs to recognize the WBO and the IBF, Japan’s top promoters need to bring in more world-class fighters from outside of Asia to challenge their fighters, and the Japanese titleholders need to fight each other.
The showdown between Hasegawa and Mexico’s Fernando Montiel in 2010 was a WBC/WBO featherweight unification bout, so that’s a good sign of things to come. However, it still seems like the WBC and WBA beltholders in Japan never face each other.
Nishioka and Akifumi Shimoda never even talked about fighting each other when they held the WBC and WBA 122-pound belts.
If Shinsuke Yamanaka defends his WBC bantamweight title against Vic Darchinyan today will he and popular WBA beltholder Koki Kameda ever fight?
Will Kazuto Ioka, the WBC 105-pound titleholder (and THE RING’s No. 2-rated strawweight), ever challenge Yaegashi, the WBA beltholder?
You brought up Uchiyama and Aoh as examples of Japanese fighters who are stuck in a rut. Why can’t they fight each other? Uchiyama has the WBA title. Aoh has the WBC belt. Most fans would recognize the winner of that fight as “the man” at 130 pounds. Perhaps that partial unification bout would create enough waves in the boxing community to get HBO to pay enough money to entice the winner to the U.S. for a showdown with Adrien Broner.
That’s the kind of fight that can earn the winner a spot on a pound-for-pound list and maybe even point him toward Canastota.
Email Doug Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer.