Dougie’s Friday mailbag
R.I.P. EMANUEL STEWARD
What’s up Dougie,
Just like the rest of the boxing world, I am saddened by the passing of Emanuel Steward. As a trainer I loved the way he would tear into his fighters at times. I’ll never forget when he was chastising Lennox Lewis between rounds for not taking Mike Tyson out sooner. He did the same thing to Wladimir Klitschko in a more recent fight.
As a commentator he was hands down the most knowledgeable between him, Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant. He didn’t cheer lead for the house fighter like those two, and who can forget him hollering out “Oh my God!” When Victor Ortiz caught and dropped Andre Berto after being in serious trouble.
RIP, Emanuel Steward. – Miguel, LBC
There will never be another like him. He wasn’t just one of the greatest boxing trainers of all time – someone who nurtured kids from the amateurs to professional world titles, helped improve established pros and turnaround their careers after they suffered losses, all while remaining a top coach for more than 30 years – he was also a shrewd manager, occasional promoter, a streetwise hustler, genius publicity man, insightful TV commentator, master story teller and a wonderful human being.
Steward was a very positive person who always encouraged young people to achieve their goals and dreams, especially those who were involved with boxing. It didn’t matter what area of the sport you happened to be in, Steward always offered advice, approval and support if you needed it.
I’ve got a couple funny stories about dinner with Steward in Las Vegas (along with Steve Kim and a few other boxing folks), but I don’t have the heart to recount them so soon after his passing. Thursday was a very sad day for me, as I know it was for countless others. We all miss Manny. The sport will not be the same without him.
Sorry to keep pulling a “TTT” by constantly barging in on your mailbag like this. I’ll give you a break after this one. I promise!
Just want to give the usual post-fight commentary, plus several fight suggestions:
1. Danny Garcia’s definitely more than just another paper champion. Even if Erik Morales was indeed too old and worn out the same can’t be said for Amir Khan. If anyone would just recall, Khan was on a big tear himself, beating one top guy after another until he ran into Garcia’s TNT left-hook. So what’s with the hate from some of these fans? Danny’s not some overhyped, pampered Daddy’s Boy. He’s earned his keep. Suck it up, fans.
With that said and done I sure hope Lucas Matthysse gets his title shot soon. He’s waited long enough. And really, if Garcia does take that fight or even the much-suggested showdown with Brandon Rios that just further proves my point that this guy’s certainly not screwing around. He’s all fighter.
2. The Pablo C. Cano-Josesito Lopez fight that was suggested in your last Monday edition was interesting but you know what fight I’ll like to see? The very same Lopez versus Marcos Maidana. Now that would be a FIGHT! Lopez’s toughness and volume punching against Maidana’s strength and power. What do you think? Come to think about it I wonder what common opponent Victor Ortiz would have to say about that one.
3. Moving on to the middleweight division. It’s obvious that both Peter Quillin and Hassan N’ Dam have their flaws, but lack of punching power and heart sure ain’t among those flaws. Both men remind me of guys like Jermain Taylor and Andre Berto. In other words, they’re both athletic, hard-hitting guys who come to fight and can certainly spark fireworks against the right opponents.
Either N’Dam or Quillin against Daniele Geale would be fine with me. Either of those guys squaring off against fellow heavy-hitter Grezorg Proksa could also be a real unforgettable brawl. Can’t say I’m too big on watching any of them going up against Dimitry Pirog, though. Pirog strikes me as a guy who just does enough to win. And really, who has he beaten? Certainly not anyone good enough to earn him a top-five ranking.
Not that I recall anyways. Anyways, that does it for me. See ya. – Dave
Write in as much as you like, Dave. Every boxing fan on the planet is welcome to “pull a TTT” with the mailbag.
I’ll respond to your comments and questions in the order you posed them:
1. I have no problem calling Garcia “champ.” The young man hasn’t even turned 25, but he fought Nate Campbell, Kendall Holt, Erik Morales and Amir Khan in succession before facing Morales again. He’s clearly not looking to take the easy road. I don’t know who he’s going to face at Barclays Center in January, but I don’t think his opponent will be a chump. I’m confident that Matthysse will get his shot at Garcia sometime in 2013.
2. Although watching Maidana and Lopez lock horns could cause him to experience violent flashbacks, I bet Ortiz would buy a ticket to that showdown. I know I would. As good as Maidana looked on the Canelo-Lopez undercard and as outclassed (due to being outsized) as Josesito was that night, I think my money would be on the Riverside, Calif., native. Lopez is a fresher, more-athletic and better-skilled version of Jesus Soto-Karass, who definitely had his moments against Maidana. It would be a hell of a scrap, though. I think Lopez would pull out a close decision.
3. Quillin and N’Dam are indeed flawed, but I’m sure that’s what often makes them fun to watch. I love the idea of N’Dam taking on Proksa (especially since both guys are on the rebound after losing high-profile bouts). They both have massive hearts. I can’t see that fight being anything but a scorcher that also features a measure of skill. Quillin vs. Geale would be very interesting. Quillin has the edge in size, physical strength and power, but Geale has better form, is more fluid, more active, more experienced, and he has superior stamina. Good matchup! And it would be for the WBO, WBA and IBF titles. The winner of that one could confidently challenge Sergio Martinez for all the middleweight marbles.
Good point about Pirog. The best name (and the most impressive performance) on his resume is Daniel Jacobs, who was a prospect at the time, not a contender. Priog has a few notable victories (such as beating veteran fringe contender Sergey Tatevosyan in only his fourth pro fight and outpointing former title challenger Kofi Jantuah) but he’s never beat a legit top-10 contender.
I don’t see what the problem is on Garcia, no, he wasn’t fighting the El Terrible of old, but I did not expect that brutal shot and KO. I love Morales, all boxing fans should, he was a warrior’s warrior. He was the warrior that warriors wanted to be like. He was clearly past it, but he was clearly past it when he announced his un-retirement. Do you remember people actually thought he might get killed against Maidana? So this is revisionist history.
I give Garcia a LOT of credit and I was not high on him until after the Khan fight and now this. I expected Morales to get in his a$$ a little bit the way he does with boxing and catching him with clean counters that are as straight as an arrow, my heart was pulling for Morales, but Garcia smashed that. Props to him, I definitely didn’t see that coming. Garcia has some brutal power, just ask Khan. I’m high on Garcia now. I don’t care to see the Lamont Peterson fight and why is anybody high on this guy who is a known steroid cheat? I would like to see the Zab Judah fight, although I give Judah no shot, but maybe we can see him do the “crip walk” again! Garcia has definitely got the firepower to “Tszyu” him. – Jason C. Brown
I like how you turned recent hall-of-fame inductee Kostya Tszyu’s last name into a verb. And I know exactly what you mean. However, as much as I like Garcia, he’s not yet on the level that Tszyu was when he fought Judah in 2001 and his punching technique is not as straight and clean as the Russian Aussie’s. Tszyu clipped Judah because that straight right hand of his was like a laser-guided missile.
I agree that there’s a lot of revisionist history going one with fans who want to pooh-pooh Garcia’s KO-of-the-year-candidate stoppage of Morales. We all knew going in that Morales was far removed from his prime, but we also knew that even the old version of El Terrible has a way of giving strong young guys hell (as he did against Maidana, Cano, and David Diaz before his brief retirement). He busted Garcia’s face up in March. So he wasn’t a total spent bullet. But Garcia has clearly become a more confident fighter after going 12 rounds with the Mexican legend and then blasting out Khan.
Still, if Garcia doesn’t agree to fight Matthysse and Rios in his next two fights, he will be accused of avoiding the best of his division or even of outright “ducking.” Whatever. There’s a segment of hardcore fans that are going to dislike Garcia no matter what he does. You know how Joe Frazier told Marvin Hagler that he had three strikes against him because he was black, southpaw and good? Well, Garcia’s also got three strikes against him as far as some fans are concerned: he’s promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, he’s managed by Al Haymon, and his dad is Angel Garcia. Nuff said.
KHAN’S PATH TO REDEMPTION
Dougie, reading your mailboxes has become a part of my weekly routine. First time sending a question.
I know some people are down on Amir Khan but he always brings it and never ducks anybody – nobody can question his balls. He’s great for the sport not only because of his action but he attracts a new fan base and has true star power. I see two paths for his comeback. The one most of us assumed – rematches with Peterson/Garcia and Matthysse to re-establish himself at the top of the 140lb food chain. The other one would be moving to 147 and having a grudge match with Kell Brook and then a mega-mega fight with Ricky Hatton, which could sellout Wembley. As a hardcore fan, I always wanted the 1st path, but I’m really warming up to the 2nd one. The UK fights are gonna be monstrous/high-profile with tons of cash involved. If he loses in Path 1, it could just kill his career (and those fights will still be there anyways). What do you think my man? – Omar Q.
First of all, thank you for the kind words and for finally writing to me. Now that you have broken the ice, don’t be a stranger!
Second, I agree that Khan’s courage cannot be questioned. I also agree that he’s good for the sport. He sells tickets in Britain and he puts on very good TV fights here in the States.
Regarding his two “paths to redemption,” as you dramatically put it, assuming he gets by Carlos Molina in December, I would have Khan take the welterweight path if I advised him.
The 140-pound division is more dangerous than the welterweight class right now, and as you noted the bigger fights exist at home at 147 pounds. I’d have Khan fight BOTH Hatton brothers (why not?) in Britain (probably Manchester). If successful, I’d try to make a rematch with Paul Malignaggi (in the U.S., Vegas or NYC area). If successful, I’d go for Brook (who hold a title by then) in the UK. If successful, I’d try to cash out with the showdown with Floyd Mayweather. If Mayweather isn’t available, I’d take a chance on a unification bout vs. Tim Bradley (remember when THAT was the fight everyone wanted to see at 140?).
Bradley’s an elite-level boxer but at least he’s not a hammer-fisted slugger like Garcia, Rios and Matthysse.
MORE UNBREAKABLE RECORDS
I’ve been reading your stuff since the House of Boxing days and this is the first time I’ve written in (I know everyone says that, right?). Long overdue I know. Love your balanced opinions and expert insight… your mailbags are always essential reading for me.
Just wanted to follow up on an email from Brendan in the Monday Mailbag whose question was, ‘which record in boxing is unbreakable’?
I agree that B-Hop’s incredible record of 20 title defenses is going to be almost impossible to break but I was surprised you didn’t mention Joe Louis 25 Heavyweight Title defenses. I know W. Klitschko would probably have a shot to break this if he wants to stick around long enough due to the poor quality of challengers out there today, but it’s still going to be tough to break given his age and schedule of one or two fights per year.
For me though, the most unbreakable record in boxing must belong to Wilfred Benitez. We will NEVER see another fighter talented or crazy enough (or with a management team willing to put them in the ring with a world champion so early in their careers) that has the ability to win a bona fide World Championship at 17 freakin’ years old!!! That’s just insane!! These days, we’re amazed when we here about 17 year old boxers competing in the Olympics, letting alone fighting for and winning a damn world title!! AND against a respected, experienced veteran like Antonio Cervantes. Unbelievable.
Surely this must be the record that will never be broken in boxing?
Not sure Mike Tyson’s record of becoming the youngest Heavyweight Champion will be touched any time soon either.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this interesting subject.
All the best to you and your family Doug. – Ross, Norwich, UK
Thanks Ross, and thanks for finally writing in.
I agree we probably never will see a teenage fighter as talented as Benitez was but I know there are management teams who are crazy enough to toss a 17-year-old pro into the ring with a major titleholder. I also know that there are third-world countries with rich boxing histories, such as Mexico and the Philippines, that spawn hungry young fighters all the time. And boxers can turn pro as young as 15 in some areas of those nations, so I don’t think it beyond the realm of possibility for a 17-year-old stud to win a world title, especially in this age of four major belts and a lot of weak titleholders.
One thing I know is that no 17-year-old kid is going to beat a fighter as great as Cervantes again.
I guess I should have mentioned Joe Louis’ heavyweight (and all-division) record of 25 title defenses, but I figured it kind of went without saying. I don’t think any of those records from the Golden Age of the sport will be broken because of the frequency those old-time badasses fought.
I’m certain that we will never see a pro win as many fights as Willie Pep (229) or score as many knockouts as Archie Moore (131 or 140, depending on your source) or fight as many times as Henry Armstrong did the year he won the featherweight title (1937, 27 bouts).
Tyson’s record for being the youngest man to win a major heavyweight title (20) is among the modern marks that I think are safe for the next decade or two (unless kids start getting bigger in Mexico and the Philippines!).
Speaking of the Philippines, Manny Pacquiao’s record of winning titles in eight weight classes won’t be touched for a LONG time.
Email Dougie at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer