Dougie’s Friday mailbag
Good shape Andre Ward vs. Good shape James Toney at 190? Why?
Thanks – Ale
Ward is by far the more disciplined of the two hard-nosed master boxers and the reigning super middleweight champ has a difficult style for Toney, but I gotta go with “Lights Out” in this particular matchup because he’s a proven quantity at the old cruiserweight limit of 190 pounds, where he exhibited fine form against Jason Robinson (KO 7) in 2002 and then-undefeated titleholder Vassiliy Jirov (UD 12) in ’03.
Toney had deceptive hand speed, sharp combinations (which included a lot of body work), good power, solid workrate, and of course, a very slippery defense that incorporated accurate counter punching. Ward wouldn’t try to overwhelm Toney, like Jirov. He’s too smart for that. S.O.G. would use his legs and work his jab from a distance, pot shotting with fast single hooks and crosses. I think Ward would more than hold his own over the first half of the bout, but he wouldn’t be able to hurt, intimidate or outfox Toney, who would eventually time him with a shot that stuns the B-Hop clone. I think Toney would work his own jab while taking the fight to Ward over the second half of the bout and he would either win a close but clear decision or stop the Bay Area badass in the late rounds.
There is no disrespect to Ward, who may turn out to be the best boxer of this decade, with this opinion. Toney just happens to be one of the most talented and tenacious fighters I’ve ever seen (in the ring and in the gym). If he had Ward’s discipline/character he would have been an all-time great in my opinion. Having said that, I think a mythical matchup between the two at 168 pounds is a toss-up.
QUESTION ON RING RATINGS
I have been a subscriber for some time. I receive the printed magazine and have access on line as a part of the subscription. I may have missed an announcement, but I notice that The Ring rankings have not been updated since October. They previously were updated each week.
What is going on?
Thanks. – JJ Marie Gufreda
THE RING ratings are still updated every week, JJ. We just weren’t updating the line atop the rankings sections of RingTV.com that says “For ratings endedÔÇª”
It was updated last night, so it now reads “For ratings updated Dec. 31.”
Going forward, we’ll try not to forget to update that line every week.
A couple of questions I’ve been ruminating on over the holidays:
I believe one of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s best assets as a fighter is his tremendous confidence in himself and his ambition to be a great fighter. Canelo has been quoted as saying that he wants to be the Muhammad Ali of boxing now. He said when people think of boxing, he wants them to think of “Canelo.” Now, the doubters will say that maybe he’s buying into his own hype. But, I don’t see it that way. His dedication to his craft, I think, is evidence of this ambition.
Also, if I remember correctly you once witnessed a sparring session between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo. Could you remind us again how that went? (Golovkin was slightly winning but Canelo was holding his own…?)
I have this theory that the reason Canelo believes he can easily beat anyone at 154, and especially Floyd Mayweather, is because he’s been in the ring with GGG. He’s young, but he’s got enough boxing IQ to realize no one he’s going to fight at 154 is going to bring it like GGG. What are your thoughts on this?
All the best. – Grant, Raleigh, NC
That’s an interesting theory, Grant, but I’m not sure how many rounds of sparring Alvarez went with Golovkin during that training camp or if either fighter even thinks about their gym work from May of 2011.
Here’s what I recall from the six-round session I witnessed in Big Bear, Calif. (which I wrote about in a Gym Notes column): Alvarez was preparing for his first title defense against Ryan Rhodes and Golovkin, who I’d never seen in person, was getting ready for Kassim Ouma. Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, wanted his middleweight to get some work with Canelo in order to experience the faster hands of a naturally smaller fighter. Golovkin was not supposed to give Canelo the “full treatment,” and it was clear from the sparring I saw that he was indeed holding back.
Still, Golovkin “holding back” was a lot for Canelo, only 20 at the time, to deal with. And the young man did well. I’d say he held his own, even though he couldn’t hurt Golvokin with his best shots. What Alvarez showed me in those 4-minute rounds at 6,000-plus-feet altitude was that the Mexican star was willing to put in very hard work in order to learn his craft and to get in proper condition for his fights.
I was not impressed by what I saw of Alvarez during his WBC 154-pound title winning effort against Matthew Hatton three month earlier. He seemed one-dimensional in his approach and his power appeared overrated. I wasn’t even sure if he would get past Rhodes, who was an experienced junior middleweight contender with solid skills. But watching Alvarez work his jab and exhibit good footwork while moving about the ring during his sparring session with Golovkin let me know that the kid was more versatile than most of us had seen in his fights up to that point of his career.
Golovkin hurt Alvarez a few times – a hook at the end of the second round visibly stunned him and some body shots made him wince – but the young man kept his head and found ways to compete even when he was clearly tired (a combination of the altitude and GGG’s pressure) in the last two rounds.
My guess is that Canelo carried a lot of confidence into his fight with Rhodes thanks to the excellent camp and those tough rounds of sparring with Golovkin. However, he shouldn’t think he’s got an edge over the likes of Mayweather just because he’s sparred a few times with a middleweight crusher. Top junior middleweights, such as Mayweather and Austin Trout will present defensive and finesse moves that will challenge the Mexican star in ways Golovkin’s stalk-and-pound style did not.
Still, having said that, I believe that Canelo is a legitimate 154-pound contender (which I know is not a very popular opinion among hardcore boxing fan circles).
I think he’s come a long way since the Hatton fight and the Golovkin sparring session, and even though he did not look like a world-beater during his stoppages of Alfonso Gomez and Kermit Cintron, I could tell that he was working on things in each fight. Against Gomez he worked on defense while along the ropes and counter punching. Against Cintron he worked feints and improving his already stiff jab. Called out Mayweather after the Cintron fight (in November of 2011). At the time, I didn’t think he was at all ready for that big of a jump in competition.
However, I think the 12 rounds he went with Shane Mosley last May helped him mature and I believe that Mayweather is slowing down with age (and definitely notas sharp at 154 pounds as he is at welterweight). If they fight in September of this year, after Mayweather has tussled with Robert Guerrero in May, I will give the redhead a good shot at pulling the upset.
Email Dougie at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer