Dougie’s Monday mailbag
EDDIE STUCK IN CHAMBER(S), STEVENS READY TO GO
What’s Up Dougie,
Now that cyberspace has dubbed you Keith Thurman’s estranged baby daddy, did you ever consider getting that ponytail braided in support? (please tell me not)
This weekend I was actually more impressed with Mchunu’s defense, speed, accuracy, and timing than I was disappointed in Eddie Chambers. Like Chris Byrd before, I figured that Eddie’s effectiveness at HW was based on a considerable speed advantage Eddie had over them, predominately with his hands. This guy from South Africa completely nullified Eddie’s left hook, had the subtle footwork and angles to lure Eddie into following him around and when Eddie did fire or try to potshot, he defended with his arms very well. Despite being very muscular, this dude handles himself well. I think there’s a difference between naturally strong and muscular guys and guys who bulk up beyond their natural range of motion.
Adamek was Adamek. Slow start allowed Guinn to establish some offense, but Adamek didn’t budge and began to actually box with Guinn who then seemed to resort to defending and occasionally trying for a big shot. Dominick is no quitter, so I assume something discouraged him from using more offense. This fight didn’t really do anything for Adamek however, and I’d honestly like to see him against young Andy Ruiz next.
People absolutely kill me with talk that Curtis Stevens “ain’t ready” for GGG. The same folks who threw stones at GGG back in the day are now making other people earn the right to face him. I think Stevens is a great test for GGG for as long as he can hang in there. Dude can crack, and whether he gets wild or not really only factors in favor of the fans as GGG will have to withstand some legit firepower to win either way. I say bring it! Martinez is still in the shop, Geale has his hands full and Quillin is with “those other guys”. What do you think? – Joseph
I agree with you, if Stevens feels ready to challenge Gennady Golovkin, that’s all that matters. It’s not like the New Yorker is some green prospect. The “Chin Checker” days are long gone. Curtis is a 28-year-old bomber and is a solid pro now. He’s been in the game nine years, and he’s had four bouts at his new weight.
I say turn him loose. He’s the perfect opponent for Golovkin’s proposed November HBO date in NYC. How’s he gonna be any more ready for a title than he is now? Saul Roman is a gatekeeper. If you lose or struggle with him it means you’re not really a junior middle or middleweight contender. If you beat him soundly, it means you are. If you nearly decapitate him in the first round the way Stevens did it means you’re bad mother f___er.
GGG is a bad mother f___er.
Now, I don’t have a matchmaker’s license and I’m no programming genius, but it makes a whole lotta sense to me to put two bad mother f____ers in the ring and let them settle their s__t. It’s just a hunch, but I think that would be compelling TV.
I hope the good folks at HBO feel the same way.
Adamek was indeed Adamek. I was interested in watching his 10-rounder with Dominick Guinn because I wanted to see if there were any signs of physical decline in the Polish veteran. He’s been at this for a long time and he’s had a busy, sometimes punishing, schedule in recent years.
However, I think the rest did him good. I didn’t see any slippage in Adamek’s skills or athletic ability. He’s no world beater (he never was at heavyweight) but he’s still got a few significant fights left in that battle-tested body. Coming into the fight, I viewed the Arkansas native as a gatekeeper. Not anymore. Guinn’s just a sturdy journyman at this stage of his career. He can go rounds with anyone, but he won’t beat anybody. Now I view Adamek as a high-level gatekeeper. He can do more than go rounds with the so-called contenders of the division and the up-and-comers – like Ruiz – I think he can beat them on a good night.
I also agree with your assessment of the Chambers-Mchunu fight. Chambers was clearly uncomfortable having to take the fight to a smaller, quicker opponent as skilled as the South African was. Chambers is used to facing bigger, slower fighters who plod toward him. And with the exception of Wladimir Klitschko, Chambers has always had the edge in skill and ring generalship.
It will be interesting to see if Mchunu can capitalize on this victory.
No plans on braiding up the tail. Twenty-something prize fighters can get away with that. Forty-something boxing writers shouldn’t even try it.
COOL CURTIS STEVENS
Sensational knockout. He’s definitely found himself at middleweight. I get the feeling that he might be the Vince Phillips to Gennady Golovkin. I remember when Vince Phillips had a couple of loses, but found himself at jr. welterweight. This Stevens is a dangerous fighter and I don’t think Golovkin, if they do fight, will have faced a puncher like him. Plus, Stevens really wants to put it on Golovkin and GGG is going to be in on a tough fight in they do meet. His chin is going to get checked. – Tyler K.
Should a Golovkin-Stevens showdown take place this year (or next), I think GGG’s chin will pass that check if the New Yorker is able land flush (it’s not as easy as many seem to think it is).
I hope K2 Promotions, Main Events and HBO are able to make that fight for November. I had a great time in New York for GGG’s title defense against Gabriel Rosado in January and I definitely want to return to my hometown for a big fight before the end of the year. I think Golovkin-Stevens is a very good local event for The Theater inside Madison Square Garden. I think a show headlined by that middleweight puncher matchup would sell out the venue.
I’m not sure it’s a competitive fight, though. It might be. If it is, I don’t think it will be solely because of Stevens’ power. I think his speed will be a big factor, and perhaps his underrated technique.
I agree that it will take a Vince Phillips-type fighter to break down GGG (the way Cool Vince shocked Kostya Tszyu and the boxing world in 199?), but I’m not sure Stevens is a 160-pound version of Phillips.
I don’t think he’s got Phillip’s relentless, aggressive boxing style. He relies more on his power than Phillips did. The two main questions I have for you (since you brought up the Phillips comparison) are:
1) Is Stevens’ chin at 160 as good as Phillips’ was at 140?
2) Is Stevens’ foundation (both skill and experience) as solid as Phillips’ was at the time he faced Tszyu?
Super stoked about our man Thabiso Mchunu putting on a boxing clinic against Eddie Chambers!
This fight had my interest from the day it was made and I really didn’t know which way to go on it as it posed several interesting questions. I saw most of Mchunu’s fights here in South Africa, so I knew he was a legit talent but even though he fought some good fighters here none of them were truly world class, which to my mind Eddie Chambers was. In short, this was a big step up in class of opposition.
Then of course there was the old concern of getting a decision on the road and whether he would “freeze” on the big stage like some of our guys tend to do when fighting abroad.
The other question was whether Chambers’ move down would negate the things that worked for him as a heavyweight, much like Chris Byrd’s experiment a few years back. So before the fight I leaned slightly towards Chambers winning a competitive decision.
I’m glad Mchunu proved me wrong and answered all the questions. To me he gave an almost flawless performance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’ll ever be on Floyd’s level, but that sideways stance and shoulder roll reminded me a lot of Mayweather. Not sure whether he consciously copied it, but if he did, he sure as heck did a better job than Andre Berto!
I can also hear the blood-and-guts brigade groaning in the background going “Oh no, that’s just what we need, another boring ass boxer.” Let me assure them that Mchunu will make for good fights against Marco Huck and Firat Arslan types. It is just a matter of matchmaking. Against fellow counter punchers like Chambers and the Ola Afolabi types it will always be a chess match.
Do you think he is going to have a problem getting the big fights because of his awkward southpaw style? Also, how far do you think he can go with the cruiserweights being one of the deepest divisions next to 140 and 147? How do you see him doing against the four beltholders?
As for Eddie Chambers, the move to cruiserweight was clearly a bad idea. He was successful as a heavyweight against guys like Peter and Dimitrenko because of his skills and speed and Saturday he was clearly not the fast guy in that ring. I think he would do better moving back up to heavyweight where he could still work his way back into contender status, a sort of modern day Jimmy Young. Do you agree?
Adamek looked good for a change, but let’s admit that it was against a slower guy with a low output style in Guinn, as opposed to his two previous outings against skilled boxers in Chambers and Cunningham. Is it just me, or have we seen the best of “Goral” and has he reached his ceiling? I like his busy gutsy hustle and bustle style, but I can’t see him as heavyweight championship material, even after the K-brothers are gone. Your thoughts?
Keep up the excellent work, big fan of the mailbag! – Droeks Malan, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Droeks. One of these days I’ll return to South Africa (last time I was there was in 2000), probably with my family.
I think we’ve definitely seen the best of Adamek. His ceiling as a heavyweight was reached when he beat Chris Arreola. He’s simply not heavyweight champ material. I used to think he had a shot against guys like David Haye and Alexander Povetkin. No longer. But he’s got heart and he can fight, and I think he can beat more than a few up-and-comers, including Bryant Jennings (who they might match him up with next), Seth Mitchell and even offensive threats like Andy Ruiz and Deontay Wilder.
I don’t know if Chambers should give up on the cruiserweight experiment just yet. As long as he didn’t feel drained from making the weight, I think he should keep an open mind and be willing to fight again at cruiserweight if he’s given the opportunity to prove himself once more or if one of the better known 200-pound fighters wants to try to use him as a stepping stone. He still might have more options at 200 pounds than he does at heavyweight. If a “name” is willing to fight Chambers, I think he should go back to the division he’s more accustomed to. But if there are no takers at heavyweight, I think he should give the cruisers one more try. He may learn to take off the weight just right the second time around and he might feel better at the lighter weight (especially if he controls his weight between fights).
Oh, and he might choose a easier opponent than Mchunu for his second cruiserweight bout.
Yeah, hat’s off to Mchunu for rising to the occasion and outclassing one of the classier (in and out of the ring) heavyweight standouts. I think he’s got the potential to develop into a legit top10 or even five cruiserweight contender but I believe it’s too soon to think about how he would fare against the major titleholders of the division.
He just doesn’t have the experience to contend with the likes of Yoan Pablo Hernandez (RING champ, IBF beltholder), Marco Huck (RING No. 1, WBO king), Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (No. 2, WBC titleholder) and Guillermo Jones (No. 3, WBA boss).
I think Hernandez would out-jab Mchunu and pot shot him with power lefts all night. I think Huck, Wlodarczyk and Jones would outwork him over 12 rounds.
I’m not saying any 200-pounder would have an easy time with Mchunu. He’s got the goods! But I am saying that we shouldn’t move him to the top of a very deep division (as you noted) based on one good victory. Let’s face it: with Eddie, he was in with a guy who threw one punch at a time while following him around in unsure fashion.
I’d like to see Mchunu face one of THE RING’s lower top-10 contenders, such as Dmytro Kucher (No. 10), or better yet, the guy who just beat Kucher last month, Ilunga Makabu – a Johannesburg-based Congo native that I’m sure you are familiar with.
In Makabu, Mchunu would face a fellow strong southpaw with good technique and speed. Makabu, who possesses a high guard (ala Winky Wright), also has power with ring savvy like Mchunu. And my guess is that it would be a pretty significant matchup in South Africa. Do you agree?
If Makabu takes care of business with his next fight (vs. once-beaten American Eric Fields later this month – gotta love this cat’s activity), that’s the next fight I’d like to see Mchunu take.
I agree that if Mchunu is matched with an aggressive opponent, such as Troy Ross, Kucher or Arslan, he’ll be in much more entertaining fights.
NOT-SO FAST EDDIE
i was really disappointed of fast(?) eddie. i┬┤m a kind of fan and had high hopes for his cruiserweight-debut. but he didn┬┤t look fast at all, more like pu the bear, who toddles around in a blind search for honey.
i thought that mchunu did a good job, but anyway, was i so wrong about eddie or is the cruiserweight division really so much faster?
what are your thoughts? best regards – leonard, saarbr├╝cken, germany
I think the average athletic level of the cruiserweights definitely surpasses that of heavyweight. And I think Mchunu’s hand speed threw Chambers for a loop, but I also think the South African southpaw’s style was a conundrum for the former heavyweight contender, who was used to bigger opponents plodding forward to him.
Mchunu’s performance against Chambers kind of reminded me of the uneventful decision that Freddy Norwood (a squat, crafty southpaw featherweight titleholder in the late 1990s) scored over Juan Manuel Marquez. Norwood, who was the quicker and more mobile of the two boxers, refused to play into Marquez’s counter-punching hands by coming forward. He instead feinted and circled Marquez in the early rounds (and scored a second-round knockdown), kept his punch out put low throughout while backpedaling and setting traps down the stretch of one of JMM’s more forgettable performances (even thought he scored a late-rounds knockdown of himself).
I must add that more than a few boxing wise guys thought less of Marquez after that fight, but he was eventually able to turn his career around. Maybe Chambers can too.
HAVE YOU EVER LANDED A JAB?
Last week I was watching on Youtube the Toney vs Iran Barkley fight. I was paying close attention to the way he was slipping punches and countering with left hooks and uppercuts, all of these in the eve of my first sparring session after a couple of years away from the ring, thinking to myself, how relax, balanced and strong Lights Out looked, and how breath taking was Barkley’s display of determination, moving forward and landing hard shots of his own while getting smashed in the face, to the point where his own corner had to stop the fight.
Anyways, my point is the following, and please do not take my question as an attack to you or anybody, take it if you may as an existential question. I am a amateur blogger myself – Followed by fourteen people, including my wife and other family members that will never read my stuff; I do it just for fun – and sometimes I am amazed how some professional writers and the many “Facebook experts” are quick to talk crap about boxers coming into a fight or the following day.
This last Saturday, after years of been a boxing nerd and many years of in and out of training, I could not land a single jab, I can still circle properly and slip most of the punches thrown at me, but I could not land a freaking jab . . . Do people realize how difficult it is to complete a proper one-two? Have any of these journalists or FB experts has ever finished a combo with a left hook?
My question is, what right do any of us have to criticize a professional boxer? And once again do not take it as an attack, I am really interested in your approach to this matter, how do you carry on predicting fights and giving your opinion with a 0-0 record as a professional boxer?
Peace and once again thank you for your dedication to boxing. – Eduardo “El Polaco” Vera
Before I answer if I know how difficult it is to land a jab, or if I’ve ever landed a jab, or how I can carry on predicting fights and giving my opinion on fights with a 0-0 professional record, let me first say that I can totally understand the frustration professional boxers must have with the criticism they receive from non-boxers.
The best all-around boxer I’ve ever seen fight live, Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, sent this Tweet out last Thursday:
“I’m tired of these boxing writers that know everything about boxing but never stepped in the ring”
A day later, Kermit Cintron fought on Friday Night Fights and the viewing audience was treated to Teddy Atlas’s usual harsh criticism of the former welterweight titleholder. Atlas doesn’t just go to town on Cintron’s fighting form and choices in the ring when the high-strung veteran is fighting on ESPN2, he puts on his psychologist’s hat and rips into the boxer’s psyche. So regardless of the fact that Cintron has faced Murderer’s Row of the 147- and 154-pound divisions (Antonio Margarito, Sergio Martinez, Alfredo Angulo, Paul Williams, Carlos Molina and Saul Alvarez), Atlas goes on like a broken record about Cintron basically being “mentally weak.”
All I could think while listening to the commentary was “Man, it sucks to be a boxer.” However, there are just as many fans out there – some of whom have boxed as amateurs (as Atlas did) and professionals – who appreciate Atlas’ brutal “tell-it-like-it-is” criticism.
While I have sympathy for the boxers who are criticized by the media, TV commentators and fans, I would never tell Atlas to “lighten up” – and it’s not just because I’m afraid he would smack me in the face if I did. Atlas simply believes that criticism is part of his job and the truth that you and any boxer who achieves enough to make it onto a televised card have to realize is that all public or semi-public figures are going to get ripped once in awhile by people who have never done what they do.
Atlas’ commentary style is criticized all the time by people who have never held a microphone or stood in front of a TV camera or called a live fight. Atlas’ methods and record as a professional trainer are criticized all the time by people who couldn’t train a dog to sit.
Politicians are constantly ripped by people who have never held public office or even care to take part in elections.
Writers and journalists are often crapped on by folks who can barely string a sentence together.
I can go on and on. You get my point. Criticism comes with the territory, particularly in the age of the internet and social media. For pro boxers these days learning how to deal with public criticism is almost as important as learning how to land and slip the jab.
Speaking of whichÔÇª yes, I do know how hard it is to land a jab. It’s been a long time since I’ve trained in a real boxing gym on a regular basis (mid-to-late 1990s), but when I did my routine included a lot of sparring (sometimes with professional fighters – which was my trainer’s idea, not mine).
By no means do I think this gym experience is the equivalent to even one single professional (or amateur) bout. I know that it isn’t because I’ve participated in a few boxing exhibitions (the most recent occasion was for a charity event in 2010) and having to box in front of an audience brings on another level of competition and pressure that most boxing fans are oblivious to. I can only imagine what real boxing competition is like.
What the limited experience I have does for me is let me know what you know – that doing even the most basic thing in boxing is hard as hell. (Although I’m gonna toot my own horn and tell you that I had a pretty good jab at one time – what can I say? I had good teachers.) Throwing a correct jab is difficult to learn. Landing it is hard. Slipping one is even harder. Getting hit in the face sucks. Getting hit in the body sucks even more (and I know this first-hand; I’ve had my ribs broken in a boxing ring). Getting into real boxing shape takes years and lots of sacrifice. Running out of gas in the ring feels like death.
I know all of this and believe me I know that it’s just an inkling of what even the most novice amateur boxer has experienced. However, my hope is that this knowledge makes me a more compassionate boxing fan and writer/commentator.
BOXING WEIGHT WHAT IFS
It has been a second since dropping the mailbag a line but watching Eddie Chambers disastrous decision to change weight classes got me thinking about some boxing weight change what ifs. There are certain fighters that to go from “seemingly unbeatable” to “above average but mortal” once they start fighting too far from their best weight.
So put your Watcher hat on let us know what you think happens to these fighter’s current record, legacy and career trajectory in these scenarios …
What if Shane Mosley never fought above 140?
What if Felix Trinidad never fought at Middleweight?
What if Roy Jones Jr never fought at Heavyweight?
Excelsior. – J in FLA
LOL. Come on J. If you’re gonna use one of Stan the Man’s catch-words, you gotta put an exclamation point at the end of that “Excelsior.” Seriously, good to hear from you.
These are three fascinating “What If?” scenarios you bring up. I’ll do my best Uatu imitation and give you a glimpse into alternative realities where these three future first-ballot hall of famers resisted the urge to venture too high in weight.
If Mosley had never fought above 140 pounds I think he would have had a longer prime and we would have been treated to more memorable fights. Mosley had his best fighting form at 135 pounds, but lightweight was not a natural weight for him. He was a junior welterweight in the amateurs and he usually fought above 135 pounds before he won the IBF lightweight title in 1997. I saw some of these early Mosley bouts live and I watched him in the gym at this time (’94-’96) and his power was much better at 140 than it was at 135. At junior welterweight, I believe Shane may have had one-punch KO power.
Anyway, if Mosley had gone straight for a 140-pound title (in ’95, ’96 or ’97) rather than grab a lightweight belt first for a few years, he would have had to deal with Kostya Tszyu, Julio Cesar Chavez and his amateur rival Oscar De La Hoya. I think Chavez was ripe for the taking at this time and Mosley would have beaten the aging WBC titleholder, but Tszyu (the IBF champ) and the 140-pound version of De La Hoya may have handed the Sugar Man his first loss.
The loss (or losses) wouldn’t have hurt Mosley because I think he would have been very competitive in both bouts. Maybe there would have been rematches or even trilogies with King Kostya and the Golden Boy. I think Mosley could win a rematch and perhaps a rubbermatch with one or both of the dynamic duo and escape with at least one major title (as well as a lot of money and respect).
Mosley would have received stern title challenges from Vince Phillips and Zab Judah but I believe he would have prevailed. (Phillips may have put up a Fight of the Year struggle before falling to Mosley.) However, I think the many ring battles (which may have included one Ricky Hatton) would eventually take a toll on Mosley’s body (along with struggles to make 140 pounds) and when Floyd Mayweather stepped up to junior welterweight in 2004-’05, he would have dethroned the popular Southern California boxer-puncher-slugger.
I think Tito’s best weight was 154 pounds. His stamina was better and his chin and legs were sturdier from not having to lose as much weight as he did for welterweight and his power was at its peak. Had Trinidad remained at junior middleweight after unifying the WBA and IBF belts by beating David Reid and Fernando Vargas in 2000, I think he would have/could have repeated his welterweight victory over De La Hoya in 2001 but done so in more decisive fashion. I also think he would have added the WBC and WBO title to his collection by breaking down rugged Javier Castillejo and narrowly out-boxing and outfighting underrated Namibian volume-puncher Harry Simon in a Fight of the Year.
However, by late 2002 or early ’03, Winky Wright would have positioned himself as the mandatory challenger for at least two of the belts Tito held and the under-the-radar American southpaw would have scored a tremendous upset when they fought. After losing the rematch, Trinidad would retire.
The light heavyweight version of Jones wasn’t the irresistible force that he was at 160 and 168 pounds, but he was too fast and smart for most 175 pounders (and still hit hard enough to keep ’em all honest). Had he never ventured to heavyweight and back in 2003, I think he would have gone on to make the 15th or 16th defense of the WBC title he regained from Montell Griffin in 1997 by smacking around Mehdi Sahnoune or Silvio Branco to a late TKO, narrowly outpointing mandatory challenger Antonio Tarver (avoiding a rematch), engaging Griffith in a pointless rubber match (which he wins by mid-round stoppage) and surviving a scare from supposed journeyman Glen Johnson (who he outpoints by close UD after getting rocked a few times).
From ’03 to ’05, there’s talk of a rematch with undisputed middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins, but when B-Hop refuses Roy’s 60-40 purse split demands that mega-fight (and potential loss) fizzles away. There’s also talk of a rematch with James Toney, now a heavyweight contender, but when Lights Out refuses to drop down to 175 pounds and the two sides fail to come to terms on a cruiserweight catchweight, that big fight also disappears.
Jones, who still refuses to travel to Europe to face the likes of super middleweight boss Joe Calzaghe or even French star Fabrice Tiozzo, is left with no marketable challenges and announces his retirement in early 2006. He is lauded as the greatest boxer of all time by many fans, industry insiders and members of the media.
I, of course, would not agree with this opinion and would thus be labeled by Jones’ fans as the greatest hater of all time.
Email Dougie at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer