Dougie’s Monday mailbag
SIBERIAN ROCKY GOT OUT-ROCKY’D?
It seems debate is heating up all over the internet about this outcome. My initial reaction was “Siberian Rocky” got out “Rocky-ed.” Chris Algieri was the underdog, fighting near his home town, got a bad start with two knock downs and swollen eye but in the end, he bit down and went through it and got the victory. Good for him.
However, it really gave me mixed feelings.
1. Yes, Algieri threw and landed more punches so maybe you can say he “outworked” Ruslan but I just can't 100% agree with people saying he “out boxed” or “out fought” him. I just think those words should be used for a bit more special performance. Bernard Hopkins out boxed Tito Trinidad and Kelly Pavlik, Floyd Mayweather out boxed Jesus Chavez, Juan Manuel Marquez. I just don't think Algieri “outboxed” Ruslan. He didn't dominate him the rest of the fight.
2. I know hit and not get hit is the name of the game, and it's boxing, not brawling, but it's a pro fight after all. Not an amateur fight. You have to cause some damage to others, I feel. (Just for the record, I like technical fights and fighters. I've been a huge fan of Bernard and Marquez for long time.)
3. I can't help but think that if the venue was different, outcome could have been different. In CA and NV, many judges prefer fighters who are aggressive and through harder shots and that's a fact.
4. I really feel sorry for Mauricio Herrera. Why? He “outboxed” Ruslan more decisively and beat him few years ago on ESPN but didn't get much recognition. Then he “out fought” and “out smarted” Danny Garcia but didn't get the decision. His performance was better than was Algieri put against Ruslan, in my opinion. He has more skills (he can not only move well but he can also fight staying in a pocket, which Algieri doesn't) and more experience and tougher than Algieri, I think. I just hope Algieri and his people give Herrera a chance for his new belt.
Algieri kind of reminds me of Paulie Malignaggi. They are both feather-fisted, but have intelligence, heart and good legs.
As for Ruslan, I think he kind of forgot to follow the game plan after the great start. He seemed almost fixated by Algieri's eye and neglected jabs and body shots which Freddie kept telling him to use.
I wanna see Ruslan fights guys like Brandon Rios next and Algieri vs. Herrera or the Russian guy who beat Aydin recently. – Naoki, Reno, NV
You’re thinking of Viktor Postol, who stopped Selcuk Aydin in 11 rounds last month. Postol would be a handful for Algieri, Garcia, Provodnikov, or any other top 140 pounder. I don’t see Algieri’s team seeking out a difficult technician like Postol. Not that Algieri couldn’t match the Ukrainian’s technique (I can see the Long Island native outmaneuver his fellow rangy boxer), but there are bigger names (and paydays) out there for him defend his WBO belt against, such as Garcia, Adrien Broner and his good buddy Provodnikov.
Who wouldn’t want to see Provodnikov vs. Rios? Maybe we’ll get to see that scrap if Rios beats Diego Chavez on Aug. 2. I wouldn’t mind seeing Algieri-Provodnikov II, either. I think they proved to be evenly matched on Saturday and their contrasting styles mesh well in my opinion.
I agree that Algieri has a lot in common with Malignaggi, who did commentary for Sky Sports on Saturday and thought the underdog New Yorker clearly won eight of the 12 rounds. I can see that, but I can also see scoring eight rounds for Provo.
And with that said, I’ll respond to your numbered statements in order:
1) I saw the fight the way you did, Naoki. Although Algieri boxed his ass off, I don’t think he beat Provodnikov with sheer skill and technique. What we saw on Saturday was not a “boxing clinic.” It was a tremendous performance by Algieri, who proved to be world class with his effort but I think his heart and his greater workrate allowed him to edge the fight on two scorecards. He outboxed Provodnikov in spots in most of the rounds, but not well enough or consistently enough to keep Provodnikov from getting in close and putting heavy hands on him at some point in every round of the fight. And though Algieri stood his ground in spots and put hands on Provodnikov, he never hurt the pressure fighter or backed him up, so I can’t say that he “out-fought” the Russian, either.
2) I agree. There’s a reason a boxer who is knocked down loses a point in the pro game but not in the amateurs. There’s also a reason Max DeLuca and HBO’s Steve Weisfeld had Provodnikov winning most if not all of the close rounds against Algieri – the Russian did more damage.
3) Maybe. Probably.
4) Don’t feel too bad for Herrera. He’s with Golden Boy Promotions now, and he’s about to fight on the televised portion of next month’s Canelo-Lara PPV undercard from Las Vegas. That bout – against once-beaten Johan Perez – will be for the WBA’s “interim” 140-pound belt, which means if he wins he’ll either be in line for a rematch with Garcia or for the vacant WBA title if Garcia abdicates the belt to move to 147 pounds. I don’t agree that Herrera is a better boxer than Algieri or that his performance against Provo was that much better than Algieri’s. I think both technicians are on the same level. Herrera’s a little more crafty and sturdy than Algieri, who is a little more athletic and versatile. Herrera bruised and lumped up Provodnikov more over 12 rounds and he avoided getting dropped, but I think he faced a rawer version of the Russian than Algieri fought.
I tell you what Herrera and Algieri have in common apart from being underrated and owning decision wins over Provo – both boxers looked like they’d been jumped by five guys with baseball bats after going 12 rounds with Siberian Rocky.
I was at the fight and enjoyed Algieri's pluck. I didn't score the fight, but my guess is that Ruslan won a very close one. That being said, Provodnikov fought a very unintelligent fight. A powerful, experienced champion should have been able to put away a light hitting, boxer underdog with one eye closed. Especially with Freddie Roach in his corner. I can't believe Roach didn't instruct the Russian to jab his way in, throw more body punches, throw more punches, and avoid taking so many punches in his continual pursuit of Algieri around the ring. After the first round Provo only threw bombs, often missing and giving Algieri a chance to time him. Ruslan followed him, never cutting off the ring. When he managed to get close he often threw arm punches instead of banging away upstairs and down.
Provo was lucky Algieri isn't a banger. He landed enough but couldn't hurt the Russian. Even with that edge, Ruslan couldn't seem to figure out how to overcome the reach advantage. He could walk through the punches and still didn't get close enough to reach the taller fighter. Provo is going to have to find a way to defend himself against the likes of Matthesse, Broner, Peterson, Garcia (if he's still in the division). That is if he ever gets the chance after this debacle. A promised fight with Pacquiao? Are you kidding me? Of course the same holds true for Algieri. That bicycle jab routine won't work against the top guys in that division.
Still, ups to Algieri who showed a lot of boxing talent and warrior determination. – Mike
You gotta give Algieri a lot of credit for sucking it up after Round 1, sticking to his game plan, constantly moving and working, while gradually discouraging (or at least frustrating) Provodnikov as the fight wore on.
Watching it live (on TV), I only bothered to score the first seven rounds, and I had Provo up 5-2 after Round 7. I really thought the condition of Algieri’s eye would force a stoppage. I was very impressed with Algieri’s guts and composure down the stretch of the fight but still I thought Provodnikov would win a close but comfortable decision. I wasn’t outraged with DeLuca’s or Weisfeld’s scorecards, even thought I felt it was closer than they had it.
Yesterday, I watched the fight again and scored it round by round. I scored six rounds for each fighter, which means Provo took it by two points (114-112) thanks to the two knockdowns he scored in Round 1. Rounds 1, 2, 4, 7, 10 and 12 went to Provodnikov on my scorecard. I thought there were many very close rounds. In fact, I thought Rounds 3-7 could have gone either way.
I thought Provodnikov started the fight well – jabbing (mostly to the body) as he advanced, moving his head and upper body, and tapping the body before going to the head once in range. However, he stopped jabbing after Round 1. He kept the upper body movement for a few more rounds, and brought back some limited head movement late in the fight (which did cause Algieri to miss with a lot of shots), but he wasn’t consistent enough with it to prevent the challenger from scoring every time he walked in. And that’s what he was doing – stalking – he wasn’t cutting the ring off, as you correctly observed.
Algieri should get some credit for Provo’s difficulty in cutting the ring off. The 30-year-old college grad was in tremendous condition and he didn’t stop moving the entire fight.
I agree that Provodnikov is lucky Algieri isn’t a puncher and that Algieri is lucky Provo didn’t keep his jab up or cut the ring off or consistently punch in combination. However, I disagree that Matthysse, Broner, Peterson and Garcia would have an easier time with the Russian punisher because they can bang harder than Algieri. They don’t move as well as Algieri, plus that extra fire power they have could entice them stand their ground a little more, which would give Provo the opportunity to take their heads off. I wouldn’t consider any 140 pounder to be a huge favorite over Provo or Algieri.
However, prior to Saturday I thought Provo had a good shot at cold cocking Pacquiao if he ever got a shot at the Filipino icon. Now I think Manny could contain the Russian with lateral movement. And I agree that Algieri isn’t ready for Pacquiao.
Sunday was the 30th anniversary of Thomas Hearns-Roberto Duran. I thought you should know. Hearns was in fact the “Hitman” on that summer evening. I’ll never forget the sound of Hearns’ punches. True destruction of the great Roberto Duran. – Kerry Stanovsky
That first right hand that dropped Duran in Round 1 sounded like a shotgun from TV. I can only imagine what it sounded like live.
The Duran victory has to be the highlight of Hearns’ hall-of-fame career. I think the 154-pound version of Hearns (with the Jheri Curl) that cold cocked the Panamanian legend was the “Hitman” at his best. He was unbeaten at junior middleweight and I think he’s one of the best 154-pound titleholders ever. The proof? At junior middleweight, he hit hard enough to knockout Duran (who had just gone the 15-round distance with Marvin Hagler in a competitive fight for the middleweight crown) and he boxed well enough to outpoint Wilfred Benitez.
BRITISH FANS, ALGIERI, GGG & FROCH
I'm always amazed by how many Brits pop up in the mailbag, it's a real compliment to your knowledge and journalism skills that boxing fanatics all over the world respect your opinion. Anyway, now I've said something nice and got in the mailbag (that's how it works right? LOL) I'll get to my point.
First of all, big surprise that Algeri pulled that off! No one gave him any chance before hand. I thought taking a knee in the first round was very brave and more fighters who are getting pummeled should do this. Too many try to stay on their feet no matter what and end up having the ref step in to save them. Algeri was smart to take the 10 seconds, get his head unscrambled, otherwise we could be talking about a Provodkinov TKO 1!
My main worry is the differences in the cards the judges pulled out. Let’s make it clear, this was a close fight and it certainly wasn't a robbery. I don't feel like either fighter did enough to really win the fight and I think they should have a rematch. Too many fights only have a round or two in it, I'd like to see a system where close fights are called as draws and rematches ordered. (I know it's a very un-Amercian thing to do to draw). What do you think about not having clear winners? If Provodkinov had won by those scores he would be looking at much bigger things without really showing he deserved to beat Algeri.
Just quickly, bit surprised to hear that Gennady Golovkin isn't in the running for a Vegas showdown with Carl Froch. That fight would be the nuts! Keep fighting the good fight man! – Jack F., Leicester UK
I will Jack. And thanks for the kind words. I consider it an honor whenever I get any email for the mailbag, regardless of where the boxing fan who wrote it came from, but it is nice to get feedback from the UK. My next door neighbor recently spent a few weeks in London (about a month before Froch-Groves II) and he couldn’t believe how many young men he saw reading boxing magazines or boxing articles in newspapers out in public. I told him that was no surprise to me, especially before a fight as big as the Froch-Groves rematch.
I think Froch-Golovkin is a real possibility in 2015 but before we can really start to beat the drums for that showdown, GGG has to beat Daniel Geale, who will not be a walk in NYC’s Central Park when they meet at Madison Square Garden next month, and The Cobra might get his dream fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. first.
I agree that there really wasn’t a clear winner in the Provodnikov-Algieri fight, and for the record, I have no problem with draws or with scoring even rounds. I know why most fans hate draws. They have their favorites going into the match and they want a clear winner so they can either live vicariously through their heroes or just lord it over the fans who wanted the other guy to win.
I think even rounds are frowned on in the U.S. because they often lead to other 10-10 rounds. I could have easily scored three or four rounds of Provodnikov-Algieri even but then I really wouldn’t have been “judging” the rounds would I? Anyone can say “that round was too close to call” or “that’s a toss-up round” but it’s the judge’s job to determine who had the edge. Still, I believe there are some occasions when neither fighter has the upper-hand and that it’s OK to have one even or two even rounds in a fight every once in a while.
Regarding the Algieri-Provodnikov rematch, we might see one this year, but don’t expect there to necessarily be a clearer outcome the second time around. Sometimes boxers have contrasting styles that basically amount to a stalemate in the ring.
COTTO’S FIRST REAL CHAMPIONSHIP?
Watching the Miguel Cotto v Sergio Martinez fight a couple random thoughts struck me and that is about Cotto and his “greatness.” He is a tremendous fighter and I am not going to debate how good he is as it is beyond question but winning the middleweight title is actually his first real divisional championship if you subscribe to the view that we have title holders but just one champion. He has fought a who's who for sure and won titles against some real quality fighters but like I say, never taken a legit championship before.
He has also never been considered the best in any division he has competed in, never been rated as the number one guy (and still isn't). Quite amazing to think such a great fighter has never been considered the best. All the best. – Toby, Helston, UK (birthplace of Bob Fitzsimmons)
Good point about the world titles Cotto won before taking Martinez’s RING and WBC middleweight belts. Three of those four belts (the WBO 140-pound title he won by stopping Kelson Pinto, the WBA welterweight title he won by stopping Carlos Quintana and the WBO 147-pound title he won by stopping Michael Jennings) were all vacant titles. The WBA 154-pound belt he won was taken from Yuri Foreman.
This is the first time Cotto has held the lineal title and been regarded as THE champ of a particular division.
Regarding his not being considered the “best in any division he has competed in,” if by that you mean he wasn’t universally recognized as “the champ” at 140, 147 and 154, you are correct. However, at different times during his career he was THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight.
Anyway, Cotto campaigned at 140 and 147 when there were many formidable contenders and titleholders in both divisions, and apart from Paul Williams (and maybe Kermit Cintron), he pretty much faced them all.
First time writer here, so I feel like I gotta start off with saying how much I appreciate the mailbag. I got into fighting in the past three years or so and your mailbag has been extremely educational and has led me to seek out fights beyond a casual fan.
Which brings me to the Provodnikov-Algieri fight. Full disclosure: I am a big fan of the Siberian Rocky, but can admittedly say I was impressed by Algieri's performance. Initially, I thought Ruslan got robbed but after talking with my good friend Jeff (who coincidentally turned me onto your mailbag) I could see the fight going the other way, especially if I do my best to take my heart out of the scoring.
My first question (which you undoubtedly will answer in response to other submissions) is how you scored the fight (with as many details as you can proffer).
My second question is broader in that I'd love to understand your thoughts on scoring a fight. Viewers at home have CompuBox numbers, which go a ways in supporting a judgment one way or the other. But then there are also numerous other factors: ring stewardship, quantity, quality of hits, knockdowns, damage or something like Max Kellerman's statement of "who would you rather be at the end of a round?" Or you can try and do something akin to dividing up minutes of a round and calculating some sort of advantage based on that. Can you please give a rundown on what you look at and the considerations you take into scoring a round?
I realize this sort of judgment is inherently subjective in nature, and maybe every fight is different, but being a newbie sort of fan, I'd really love to hear how you go about objectively tackling such a decision. Apologies in advance if you have addressed the topic in depth in previous mailbags.
Last addendum: it seems that you would not consider Floyd Mayweather Jr. as an all-time great, and I'd love to hear your continued thoughts on that, as well as PacMan's all-time great standing, and any other current fighters as well as the criteria you would use to place them as an all-time great (not counting B-Hop as I feel you have explicitly expressed your opinion on him). I understand your not wanting to provide fodder for fans of either of those two camps, but please I hope you will give me some guidance on your method for scoring fights in general.
Thanks for invigorating my appreciation and understanding in the Sweet Science. – Jon F., Chicago, IL
Thanks for finally writing and for the nice words about the mailbag column, Jon.
I’ve been getting a lot of email asking me if I consider Mayweather and Pacquiao all-time great, or for an explanation for why don’t view them as ATGs. And since I don’t want to waste time and space in the mailbags going back and forth with Mayweather and Pacquiao fans, I guess I need to finally spit out that commentary piece on my all-time great criteria. I promise that article (which will probably be a two-parter) is coming soon. In the meantime, I’ll give you a hint at how I view greatness: to be considered one of the best boxers of all time, one must equal or exceed what the best boxers of every previous decade/era accomplished. Mayweather and Pacquiao have accomplished a lot, but there are fighters from the 1930s, ‘40s and ’50 who fought as many (or more) fights and faced as many hall of famers as they have in just the first four or five years of their careers. Some of these men, who I consider all-time greats, are legends. Some of them are practically unknown to modern fans. I’m gonna leave it at that for now.
Regarding my scoring criteria, it’s very simple: rounds are won with clean punches (harder punches that visibly affect the recipient hold more weight), effective aggression and ring generalship (i.e. controlling the distance and tempo/pace of the fight).
This criterion is usually adequate in determining who won the majority of rounds in a distance fight. However, sometimes both fighters do a little bit of all of those things or they are really effective at doing one of them and they kind of nullify each other. I think we got that scenario on Saturday.
Algieri landed more clean punches over 12 rounds and his ring generalship limited Provodnikov’s usual smothering aggression. However, Provo’s aggression was effective enough for the Russian to connect with the harder shots in the majority of rounds.
I scored the first two rounds for Provodnikov, who jabbed to Algieri’s body and quickly got the challenger on the ropes where he tapped the New Yorker’s body/hip with right hands. Despite the knockdowns Algieri was focused and clear headed. He prevented Provo from overwhelming him by jabbing, moving, and holding when necessary. However, Provo was in firm command with his jab, power punching to the body and head and his upper-body movement.
I scored Round 3 for Algieri, who landed his right cross and began to double up with his left (jab and uppercut). Provo got his hook to the head and right to the body in, but his jab disappeared. There was less head movement and it seemed like he was trying to counter punch more.
Round 4 went to Provo, who backed Algieri to the ropes and landed solid shots to the body (though he didn’t load up as much). Algieri showed an educated jab and one-two combos, which made the round close in my view.
Rounds 5 and 6 went to Algieri as Provo began to follow him around (as he switched hit him on the fly) and square up whenever he got the challenger on the ropes and get caught with jabs, uppercuts and body shots. Provo rocked Algieri with a hook at the bell ending Round 6 that made me score that round for the Russian on first viewing but watching it the second time I thought the challenger got more done.
Round 7 went to Provo, who walked through three-and-four-punch combos from Algieri and nailed the taller man with hard shots that visibly shook the underdog. It was a competitive round but Provo’s big left hooks to the body and head took it in my opinion.
Rounds 8 and 9 went to Algieri, who clearly frustrated Provo by timing him with the jab from a distance and by tying up the pressure fighter in close. Provo still put hands on Algieri but he was outworked and outmaneuvered the stick-and-moving challenger. (I was really impressed by how calm Algieri was between rounds.)
I scored Round 10 for Provo, who crowded Algieri and got in a lot of shots (though not with the power he wielded in the earlier rounds). I liked the Provo made Algieri miss a lot with a little head movement as he stalked him. I thought Algieri did more moving than punching in this round.
Round 11 went to Algieri, who simply outworked Provodnikov. Round 12 went to Provo, who put his shots together well and slipped a lot of Algieri’s jabs and straight rights. Again, I thought Algieri did more moving than punching.
There you have it, Jon. Is that enough detail for ya?
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer