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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

08
Sep

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WEEKEND OF THE YEAR

Hi, Doug!

Perhaps we had the best weekend of the year.



Roman Gonzalez proved again that he is one of the best fighters in the world.
Akira Yaegashi showed heart, but Gonzalez was simply better (well, much better).

On Twitter some boxing writers said that “Chocolatito” should be in the Top 5 on the Pound-for-Pound list. When was the last time a flyweight or a below-flyweight got into the top 5? Maybe Ricardo Lopez?

And will Gonzalez be a Hall of Famer when he retires? He has beaten legitimate champions, in most cases easily: Yutaka Niida, Katsunari Takayama, Ramon Garcia, Juan Estrada, Francisco Rodriguez Jr. and Yaegashi.

Probably Lopez was more dominant, but Chocolatito’s resume can be compared to that of Finito?

Estrada vs. Giovani Segura surprised me. I thought that the fight would be close.
Estrada looks stronger at 112 pounds than at 108, where he lost to Gonzalez. If they fight at 112, the fight might be more difficult for the Nicaraguan.

Mythical matchups and a question:

Chris John (in his prime) vs Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Manny Pacquiao and current 126-title holders.

How good was this enigmatic Indonesian in his prime? I like him a lot but still don’t know how good he was.

Thank you for your mailbags. Cheers. – Taku from Japan

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions, Taku. I’ll start from the top with the Gonzalez-Yaegashi fight, which surpassed my expectations for two-way action. I thought Estrada-Segura would be the more competitive flyweight matchup and even give us a Fight of the Year candidate, but “El Gallo” was far too smart, fast, sharp, active and mobile for the former 108-pound champ to bum rush.

I’ve considered Gonzalez to be an elite fighter for years, even before his decision victory over Estrada in December of 2012 (which was a hell of a fight). After his performance in Tokyo, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s one of the best boxers on the planet. Prior to earning THE RING’s recognition as flyweight champion of the world, the former 105- and 108-pound beltholder was the magazine’s No. 1-ranked strawweight, junior flyweight and flyweight.

I agree those boxing writers on Twitter who said Gonzalez should be in the top five of the pound-for-pound rankings (my guess is that Boxingscene’s Cliff Rold was one of those fight scribes).

When was the last time a flyweight or a below-flyweight got into the pound-for-pound top 5? Good question. You gotta go back almost 20 years. I should note that Nonito Donaire, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and Segura were all ranked in the bottom half of THE RING’s pound-for-pound rankings as flyweight titleholders (jr. fly champ in Gio’s case) during the past six years. (The Filipino Flash broke into the top five as a junior bantam, bantam and jr. featherweight.)

Anyway, going back a little more than 20 years ago, Michael Carbajal was as high as No. 5 in RING’s P4P rankings from mid-to-late 1993 (this is when the undefeated, 28-0, junior flyweight held the IBF and WBC titles following his thrilling unification bout with Chiquita Gonzalez). Carbajal was behind Pernell Whitaker, Julio Cesar Chavez, Terry Norris and James Toney (not bad, eh?). Ricardo Lopez, the strawweight king, just cracked the mythical ratings at No. 10 around this time.

A year later, in late ’94, Lopez climbed all the way to No. 4 (behind Whitaker, Toney, and bantamweight boss Orlando Canizales – remember him?). Chiquita, who beat Carbajal in their rematch and rubbermatch, was at No. 5; Little Hands of Stone was No. 6. (Four sub-featherweights in the top 10! It was a good time for “pipsqueaks” LOL.) For the record, the rest of the top 10 at this time was as follows: Roy Jones Jr. (No. 7), Gerald McClellan (8), Frankie Randall (9) and Felix Trinidad (10).

By late ’95 Lopez, who kept defending that WBC 105-pound strap of his in dominant fashion, climbed as high as No. 3. Finito remained top five over the next two years until he was replaced by Mark “too Sharp” Johnson by mid-’98. Johnson was the IBF flyweight titleholder at this time. Lopez dropped to No. 9 after Rosendo Alvarez made him look human.

Alvarez, by the way, is one of the more underrated standout from Nicaragua, where our dear Chocolatito hails from.

Will Gonzalez be a hall of famer when he retires? I don’t know, but I think he’s on his way.

Can Chocolatito’s resume be compared to Finito’s? No, not yet. But again, I think the classy Nicaraguan is on his way.

If Gonzalez can beat Estrada in a rematch he will take a big step toward eventual hall of famer enshrinement and legend status. And I agree with you, Estrada will be much tougher in a return match. He’s not only stronger at 112 pounds, he’s far more experienced than he was when they met at 108 pounds.

Your mythical matchups and question:

Chris John (in his prime) vs Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Manny Pacquiao and current 126-title holders:

Barrera would have been troubled by John’s stick-and-move style (like everyone else was) but it wouldn’t have overwhelmed him mentally or physically. Although John was a tall and rangy 126 pounder with a world-class jab, he didn’t possess the speed and power of Junior Jones. I think Barrera would have matched his jab and systematically walked him down with the right mix of counter punching and body shots to earn a close decision.

I think John would have outpointed the 126-pound versions of Morales and Pacquiao. Morales would have been frustrated to no end but he would have made it close. Pacquiao had the ability to blitz John early but if he didn’t catch the Indonesian star he could have been outclassed over the distance. (Note to all PacManiacs, the featherweight version of your super hero was not the complete fighter we witnessed at the heavier weight classes, so please calm the f__k down.)

I think John would have outpointed all of the current featherweight beltholders, with the exception of Vasyl Lomachenko, whose busier and more complete style would enable him to narrowly outpoint the classy boxer. I see John taking Jhonny Gonzalez and Evgeny Gradovich to school over the distance. I think he’d outpoint Donaire, too, although the Filipino’s speed and footwork would make it competitive.

How good was John in his prime? I think he was the top 126 pounder in the world for many years and very close to an elite boxer.

LITTLE MEN, BIG SKILLS

Dougie Fresh!

Hope you are well, bro.

I wrote to you 2 months ago [27 July] about my excitement and anticipation for the great fight between Akira Yaegashi and Roman Gonzalez for the linear flyweight championship. Thanks for posting it in the mailbag. I was hyped before the match, and undoubtedly, it delivered. What a fight!

The skills and courage of both fighters was terrific to see; Gonzalez and his fluid, accurate and powerful combinations, and the heart, courage and counter-punching of Yaegashi made for an excellent fight. I have watched Gonzalez for some time now Dougie, but the accuracy and fluidity of his punches to head and body leaves me in awe every time. The sequence leading to the knockout was a five-punch combination, with all five punches landing!

I think the referee did the right thing in stopping the fight after the second knockdown. Yaegashi had taken some serious punishment and showed immense courage and bravery lasting to the ninth round. He would not give up, and many times exchanging with Gonzalez and landing. If the fight carried on, I feel Yaegashi would have taken unnecessary punishment, so I agree with the stoppage. You agree, Dougie? Huge kudos once again to Yaegashi for his immense bravery.

In addition to the great skills and courage of both fighters, the professionalism and respect between the two fighters was refreshing to see, something harking to true professional boxers, which sadly we are seeing less of by many of today’s boxers.

I also enjoyed watching the Estrada-Segura fight, and was happy to hear Estrada wants the rematch with Gonzalez, which would be a terrific re-match. I heard though that Nicaraguan TV had stated that his next fight would be against Luis Concepcion, who would drop down in weight to fight Gonzalez in Japan later this year. What do you think of that fight, Dougie? If that fight gets made, hopefully we can see the rematch between Gonzalez and Estrada in 2015, and sincerely hope and wish US and European TV picks up on that re-match, and frankly any fight with Gonzalez or any other top flyweight or lower weight fighter.

Last point Dougie; I watched the undercard fight of Japanese sensation of Naoya Inoue. I really rate this kid, Dougie. Good footwork, ring generalship and terrific power and accuracy. I think this kid goes far, and could challenge Ring/WBO champ Donnie Nietes, or Johnriel Casimero soon. What do you think Dougie?

Many thanks as always for the mailbags bro! – Qadeer

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, especially about boxing’s Fly Guys.

Inoue (7-0, 6 knockouts), the reigning WBC 108-pound titleholder, is a very special young fighter and he had a very bright future. I think he’s the best boxer on the planet who is under 22, as well as the best boxer with less than 10 pro bouts. Inoue definitely deserves more props outside of Japan.

I don’t think he’s quite ready for Nietes or Casimero but he will be by this time next year. And he’ll be ready for the best flyweights in the world, even my man Chocolatito, in about two years.

I wish I could say that I enjoyed watching Estrada-Segura, but I did not. I’m too close, emotionally, to Segura so it was hard. Still, I appreciated Estrada’s mastery of the ring. He was too much for Segura. Estrada could match the veteran pressure fighter’s size and strength and he was simply the better man in terms of skill, technique and versatility.

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A Gonzalez-Estrada rematch for all the marbles at 112-pounds is now THE fight that I want to see. Only Cliff Rold will obsess about this matchup more than Yours Truly.

I’m not going to hold my breath for U.S. and European TV to jump all over Gonzalez-Estrada.

Gonzalez-Concepcion will be a lot of fun while it lasts. Trust me on that. It will probably feature more sustained action than Gonzalez-Yaegashi featured but it won’t go past six or seven rounds. Yaegashi probably could have survived Round 9 vs. Gonzalez, but I agree that it was good to stop it when they did. Yaegashi was a beaten man and Gonzalez was really starting to dial-in with his body-head combinations.

Gonzalez was the epitome of technical aggression in that fight – only GGG walks opponents down as well as he does – while Yaegashi was the definition of “courageous warrior.” (I agree that the genuine respect the two flyweights showed each other before and after the fight was refreshing.)

Yaegashi will be back. I still consider him a top player at 112 pounds. In fact, since we’re on the subject of rematches, I’d love to see Yaegashi and Kazuto Ioka go at it again, this time at flyweight.

BRITISH BOXING, THE FLYWEIGHTS & GONZALEZ

Hi Dougie,

So the last two times that I wrote in – Carl Froch’s legacy and the hate received by Canelo – the emails were on the lengthy side. I’ll keep this one comparatively more concise.

Big props to a disciplined, dynamic and dominating performance by the man from Belfast. I think Barry McGuigan is spot-on when he says that Carl Frampton is on another level to the tier that he once occupied. I was super impressed; Kiko Martinez is no joke.

Now that Great Britain and Northern Ireland have three young and hungry world champions in Frampton, Scott Quigg (this whole WBA regular/super nonsense is getting silly) and Kell Brook, I’m pretty excited about our nation’s pugilistic future. Especially, with the likes of Joshua, Degale, Campbell, Ogogo, etc. How far do you feel those first three could go? I’m sure Rigondeaux/Santa Cruz and the welterweight gang led by Thurman/Garcia/Mayweather/Matthysse will have a deciding role.

I have a confession. I was a victim of flyweight negligence by the boxing media. And that’s being a ‘semi-core’ boxing fan for over 8 years, I’m only just recovering. Since Calderon/Wonjongkom and their ilk petered out and Donaire filled out his freakishly large frame, I’ve not really gone out my way to prowl the internet for videos and links to fights. It’s a real hard grind being a fan of the lighter weights; the media machine doesn’t make it easy. Yet your last mailbag and consequent YouTube session reopened my oblivious eyes and I really enjoyed this weekend’s action (love every Segura fight). It’s a damn shame there are so many boxing fans in a similarly clueless and sheltered boat though. Do you think there’s scope for change? More exposure? A superstar/PR dream on that bleak horizon?

Mythical Matchup – Who wins across a 3-fight series at strawweight, light-flyweight and then flyweight – Ricardo Lopez or Roman Gonzalez? I think that’s tasty.

And do you see Gonzalez besting Estrada again to put him on the ladder leading to the lofty heights of Pancho Villa, Jimmy Wilde, Benny Lynch…? I think that due to the quality of opposition down at flyweight and the need for under-exposed fighters to take competitive matches, he can make much more of a step towards ATG status than many a modern boxer.

And how about toppling Alexis Arguello (one of my personal favourites – love a rangy boxer/puncher) as Nicaragua’s finest? Keep doing what you’re doing. For a GBP shill (LOL), your knowledge, wit and objectivity is a shining beacon floating amongst a sea of bias, mundanity, mis-information and inflated egos. This e-mail wasn’t as short as I intended. – AK, Nottingham, UK

No worries, AK. Thanks for the kind words.

I think the world of Gonzalez but he’s got a LONG way to go before he replaces Arguello as the best boxer that Nicaragua has produced. I’ve met Gonzalez. He’s one of the most grounded and humble world-class boxers out there. Arguello was his trainer and mentor during his amateur years and early in his pro career. Even if he won his next 20-30 fights and won titles at 115 and 118 pounds, he’d be the first to tell anyone that he’s STILL second to Arguello.

Mythical matchups between Lopez and Gonzalez boggle my mind. They’re kind of like mirror images, but the Mexican hall of famer was a little more complete (had a consistent jab, which is one of the few things Chocolatito lacks) and probably hit a little harder at 105 pounds. Both tiny terrors have great balance and footwork, both go to the body expertly and fire near-perfect uppercuts (from either hand). Gonzalez’s hooks and crosses are a little more compact than Finito’s. Choco might be a little better inside than Finito, who was probably better from long-range and mid-range.

I’ll go with Lopez by decision at 105 pounds, where he was truly supreme; it’s a toss-up fight that ends in a draw at 108 pounds (where Finito ended his career – and I was lucky enough to see him fight live); and Gonzalez by decision at 112 pounds (where the Mexican master is unproven). (Mexican fans, feel free to bring the hate.)

I favor Gonzalez to best Estrada again but only slightly. That might be an even matchup, AK. If Gonzalez does beat Estrada it makes him the undisputed flyweight king, a true elite fighter (perhaps second only to Floyd Mayweather), but I don’t think ranks him among all-time flyweight champs like Pancho Villa, Jimmy Wilde and Benny Lynch. But, like I keep repeating in this mailbag, it puts him on the road to legendary status.

I don’t think the flyweights are ever going to get the worldwide attention that the elite fighters from welterweight to heavyweight command, but with little badasses like Gonzalez and Estrada around, I think the 112-pound division has a good shot at getting roughly the same exposure as top dogs from bantamweight to featherweight have been receiving from U.S. and UK cable networks that specialize in boxing programming.

Regarding the British boxing scene, I think it’s in very good hands right now. I’ve been high on Frampton, Quigg and Brook for some time and I believe that all three will add at least one more major belt to the ones they currently hold. All three will be involved some very big fights, too, (Frampton and Quigg against each other sooner or later).

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FUTURE STAR?

Hi Dougmeister,

Just finished watching the Frampton v Martinez world title fight & it certainly did not disappoint! I know everyone was sold on a Frampton win but I guess we knew from the first fight that although we expected a new world champion it was never gonna be easy for “The Jackal”. All kudos to Kiko Martinez. As we say here in England the guy’s got big bollocks!! I hope we see him again soon. The guy never stops coming forward, can take & recover from a punch, & is dangerous to the final bell. Rigo apart, I think the guy can give any other fighter in the division hell!

Anyways, onto the champion. I’ve always been big on him & think he is potentially a worldwide superstar. What do you think the future holds for him Dougie and the potential future matchups & outcomes? I know he called out Scott Quigg after the fight & obviously it’s a logical & potentially lucrative fight here in the U.K. How do you see that fight panning out, Dougie? I personally think Frampton is quicker & more skilled than Quigg & possibly is a harder puncher. My one worry for Quigg is that after the way he was put on the canvas by Jamie Arthur if Frampton got his hands on him he would be in a world of trouble if he felt his power. On the plus side for Quigg, I think he is potentially the stronger fighter & if Frampton can’t get to him & hurt him early he will come on strong down the stretch & we will really see how Frampton handles pressure in the championship rounds. More so I think than Martinez was able to do.

To be honest, for either British fighter, I certainly don’t fear Leo Santa Cruz. I think Frampton deals with him easily & Quigg will eventually out hustle him but may find his speed/pace difficult early on. Which brings me onto my final match up.

Do you think at some point down the line Frampton has any chance of throwing down a realistic challenge to Rigondeaux? I’d like to think that Frampton has the speed & skills necessary to give him his hardest challenge but then I guess I expected that from Donaire! Would you give him any chance against Rigo?

Also in your time in the sport & it’s history, Dougie, if we saw “The Jackal” v “El Chacal” would it be the first time two boxers faced each other with the same nickname???

One final question Dougie. I read the article on Robert Easter Jr & managed to see him fight on a bill a few months back which was picked up here in the UK. I recall it because it was the first time I have ever seen a lady referee a fight. I’ve never seen it here in the UK & wondered how common it was in the US? From what I remember she did a good job & I think it’s good to see in the sport & hopefully it will continue. All the best Dougmeister. – Mark, UK

Thanks Mark.

Female referees in professional boxing are very rare. I’ve only seen a couple over the years, including veteran California official Gwen Adair, who I believe is the first woman to referee a world title bout (Yory Boy Campas’s IBF 154-pound title defense against Pedro Ortega in Tijuana in 1998). Right now, the only top-class female referee that I’m aware of is Sparkle Lee (great name, right?), a New Jersey and New York veteran who officiated the Sergey Kovalev-Blake Caparello WBO light heavyweight title bout in Atlantic City last month.

Rigondeaux vs. Frampton would definitely not be the first time two boxers with the same nicknames fought each other. It happens every now and then, though I can’t think of any recent examples (generally speaking, if boxers have nicknames these days, they either don’t live up to them or the monikers are pretty weak). The most famous example, however, is probably when Sugar Ray Robinson fought George “Sugar” Costner in 1950. Robinson didn’t like that Costner, who was a sensational boxer and top contender at the time, was also calling himself “Sugar.” The all-time great stopped Cosnter in one round, proving to the boxing world who was the sweeter scientist.

Would I give Frampton “any chance against Rigo”? Sure I would. If they fought this year or in 2015, I’d pick the Cuban master to win, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for Frampton to pull off the upset, especially if the fight takes place beyond 18 months from now. It’s a young man’s game and Rigo is no spring chicken, my friend.

I would also favor Frampton and Quigg to beat Santa Cruz, however, I don’t think either man has an “easy” time with the Mexican-American pressure fighter.

As good as Frampton looked against Martinez, I still view his anticipated future showdown with Quigg to be an even fight. I agree with most observers that Frampton is the more talented of the two. He’s the faster, more fluid boxer. He might hit a little bit harder, especially with his right hand, but I think Quigg is a lot smarter and more versatile than fans in the U.S. and the UK give him credit for. And I still think Quigg is the more experienced of the two junior featherweight standouts.

Maybe I’m a tad biased because I’ve had the chance to watch Quigg train and spar when he’s visited the Southern California area a few times in recent years, but I’ve seen him do things in sparring that I haven’t seen him employ in an actual fight yet. I’m tellin’ ya, Mark, the Manchester man might be better than you think.

Anyway, if Quigg struggles at all with Stephane Jamoye this Saturday, you and everyone else who gives a damn will tell me how I wrong I was about Scotty (LOL) and the poor guy will be totally dismissed by the British public as far as a potential foe for Frampton. But if Frampton has his sights on Santa Cruz and Rigondeaux for the time being, I wouldn’t mind seeing Quigg defend his WBA “regular” Strap against Martinez, who I agree should still be considered a major player in the stacked 122-pound division. That would be a hell of a fight.

As for Frampton’s potential, I think the sky’s the limit. He’s the man in Ireland right now and one of the top five boxing stars of the UK, but to crossover to “worldwide superstar” status, as you put it, I think he needs to travel to the U.S. to beat a well-known jr. feather or featherweight standout (such as Santa Cruz, Donaire or Abner Mares); or he has to beat an elite boxer like Rigo or Lomachenko.

 

TAKE IT EASY ON VINCENT FROM NY

Whoa! Easy on the new guy bro, I think he has a pretty valid complaint. You can see a football game anywhere in the country but try finding that Segura fight at a bar this weekend.

I’m not sure Teddy Atlas or Vincent from NY are on the right path but I doubt they’re trying to be malicious. It’s a fair question; National/International Commission or Wild West Don King s__t. Never got your answer on that.

I gotta say man, and I respect you more than anyone in broadcasting or the media, your word on boxing is usually crazy accurate, but you can’t blame guys like Vincent for being jaded. Try finding that card outside Mexico or parts of the southern western states. I’m in Toronto. So I know. What’s happening this year at the big networks won’t help your smaller weight favorites.

I have zero answers but I usually end up finding out from you, so take care and please show fans the way to access these kind of fights. – WS

I didn’t mean to snap at Vincent in any sort of nasty way in last week’s Friday mailbag, so if my response came off like I was berating him I apologize for that (and I’ll gladly apologize to Vincent).

I do get a bit fed up with the extreme downer emails, though. I know things aren’t perfect with the sport (especially here in the U.S.) but it’s not as bad as some fans make it out to be. I try to have a glass-half-full attitude and focus on the fighters and boxing industry folks who get it right. I think there’s a lot to be hopeful about.

Golden Boy Promotions working with Main Events and HBO to deliver the Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev fight is a good sign. If GBP can work something out with Top Rank and HBO to deliver Cotto vs. Canelo next year that will be huge step in the right direction. I love what HBO and Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions are doing with Gennady Golovkin. I’m impressed with the UK boxing scene, mainly the job Eddie Hearn did with Carl Froch-George Groves II, but also the emergence of Frampton and Brook as world titleholders. I’m thrilled with the flyweight standouts (as you and everyone else who’s read the last few mailbags are no doubt aware of). I think Gonzlaez, who is 27, and Estrada, who is only 24, are going to give us some terrific fights over the next few years. So will Canelo, who just turned 24, Frampton, who is 28, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, who are in their mid-20s. There are dozens of others that I could list out.

Vincent’s view of what to come was just too focused on what might NOT happen. I didn’t like it. He was too down on the Showtime tripleheader and the fact of the matter is that the Adrien Broner-Emmanuel Taylor main event was one of the best fights of the weekend. It was more competitive than Estrada-Segura, which I thought would steal the thunder from every other main event that took place last week. I was wrong, and I’m happy to admit it. If Vincent skipped the Showtime card, he missed out. And that’s what happens when you have an overly negative attitude.

Anyway, you don’t want to miss out on the badass little-guy matchups that take place in Japan and Mexico and South America? OK, finding internet streams to most of these gems is real simple. Just start a Twitter account (you can give yourself a snappy unique handle like @JadedInToronto or @TeddyAtlasKnows) and follow every boxer, boxing industry person or self-identified “hardcore fan” that you can find. Trust me, WS, you won’t even have to ask for a link to the next live international stream, someone will just toss it out there. I watched a live stream of a Nicaraguan broadcast of the Estrada-Segura fight during the Broner-Taylor bout. I didn’t go looking for it and I didn’t ask anyone for it. A dozen folks I follow on Twitter posted it on my timeline.

The answer to the need for a national or international commission isn’t simple. I think boxing needs more uniformity with its safety rules and standards for officials and preliminary matchmaking, and perhaps a national commission could help set and enforce those type of regulations, but I don’t think it would help make the big fights that fans want to see. Boxing isn’t a team/league sport. We can’t view it the way we view soccer or football or even one-on-one non-combat sports like tennis.

Ultimately it comes down to the fighters and their promoters. If the star fighters don’t want to challenge themselves and face each other (like a certain undefeated American and Filipino icon), the fans should turn their backs on them. If the promoters refuse to work with each other, the fans should boycott their shows. If certain networks take sides in promotional beefs or contribute to the conflicts, or protect certain fighters, the fans should drop those networks from their cable package.

If enough fans did that over the years, I have no doubt that the “powers that be” would’ve tried a lot harder to appease them. These f___ers can’t exist without you folks.

Boxing fans have way more power than they realize or are willing to admit. Don’t be jaded, get organized.

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer

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