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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

06
Oct

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TRAVIESO’S LAST HURRAH

Hi Doug,
I hope you are doing great.

Well, I am just curious about what you have to say about Jorge Arce’s career. Personally, I thought he should have retired a long time ago but I keep in my mind two of his best performances: vs Hussein Hussein and Wilfredo V├ízquez Jr (for me that should have been his “Last Hurrah”).



Who would have won between the best Arce vs. the best Kochul Montiel according to you?

Regards. – Jorge

Montiel was heads and shoulders above Arce in terms of natural talent, skill, technique, athleticism, defense and precision punching; but even at his peak Fernando had about a quarter of the fighting heart that Travieso possessed. This is a just a gut pick but I think the best version of Arce, from flyweight to junior feather, beats Montiel in “the Battle of Los Mochis,” getting up from at least one knockdown to score a dramatic come-from-behind late-rounds stoppage.

I agree that the Vazquez victory, which took place in 2011, was Arce’s Last Hurrah. It’s all well and good that he defended the WBO 122-pounds belt he took from Wilfredo Jr. with a four-round TKO against Simphiwe Nongqayi, avenging an earlier loss, and then won a major title in a fourth weight (the WBO’s bantamweight strap), but he should have hung his gloves up for good after being wiped out by Nonito Donaire in December 2012.

I think the manner in which he was dominated and stopped against Jhonny Gonzalez will force Arce to take a long look in the mirror and seriously consider a real retirement from prize fighting. You and I both know that wasn’t Travieso in there this past Saturday. Apart from having no business fighting at 126 pounds (he kind of reminded me of Vinny Pazienza fighting at super middleweight in the mid-to-late ’90s), he simply wasn’t able (or perhaps willing) to fight his fight against the tall, rangy boxer-puncher. He didn’t attack. And in the late rounds, he did a lot of retreating. Arce ultimately went out with a whimper, not a roar.

The fact that he didn’t go out on his shield tells me that the fighter in him is gone. I hope he realizes this. I recall having a few drinks with him the night before the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey fight in Arlington, Texas, in March 2010. (Actually, I was the one who was drinking, Jorge was just practicing his English, which was pretty good.) He told me that he was looking at exiting the game and that he was financially secure (in both Mexico and the U.S., where he’s got a place in Tucson, Arizona). He just wanted to go out on his terms. Well, I don’t think he’ll be able to do that now, but he’s put together a career to be proud of.

What do I have to say about Arce’s career? It was a lot of fun to follow and an honor to cover. I met him in Los Angeles in 1999 (at the old L.A. Boxing Club) prior to his title defense against hall of famer Michael Carbajal, and it’s been 15 years of thrills and fun. There have been many lows and setbacks, but one of the things I always admired about Arce was the way he bounced back from defeats. It didn’t matter if he was totally outclassed or KTFO; “Tiny Might” was gonna come back and kick more ass. Between the one-punch KO loss to Carbajal and the one-sided decision loss to Cristian Mijares in 2007, Arce won 26 bouts, including his Fight of the Year candidate vs. Hussein (and lesser-known slugfests with Adonis Rivas).

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Arce had so many brutal wars, such as his inspiring ninth-round stoppage of Rafael Concepcion on Mexican Independence Day weekend in Mexico City (2008) – not to mention his constant battle with the scale – it was a miracle his pro career lasted more than 18 years.

I know some purists and stickler historians will disagree with me, but I think Arce is a borderline hall of famer (hey, if Arturo Gatti’s in there, I gotta at least consider him). I don’t put much stock into the four titles in four divisions “accomplishment” (how can I when two of those titles were vacant WBO belts won by beating Angky Angkotta), but by my count the little badass fought 22 fighters who held major world titles (WBC, WBA, IBF or WBO; and no, I’m not counting interim belts). Did he beat all of those guys? No. Some of them whupped his ass. Some of the better names he beat were past their primes. But some others weren’t, and bottom line, until this past Saturday, Arce always gave 100 percent.

Sometimes he gave a lot more than 100 percent. At his best, Arce was the definition of a “blood-and-guts warrior.”

VERDEJO IMPRESSES

Hey Doug,

I caught the Felix Verdejo fight late at night. I was very impressed with the young Boricua, he was patient, and got the KO. This was without a doubt the KO of the year. Top Rank is building the next Puerto Rican superstar, and maybe boxing’s next big attraction. Looking forward in seeing this youngling mature to greatness.

Arce was as we thought he would be, awful. He needs to retire, most of these recycled washed-up fighters boxing nowadays (Arce, Taylor, Dawson, Mayorga, Jones Jr.) should just go away. Hyped up about the GGG fight. Glad I got tickets! Good week Doug. – Juan Valverde, TJ

Hey, hopefully I’ll see you at Golovkin-Rubio (AKA “Mexican Style” AKA “GGG-Con”). It’s gonna be live and it’s gonna be crowded.

I agree that Arce needs to call it a career. He’s given us too many wars and his body just can’t deliver any more, especially at 126 pounds where up-and-coming contenders and beltholders will either beat his shopworn ass silly or just embarrass him. Evgeny Gradovich will outwork and work him over. Vasyl Lomachenko will totally outclass him (and give him a beating). Nicholas Walters will cut his head off. Even Abner Mares, who might be psychologically damaged, would spank him.

I loved watching Arce fight, had the pleasure of covering many of his fights and the honor of commentating on a few them, and I’ll miss the way he launched that left to the body and overhand right to the noggin with abandon, but it’s time for him to say goodbye.

I think he should announce a “Farewell Bout” in Los Mochis against Angky Angkotta (with a vacant WBO belt up for grabs per the tradition), as soon as possible, then knockout his favorite Thai stuntman and announce his retirement in the ring.

That knockout that Verdejo scored against poor Sergio Villanueva was the definition of sick.

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I’ve seen the young Puerto Rican prospect fight live a couple times – the last time was his first-round KO of 8-0 Lauro Alcantar on the Salido-Garcia undercard in NYC last January – and he’s always delivered, but the Villanueva fight took it to a new level. For the first time I can truly say that I’m impressed by the young man. The way he set up that right hook suggests that he’s a very special talent. Villanueva was a solid opponent. The 23-year-old Mexican, who had 32 pro bouts (26-4-2) under his belt, was competitive with former 122-pound contender/title challenger Rey Bautista over 10 rounds in the Philippines in his previous bout.

However, I have to point out that Villanueva had a style and mentality that was tailor made for the 2012 Olympian (and you and I both know that Top Rank’s matchmakers were well aware of that). Villaneuva is an aggressive, come-forward type fighter who stalks straight up (no head- or upper-body movement), often telegraphs wide punches, and can be overconfident and macho (as he illustrated when he dropped his hands and made a mocking face at Verdejo after the Puerto Rican missed with a body shot in Round 3).

We can expect Top Rank to continue to put Verdejo in with this kind of style. It’s sort of their template for developing budding stars with extensive amateur careers. From De La Hoya to Mayweather to Cotto and Kelly Pavlik, they avoid putting their blue chip prospects in with savvy/slick boxers. We usually don’t find out if Top Rank stars can deal with stick-and-move stylists until they have a major title belt around their waists.

POUND FOR POUND

Hey Doug what’s up? What’s your personal top 10 pound for pound?

Also, pound for pound who do you think has the biggest stranglehold on their division. I say Wladimir Klitschko, maybe Kubrat Pulev will prove me wrong but I doubt it. – Robert Ashton, MD

Yeah, I’d say Wladdy’s got good grip on the heavyweights. If Andre Ward were still an active fighter, I’d say he’s the unbeatable foe of the 168-pound division. Prior to his back-to-back fights with Marcos Maidana, I would have said that Floyd Mayweather was “untouchable” at welterweight. I think Gennady Golovkin is the man at middleweight and I don’t see any 160 pounder getting the better of him. I don’t see any of the current standouts of the deep junior featherweight division beating RING champ Guillermo Rigondeaux. Likewise for my man Roman Gonzalez in the even deeper flyweight division; I don’t see anyone taking THE RING belt from “Chocolatito.”

My personal pound-for-pound top 10 (for what it’s worth – I really don’t give a f__k about these lists):

1) Mayweather

2) Gonzalez

3) Ward

4) Klitschko

5) Manny Pacquiao

6) Tim Bradley

7) JM Marquez

8) Rigondeaux

9) Bernard Hopkins

10) Carl Froch

PERSONAL QUESTION

Hi Doug,

I was wondering if you allow people to email you outside of the usual mailbag?

I was really hoping to pick your brain and share some thoughts on boxing. I do not intend to cross any line or be disrespectful of your space and privacy. Please forgive me if I have done either. Thank you. – Hugo

It’s all good, Hugo. Anyone is welcome to contact me via email ([email protected]) or approach me in person (if you see me at a boxing event, or just out in public, such as a mall, the movies or a grocery store). I don’t have any boundaries when it comes to boxing. LOL. I love to talk and debate about the sport.

You’ve got a better shot at getting an immediate response if you catch me out in public than via email because I’m ridiculously busy most of the time when I’m at home (where I do most of my work), but I do try to answer emails that readers send me that are marked (“not for the mailbag”). I don’t often get back to these good folks in a timely fashion but I try.

 

TRAINERS & CELEBRITY STATUS

Doug,I’ve always appreciated the work and time trainers and coaches put into their athletes, trying to give them as much info as they can, while they can. I think a lot of them go under appreciated. Did the trainers of past eras (pre 1980’s), have the clout and celebrity status that the handful of trainers today have? And was there the, I don’t want to say flavor of the month, but flavor of the month / year trainer in those times as much as there is today? Krusher vs GGG. That’s not out of the realm of possibility. Makes me cringe thinking about shots that would be landed. – John in VA

The Double K could indeed one day square off with the Triple G, especially if Golovkin continues to streamroll middleweights and is unable to land a big fight at super middleweight. The Kazakhstan native might have to look at willing name-fighters at 175 pounds (even though he makes 160 pounds without any problem).

Of course, for Kovalev to develop into a real “name” at light heavyweight, he’ll need to beat living legend Bernard Hopkins next month. I get the impression that Team GGG are willing to have their man go up in weight but only if that fight is a pay-per-view level showdown (as the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight was supposed to be).

Top trainers of past eras – from Ray Arcel, Whitey Bimstein and Charley Goldman to Eddie Futch, Georgie Benton and Gil Clancy – did indeed have major clout within the boxing world and among the general sports media. However, the bona-fide “celebrity” status of Freddie Roach and the late Emanuel Steward was rare in previous decades.

Although it should be noted that Angelo Dundee and Lou Duva had gregarious personalities that naturally attracted media attention and both worked with fighters who were household names worldwide, so in their own way both could’ve been considered celebrities.

There was definitely less of the “flavor of the month” among major trainers in previous decades. The top coaches had amazing longevity (Arcel, for instance, worked with some of the best fighters of the 1920s all the way to the ’80s) and fans and fighters of the past were less likely to blame or turn their backs on trainers after losses.

 

DOUGIE’S NICKNAMES

Doug / Douglas / Duggy,

Not entirely boxing related or likely to make your excellent Mailbag but just loving your use of shortening a fighter’s name – ala a well used one in your Mailbag responses of Vladimir Klitschko aka “Vladdy” or Krzysztof W┼éodarczyk aka “Wloddy” and now your latest, David Lemieux aka “Lemmy.”

Anymore from the Fischer name book? Makes me chuckle anyway.

Keep up the good work. – Jimmy, Bristol UK

I’ll try, Jimmy. Thanks for letting me know that you enjoy the silly short nicknames. One of my goals with this column is to get a chuckle or two from the readers with every bag.

Of course, there are more short silly nicknames to come. Fans do it all the time, even before Twitter sort of made it a necessity, boxing folks preferred informal short handles like “Provo” and “Rigo” over spelling out “Provodnikov” and “Rigondeaux”. I’ve seen folks refer to Lucas Matthysse as “Matty.” I’m sure I’ve referred to Beibut Shumenov as “Shumy” in the past.

I like to call Keith Thurman “the Thurmanator,” but we could just as easily shorten that to “Thurmy” (although I don’t think he’d care much for that one). Felix Sturm can be “Sturmy,” Peter Quillin can be “Quilly” (writing that just made me laugh), Evgeny Gradovich can be “Graddy,” Omar Figueroa can be “Figgy,” Diego and Jesse Magdaleno can be “Maggy,” and so on.

It’s silly but silly is OK in my book.

 

 

MY, HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED

This article sums everything up, perfectly. – Blood and Guts from Philly

http://www.thesweetscience.com/news/articles/19417-my-how-things-have-changed

I couldn’t agree more. Well done Mr. Frank Lotierzo.

 

TONEY-JIROV

Dougie,Big fan of your work here in Canada, especially your objectivity and your frankness when you’re not being objective. Don’t expect to make the mailbag with this musing but thought I’d share with you anyway. Had never seen the James Toney-Vassiliy Jirov, and no one in all the considerable sweet science content I’ve consumed regularly for 10 years ever talks about it. But with Dan Goossen’s passing I stumbled on it and am I ever glad I did. It’s got everything: including the irrepressible Lights Out, whom I remember as a much nobler man than he seems now, an obscure Kazakh, Lou DiBella, and a mercifully Merchantless and inspiringly Stewardful call by Lamps.

Do you think that fight, especially the first 7 rounds, offers any clues about how May-Pac, should it ever happen, might go? The comparison is a huge stretch, but if Manny could find the EOT Tiger (pun intended) which I last saw Dec 2012 R6 2:45, I could see him taking FMJ into deep waters as Jirov did Toney. I know Floyd’s conditioning is peerless, but no one has been able to make him work hard for 12 rounds since maybe Zab, and he got a nice long break in that one. Thanks for your work. – Justin

I don’t think you can compare the style matchup of Jirov-Toney with that of Mayweather-Pacquiao. The only thing those two matchups would have in common is that they pit a formidable southpaw from outside of the U.S. against a talented American boxer. Jirov didn’t fight like Pacquiao. Toney didn’t box like Mayweather (even though he did employ a version of the shoulder-roll). The versions of Jirov and Toney that fought in that cruiserweight classic were too aggressive and busy to be compared with the mid-to-late 30s versions of Floyd and Manny that “might” one day square off in the ring. Jirov-Toney was a Fight of the Year candidate (and likely would have won the honor if not for Gatti-Ward III taking place that year).

I got a chance to chat with Main Events president Kathy Duva for a few hours during the shuttle ride up to last week’s Sergey Kovalev media day in Big Bear, California. I asked her if HBO had any interest in former cruiserweight champ Steve Cunningham, even as an “opponent,” and sadly, she told me the network is not interested, which led to a discussion about underrated cruiserweight bouts. I agreed with Duva that Cunningham’s IBF title loss to Tomasz Adamek in December 2008 (a split-decision loss despite getting dropped four times) is one of the top five cruiserweight fights in history. We both agreed that Evander Holyfield’s first world title victory – a 15-round split-decision over hall of famer Dwight Muhammad Qawi, the 23-year-old “Commander Vander’s 12th pro fight that was televised ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” in 1986) – was the greatest cruiserweight fight of all time. I proposed Jirov-Toney the runner up for greatest cruiserweight battle of all time and Duva did not disagree.

Three notes on your comments about the fight:

1) Jirov was hardly an “an obscure Kazakh.” He was the undefeated (31-0) IBF cruiserweight titleholder, who was the odds favorite and one of “Mr. All-Powerful” Al Haymon’s first clients. Jirov was also a 1996 Olympic gold medalist and the Val Barker Award winner (for most outstanding boxer) of the Atlanta Games.

2) The Jirov fight was the last time I saw Toney give 100 percent in training (he gave about 85% for the Holyfield fight later that year). Here’s the Southern California Notebook I wrote about “Lights Out” for MaxBoxing.com a few days before the HBO-televised 190-pound title showdown and my post-fight column (courtesy of ESPN.com’s archive).

3) I talk about “closet classics” like Jirov-Toney all the time with fellow boxing scribes and fanatics via Twitter and whenever I get the chance to do so in person. When I was in New York City for the Golovkin-Geale fight in July a bunch of us hardcore heads got together at Jimmy’s Corner bar and it was only a matter of time before someone brought up the subject of fights that we never get tired of watching. Needless to say, Jirov-Toney was on everybody’s short list.

(Here’s an embedded video of the fight for those who’ve never seen it or haven’t watched it in years — enjoy it and the De La Hoya interview at the start of the HBO broadcast)

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

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