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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

24
Oct

MARTIN MURRAY & THE BRITISH OLYMPIC CHAMPS

Hi Dougie,

Few quick comments on the British boxing scene at the moment, keen to hear your thoughts.

Martin Murray fights Domenico Spada on Saturday. I’m expecting him to come through with a relatively hard fought points decision but then what next for him? I like Murray a lot, he’s a good guy and solid boxer; he’s gone from young prison offender to role model and does lots of work with disadvantaged youths in his local area. But I just feel he lacks the killer instinct and the ‘wow factor’ that stands world-class fighters above the rest. In his fight with Felix Sturm if he had been more aggressive and taken the fight to the German I’m sure he would have won. If he had gone after an aging and slowing Sergio Martinez when he had him knocked down twice in their fight, he might have even got him out of there and not got stiffed by the judges’ score cards.



He looks like a hard mother-f___er and can punch but he doesn’t have the killer instinct, aggression or nasty streak I think he needs to become a world champion. If he fights GGG next he needs to find that to stand even a slight chance. How would you rate his chances against the other middleweight ‘champs’ bearing in mind his strong performances against Sturm and Martinez?

Talking of killer instinct, did you see Anthony Joshua’s latest fight? Man he looked like an evil b*stard the way he was sticking out his tongue and smiling whilst delivering a severe beating to his opponent. As such a nice guy outside the ring, I wondered if he had that mean streak inside of him and would be aggressive enough when he first turned pro – man am I happy to be proved wrong and some! (so far, anyway) I’m hugely excited by what we’ve seen so far.

Tyson Fury has called him out which is no massive surprise but I have to agree with Eddie Hearn that Joshua beats him in 2015, despite his limited experience. I think he beats Deontay Wilder in 2015 too if they were to meet (queue the chorus of boos from the Twitter nuts who genuinely believe Wilder is as good a prospect that Mike Tyson was in the mid-’80s!!). What do you think Dougie?

Lastly, Luke Campbell fights again this Saturday and seems to be on a fast-track to a world title shot in the next 1-2 years. How do you see 2015 going for Joshua and Campbell? What are your thoughts on their chances of winning a world title by 2016? And what route to the top could you see them taking? Who will be the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a world title out of Degale, Joshua and Campbell?

(P.S. – I’m finally looking forward to B-Hop fight for the first time in several years!) Keep up the excellent work as always. – CJ, UK

Thanks CJ. I’ll try.

Hopkins-Kovalev will surely have the attention of fight fans and media worldwide on Nov. 8. I know I’m looking forward to it even though I’m a bit nervous for the old man.

I think James DeGale will be the first of the three Olympic gold medalists you mentioned to win a major world title. He won his gold in the 2008 Olympic Games and is thus more advanced than Joshua or Campbell. I think “Chunky” is ready to fight for a world title right now.

Joshua and Campbell won’t be ready until 2016, in my opinion. I think the two 2012 Olympic champs will likely crack THE RING’s top 10 rankings in their respective divisions by the end of 2015, but I believe their management would be rushing them if they aimed for world titles next year.

I think Campbell, who is 27 years old, can and will be moved at a faster pace than Joshua, who is 25. Heavyweights tend to mature and develop at a slower rate than fighters in the lighter weight classes.

If Joshua were to fight Tyson Fury next year I’d favor Fury just on his experience. I know Joshua looks like the truth, but I can’t get overexcited about a prospect that has yet to go past Round 3 in a pro bout. (Joshua’s good but he ain’t a heavyweight Edwin Valero, the only fighter I’ve ever tabbed to win a world title despite his having never gone past two full rounds as a pro.) Fury’s gone the full 12 twice against solid opposition (Del Boy Chisora and Kevin Johnson). That experience should not be overlooked by anyone, especially Joshua and his management.

Wilder-Joshua would be more of an even fight in my opinion because Wilder has yet to go past four rounds.

Regarding Murray, I think he’s a legit top-10 middleweight contender. THE RING currently ranks Murray at No. 6 and that sounds about right to me. He’s got solid fundamentals and he’s very big for the 160-pound division (in fact, I think he could fight comfortably at super middleweight), but you are correct in that he lacks the ability to switch to a higher gear during his fights and that might prevent him from ever becoming an elite middleweight. If he had the proverbial “killer instinct,” he’d already be a major titleholder.

However, even when fighting in his sporadic manner, stuck in first gear, Murray’s a handful for any middleweight titleholder not named Golovkin. I think he’s too big for RING/WBC champ Miguel Cotto (in fact, I’d make him even money against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. if they were to fight at 168 pounds). I’d make Murray a big favorite over newly crowned IBF beltholder Jermain Taylor, and a slight fave over the WBA’s “regular” titleholder Daniel Jacobs. I’d also slightly favor Murray over the winner of the Matt Korobov-Andy Lee fight for the vacant WBO belt.

I don’t give Murray much of a shot against Golovkin, but I don’t think any 160 pounder can beat GGG.

 

GGG & THE AXE MAN

All I can say is, WOW Nicholas Walters! I was surprised and I never once thought he’d beat Nonito Donaire this impressively. Mad props to the guy. And a BIG thumbs up for the respect and class both guys displayed after the fight. Hope we get to see more class acts with the up and coming guys in boxing.

Right now, the sky’s the limit for Walters. I can’t see anyone matching up to Walters at 126 save for Lomachenko (though IMO that would be a toss-up). How do you think that fight plays out? I haven’t followed Walters too much but has he been matched with defensive guys? How would you see him fare with the following guys: Rigondeaux (for the sake of fairness, size-wise, at a 124 catchweight), Mikey Garcia, Orlando Salido and Terence Crawford all at 130? No disrespect to Gradovich, Gonzalez, Vetyeka, etc., but IMO Walters is a freak of nature at 126 (I guess the same with GGG at 160) and will dispatch all of the current titleholders. But hey, I could be wrong that’s why they should fight the fights. It would be fun to see Walters go through all of them and add to his shine.

Speaking of dominance I hope GGG gets a big challenge soon. His activity is great but IMO he hasn’t been tested enough. Feels like he has too much of this Tyson-esque aura (except that he looks like Alfred E. Neuman) that even before his fights begin, the opponents are already defeated. I don’t blame the guy for not being eager to move up in weight because he is practically the most dominant guy at 160 and he can challenge the record for most middleweight defenses. But if you look at the 160 landscape, there’s nothing left significant except a money fight with the potential Canelo-Cotto fight winner or beating up on guys like Sturm, Martinez, Quillin and Taylor (God forbid, NO). If GGG doesn’t get Cotto or Canelo next, he should look to 168 and challenge Ward (if he can find a way to work through his promotional issues) or Froch (can’t conjure the strength to mention Chavez due to his unpredictability). Though I’ve read somewhere that Froch doesn’t want to fight GGG? Or was that taken out of context?

Thanks for your time. – Julius

I think Froch’s comments on Golovkin were taken out of context to an extent. In the build-up to his rematch with George Groves, the British super middleweight was on a Sky Sports program (a Facebook Q&A along with Groves) where the two fighters were interviewed by a moderator and also took questions from fans. Both were asked if they were willing to fight Golovkin.

Froch’s reply: “Just swerve Golovkin like the plague. He punches like a mule. I don’t need to be in with him. Dangerous fight.”

He was basically giving Golovkin props, and saying that he didn’t need to be messing around with such a dangerous opponent at this advanced stage of his career but he did so in a complimentary and somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner that shouldn’t have been taken as seriously as too many fans and members of the media took it.

Go to the 9 min., 50 second spot in this video to see and hear the question along with Froch’s response.

[springboard type=”video” id=”1084703″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]

I think it needs to be noted that this question was posed to Froch before arguably the biggest and most important fight of his career. He was going into a rematch with a worthy super middleweight challenger who had given him all he could handle in their first bout and he was going to do so in front of 80,000 fans on a monster British PPV event. Froch wasn’t seriously thinking about Golovkin or any other fighter at that particular time – his mind was on Groves.

HBO’s “Fight Game with Jim Lampley” program did Froch wrong by making it seem like he made those comments immediately after Golovkin’s third-round stoppage of Geale and by not presenting the comments in the proper context.

Froch’s promoter Eddie Hearns says a Froch-Golovkin showdown is possible once it is deemed pay-per-view worthy in the U.S. If GGG’s popularity continues to grow and Froch sticks around through 2015, I think it’s possible that matchup will be marketable enough in America for HBO to make it a PPV event, but Froch has got to continue fighting and winning.

Regarding GGG’s need to move to 168 pounds, I agree that he should eventually go up in weight in search of challenges and big fights, but I don’t think he’s completely out of options at middleweight. The possibility of getting the winner of Cotto-Canelo is definitely worth staying at 160 pounds. It’s admittedly a bit of a long shot, but these Latino fighters are a proud lot – both Canelo and Cotto have gone against the advice of their promoters and management to take dangerous fights in the past, and they may do so again (especially the younger Mexican star).

I agree that the sky is the limit for Walters – at featherweight. I think a lot of hardcore heads caught “Axe Man fever” the moment he took out Donaire, because fans are asking me how I think he’d fare against top lightweight and even junior welterweights. Settle down, dudes. There’s plenty of action for Walters at featherweight. I’d favor him over Gonzalez and Gradovich, but I don’t think those fights would be walks in the park. Those are good, hard fights that I’d love to see.

I think Rigo would outpoint him in a 124-pound catchweight bout but I don’t think the Cuban would outclass him the way he did Donaire because Walters has a very good jab and a lot of patience.

Forget about a matchup with Garcia. He couldn’t make 130 pounds if he cut off one of his arms. And we have no idea when we’ll see him in the ring again. Crawford, who will likely go to 140 pounds after the Ray Beltran fight, would have to cut one of his legs off to make junior lightweight.

I think Walters-Salido at 130 pounds is a great fight. I like Walters by late stoppage or by decision due to multiple knockdowns but I think it would be a hell of a scrap.

I think Lomachenko would outwork, outmaneuver and narrowly outpoint Walters in a brilliant featherweight showdown.

 

WARD NEEDS MORE CRITICISM

Hi Dougie,
I read quite a lot of boxing related sites and am surprised at the lack of criticisms toward Andre Ward. Don’t get me wrong, world class fighter, great resume, yet to be bested in the pro ranks, but there’s something about him that really annoys me.

His constant ‘tactical fouling’ seems to go unnoticed or described as ‘ring experience’, come on, the guy deliberately fouls on a regular bases (head butts, elbows, etc.) yet walks around like he’s holier than thou – at least Hopkins admits to his dirty tactics.

Then there’s the ‘always the advantage’, what the hell is he doing in court with Goossen promotions? They pulled a master stroke to get Ward home advantage in every Super Six bout – an advantage no other fighter in the tournament enjoyed. I’m not saying Ward would have lost in Europe, but every other fighter had to travel, and if I remember correctly, most, if not all results in that tourney went the way of the home fighter.

This ‘always the advantage’ continued with Dawson, at the time I considered Dawson the equal in that promotion (coming off the Hopkins win), yet it was him who showed willing, drained weight, and hopped on the bus to Oakland to make the fight happen.

Now there’s talk that he’d fight GGG any place, anywhere, oh come on, you see Ward travelling to Kazakhstan to fight Golovkin? Joking aside, that wouldn’t be commercially viable, but a bout in Germany for example would certainly be – you think he’d go there?

For the record, I think Ward would probably win such a match up but it wouldn’t take place an ounce below 168 or a yard from Oakland.

Keep up the refreshingly honest work. Regards. – Bob

Thanks Bob. I’ll try.

I agree that Ward has been given a free pass from the U.S. media for certain roughhouse tactics (described as “ring generalship” when he does it, but called “dirty fighting” when others – usually non-American boxers without the speed, flash, hype and glossy record – do it) and for being a home body during the Super Six tournament (and beyond). Part of this is the U.S. favoritism that permeates the sport.

I truly believe if Ward was an Olympic gold medalist from Germany or Russia with the exact same style and unwillingness to travel outside of his home country, he would be ripped by a lot of the same American boxing writers who currently gush over him.

Maybe some take it easy on Ward because my good buddy Steve Kim gives him more than enough s__t. LOL. No, seriously, I think most folks in the media – U.S. and abroad – just like him. He’s doesn’t have the most vibrant personality but he’s a polite, respectful, astute boxing observer who usually gives reporters thoughtful, sometimes insightful, interviews. The religious, family man image certainly doesn’t hurt him when it comes to media treatment.

Also, the fact that Ward is a very, very good boxer – potentially great in the opinion of some veteran fight scribes – and perhaps the Heir Apparent to the mythical pound-for-pound throne currently occupied by Floyd Mayweather Jr. prompts some members of the boxing media (many of whom are just glorified fan boys) to give him preferential treatment. It is what it is. We’ll see if it lasts if he remains inactive for well over a year and then comes back expecting to be “large and in charge” when it comes to fight negotiations with high-profile boxers.

Regarding that silly declaration that Ward’s lawyer supposedly made to Jim Lampley, I’m not going to take any talk of a Ward-Golovkin fight seriously until the super middleweight champ’s contractual issues are resolved and he actually has a fight date set.

Does anyone think Ward is willing to fight Golovkin in his first fight back after a one-year-plus layoff? And even if he is, does anyone think that he’s going to be willing to treat GGG like an equal? I don’t see that happening. But the fact of the matter is that in the time that Ward has been inactive (since last November), Golovkin’s profile and marketability has increased, and it will likely continue to do so. GGG’s got a real promoter in Tom Loeffler who isn’t going to sell his fighter short like the folks around Chad Dawson did. Loeffler’s going to point to GGG’s HBO ratings as well as the middleweight badass’ ticket sells in New York and Southern California compared to Ward’s in Atlantic City and So. Cal., and I seriously doubt he’s going to settle for GGG being the B-side in any promotion.

Ward might get a break from the boxing media, but he’s not going to get one from Loeffler, K2 Promotions and Golovkin’s management.

TWO QUESTIONS

Hey Doug, hope all is well with you. Written to the mailbag a few times and made the cut once so here’s hoping I make it again! Like one of the writers in Monday’s bag, I would also like to thank Al Haymon in advance for giving me this great opportunity.

Two points and I’ll to make them as brief as possible:

1. I see Amir Khan vs Devon Alexander is pretty much a done deal. How do you see that one playing out? Not really excited about the fight but the way I see it, if Khan wins he gets the Mayweather fight in May.

Regarding Khan, how do you think he’d do in a rematch with a) Marcos Maidana and b) Danny Garcia?

2. I don’t know if you’ll really want to get into this but I’m hoping you could maybe give an honest opinion on the matter. Far too often we see poor scorecards being turned in by the judges. Now, sometimes it may just be a bad judgment call and I can accept that. But I’d like to know whether you think sometimes there is something more sinister going on behind the scenes – and by that I mean judges fattening their pockets to score a bout a certain way? It’s baffling that for some mega fights we see TERRIBLE scorecards being turned in by ‘professional’ judges yet the average man sitting on his couch at home knows that’s not a true reflection of the fight they watched.

In football (soccer) there have been high profile cases of referees and even teams taking bribes to turn a match a certain way and they have been banned/suspended/relegated to lower divisions etc… boxing seems as though it isn’t really governed properly to combat this sort of thing?

Anyway sorry if that turned into a bit of a rant, really hope to hear from you as this has been something on my mind for quite some time.

Cheers Doug, keep up the good work. – David, Glasgow, Scotland

Thanks David. I’ll try.

And I’ll answer your questions in order:

1) I view Khan-Alexander as an even matchup. Both young veterans are skilled boxers who are gifted with world-class speed and reflexes. Both speedsters are also battles tested against a who’s who of 140 and 147 pounders. Alexander is more proven at welterweight, but Khan has height and reach advantages that he can put to good use in the matchup. I slightly favor Khan to win a close decision because he seems to have a style that disrupts the rhythm of fellow boxers. Sluggers/punchers and aggressive technicians are the styles that beat Khan, not fellow speedsters and stick-and-move types. I don’t expect a barn burner between these two, especially with Virgil Hunter in Khan’s corner but I think the American trainer will keep the British star from over-committing to his offense and getting caught with anything stupid.

I agree that if Khan beats Alexander he’ll likely get the Mayweather fight in May.

I think Khan would beat Maidana via unanimous decision if they were to fight a rematch and I think he would do so a lot easier than he did back in 2010. For starters, I think Maidana is mentally and physically burnt out following tough fights vs. Jesus Soto Karass, Josesito Lopez, Adrien Broner and Mayweather. Beyond Maidana’s burnout, I think the jab-and-grab style that Hunter has Khan boxing is the perfect way to shutdown Maidana, as Alexander showed us (and Mayweather figured out during their rematch).

I think Garcia would knock Khan out again if they fought a rematch. The fight would last longer but Garcia, who has improved since their first meeting and will be a lot stronger and more active at 147 pounds, would eventually get him.

2) I think it’s certainly possible that some judges are on the take, but I truly believe that most of the really awful scorecards we witness is just a case of weak-minded suck-up judges wanting to kiss the local/house/star fighter’s or promoter’s ass. They figure if they make the promoter or crowd or network happy by giving “the star” the benefit of the doubt in every round the “right guy” will win, they’ll stay in good graces with the Powers That Be and the business of boxing will keep on rolling.

Some of the judges who turn in whack-ass scorecards are just nuthuggers. They are as much of a cheerleader for a certain fighter as the biggest fan boy. Other judges who can’t seem to get the scorecards right are longtime veterans who are simply way past their primes – in other words, they are really old and they no longer see or hear things well. Some of these old timers (I don’t want to name any names – but I will in private) are senile. They literally have no idea where the hell they are or who or what they are judging.

The immediate outrage that boxing fans can now express on social media has put a little more pressure on boxing commissions to choose officials more wisely and to pay attention to poor scorecards. Sometimes the outcry from hardcore fans and the industry after an awful verdict is so bad the commission has to do something about it and suspend the judges – as was the case after Paul Williams’ undeserved decision over Erislandy Lara – but usually nothing happens, as was the case with Pacquiao-Bradley I, or more recently, the Abraham-Smith fight.

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

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