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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

31
Oct

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HOPKINS-KOVALEV SIGNIFICANCE

Would you say the Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev fight is one of the most significant fights in years? Three belts on the line, Hopkins bridging the gap with HBO, two of the best fighting each other (finally, not like some other weights). – Greg

Absolutely. The Nov. 8 Hopkins-Kovalev showdown has major significance on many fronts.

Foremost for me is Hopkins further proving his greatness, not only by challenging himself against arguably the most formidable fighter in his weight class, but by attempting to unify all of the major belts and not allowing network or promotional politics to get in the way.

Too many so-called “great” boxers of recent decades have used their network alliances and/or promotional tribalism as excuses for why they would not unify the major belts of their respective divisions or why they didn’t face certain rivals that were perceived as major threats by fans and the media. (And, yeah, I’m looking squarely at Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr.)

By not waiting around for Al Haymon’s light heavyweight pawn to find the stones to fight him on Showtime and instead taking on a willing warrior in The Krusher on HBO, Hopkins is doing what Pernell Whitaker did when he faced Julio Cesar Chavez 21 years ago. Sweet Pea didn’t let his relationship with HBO, or Chavez’s contract with Showtime and Don King, or any of boxing’s politics (from the WBC’s shenanigans to the bout being staged in San Antonio), stand in the way of his legacy.

That’s what I call Old-School character, and it is an integral part of what defines “greatness” in my opinion.

Beyond, the Immortal B-Hop’s legacy (which I hope inspires standouts from the new generation of pro boxers), the Kovalev fight is Golden Boy Promotion’s first bridge back to HBO following Richard Schaefer’s departure from the company, a GBP-Main Events co-promotion, and the opportunity for a new light heavyweight star to emerge should Krusher defeat the ATG.

SOUR GRAPES

Mr. Fischer,

First time mailbag writer, I enjoy some of your shared boxing knowledge, but your rants about Mayweather, Andre Ward, and Guillermo Rigondeaux is borderline bitch stuff. It’s understandable that you don’t really care for either in terms of maybe their personal lives or lack of bringing you thrills, so regardless what they do you find a way to dog and demean these fighters.

I agree about Mayweathers ignorance outside the ring because its dumb as hell to act a fool like that. Mayweather enhances the stereotypes that the media portrays for a lot of black men; arrogant, belligerent, overly aggressive, and uneducated in certain aspects. Andre Ward on the other hand is the total opposite, He is articulate, family man, and is at the top of his game. Because of Wards Promotional issues so many critics want to just blame him and throw him under the bus, you are one of those. Rigo is just a technical freak that most average, uneducated boxing fans wouldn’t like. Hardcore, educated, and true fans appreciate the sweet science, but of course from the way you demean the brothers I assume your not a brother.

It’s easy to be an internet tough guy and talk s__t with words but learn to be fair with the brothas. Your falling in line with 50 Cent, Herman Cain, Ben Carson, and many other guys who don’t see the big picture of demeaning brothas in the public, knowing that society uses their flaws as a way to validate the many stereotypes. Maybe you should use your position to uplift the deserving ones (i.e., Ward & Rigo) instead of throwing Shade. If your not a brother then I understand you being a hater. – Andre

Hey man, I’m half white. I should get a “hate pass” at least 50 percent of the time. LOL.

Seriously, I gotta disagree with your lumping me in with “guys who don’t see the big picture of demeaning brothas in the public.” First of all, while I like to keep my political views private, I can assure you that I’m not a right-wing Republican or a member of the Tea Party (not that I have a problem with anyone who is) and though I consider myself to be a spiritual person, I tend to keep my religious views to myself and I’m definitely not a conservative Christian. And bottom line, I’m not one to share my political or religious opinions in media and public forums, so I don’t see the connection to Cain or Carson.

Second, I don’t support or condone 50 Cent’s public humiliation of Mayweather. However, I think Mayweather’s behavior humiliates himself 100 times worse than his old buddy 50 or anyone else ever has (or ever will).

Third, I’m not an “internet tough guy” who just “talks s__t .” I’m a professional journalist recognized and for the most part respected within the industry. I don’t talk s__t or act tough. I have to come into contact with every boxer or boxing industry person that I write about. If I was one to hide behind my keyboard I wouldn’t be able to do my job, which includes covering fights and boxing media events. As a result, I’m prepared to repeat EVERYTHING that I write about a particular fighter directly to his face (and I have done this MANY times).

And fourth, I don’t think I “demean” Mayweather, Ward or Rigondeaux by not being a fan of their boxing styles or by having an opinion on the manner in which they conduct their respective careers. My man, I’m a 15-year veteran of boxing writing who happens to have a twice-weekly column that responds to the thoughts and questions of fight fans from around the world – I’m going to have to state my opinions and there’s going to be some criticism from time to time. My opinions and critiques are going to occasionally irk or offend certain fans. It is what it is.

However, I urge you took up the words “demean” and “criticize.” You’ll see that they don’t have the same meaning. And if you actually take the time to research, read and review what I’ve said and written about your talented trio, you’ll see that while I’ve criticized them, I have not “caused a severe loss in the dignity or respect” for those champions.

Since I grew up in southern Missouri, I’d like for you to “Show Me” the demeaning words that I’ve directed to Mayweather, Ward and Rigo.

It’s too easy for fans to claim “racism” when a non-black media member criticizes a black athlete (and the same goes for Latinos, Asians, etc.), and it’s even easier for diehard fans of particular boxers or pro athletes to say anyone who doesn’t worship their heroes as much as they do are simply “hating.”

If you weren’t African American (and I’m assuming that you are), would it be fair for me to say that you’re a “racist” for having differing social/political/religious/philosophical views from those of Cain and Carson? Is it fair for me to say that you are “hating” on 50 Cent, Cain and Carson because of their incredible success in their respective fields?

Or do you simply disagree with some things they’ve said or the way they’ve gone about certain things?

Regarding Ward’s promotional issues, I’m not placing blame on him or his promotional company. I’ve basically stated that he’s squandering his prime years as a boxer by not coming to some kind of agreement or solution that enables him to fight (and I’m hardly alone in that observation). Are you going to tell me these aren’t Ward’s prime years and that he isn’t wasting them by sitting out?

I understand there are often contractual disputes between pro boxers and their promoters, and if Ward chooses to wait out his contract rather than fight, so be it. I respect his choice.

However, if Ward (or his various emissaries, such as his attorney Josh Dubin) are going to contact the media and “call out” GGG or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. or whoever knowing damn well that there is no contract resolution in sight and they have no return date scheduled, I’m going to call bulls__t on that, because that’s what it is.

(And why even bring up Ward’s religion and family life? So what if he’s a devout Christian and family man? So are Cain and Carson. Does that mean they’re automatically above criticism?)

Bulls__t is bulls__t where I come from. It doesn’t have a particular skin color. If an African-American boxing personality is bulls__ting, I’m not going to turn a blind eye to it. I’m critical of plenty of fighters from plenty of ethnic and national backgrounds. I don’t have pom-poms on when I write about Wlad Klitschko’s ring style or business practices, and I’ve drawn the ire of Manny Pacquiao fans MANY times (and will probably continue to do so), but you don’t notice any of this because you only see the world through your “Brotha Glasses.” If it ain’t black, you don’t recognize or care about it. That’s fine. There are plenty of Latino, European and Asian boxing fans who are the exact same way.

However, don’t expect me to see the world from such a narrow perspective. I’m too smart and I’m too real for that.

THE MONEY HATER

I can not say I’m a fan of yours with your love a fair with GGG and your nasty disregard to one of the top fighter’s ever in Money Mayweather. You demand the Mayweather take on the young lion’s like GGG but you give GGG a pass for fighting no talent no names. GGG should be calling out Andre Ward. I’ve heard your built in excuse for GGG with Wards contract issues. I think Ward would give the slow punching GGG a beating of his lifetime. You and the selected emails you post make GGG sound like a top P4P but for some reason The Ring Magazine disagrees. Keep doing your thing because I do read but seldom agree. – Dalton by way Louisville

Wow, GGG Mania has definitely struck a nerve among Mayweather and Ward fans. LOL. It’s only gonna get worse my friends. Like it or not, Ward is inactive, while Golovkin is extremely active by today’s standards. Mayweather is on his way out and GGG is on his way up. Deal with it.

For the record, I do not consider Golovkin to be a pound-for-pound level boxer. If the fans of my “selected emails” or my peers in the media want to call Golovkin a P4P player or even “great,” that’s their right. I don’t agree with them but I don’t have a huge problem with it, either (in part because I know it pisses off fan boys like you).

Also, the truth is that I go out of my way to find and post emails that give me s__t like this one and the one before it, and I only have room to post about one-fourth of the pro-GGG emails that I get from around the world.

Anyway, I appreciate that you read this column despite seldom agreeing with my views. Oh, and by the way, you might be right about the outcome of Ward vs. Golovkin. I sincerely hope we find out.

 

NASEEM HAMED’S IBHOF OMMISSION

Hi Dougie,

I would like to get your take on Naseem Hamed’s failure to get into the Hall of Fame. Why is this? Who decides if a former boxer is inducted?

We have referees, journalists and actors inducted so why does Hamed appear persona non grata? There is plenty of talk within the boxing fraternity of the quality of opposition one faces. Hamed, to my mind, cleared out the Featherweight division in the mid to late 90’s by facing the best on offer. He was at his absolute peak between 1995-1997. Yes the flame burned bright, but the fuel was non-renewable. He showed qualities many others havent. There was an ability to recover from numerous knockdowns and come roaring back.

Yes, some will bemoan that he never faced Juan Marquez in the early 2000’s and cite this as a “ducking”. But I remember that period very well. Marquez was somewhat an unknown quantity and paled in comparison (in terms of prestige and payday) to the other Mexican warriors messrs Morales and Barrera. We all know Barrera beat Hamed fair and square but Hamed, to me at least, had been in decline since 1998 onwards. Please let me know what you think.

Many thanks. – Nav Sandhu, Leicester, UK

I think Hamed is hall of fame worthy and I’m not alone in that opinion. Boss boxing scribes Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports and Dan Rafael of ESPN.com have recently penned blogs on the former featherweight champ’s overdue enshrinement. Both Iole and Rafael recently voted for Hamed on the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 ballot form (which must be mailed and postmarked no later than today, by the way). I also voted for The Prince.

Iole, Rafael and I are full members of the Boxing Writers Association of America, and as such, get to vote for IBHOF candidates every year. Along with BWAA members, an international panel of boxing historians (from Japan, England, Canada, Italy, South Africa, Germany, Mexico Puerto Rico and the U.S.) participate in the election process.

I think there are a couple reasons why Hamed, who has been eligible for the IBHOF since 2007, has not received enough votes on past ballots. One reason, is that some voters didn’t like the way he exited the sport. Great fighters are supposed to come back from setbacks, especially their first loss. Hamed got schooled by Barrera, had one fight against a mid-level dude and then called it a career. Voters who idolize or respect the Old Timers of the sport, don’t like that. They think Hamed took the easy way out.

Personally, I think the way he exited the sport precludes him from the all-time great discussion but I believe he accomplished more than enough during his peak years to merit hall of fame induction. Also, if he no longer felt the fire in his belly prior to or after the Barrera fight, I think he was just being honest to himself and his fans by hanging up his gloves.

Another reason Hamed was dissed on the IBHOF ballot is one you noted, his perceived lack of quality opposition. I chalk this perception up to ignorance of the lighter weight classes. Hamed fought 10 fighters who held major world titles, and except for Barrera – who is arguably great – he beat ’em all.

I give him credit for not only making 15 defenses of the WBO title he won from Steve Robinson (who far too many American boxing scribes, fans and IBHOF voters overlook), but for attempting to unify all of the major belts. He won the IBF title from underrated American Tom Johnson, who was almost as ignored by U.S. boxing media as Robinson was, and the WBC belt from Mexico’s Cesar Soto. He should have added the WBA title to his collection when he beat borderline hall of famer Wilfredo Vazquez but the WBA stripped the marvelous Puerto Rican before their 1998 showdown. So Hamed held three of the four major sanctioning organization titles, and he arguably should have had all four – a feat ver few modern fighters have accomplished.

The final reason Hamed has failed to be inducted is that until this year the IBHOF’s “Modern” fighter category was defined as boxers whose final bouts occurred no earlier than 1943, which meant the 1990s standout shared the bill with badasses from the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

However, the voting process was changed this year so that the Modern category now consists of boxers whose last bout came no earlier than 1989, which means Hamed is now among his peers on the ballot.

And I expect the master showman to get in this year. For fans that missed The Prince’s reign, which included quality victories over the likes of Kevin Kelley, Wayne McCullough, Maneul Medina and Vuyani Bungu, check out the two videos below, which will give you some idea of how he worked the crowd into a frenzy before and during his bouts. I know the acrobatic theatrics are over the top but note the balance, coordination and athleticism of his footwork, contortionist upper-body movement and unorthodox angles in which he unleashed his power punches.

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POVETKIN-TAKAM

Hey Doug!

I’ve been reading your mailbags for a few years now – your consistency is something that really stands out. Your mailbags come out twice a week, as advertised, as opposed to some other boxing pundits who shall remain nameless, LOL. Thanks for giving us our boxing fix – I don’t have anybody to talk boxing to, so reading your mailbags is a big part of my life.

I was surprised nobody mentioned the Alexander Povetkin -Carlos Takam fight in your last mailbag. Have you watched the fight? I didn’t think Povetkin would stop Takam, but his conditioning must have improved if he can carry his power so late in the fight. After the fight, Povetkin’s promoter said the next opponent will be stronger than Takam – but he will keep it a secret for now. Who the hell is stronger than Takam and would fight Povetkin? David Haye???

Please give us your view on Povetkin’s progress and his place in the top 10. Who he can beat and who he can’t? Who do you think he will fight next, and who do you think he SHOULD fight next (we know you are a brilliant matchmaker in the wrong job, LOL).

Thanks! – Tiko

Thanks for the kind words, Tiko. I watched the last three or four rounds of Povetkin-Takam and like you, I was impressed with the Russian’s stamina, which was questioned earlier in his career, and his punching power.

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Povetkin is THE RING’s No. 2-rated heavyweight and I agree with that placement. The only heavyweights I would favor to beat the 2004 Olympic gold medalist is the champ, Klitschko, who already did it, No. 1-rated Kubrat Pulev and No. 3-rated Bermane Stiverne. I’d favor Povetkin over the other contenders ranked in THE RING’s top 10: Tyson Fury (No. 4), Bryant Jennings (No. 5), Deontay Wilder (No. 6), Vyacheslav Glazkov (No. 7), Mike Perez (No. 8), Chris Arreola (No. 9) and Tomasz Adamek (No. 10).

I have no idea who is stronger than Takam, who is no joke, but if Povetkin was matched with a come-backing David Haye, I think that would be a hell of a fight and big event in Europe. I’d give Haye a good shot to beat Povetkin based on his greater athleticism but I think he’d need a tune-up bout or two to be at his best against the persistent Russian.

I think a more likely scenario is that Povetkin faces Jennings in a WBC title elimination bout or the winner of Stiverne-Wilder for the WBC title. He’s currently ranked No. 3 by the WBC behind Wilder and Jennings.

If I was matchmaking for Povetkin, I’d steer him right to one of the American standouts, both of whom lack his vast amateur experience and are raw in comparison. I’d go straight to Wilder if the Bronze Bomber clips Stiverne for the green belt.

THANKS FOR THE MAILBAG

Doug,

I probably shouldn’t be writing this from work, but I have something to tell you, my friend.

Thanks, for everything. I’ve been writing you since the house of boxing/maxboxing days and I gotta say, you keep me interested in the sport. I imagine you keep a lot of fans interested in the sport. Other than Steve Kim, Gabe Montoya and yourself, who else regularly banters with the fans in mailbags and articles? Not many.

So, in a sport where heroes are built much too early and goats are torn down much too fast, I thank you. You have been the one guy in the industry who is still humble enough to debate stuff on even footing and skilled enough to see yourself as the editor at Ring.

I count myself lucky to be able to say I’ve had conversations about boxing with you.

So, that’s it. Every now and then, I get a hair up my butt to just say thanks.

Thanks, man. For Everything. – Ritchie

Thank you, Ritchie. Just when I start thinking that everyone views me as a racist, a hater and a “Master Demeanor” I get a nice email like this one.

All I can really say is that the pleasure has been all mine. This has been a labor of love and terrific gig, and that’s mostly because of the interaction I get to have with real fans like you guys.

SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT IS UNFAIR TO GGG

Hi,

I think a move to 168 would be unfair and far from optimal for GGG. On the 30 day weigh in for the Rubio fight he was 165 lbs, a weight he maintained right to the 7 day weigh in. He cuts virtually no weight to make 160 unlike most of his contemporaries. I would guess if he wanted to cut weight he could make 154lb (although that might impact his skill level). I’d estimate his walking around weight is less than virtually every 160lber including ex junior middleweights such as Rosado. To have him fight the likes of Ward, Kessler and Froch, although he may be favoured, would certainly impact his performance as I’d say they walk around at 185lb at least.

Just to be clear I’m not saying it’s always better to cut weight.

Keep up the great work. Regards. – Dave

Thanks Dave.

I hear what you are saying and I can confirm to you that Goovkin’s “walk-around” weigh between fights and training camps seldom goes above 170 pounds, and the Kazakhstan native eats what he wants to.

There’s no doubt that he’s small in comparison to some previous middleweight standouts. Chavez Jr., Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor all routinely walked above 185 pounds between fights – as do most super middleweights. And you’re absolutely correct that many junior middleweights, such as Rosado and Canelo Alvarez, walk around above 170 pounds between fights. Heck, the current RING/WBC middleweight champ Miguel Cotto often weighed more than 170 between BACK WHEN HE WAS A JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHT!

However, just because Golovkin doesn’t have to struggle to make 160 pounds doesn’t mean he shouldn’t venture to the super middleweight division in search of quality competition. I fully support his quest to collect all of the major belts at middleweight, but I also want to see the guy in a good, hard fights. (And I want to see him win over his skeptics and silence his detractors, and the only thing they can criticize him about is his lack of an elite name on his resume and his having never fought above middleweight.)

By the way, based on from what I’ve heard of and witnessed in his sparring sessions, GGG won’t suffer any power outage or effectiveness at 168 pounds and even the top super middleweights will know they’re in with a badass.

S.O.G IS M.I.A

Hey Doug, what the heck is wrong with Andre Ward? I’m not sure of the details of this legal issue. It doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe you can shine some light on this issue for me because I can’t understand why he’s wasting his prime years. Some of the best champions of all time have missed their primes like Joe Louis serving in WWII or Ali banned for dodging the draft or Mike Tyson going to prison but that was pretty much out of their hands. This appears to be avoidable but maybe I don’t have all the facts. Andre is one of my favorite boxers and this one fight every other year is starting to get upsetting. Please help make sense of this for me, thanks. – Sean

 

I can’t do that Sam, because I don’t know all of the details of the dispute and I’m not a fighter as Ward is. If I were in his position, I’d probably try to work something out Goossen Promotions so I that could fight again, and if we still didn’t see eye to eye when my contract with them came to an end, I’d bolt.

However, Ward’s a fighter, and my guess is that he views this contract dispute like a fight.

Ward likes to remind us “blood-thirsty” fans that boxing to him is “prize fighting” not “pride fighting” – which basically means that he won’t let his emotions get the better of him during a fight and he’s always going to consider the business side of selecting his opponents – but this legal battle with Goossen Promotions is obviously personal to him.

I think he views the multiple failed attempts to invalidate his contract with the Goossens the way he would a knockdown in a fight – he wants to get up and continue fighting. He might be more passionate about this legal fight than the physical ones in the ring, and a passionate fighter never quits.

Ward might have that Joe Frazier mentality for this court battle, but unlike Smokin’ Joe against George Foreman there is no referee to wave it off and tell him “OK, six knockdowns are enough, I know you don’t want to give up but this fight is over.”

I hate to bring up Golovkin because he’s become Ward’s nemesis for various reasons, but GGG had a similar situation with his former promoter, Universum of Germany. Golovkin began having problems with Universum by the end of 2009 and sought to split from the promotional company, which was still influential at the time. There were numerous dates in court and arbitration in 2010 but the two sides could not come to an agreement and Universum would cut the Olympic silver medalist loose, which prevented Golovkin from fighting in Germany or from signing with another major promoter (or from fighting on U.S. television).

However, rather than just sit out for the remainder of his contract term, Golovkin brought in investors who helped him establish his own promotional entity, which enabled him to stage fights (and earn the WBA’s interim and regular titles) in countries that would allow him to – Panama and his native Kazakhstan.

Golovkin fought three times (vs. Milton Nunez, Nilson Tapia and Kassim Ouma) under his own banner before landing a “try-out” fight (his first-round KO of Lajuan Simon) on a K2 Promotions card in Germany in December 2011. He signed with K2 in early 2012, the company’s managing director Tom Loeffler shopped him to HBO, Showtime and Epix; HBO gave him a shot and the rest is history.

I know this example is probably going to piss off some of Ward’s fans but I thought it was important to point out that there are ways for fighters in contract disputes to remain active in the ring if that’s what they really want.

 

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

 

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