Dougie’s Monday mailbag
[springboard type=”video” id=”1117525″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]
HOPKINS-KOVALEV, JDJ KNOWS
I see that I’m not the only one concerned for Bernard Hopkins this Saturday. Sergey Kovalev ain’t Felix Trinidad, Antonio Tarver or Kelly Pavlik and “The Alien” ain’t “The Executioner,” either. EX brutalized Trinidad and embarrassed Tarver and Pavlik. None of those guys were ever in the fight and he was very physical with all of them. Remember the extended beatings he put on William Joppy? Antwun Echols? Robert Allen? But none of those guys, along with Trinidad, really threatened him with “one-hitter-quitter” power in both hands.
I think about his fights Jean Pascal. When Pascal focused his aggression and put punches together he was a handful for B-Hop, even dropped him a couple of times. However, it worked out for Hop that Pascal wasn’t and isn’t a consistent professional fighter. He fought in bursts when conditioning allowed and the rest of the time awkwardly tried to look like he was boxing while getting clipped by lead rights from a man old enough to be his daddy.
John David Jackson knows. Kovalev will be on top of him, working the body, sustaining that aggression, making Hop defensive. The only way to stem the tide is if The Alien has a little “EX” left in him and can drop something on Kovalev he don’t like. Even 50 year olds in supreme condition aren’t built to take hard shots over and again for 12 rounds. I can see Kovalev and team employing the George Foreman method I call it; hit ’em everywhere, arms, shoulders, neck, ears, whatever his gloves can touch. Make the old man breakdown, make him quit.
Even if he’s hurting Hop, he won’t quit. Too mean, Too tough, too much pride. He’ll be cut up and bleeding and still trying to turn the fight, searching for his rhythm and Kovalev’s weakness. Scary because no great fighter especially one who is known for his smarts and toughness knows how to lose. Charles Barkley said it best “Father Time, bro!”
Father time is undefeated. I just don’t want to watch one of my boxing heroes get hurt. – Michael H.
Me neither. I was concerned about Hopkins’ health prior to his fights with Tavoris Cloud, Karo Murat and Beibut Shumenov, so you know I’m worried about Saturday’s showdown. But this scenario is one of the main reasons I consider Hopkins to be an all-time great. He puts himself in situations that don’t just force members of the media and odds makers to consider him the underdog, he takes fights that makes fans worry about him getting seriously hurt. That’s like Muhammad Ali taking on George Foreman, or Sugar Ray Leonard facing Marvelous Marvin Hagler, or Roberto Duran challenging Iran Barkley. Fans and sports writers weren’t just thinking Ali, Leonard and Duran could lose those fights, many predicted chilling KO losses or gruesome beatdowns for the betting underdogs.
If Hopkins can do what they did on Saturday and take the fearsome badass to school I think his performance tops theirs because of his age.
Can he do it? Yeah, I think he still has the ability, but he’ll have to box a near-perfect fight. I think Hopkins has forgotten more than most pro boxers and trainers will ever learn but it’s getting very difficult for him to go 12 rounds without getting “touched” flush a few times.
We were all so awed by Hopkins’ performances against Cloud and Murat – as we should have – that many of us forgot that those fights were competitive, at least in spots, and that both put hands on him. I embedded highlights of the Murat fight above your email as a reminder of the many times Hopkins was hit (or partially hit) during his exchanges with the lower-top 10 contender. After six rounds, the Showtime broadcast booth of Paulie Malignaggi, Al Bernstein and Steve Farhood all had the fight even, 57-57. That was against Murat, a guy whose best performances are a majority decision and draw against Gabriel Campillo in Germany; a guy who was stopped in 10 rounds by Nathan Cleverly. I don’t have to remind you what Kovalev did to “Campy” and “The Clev.”
Hopkins took over the Murat fight in the second half (as he usually does) and won a wide unanimous decision, but if he gets hit that often against Kovalev in the first six rounds will he be able to mount any second-half rally? Will he even be conscious? That’s a legit question.
Of course, we can’t expect Hopkins to stand and trade with Kovalev as often as he did against Murat, but I’m not sure that B-Hop has the legs to stick and move the way he did against Trinidad or the physical strength to manhandle Krusher on the inside the way he did against Pavlik. I’m not sure he’ll have the edge in speed and reflexes as he did against the weight-drained Tarver in his 175-pound debut. He might, but I’m just not certain of it.
I think Hopkins’ legs, reflexes, hand speed and physical strength will be good enough to go the distance against Kovalev (or maybe I just hope they are), but I don’t think his ring savvy will be enough to beat the Russian. I’m going with Kovalev by competitive but clear decision, and I think he’ll score at least one knockdown.
GBP, HBO, EXCITING BOXERS, GGG CONTEMPT
Hi Doug Is it just me your does it seem like things are getting better now that Oscar De La Hoya is back to running Golden Boy Promotions? It also looks like the HBO Showtime rivalry is making for some good fights. It also seems like HBO is looking to only showcase exciting fighters like GGG, Kovalev, Canelo, Tim Bradley and now David Lemieux. I hope this trend continues. Why do you think there is so much contempt out there for GGG with Floyd’s fans? It makes me laugh. There’s no logic there. Last question. Do you think Miguel Cotto is gonna defend his middleweight title against Canelo and then move down, or do you think he will stay and fight GGG? If so, how do you see that going? I am a big Cotto fan but I think he gets destroyed by GGG. – Mike
I’m a big Cotto fan too, but I don’t see him getting past Canelo, so I don’t think Golovkin is going to be an option.You answered your own question about the GGG contempt. “There’s no logic there.” I could be like Mayweather fans and simply declare that they’re all “racists” or “haters” but I like to think that I possess a little more logic than that.
Have I mentioned that I enjoy every bit of the Golovkin bashing? I really do.
I think you’re right about HBO’s programming mission for the next few years. The network wants to showcase exciting fighters in exciting fights. Good for them. I don’t think they can go wrong with the group you mentioned. It’s about time the HBO/Showtime rivalry made for some good shows. After the Lucas Matthysse-John Molina war in April, Showtime’s boxing programming fell off (although the Broner-Taylor fight was a pleasant surprise). However, the Dec. 13 tripleheader looks pretty good on paper (although the Khan-Alexander main event could turn out to be a stinker) and while HBO’s Bradley-Diego Chaves show (which also takes place in Las Vegas) should produce a welterweight scrap.
We’ll see how Showtime, which outdid HBO in 2013, competes with their rival cable network in 2015.
I definitely think the sport is in a healthier place with De La Hoya running Golden Boy, which is now doing good business with HBO and Showtime. The stacked Dec. 13 show headlined by Khan-Alexander on Showtime is a GBP presentation, while this Saturday’s Hopkins-Kovalev co-promotion with Main Events on HBO (which includes a Golden Boy/Top Rank matchup with the Luis Carlos Abregu-Sadam Ali fight) is the first big step to thawing out the Cold War. Canelo going back to HBO is another step in the right direction. If Cotto-Canelo is made next year, it might be time for U.S. boxing fans to feel good about the sport again.
THE LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS
First off, I can’t wait for Hopkins/Kovalev. I think it’s a genuine pick ’em fight – Can Hopkins take a punch from the Russian slugger? Will Kovalev actually be able to get anywhere near the man from outer space? I’m going to take a liberty and give 2 predictions: Kovalev early round KO, or landslide UD for Hopkins.
I notice Pascal’s been getting a lot of coverage on the website, and I think it’s about time. The man was written off after his draw and loss against an old man, but in retrospect there was no shame in losing to Hopkins. He also hung for 12 rounds with p4p badass Carl Froch, who would probably be talked about as a possible hall of famer, if he wasn’t unlucky enough to be in the same weight group as the most talented American fighter since Roy Jones Jr. I think he deserves another shot at the top table.
After what he did to Lucian Bute, I like Pascal against Superman (if that fight gets made). I think Pascal could absorb his countryman’s heavy shots early on, and then TKO a tiring Stephenson in the mid/late rounds. Also, regardless of the result next weekend, I want Hopkins Pascal 3. With Roy Jones Jr. in Pascal’s corner, we’re halfway towards a Rocky script!
How do you think he would do against the three 175 pounders mentioned?
On a side note, if Roy has success coaching, it might be easier to coerce him to hang them up. One can only hopeÔÇª Keep up the good work man! – Joe, the Netherlands
The way Roy’s ego tends to expand my guess is that his success as a coach would probably encourage him to fight more. He’ll probably spar a bit with his awe-struck pupils and convince himself that he could beat them and their peers in actual fights.
Anyway, I think Pascal is a talented fighter and definitely a player in the 175-pound division. I’m not as high on him as you are, but I respect him and I believe his athletic and sporadic style is difficult for orthodox boxers to deal with. I think Kovalev is too consistent, heavy handed and busy for Pascal, and I would pick the Russian to win by mid-to-late rounds TKO if they ever fought.
I think Pascal will always be competitive with B-Hop (I thought their first bout was legitimately a draw and saw a close contest in the rematch) and I view a showdown with Stevenson as an even-money fight. Yes, Stevenson is a front-runner, but Pascal also tends to fade in distance bouts. Don’t forget that he was gassed out against Bute in the final round of their fight, and he let Hopkins come on strong down the stretch of their two contests. Even Chad Dawson mounted a late-rounds rally against Pascal.
I think Pascal’s chin and heart will cause Stevenson to doubt himself but I also believe that the champ’s jab and body work will rack up points and keep the former champ honest. Whoever wants it the most down the stretch is who will win what could turn out to be a very good fight. I hope it happens.
Regarding the Hopkins-Kovalev fight, I’d be surprised if Krusher got Hopkins outta there early or if B-Hop dominated the Russian over 12 rounds – I wouldn’t be shocked. That’s how devastating a puncher Kovalev is and how brilliant Hopkins is. But I think Kovalev’s underrated patience and boxing ability will combine with Hopkins’ age and willingness to duke it out at times to make for a competitive bout. We’ll find out on Saturday.
THE THURMANATOR, THE PRINCE, MYTHICAL MATCHUPS
What’s Up Dougie,
Long time reader, first time writer. Like you I’m a big Keith Thurman fan, he’s got great power, isn’t afraid to take chances and I can see him being a big star. That being said what’s going on with his matchmaking? After his KO over Jesus Soto Karass I expected his next fight to be against a top-10 contender. Instead we got another gate keeper in Julio Diaz, who he retired. Now his next fight is against Leonard Bundu, who appears to even be a step down from his last two fights. So what gives? Are people afraid to face him, has he been a victim of big losses of potential opponents (Porter/Broner) or do his people feel he’s not ready to take the next step yet?
In your mailbag on Friday you called out Nas for the way he left the sport, however do you think it’s possible that there were bigger issues at play here? His fight against Barrera, gone was the theatrical walk out and flip over the ropes that made him such a master showman, instead we got an Islam driven entrance. He was becoming much more religious shortly after 9/11. Could this have made promoters see him as unmarketable to U.S. audiences still so shaken by that tragic day?
A couple of mythical matchups for you:
Jhonny Gonzalez vs Johnny Tapia
Prime Sergio Martinez vs GGG
Ernie Shavers vs Tommy Morrison
Boom Boom Mancini Vs Arturo Gatti
Arron Pryor vs Roberto Duran
Paul Williams vs Floyd Mayweather
Keep up the good work! – Sean
Thanks Sean. I’ll start with Thurman’s situation. There was talk of him facing Shawn Porter before Kell Brook beat him to it, but beyond the former IBF beltholder there weren’t many top welterweights calling “One Time” out. He’s in a difficult position. He’s clearly talented and dangerous but he’s not a star – yet. So he doesn’t bring a huge payday or crossover attention to anyone who fight him. He holds an interim world title (the WBA’s version), which is enough to entice lower-top 15 welterweights like Bundu into the ring with him but not “name” guys who think they may get lucrative shots at the likes of Mayweather, Pacquiao, JM Marquez, or even Danny Garcia and Tim Bradley.
Because a shoulder injury kept him out of the ring over the summer, Thurman just needs to fight, and I disagree with all of the criticism and disappointment that’s been tossed at Bundu by a lot of hardcore fans.
Bundu is not a chump. No, he’s not as well known as Diaz or even Soto Karass but despite his age and low KO percentage, he’s a much better boxer/athlete than those two veterans were when they faced Thurman.
I think you and other fans who insist that Bundu is a lesser fighter than Diaz should check out some of the European champ’s fights on Youtube. I’ve embedded his last bout – a split decision over Frankie Gavin – in this response so you can see for yourself that the 39-year-old southpaw is a good all-around boxer.
[springboard type=”video” id=”1116973″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]
He’s a solid physical specimen with tight technique and defense (that includes upper-body movement), an educated jab and a good body attack. Bundu, who also makes good use of feints, is an active but measured fighter. He’s aggressive when he needs to be but isn’t prone to recklessness. Watch the Gavin fight. You’ll see that he guards well on his way in and he knows when to let his hands go. He’s crafty and experienced. And the Italy-based vet has proven that he can win on the road. He beat Frank Shabani (17-0 at the time ) in Germany, and his last two bouts were in the UK, where he stopped Lee Purdy in the 12th and he outpointed Gavin. Granted, Purdy is a third-tier welterweight on the world scene, but Gavin is talented and was unbeaten. And he was lucky Bundu’s body shot knockdown in Round 6 came at the end of the round.
Anyway, I might be the only media member looking forward to Thurman-Bundu but I’m expecting a decent fight. If Thurman wins, I’m expecting his management (Al Haymon) to make some bold moves with “One Time” in 2015.
Regarding the way Naseem Hamed exited the sport and how it may have affected his legacy, I’ve heard the theory that he basically had to leave or wanted to leave because of the political/social climate in the U.S. following 9/11. I think it’s plausible, but I don’t think it matters in the final analysis.
Like I stated in the last mailbag, I think Hamed is hall of fame worthy and he got my vote this year, but if you’re one of his critics and you didn’t like the way he went out following his humiliating loss to Barrera then you don’t care WHY he left the sport. You only care about what he did (or didn’t do).
This is something that a lot fan boys don’t understand when they try to defend their heroes for not facing certain fighters during their careers or for generally taking the easy road – history doesn’t care why a fight didn’t happen. Jack Dempsey’s claim to being a great heavyweight is hurt by the fact that he never faced Harry Wills, a top contender in the mid-1920s who happened to be black. It doesn’t matter if Dempsey flat-out refused to fight Wills or if his promoter Tex Rickard wouldn’t allow him to take part in a mixed-race bout. (Dempsey’s decision to defend the title only twice in a five-year span during his reign doesn’t help his legacy either.)
Anyway, on to your mythical matchups:
Jhonny Gonzalez vs Johnny Tapia – Even though Tapia’s best weight was 115 pounds, I can envision him out-speeding, outmaneuvering and generally outhustling the flat-footed home-run hitter to a close points verdict at bantamweight and maybe at 122 pounds. J-Gon would have probably have clipped Tapia at featherweight, but Mi Vida Loca had a pretty reliable chin.
Prime Sergio Martinez vs GGG – The prime Maravilla was a junior middleweight. Don’t forget that. At his best at 160, I think Martinez gives Golovkin a very good fight thanks to his speed, unorthodox style, lateral movement and his tremendous heart; however, even at his best at middleweight, Sergio wasn’t that hard to find (hell, the plodding slow-as-molasses Kelly Pavlik was able to catch him and put him down). I think GGG presses Martinez hard for eight-to-10 competitive rounds before clipping him for the count in the championship rounds of a good fight.
Ernie Shavers vs Tommy Morrison – Shavers is the more celebrated puncher but both heavyweights had the power to instantly turn or end a fight and I can easily envision The Duke blasting out Ohio bomber. No way this fight woulda gone the distance. Whoever landed the first clean power shot coulda won by cold KO; both guys had poor stamina, so the longer the bout goes the more vulnerable each becomes. Morrison had the much quicker hands, but Shavers paced himself better. I’m gonna go with Shavers by sixth- or seventh-round stoppage in a terrific slugfest.
Ray Mancini Vs Arturo Gatti – Mancini (who I just voted for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame) was a far more complete boxer than Gatti. Both guys had mad heart and were popular for their mettle, but I think Mancini had much better footwork, ring generalship, technique and stamina. Mancini either stops Gatti late or wins a wildly entertaining but clear decision.
Aaron Pryor vs Roberto Duran – Yo, what’s up with this particular mythical matchup? I literally get it every other week. How many times do I have to state my opinion that Hands of Stone would have grounded The Hawk?
Paul Williams vs Floyd Mayweather – I can’t imagine Mayweather dealing with the prime welterweight version of P-Will. Forget about the ridiculous height and reach Williams had, I just don’t see Floyd having an answer for the swarming attack and crazy high volume punching. I just don’t see him stick-and-moving or shoulder-rolling his way out of that mess. Maybe if Mayweather had the power to get Tall Paul’s respect, I’d give him a shot, but Williams took a hell of a shot at 147. I realize Erislandy Lara should have won a decision against Williams and the Cuban did it by pot-shotting the hell out of him, but A) that fight took place at junior middleweight (and Lara is a good-sized 154 pounder with good power) and B) that bout took place after P-Will’s 12-round war with Martinez and after he got KTFO by Maravilla in the rematch.
THE WARRIROS & THE WASTERS
Screw Mayweather, screw Pacquiao and screw Stevenson.
Massive kudos to Froch, Brook, Frampton and Thurman.
Oh and please let Hopkins survive Kovalev. – Pete Sussex UK
B-Hop might do a lot more than survive, Pete. I know I’m picking Kovalev to win but if Hopkins proves me wrong it won’t be the first (second or third) time the old man has proven me (and many others) wrong.
ATG VS. HALL OF FAME
First of all I’m a huge fan. I’ve followed you from Maxboxing (proud t-shirt wearing member) to The Ring. I e-mailed you back in the early 2000s when Francisco Bojado looked like he might have the makings of a star.
Anyway, on to the questions:
What made you differentiate between a boxer being a Hall of Famer and an All Time Great? If you make the HOF shouldn’t that automatically mean you’re an ATG? Do you believe the threshold for making the HOF too low?
Do you see any way that Kell Brook or Keith Thurman can get Floyd in the ring within his next 2 fights without fighting each other? Those are the only two Floyd fights I’d be interested in seeing. I really don’t want to see them fight each other. Hell, I’d like to see either Brook or Thurman versus Danny Garcia as well. I think Thurman and Brook is something that should be built toward. They’re definitely my two favorite younger fighters besides Lomo.
Am I the only one that would like to see a rematch between Garcia & Matthysse? Something about the first fight seemed off. I’d love a rematch.
Lastly, not a question, but more of a suggestion: Why not do a hater mailbag once a month instead of giving your unreasonable critics so much prime real estate in your weekly mailbags?
I love your work! – @theh0mie, Pittsburgh
I used to compile periodic mailbags consisting of nothing but angry, nasty and disrespectful emails – I called them Bitch Bags (for obvious reasons) – but I don’t get enough of those these days to separate into their own column. What can I say? Roy Jones Jr. had a lot more groupies than Floyd Mayweather Jr. does now.
I’d like to see a Garcia-Matthysse rematch. Matthysse was indeed a bit off when they fought last September. He didn’t train with Pablo Sarmiento and it showed. The dude he had in his corner isn’t a world-class trainer. Now he’s got former titleholder Juan Coggi helping out in camp and the corner, and I think it’s helped him. (But I still think he was better with Sarmiento.)
I don’t think you have to worry about Thurman and Brook fighting each other too soon. Haymon isn’t in a hurry to risk any of his titleholders or potential stars against dangerous standouts (that he doesn’t advise). I know Thurman has no fear of Brook or any other 147 pounder, but expect Haymon to keep One Time clear of the British beltholder and groom the long-haired boxer-puncher to either challenge Mayweather or to collect the belts that Mr. Money vacates once he retires.
Being in the hall of fame does not automatically mean that a boxer is great or an all-time great. There are very good – but far from great – boxers who are in the International Boxing Hall of Fame because they had amazing consistency or were immensely popularity.
There are terrific fighters who won only one of the four major sanctioning organization titles and defending it in a single weight class a bunch of times but never faced a fellow hall of famer or a fellow titleholder during their long reigns, classy guys like Jeff Chandler, Orlando Canizales and Khaosai Galaxy.
There are also painfully limited punchers who took part in Fights of the Year, put together impressive KO streaks or were one half of memorable trilogies but generally got beatdown or outclassed when they faced elite competition/fellow hall of famers – fan favorite sluggers like Rocky Graciano, Ingemar Johansson, Danny Lopez, Pipino Cuevas and Arturo Gatti.
These are all hall of famers. They aren’t great. You know who the all-time greats are. The all-time greats faced anywhere from eight to a dozen fellow hall of famers (often fighting those standouts multiple times) and beat most of them like Sugar Ray Robinson or Ezzard Charles. The all-time greats did things that nobody will ever accomplish again like Willie Pep’s 229 victories or Archie Moore’s 131 knockouts.
Here’s how you really know if a hall of famer is also an all-time great – if you isolate two or three consecutive years of their primes and they accomplished more in that 24-36 month span than most hall of famers did in their entire careers then you know you’re looking at an ATG.
In a two-year span, 1937 and 1938, Henry Armstrong won 41 consecutive fights and earned the undisputed featherweight, lightweight and welterweight championships. If you toss in 1939, he compiled an excellent 52-1 record during that three-year span, facing six fellow hall of famers and defending the welterweight title 13 times.
In a little less than a two-year span, November 1979-September 1981, Sugar Ray Leonard faced fellow hall of famers Wilfredo Benitez, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns – defeating Benitez for the WBC welterweight title, splitting fights with Duran, and unifying the WBC and WBA welterweight titles by stopping Hearns – and he earned the WBA junior middleweight belt by knocking out Ayub Kalule. He also found time to defend the WBC welterweight title against Davy Boy Green and Larry Bonds during that 22-month span.
From February 1980 to June 1982, Salvador Sanchez faced fellow hall of famers Danny Lopez (twice), Wilfredo Gomez and Azumah Nelson and beat them all. He won the WBC featherweight title by stopping Lopez and defended it against Gomez and Nelson, as well as top contenders Juan LaPorte and Ruben Castillo.
I can go on and on with this kind of thing but I trust you get the idea.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer