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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

14
Nov

 

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

 

WHAT IF HOPKINS BEATS STEVENSON?

Hi Doug,



A very long time reader (From the House of Boxing days) occasional mailer but I HAVE to contact you about this…. What would happen if Bernard Hopkins beat the winner of Jean Pascal vs Adonis Stevenson? Will he be THE RING champion even though Sergey Kovalev almost totally destroyed him? I know the answer. He will be the champion, but that raises a question about the system. Explain that to me.

PS: I loooooooove Miguel Cotto to beat Canelo Alvarez. Mark my words. – Ivan Otero from Puerto Rico

Consider your words marked, Ivan. The fact that many longtime hardcore fans (and not just those from Puerto Rico) believe the older, naturally smaller man has the edge in this potential mega-matchup is one of the key factors that will make it a wildly successful pay-per-view event if it’s made. I favor the younger, fresher, naturally bigger man, but take my opinion with a grain of salt. The last time I picked the redhead to beat a first-ballot future hall of famer he laid a big ole egg on fight night.

Regarding the possibility of Hopkins facing the winner of the proposed Stevenson-Pascal showdown – and winning that fight: Yes, it is possible, yes B-Hop can beat either guy (in my not-so-humble opinion), and yes, of course, the 50-year-old marvel would be THE RING (and WBC) champ if he pulled it off. So what? Why would that “raise a question about the system”? Just because Hopkins lost his two title belts via shutout decision to Kovalev doesn’t mean he’s unworthy of challenging the “other” titleholders in his division.

If Hopkins beats a guy holding a major belt, or even “lineal championship” recognition as Stevenson has, he deserves to win that title. And just because Hopkins would be recognized by THE RING magazine as the champ – or viewed as the “lineal champ” by some purists, history buffs and general boxing nerds – it doesn’t mean that the boxing world would consider him to be the best light heavyweight. That distinction of being “the man” in the 175-pound division would obviously belong to Kovalev based on what he did to B-Hop on Nov. 8, 2014.

THE RING/lineal/universally recognized champion is not always the best fighter in his division. If you recall, back in January 2006, Carlos Baldomir – an extremely limited welterweight brawler – upset then-unified titleholder (and RING champ) Zab Judah to earn universal recognition as the 147-pound champion, a distinction he defended by chopping down a completely shopworn Arturo Gatti. At the time Baldomir was THE RING champ, the magazine’s welterweight top 10 was as follows:

1)Floyd Mayweather (who would dethrone the Argentine veteran by near-shutout in November of 2006)

2)Antonio Margarito

3)Zab Judah

4)Ricky Hatton

5)Luis Collazo

6)Kermit Cintron

7)Oktay Urkal

8)Arturo Gatti

9)Sharmba Mitchell

10)Paul Williams

Odds makers at the time would have made Baldomir a decided underdog against the top five or six contenders (including Judah), and rightfully so. Gatti and Mitchell were the only contenders at the time that Baldomir could defeat, and that’s because both men were way past their primes.

Let’s fast-forward to the present. Your guy Cotto just beat Sergio Martinez, who was not only a 39-year-old veteran of 55 pro fights and inactive for more than a year but clearly hampered with leg injuries coming into the bout. Still, Martinez was THE RING/lineal champ. Cotto, who gave Maravilla a beatdown, won the fight fair and square and is thus recognized as champion of the 160-pound division.

Does that make him the best middleweight out there? Hell no! We all know Gennady Golovkin is the man of the division. Nobody doubts that GGG would prove it in a head-to-head showdown with Cotto. No disrespect is meant by this opinion but I think most fans still recognize the future hall of famer as a junior middleweight. Thus, even lower-top 10 middleweights such as Martin Murray, who isn’t given a chance in hell to beat GGG, would be thought of as a live dog vs. Cotto (or even a slight favorite) based on his much-greater size (and the strength and durability that comes with it). Back down at 154 pounds, Cotto is given a shot at beating most of the top dogs in the division, including a very popular freckle-faced Mexican.

 

GILBERTO RAMIREZ

Yo Dougie!

Been a long time reader. First time submitting a question. As many have expressed before, we appreciate your consistency in giving us your boxing opinion to think about, agree with or complain about, LOL.

Simple question, Gilberto Ramirez (29-0-0, 23 KOs), what’s his ceiling? Can he be a P4P talent? Can he be a real PPV draw in the next few years? I’ve never seen the guy fight. I only heard about him recently. Bob Arum made some comments about him having the ability to whip Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. It caught my attention. If he’s the real deal, I want to jump on the bandwagon now instead of catching the late train like I did with GGG. – Jalaal, from Minneapolis

Jump on Gilberto Ramirez train now, Jalaal. The super middleweight southpaw from Mexico is the real deal, in my opinion. Check out his one-round KO of Don Mouton, who had gone the distance with Curtis Stevens, Brandon Gonzalez, Badou Jack and Anthony Dirrell in previous bouts (and gave Dirrell sheer hell for eight rounds):

[springboard type=”video” id=”1157553″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]

It’s way too early to tell if he can be a pound-for-pound level talent or a pay-per-view draw, but I’m certain that he’s more than just an undefeated prospect. I consider Ramirez to be a legit top-10 contender, as does THE RING, which ranks him No. 7 among 168 pounders.

In fact, I think he should be rated higher by the magazine. I would heavily favor Ramirez to beat THE RING’s Nos. 2 and 3 super middleweights, WBO beltholder Arthur Abraham and Robert Stieglitz. I would also favor him to beat WBC titleholder Anthony Dirrell (rated No. 8 by THE RING), Chavez Jr. (No. 9) and Felix Sturm (No. 10).

If Ramirez can get a famous fighter like Chavez in the ring, he’ll instantly advance in terms of his own name recognition. (Yeah, I agree with Arum on this all-Mexican matchup. I know Junior’s a tough cookie and ridiculously big, but Ramirez has good height, reach, better athleticism, superior speed and power, and of course, a professional work ethic, which Chavez seems allergic to.) However, now that Chavez is another soldier in Al’s Army, I think Ramirez’s chances of getting that fight are slim and none (and Slim left town).

But on the bright side, the 23-year-old standout is rated No. 2 by the WBC and WBO, and No. 3 by the WBA. It would awesome if the young man could get a shot at pound-for-pound level veterans Andre Ward or Carl Froch (who hold versions of the WBA belt) but Froch is looking at farewell fight vs. Junior and Ward is in a state of semi-retirement until his contractual issues time out. However, like I said, I think Ramirez would handily beat Abraham, Stieglitz or Sturm – either of whom could hold the WBO belt by the time he would become the organization’s mandatory challenger) – and once he gets that title around his waist there will be high-profile showdowns for him to take against the fellow talented young guns of the 168-pound division, mainly England’s George Groves and James DeGale. Those could be excellent fights.

Thanks for the kind words about the mailbag, by the way.

KOVALEV VS THE BEST AT 175

Hi Doug, I hope you are well. I see that Monday’s mailbag was dominated by The Krusher’s win over B-Hop and rightly so. Since watching him batter Nathan Cleverly I have followed Kovalev closely and made a point of watching his fights prior to him capturing the WBO belt.

Other than his obvious power I love how relaxed his boxing is, as well as how patient he is and how he judges distance exceptionally well.

The Sunday after the fight I started thinking about how he would have fared against the legends of the division, and with this comes my question to you Doug, how do you think he would have got on against the following greats:

Archie Moore

Matthew Saad Muhammad

Bob Foster

Michael Spinks

Joe Calzaghe (controversial I know!)

Joey Maxim

Billy Conn

I look forward to your thoughts. – Mike, UK

The Cleverly victory was the fight that opened my eyes to Kovalev’s talent. I picked Cleverly to win that matchup because I hadn’t seen enough of the Russian’s boxing ability in his previous televised fights, but I wouldn’t make that mistake again. LOL.

Kovalev is, as Hopkins has called him, the “real deal” but it’s still too early to pontificate on how he may have fared against the greats of the division (and Calzaghe, LOL). Yeah, Krusher just shutout an all-time great, but he beat an ATG who was nearly 50. In these mythical matchups I envision the best fighters of previous eras being at or near their athletic peaks, so obviously I’m going to favor most them over Kovalev because of their extensive careers. Kovalev is still establishing his legacy.

However, it’s still fun think about how a budding star would’ve fared against retired standouts from different decades. Here’s my opinion for now:

Archie Moore – I think Old Mongoose’s crafty cross-armed defense, underrated lateral movement, legendary punching power and deceptively long arms would keep Kovalev honest in a mostly tactical battle. Moore’s experience with tall and rangy fighters (including heavyweights) would help him to contain Kovalev to a clear decision.

Matthew Saad Muhammad – This would be a lot of fun. Kovalev would be the more controlled and technical of the two punchers but MSM’s relentless nature and underrated skills would gradually pull the Russian into a slugfest that would thrill fans but also enable the Philly fighter to take over the fight down the stretch. Saad Muhammad by close decision or late TKO.

Bob Foster – There’s a solid chance that Kovalev could’ve clipped Foster or hurt his fellow rangy puncher enough during the fight to beat him on points, but the New Mexico native’s chin usually held out at 175 pounds and I think the 1960s/early ’70s-era boxer was the quicker, more accurate and more explosive of the two. I think Foster would’ve blasted Kovalev out of there before the Russian nailed him.

Michael Spinks – I think the 1976 middleweight gold medalist would have kept Kovalev reaching and off balance with his unorthodox style and lateral movement. Kovalev proved against Hopkins that he’s a very good boxer, but he’s an orthodox technician. Awkward moving types like Spinks who can get off with terrific speed and power from unpredictable angles are usually poison to orthodox fighters. I see Spinks walking Kovalev into a perfectly timed overhand “Jinx” that abruptly ends what was a competitive game of cat and mouse up until that point.

Joe Calzaghe – I don’t think Welsh Dragon rates as a great light heavyweight, but I believe he was big and athletic enough at 168 pounds to have competed with Kovalev at 175 and I think he would have outworked and outmaneuvered The Krusher to a close but clear decision.

Joey Maxim – Finally, a mythical matchup in which Kovalev has the decided edge in size, power and athleticism. I can see Kovalev outpointing Maxim if he fought a perfect fight from a distance (not unlike the manner in which he boxed B-Hop) – and no, he would not knockout Maxim, who was only stopped once in 115 pro bouts – but it would still be a very hard fight for the Russian. Maxim was repeatedly outclassed by ATGs like Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore but he had a lot of craft by going the distance with those guys, he knew when to punch, when to block or parry, when to hold, when to jab and move, and when empty the tank and go for broke. But I’m gonna throw Kovalev a bone and say he’d win a close decision.

Billy Conn – Kovalev would have a big edge in size and power over Conn but the Pittsburgh Kid would be the quicker, busier and savvier of the two fighters. Conn would have to respect Kovalev but I think he was tough enough to take some of the modern badass’ vaunted power. I see Conn outmaneuvering and outpointing the taller man from a distance by sneaking his quicker jab between Krusher’s rangier left stick, and I see the 1930s-era great alternately tying up and outworking Kovalev in spots on the inside. Conn by competitive decision.

HORN TOOTING

Your prediction for Kovalev was excellent, kudos. I read your Monday mailbag and saw you tooting the horn for Chris Algieri, which is nice but I don’t hear you tooting the horn for guys like Terrence Crawford, Andre Ward, Tim Bradley, and Steve Cunningham. These guys are classy, show integrity, and articulate, albeit Crawford is a very quiet guy but seems humble and focus.

It’s like you were riding Algieri’s d__k because you made sure to beat that drum so that the heavens can hear. Let’s try beating the drums of some of the boxers who made bad decisions in life, did time in jail but has found redemption in the ring (ie, Hopkins, Mansour,) or are fighting adversity (ie. Steve Cunningham daughter). I respect your knowledge of the sweet science but cant understand your perceived animosity toward black fighters, except maybe Leonard & Ali. Your judgment toward black fighters is far more stinging then any other culture and it reflects in your mailbag. Floyd Mayweather is not a lovable guy, so this is not a Floyd defender, but all the other brothers that are stepping up their game with integrity deserve the same love you show other cultures sir. I know your half white and whatever else you are I’m not sure but at least be fair across the board with all fighters. You may not see it, but many die hard boxing fans notice your penchant to dog out certain fighters. I respect you calling it how you see it but be fair man. – Andre , LA

Andre, my brotha, my man, my mellow, my ace, I thought it was obvious that I was being sarcastic with my reply to Yamir in this week’s Monday mailbag.

Come on, Dre. Do you really think I was trying to convince someone who isn’t into Pacquiao-Algieri to get into the pay-per-view event because the “B-side” is a respectful, smart, articulate, charming and handsome” guy “from a loving middle-class family” or because he “grew up on the north shore of Long Island”?

Hey, I like Algieri but not that much. I was making fun of HBO’s “24/7” series which is trying like hell to sell the public a fight that it didn’t ask for by hyping Algieri’s affable personality and unique (for boxing) accomplishments and background. My point was who gives a rat’s ass about Algieri’s college degrees or healthy diet?

Regarding my “perceived animosity toward black fighters” and my supposed “penchant to dog out certain fighters” all I can say is that you’re either being oversensitive or just plain silly. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve got a problem with white boxers, like that handsome, articulate and positive-thinking Mr. Algieri (PsstÔǪ Andre, don’t look now, but I’m being sarcastic again.)

(Oh, you know how I started this reply by calling you “my brotha, my man, my mellow, my ace” – yep, more sarcasm!)

 

HOPKINS & CHAVEZ JR.

Hey Doug, What do you think of Hopkins’ comment today about how he has one more fight and hinted that it would be against GGG? Personally, I want him to retire but if he does fight again I want to see him against someone like Stevenson who isn’t a killer and has a good chance to win. And what’s the status of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr? He signed with Al Haymon but hasn’t shown any interest in fighting. Even if he fights fringe contenders like Bryan Vera, he still does the best TV ratings based on his name. Do you see him getting in the ring soon and with who? I think he’s on the clear downside, but I would like to see him prove me wrong. – Robert from Ashton, MD

I don’t see Chavez getting in the ring soon. Top Rank claims their contract is still valid with the Mexican star and everyone knows that Bob Arum and Al Haymon generally avoid doing business. I think Junior’s next fight is in court.

What makes you say Stevenson isn’t a “killer”? Just because he wasn’t able to put Andrzej Fonfara away in his last fight doesn’t mean the Canadian-Haitian southpaw isn’t a dangerous boxer-puncher. Stevenson is explosive. Kovalev is the only 175 pounder that I’d strongly favor to beat him. I would give Hopkins a decent shot at beating Stevenson but by no means would that be an easy fight for the old man.

I agree that Hopkins is better off retiring than facing Golovkin at a 168-pound catchweight. I think GGG would be the first to stop the living legend. The name opponent that Hopkins really has “a good chance” to beat is Chavez Jr. It’s too bad for B-Hop that Junior’s in Legal Limbo with Andre Ward for the time being.

 

THE LINEAL CHAMPION

Hi Dougie,

Big fan of the mailbag. I was very impressed with Kovalev’s performance over Hopkins, and I see him as the top dog in the light heavyweight division, despite Stevenson being the lineal champ. Similarly, I see Golovkin as the top dog in the middleweight division, despite Cotto being the lineal champ.

What does it mean exactly to be the lineal champ and why is the lineal champ considered THE guy in that particular division even if other fighters have more belts or are unified champs? – Paul

Well, for starters, I’m not sure that Stevenson really is the “lineal champ” but I’ll get into that later.

I don’t think being the “lineal” or “linear” champ means as much as you think it does to boxing fans, Paul. I’ll go into some recent history in my response to your question and if you can actually follow it all without losing interest or focus, congratulations, you’re a boxing nerd. LOL. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you should realize that most fans feel the way that you do now. The top dog of a particular division in their view is usually the guy who is kicking the most ass – sometimes that guy holds a couple belts, or even a RING championship, but sometimes he doesn’t.

The fans and members of the media who insist on only recognizing the “lineal” champ as the “true champion” of a given division are the boxing purists and history buffs, but even they will admit when the champ isn’t the best fighter in his weight class.

Being the lineal champion means a “lineage” can be made from the current champion to the last fighter to hold universal recognition as the champ in a given division. It became a popular term in the industry and within the sport’s media when sanctioning organizations made things confusing to the general public by stripping their belts from the undisputed champion. The term also got a big boost from certain networks (mainly HBO) when they wanted to tout that they showcased the “real champion.”

For instance, when Sugar Ray Leonard outpointed then-undisputed middleweight champ Marvelous Marvin Hagler in 1987, only the WBC title was on the line. The WBA and IBF titles (the WBO strap wasn’t around yet) were declared vacant by those organizations (that didn’t want to sanction the fight for whatever reasons) and Frank Tate wound up winning the IBF belt, while Sumbu Kalambay won the WBA strap. Tate was a 1984 Olympic gold medalist but he wasn’t the superstar Leonard was. Kalambay was a hell of a boxer, very underrated, but he was an Italy based Congo native and largely ignored by American fans. There was no way HBO and whoever earned the right to promote Leonard was going to recognize those two as middleweight “champs.” Leonard was “the real” champ because he was the man who beat the man (Hagler, the bald badass who had held all three major titles and had reigned for seven years). Most of the major sports writers who covered boxing also recognized Leonard as the champ. That’s when I first started hearing the term “lineal champ.” One year later, Mike Tyson’s showdown with Michael Spinks was talked about as a clash between the undisputed king who held the belts (Iron Mike) and the lineal champ (Not-so-iron Michael).The term became more common in the 1990s and the 2000s.

Notable examples include George Foreman’s second heavyweight title reign and Marco Antonio Barrera’s run as featherweight champ. Foreman was unrated when he challenged Michael Moorer, the holder of the WBA and IBF titles, 20 years ago. He pulled off an amazing upset to win those two belts, but the WBC title was held by Oliver McCall at the time. Foreman (and his network, HBO) had no plans to deal with McCall’s promoter Don King at the time (and it should be noted that there was no public demand for that unification bout), nor did he want to tangle with his talented WBA mandatory, Tony Tucker (who was also part of the “King-dom”). The WBA stripped Foreman for not fighting Tucker and the IBF stripped the 45-year-old legend when he failed to give Axel Schulz a rematch following his controversial majority decision victory over the unheralded German in ’95. Foreman lost a degree of credibility with the boxing media after he traveled to Japan in ’96 to collect a pay check against unknown Crawford Grimsley, but when he returned to the states and HBO in April 1997 to face popular New Yorker Lou Savarese in Atlantic City the bout was billed and announced as the “lineal championship of the world.” Watch the beginning to this YouTube video and listen to ring announcer Mark Beiro’s introduction.

(I should note that not long after Foreman’s decision over Savarese, THE RING, which did not have its current championship policy in place at the time, rated Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Moorer, Andrew Golota, Ray Mercer, David Tua and Tim Witherspoon ahead of Big George in its heavyweight rankings.)

Foreman’s final fight, against Shannon Briggs, was also billed as the lineal championship. However, Briggs, who won a controversial decision, was not widely regarded as the linear champ after the fight in part because most folks thought Foreman won, but also because HBO, which was in the Lennox Lewis business by then, did not bang those drums. Lewis, the WBC beltholder at the time, knocked out Briggs four months later, thus becoming “the man who beat the manÔǪ” (It should be noted that Lewis did not receive universal recognition as heavyweight champ until he beat Evander Holyfield to unify the WBC-IBF-WBA belts in 1999.)

Prior to his showdown with Barrera in 2001, undefeated featherweight sensation Naseem Hamed had won all but the WBA title (and he handily beat the guy who was stripped of that strap, Wilfredo Vazquez, before their fight). Naz only bothered to hold onto the WBO featherweight title during 5¾-year reign but he let it go before he took on the 3-to-1 underdog from Mexico. So there were no major belts on the line when Barrera took Hamed to school (the IBO recognized the bout but he didn’t accept it). When Barrera beat rival Erik Morales in their anticipated rematch the following year, he refused to recognize the WBC title that ‘El Terrible’ held at the time (in part because of a longstanding beef his manager, Ricardo Maldonado had with that particular sanctioning organization). But Barrera was recognized as the linear champ by most of the media (and, of course, by HBO, which broadcast his fights in the U.S.) until he was shocked by Manny Pacquiao in ’03. PacMan held the “lineal” distinction until he vacated the 126-pound division to fight Morales at 130 pounds, but some fans still dispute if deserves to be credited for a featherweight championship when no official belts were on the line in the Barrera fight (he deserves it in my opinion).

Anyway, this was kind of a long-winded example of how the “lineal” term gradually became more prominent in boxing circles. I just wanted to point out that it has been used as a marketing tool by promoters and by networks (not unlike the tired “Pound-for-Pound” crap) and it’s not always accepted by the public. Nor should the lineal title be confused with THE RING championship (which I will get into a little later).

It’s important to point out that no division in boxing has a championship lineage that dates all the way back to the start of the weight class. Some of these weight classes – like the heavyweight, middleweight, lightweight and featherweight divisions – date back to the late 1800s for Pete’s Sake. At some point the sole champion or undisputed champ retires and someone new has to establish himself as the universally recognized champ by beating all the top dogs in his division or by collecting all of the major belts.

When the great Carlos Monzon retired as middleweight champ in 1977, the division lacked a clear successor until Hagler’s grit, persistence and success convinced the public (and all three sanctioning organizations – the WBC, WBA and newly formed IBF) that he was “the man” at 160 pounds. Hagler’s title reign started up the middleweight championship lineage again, but when the Marvelous One lost to Leonard and then Sugar Ray stepped up to super middleweight by the end of the 1980s, that lineage was broken once again. The major middleweight titles remained separated until Bernard Hopkins unified them in 2001 (and even added the WBO belt in 2004). B-Hop started the lineage up again and when Jermain Taylor beat him, the 2004 Olympian became the both the undisputed and lineal champ. Kelly Pavlik took the title from Taylor, Martinez took the title from Pavlik, and earlier this year Cotto took it from Martinez. That’s why Cotto is not only THE RING and WBC champ, he’s also regarded as the lineal champ.

The lineage to the light heavyweight championship recognition that Stevenson currently commands is not as clear as it is at middleweight, and I believe that it can be disputed. The last truly undisputed champion of the 175-pound division was Michael Spinks, but when the Jinx left the division in 1985 to challenge heavyweight champ Larry Holmes, all of the light heavyweight belts remained separate until Virgil Hill unified the WBA and IBF titles by outpointing Henry Maske in 1996 and when Dariusz Michalczewski unified the WBO-WBA-IBF belts by outpoining Hill in 1997. To most historians, purists and hardcore heads, Michalczewski earned recognition as “the champ” with this victory and restarted the division’s championship lineage. However, U.S. fans (particularly those who were brought up on HBO boxing programming) did not recognize D-Mich (or even know who the Germany based Pole was) because Roy Jones Jr. was the superstar in American households and not long after the ’88 Olympian stepped up to 175 pounds, the WBC pretty much handed him their belt for beating up on a 40-year-old Mike McCallum. Jones lost the belt to Montel Griffin by DQ, regained it with a one-round KO in their rematch, then won WBA and IBF titles (that Michalczewski vacated and were held by Lou Del Valle and Reggie Johnson) by 1999 – thus unifying three of the four major belts (and earning the Florida native the coveted RING title once the magazine reinstated it’s championship policy in 2002). So, a note to all those fight freaks that follow or care about such things, the linear champ is not always THE RING champ.

However, Michalczewski lost to Jones victim Julio Gonzalez in late 2003, which caused most of the industry to recognize the Mighty RJ as the real/linear light heavy champ. Jones lost Antonio Tarver, who lost to Glen Johnson, who lost to Tarver, who lost Hopkins, who lost to Joe Calzaghe, who retired. Then Chad Dawson came along and won two belts (WBC and IBF), earned THE RING’s No. 1 ranking and then faced Jean Pascal, who was the mag’s No. 2-rated contender at the time, which put the vacant RING championship on the line for their 2009 fight. Pascal won, became THE RING champ and lost to B-Hop, who lost to Dawson, who lost to Stevenson.

Whew! I don’t know about you but I’m suffering from boxing nerd overload after going through all that.

 

COULD B-HOP BE FIGHTER OF THE YEAR?

Is a nomination for Bernard Hopkins for fighter of the year possible? I would love to see someone who makes the fights fans want to see rewarded for doing what’s right for the sport, even if he lost. His fight against Kovelev, as one sided as it was, has been my favorite fight of the year. – Justin

I think it’s very possible that THE RING and possibly the BWAA will recognize Hopkins as a Fighter of the Year candidate – apart from delivering what you mentioned, he also became the oldest man to unify two major belts in 2014 – but I doubt he’ll actually win the honor.

I think the Fighter of the Year front runners this year are Terence Crawford (if he soundly beats Ray Beltran), Kovalev, Amnat Ruenroeng or the Pacquiao-Algieri winner (especially if Algieri pulls it off).

 

B-HOP GOT BOMBED

Doug,

Finally! That Alien f__ker Hopkins gets gunned down and sent crashing to earth. About f__kin’ time. Off course I would loved it even more if B-Hop got knocked the fuck out. One more round though and B-Hop would have been pounded into the canvas like a nail. Did you see the way Kovalev really unloaded on Hopkins in that 12th round? I thought The Alien was going to get smeared. But hey, count it as another reason why we need 15-round fights. As it is B-hop still got his ass kicked by a “white boy.” Call it an early Christmas gift for many of us who had enough of the bastard already.

Sorry for rubbing it in Doug. I know you have the maddest respect for B-Hop and deep down I actually understand why. He never hid behind anyone nor did he f__k around behind the negotiating table demanding a football stadium-sized ring or insisting that his opponents wear pillows instead of gloves. I just couldn’t stand B-Hop’s punch, clutch and f__k style or his “my black ass doesn’t get kissed enough” rants. He already had experts ranking him up there with Archie Moore. What more does he want?

And Kovalev? Well we can see the bitch-rants coming now. “He beat up an old man! Whoopi-ding!” That he did. But look at it this way. The Russian still did what the rest of the damn light-heavyweight division couldn’t do. Next for the Russian? Well I’m certainly not going to pound the drums for Kovalev-Stevenson. Since a 49-year-old man couldn’t accomplish what Stevenson didn’t even have the balls to try and do my guess is that “Superman” here will still be hiding out in Al Haymon’s little puppet-pimp house. Some “champion”. To think that this piece of s__t Stevenson sits on the very throne once ruled by warriors like Archie Moore and Matthew Saad Muhammad.

As far as I’m concerned Kovalev is the champ now. And my advice for him is to keep himself busy which he does anyways. He could always fight guys like Fonfara and Jean Pascal and I’ll certainly be watching. Any chance of Kovalev-Froch ever happening or am I just dreaming here.

Back to Hopkins. If he does call it quits already I hope he enjoys his retirement. I certainly will. Cheers to that. – Triple T

Hopkins ain’t gonna call it quits just yet, TTT, but his legendary career is almost over. Who knows? You might actually miss the crusty salty old bastard once he’s gone.

As for Kovalev, I expect him to have a busy 2015 (at least three fights). I don’t think we’ll see him in the ring with Stevenson or Fonfara (both chillin’ at Haymon’s “puppet-pimp house” – where do you get this s__t from?) but there’s Jean Pascal (especially if the Roy Jones Jr. wannabe regains the title from Stevenson), Nadjib Mohammedi (his IBF mandatory), and Eleider Alvarez and Isaac Chilemba (both of whom are ranked in the WBO’s top five). They’re all worthy challengers and a Pascal showdown could be huge in Montreal. I don’t know who could make for a decent-sized event in the U.S. for Kovalev, maybe Seannie Monaghan in NYC or Atlantic City.

The most important thing for Kovalev’s career right now is for him to stay active.

 

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

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