Dougie’s Friday mailbag
BRITISH FIGHTERS/AMERICAN HYPE
First time writer but avid reader; it’s great start to the work week with a read of your Monday morning mailbag.
Looking forward to the Billy Joe Saunders-Chris Eubank Jr. fight this Saturday. Not sure whether to buy into the Eubank hype machine, but props to Saunders for taking the fight and if he wins people will claim Eubank was all hype and he might not get due credit, while if Eubank wins Saunders is a scalp and gets him recognized.
I think there are quite a few up and coming UK fighters being well promoted by the likes of Matchroom and Frank Warren. Very excited for Scott Quigg, Carl Frampton (would love that fight to be a unification at the end of 2015, with Quigg or Frampton fighting Santa Cruz and Vasquez, who wins in a round robin of these guys); Anthony Joshua looks scary good; James DeGale has sorted out his arrogance issues in his last two fights; Kell Brook and Amir Khan are already champions and exciting to watch. Which of these British fighters excites you most and who will go on to potentially make it big across the pond?
I am also excited to see Terence Crawford on Saturday. Unlike a lot of American fighters, I think he is the real deal. He fought burns in Scotland, took on Yuriorkis Gamboa, and is now fighting Raymundo Beltran. He is so smooth and his footwork is incredible. A lot of the American fighters recently have disappointed and been overhyped in my opinion, such as Shawn Porter, Deontay Wilder, Brandon Rios, Jeff Lacy, Jermain Taylor, Kelly Pavlik, Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson, Adrien Broner to name but a few.
This probably shows my ignorance but Roy Jones Jr. and to a much lesser extent James Toney could also be considered overhyped (I am big fan of Lights Out), mainly RJJ for hand picking opponents and never making it across to fight the great generation of British super middleweights, of Watson, Benn, Eubank and Collins. The McClellan-Benn fight (The G-Man was a fighter who did have the guts to come over), was epic, with most writers giving the Dark Destroyer no chance. This is probably one of the reasons I have so much time for Crawford. Do you think RJJ’s legacy has been tainted by not travelling?
Not sure if my email is too long. But keep up the good work. Cheers – Darshan (PS if I decided to talk about the Krusher, GGG, etc., and how awesome they are, my mailbag would run to double this length)
Well, I’m glad you left Kovalev and Golovkin out, Darshan; those two have received enough space in these mailbags over the past two months. I’m also glad you finally wrote in. Don’t be a stranger going forward.
I do think Jones Jr.’s legacy is tainted for not traveling overseas to fight at least once during his prime to take on a European star (Benn, Eubank, Michalczewski, Collins, take your pick). Being too careful about his opposition during his prime is the main thing that hurts RJ’s legacy. Having said that, he’s still a first-ballot hall of famer, as Toney will be. The only thing that hurts Toney’s legacy was his unwillingness to stay in top condition.
I agree that a lot of American boxers are overhyped, but I’m not sure I agree that the group you singled out were/are “all hype.”
Porter lost a close fight to an exceptional talent and very good boxer. No shame in that. Just because he was the odds favorite or most U.S. boxing writers picked him to win doesn’t mean he’s been overhyped. Wilder’s got a lot of hype, but he’s got just as much criticism/skepticism tossed his way. And until he gets KTFO, I don’t think it’s fair to call him a hype job. We never know, he might live up to his hype. Rios earned his hype at lightweight. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay at that weight and he’s not so special at welterweight; he is, however, worth watching if he’s in with a fellow brute.
Lacy was an unbeaten world titleholder who was willing to travel to take on a British star (Calzaghe). Shouldn’t he receive your respect as Crawford has? Or is it not enough to dare to travel; one must travel and win to earn respect? Lacy got beat up and psychologically damaged by a super talent, a guy who never lost a pro fight and is now in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. No shame in that.
Taylor was probably psychologically damaged in his two tough fights with a great fighter (even though he got the nod in his bouts with Hopkins). He wasn’t ready for B-Hop and he got nothing but grief from the boxing world after those tough 24 rounds. Pavlik and Cloud were definitely mentally damaged by Hopkins. Dawson just screwed up by going down in weight after outpointing the old badass. Broner was definitely overrated by the boxing press (THE RING included) and he got exposed to an extent by Marcos Maidana, but his career is far from over.
Anyway, Crawford is certainly not an American hype job. I thought he was being rushed by Top Rank and overrated by HBO, but he proved that he wasn’t by traveling to Scotland and outclassing Ricky Burns early this year. He was sensational in weathering the early storm from Gamboa and stopping the Cuban dynamo. If Crawford decisively beats this highly motivated version of Beltran, he will be my choice for 2014 Fighter of the Year (and probably the choice of other boxing writers and publications).
I’m as excited as you are about the British fighters you mentioned. I’m most interested in the junior featherweights, not just Frampton and Quigg, but also Kid Galahad. I think there can be a nice UK round robin between those three and Jamie McDonnell, Stuart Hall and Kal Yafai if those banties move up in weight (which they will). Whoever kicks the most ass in Britain is welcome to come over to the U.S. to take on the top dogs at 122 and 126.
A note about Khan: he’s no longer a champion, but it can be argued that he’s already made his “splash” (and fall) in the U.S. I think Joshua will make the most noise in America as long as he keeps winning and is willing to travel. In other words, as long as he lives up to his hype.
After Crawford-Beltran, Saunders-Eubank is the fight I’m most looking forward to this weekend. While I can’t say that I was a fan of Eubank Sr. (Benn was the British middleweight/super middleweight that I rooted for), I was fascinated by his enigmatic personality and unique boxing style. I’m curious about his son’s potential. I can see that Junior has talent, but he hasn’t fought anyone of note yet. Saunders is the first opponent Eubank as faced who is coming to win and actually has the ability to do so. I favor Saunders to win a decision, but I look forward to following both middleweights in the coming years.
FURY-CHISORA II/SAUNDERS-EUBANK JR.
Really looking forward to the Fury/Chisora card this Saturday, particularly the Eubank Jr/Saunders fight. My older brother and I are going round to our younger brother’s for the evening. Already bought some nice bottles of red. Can’t wait.
Del Boy appears in more shape and focus than their first bout, which bodes well, but I’m still not sure it’ll be enough. Either way it should be a good old scrap. Fury is so oddly compelling to watch. Pure heart and a kind of old-fashioned determination, strength, and punching style. I would love to see him get a shot at Wladdy, just to see how deeply he can really dig.
Eubank Jr/Saunders should be genuinely explosive. Hopefully they won’t find a way to neutralise each other, as such – can’t see it. Most seem to be favouring Saunders not least as he’s more proven/tested, but I’m not so sure. Eubank has developed a formidable-looking power, poise, and finishing streak against his opposition so far, and fingers crossed he can carry in to meaningful territory. Not sure why but I really like the guy. One thing that can be said about Saunders though, and you can see from the look in his eyes, is that he’s not going to pay the slightest heed to the ‘Eubank aura’. How do you see this one going?
Keep up the great work Dougie – always a pleasure to read your broad-minded but still very personal thoughts and analysis. – Rob
Thanks for the kinds words, Rob.
I think Fury-Chisora and Saunders-Eubank are competitive (close to even) matchups that should make for compelling fights, maybe even dramatic donnybrooks.
I slightly favor Fury to beat Dell Boy again based on height, reach and boxing versatility, however, as you noted Chisora should be in much better shape for Saturday’s bout than he was for their first bout in 2011. One thing Chisora has going for him is activity. He fought four times last year, and he got a 12-rounder in against Kevin Johnson in February – those rounds should serve him well.
Fury, on the other, has been woefully inactive (not that it’s his fault). He’s had one fight since last April; and only two bouts since the start of 2013. On top of his inactivity, Fury has had to deal with the death of his uncle earlier this year as well as a recent cold and chest infection that had to have impacted his training. How much of an impact will it all have? We’ll find out. Win, lose or draw, it’s not going to be an easy night for jovial giant.
I don’t see Saunders or Eubank having an easy night either. I favor Saunders to win due to his extensive amateur background and better pro experience, but as you note, Eubank Jr. has been looked formidable in recent bouts. There’s no doubt that Euby is the more talented of the two middleweight standouts.
However, unless Junior can clip Saunders early, I think the southpaw will come on strong over the second half of the fight and retain his European, Commonwealth and British titles via decision. Saunders hasn’t only faced the better competition – four undefeated fighters in his last four bouts – but he’s also used to going the championship distance. He’s gone 10 rounds once; 12 rounds five times. Euby has never boxed past eight.
And though Eubank is probably the better athlete, his late start to boxing could hold him back in terms of his ability to act and react in the face of adversity. I’ve seen a YouTube video of Euby working mitts with Floyd Mayweather Sr. and while his hands are very fast, he’s not fluid with the combos (and he’s a bit stiff in his upper body). I hope he doesn’t pull a “Berto” and try to imitate Floyd Jr. against Saunders because that could be a disaster.
I’m sure Eubank received some really good sparring and gym work at Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas, but only having 10 amateur bouts (and mostly at the state level) might not cut it against Saunders, who was a European/international-level amateur by 2007/2008 (when Euby was just starting his journey into the sport).
I know Saunders hasn’t always been in top shape for his fights and I know he’s looked average at times, but I gotta figure he’s up for this one and will be at 100 percent. If his 100 percent isn’t enough to beat Eubank, well then Junior is definitely someone special.
SMALL CRUISERS, CRAWFORD
I wanted to know why with most boxing divisions the step up is 3-8 pounds but when stepping up from light heavyweight to cruiserweight it’s a 25-pound difference. I look at some of the ‘top’ cruiserweights and they look fleshy. For people like Nathan Cleverly, who is not a cruiserweight but struggles to make 175, where does he go from here?
I am looking forward to the Tyson Fury-Dereck Chisora card. Although Frank Warren seems to have fallen behind Pretty Boy Hearn, at least the bouts on this card are more competitive. I am also looking forward to the Crawford-Beltran fight. Crawford looked great against Gamboa (I am a big Yuri fan but he doesn’t belong at 135) and I think he can be a multiple-weight champion. How far do you think he can go? All the best – Newo, UK
I think Crawford has the potential to unify titles at lightweight and he can be a force at junior welterweight. I would be surprised if he didn’t win at least one title at 140 pounds. Having said all that, “Bud” can’t afford to overlook the man in front of him on Saturday. Beltran is tough, experienced and dangerous when he’s motivated (as he is for this showdown). Who put more punishment on Ricky Burns, Crawford or Beltran? It was the Mexican contender who put the Rickster down and shattered his jaw.
I’m also looking forward to the Fury-Chisora rematch. Not because I give a rat’s ass about their rivalry or their sometimes over-the-top personalities/antics, but because I think the winner will make for a fun (and high-profile) challenger to champ Wlad Klitschko. Oh, and I think it will be a good heavyweight scrap. I favor Fury to win another decision (this one closer than the first).
Good point about the gulf between light heavy and cruiserweight. The cruiser limit used to be 190 pounds but it was moved to 200 to help give a home to all the small heavyweights who were woefully undersized against goliaths like the Klitschkos and Fury. However, it’s tough for guys like Cleverly, who probably should be fighting at 185 pounds, to hang against natural 200 pounders like Bellew, RING champ Yoan Pablo Hernandez or American standout BJ Flores (guys who fought at 201 pounds in the amateurs). The only way for Clev to compete at cruiser is to change his style from volume punching to stick-and-move tactics.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM MACAU
What up Mr. Fresh!
Just some quick thoughts on last Saturdays matchups, and some questions for you:
1. Manny Pacquiao still has a lot left for any of the 147-140 pounders. I would love to see him vs Danny Garcia. How do you see that fight playing out?
2. Chris Algieri is a hell of an athlete. The only other boxer that can maintain his pace of moving around in the ring might be Erislandy Lara. How do you see Mr. Avocado Man vs. the other 140-pound champs, and do you see him sticking around boxing?
3. Vasyl Lomachenko is just too talented. His footwork is uber superb, his combinations are crisp, and he is always in excellent physical condition. I really don’t see any other featherweight beating him, including the Axe Man. What do you think is next for High Tech? Who would you like to see him fight next?
4. Jessie Vargas will get beat soon. The guy is fast but doesn’t have power to keep off a Ruslan Provodnikov or a DSG. Sh*t, a zombie-looking walking no-head-movement Antonio DeMarco was close to knocking the guy out. If they feed him to Pacman next he would get KO’ed. He doesn’t have Algieri’s stamina or foot movement. How do you see him in 2015?
5. Zou Shiming! Unfortunately he is in one of the deepest divisions in boxing right now. The only way I see him getting a belt is if one of the current champs vacates and he gets the shot to fight for the title! What chance do you give him vs any of the current champs?
Greetings from Mexico City. – Agustin
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions, Agustin. I’ll respond to them in order:
1. There aren’t many welterweights or junior welters that I’d favor to beat Manny. He ain’t what he used to be but he’s still a handful in the ring. I think Pacquiao and Garcia would make for a competitive fight, but I favor Manny to outjab, outwork and generally outbox and out-maneuver the heavy handed 140-pound champ en route to a decision. I think Garcia catch and hurt Pacquiao with some of his sneaky counters, but I don’t think he cracks hard or accurate enough to put the Filipino hero to sleep.
2. The Avacado Man will return. I know Algieri will have a successful career as a nutritional guru and motivational speaker one day, but he’s not done with boxing. I think he would give Garcia and IBF titleholder Lamont Peterson tough fights but would ultimately lose very close (maybe controversial) decisions. I think he would clearly outpoint Vargas (unless they fought in Las Vegas, where he would lose a controversial split decision).
3. I agree with your take on Lomachenko. I think he will eventually prove to be the best featherweight in the world. The talk is of him facing WBA titleholder Nicholas Walters, which is the fight I’d like to see most at 126 pounds. I’d also like to see Loma match his wits and talent against the experience, guts and precision power punching of WBC beltholder Jhonny Gonzalez. If Abner Mares can regain his form after another fight or two, I wouldn’t mind seeing what the three-division titleholder can do against High Tech (that’s corny ass nickname but the little Ukrainian is such a badass, it’s OK).
4. I know Vargas is physically limited, but his self-belief will always make him a difficult opponent to beat (well, that and awful judges). I think he’s going to hold on to his WBA “regular” title in 2015, in part because he may sit out much of it waiting to see if he gets the call to face Pacquiao, but also because I think he’s good enough to just get buy whoever becomes his mandatory challenger. I’m guessing the winners of Herrera-Benavides and Dulorme-Lundy will come knocking at his door soon, and I know I’m in the minority with this opinion, but I think he can outpoint those guys.
5. I think Zou has improved dramatically under Freddie Roach’s guidance, but there’s no way in hell he beats any of the 112-pound titleholders. RING/WBC champ Roman Gonzalez is arguably one of the top five fighters on the planet, WBO/WBC titleholder Juan Estrada is a monster who can outclass or overpower any flyweight not nicknamed “Chocolatito,” and IBF beltholder Amnat Ruenroeng is one of the sport’s best pure boxers (as well as a strong candidate for Fighter of the Year). Only way Zou gets a belt is if he fights Ruenroeng in Macau and the judges blatantly rob the Thai stick-and-move specialist. Gonzalez and Estrada will stop the Chinese hero.
PACMAN & UNSUNG ONESONG
Hey Doug, to borrow from the Mike Tyson lexicon, Pacquiao looked sensational on Saturday! I’m not going to lie, I took a great deal of satisfaction watching the Pacman clobber Algeri all over the ring. I haven’t been able to stand that guy since his fight with Taylor (the first time I saw him.) So many of these pure stick and move boxers have an air of superiority that drives me crazy. Pacquiao outclassed him both during the fight and in the post-fight interviews.
By the way, I sure hope Stallone took Onesongchaigym out for a beer after the fight. The little Thai fighter won my father and I over with his relentless never-say- die performance. I don’t think Zou Shiming goes six rounds with Chocolatito but hey, Onesong was a domestic fighter who came to China as a sacrificial lamb and gave the native golden boy a black eye and a good scrap. Everyone in the bar we were at was cheering the little man on as he pressed the fight down the stretch.
Thanks for all the work you put into the Mailbag. I don’t know where you find the time! – Jack, Vancouver
My wife knows, and she ain’t happy about it. LOL.
Zou would get chopped to pieces by Chocolatito, but there’s no shame in that. Gonzalez is an elite boxer-puncher who is currently at his peak. That’s why I’m always tooting his horn in these mailbags. Fans should not miss his fights because he is a once-in-a-decade talent.
Zou, on the other hand, is a once-in-a-decade attraction. What he’s helping Top Rank do with these shows in Macau should not go unnoticed. He’s opening up a new and potentially lucrative market for boxing, and he might make for some huge matchups (internationally speaking – not in the U.S., where the flyweights are traditionally ignored). Zou vs. name fighters from Mexico (Giovani Segura), Puerto Rico (the Arroyo Bros.), Philippines (Brian Viloria) and, of course, Japan (Kazuto Ioka) would make for good fights and good TV ratings (in those countries).
And who knows? Maybe Top Rank could do some special cards that just showcase good flyweight matchups. I wouldn’t mind seeing your boy Onesongchaigym match his guts against Segura or Tyson Marquez.
First time writing so I’ll be brief. I’m sure you are tired about Pac/Mayweather drama sooo…What do you think about the young prospect from Mexico, Oscar Valdez? Is he the next Barrera/El Terrible? Keep up the good work!! – Alex from Los Angeles
Thanks Alex, I’ll try.
I think Valdez looks good and he’s progressing well, as I expected him to. He’s a two-time Olympian who is being moved by some of the best boxing minds in the business (promoter Top Rank and manager Frank Espinoza).
He’s got an entertaining style and he’s currently 13-0 with 12 knockouts. What’s not to like about Oscar?
Having said that, I’ve never been blown away by his boxing skill, athletic ability or natural talent. That doesn’t mean he won’t go on to win multiple world titles. I remember thinking that Juan Diaz was nothing special watching him fight at age 17 and 18. I thought he’d just be an entertaining TV fighter but never a world-class lightweight, let alone a champ. So what does he do? He wins his first world title at age 20 and then wins two more major belts for good measure. Ya never know.
It’s too early to tell if Valdez is the next Marco Antonio Barrera or Erik Morales. I don’t think of those two legends when I see him fight now, but then again, I didn’t see Barrera or El Terrible when they only had 10-13 fights. I first saw them just before they won their first major titles. Maybe he’s just as good as they looked when they had 12 or 13 bouts.
UK PAY PER VIEW
I’ve been an avid reader of your mailbag for about 2 years now and as I heard others say before it’s a great way to book-end my working week.
I just wanted to know your thoughts on the pay per event in Liverpool last Saturday. I paid ┬ú16.95 for this card, which on reflection should have never been a pay per view event. I think I may have been still giddy from the excitement of the excellent Froch-Groves 2 PPV that was excellent & the main event genuinely gave me butterflies like only a big prize fight can.
My question is really what your thoughts were on what constitutes a PPV worthy card/fight? I’m guessing a top of bill fight between two fairly average cruiserweights with no titles on line wouldn’t cut the mustard. Or am I just being overly critical of Eddie Hearn. I know you guys over there pay a lot more for some very one sided fights(not that I’m saying Bellew-Cleverly was one-sided, it was just a Snooze-fest!!!)
Hope I make the mailbag but either way keep up the good work I’ll be reading!! –
Sean, Birmingham, UK
Thanks for the kind words, Sean.
You answered your own question in this email to me. You said the Froch-Groves rematch “gave you butterflies.” Well, that’s what a pay-per-view main event is supposed to do to a hardcore boxing fan. It should have enough name recognition to bring in casual fans, but it should be such a mouth-watering matchup for hardcore aficionados that it gives them full-on “nerd-gasms” just thinking about it.
That’s what closed-circuit main events in the 1980s and pay-per-view topper in the 1990s and early 2000s did to Yours Truly. I’m talking about Leonard-Hearns I, Hagler-Hearns, Hagler-Leonard, Tyson-Spinks, Holyfield-Foreman, Holyfield-Bowe I, II and III, Whitaker-Chavez, and so on. You get the picture. Pay-per-view shows should not be headlined by Floyd Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero or Marcos Maidana, Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios or Algieri, Canelo Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo or Erislandy Lara, and certainly not by the Cleverly-Bellew rematch. That’s just silly; noÔÇª scratch that, it’s just GREEDY!
I sincerely hope the quality of PPV main events improves in 2015 but that’s not going to happen if hardcore fans keep coughing up their hard-earned dough for dreck.
Hi Doug, Quick question. I was wondering whether boxers have to make a minimum weight. For example if someone were to fight for a welterweight title, they have to be under 147, but do they have to be over 140? If not, have there ever been examples of this? I only thought this after seeing rumours of Mayweather-Cotto 2, if it were to be at middleweight would Floyd have to be over 154? Keep up the good work. – Greg, Nottingham
If Mayweather were to challenge Cotto for the middleweight title, my guess is that both would be well under the division limit of 160 pounds. Cotto would probably weigh 155 and Mayweather would probably weigh-in at 152.
As far as I know there is no limit for how light a fighter can come in for a title bout. If you recall, Pacquiao came in well under the welterweight limit for his WBC junior middleweight title bout against Antonio Margarito (which was set at a contracted catchweight of 150 pounds rather than the traditional 154-pound limit). Pacquiao weighed in at 144¾ pounds to Margarito’s 150 the day before their fight.
The great Henry Armstrong weighed 142 pounds for his 10-round middleweight bout against Ceferino Garcia, which was recognized as a world title bout in California, where it took place in 1940. Garcia, who Armstrong outpointed in one of his many welterweight title defenses a few years earlier, was hardly a big middleweight. He weighed in at 153¾ pounds for their middleweight showdown, which ended in a disputed draw (most observers thought Armstrong won).
When Billy Conn challenged Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship in their classic first fight in 1941, he officially weighed one pound under the light heavyweight limit, 174 pounds. (Unofficially, he supposedly came in lighter, like around 169 pounds. Legend has it the promoters “added a few pounds” to Conn’s weight in order to help sell the fight.) Louis was hardly a giant, though, weighing in at 199¾.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer