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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

01
Dec
Photo by Chris Farina

Is newly crowned RING lightweight champ Terence Crawford a future pound-for-pound king? Photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank

CRAWFORD IS THE FUTURE, BUT WHY RUSH IT?

Hey Dougie,I was very impressed by Terence Crawford’s performance against my rugged countryman Ray Beltran. It was the kind of performance that puts you above the crowd as the true champion and man to beat. As of now, every single man within grasp of the 135-pound division should be aiming at him. I hear a lot of people talking about the 140-lbs division, the question is why?

I like to see fighters dominate their division until cleaning it out and then moving up. He’s just established himself as the champ; he now must beat everybody there before going up. Do I want to see him against the top fighters in the junior welter ranks? Sure, just not yet. I do think he would dominate Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse. He’s still too green for a Pacman, though. Let him become the fighter that he’s destined to be, don’t rush him, let him defend the title and establish himself as a force. He will eventually become a pound-for-pound entrant and may one day be the number one fighter in the world. He has the potential.

The Evgeny Gradovich-Jayson Velez fight was a good scrap and think the decision was fair. People complaining that Gradovich got robbed should take a look at the round by round scoring before declaring someone a winner. The fact is that Gradovich let go the first 3 rounds and he could have easily lost 3 more, specially the 10th and 12th. There were lots of closely contested rounds that could have gone either way. I’m happy with the draw. True, the harder shots were landed by the Mexican Russian, but in the end he let go a lot of rounds that could’ve been his. This was his fight to win and he let it go.



Who do you see winning Fighter of the Year? It’s between Crawford, Sergey Kovalev and Manny Pacquiao in my book. I won’t decide yet until the end of the year, the Crawford fight is too fresh to be objective. Hope you have a great week. – Juan Valverde, Tijuana

If all things were equal in this world, I would say that 2014 Fighter of the Year honors is between Crawford and IBF flyweight titleholder Amnat Ruenroeng. Kovalev, Pacquiao and my man Roman Gonzlaez are all strong runner ups.

However, you and I both know that there is no equality in this world, especially in boxing, so the 34-year-old flyweight titleholder from Thailand will be overlooked by most of the boxing media. I think Crawford will be the consensus choice for Fighter of the Year, at least within the American boxing community. Crawford is promoted by Top Rank and his last six bouts were televised on HBO. His undeniable talent combined with the formidable PR machines of his promoter and network ensure that he won’t be overlooked. Ruenroeng fights in a division that is commonly ignored by American fans and media, and none of his bouts were televised in the U.S. He will be lucky if he’s even mentioned as a “runner-up.”

By the way, I’m not saying that Crawford isn’t worthy of the honor. He is. The Nebraska native had a strong year by outclassing Ricky Burns (on the road), stopping Yuriorkis Gamboa (in a Fight of the Year candidate) and dominating Beltran (the No. 1 contender). But it can be argued that Ruenroeng defeated better competition in his three bouts of 2014.

At an advanced age (for flyweights), the ex-con-turned-stick-and-move-specialist upset Filipino veteran Rocky Fuentes, who was on a 15-bout win streak (that included some top Japanese and Mexican flys), for the vacant IBF title. He defended the title against heavily favored two-division beltholder Kazuto Ioka, and he outpointed Ioka (via split nod) in the exceptional talent’s home country (Japan). Ruenroeng capped the year with a second title defense against McWilliams Arroyo, a former amateur standout and 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian who had established himself as a top pro prospect.

Ruenroeng was arguably the underdog in all three of his 2014 fights. Can we say that about Crawford and his 2014 opponents? Burns was clearly on the decline going into their fight. Though I favored the gutsy Scotsman, I thought (like most) that he deserved to lose his draw with Beltran, and then “the Rickster” lost his bout right after the Crawford fight. I know Gamby had a lot of hype being an undefeated Cuban and all, but I gave the hyperactive midget very little shot of beating Crawford given his inactivity and gross technical flaws. Bottom line: Gamby was overrated and not a real lightweight.

Which brings us to Saturday’s performance: Crawford was brilliant. He once again proved that he’s a complete fighter. He can box and attack, and he can do it coming forward or moving, from southpaw or orthodox stances. He’s smart but he’s tough and he’s got heart. That combo was too much for Beltran, who is good enough to beat lower-top 10/fringe contenders and prospects, but not an elite talent in his prime. I thought Beltran was robbed against Sharif Bogere (as well of Burns, of course) but I thought his loss to then-prospect Luis Ramos was legit. And Ramos wasn’t a blue-chip prospect or talented enough to really establish himself at 135 pounds.

My point is that yes, Crawford is hands down the man at lightweight, but let’s not go crazy and call him a pound-for-pound player and future hall of famer just yet. And let’s not make him a huge favorite to stop every junior welterweight standout in the game.

I have no doubt that Crawford can compete at 140 pounds but I don’t think he would dominate Garcia or Matthysee. Both guys have the power to hurt Crawford and both possess the skill/experience to land their bombs. I’d love to see those fights, but like you, I’m in no rush to see Crawford invade the 140-pound division.

Crawford earned THE RING’s vacant lightweight championship with Saturday’s victory. It would be nice to witness the champ defend that title a few times. Then again, who would he fight at 135 pounds that anyone would give a rat’s ass about? Mickey Bey? He’s a good boxer but he doesn’t deserve the IBF belt he holds. Plus, his style would not make for an entertaining bout. As much as Bey would likely stink it out against Crawford, top contenders Richar Abril and Miguel Vazquez would probably make for even more unwatchable matchups.

Personally, I think Jorge Linares would make for an interesting challenge because he’s skilled and talented but he isn’t totally defense-minded. His suspect chin and susceptibility to facial cuts just adds drama to the fight in my opinion. However, Linares carries the dreaded “exposed” tag among hardcore heads and wouldn’t be viewed as a worthy challenger.

Omar Figueroa Jr. would make for a fun fight, given his raw, take-no-prisoners approach to fighting, but now that I think about it, he and Crawford would weigh-in at 135 pounds and then actually fight each other as junior middleweights. So what’s the point of having a “lightweight” title on the line? If Crawford’s going to rehydrate above 150 pounds (as he did for the Beltran fight), he might as well go up in weight where he won’t have such an unfair advantage over his opponents.

Regarding the premature Crawford vs. Pacquiao talk, I think it would be an interesting matchup if it took place at 140 pounds. However, I don’t think it should happen for two reasons: One, Crawford (like Algieri) has not established himself as a “name” among casual fans and is not ready to be a PPV B-side; and two, the matchup isn’t fair to either fighter. As you noted, Crawford isn’t experienced enough to handle Pacquiao; and Manny won’t get any credit if he beats him.

Regarding the Gradovich-Velez fight, I didn’t have any problem with the draw verdict, although I thought the Russian deserved the nod by a few points. I think Abel Sanchez did a very good job with Velez, who performed a lot better than I expected him to.

 

CHISORA, FURY & THE CHAMP

Hey Doug,

How those big boys can surprise a fan. I have just recovered from the absolutely stellar performance by Wladimir Klitschko. (I shamelessly predicted Kubrat Pulev would upset him L ). Now Tyson Fury fights a disciplined and strong fight in which he ends the Dereck Chisora bulls__t-campaign. No one ever should mention Chisora and . in one sentence ever again. Joe Frazier moved his head and would not, could not, back up.

In retrospect, the fight makes Steve Cunningham look even better. What do you think Doug? Does Fury have a chance against Klitschko? Personally I don’t think he’s got much of a chance. Best regards. – Bart Plaatje from Groningen, Holland

Fury’s goofy face, unflattering physique – which is both gangly and dumpy – and awkwardness makes it easy to dismiss him entirely against Klitschko. However, I think he can make his awkward movement and long arms work for him against the heavyweight champ.

Photo by Julian Finney-Getty Images

Photo by Julian Finney-Getty Images

Would I pick Fury to beat Wladdy? Heavens no. But I think the unbeaten young contender can be competitive in spots and make for an interesting matchup if he fights the right fight – and I believe he would. One of the underrated things about Fury is his intelligence. He’s a smart boxer and his versatility is overlooked because of his sometimes obnoxious personality and somewhat sloppy technique. But it should be noted that not many world-class boxers are as good at switching between orthodox and southpaw stances during a fight as Fury is.

Fury’s a very big man who moves well for a 6-foot-9 260-pounder. I don’t think Wladimir would blow him out early, but who knows? Maybe after the Pulev fight, Klitschko will be encouraged to go after his challengers. There’s no doubt that the champ is a vastly superior athlete and puncher. Regardless of the outcome, I know the promotion would be very successful thanks to Fury’s big mouth and British nationality.

Regarding Chisora, no his name should never be mentioned in the same sentence as Smokin’ You Know Who. To compare the imbalanced British heavyweight fringe contender to Frazier just because he has a pressure-fighting style is like comparing Chris Algieri to Muhammad Ali because the avocado aficionado is a stick-and-move specialist.

Frazier didn’t just apply pressure, he had his constant head- and upper-body movement (as you noted) which he used to bob and weave his way inside the reach of taller, rangier opponents; and Smokin’ Joe was also a supreme volume puncher who possessed world-class power and combination technique. Oh, and he was in condition to fight at top speed from 15 rounds if need be.

Today’s heavyweights – especially the giants like Klitschko and Fury – are fortunate that nobody like Frazier exists today. The fans, on the other hand, are unfortunate that we don’t have someone like Smokin’ Joe to root for.

 

WHAT HAPPENED TO DERECK CHISORA?

Hi Doug.

Man, what a disappointment! Just when I start thinking I know something about boxing, it turns out I don’t know s__t.

What was up with Dereck Chisora on Saturday night?

Was he overtrained? Was he injured perhaps? Are his meds not working and did he suffer some sort of Oliver McCall type of mental breakdown? Or are they working so well that he is just too mellowed out to fight? Was it the fact that Tyson Fury turned southpaw for most of their fight that simply stumped him? A guy with his kind of experience should surely have been able to adjust?

Why do you think we didn’t see the Chisora that we saw against Robert Helenius, as I thought we would?

Whatever it was, Chisora was as flat as a glass of coke that has been left in the rain for a day. There was no jab, no combinations or any sustained offense to speak of. I can recall a single hard right that found the target in the third round and that was about it. Despite being at a good weight and seemingly in great shape, the fire that Chisora displayed in his comeback fights was simply not there. He just kept plodding after Fury in a straight line and taking punishment.

Fury, for his part, displayed good footwork and side to side movement for a big man and some versatility in being able to fight southpaw as well as he did. He moved around the ring while peppering Chisora at will with jabs that seemed more of the pawing, almost slapping variety than the stiff, fast ones one would expect. That was followed by whatever else he could hit Chisora with, but at a steady, controlled pace, at no point did he let fly with bad enough intentions to try and get Chisora out of there in spectacular fashion.

In short, I was somewhat impressed by Fury, but not all that much. He seemed somewhat like a poor man’s Klitschko. How would you rate his performance?

It came as a relief when Chisora’s corner decided not to let their man come out for more.

I will never boo a fighter and yet I found it difficult to blame the crowd. The fight was a big anti climax after all the hype and expectations, which is not really Fury’s fault as much as the non-performance of his opponent.

Fury will surely now get his title fight against Klitschko next year. His size, movement and strategic boxing brain will make things interesting for a while, but I wonder if he can punch with the kind of authority to get the champion’s respect. Klitschko may only have a jab, right hand and left hook, but they are all better than Fury’s version of those punches. At least the interviews in the build-up will be interesting.

How do you see that one playing out?

As for Chisora, I think he needs to question if he really wants to still do this. If Frank Warren can manage to rebuild him after this, he gets my vote for “Promoter of the Decade.”

Heck, I may even give him a call, because if he can manage that, he can probably turn me against Mickey Rourke into a pay-per-view blockbuster. Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

Good one. Hey if Warren can once again rebuild Chisora’s image after the big stank-ass egg Del Boy laid in the Fury rematch, forget about Promoter of the Decade honors, Frank should be considered a full-fledged illusionist and his name should be in the running for Master Magician of the Century along with David Copperfield, David Blaine and Criss Angel.

I agree that Fury will make for an interesting promotional B-side and challenger for Klitschko. I also agree that he lacks the power to truly threaten Wladdy, whose experience and punching prowess should take over the fight by the middle rounds. Then again, as big as Fury is, maybe he doesn’t have to concentrate so much on his punching. As you noted, his jabs and punches were of the pawing and slapping variety vs. Chisora, but Del Boy’s face was a mess by the fifth or sixth round. Let me put it this way: I don’t think Fury will beat Klitschko but I want to see the fight anyway.

How would I rate Fury’s performance against Chisora? I think it was pretty good considering his inactivity, career setbacks and personal loss coming into the bout. However, I can’t get too excited about it given Chisora’s non-effort.

Why didn’t we see the version of Chisora we saw against Helenius, as you thought we would? Well, for starters, you shouldn’t have expected Chisora to bring his best against Fury no matter what. Chisora is a head case. Always was, always will be. Fury beat him fair and square the first time they fought and the confidence the jolly giant has from that encounter was always going to mess with Chisora’s suspect mind. Chisora’s lack of mental fortitude is the sole reason I picked Fury to beat him a second time.

However, beyond Chisora’s psyche (and obvious technical limitations), it is rumored that the Zimbawe-born Londoner had physical problems coming into Saturday’s rematch. I’ve been told that he suffered an injury to his midsection in sparring. Fury who said “two broken ribs, that’s all I’m saying” to Chisora at Friday’s weigh-in must have heard the same rumor. Chisora was probably on all kinds of pain medication to get through the final days of training camp, which I’m sure didn’t help his confidence or mental state.

 

MAYWEATHER’S OPTIONS

I’m really not impressed by the names being bandied about as Floyd Mayweather’s next opponent. Amir Khan? Has tremendous speed, yes, explosive, yes? But in Mayweather’s league, no. Devon Alexander? I personally could imagine a shutout against Alexander, Mayweather’s technical ability would be too much of a problem for him. Miguel Cotto? That’s just another payday. Danny Garcia? He isn’t ready for Mayweather.

The only name anyone wants is Manny Pacquiao. I obviously don’t know the reasons why it ain’t happened but as a pay-per-view event, numbers, money, legacy it’s a no brainer. No disrespect to the likes of Robert Guerrero or Marcos Maidana but those fights will never be remembered in Mayweather’s legacy. It may be that Mayweather is a victim of his own success, that fans and critics can just totally dismiss pound-for-pound fighters as a payday for Mayweather. – Thomas C., UK

Hey, speak for yourself, Thomas. I’m not dismissing Mayweather from fighting any pound-for-pound fighters. But none of the guys you mentioned, apart from the PacMan, are in anyone’s pound for pound top 10. Just saying.

How I’ll view Khan and Alexander as potential Mayweather opponents depends on how they look when the face each other on Dec. 13. I’ll be ringside for that show and watching the main event with interest (and being a UK fan, you might hear my voice – along with Showtime commentator Brian Custer’s – during the broadcast you watch). If either former beltholder can dominate the other, I think he makes a strong statement – especially if he can do so in entertaining fashion. But if the two speeders cancel each other out in a stinker, I don’t think anyone will be looking forward to either of them challenging Mayweather.

I agree that Garcia “isn’t ready” for Mayweather, but that has more to do with the style matchup and Danny Swift’s technical limitations than the junior welterweight champ’s lack of experience. I don’t think Garcia will ever be ready for Mayweather – until Floyd officially gets “old.”

I view Cotto as more than a payday for Mayweather. He’s a threat, especially with Freddie Roach guiding him. And he can give Mayweather the middleweight championship, which will enhance Floyd’s legacy (even though most folks view GGG as the 160-pound king). Do favor Cotto in the rematch. No. The Sergio Martinez and Delvin Rodriguez fights were mirages to an extent. Cotto’s still got a lot of mileage on his fighter’s odometer, and even with Roach training him, he’s still the guy who lost to Mayweather and Austin Trout in 2012, and he’s still the poor son of a gun who was put through the proverbial meat grinder against Antonio Margarito and the 2009 version of Pacquiao. ‘Nuff said.

I’d be interested in a Mayweather-Cotto rematch, especially if the Khan-Alexander winner faced Keith Thurman (assuming One Time beats Leo Bundu on Dec. 13) in the co-featured bout of the PPV broadcast.

I’m not going to waste time on the prospect of Mayweather-Pacquiao. If the powers that be ever officially announce the fight, then I’ll be happy to discuss and debate the matchup ad nauseam.

 

EUBANK JR. EARNS SOME RESPECT

Dougie,

I was hyped up for November beyond belief. We had Pacquiao, Kovalev, Hopkins, Crawford and the 2 big British cards with Bellew/Cleverly and Chisora/Fury. Don’t know why I got excited, out of the 5 fights I mentioned pretty much all were shut outs and could hardly be described as exciting. I know promoters cannot guarantee exciting fights but I hate it when the fighters don’t seem prepared to take some more risks.

Anyway, the main point is a lot more positive. I have a lot more respect for Chris Eubank Jr. after Saturday night. He was going around beating up bums and living off his dad’s name until he was going to be handed a title shot, but instead he went and fought the best middleweight in the country (and by no means the most popular). It’s great to see a fighter prepared to risk losing in order to climb the ranks. I can see Eubank Jr. getting a rematch or other big fights at middleweight or super middleweight. It reminds me a bit of George Groves getting the Carl Froch fight too early, yeah he picked up 2 losses but then went straight into a European shot and then will fight Anthony Direll next year. What I’m saying is that the loss isn’t going to hurt Eubank’s career really, I just wish some other fighters were less precious about their ‘0.’

Don’t let the Bellew/Cleverly and Chisora/Fury fights put you off Britain. Come over some time and sample a British night (I’m thinking Joshua v Fury next year). – Sam, Nottingham

No worries, Sam. I’m not soured on British boxing at all. The main event fights can’t always be barnburners. I think I’ve enjoyed the UK boxing scene more than the U.S. scene this year. There were more big fights between top fighters and more promising up-and-comers to emerge from Britain this year than there were in the U.S. There are a lot of British players poised for big fights in 2015, some of which might happen in the U.S. But rest assured I will travel for a big UK fight card in the near future. Who knows? Maybe Chris Eubank Jr. will be on that show, or even the headliner. I think he has the star potential, he just needs to learn his craft more and gain more experience.

The 12 rounds he went with Billy Joe Saunders will help him advance to the next level (from prospect to contender). I consider Saunders a lower top-10 contender after Saturday’s fight, but I think Euby might have a higher ceiling than the unbeaten southpaw. At least we know now that Eubank is more than his famous last name and the hype from those training/sparring rumors and YouTube vids.

Photo by Julian Finney / Getty Iamges

Photo by Julian Finney / Getty Iamges

Both middleweights need to work on their offensive games. I wasn’t expect Hagler-Hearns, but I thought I’d see more combination punching and body shots from the 25-year-old standouts. They were too sparing with their offense early on for my liking. I’m glad it heated up a bit in the late rounds. Saunders deserved the nod for boxing a sound game plan during the first half of the bout and by being the ring general in the majority of rounds, but Eubank legitimately made it close by landing the telling blows down the stretch of the fight. (Saunders can take a punch.)

I’m looking forward to seeing how Saunders performs against the winner of the Matt Korobov-Andy Lee WBO title bout. I think BJS would make for interesting fights against some of the other WBO-ranked middleweights, such as Jermall Charlo and Curtis Stevens. I’d like to see Eubank take on some lower top-15 level middleweights, a bull like Tureano Johnson or even the David Lemieux-Gabriel Rosado winner. Maybe those opponents are too big of step right now.

How about Ronald Hearns? Too easy? OK, I got it. Eubank Jr. vs. Willie Monroe Jr. Call it the “Second-Generation Showdown.”

 

BAD BLOOD LETDOWN

Hey Dougie,
One of your many English fans here and I’ve just watched a second disappointing headline fight in two weeks. Unlike Bellew-Cleverly though, who both looked unfit and low quality to my eyes, Fury-Chisora was dull because Fury was just way too good for him.

That surprised and impressed me. With Fury’s inactivity and Chisora looking much better conditioned than first time around, I thought it was a dangerous fight for Fury. But he won almost too easily, switching his stance and keeping Chisora at range, even looking too quick and too clever when he got pressed against the ropes.

People often say Fury is over-hyped but to me hype is part of boxing. That aside, he deserves some credit – he’s still got his ‘0’ but he’s fought better competition than the likes of Deontay Wilder and he doesn’t duck dangerous fights. Let’s not forget he’d also have fought David Haye last year, which would have been a huge risk at that stage.

A few perhaps unusual observations though. Does the fact he never looks particularly athletic count against him and suggest he needs more ‘professional’ backing in the gym? And have you noticed his tendency to ask the referee whether he should carry on beating up his opponent, like he seemed to again on Saturday? Is that a lack of ruthlessness? And who should he fight next (he’s not ready for Klitschko and that won’t happen yet anyway)?

Quick word for Chisora – he looked jaded last night and maybe he was better in the past when he was more angry! Five defeats, all against high standard opposition (and forget the Helenius one, when he was robbed), but I think he’d make for good domestic bouts with Anthony Joshua and David Price next year.

And Eubank Jr. was just way too pedestrian in the first half of the Saunders fight. However, despite the result I think he came out of it looking the one with most potential. He needs more fights at that level before going any higher but it was a huge step up for him and I think he has the attitude and ability to outstrip Saunders in the long run, perhaps even making it at world level.

Cheers. – Tim, Aughton, Lancashire, UK

I agree that Eubank Jr. may have more potential than Saunders. Time will tell. I credit Saunders for having more command of the ring in the first half of the fight. He didn’t give Eubank an easy target but he didn’t run away from the harder puncher, who entered the ring as a slight odds favorite. Eubank didn’t know what to do with a guy who would not stand in front of him but wasn’t afraid. Maybe if he’d been developed against stronger opposition he wouldn’t have looked like a fish out of water in the first six or seven rounds against Saunders. Hopefully, his dad and team know that they can match him tougher now.

Chisora is definitely a gatekeeper at this point in his career. He’s perfect for Price and Joshua.

I absolutely think that Fury’s big, gangly non-athletic body counts against him in the eyes of most fans and media. I don’t think it means he needs to bring in Memo Hernandez or Alex Ariza as his new conditioning coach or hire Chris Algieri to prepare his meals. It’s just the way God made his body. It’s good for media buzz and casual fans when a heavyweight standout is built like super hero, as Joshua and Klitschko are; but it’s OK if they aren’t. Larry Holmes’ skinny arms and spare tire didn’t keep him from being the best heavyweight on the planet for eight years, and the big thick belly George Foreman sported during his comeback didn’t prevent him from becoming a folk hero (or from regaining the heavyweight title).

I don’t think Fury lacks ruthlessness in the ring. He knew that Chisora posed no threat on Saturday and saw no need to pummel his rival for 12 rounds. When he was put down by Steve Cunningham in 2013, he got up and got mean. He mugged the American until he got the stoppage. He did what he had to do when he had to do it.

I agree that Fury deserves some credit for his victory and the form he showed in earning it on Saturday. He’s already THE RING’s No. 4-rated contender. He’ll probably move up to the No. 3 spot, replacing Kubrat Pulev when the rankings are updated this week. Wilder, who I agree has not faced the caliber of opposition as Fury, is rated No. 6 in case you were wondering.

I love to see these two smack-talking goliaths go at it one day. They both act so damn silly at times that I think of them as pro wrestlers, which isn’t a bad thing as long as they deliver in the ring. But Wilder has a date with Bermane Stiverne next. If Fury doesn’t get an immediate crack at Klitschko, I’d like to see him in with a fun slugger like Chris Arreola or Artur Szpilka, or an undefeated guy like Bryant Jennings or Lucas Browne.

 

 

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

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