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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

02
Jan

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NAOYA INOUE

Hey Dougie!

I just watched Naoya Inoue totally wreck Omar Narvaez in less than two rounds. Narvaez, a 43 fight veteran, who took Donaire the distance, got totally owned by this little bad-ass!! What’s your take on Inoue? Is he as good as he looks? To me he looks super-sharp, mixes it up to the head and body and throws freakin’ rocks with both hands! In essence a dude to add to the must-watch list.



Thanks once again for the mailbag and all the best to you and your family for 2015! – Cheers, Stephen, Cape Town

Thanks for the kind words and good wishes, Stephen. The mailbag column is both a pleasure and an honor because of the international fan interaction it allows me to be a part of.

Is Inoue as good as he looks? Yes he is. The 21-year-old Japanese star is realer than Real Deal Holyfield (although if Inoue continues to leapfrog entire divisions and kick ass, Paulie Malignaggi might start ranting that he’s faker than “Evan Fields” – LOL!)

In all seriousness, Inoue might even be better than he currently looks. At junior flyweight, he had all of the “super-sharp” technique and body-head punch variety that you noticed against Narvaez; however, he didn’t look as sturdy and strong as he did on Dec. 30. I had the opportunity to speak to my Japanese contacts on Dec. 13, while in Las Vegas for the Khan-Alexander card (where Yoshihiro Kamegai fought on the undercard). We talked about the Narvaez-Inoue fight, and they admitted that they were a bit nervous for the kid. I asked why, and they said if he has a weakness, it’s probably his stamina.

Well, obviously, that wasn’t tested on Dec. 30, but my hunch is that fighting at a more natural weight (115 pounds) will boost the young man’s endurance (along with his physical strength and punching power, but don’t try to tell that to Paulie). Only time will tell (because he’s going to stop a lot of opponents with that laser-accurate body attack), but I think we might see even more of his talent once he’s taken into the late rounds by a top-notch fighter.

THE JAPANESE PHENOM!

Dougie,
I just want to take a moment to say that Naoya Inoue is a beast! He knocked out Omar Narvaez which is something no one has ever done. Not even the Filipino Flash during his rise up the Pound-For-Pound rankings did that and Narvaez was fighting at 118 pounds (Donaire’s weight). This guy is nasty and the fact he knocked him out with those “Winning” gloves (which really robs punchers of their power e.g. Pacquiao vs Morales I) makes me wonder how powerful this guy can hit. Maybe now I will start to take notice of this guy.

But really we need to see some of these tiny fighters on American television (really on HBO). I think hardcore fans would be drooling over a Roman Gonzales fight and/or Naoya Inoue fight. This Dougie, would be my wish for 2015. – Tim

Wow, Gonzalez stepping up from flyweight to junior bantam to challenge Inoue would truly be a showdown between elite-level boxer-punchers. Both little monsters are worthy of the pound-for-pound rankings, in my opinion. The winner of that potential showdown would have to be considered a top five (or even top three) P4P player (and anyone who dares disagree with my not-so-humble opinion should not be allowed to discuss the “mythical rankings” ever again).

If you weren’t paying attention to Inoue prior to the Narvaez fight, you gotta take notice now. Folks I know who are part of the Japanese boxing industry were raving about Inoue when he was an amateur, and the young man has definitely lived up to their hype. Even though I’ve raved a little bit about him in the past, he still exceeded my expectations for this stage of his pro career.

In the Sept. 8, 2014 Monday mailbag I had this to say about the former amateur standout:

Inoue (7-0, 6 knockouts), the reigning WBC 108-pound titleholder, is a very special young fighter and he has a very bright future. I think he’s the best boxer on the planet who is under 22, as well as the best boxer with less than 10 pro bouts. Inoue definitely deserves more props outside of Japan.

I don’t think he’s quite ready for Nietes or Casimero but he will be by this time next year. And he’ll be ready for the best flyweights in the world, even my man Chocolatito, in about two years.

That was then. Just three months later, he destroyed THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior bantamweight. My guess is that he would have handled Nietes and Casimero this year (unless he was really struggling to make 108 pounds), and he’ll probably be ready to take on the top flyweights in 2015. The young badass is definitely ahead of schedule.

He’s my personal pick for Fighter of the Year for 2014. And I admit that I was overlooking him earlier this year when I considered Terence Crawford and Amnat Ruenroeng the top two candidates for that honor. He should have been on the short list, along with Sergey Kovalev and Manny Pacquiao.

I wouldn’t hold my breath for HBO to showcase Inoue and Gonzalez. Inoue makes good money fighting in Japan and he doesn’t really have any viable dance partners to fight in the U.S. (unless Chocolatito, Brian Viloria or Juan Estrada step up to challenge him and a North American promoter works hard to bring that showdown to this continent). If Gonzalez-Estrada II can be made there’s a chance we could see that rematch on premium U.S. cable, but again, I think it’s a long shot.

However, I don’t want to be too negative (especially at the start of a new year). Nobody could have conceived of Pacquiao becoming an HBO staple and bona-fide super star in the U.S. back when he was just a former flyweight champ campaigning at junior featherweight. The key to the PacMan’s American emergence was that he signed with a U.S. promoter (Murad Muhammad), who had in-roads with HBO, he hooked up with a top-notch trainer in Freddie Roach, and he had high-profile dance partners once he stepped up to featherweight and junior lightweight (Barrera, Marquez and Morales).

INOUE IS ONE OF BOXING’S NEW STARS

Hey Doug,

The weekend started with a big upsetter, a positive upsetter some might say. Besides Canelo Alvarez and a few other guys, the pound-for-pound top 10 lists don’t contain many fighters in their early twenties. It’s unmistakable that Floyd Mayweather and the other veterans in the pound for pound won’t hang around on the lists forever and young guns rising up like Naoya Inoue is essential for the sport.

I don’t believe many expected the young phenomenon Inoue to outbox the experienced veteran Omar Narvaez in just two rounds. What are your thoughts about the guy? I see him as a potential future top 5 pound for pound fighter. How do you see Inoue making it against one of your favourites, Chocolatito?

Best wishes and a Happy New Year! – Evert

Happy New Year to you too, Evert.

I think Inoue is the truth, but he’s got some strong competition at 115 pounds. Carlos Cuadras, an unbeaten (31-0-1, 25 KOs) young WBC titleholder from Mexico City, Thailand’s hard-nosed former WBC beltholder Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, undefeated (16-0) Puerto Rican contender McJoe Arroyo, Inoue’s veteran countryman Kohei Kono (the holder of the WBA strap) and the winner of the Zolani Tete-Paul Butler IBF title bout in March all represent stern challenges to the youngest elite boxer on the planet.

I’d make Inoue the slight favorite against Kono, Arroyo, the Tete-Butler winner and Sor Rungvisai (provided they don’t fight in Thailand). Cuadras is another story. He’s young (26 years old), a big boy (a natural 118 pounder) and he’s got some versatility. Cuadras puts punches together very well but he can move well (feet and upper body), counterpunch and let his hands go on the fly. I think that’s an even fight if it ever happens.

Right now, I don’t think Inoue is ready for young elite-level champs like Gonzalez or Juan Estrada if and when they decide to move up to 115 pounds. If Inoue and Chocolatito fought this year, I’d favor the Nicaraguan. Beyond 2015, who knows? We’ll have to see what Inoue does in the next 12 months.

How Inoue does against two or three of the 115-pound standouts I listed will let us know if he has what it takes to best a fellow monster like Gonzalez. If he can soundly defeat the likes of Cuadras, I think he does have the potential to be a top fight P4P player. (If he can beat a badass like Chocolatito, forget about it, he’s there already.)

I don’t know if “boxing experts” favored Inoue to beat Narvaez or not. I think much of the U.S. boxing media slept on that fight. (It kind of snuck up on me, as well, although I did predict that Inoue would outpoint Narvaez a few months ago, a pick that was printed in the latest issue of THE RING, the March 2015 edition on newsstands now. Kudos to RING editor Michael Rosenthal for picking Inoue to win by eighth-round KO.) I don’t think anybody thought Inoue would blow the Argentine veteran out in two one-sided rounds, though.

Anyway, I agree that Inoue’s emergence in 2014 is a boon to the sport. He’s attracting much-deserved attention to the sub-bantamweight divisions along with Gonzalez, and I think he deserves to be somewhere between No. 7 and No. 10 on pound-for-pound lists right now.

I’m very excited about the new generation of elite boxers. Out with the old, in with the YOUNG!

BOXING IN 2014

Peace fellow yellow brethren. Unfortunately, I can’t give you the Skillz version of the year end rap up. But to quote my boy Marv: “This is blood for blood and by the gallons. These are the old days man, the bad days, the ALL-OR-NOTHING days. They’re back! There’s no choices left. And I’m ready for war.”

Boxing in 2014 simply amazing. Main Events on NBC, Stiverne-Arreola on ESPN, GGG (aka OG triple OG), The Axe Man and most of all, Wladimir Klitschko. I have followed boxing for 30+ years. My dad trained and managed a few guys with Adolph Pruitt back in the ’80s who fought in Culver City. They weren’t that good, but I got to meet Farrah Fawcett in her prime! (OMG)…

ANYWAY, Wlad w/ Manny Steward (RIP), in my humble opinion could compete in any era. The new era of fighters are a product of evolution and thankfully promoters are burying the hatchet and giving us great fights. Looking forward to 2015. Keep up the great work. Peace. – Alif

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on 2014 and the potential of 2015, Alif. It’s always good to hear from boxing fans with a “glass-half-full” mentality. A lot of the hardcore nuts I converse with (admittedly via Twitter) viewed 2014 as one of the crappiest in recent memory. Most of those fans were basing their opinions on the series of Al Haymon-influenced mismatches on Showtime and the mostly mediocre programming on HBO. However, to your credit you pointed out significant moments occurred on other networks (such as Stiverne-Arreola II being on ESPN), and you also recognized the outstanding performers that were showcased on HBO (Golovkin, Nicholas Walters, Klitschko).

I’ll add to the highlights of 2014, a few slugfest gems that were televised on Showtime – Lucas Matthysse-John Molina, Robert Guerrero-Yoshihiro Kamegai, and Adrien Broner-Emanuel Taylor – and the many significant overseas boxing events that took place, such as Carl Froch-George Groves II, Carl Frampton-Kiko Martinez II, and the stacked end-of-the-year card that took place in Japan this week.

I’m definitely looking forward to what happens this year with Froch (hopefully the showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.), Golovkin (hopefully the Froch-Chavez winner), Klitschko (hopefully the Stiverne-Wilder winner), and Walters (hopefully Lomachenko, Gonzalez or Gradovich).

Anyway, it was great to read the name of Adolph Pruitt in your email. I’m among the 1 percent of the current boxing fans/media that is familiar with the former junior welterweight/welterweight contender, and I’m in the .001 percent that has actually met the man (in fact, I may have worked the mitts with him a few times at the Broadway gym in Watts around 20 years ago). Pruitt was a bad mother f___er. The late, great Bill Slayton, who trained Pruitt, once showed me a film of the St. Louis native’s 1970 junior welterweight title challenge to Nicolino Locche in the hall of famer’s native Argentina (a 15-round bout Pruitt lost by unanimous decision).

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I thought Pruitt, who also fought hall of famers Jose Napoles and Eddie Perkins, deserved to win that one. He clearly outworked “El Intocable” (The Untouchable).

 

GONZALEZ-MARES REMATCH

Hi Doug,

Thanks for the scoop on the J-Gon-Mares rematch. I did see a recent interview with Abner Mares, and as you said, he seems to have rediscovered that swagger that makes him so appealing. Hey, in this case, the childish play-ground like boundaries that the boxing big-wig, d__k waggers have drawn, may work in the fan’s favor.

Agree with your assessment of Stiverne/Wilder. Wilder is a beast but Stiverne is really good.

In my last email, I meant to add a query about a mythical match up that I can’t help thinking would be pugilistic insanity: Mugabi v. Kirkland. They kinda held the same place (looming threats to the elite) in their respective eras. (If you’ve already answered this I apologize for being redundant but please do it one more time. It would take long to search through years of your mailbags).

Thanks again. – Sam

No problem, Sam. Nobody’s ever proposed a mythical matchup between Mugabi and Kirkland. That’s a good one! I think the pre-Marvin Hagler version of “The Beast” would have stopped in Kirkland in the middle rounds of – what else? – a bloody, brutal slugfest. The powerful left hooks, right-uppercut bombs and vicious body shots that Mugabi landed on Hagler before the all-time great middleweight champ wore him down to an 11th-round stoppage would have been too much for Kirkland, in my opinion.

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Glad you agree with my Stiverne-Wilder assessment. Now watch “The Bronze Bomber” blast the talented Haitian titleholder out in one round. LOL.

If Haymon’s politics and machinations leads to Jhonny Gonzalez-Abner Mares II, score one for Al.

Your term, “d__k wagers,” cracked me up. There are a lot of d__k wagers among boxing’s big wigs. Too many. That’s why I say tie them all into triple knots and put Kathy Duva in charge of the sport.

 

COTTO VS. LEE IN 2015

Doug! You the Man!
Am I the only one that wants to a see Miguel Cotto vs. Andy Lee unification match before Cotto v. Canelo or Cotto v. Mayweather II???

I think that would go longer wayz for Cotto’s Legacy if he can follow up his win over Sergio Martinez by also unifying against Lee…..and it should be a good scrap. Lee has proven to be more than capable. Thanks. Keep up the good work. – El Danzo, Los Angeles

You’re probably the only person, apart from the newly crowned WBO middleweight titleholder, trainer Adam Booth and the Irish southpaw’s management, who wants to see Cotto-Lee before the Puerto Rican star squares off with Canelo. There are more than a few hardcore heads who’d rather see Cotto-Lee than watch Cotto go another 12 rounds with Mayweather, but the vast majority of fans would rather see Mayweather-Cotto II.

Cotto-Canelo is the main middleweight fight that I want to see in 2015. No disrespect to Lee, who is one of my favorite fighters and boxing people. When there was some talk of Cotto facing Lee in December of this year (shortly after the Martinez) fight, I would have been happy if Lee got the title shot. In fact, I considered Lee to be very live in that matchup.

I think the good folks at Top Rank are also aware that Lee could upset the future hall of famer with that vaunted right hook of his and probably thought better of that matchup. Cotto and his management are simply looking for the best deal they can get. That means it’s between Canelo and Mayweather.

Lee’s got a tough WBO mandatory with Billy Joe Saunders. If he beats his fellow southpaw, I’d like to see what he could do against fellow puncher David Lemieux and former beltholder Peter Quillin.

OBSERVATIONS ON PACQUIAO’S WEIGHT CLIMB

Good stuff in the Monday mailbag, really enjoyed the observations concerning Manny Pacquiao and fighting at different weight classes. – Jay V.

Thanks Jay. If I provided any sort of helpful insight or perspective on that hot-button topic then I feel I’ve done my job.

THANKS FOR THE RESPONSE

Thanks for the insight to my email about Paulie Malignaggi’s comments on Manny Pacquiao in the Monday mailbag. The sport could use more level headed intelligent reporters like you. I enjoyed your thoughtful response and shared with my coworkers. – P Stamp

Thanks for the kind words, P.

For the record, I’m not saying that Pacquiao is beyond any sort of PED suspicion. He isn’t. No amateur or professional athlete is in this era. And I wasn’t saying that I was totally against Malignaggi voicing his opinions on the subject. The only problems I have with Malignaggi’s frequent Pacquiao/PED rants is that A) he has no proof, and B) there are a dozen other high-profile elite/star boxers who are also suspected of PED use by fans and much of the industry, but he never mentions their names.

The only problem I had with his Tapia-Pacquiao comparison is that he ignored or overlooked the fact that Tapia was able to make 115 pounds throughout his 20s and even into his early 30s. Pacquiao would’ve have had to cut one of his legs off to make 115 pounds beyond the age of 20. So when making a case against Pacquiao being a “clean” athlete, one shouldn’t use the fact that he won his first title at flyweight as a key to the argument.

The only “unnatural” thing about Pacquiao’s historic weight climb is that he was able to starve himself down to flyweight (112 pounds) during his teens and down to junior featherweight (122 pounds) during his early adulthood.

 

 

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

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