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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

05
Jan

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RIGO DOES JAPAN

Hi, Doug,

Happy New Year!



1) Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Hisashi Amagasa was surprisingly entertaining. It was a mismatch, but hats off to Amagasa. He tried to do something and it was what many of Rigo’Bs opponents didn’t even want to do.

But more impressive was Rigondeaux bravely fighting back after two knockdowns. When he got dropped by Ricardo Cordova, he chose to play safe. This time, however, with still shaky legs, he chose to attack and finish his opponent.

While it doesn’t mean Rigo will be like Gatti or Israel Vazquez, he showed that he also has tremendous heart like a warrior (I’m saying too much?).

By the way, Rigondeaux was really respected by Japanese boxing media (and even non-boxing media) and fans. Of course, the money Japan can offer is not as great as the money he can get in the U.S., so he won’t fight in Japan regularly, but it’s good to see him get a warm welcome and respect that he deserves.

2) Omar Narvaez vs Naoya Inoue was just unbelievable. I still cannot believe Narvaez got destroyed so easily. Inoue faced the veteran at the right time? Even if so, Inoue is good, he is a monster and has a bright future. No doubt about it.

3) Mythical matchups: Prime Omar Narvaez vs Pongsaklek Wonjongkam at 112 pounds.

Prime Narveaz vs Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire at 112/115.

Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Wilfredo Gomez and Erik Morales at 122.

Thank you for the great mailbags in 2014! May 2015 be another good year for all boxing fans, you and your family. Cheers. – Taku from Japan

Thanks for the kind New Year’s wishes, Taku. I’ll respond to your thoughts in order:

1) You are getting a little over-excited about Rigo’s up-from-the canvas stoppage of Amagasa. Yes, it was an entertaining fight by the Cuban’s standards, but the Japanese challenger should get most of the credit for the aggressive tone and fast tempo of the bout. He’s the one who took it to the champ round after round. Rigo stood his ground and landed big shots in spots – because guess what? Amagasa is not exactly Floyd Mayweather Jr. when it comes to the fine art of boxing defense – but the word’s top 122 pounder also did his share of runniÔǪ, uh, I mean, moving (don’t want to piss of the purists), and he did so after the knockdowns, too. Let’s not add the word “entertainer” to Rigo’s impressive resume just yet, and let’s not pretend that he did anything that wasn’t expected. Amagasa is not a talented boxer, he’s a game slugger. Period. Amagasa was on a nice featherweight win streak going into the Rigo fight but apart from former beltholder Ryol Li Lee, he hadn’t defeated anyone that merited a crack at THE RING/WBA/WBO junior featherweight titles. He was not among the top 10 featherweights or junior featherweights rated by THE RING, the Transnational Boxing Rankings or ESPN.com. Regardless, it was another victory for Rigo and I’m glad it got some international attention and I’m happy that the two-time Olympic gold medalist was respected and well received in Japan. He’ll probably never be as welcomed in the U.S. I know Rigo’s called out Leo Santa Cruz, who says he wants the fight, but I doubt that showdown (one of the few attractive matchups that can be made in America) will ever happen unless the Cuban southpaw signs with Al Haymon. I think Rigo’s best bet is to do like the African-American jazz greats of the 1960s (Count Basie, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Cecil Taylor, among other giants) and tour Japan and Europe as much as possible. I’m not big fan of the savvy southpaw counterpuncher, but I’d like to see him defend his 122-pound crown against bantamweight boss Shinsuke Yamanaka, or junior feather standouts Carl Frampton and Scotto Quigg – bouts that would be big events in Japan and the UK.

2) You have my full permission to be in awe of Inoue and his performance against Narvaez. Did the young man catch the aging veteran at the right time? Maybe. But here’s a few facts: going into the fight, Narvaez was the No. 1-ranked junior bantamweight in the world, according to THE RING, the Transnational Boxing Rankings and ESPN.com. The two-division beltholder was also one of the most experienced world-class boxers on the planet with 30 title bouts under his belt going into the Dec. 30 showdown (that’s THIRTY with 29 victories and only one loss to a pound-for-pound rated fighter via decision at bantamweight). The least experienced titleholder in boxing SMASHED one of the most battle-tested. Nuff said. Inoue’s a beast. His future’s so bright, he’s gotta wear shades.

3) Mythical matchups:

Prime Omar Narvaez vs Pongsaklek Wonjongkam at 112 pounds РIn Argentina, Narvaez would win a close decision. In Thailand, Wonjongkam would win a close decision. On neutral territory oh who am I kidding? No other nation would care to host that fight.

Prime Narvaez vs Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire at 112/115 – Darch Vader lands the harder punches en route to a competitive decision win at flyweight; Donaire scores a late TKO at 112 pounds. The Raging Bull batters Narvaez to mid-to-late stoppage at 115 (Vic’s most formidable weight in my opinion); the Filipino Flash scores one-sided but uneventful UD at junior bantamweight, not unlike their 118-pound snoozer.

Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Wilfredo Gomez and Erik Morales at 122 – Gomez, whose ring savvy was just as impressive as his punching power and warrior’s heart, stops Rigo before the eighth round. El Terrible would have some problems with Rigo’s style and power early in the fight – with the TJ warlord’s aggressiveness, he might even be wobbled or dropped by a clean left – but I think he would make the necessary adjustments as the fight wore on and gradually pull the Cuban into the kind of scrap that he relished (and excelled at). I think Morales would either drop Rigo a few times en route to a decision, or stop the amateur star in the late rounds. I know this opinion will piss off members of the Cult of Rigo, but like Amagasa, Morales was a tall, rangy featherweight, who could make 122 pounds – but unlike the Japanese brawler, the Mexican fighter was a superb (and very underrated) technician and boxer. Morales was known for his fighting spirit but he was also smart about how he attacked his opponents. He had an educated jab, very good in-and-out footwork, parried punches well and would let his hands go at angles once he was in range of a crafty boxer. If Donaire and Amagasa could drop Rigo, and a mere prospect like Robert Marroquin could give the southpaw the wobbles a few times, I think El Terrible would touch that chin and do considerable damage. And unlike the guys I mentioned, Morales would be able to finish the job. The bottom line with both of these mythical matchups is that I don’t think Rigo would outclass Gomez or Morales with his amateurish lateral movement and power counter-punching skill, and I don’t think he could keep them in check just by busting them with good shots. Gomez and Morales could take a great shot, and both demonstrated their willingness to absorb unbelievable, almost inhuman, amounts of punishment in all-time great bouts time and time again during their legendary careers. So, I ask myself this: How would Rigo keep those combination-punching 122-pound monsters off of him? He has a pawing jab, he isn’t a stick-and-move specialist, he rarely lets his hands go in bunches and he often goes into the “earmuff defense” when he’s under fire. The answer: He couldn’t hold off Gomez or Morales and he would have eventually been overwhelmed.

 

THE NEVERENDING STORY

What’s up Doug,

It’s been a while since I dropped some lines, so here it goes, I know you’re sick of hearing about the fight, but I just wanted to know whose legacy would be hurt more if Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao never happens? I know they are both calling each other out but to be honest I don’t think Mayweather wants to step in the ring with Pacman and put his “0” in danger. The only other option I see for Mayweather is to have a rematch with Miguel Cotto. I bet Cotto is having the time of his life since he is so sought after now. I would like to see Cotto in with a formidable opponent who would be a good fight (but not dangerous) in the middleweight division, like Gabriel Rosado. Anyways keep up the good work and happy New Year. – Matthew Dolan, Fort McDowell, AZ

Cotto took a calculated risk by challenging the legless Sergio Martinez, and now he’s looking to cash in on that gamble against the highest bidder. It’s either gonna be Canelo or Mayweather. I don’t mean to sound cold or dismissive, because I respect Rosado, but the only time he’s gonna in the ring with Cotto is to serve as a sparring partner for an Alvarez fight.

Regarding your question about Mayweather and Pacquiao’s legacy, my answer is that I don’t care. If you really want to know my opinion on that hypothetical question, you can try to Google it, because I know I’ve answered it at least 10 times over the past five years, maybe more than 10 times. Think about how long we’ve talking about this fight, and who’s at fault for it not happening, and whose legacy the bout means more to, and all that other s__t? Too long! If the fight isn’t made for May 2, how much longer are we gonna jerk off to the possibility of it happening?

Again, I don’t mean to sound cold or dismissive but I’m burnt out on all Mayweather/Pacquiao-related debates. I’ve been on record too many times in regard to every conceivable angle to that “neverending story.” In fact, last week, shortly after Pacquiao Tweeted his #LetsMakeFistory hashtag (and after RingTV’s Lem Satterfield posted a story on Michael Koncz stating that the Filipino star is being updated on the “ongoing negotiations”), I Tweeted my own #TheNeverendingStory hashtag along with a YouTube video to that wonderfully gay ’80s pop song to the fantasy movie of the same name.

Mayweather-BieberUntil Mayweather-Pacquiao is officially announced, anytime I have to Tweet a RingTV.com story about the fight’s supposed negotiations I’m going to add #TheNeverendingStory and a link to Limahl’s 1984 hit (who knows? Maybe it will inspire Floyd’s little buddy Justin Bieber to do a cover song).

 

MAYWEATHER-COTTO 2

Hi Dougie,

Just after ‘The Year of Suck’ in 2014 I didn’t think the state of boxing could get any worse. Now I hear that rather than facing Pacquiao, Mayweather plans to steals Cotto from Canelo, destroying BOTH of the fights the fans were excited about for 2015. Well done TBE.

Mayweather-Cotto II is yet another boring unanimous decision, in another rematch, in another fight that nobody cares about or wants to see. And I don’t want to hear the promoters trying to BS me that the first fight was close. Anybody who buys that PPV is an enemy of boxing.

I believe Floyd’s plan is to cherry pick for the remaining fights on his Showtime contract, ‘retire’, and then come back as a TV network free agent to ‘give the fans what they want’ with Pacquiao for a 50th undefeated fight. Why would he waste a guaranteed $32m fighting Pacquiao when he can make the same minimum and keep his ‘0’ fighting Rod Salka? He can come back for the Pacquiao megabucks later.

If everyone around boxing is stupid enough to let him get away with this (Showtime for sanctioning the fight, and the fans for buying it), then we only have ourselves to blame. Regards. – Neil

#TheNeverendingStory

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IS FREDDIE ROACH TBTE (THE BEST TRAINER EVER)?

Thoughts on Kevin Iole claiming Freddie Roach is 1-b for greatest trainer ever?

Fantasy matchup: 2010 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam vs 2014 Roman Gonzalez. -Jordan, NC

Chocolatito by UD.

Iole is entitled to his opinion. Roach is definitely one of the best trainers of the modern era and certainly deserving of his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (as well most of his BWAA Fighter of the Year awards – what’s he up now? 11?).

Roach is the most successful and accomplished of all active trainers, along with Nacho Beristain. However, I’m not ready to put Roach up there with the best of the old timers, such as Ray Arcel, Whitey Bimstein and Freddie Brown (who all worked together), and his mentor Eddie Futch (who Iole ranks him with). I consider Roach a peer of recently departed modern great trainers, such as George Benton and Emanuel Steward.

If I compiled a list of the top 10 or 15 trainers of all time, I’m pretty sure Roach would make the cut, but I would rank him behind trainers who worked with a lot of world champs (as Freddie has) but also developed hall of famers from the fighters’ pro debuts. I would rank dearly departed trainers, Monzon_Brusa_mailbagsuch as Steward and Amilcar Brusa, ahead of Roach because they built great champions from scratch (and trained a dozen or more titleholders). Brusa developed the great Carlos Monzon; Steward guided Thomas Hearns from the Hitman’s first amateur bout to major pro world titles in five divisions. Charley Goldman, who would definitely be in my top 10 (maybe top five), built Rocky Marciano from the ground up. Late, great Mexican manager Arturo “Cuyo” Hernandez, who would also make my list, had a hand in training Ruben Olivares (along with Manuel Carillo) from the amateurs through the former bantamweight/featherweight champ’s legendary pro career.

Roach is the best at what he does, which is advance the pro technique of talented up-and-comers and revamp the careers of veterans, but he’s guided only one fighter from an 0-0 pro record to a major world title: Brian Viloria.

Roach’s most notable fighters over the past 20 years were developed by other trainers. The late (and VERY underrated) Bill Miller built the boxing foundation that James Toney fought so well on. Virgil Hill, who inducted into the IBHOF in 2013, was developed by Futch. Michael Moorer’s foundation was built by Steward. I don’t even know who trained Manny Pacquiao prior to mid-2001 when Roach took over. The recent standouts of Roach’s stable, such as Amir Khan, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Miguel Cotto, were developed by other trainers. However, I’ve got to give Roach credit for what he did with Toney and Cotto, who were considered “Has-Beens” when they came to him, and for what he did with Khan and Chavez, who were considered “Never-Will-Bes” when they first started training with him. Of course, Pacquiao is his masterpiece. He took a raw uber-talent and made him into a legend.

 

LOSERS OF THE YEAR

What’s up Doug?

I haven’t written in since I blessed your mailbag with my killer rhymes back in October, so I hope I make it.

Let’s not beat around the bush, will Naoya Inoue rightly be crowned THE RING Fighter of the Year or not? Also, do you give him a shot vs. Chocalatito & El Gallo, I certainly do.

Since it’s a new year, I thought I’d make a list of the biggest scapegoats/ losers of 2014:

1: Peter Quillin — is he still trying to sell that Cadillac?

2: Adonis Stevenson — he used to be the pimp, now he’s just a b__ch. (See what I did there?)

3: Leo Santa Cruz — dude named his son Al… after you know who, that’s an automatic dismissal in my book. (This year he’s also fought more taxi drivers than Steve Kim on a wild night out).

4: Danny Garcia-Rod Salka. Are you serious? *GGG voice*

If I make the mailbag, I’d like to thank “You know who.” – Savage One, London

You’re tellin’ it like it is, Savage. All four of your loser/scapegoats are advised by Al Haymon. He’s called the most powerful man in boxing but 2014 wasn’t a banner year for his overloaded stable. A lot of his A-listers completely lost the momentum they had built up in 2012 and 2013. Stevenson was THE RING’s Fighter of the Year for 2013, but in by the end of 2014 he was regarded by most fans as a coward or a poor businessman (or both) for avoiding Sergey Kovalev and not making a showdown with Bernard Hopkins. Garcia had all the respect in the world at the end of 2013 (especially after beating Lucas Matthysse) and the junior welterweight champ even made some Pound-for-Pound lists (including the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s mythical top 10), but now he’s called a “cherry picker” by hardcore heads. Quillin and Santa Cruz were two of the most like titleholders of Haymon’s stable based on their action styles and affable/humble personalities but both guys are now viewed as total lackeys due to their blind allegiance to their adviser, who guided them away from significant bouts and worthy challengers.

All four have declared – along with at least 25 other notable Haymon clients – that 2015 will be their year. We’ll see if Al can deliver significant fights to so many in 2015. And we’ll see if his clients really want to be in significant fights. If they have another year like 2014, I think you’ll have to name your “loser/scapegoat” honor the “Al Haymon Award” going forward.

Regarding THE RING’s 2014 Fighter of the Year winner, I’ve been sworn to secrecy. You’ll find out in the next issue of the magazine. Inoue is my personal winner of that honor. I would favor Chocolatito and El Gallo to beat him if they fought this year.

 

TERRIFIC JAPANESE CARDS

Dougie Fresh!

Happy New Year to you and your family.

I really enjoyed the fight cards which took place last week in Japan. Packed cards with terrific fighters and great fights.

My highlight was Naoya Inoue defeating Omar Navarez for the WBO 115lb belt to become a two-time world champion. I wrote to you a few months back on my admiration for Inoue after his victory on Yaegashi-Gonzalez undercard. The kid is the real deal and the excellent placement of shots to the body and his excellent composure at only 21 years of age was terrific to see.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that he should be considered fighter of the year and his future looks very bright indeed. Cliff Rold mentioned a fight on Twitter which really got me hyped between Inoue and WBC Champion Carlos Cuadron. What a fight that would be! Cuadron is promoted by Teiken Promotions, so I hope the fight gets made this year. What do you think of that fight Dougie and who you believe would prevail?

Another one of my favourite fighters who fought was Takashi Uchiyama, who looked fantastic and continues to stamp his name in the 130lb division as the number-one fighter in the division. The division is a weak one though, sadly. What match ups would you like to see Uchiyama have this year? Two fights that come to mind is the winner of Salido-Martinez and Gamboa. Would you agree that those would be the best match-ups for the champ?

I also watched Rigondeaux fight Amagasa in a terrific fight, with Rigondeaux showing his tremendous ability after being knocked down and beating an extremely courageous opponent, whose heart and courage should be commended by all boxing fans. Rigondeaux is scheduled to fight again in Japan in May. I’m a little saddened that the other beltholders haven’t challenged the Champ and that potential great match-ups with Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg have not taken place. Oh well, keep fighting and be number one for Rigo I suppose.

Historical match-ups:

Roy Jones Jr. v Sergey Kovalev (RJJ in his prime)
Mike McCallum v GGG (160 with Bodysnatcher in his prime)
Alexis Arguello v Roberto Duran (135)

Thanks Dougie as always. – Qadeer Ali, Dublin, Ireland

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on those stacked end-of-the-year shows in Japan, Qadeer. There was a lot of talent on display.

There’s nothing more to be said about Inoue that I haven’t already said. As I mentioned in Friday’s mailbag, I view the potential Inoue-Cuadras matchup as an event fight. If I have to pick a favorite, I’ll go with Inoue, who has tighter technique and (seemingly) more power. Inoue would probably get the home country advantage if that fight is made.

Uchiyama is hands down the man at 130 pounds. No debating that. But he’s getting a bit long in the tooth, so big fights need to be made this year and next. I’m not interested in a WBA/WBO title-unification bout against the Salido-Martinez winner. I’d be more interested in seeing a WBA/WBC unification bout with his countryman and former foe Takashi Miura. I think a title defense against Gamby would be fun (presuming the Cuban could make 130 and was willing to travel to Japan).

I think the best fight out there for Uchiyama is a challenge to newly crowned WBC lightweight beltholder Jorge Linares. It’s an entertaining match on paper, an opportunity for “Uchi” to become a two-division titleholder, and it would be a big event in Tokyo (not to mention an excuse for me to make a second boxing trip to that amazing city).

There’s nothing more for me to say about Rigo that I haven’t already stated in this mailbag and previous mailbags. I hope he gets at least one of the fights he wants in 2015.

Your mythical matchups:

Roy Jones Jr. v Sergey Kovalev (RJJ in his prime) – Jones’ prime was at super middleweight, not light heavyweight. If he fought Kovalev at 168 pounds (even if Krusher weighed in as a lt. heavy), I think he’d either outpoint the Russian or score one of his signature one-hitter quitters with a shot (perhaps to the body) that Kovalev never saw coming.

Mike McCallum v GGG (160 with Bodysnatcher in his prime) – Ooh s__t, this is a good fight. McCallum was a major badass at middleweight, but I think he was at his most effective at 154 pounds. Based on the tough time The Bodysnatcher had against a still-inexperienced pressure fighter, Steve Collins, in the middle rounds of their early 1990 bout, and the many right hands that a young James Toney was able to drop on the Jamaican veteran during their classic draw in late 1991, I’m gonna go with Golovkin by close decision.

Alexis Arguello v Roberto Duran (135) – I love Arguello, but he was too light in the ass and flat-footed to f__k with Hands of Stone. Duran by brutal mid-to-late stoppage.

 

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

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