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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

16
Mar
Photo by Mike Greenhill

Photo by Mike Greenhill

KOVALEV-PASCAL

Hi Doug!

As always it’s a pleasure to be in touch with you. I really enjoy your work and you are kind of a boxing teacher for me.

I saw the Sergey Kovalev-Jean Pascal fight yesterday and I wanted to exchange some thoughts with you:

It was a really entertaining fight and Pascal made Kovalev work hard for the victory. The Russian showed again his well-known punching power but, what for me is more important, he confirmed that is a great boxer. Beyond his power, he is patient enough to wait for the exact moment to set up his punches and never goes crazy for the KO. He knows that sooner or later it will come.

In addition, we could confirm that he can take hard punches. In rounds 5 and 6 Pascal connected with some heavy shots but he didn’t seem to be hurt and never lost his head. After that he stuck again to his game plan and remained in control of the fight. However, he showed some leaks in his defense, especially for the counter attacks, and my only concern in this regard is if he is going to be able to take punches from a stronger man as Adonis Stevenson.

Obviously, I would love to see Kovalev-Stevenson but I’m not sure it’s going to happen. What other options are on the table for the Krusher?

Finally, what do you think about the stoppage of the fight? Yesterday I thought that was a bad decision from the referee, but today I saw it again and when Kovalev slipped and fell Pascal was clearly groggy and his legs were unsteady, so referee Luis Pabon saved Pascal from unnecessary punishment. At the end his job is to protect the fighters.

Please keep up the nice work! Best. – Juan

I’ll try, Juan. Thanks for the very kind words.

I thought Pabon’s stoppage was premature while watching the fight in live time, but like you, when I watched the replay I noticed how unstable Pascal’s legs were after Kovalev slipped to the canvas. The pounding Krusher gave Pascal in the corner before he slipped zapped the former champ’s equilibrium so bad that he stumbled to the other end of the ring. I know Pascal was willing to continue at the time of the stoppage but that doesn’t mean that he should have. If a fighter has no legs under him, he can’t defend himself or punch with any authority. The fight was essentially over before Pabon intervened. The ref just saved Pascal from excess punishment.

What’s next for The Krusher? IBF No. 1 contender Nadjib Mohammadi. Beyond that mandatory defense, the light heavyweight fight that needs to happen is Kovalev-Pascal. Will it? Only if Stevenson demands that his adviser Al Haymon and promoter Yvon Michel get it done with Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva. We know Kovalev’s been down to unify titles for more than a year. After Stevenson’s paid sparring session with Sakio Bika, he needs to act like his nickname and be a “superman” by proving he’s the real champ and giving the fans what they want.

It’s still a fascinating matchup. Both light heavyweight punchers have shown some defensive flaws (Stevenson being dropped by Fonfara; Kovalev suffering a flash knockdown to Caparello and eating too many counter rights from Pascal) and that vulnerability mixed with their vaunted power HAS to make for a dramatic shootout.

Kovalev indeed proved he’s got a solid beard against Pascal. I don’t know if he can take one of Stevenson’s bombs, but I know he’s a more complete boxer than THE RING/WBC champ.

 

KRUSH THE REF!

Doug,

C’mon bro side with on this one please! That f__kface ref ruined a great fight. I hated him way before the stoppage. Get the f__k outta the way buddy! His proximity to the fighters was ridiculous all night.

Watching here in Toronto they force a $64.99 PPV on you, even though I already subscribe to HBO. So Interbox can go suck a d__k too.

These guys were close to putting on a real CLASSIC, and were handcuffed by the safety first, moronic refereeing we see way too much of these days.

I’m not blind. Pascal was legless. So? He’d come back from that in the 4th, to turn it on Krusher the way nobody has to my knowledge.

There’s a reason I paid so much for that scrap and I just feel kinda cheated. If there’s no chance of a fight becoming great, the f__k is the point?

Anyways I liked how you picked RJ to beat GGG. I never thought of that one and they’re two of my favorites. I couldn’t agree more. Anyways I hope Kovalev continues this crazy trend we’re seeing these days where the best take on worthy challengers. And that we find a way to put real referees like Steve Smoger in the big show, not lawyers looking to remove themselves from liability.

All the best, Fresh. – WS

Thanks, you sadistic bastard. LOL. Hey, I love watching an intense slugfest as much as the next blood-thirsty ghoul, but I don’t need to see a guy get his career beat out of him and that’s what I think would have happened if Pascal was allowed to continue against Kovalev. Yes, Pascal is a badass. Yes, he can take a shot and he’s got amazing recovery ability, but against Kovalev, the former champ is too game and tough for his own good.

Kovalev had firmly taken over the fight in Round 7. He was used to Pascal’s sneaky power-counters (which had lost a lot of their steam) and was rapidly breaking the hometown favorite down. I didn’t see Pascal turning this one around in the late rounds. For starters, the guy fades in the final rounds even when he’s facing opponents who can’t punch and aren’t applying pressure. And then there’s the fact that Pascal, who had slowed down considerably, was only loading up with single shots. Kovalev could what was coming at him and the chances of Pascal landing a Hail Mary one-hitter-quitter were almost nil given the rubbery state of Haitian-Canadian’s legs.

I usually like how Smoger referees, but if he were the third man in the ring on Saturday, Pascal could have absorbed the kind of extended beating that fighters don’t fully recover from.

 

PBC ON SPIKE & THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE

Although all three favorites won their respective matches on the Spike TV card on Friday, all three underdogs sure came to fight! I expected the Josesito Lopez-Andre Berto bout to be competitive, but I was really surprised by Shawn Porter’s last minute opponent; he was doing some vicious counter punching and not backing down one bit before turning his ankle. That being said Porter closed the show well as soon as he smelled the blood in the water. He might be the best finisher at welterweight right now, though in my opinion his overall game is quite limited. I’d still love to see him face Berto or Marcos Maidana though; those match ups would produce a lot of action, especially now that Berto’s legs are gone and he kind of fights like a guy who’s just beginning to de-thaw or something.

The best fight of the night for my dad and I was the 520-pound slug fest; god that was a beautiful, gelatinous mess! I actually scored the fight a draw and was blown away by Harper’s chin. (More than his chin though, the guy was straight up knocked out a few times, he just forgot to go down.) We were wincing audibly at all those hook swaps and that one uppercut that almost took Arreola’s head off! Also, it sure was odd to see the face of Jesus ripple like the shroud of Turin every time Harper ripped into Arreola’s ample belly.

Arreola has always been a blast to watch and seems like a totally cool dude and there is probably no other guy I would rather have my back in a bar fight but I really think he should hang up the gloves soon. Unless he commits himself to getting into drastically better shape he’ll never have a chance at competing at the highest level of boxing again. Frankly at 34 I don’t see him changing. I wish him the best. – Jack

I do too. Arreola is a very likeable guy. As you noted, he’s always been a blast to watch but I don’t think he’s ever fully committed himself to the sport. I think he was a real prospect at one point, but the only reason he was ever considered a top-10 contender was due to the woefully watered down heavyweight division of this era. And that contender status is gone now. I consider Arreola a gatekeeper at this point of his career. He’s still must-see TV, but I don’t think he’s going to beat any legit contender.

Sadly, I think the same can be said of his Riverside stablemate Josesito Lopez, who I thought would beat Berto. Lopez has more left than Arreola (and Berto, for that matter) but apart from his Cinderella moment against Victor Ortiz, something always seems to prevent him from scoring a significant win. For the record, I thought Raul Caiz Jr. stopped Friday’s fight too soon.

Also for the record, I think Porter would knockout Berto and give Keith Thurman all he could handle. He’s a bit raw technically speaking but he makes up for it with his athleticism, aggression and brute strength. The Ohioan is fun to watch. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Erick Bone as well. I’d like to see how well he performs when he’s had a few weeks to prepare for his opponent.

And one more note for the record, the atmosphere inside the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California for the PBC on SpikeTV card was very live. The PBC organizers should try to return to that venue before the end of the year.

 

BEST FIGHT OF 2015, SO FAR

Her Dougie,

Kovalev-Pascal was the first good fight of the year. I didn’t expect it. As I told you in my previous email, I believed it was going to be a blowout and I’m glad it wasn’t. Pascal proved to be a very tough cookie and made Kovalev use all of his skill to finally KO him in the 8th.

I was very impressed with both fighters showing us that sometimes certain styles mesh like peanut butter and jelly. I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch. I think Pascal deserves it. The fight I would really want to see is Kovalev vs Andre Ward. It’s time for SOG to finally step up and challenge himself against the toughest man he can face. I see Kovalev knocking him out in less than ten. I don’t see Sergey beating Superman Stevenson though. I think from what we saw last Saturday a speedy puncher can inflict damage on the tough Russian. Let’s hope either of those fights happen. Thanks Doug have a great week. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

I will. That was indeed a good scrap. I told you in Friday’s mailbag that Pascal wouldn’t be a walk in the park for Kovalev. But just because Pascal had his moments doesn’t mean Stevenson would spark The Krusher. Pascal’s got a better chin than Stevenson (and it says here that the former champ has more heart than the current champ).

Pascal couldn’t take over the fight because he’s an incomplete fighter. He’s got one weapon – his right-hand haymaker – which is supported by his heart, will, rock-solid chin and awkward style. Stevenson is also incomplete and very much a one-armed bandit like Pascal – but his money punch is his big left hand. Stevenson also has a good jab and decent lateral movement, but I don’t think he takes a punch as well as Pascal and I question his fighting heart when things get hot in the ring.

I’m not saying Stevenson can’t beat Kovalev, but I am saying that I’d favor the Russian in that matchup.

I won’t give an opinion on a Kovalev-Ward matchup because S.O.G is at least two tune-up bouts away from facing a world-beater, but I would give the super middleweight king more of a shot to beat Krusher than Stevenson. Why? Ward is a complete fighter.

 

MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS

Hello Doug, I’ve got a lot of miscellaneous questions regarding the sweet science that I want your opinions on so I’ll try to keep it brief.

1) I like Miguel Cotto and Juan Manuel Marquez. They are both four-weight world champions and both are future hall of famers. My question is: who has a greater legacy? Who’s had a more decorated career?

2) The Class of 2004 in the Olympics is sensational. There was Zou Shiming, Gamboa, Rigondeaux, Khan, GGG, Dirrell, Ward, Solis and Povetkin. But are they better than the class of ’96 with the likes of Mayweather, Santos, Jirov, Tarver, Klitschko?

3) I noticed that a number of modern greats have held a version of the super featherweight title. So who would win in a super featherweight tournament featuring Barrera, Morales, Pacquiao, Marquez, Mayweather, Chavez, De La Hoya and Valero?

4) I remember you posted a link to the ‘Mexican Style’ tune for GGG and it was pretty good. Thanks for that! Now there’s another one: ‘Good Boy Killa’. Here are the links:-

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B5XJPHeFYA8-

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1VlikvcUTrk

5) Finally, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since The Contender first aired on TV. I remember watching it as a young teen with my uncle and it’s probably what got me hooked into this beautiful sport. Anyway, there’s been a number of world title challengers and even some world champions but who’s been the best fighter from the series? I think it’s one of these three: Sakio Bika, Sergio Mora or Cornelius Bundrage? I

t’s not as brief as I thought it would be. I apologise for that! Keep up the good work. Take care. – Hasan, England

No worries, Hasan. I’ll try to be brief with my responses (yeah, right), which I’ll present in order:

1. I think Marquez has had the slightly more decorated career (more distinguished runs in more divisions than Cotto). Victories over Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera give him the edge.

2. I give the edge to the ’96 Olympic class, which also included David Reid, Ko-Ko Kovacs, Fernando Vargas, and the great Felix Savon.

3. Come on, dude, Valero wipes his psycho ass with all of those chumps and you know it! Just kidding. I’d favor Chavez to win it all with Mayweather as the runner-up.

4. I expect GGG to walk out to one of these tunes on May 16, and I expect the crowd inside The Forum to explode.

5. I’ll give my ole buddy Sergio the edge. The Latin Snake has a victory over the late Vernon Forrest and a draw with Shane Mosley.

 

KOVALEV AND THE AFRICAN LIGHT HEAVIES

Hi Doug,

Don’t know if it went under your radar and it didn’t produce the fireworks expected, but Tommy Oosthuizen proved that he is back and still a force to be reckoned with, displaying superb footwork and boxing skills to outpoint Ryno Liebenberg. Oosthuizen, contrary to my expectations, boxed a smart, disciplined fight from a distance, using his jab to spear Liebenberg. Gone was the gung ho attitude and unnecessary trading of punches. Liebenberg never stopped trying, but he just couldn’t force his mark on the fight and was simply outclassed. Oosthuizen won by a deserved wide margin on two cards, while the third judge, astonishinly, scored the fight for Liebenberg. Lets hope he doesn’t work another fight.

There are rumours around that he could be the comeback opponent for Andre Ward? Any truth to it and do you think that he could have a chance against Ward?

Then I also took notice of Isaac Chilemba winning on the Kovalev undercard. I know his opponent seemed to freeze, but do you think that he has improved since the Tony Bellew loss?

What do you think could be in his future? I would love to see a rematch between him and Oosthuizen, although that would probably only happen as a last resort after each take a few losses. I would like for Chilemba to fight Stevenson, since Stevenson doesn’t want to fight anybody and he might just view him as a soft touch. I think Chilemba’s style could make him a very live underdog in that fight. Would you agree? The real war occurred at the Bell Centre, where Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev delivered another victory in the brutal fashion we have become accustomed to, when he stopped Jean Pascal, but he didn’t have it all his own way though. Pascal came to win and played his part in turning this fight into an entertaining war that could be a “Fight of the Year” candidate.

When it looked like it was going to be the blowout many expected in the third round, Pascal clawed his way back in the next few rounds and had some success, most notably with his awkward lead right followed by a sweeping left hook. There were definite moments when an upset looked like a possibility.

Kovalev just has incredible ring generalship and a unflappable mentality and when he decided to go for it, Pascal went. I don’t think the stoppage was premature either. Do you?

When Kovalev forced Pascal into a corner, he appeared to be tottering on the verge of a stoppage when Kovalev slipped, granting him a brief respite. As the referee checked Kovalev, I noted that a dazed Pascal appeared to be looking for his corner. I think Kovalev sensed that his opponent was on queer street and when the fight resumed he was straight back at him. Two crushing rights was enough and the referee needed to save Pascal from his own bravery.

Sergey Kovalev is must watch TV, no matter who he fights, but the only real fight out there in the division is between him and Adonis Stevenson. Until then, I don’t think we are going to find somebody who can equal the performance of Pascal on Saturday night, let alone win.

The WBC has now made him a mandatory contender for Stevenson. Do you think that “Superman” will do a Riddick Bowe and dump the green belt in the garbage or will he man up and give us our generation of Spinks-Qawi?

Keep fighting the good fight. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Stevenson pulled a Bowe, but I hope he’s got enough fighter’s pride to force his handlers to do the right thing. We’ll see what happens this year. Stevenson and Kovalev remain the biggest threats to each other’s reigns.

I don’t think Pabon’s stoppage was premature. Pascal gets to live to fight another day. Maybe he’ll get a second crack at Krusher.

I think Chilemba has improved since his loss to Bellew. He’s a very good all-around boxer. He only lacks KO power and a killer instinct. Still, I’d favor him over any 175 pounder not named Kovalev, Stevenson or Pascal. (And no, I would not count out the Malawi Golden Boy if he got a shot at Superman.)

Good to hear Oosthuizen has got his act together (and yes, that fight with “Ryno” was definitely off my radar this past weekend). He’s got a lot of potential, although I wouldn’t favor him to beat even a rusty version of Ward (or Chilemba).

 

 

Fischer can be emailed at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer

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