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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

17
Apr
Photo by Robert Newman

Photo by Robert Newman

SATURDAY SHOWDOWNS

Yo Dougie,

Action packed weekend coming up first of all what are your predictions?

And secondly, now that Miguel Cotto is fighting Daniel Geale with a deal also in place to face Canelo my question is who has the most pressure to win their respective fight?



Last but not least I was watching Fernando Vargas vs Felix Trinidad last night and even though it was a great fight I just thought Vargas was too green to be up there with Tito. I really believe that fight destroyed Feroz physically & mentally. Was that his fault or his management? Idk but Feroz was never the same.

Mythical Matchups:

Floyd vs Trinidad @147

Ward vs [email protected]

Vargas vs Cotto @154

GGG vs Martinez (2011 version)@160

D.- Orange County

My predictions for the three major U.S. main events on Saturday:

Lucas Matthysse over Ruslan Provodnikov by late TKO or close UD (in a brutal scorcher. What else?)

Terence Crawford over Thomas Dulorme by competitive but clear UD

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. by competitive but clear UD

Are you asking me who has more pressure to win their next fight, Canelo or Cotto? If they are going to face each other later this year wouldn’t you agree that they have equal “pressure” (that’s a strange question, dude – they’re prize fighters at the highest level of the sport. Don’t they have mad pressure to win every fight?)

I guess if I had to pick who needs a victory more in order to stay relevant, I’d go with Cotto. If he loses to Geale at this stage of his career, he’ll be considered “done,” “shot,” and any other negative label you can come up with that means a battle-worn veteran just doesn’t have it anymore. If Canelo loses to Kirkland, he’ll catch a lot of hell from hardcore heads who never gave him any respect in the first place, but the industry and his fans won’t turn their backs on him because he’s not yet 25 (and if the fight is a good one, which it should be, he won’t lose any of his considerable marketability and mass appeal). Canelo can always do a rematch with Kirkland (maybe fight No. 2 would wind up at San Antonio’s Alamodome). So, I guess you can say that Cotto – who just signed a big $50-million deal with Roc Nation – has more pressure to prove to the world that he’s a real middleweight and has still got a few major performances left in that 35-year-old body.

Trinidad-Vargas was indeed a modern classic. I was inside the Mandalay Bay’s Event Center with MaxBoxing cohort Steve Kim for that one, and I’ll never forget standing in a near state of shock (along with most of the arena) during most of the first round, wondering how Vargas, who was dropped twice, was going to survive. Vargas gave everything he had – and more – that night, and that’s why he had a most dedicated fan base from the reminder of his career (and even now in retirement).

Was the Trinidad fight too much, too soon in late 2000? Yes it was. But that’s when Vargas wanted the fight. Don’t blame his management (Shelly Finkel and Rolando Arellano) or his promoter (Main Events). Vargas was his own boss and NOBODY told him what to do, especially when it came to who he was to going to fight and when and where he was going to fight. Trust me. I was around Vargas a lot during his prime years (along with MaxBoxing co-founder Gary Randall, who was good friends with Feroz). I witnessed him tell off everybody who tried to give him advice on how to run his career.

At the end of the day, he dared to be great. He fell short of his lofty goals and had a short career, but he made his mark on the sport. The proof is the fact that you recently watched the Trinidad fight and are now asking me about Vargas.

Your mythical matchups:

Floyd vs Trinidad @ 147 – Trinidad by late KO (Floyd gives him fits until Tito clips him)

Ward vs Calzaghe @ 168 – Calzaghe by close UD, maybe MD (Joe outworks and outmaneuvers the neutralizer. How many times do I have to answer this MM? My opinion ain’t gonna change unless Ward beats someone as talented and difficult as Calzaghe)

Vargas vs Cotto @ 154 – Feroz by mid-to-late TKO (and it would be bloody – for poor Cotto)

GGG vs Martinez (2011 version) @ 160 – Golovkin by late TKO in a competitive and entertaining scrap

 

HEADING TO VERONA

Hey Doug,

I hope everything is well. I’m on my way to the Provodnikov-Matthysse fight from South Florida! I am really excited about this fight. I would have even flown to California to go watch it. I’m going with Ruslan by late KO, but Lucas of course is going to bust him up while doing it. This is a tough fight to pick because I believe Lucas has a better jab and tighter punches. But for me I think Ruslan will hang and get a victory. I convinced a few co-workers to tune in on Saturday since all they talk about is May 2. I’m taking my girlfriend who likes Ruslan and meeting friends up there, so I hope we get a special night in that arena. Take care. – Walter Q.

You picked the right fight to travel to and to tell your co-workers about, Walter. The only way this pressure fighter vs. boxer-puncher matchup can fail to live up to its expectations of brutal action and high drama is if the fight ends in a first-round KO (which isn’t out of the realm of possibility), but I believe that both junior welterweight standouts are in the kind of sublime condition and mindset that will enable them to survive early knockdowns and rocky moments. I envision – like most hardcore fans – a thrilling battle of attrition.

The great thing about this fight is that there is no “A-side” or “house fighter” or strong favorite involved. Both sluggers are of equal stature in the sport and it’s a total “pick-’em” fight. I’m going with Matthysse, but I really have no idea who will win and I can totally see Provodnikov prevail. He seems to be in a good place, mentally and physically.

 

READY FOR WAR!

Hey Doug-E:

As that great Scot William Wallace stated it, “Are you ready for a war??!!!” I’m certainly am Homie. Provodnikov vs Matthysse. I’m so pumped that’s all I can taste right now.

And HBO sure rocks. Any network that features Game Of Thrones, Guardians Of The Galaxy, and Provo vs. Matthysse all in one week is kick ass as far as I’m concerned.

Anyhow dude while the majority seems to favor Lucas and I can clearly understand why, I’m going with Provo on this one. Why? When two freight-trains collide you go with the bigger/stronger one. And that’s Provo. I really think the Russian cracks harder and has the tougher chin. Plus he’s super-pumped for this one. Against Algieri he was looking ahead and that cost him. Actually, I still strongly believe that Provo clearly hammered Algieri and was robbed big time. But that’s old news.

I also regard Provo as the fresher guy. He hasn’t been in any really punishing fights other than the clash against Bradley, and by the way, Provo clearly won that one as well. I think Lucas has gone through more wear and tear against Danny Garcia and John Molina. So for those reasons I’m going with Provo. And maybe I’m being bias here because Provo, along with Kovalev and Roman Gonzalez are my currently favourite fighters right now. Hey man, Provo looks like Attila The Hun and punches with the very same bad intentions that Mike Tyson did. How can anyone not like this guy?

And speaking of wars, I watched The Fight Game the other night and saw the highlights of Hagler-Hearns. WOW! Those two guys were really hammering each other like a pair of juiced-up, freaked-out flyweights. Hagler’s face was covered in crimson and he still had Hearns staggering around like one of Adonis Stevenson’s drunken, bitch-slapped, skanky-legged whores. We certainly don’t see that kind of action among today’s middleweights do we? Not even close.

But hey, I’m sure we’ll get some real violence with Provo and Lucas. How can we not? It’s how they fight. Some fans just see them as cavemen. So be it! May the baddest caveman win!

By the way dude, how do you rank Hagler-Hearns in comparison with the other great fights you saw whether we’re talking Ali-Frazier, Gatti-Ward, or Corrales-Castillo? Holler back Homie. – Captain Ron

I think Hagler-Hearns is the greatest elite-level shootout of the modern era, followed by George Foreman-Ron Lyle. A “shootout” is a matchup of world-class punchers who bring a take-no-prisoner mentality into the ring against each other and produce a fight that features either non-stop action (such as Hagler-Hearns) or knockdowns and crazy shifts in momentum, ebb and flow (as Foreman-Lyle did).

Ali-Frazier is the best heavyweight battle that went the distance of the modern era. Corrales-Castillo I is the best fight, or slugfest, that I ever witnessed live, followed by Morales-Barrera I and Vazquez-Marquez III.

The awesome thing about Matthysse-Provo is that I can envision it being a shootout, or a slugfest (which is an extended two-way beating), or a great action distance fight.

I can understand why you’re picking Provo to win (and you’re not alone, most of my boxing writer peers are going with the Siberian Rocky). I agree that he’s probably the stronger and sturdier of the two. Is he fresher than Matthysse? I don’t know. We’ll find out. But I don’t blame you for questioning Matty’s chin after the knockdowns he suffered against Molina and Garcia. And definitely consider Provo to be a harder puncher than those two Americans.

However, the Russian is not invincible, and we’ve seen how lateral movement can slow down his attack and frustrate him after a few rounds (and the Argentine has underrated – though admittedly underused – footwork). We’ve also seen the brutal damage Provo’s face took in his fight of the year with Tim Bradley in 2013. If Bradley, who isn’t a puncher, can do that much damage to Ruslan’s face, think what Lucas can do with his heavy (buy busy) hands? This fight may not be for the faint of heart. (And that’s why I’m positive that you’re gonna love it – even if Provodnikov comes up short.)

 

LEO SANTA CRUZ

Hey Doug,

I used to really like Leo Santa Cruz, but it’s getting to the point where I can’t stand the guy. He calls out everybody and fights nobodies. Also, he rejected Abner Mares’ challenge for May 2. That would be a helluva fight for that card. I’m not sure about you, but I feel that Mares wants to fight Leo, but Leo is content fighting the Manuel Romans of the world. Plus, the guy named his son Al. I’m mean, were the Watson twins in the hospital room at the time also?

At least I’ll be able to forget about LSC, when I’m watching “the Machine” and “Siberian Rocky” live at Turning Stone. How’s that for a first ever fight to be at? Finally, how do you see Mares doing against Nonito Donaire, LSC, Gary Russell, Evgeny Gradovich, and a Jhonny Gonzalez rematch? I figure he’d lose to Rigondeaux, Loma, and Nicholas Walters but I love Abner. Thanks as always man. Keep up the great work! – Robert from Ashton, MD

Santa Cruz was one of my favorites, too, but I grew tired of his act by the end of last year. He’s a nice young man from a close-knit family of good folks (and I’m not just saying that – I covered his older brother Jose Armando’s entire pro career and remember when Leo was a toddler), but I’m done acknowledging Santa Cruz as a fighter until he fights a legitimate top-five junior featherweight or featherweight.

I’m not mad at Santa Cruz for naming his kid Al like some hardcore heads seem to be. I know how poor his family was for many years. If Haymon took them out of poverty, how can we blame him for being eternally grateful?=

Funny line about the Watson brothers being in the delivering room, though. That would make a good meme.

Santa Cruz-Mares makes sense. It’s gotta happen before the end of 2015. I slightly favor Mares in that one. He’s more versatile than Leo. I’ll go with Mares over Donaire and Gradovich (in very good, very close fights), but I think Russell would zap him. I think Abner would beat the faded Gonzalez in a rematch but it would still be a difficult fight for him. He plays into J-Gon’s strengths. I agree that Rigo, Loma and Walters have too much for Mares. (I still wouldn’t mind seeing Rigo-Mares, though. I think Abner could surprise a lot of Cult of Rigo members by making that fight competitive.)

 

KOVALEV-STEVENSON

Dougie,

What is going on with the politics involved in the Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev match-up? Originally, it seemed as if Stevenson’s camp was ducking Kovalev, but now with the news of Kathy Duva saying Kovalev can only fight on HBO, it seems like she is doing the same thing Stevenson did when he signed the Showtime deal?

Is there merit to what Duva is doing or is this her attempt to keep the belts in house and feed Kovalev in-house opponents? – KJ

I don’t think Duva only wants Kovalev to face Main Events fighters, but I do believe her promotional company is going to be loyal to HBO, which is helping her to build the Russian boxer-puncher into one of the stars of the sport. A year ago, I think she may have been willing to take a gamble on a purse bid to make Kovalev-Stevenson happen, but things have changed. Kovalev is no longer a somewhat unproven WBO light heavyweight beltholder. Now he’s got three major titles (WBO-WBA-IBF), a shutout decision over a living legend in Bernard Hopkins, and an entertaining stoppage victory over a former champ (Pascal), to go with improved TV ratings and much higher profile in the sport. By contrast, Stevenson’s star is not shinning as brightly as it was at the end of 2013. He hasn’t faced any top contenders and he hasn’t looked exceptional in any of his 2014 and 2015 victories. Also, THE RING/WBC champ’s boss, Al Haymon, finally unveiled his “PBC on NBC, CBS and SpikeTV” plans at the start of this year, which includes a monstrous war chest of financial backing. Duva knows that Haymon is willing to enable his promoter subordinates to throw stupid crazy money at any purse-bid situation in order to win it and have control of those title bouts, including what network they land on.

I understand Stevenson fans claiming that if Duva was really so sure of her client, she’d go ahead and let Haymon win the purse bid so Kovalev can kick the supposedly flawed southpaw’s ass on NBC or CBS and then return to HBO as the conquering kind the cable giant makes him out to be. However, I also see Duva’s side in wanting to deliver the undisputed 175-pound unification bout to her one network partner (remember, Haymon pushed her out of the NBC relationship) and wanting to protect the financial/business interests of Kovalev, who she rightfully views as Stevenson’s equal (at least) in terms of stature/draw/marketability.

Bottom line for the fans who just want to see the fight: we’re going to have to wait longer (and in the meantime Stevenson’s and Kovalev’s diehard supporters will attack each other and do their best imitations of deranged Mayweather and Pacquiao fans on the comment sections of every article on this purse bid situation).

 

THE ‘FLATNESS’ OF THE PBC

Hi Dougie,

I see the Provodnikov-Matthysse fight exactly like you see it, so nothing more to say than that I am really looking forward to it.

Took my time to weigh in on Premier Boxing Champions because firstly, the fact that it is on free TV in the States doesn’t make any difference to us over here in South Africa. We have one satellite provider, so you either get the fight if they are showing it or you don’t and you better have the best package. Over here, being a fight fan means you pay. Secondly, I wanted to give it a chance to see how it plays out.

In the end, it is whether it can make boxing main stream again or at least improve its popularity that is important. So far it seems to be doing decent ratings. How much of a difference do you think it will make in the end?

The end product offered, to me, is more or less the same as offered by the other established promoters like Top Rank and Golden Boy. You get one or at most two fights that are good matchups, like Guerrero-Thurman, Lee-Quillin and Peterson-Garcia and then some “showcase” fights like Broner-Molina or Stevenson-Bika. We haven’t had a “Fight of the Year” candidate yet, but I don’t think that it is the fault of the match making.

What I don’t like, however, is the fact that they don’t seem to care for all of boxing’s age old little traditions, which contributes to the whole atmosphere. What’s up with lame ass ring walks with the corners following a mile behind the fighter, the generic music and then the announcements over a PA system? They are losing a prime opportunity to develop another Jimmy Lennon of Michael Buffer. No ring card girls? Come on. I know T&A aren’t politically correct, but boxing is the poster child for political incorrectness which is what I find refreshing about the sport. Don’t fix things that ain’t broke.

Watching on TV, there seems to be a “flatness” in the crowd or is it just me watching on TV? What do you think having attended some of these cards live?

The thing that worries me most is the impression that I get that they are getting ready to ditch the belts and start their own, promoter-sanctioned titles among the fighters they promote, much the way MMA promoters, like the UFC, operate. Do you see it going this way?

I am not a fan of the alphabet boys, just like everybody else, but at least with the sanctioning bodies you get unification fights on the odd occasion. If PBC starts having their own closed championships, we are going to have more of the best not fighting the best, which if we are honest, is the one major problem with boxing, a problem that finally started to improve in the last few years. Please tell me I’m wrong.

Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

Holy s__t, Droeks! You kept your thoughts under 1,000 words. Seriously, this email is a little over 500 words, total. Well done, my brotha. There’s hope for long-winded boxing freaks (like me) everywhere.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you you’re wrong about the PBC’s plans to crown their top dogs – Deontay Wilder, Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner, Amir Khan, Leo Santa Cruz, etc. – with its own “world title” belts. That’s definitely coming soon (and whenever Richard Schaefer is done serving his “time out” and is able to head up Haymon’s venture in public, probably by October or November, you can expect him to loudly crow in that wonderful James Bond villain-like accent of his “de PBC champions are de REEL champions of de BOXing verld!”). It what it is. This sport is hopelessly tribal.

Is the PBC tribe going to survive the long hall? No, I don’t think so, but like I was saying about my good buddy Ferocious Fernando Vargas in the first email of this mailbag, the wannabe boxing league can make an impact during a short run – if they dare to be great. For instance, instead of having Wilder dump his WBC title for the PBC belt, which he only defends against retreads and no-hopers, roll the freakin’ dice and have the undefeated American puncher challenge the real champ Wladimir Klitschko. Hey, the most likely scenario is that Wilder will get sparked, but what it if he lands that lottery punch we all know he possesses? BAM! America – and maybe the rest of the world – will instantly have a new star. Same deal with Thurman vs. Kell Brook or Marcos Maidana vs. the Provo-Matthysse winner. If the PBC occasionally pits its best (and most marketable) fighters against the world-class standouts from other promotional companies, I think the organization/brand will create some real stars who will last a few years – and more importantly, the fights that forge those stars will make new hardcore boxing fans.

But if the PBC keeps everything in-house along with the “flat” broadcast atmosphere you mentioned, I think the best fights will play out this year and next year, and it will fizzle out sooner rather than later.

For the record, the one PBC event I attended – the Berto-Lopez headlined SpikeTV show in Ontario, California – had a good crowd of real fight fans and great energy (which came across on the broadcast). However, that show featured two local fighters, Josesito Lopez and Chris Arreola, who were developed by real promoters (Thompson Boxing and Goossen Promotions) on local shows. They brought in the Riverside faithful and the Ontario fans that have regularly attended Thompson Boxing’s monthly shows at the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario for the past 10-plus years.

Featuring homegrown talent in good fights on cards that take place in their native regions is something the PBC is going to have to do more of, in my opinion. If Santa Cruz-Mares is ever made, it should take place in the Los Angeles area. But ask yourself this: How many of Haymon’s top dogs were developed in their home regions? How often did Gary Russell Jr. fight in the Washington D.C. area? How often did Keith Thurman fight in Florida?

 

THE PUERTO RICAN PERSPECTIVE

What’s up Dougie,

Long time reader, first time writer. Before I begin I wanted to let you know that I love your work and enjoy the mailbags. Ok here we go……

I am Puerto Rican and believe that GGG would put the worst beating on Miguel Cotto of his career. However why are people constantly criticizing Cotto? He has had 1 fight at middleweight and came in at 155lbs. WTF? Can the man work his way into this weight? He is way past his prime and ppl just want the man to get hurt. The Daniele Geale fight to me is just a stop-over before a Canelo fight (I hope). Can we stop the hate ppl?

Angel Garcia has taken Danny Gacia as far as he can and deserves a lot of credit for his son’s accomplishments. However Danny needs a new trainer ASAP. He can’t fight on the inside for anything. He looks lost when things get close and at a distance it’s no better. He is at his best when he is in between throwing combinations to the body and head. Another big issue is Danny has to come down a notch and get grounded he is developing a huge head and it is affecting him in the ring. That being said I see no controversy in the latest decision. I had the fight 7-5 Garcia.

I am so stoked for the fights this Saturday, I believe that both fights are pick-em fights and I have Matthysse by late KO and Crawford by split decision although I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision went to Dulorme.

Mythical match up: Terry Norris vs “Tito” 154lbs

Keep up the great work. – Tom from the Barrio, NYC

Thanks for finally writing into the mailbag, Tom, and thanks for the kind words.

That mythical matchup almost happened before a faded version of Norris bolted from DKP to Top Rank (in search of a De La Hoya fight that never happened thanks to Keith Mullings – remember that guy?)

A mythical matchup of prime Norris vs. the 154-pound version of Trinidad almost blows my mind. Norris is one of my all-time favorites for reasons I’ve gone into many times before. Tito is also a favorite and I covered his junior middleweight campaign in 2000, which was as brutal and dominating as it was brief. As much as I love Terrible Terry, I see Trinidad prevailing in an all-time great shootout that ends in the middle rounds and produces at least four combined knockdowns. Both hall-of-fame punishers had world-class power, textbook offensive technique and killer instincts, but Norris was a hot-headed assassin with a shakier chin than Trinidad, who was a cool-headed assassin. However, Terry’s better speed and athleticism would have helped him give Tito a hell of a fight.

I see Saturday’s fights as you do (though I think Crawford will win clearly), but I won’t be shocked if we’re wrong.

I agree that Mr. Swift needs some technical/strategic assistance in his camps but I don’t see Papa Garcia stepping aside of anyone. Who would you suggest as a new head trainer (or assistant trainer) for Garcia? It’ll never happen, but I actually think Freddie Roach would be a good fit given Garcia’s style, mentality, attributes and flaws.

I agree that Cotto has no business getting in the ring with Golovkin, even as a final big-cash-out fight (he can’t win and it’s a guaranteed beating). I admit that I was pissed when he pulled out of negotiations with Canelo because that was a huge money fight/event that he could win. I didn’t blame a lot of the fans who dissed him for that move, even though I think he’s more than earned our respect with his amazing body of work.

However, now that he’s agreed to face a solid middleweight contender – one he dare not overlook – with the promise of making the Canelo fight later this year, I’m interested once again in the career of the Pride of Caguas and hopefully hardcore nutcakes out there in the Twitterverse and comments sections can find in their cold cretin hearts to give him another chance.

 

 

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

 

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