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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

24
Apr

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THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION POST-KLITSCHKO

Hey Dougie!

What’s good? From a previous mailbag I read about Terry Norris. I’ve been watching some of his fights on Youtube. It’s always great to learn about old great fighters. Thanks!



I’ll start off by saying I’m not the most knowledgeable fan with the heavyweights these days, but I’ve always liked Wladimir Klitschko. I think people overlook his skills due to a weak division or the fact, maybe, people don’t really watch him?

I’m hoping for a good, entertaining fight against Bryant Jennings, but I see Klitschko sealing an easy win.

In your mind, what’s next for him? Fight more in America or go back to doing his thing in Germany?

And after he calls it quits, what are your thoughts, hopes, and wishes for the future of the heavyweight division after Klitschko’s reign? Be well! – Mike, Hudson County, NJ

My only wish for the heavyweight division post-Klitschko is the same hope I have for any weight class in boxing and that’s for there to be lots of talent and good matchups (which means the beltholders and top contenders need to fight each other).

I think Klitschko is going to be around for at least a few more years, so when you talk about the state of the division once he’s retired (or no longer the dominant force that he is today) you’re talking about heavyweights in their early-to-mid 20s: Top-five contender Tyson Fury and his “little” bro Hughie (who at 20 is still a baby by heavyweight standards – maybe his nickname should be “Baby Hughie”), 2012 Olympic champ and THE RING’s Prospect of the Year Anthony Joshua, hot New Zealand talent Joseph Parker, “Fat” Andy Ruiz, and recent MMA convert Jarrell “Bib Baby” Miller. It’s OK if these big boys continue to build their records as they learn and develop this year and 2016 (except for Tyson, who appears ready and willing to face the best) but they need to face each other after a couple of years. (Maybe Hughie Fury and Miller can fight for the right to the “Baby” nickname. The winner can fight Ruiz, who actually looks like a giant baby.)

Where Klitschko fights next depends on his opponent. If the loud mouth of self-promoter extraordinaire Shannon Briggs somehow “earns” him a shot at THE RING champ, my guess is that exhibition (I refuse to call it a “fight”) would take place in the New York City area (Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center in Brooklyn). If a deal can be reached with Tyson Fury’s people, my guess is that fight would take place somewhere in Europe (take your pick of stadiums in England and Germany). Klitschko will go wherever the best business takes him.

I don’t think fans overlook Klitschko’s skills. They know he’s an elite boxer. I think some fans want more from him because he’s generally the much bigger man (and better athlete) in his matchups. They want to see him whack guys out with a quickness, not gradually/systematically wear them down. However, if he beats Jennings in impressive fashion, I think that victory tacked on with his fun KO of Kubrat Pulev, will build some momentum and good will among the American fans.

I’m glad to hear that reading the mailbag helped you discover Terry Norris, although it I must admit it’s kind of strange to see him described as an “old great fighter.”

 

JENNINGS AND PROVO

Hey Dougie,

First off, good call suggesting Provodnikov should start watching Smokin’ Joe tapes before his next fight. I’ve always had a soft spot for pure pressure fighters, probably cuz the style is built upon perpetual hustle and rhythm and just pure balls–out bravery. That being said, if Provodnikov’s defense doesn’t improve soon he’s going to have trouble stringing wins together (not to mention that scar tissue issue he’s developing.) Obviously his natural instinct will always be to come forward and trade, but as of right now it’s almost impossible for him to win a fight by decision; modern judges favor volume over bad intentions, and while I had no issue with the scorecards on Saturday, Provo’s going to have to tone down the face parrying if he’s ever going to win a decision at the championship level. I wonder how a cross-armed guard ala Old Mongoose/Punching Preacher would work for him?

As for the MSG heavyweight fight, does my man Bryant Jennings have any more than a puncher’s chance? I’ve been high on the guy since his sweet uppercut KO of Tupou and subsequent acapela rap. Philly fighters are the coolest.

His movement and combination punching is refreshing for a heavyweight division full of lumbering and loading up. However, I was disappointed by his performance against Perez. He really seemed to struggle with the bigger man’s grappling and smothering tactics which is why I think most fans are saying he doesn’t have a hope against Klitschko: master of slug-’em and hug-’em. I think Jennings only shot at success in the fight is to utilize lots of lateral movement and use that freakish long reach to land jabs and do body work at range. I’m not optimistic, but I definitely think he’ll do better than Pulev who just stood there like a doped up dancing bear for Dr. Steel Hammer to T-off on. Man, what I would give to see a prime Smokin’ Joe unleashed on the Klitschkos; there’s not a doubt in my mind he’d ice Wlad with a left hook.

A few heavyweight MMs:

Steve Cunningham vs Jerry Quarry

Ken Norton vs Evander Holyfeild

Jack Dempsey vs Floyd Patterson

Keep up the great work man. – Jack

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jack. A lot of fans are writing Provodnikov off after the Matthysse victory, which is odd to me given how strongly he finished the fight. But I see their point. He got hit way too much against Matthysse. However, I’m not going to give up on him just yet. I saw him make improvements in his technique after his first loss (against Mauricio Herrera), thanks to his move to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card boxing team, and I think he can more adjustments to his pressure-fighting style. Roach got him to jab more and to pivot and turn his body more with his power punches. I don’t think it’s impossible for Ruslan to mix in a little head/upper-body movement and blocking technique with his take-no-prisoners attack. He doesn’t need to add a lot of finesse to his game. Even without head movement and combo punching, he’s giving superior boxers hell for 12 rounds. I’d LOVE to see Provodnikov utilize a cross-arm defense. You don’t see that technique, once popularized by Archie Moore (as you noted), anymore. Good to know that you also recognized it in Big George’s game (during his comeback). Ken Norton also used the cross-arm defense during some of his best fights.

I like Jennings a lot too, but like most fans and boxing writers, I give him little chance against the long-reigning champ. I just haven’t seen him perform against enough truly world-class heavyweights to know how good he really is. I like what I’ve seen against second- and third-tier opposition, however. He’s tough, smart, very cagey for a late-starter with so few fights, and as you noted, he’s got good lateral movement. He’s also got an astute veteran in his corner with Fred Jenkins Sr. I think Jennings’ lateral movement is what will give Klitschko the most problems tomorrow night. I’m just not sure if Jennings will be able to jab with the athletic giant while maneuvering around him. I agree that Jennings will put up a better fight than Pulev, but I think Klitschko will either grind him down to a late stoppage with mauling tactics or time-and-clip him from the outside.

I’m with you on the Frazier-Klitschko mythical matchup. Prime Joe smokes Baby Bro like a giant rack of baby back ribs.

Your mythical matchups (good ones, dude!):

Steve Cunningham vs Jerry Quarry – Quarry by mid-rounds TKO in a boxing match that turns into a rock-’em-sock-’em brawl once Quarry drops Cunningham with a big hook.

Ken Norton vs Evander Holyfield – I’m going to go with Norton by close decision (12 or 15 rounds) in a fast-paced boxing match that gradually turns into a slugfest as both supreme physical specimens beat the conditioning out of each other. My hunch is that Holyfield would lack the punching power to KO Norton or keep the proud cagey boxer-slugger in check. Norton usually had the skill, style and workrate to give any boxer – including “The Greatest” and one of the best ever, Larry Holmes – pure hell.

Jack Dempsey vs Floyd Patterson – Dempsey by mid-rounds KO in a fun shootout.

WARD-SMITH/MAY-PAC MANIA (OR LACK OF)

Hey Dougie!

Two questions that I’m interested in getting your take on:

1) Would you consider Paul Smith a “tune-up” for Andre Ward?

2) I have been pleasantly surprised that MayPac Mania hasn’t dominated the boxing chatter completely since it was announced. Other fights have been given their just due. Before it was announced, I remember you saying you were dreading every question from fans being related to MayPac. Have you been pleasantly surprised as well?

Your mailbags are great! Thanks man. – Jalaal, Minneapolis

Thanks for the kind words, Jalaal. I’ll answer your two questions in order:

1) Yes, I consider Smith to be a tune-up or rust-shaking opponent for Ward, and no disrespect (to the British fighter or the undefeated American) is meant by that opinion. Smith is a solid veteran and former title challenger. I would not consider Smith to be a “tune-up” for any other super middleweight coming off a year and a half of inactivity. I would consider him a threat against anyone with that much rust to shake off. But Ward is his own class when it comes to the 168-pound division. However, I think it will be interesting to see how he handles a motivated scrapper coming off 24 title-bout rounds after missing all of 2014 and the first half of this year.

2) To be honest, I am pleasantly surprised that the big May 2 event hasn’t dominated all boxing discussion in this forum or on this site (or on other boxing web-publications and in social media). That might not be a good sign for the pay-per-view venture, but maybe worldwide interest will explode next week. And I’m perfectly fine with that because that will be the appropriate time for all of us to go crazy over an event of this magnitude. If I need to grind out four or five Mayweather-Pacquiao mailbags to get everyone’s opinions and predictions in, I’ll do that.

 

BERT SUGAR WOULD BE PROUD

Thanks for your boxing insight. It reminds me of the late great Bert Sugar, who wrote a book called the 100 greatest fighters of all time. I read that from cover to cover. A great book! I am 54 years old and have been a big boxing fan since the early 1970s and must admit that I am biased. I have always preferred the KO artist over the pure boxer. Marvin Hagler called it search and destroy.

Great fights last weekend. You were right and I was wrong. I thought Provodnikov, the Siberian Rocky, would win. The Siberian Rocky must have the most appropriate nickname in boxing after watching his fights. Just need him to call for Adrian after that fight. Terence Crawford was sensational. I would love to see him get a fight with Pacquiao or Mayweather before they retire.

Mayweather is delusional if he thinks he is the best ever. He knocks Muhammad Ali for losing to Leon Spinks. This was an old Ali at the time, at end of his career. So let’s compare Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Mayweather. All these fighters had long layoffs and then came back. Ali was forced out of boxing for 3 years and his comeback was against a tough heavyweight Jerry Quarry. Leonard was out boxing for 3 years and his comeback fight was against the Middleweight Champion Hagler. Mayweather was out of boxing for 2 years and his comeback fight was against Juan Manuel Marquez who was 2 divisions below Mayweather. So out of the 3 he took easiest comeback of the 3. While there are some very good welterweights now none of them compare to welterweight division of the 80’s. There is no Duran, Hearns or Leonard. What would Mayweather done against the welterweight freak of nature that was Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns? Hearns flaws were his chin and stamina. He fought at time when they had same day weigh in. So if he a prime Hearns fought Mayweather now he would only have to go 12 rounds and would have a day rehydrate so he would come into a Mayweather fight weighing more than 160 pounds. If Hearns was fighting today he would dominate the welterweight division including Mayweather.

I enjoy your mythical match ups so here are some them that could have happened:

Jack Johnson vs Jack Dempsey

Harry Wills vs Jack Dempsey

Marciano vs Patterson

Duran vs Pryor

Klitschko vs Klitschko

– Dennis

Thanks for the kind words and the very high praise, Dennis. Sugar is a literary/editorial hero of mine (and someone I had the pleasure and honor to meet and get to know a little bit).

Provodnikov definitely has an apt nickname. He’ll be back in the ring and in a significant fight before the end of the year, trust me on that, but you’ll have to settle for him shouting for his mama after a big win (as he did following his brutal stoppage of Mike Alvarado).

Regarding Mayweather and his weak-ass Ali diss, you’re preaching to the converted, my brotha. (Some would say you’re preaching to the preacher, ha!) I don’t know if he’s delusional or just ridiculously insecure. His daddy is a real piece of work, so it’s not surprising that he’s got profound psychological/emotional issues, but what’s the deal with his fans? If they’re so sure that Mayweather is “TBE,” as he claims, why do they have to always have to s__t on the legends of the sport?

I tweeted this on Monday:

Why do Floyd Mayweather Jr. fans feel the need to tear down the legacies of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson? I don’t understand that.

It was favorited and retweeted more than 90 times, and received its share of supportive replies, but I only got two responses from Money Teamsters: a repeat of Mayweather’s silly quip about Ali losing to a guy with 7 pro bouts (Spinks) and then some strange s__t about how Mayweather lives cleaner than Ali and Robinson did and thus has superior stamina.

Huh? I pointed out to the guy ripping on Ali’s loss to Spinks that the 15-round split-decision occurred after the heavyweight legend’s epic battles with fellow greats Frazier (bouts I and III) and Foreman, plus punishing 15-round bouts against hall of famer Ken Norton (the rubber match) and all-time puncher Earnie Shavers. Any fighter who engages in grueling bouts like that – past his prime, mind you – is eventually going to hit the wall (as Ali did in the late ’70s). The dude, to his credit, tweeted that he “got it.”

I didn’t bother responding to the other guy (although I could have pointed out to him that both Ali and Robinson had much higher workrates in 15-round bouts). I didn’t see what his point was. I don’t really see what Mayweather’s point is, either, but I gave up on him quite some time ago.

By the way, Quarry was THE RING’s No. 1-rated heavyweight when Ali came back to fight him after that three-year layoff. And I agree that the welterweight version of Hearns would wipe out today’s 147-pound division.

Your mythical matchups (that could have happened):

Jack Johnson vs Jack Dempsey – Johnson by close decision

Harry Wills vs Jack Dempsey – Dempsey by close decision (both were past their primes when Dempsey avoided defending his title against Wills, but I think Wills was more faded than The Manassa Mauler at the time)

Marciano vs Patterson – Marciano by mid-round TKO

Duran vs Pryor – Duran by close decision in a classic

Klitschko vs Klitschko – Big Bro by early to mid-rounds KO (I think he’d have to storm out to an early lead to gain the psychological advantage)

MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR FROCH

Hi Doug,

Watching that Chavez vs Fonfara fight again on replay today made me realize why Carl Froch wanted this fight in Vegas so badly last summer to close out his career. It’s a fight I definitely wanted to see last year. I’ve always taken up for Junior in the past for his respectable chin and body work but all of that went out of the window when he quit on his stool last Saturday. I can only be left to imagine Froch putting him away before the seventh round at the latest. I know Froch must be kicking himself (and no fault of his own at that) for not getting that fight when he wanted it initially.

Mythical Matchups:

El Chocolatito vs Manitas de Piedra (Light Flyweight)

El Chocolatito vs Chiquita (Light Flyweight)

-Eli, Austin, Texas

There’s no doubt in my mind that Froch was tempted to toss a chair at his TV if he was watching Chavez Jr.’s weak effort against Fonfara live.

Junior was the perfect Swan Song opponent for Froch, the perfect comeback foe for Ward, and the perfect pay-per-view launch-pad for GGG.

You know what? It’s time for the top middleweight and top two super middleweights to look at each other for significant showdowns instead of a dude who is all name and no work ethic.

Your mythical matchups:

Gonzalez over Carbajal by decision or late TKO (due to cuts)

Chocolatito over Chiquita by razor-thin decision

 

CHAVEZ JR. AND LEE

Hi Doug,

Hope you enjoyed the fights this weekend.

Who would have thought a couple of years ago after their fight where Andy Lee and JCC Jr would be relative to each other? Boxing can really surprise.

On another note, although I abhor the preferential treatment Junior has received his whole career, because of the cost to some of his opponents mostly and the prime TV slots he deprived others of, it’s hard for me to not feel some sympathy. The vitriol and gloating at his ‘disgrace’ is a bit strong. Take care. – Dave

Hardcore boxing fans are harsh and hard to please. It’s nice to see that some fans have a little compassion for the poor deluded goof ball. I got a soft spot for him, too.

The great thing about boxing is that you can never completely write anyone off. Most of us thought that loss to Chavez in 2012 was the last time we would see Lee in any sort of major title bout. But here he is, WBO middleweight beltholder, and in a much better place that his conqueror.

Of course, Lee’s recent success could serve as motivation for Junior’s comeback. And I tell ya what, I’ll probably watch with interest if he comes back at 168 pounds and faces a decent opponent.

 

COTTO VS. GEALE

Hey mate, hope you enjoyed the weekend.

Does Miguel Cotto lose any lustre/respect if he can’t crush Daniel Geale the way GGG did? Geale has stood up to other competition well, with volume punching and a lot of movement. But GGG walked him down. Does it matter whether Cotto can or can’t, in terms of the marketability of a possible Cotto v GGG fight?

Really disappointed I wasn’t able to check out any of the weekend’s boxing live – no TV showed it round these parts, and my net’s too slow to get a stream. Instead, I was rewatching Kovalev v Pascal. As a mythical matchup, how do you think Krusher would do against Jeff ‘Hitman’ Harding, and against Dennis Andries? They fought a classic trilogy at light-heavyweight in the 80s – a favourite of mine. Originally, I figured that Kovalev would outbox them – but Pascal still managed to tag him a bunch before his loss.

And because of that, I think it could have been close. Harding & Andries had chins of iron, and high enough workrates that Kovalev wouldn’t be comfortable behind his jab, and would have to battle it out… though he’d probably still win, because neither guy had great defensive skills. Thoughts?

Cool Cool, peace out. – Kim

Man, mention of Harding and Andries brings back memories. They indeed fought an entertaining (and underrated) three-bout series from 1989-’91. I remember watching their rematch live on network TV on a Saturday afternoon the summer of ’90 (that was the one fight Andries won – via seventh round knockout).

Those two were tough as nails and with massive hearts but damn, both were raw as sushi in terms of technique and defense. I think The Krusher would prevail be decision or late TKO against both, but I think Harding and Andries would have made it competitive and entertaining.

Anyway, I don’t think anyone is expecting Cotto to KO Geale the way Golvokin did. I think most of us realize that the Puerto Rican star is really a junior middleweight. Fans who are mad at Cotto for demanding catchweights and for not fighting Canelo in May will probably crap on him if he struggles with Geale or loses (which is possible) but most of us view the Australian vet as a credible opponent for THE RING champ.

 

GREATEST FIGHT NIGHT OF MY LIFE

Hey Dougie,

Not sure if this is mailbag worthy but I wanted to let you know that not only did I attend Matthysse-Provo but I ALSO snuck into the post-fight press conference with my girlfriend and two buddies! I’ve found in life that if you dress reasonably professional and act like you belong, most security guards don’t bother you.

Anyway, I was able to snag a picture with the Golden Boy and Marvin Somodio, the latter of which I spoke to in-depthly about the fight. Marvin was really open about the strategy and how he could tell(although Provo wouldn’t admit it during the fight) that the Machine’s power is as real as advertised. I think Marvin was so open because no reporters asked him any questions.

Provo is my favorite fighter, and I want him to be a world champion again, but I hate seeing him take so much punishment, even in his victories. Is it too late for him to learn to how to keep his guard up while going forward and not throwing punches?? I asked Dan Rafael and B-Hop if the fight would have been different had Roach been in the corner, Rafael said and I quote, “One-thousand percent no. Marvin is a great cornerman and Freddie can’t fight for Ruslan,” and on the other hand B-hop said with an assertive nod, “Oh, of course”. Two contrasting opinions. Do you think Roach have been able to make a difference? Also, where should Ruslan go from here? I think a rematch with Herrera if he can get it.

Appreciate your work. Oh and I saw your boy Steve Kim there, he’s much taller in person. (P.S. – I also went to Provo-Algieri, maybe I’m bad luck?) Thanks. – Peter, New Jersey

Yeah, Peter, you’re Provo’s jinx. Once Roach and Somodio figure this out you’ll be banned from all his fights and post-bout press conferences. LOL.

Kim’s a big dude. All of the Twitter tough guys and comment-section gangsters who talk mess about him should keep this in mind in the event they ever find the balls say that crap to his face.

I think Hopkins and Rafael were correct. I believe Provo would have been a little more focused and technically sound in the early rounds with Roach in the corner, but I still think Matthysse would have beat him.

Anyway, I’m down for Provo-Herrera II.

Yo, the next time you sneak into a post-fight press conference of a fight that I cover, come on by and say hello.

 

THE RUSSIAN CHUVALO

Doug-E,

What’s up dude? I’m just wondering why Matthysse-Provodnikov is getting s___ted on like it did on Monday. OK so it wasn’t Corrales-Castillo squared. I still enjoyed it. Too one-sided to be dramatic!? I don’t think so dude. And I’m glad you don’t. Yeah, Provo took a sickening pounding in the first 8 rounds. No question there. Watching those brutal rounds was making the blowflies all squeamish. But Provo is Provo, man. He just keeps coming. And I had him winning the last 4 rounds. In the 11th he connected with that one massive left-hook that will have Matty’s head buzzing for weeks or maybe months. One-sided fight? Bulls__t!

Provo may felt that he let his fans and countrymen down. Well he didn’t let me down. On my scorecard he’s beaten everyone else he fought and if fights were 20 rounders he might still be undefeated right now.

Something else Homie. With Provo’s granite-hard fists and his iron-chin he would have felt at home in the bare-knuckle era. Just like George Chuvalo, that tougher-than-nails Canadian from the 60s and 70s. Come to think of it Provo even looks like Chuvalo. And while many bloggers are now writing off the Russian I still think he has plenty of fight left in him. The dude’s that tough and clearly won’t go down quietly for anyone. Your thoughts there, Homie? – Captain Ron

I agree with you, Cap. I think Provo’s still got some fight in him. How much? I don’t know, but I don’t think Matty “ruined” him. And I don’t think that was a one-sided fight at all. Along with Roman Martinez-Orlando Salido, I think Matthysse-Provodnikov was the most enjoyable 12-round fight I’ve seen in 2015.

I don’t understand suddenly squeamish hardcore heads crapping all over the fight in the comments section of Monday’s mailbag. Maybe they’re all closet chessboxing fans.

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SICKO’S DELIGHT

Hey Dougie,

Got a fight for you all that will satisfy the sicko in all of us. Ruslan Provodnikov vs Robert Guerrero. Talk about a butcher’s delight. Both guys lead with their faces. Both of them make Rocky Balboa look like original Pernell Whitaker when it comes to defense. You can repeatedly bash either guy with a pipe-wrench and he’ll just get a hard-on over it and keep coming after you. Both of them love to bleed over every square inch of the ring and all over themselves. So there ya go. The purists are getting all faintish just at the mere mention of this potential bloodbath. What do you think? – Triple T

Dude, after the way they reacted to Matthysee-Provo, some of them might pull a “Cosell” and walk away from boxing if this match is made.

(Although in the late, great Howard Cosell’s defense, the fight that pushed him away from boxing – the Larry Holmes-Tex Cobb heavyweight championship bout in 1982 – really was a one-sided fight, 15 rounds of a gradual lopsided beating. Unlike Provo vs. Matthysse, Cobb was too slow and plodding to even get close to Holmes, let alone land a punch. Cosell rightfully lambasted the referee for letting the fight continue.)

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

 

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