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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

25
May

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

DEGALE-DIRRELL

Hey Dougie,

Great weekend for British boxing as James DeGale makes history in what was a great fight.



Those first 3 rounds were unbelievable for DeGale and when he knocked Dirrell down for the first time I thought it was over, but ‘The Resurrected’ showed fantastic powers of recovery and for me, won rounds 7-10 by quite some way. That said I scored rounds 2,3,4,6,11 and 12 for DeGale and the rest for Dirrell, how did you see it?

That said, DeGale started the fight in a similar fashion to how he finished it, very well. I just don’t understand why he didn’t press Dirrell with sharp combinations and utilise his jab at all during the key periods of the fight. It seemed to me that the knockdowns had a negative effect on his mindset, he felt that he could coast through the rounds and be granted the decision owing to the 10-7 round he had in the bag. This is something he HAS to watch against more experienced and superior foes, do you put it down to inexperience at the top level, or simply inability to press the action?

If George Groves comes through against Badou Jack, which isn’t a given, that sets up a mouth-watering clash against DeGale at Wembley in 2016. I’ve got DeGale by KO in that fight as he’s such a big puncher. How about you Dougie? I know by your Twitter you’re a Chunky fan!

Many thanks, and hope you’re all good, thanks for the follow on Twitter by the way, made my day! – Stan, UK

Hey, thanks for following me. I’m always going to follow back.

Do I seem like “Chunky fan”? I guess I am. I think he’s got a lot of talent, plus guts, and I like his attitude. (I also picked him to beat Dirrell – you know I gotta support my fellow mulatto.)

Nothing against Jack, but I’m pulling for Groves to lift the WBC title when they fight because I’d love to witness another heated British super middleweight rivalry. I don’t know if DeGale-Groves II can match the fighter animosity and public demand of Benn-Eubank II or Froch-Groves II, but it would be a huge event in England.

Regarding DeGale-Dirrell, let’s just say that I was underwhelmed. I don’t think it was a “great fight.” I thought the first half of the fight was intense, and Dirrell’s mid-rounds surge added some drama, but the manner in which DeGale just covered up along the ropes whenever the American let his hands go in Rounds 7 through 10 had me shaking my head.

I wanted more from both super middleweight contenders. I know that sounds greedy, but these guys are smart, athletically gifted boxer-punchers who were elite amateurs. I wanted Dirrell to break through DeGale’s shell and hurt the Brit when he was on the ropes. I wanted DeGale to punch back when Dirrell pressed him! Is that too much to ask for?

When DeGale finally picked it up in Rounds 11 and 12, I was thinking “Yeah man, this is what you’re SUPPOSED to do in the biggest fight of your life – and if you don’t, you’re gonna lose and I don’t want to hear you bitch about unfair scorecards if you do.”

Anyway, I also had the fight even in rounds, scoring Rounds 2, 3, 5, 6, 11 and 12 for DeGale (who won it by a 114-112 tally on my card thanks to the two knockdowns he scored). Congrats to the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a major world title. Kudos also to Dirrell for showing some fire down the stretch. I still want to see him take on the best at 168 pounds, especially Andre Ward.

Eventually, I’d like to see DeGale take on Ward but not until he proves that he can get through a 12-round fight without coasting.

 

BRITISH SUPER MIDDLES

Hi Dougie, It was a close fight but I think the 2 114-112 cards were fair. I really don’t know why us Brits are so suited to the division. We can now look forward to the Groves-DeGale rematch, your prediction? Full credit to Dirrell he showed the heart that NO ONE thought he had but let’s be honest not even Froch (please fight your boy, it’d be like watching Matthysse fight himself) will give Ward a challenge. Regards. – Pete Sussex UK

Ward’s out of DeGale’s league at the moment but let’s see how the new titleholder develops over the next year or so. Maybe DeGale can work on some of the flaws he showed in his first title bout. Maybe age and inactivity takes a bit of a toll on Ward. And maybe, just maybe, Ward-DeGale won’t seem like such a mismatch in 2017.

Had Ricky Hatton fought Kostya Tszyu in 2002 or 2003, he likely would have been iced by the Russian badass. But in 2005, the junior welterweight title was ready to change hands.

I know DeGale has turned off some fans with some of his post-fight comments – such as Froch and Groves being “p___ies” and his claim that Ward wants no part of him – but I think he’s got the right attitude (though he could work on manners a bit).

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I hope DeGale-Groves II happens in 2016. I favor “Chunky” by decision.

WHY SLOW DOWN WHEN YOU’RE WINNING?

Hi Doug, Second time writing, hopefully I make the cut. Really made my day to make the mailbag last time (as well as making the May Vs Pac “event” somewhat enjoyable), so fingers crossed it can be two on the bounce. After watching Chunky’s victory over Dirrell I am very proud of him for making history, but I’ve noticed that he has a tendency to slow down his offence when he is winning, and it gives his opponent a way back into the fight. He did it during his fight with Groves as well, and I noticed that Zab Judah used to do the same thing. What do you think? Is it simply a stamina problem or are there other reasons why boxers switch off when they are doing well? Also it looks like SM is where the big fights are for the best MW’s at the moment, so can you see Canelo eventually fighting there (obviously if the right fights are available) or maybe even higher? Just wondering if we’ll ever see Canelo Vs. Groves/ DeGale (a “Chunky Canelo” sounds like Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream waiting to happen). I know it’s way, way too early to say, but how you think they’d go down? Thanks. – Miles from UK

My guess is that Groves and DeGale are too big, too tall and rangy, too talented and ring-educated for Canelo to take down at 168 pounds. Canelo is a husky kid, but it seems like his limit would be 160 pounds. I could be wrong. He generally re-hydrates to 167-170 pounds, so maybe he will eventually grow his way into the super middleweight division. However, I don’t think that will happen until he’s in his late 20s or early 30s. Who knows? By then Groves and DeGale could be past their physical peaks and maybe the Mexican star would be able to hurt them. This is all speculation, but for now I have to say that Canelo does not belong in the ring with a natural, top-class super middleweight.

Regarding the mid-to-late rounds fade that some boxers have during distance fights – including big-time talents like Oscar De La Hoya, Judah and DeGale – I can’t tell you why it happens. I’m not a boxer! LOL. I don’t know why fans ask my opinion on such matters because my guess is as good as theirs. You guys need to start asking the fighters these kinds of questions. (There’s this thing called social media that allows you to do just that, by the way.) If I keep answering them (with what I hope are educated guesses) I’ll just continue to piss off hardcore-know-it-all fans and cause certain pro boxers to be resentful. I don’t need that.

I’ll say this: I don’t think the mid-to-late round fade is a physical/stamina issue. My guess is that it’s more mental. I ran cross country and long-distance races in track while in high school and I always found it mentally tougher to jump out to an early lead and then stay at the front of the pack from start to finish than it was to lay

That's your boy Dougie (the one dark-skinned dude) huffin and puffin his way up a Springfield Lake cross country course in Ozark, Missouri WAY back in the day.

That’s your boy Dougie (the one dark-skinned dude) huffin and puffin his way up a Springfield Lake cross country course in Ozark, Missouri WAY back in the day.

back around the middle of the pack and then push hard at the end of the race. I had the conditioning to go out strong and remain at the front, but I found it stressful to be the leader of the pack (or to try to lead the pack — I was never up in front for a cross country race). It probably took more energy and more a physical toll to run the third mile of a 5K cross country race faster than the first two or to haul ass in the final lap of a mile on the track, but for me (and other “slacker runners”) there was less pressure doing it this way.

I hope that analogy helped answer your question. (Who am I kidding? I probably just pissed off some world-class runners who happen to be boxing fans.)

 

THE RETURN OF STRONG ISLAND

Happy Memorial Day Dougie,

Ok, so my home town boy Chris Algieri came up short against Pacquiao, but that’s not because Manny is one of the greatest fighters of all time or because Tim Lane wouldn’t let him out of the damn cage. It’s because the fight was in Macau. Much like Superman and the yellow sun, the closer we Strong Islanders are to home, the more powerful we become. As you can guess, this means Amir Khan is going to be in real trouble in Brooklyn this weekend. Hopefully, King Khan is planning to try the pizza before the fight because it’s going to be real hard to eat it with a broken jaw after!

I may be exaggerating a little, but I do feel that Algieri is being unfairly dismissed before this fight even starts. He was smart, gutsy, and quick against Ruslan Provodnikov and with a real trainer in his corner, I think it’s not impossible to see him bothering Khan with his movement. Even with the fights against Luis Collazo and Devona Alexander, I’m still not entirely sold on Khan. He just seems mentally incomplete to me and I think that’s always going to get him into trouble, especially if he can’t impose his will early and Algieri can frustrate him with the long jab.

That’s all from me, hope you get the mailbag done early and enjoy the rest of the day. – Sean

As I write this, I’m on pace to have this Memorial Day edition of the bag finished and posted before midnight (Editors’ Note: I didn’t make it), which is about as good as it gets for me. I’m never able to work on the mailbag during the day due to my other editorial duties and family obligations. It’s all good, though. As long as my wife and kids let me sleep in ’till 10 am, I’ll be straight.

Regarding your fellow Strong Islander, I have no doubt that he’ll have his head together more for Friday’s Brooklyn showdown against Khan than he did for the Pacquiao fight. The shot against Manny came too soon, and like you stated, too far from home. Algieri basically had to carry that promotion here in the States while Pacquiao was chillin’ in the Philippines. The hype, the promotional/media obligations, the travel, I think it was all just too much for a guy who had just won his first world title. He barely had a chance to even savor that upset victory over Provo. Hell, I don’t even think that eye had a chance to fully heal!

Anyway, I still like Algieri and part of me will be rooting for him as I watch the fight on Spike. I go way back with his new coach, and I tell you what, if John David Jackson helps guide Algieri to a victory, he’s gonna be my front-runner for trainer of the year.

However, it’s very hard not to favor Khan in this matchup. The former two-belt titleholder has always shined against boxers, and I’m not just talking about Collazo and Alexander. He was too fast, mobile and busy for Paul Malignaggi, Andreas Kotelnik and Zab Judah, too. The guys that gave Khan hell either pressed the hell out of him (as Lamont Peterson and Maidana did) or they could punch and they timed him with big counter shots (as Danny Garcia and Julio Diaz did).

I don’t think Algieri can punch like Maidana, Garcia or even Diaz. Can he press Khan the way Peterson did? Can he outwork him in the trenches (if he can get the Brit to exchange and not hold)? Can he come up with another way to trouble and beat Khan? We’ll see this Friday.

ANDRE DIRRELL

I have a question. Here me out though. Or should I say read me out? Lol

If Andre Dirrell fails to win a world title in his career, should he be considered an underachiever?

Now before I start, I know the pro-Dirrell folks will give him a pass and say that he was out over a year (but less than two) because of the Abraham incident. Okay. If you want to give him a pass for that, then my argument will fall on deaf ears. I can’t win that group over.

Notwithstanding that, you are talking about an Olympic medalist. A guy with blazing speed, good power, marvelous switch-hitting ability. That guy HAS to win a world title, right? With all of those tools. With all that talent. If he doesn’t win a world title in his career, it has to be an underachieving career.

Allan Green was considered by someone closely connected with him as an underachiever. They felt he had the tools to do much more and win a world championship. That person may be right, but Allan doesn’t have more tools than Dirrell does.

I’m saying that because I like Dirrell. Dirrell is a likable guy. Green is more of a jackass. I like Green also, but he has an arrogant type of personality.

The point I’m trying to make is that people tend to sway one way for a guy they like and the opposite for a guy they think is a jerk—- even if the situations are the same. So if less talented Green is an underachiever, then Dirrell would be too, right?

Dirrell’s far less talented brother won a title. You saw this same brother (even though you won’t admit it) lose to a journeyman named Don Mouton at the Cosmo on 05/03/2013. He got out worked Doug. I saw you ringside. Admit it. He lost! You know he lost!

I digress….

An American with Dirrell’s talent MUST win a world title. I mean the Olympic pedigree. The Roy Jones-like speed and power. Tremendous boxing skills. Awesome switch-hitting style. These things MUST win a world title, right? He’s not hype like Dante Craig or Kelcie Banks. He’s the real deal and you know it, I know it, and he knows it.

He knew this coming in to the DeGale fight and should’ve fought like it, especially in the late rounds. Your much less talented brother won a world title and overachieved a bit in doing so, IMO. Dirrell needs to win one too before it’s all over or it will be a huge disappointment. Agree? – Mitch

Yeah, I agree – IF he fails to win a world title before he’s done boxing. But Dirrell is only 31. I think time is still on his side. Yeah, he fell short in his two title shots so far, but he barely lost those bouts. He arguably beat Froch and he almost outhustled DeGale. He’s just got to get over the hump. It’s not like he’s shopworn or anything. He’s only got 26 pro bouts, and aside from the Abraham foul and the two knockdowns vs. DeGale, he really hasn’t taken a beating.

There are four major titles floating around out there. My guess is that he’ll get his fast hands on one of them in the next two years.

A couple comments on your comments:

Dirrell is crazy talented, but he does NOT have Roy Jones Jr.-level speed and power. His speed comes close, but his power is nowhere near RJ’s level at 168 pounds. If he had Jones’ power he would have knocked out Froch and DeGale. We’d be calling him the British Assassin.

I remember Anthony Dirrell’s eight-round battle with Mouton. It was right before the Mayweather-Gurrero fight (the last time I bothered to be in Vegas for a Mayweather “event”). I had it even, four rounds apiece, but I won’t disagree with anyone who thought the journeyman/gatekeeper won. Mouton got in that ass whenever Dirrell’s back was to the ropes.

WHO IS JESSIE VARGAS?

Hey Doug,

I’m thinking about driving to the LA area to watch the Tim Bradley-Jessie Vargas fight. This may reflect negative on me as a boxing fan by I don’t know much about Vargas, is he a hidden gem? Can you hook us up with the inside scoop? Thanks. – Alex Sanchez

I don’t know if there is an “inside scoop” on Vargas. He’s just a solid young pro, good enough to win the “regular” version of the WBA’s 140-pound title and keep it (with the help of some questionable judging). Vargas, who is only 26, began boxing at eight years old and he was a good enough amateur to make Mexico’s national team and qualify for the 2008 Mexican Olympic squad. Roger Mayweather started the Vegas resident out and trained him throughout his amateur career and for his first 14 or 15 pro bouts.

Vargas, who turned pro in September 2008, was promoted by Mayweather Promotions (and developed by Golden Boy Promotions) but jumped ship to Top Rank in 2011 or 2012 and when he did so, he switched trainers – from Mayweather to Oscar De La Hoya’s old coach, Robert Alcazar. He recently hired Roy Jones Jr. to be his head trainer.

Vargas’ style has changed over the years. He was a pressure fighter in the mold of an Antonio Margarito when he first turned pro. He developed more of a hard-hitting counter-punching style as his opposition got tougher, and under Alcazar he became a volume-punching boxer. We’ll see how he develops under Jones.

Outside of the ring, he’s as humble, thoughtful and down to earth as any fan could hope for. I hope you get to meet him before or after the showdown with Bradley.

 

GOLOVKIN, WARD & THE BUSY 2015

GGG, he’s not the fastest, but in slow motion it looks like he’s able to change his punches direction, mid punch, and land with power. I think Monroe did a great job, maybe even exposed some defensive flaws, but coudn’t withstand the pressure. But Andre Ward, much like Money Mayweather, is master of the jab and grab. Although he’s a much better inside fighter, he and Mayweather are great at smothering punches. I call them Smother F__kers.

I like Ward, but he’s wasting precious time. Now we gotta watch 2 tune up fights before he fights anyone worthy. So since he was stripped of The Ring belt, do you think Ring Belt recognition holds enough weight for GGG to step to Super Middle to stake his claim, and what would he have do to earn that recognition. In my opinion, being recognized as The Ring champ is more credible than the other alphabets.

And I have to say, this year, even without the fight of the century, has been more eventful than any year I can remember. PBC has been a big factor in that. I like how quickly they’ve been able to put some compelling fights together, most recently with Broner and Porter. And Algieri vs Khan is an important fight too. For Khan especially. We’re not even half way through the year. Can you recall a year when boxing has been as busy within the last 10? Everyone who thinks boxing is fading is really trippin. Audi 5000. – Adam from Hayward, CA

Even though we’re only halfway through 2015, I can safely say this is the busiest boxing year I’ve experienced since becoming a fulltime writer/editor (15 years ago). I think there were busier years in the ’90s when there were more promoters, more networks that televised the sport in the U.S., and many of the top boxers fought four-to-six times a year, but this year’s schedule is definitely crowded.

The month of May feels like it’s been going on forever. I can’t believe it’s not over yet! Seriously, a lot of boxing writers I know are burnt out from covering all the events of April and May. (I’m glad I skipped traveling to Klitschko-Jennings and Mayweather-Pacquiao.) We’re not going to get a restful summer, either. The first three Saturdays of June feature high-profile cards on at least two networks. The PBC is a major factor, of course. Saturday used to belong to HBO and Showtime shows. The PBC has added NBC and CBS to the Saturday schedule, and will add ESPN starting in July. So, on June 6, we’ll get Cotto-Geale (HBO/Top Rank) and Guerrero-Martinez/Cuellar-Darchinyan (NBC/PBC). On June 13, we’ll have Walters-Marriga/Verdejo (HBO/Top Rank) and Wilder-Molina (SHO/PBC). On June 20, we’ll be treated to Porter-Broner (NBC/PBC) and Ward-Smith (BET/Roc Nation), and maybe Lemieux-N’Dam on Fox Sports 1 (that’s a Golden Boy Promotions show).

Keep in mind there will also be Thursday and Friday shows on Fox Sports 1 (GBP’s LA Fight Club and Golden Boy Live), Spike TV (PBC), truTV (Top Rank) and CBS Sports Net (Greg Cohen Promotions). Oh, and there’s UniMas shows (Top Rank) on Saturday, too! Ya gotta use DVR and TiVo and seriously carve out significant viewing time to watch it all. If general sports fans had forgotten about boxing they’re certainly being reminded of it this year. They can’t escape it even if they want to.

Do I think THE RING championship recognition holds enough weight for Gennady Golovkin to step up to super middleweight to stake his claim? I don’t know. You’d have to ask him. I like to think so. We did feature the Kazakh homie on our cover early last year (and, man, did that piss off a certain former GBP CEO and the loudmouth father/trainer of a certain RING champ).

The vacant RING 168-pound title is there for whoever wants to earn it by fighting top super middleweights.

If this talked-about showdown with Froch – our No. 1-rated super middleweight – happens, Golovkin will be in position to win the vacant title. In a perfect world, Ward would get back in the rankings and take on GGG for the right to reclaim his throne.

 

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

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