Dougie’s Friday mailbag
I hope you and the family are all well.
I wrote in regarding this subject at the start of last month when the card was announced and maybe it was a bit premature, but I was still hoping to get your take on the Matchroom PPV card at the o2 this weekend.
For me this is as good of a card as we have seen in a long while. All of the match ups seem competitive to me with 3 world titles up for grabs:
Kell Brook v Frankie Gavin
Kevin Mitchell V Jorge Linares
Lee Selby V Evgeny Gradovich
and the Phenom Anthony Joshua taking on Kevin Johnson.
What are your predictions for these fights? I think Gavin keeps Kell honest on the way to dropping a close but clear decision. Mitchell is so hard to tell because he has choked twice at world level but I think he is in with a shot. Selby in my eyes has the skill to be able to out maneuver the Mexican Russian and grab his first world title and Joshua is going to hammer away at Johnson’s gloves and guard for the whole fight on the way to a lop sided decision but should be interesting to see if he can get the veteran out of there.
Also I know Oscar won the promoter of the year award, but how far away do you think Eddie Hearn is? He has really injected some energy into the fight seen over here in the UK and the Froch vs Groves II fight was an amazing show. Maybe if another fight at Wembley but this time Degale V Groves II might seal it for him this year?
Take care Doug, reading your mailbags every Monday and Friday is the perfect way to start and end my week. – Callum from London
Thanks for the nice words about the ‘bag, Callum.
I think Hearn, of Matchroom Boxing, is one of the top five promoters in the world – right up there with Bob Arum of Top Rank, the venerable Mr. Honda of Teiken Promotions, and “my boss” Oscar of Golden Boy. He was arguably Promoter of the Year for 2014, and I think he’s in the running for this year’s award thanks to his success at guiding his fighters to world titles (against Al Haymon-managed boxers, no less!) and big UK shows like “Rule Britannia.” If Eddie is able to make Carl Froch vs. Gennady Golovkin or the DeGale-Groves rematch (as you suggested) before the end of the year, he’s a lock for 2015 Promoter of the Year in my opinion.
Anyway, let me just state for the record that it totally sucks balls that tomorrow night’s quadrupleheader in London is not being televised anywhere in the U.S. or offered on a legal stream. American fans usually have it pretty good in terms of big-fight access but every now and then we miss out and May 30 is definitely one of those days.
I agree that the four major fights are competitive but I think there are clear favorites in each one (with Gradovich-Selby being the bout that’s closest to even-money on paper).
Kell Brook V Frankie Gavin – I think Gavin is a smart and gifted boxer, right on the cusp of being a legit top-10 welterweight contender, but Brook is in another class in my opinion. I think Brook’s decided edge in athleticism and power shows over the course of 12 brisk rounds. Brook by unanimous decision.
Kevin Mitchell V Jorge Linares – I may be biased with this matchup because I’ve been aware of Linares since he was a teenager, but I think he’s on another level in terms of talent. Having said that, he’s a bit “chinny” (as you Brits like to say) and he’s prone to facial cuts and swelling. But I heard good things from Linares’ Las Vegas camp before he headed overseas, so I’m going with the Japanese-speaking Venezuelan to outbox and outmaneuver a very tough and determined Mitchell. Linares on points, maybe a close or even majority decision.
Lee Selby V Evgeny Gradovich – I haven’t been overly impressed by what I’ve seen of Gradovich in recent bouts. Honestly, I was a bit shocked that Jayson Velez competed with him late last year. Maybe the Mexican Russian has leveled off. If so, he’s going to get outclassed by Selby, who is a versatile and mobile boxer. I think the Welsh wizard is at his absolute peak as a boxer and athlete right now, so I see him winning by competitive but clear unanimous decision (116-112 scores). Gradovich will take some rounds just on aggression and grit. This is a classic boxer-vs.-pressure fighter matchup and it should be fun.
Anthony Joshua V Kevin Johnson – I’m confident that THE RING’s Prospect of the Year for 2014 is ready for his first bona-fide gatekeeper. If Johnson were a bit younger and had more power, I’d believe he could use his educated jab and experience to really give the Olympic champ a fight, but my guess (like yours) is that the American will be in survival mode for most of the fight. Joshua by decision or late TKO (which would be a feather in Black Colossus’ hat since KJ has never been stopped).
Those are my picks. We’ll see what happens. Enjoy the fights!
IS FREDDIE ROACH DONE?
How you doing Doug? I haven’t written to you in a few months so I hope you get a chance to share your thoughts on this subject.
Freddie Roach’s 2015 has been a forgettable year for him in terms of winning, we go back to Tony DeMarco vs Vargas followed by Zou Shimming, Provo, Pacquiao and even Frankie Gomez losing to the scale!
Now comes Cotto vs Geale, is Freddie still at the top of his game or has his illness finally become a factor to his performance as an elite trainer? I know for sure Cotto will loose at least once this year and it could very well be this June 6th, I really hope Cotto and Roach have a superb plan to take out Geale or it could turn into a Deja Vu of Cotto/Trout.
I will be rooting for Cotto for the fact that he will be facing Canelo next if he’s victorious but I don’t rule out Geale with the upset win over the fighting pride of Puerto Rico.
Thank you for keeping the mail bag running and giving my Fridays and Mondays something to look forward to. Greetings from Mexico. – Agustin
I also think Geale is a “live dog” against Cotto. The Australian is a real middleweight, an experienced former two-belt titleholder with an awkward style and he’s still in his prime. Ask yourself this: if Geale hadn’t fought GGG last summer and Cotto hadn’t defeated a clearly shopworn Sergio Martinez for THE RING/WBC titles, would anybody be giving the Puerto Rican veteran a shot to beat the Australian? I think Cotto would at least be a slight betting underdog.
But Cotto is an overwhelming favorite. And Roach’s work with him is a big part of that perception. As tired and “finished” as Cotto appeared against Austin Trout, that’s how sharp and powerful he looked against Delvin Rodriguez and Martinez. That’s Roach’s magic. He’s not the trainer who develops fighters from scratch but nobody (save for the late, great likes of Emanuel Steward and Amilcar Brusa) can bring a former champion back to his form like Roach does. He did it with James Toney and he did with Cotto. Roach is also a boss at moving underdeveloped talent to the next level (as he did with Khan, Chavez, and of course the PacMan).
But on to your question. Yes, I think the combination of age and Parkinson’s syndrome has slowed the hall-of-fame trainer down in recent months. And yes, he’s had a bad patch of recent bouts, but I still view him as an elite trainer and I wouldn’t count him out if I were you. Anytime Roach’s fighters lose a few bouts, I get a dozen emails about his “demise” as one of the sport’s premier trainers (or young boxing heads ask me if he’s “done” in person), but he always bounces back by the end of the year or he has an excellent streak the next year.
And not to make excuses for Freddie, but his star fighter, Pacquiao, a decided underdog against Mayweather, entered the bout with an injured wing (among other ailments) and lost a decision to the No. 1 pound-for-pound rated boxer on the planet and arguably the best boxer of this era. Roach can’t wave a magic wand and make Pacquiao healthy or magically turn back the clock so that the Filipino icon is in his prime.
As for DeMarco, he has always been an overachiever with average talent. It didn’t matter who trained the Mexican veteran, DeMarco wasn’t going to beat a younger, fresher, stronger and busier fighter like Vargas.
With Shiming, he was working with a guy who had no business fighting for a major world title against a beltholder as experienced, talented and skilled as Amnat Ruenroeng. Zou’s prime was spent as an amateur and he was arguably burnt out a bit before the end of his celebrated career. He was never considered a prospect and he was never rated (by THE RING anyway – I can’t speak for the alphabet bodies). Ruenroeng is THE RING’s No. 2-rated contender in one of the deepest division in boxing (flyweight). When I saw Shiming’s first few pro bouts I thought he couldn’t fight at all. I thought he was a hopeless project. But credit to Roach. He somehow developed this dude in his 30s into a solid pro who could fight decent opposition in 10- and 12-round bouts. Roach did this in just four or five bouts. Honestly, the fact that Shiming, with just pro six bouts under his belt, was able to even win a few rounds against the Thai titleholder is impressive.
Would Provo had beaten Lucas Matthysse with Roach in his corner? Would Gomez had made weight had Roach been around? I don’t know. But I do know that Ruslan and Frankie improved under Roach’s guidance, as did Shiming.
To me, a trainer’s worth shouldn’t be measured solely by his win-loss record but rather by how much his fighters develop.
ALL-BRITISH MYTHICAL MATCHUPS
Ahead of the Brook-Gavin all-British title fight this weekend how about these all-British MMUs for your deliberation?
The John Conteh that beat Yaqui Lopez against the Dennis Andries that beat Jeff Harding
The Joe Calzaghe that beat Jeff Lacy against today’s Carl Froch
4-way tournament –
The Lloyd Honeyghan that beat Don Curry
The Ricky Hatton that challenged Floyd Mayweather
Today’s Kell Brook
Today’s Amir Khan
The Naseem Hamed that beat Kevin Kelley against today’s Carl Frampton (moving up a weight)
Kind regards. – Darren Naylor
Nice mythical matchups. (Reminds us Yanks that Britain has produced significant world-class talent outside of the super middleweight division!)
Conteh by clear unanimous decision or late stoppage in a good fight.
Calzaghe by close but unanimous decision in a competitive and entertaining boxing match.
Honeyghan halts Hatton late, Brook beats Khan and Special K narrowly outpoints the Ragamuffin Man to win it all.
The Prince gets off the canvas to stop The Jackal in the middle rounds of a fantastic boxing match that turns into a shootout.
POVETKIN, WILDER, GRADOVICH
Will try to keep it short. I am a bit surprised that no one mentioned Povetkin’s amazing 1st-round KO victory over Mike Perez in the previous Monday mailbag. Did you watch the fight (if one can call it that) and if so, what are your thoughts? What is the reason it went that way, in your opinion? Was it a lucky punch, Povetkin’s progress under new coach, or Perez’s decline after the Mago tragedy?
As a result, Povetkin became a mandatory challenger for Deontay Wilder. I got to tell you, I usually ignore modern-day heavyweight fights, but this one is intriguing. On one hand, my countryman Aleksandr is way more experienced, packs a decent jab and undeniably has fight-altering power. His iron chin and will to win also speak in his favor. However, judging by his performance against Klitschko, I am not sure Povetkin can get inside that long reach of the US champion to do damage. Do you think this fight will happen next (after Wilder takes care of Molina business, which we know he will) and who do you think will win? I am looking forward to Gradovich-Selby fight this week.
I like Gradovich’s warrior mentality and come-forward style, but I believe he is the weakest among reigning featherweight champions. Would you agree? Who do you think will win this Saturday (I don’t know much about Selby, to be honest) and what (in your opinion) are Evgeny’s chances against Walters, Loma and Gary Russell Jr.? – Andrey, Russia
I’m picking Selby to lift the IBF 126-pound title by decision. As much as I admire Gradovich and enjoy watching him fight, I agree that the Mexican Russian is the “weakest” link among featherweight betlholders. His straight-forward pressure (and lack of world-class power) makes him tailor-made for a giant puncher like Walters, a gifted and versatile volume-punching boxer like Lomachenko, and an ultra-quick technician like Russell. I would favor all three to beat Gradovich.
The only way we see Wilder-Povetkin is if the WBC forces it and Wilder (on Al Haymon’s order) decides that he wants to hold onto the green belt. I think there’s 70% chance that we see it this year. If it happens (this year or next), I slightly favor Povetkin. He will have a hard time getting past Wilder’s jab and cutting the ring off on the mobile American but I think his chin can take the Bronze Bomber’s vaunted right hand. I’m not sure Wilder can take Povetkin’s right hand.
Yes, I’ve seen the Povetkin-Perez fight. I was not surprised that he beat or even stopped the Cuban southpaw. I was surprised that he iced Perez in the first round. I don’t think it was a lucky punch. I do think Perez has declined (mentally) since the Magomed tragedy, but I never really considered the Cuban to be a legit contender. He didn’t show me much in his fights with Carlos Takam and Bryant Jennings, so it was hard to give him a shot against Povetkin (THE RING’s No. 1-rated heavyweight).
WHAT A WEEK!
Hope this makes your Friday mailbag. What a week it’s been: the Warriors make the NBA finals after a dismal 40 year absence, James DeGale (the best super middleweight in the world) defeats Andre Dirrell – easily – and now is in line to defeat Andre Ward whenever Ward returns to box the best.
Question: Why is Chris Algeri getting these top-level fights? In my view, he was lucky when he defeated Provo and now he gets a shot at Amir Khan after a horrendous performance against Paquaio! Go figure.
I hope Khan knocks him out within four rounds and sends Algeri on his merry way. Algeri is not a world class fighter and doesn’t belong among the elite of the sport. He seems to be a nice enough guy outside the ring with a good non-boxing career going, but what he’s doing inside the ring is anyone’s guess. I wish Provodnikov/Algeri II would have occurred. Provo, learning from the previous fight, would have knocked Algeri out in a rematch.
By the way, I want to thank you Dougie for supporting my man Nigel Benn and his boxing adversary Chris Eubank whenever the votes are cast for IBHOF. The fact that you vote for them shows you understand not only their historical roles but a deep appreciation for their fighting skills.
I’m happy to see that other people writing in are beginning to mention Nigel Benn in their emails, he even appeared in another mythical match up after you included mine which, if you remember, pitted “The Dark Destroyer” against Roy Jones at Super Middleweight. What Sugar Ray Leonard is to you, Nigel Benn is to me. Hopefully, more fans will Youtube Nigel’s fights in the future and they can witness for themselves those insanely exciting fights that only Benn could create. The only American fighter I can think of that is similar to “THE DARK DESTROYER” is the great Tommy Hearns. They were kindred spirits. And maybe, your colleagues might Youtube his fights as well and change their minds about him. Nigel is long overdue to be inducted into the IBHOF.
Regards. – Erik
I think Benn and his arch rival Eubank will eventually be inducted, Erik. It’s only a matter of time. They had distinguished title reigns, fought some of the best middleweights and super middleweights on both sides of The Pond during the 1990s, and they had a tremendous impact on the sport.
I’m more than happy to talk up the Dark Destroyer these days because he gave me so many thrills during his prime. For those who don’t know much about Benn, he epitomized the phrases “do-or-die” and “take-no-prisoners” in the ring. Check out this highlight video for examples:
[springboard type=”video” id=”1528149″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]
I guess you could say he was like Hearns (in terms of speed and power) but he was a caveman version of the hall-of-fame enshrined Detroit native.
Regarding Algieri, I don’t think it’s fair to say that he isn’t world class. He beat a world-class fighter (Provo) for a major title just last year. Yeah, you can say the Russian could have or should have won the fight (I scored it for Provo by two points), but it wasn’t a robbery. Nobody can say that Algieri didn’t hold his own against Provodnikov and I’m not sure Ruslan would have put forth a better fight the second time around. If anything, Algieri would be more prepared for Provo’s early assault and would perhaps avoid getting dropped early.
Yes, Algieri laid an egg vs. Pacquiao. So what? That was Algieri’s first time fighting on the world stage and Pacquiao is a future first-ballot hall of famer. I’m not going to totally dismiss Algieri after one loss. I think he’s got his work cut out for him against Khan tonight, and he is the betting underdog, but I don’t have a problem with him getting this fight. Khan needed a stay-busy fight and was interested in fighting in the New York City/Brooklyn area, and Algieri is a Long Island native who can sell tickets.
Regarding your excitement for DeGale, I’m not going to ask you to curb your enthusiasm because I happen to like “Chunky,” but I have to disagree that the British titleholder “easily” beat Dirrell. And he ain’t beating Ward anytime soon.
AM I A HATER?
Hope everything is good with u and yours! I have the honor of being in the mailbag 2 times, we will see if this is the third. I’m still excited with GGG and Roman Gonzalez. I really hope that they become a regular doubleheader. I have a questi├│n on this topic because I don’t know if I’ve become a hater? I think of myself as a normal twitter guy (@GlondyGaxiola). I dont start discussions or say bad things to people but BJ Flores really annoyed me with his tweets about Gonzalez (you and Dan Rafael were mentioned). He said: “I’m sorry but it’s hard to get too excited for two fighters that are 5’3 and 112lbs. #naptime” and I replied: “maybe u could have fans as chocolatito or be in a pound 4 pound list. The sky is the limit!” and he blocked me. He has all the right to do it. I didn’t follow him and the truth is that I haven’t see him fight. But the fact that he blocked me makes me questi├│n: am I a hater? Questi├│n: Hulk and Scarlett Johansson. I support the big guy, but does their “thing” appear in a comic or is just for the movie? Peace. – Salom├│n Gaxiola.
I have no idea what you’re talking about in regards to Hulk and Johansson (Black Widow). The Avengers isn’t a comic that I collect and I haven’t seen Age of Ultron yet. So don’t give me any spoilers or I’ll consider you a hater!
Seriously, I wouldn’t call your response to Flores “hateful” but it was snippy and he probably didn’t want to take any s__t from people he’s never met.
But here’s my question to you: Why did his comment annoy you so much?
I responded to it (only because he included my twitter handle in the tweet), but I just tweeted “Your loss.” I think Chocolatito is a pleasure to watch, but if he isn’t into the flyweight champ that’s his prerogative, ain’t it? No big deal. He’s a Mayweather fan. I’m not. But I’m fine with him or anyone else enjoying Mayweather’s fights. To each their own, ya know.
I was a little surprised at the nasty reaction Flores got from hardcore heads (although I shouldn’t have been – the boxing Twitterverse is home to more than a few nut cakes). He didn’t help his cause by arguing with them, but perhaps one of the reasons he blocked you was because he got fed up by the collective venom being spat his way. I didn’t care for all that, in part because Gonzalez is not that kind of person. He would never get mad at someone for not being his fan and he would never resort to nasty insults.
So having said all of that, allow me to state for the record that GGG and Chocolatito are my two favorite active fighters and let me add that I have NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER with anyone who thinks they’re overrated, uninteresting or just plain sucky. I don’t care much for Mayweather and Pacquiao fans who get mad at other fans for not appreciating their heroes (or – gasp – picking against them), so I don’t want to be like them. (And you shouldn’t either.)
Also, while we’re on the subject of active boxers who are also commentators for Haymon’s PBC, I’d like to ask fans to stop asking me what Paulie Malignaggi’s “deal is” with Pacquiao. I have no idea. Maybe he’s trying to drum up interest in a grudge match with the PacMan. Who knows? I just don’t care. He’s got a right to hate anyone that he wants and if he wants to s__t on a certain fighter every chance he gets, more power to him.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer