Dougie’s Friday mailbag
With news that Amir Khan may be heading closer to a fight with Floyd Mayweather, I’ve decided that I am okay with that. I used to think that for all of his whining and excuses that he didn’t deserve a fight. Now I think I want to see him KTFO by Mayweather. I’m not even a Mayweather fan. That’s how tired I’ve grown of the “he caught me with a lucky punch,” “I had a cold going into the fight,” and “I overtrained” comments Khan is constantly spewing.
On to this weekend, how do you see Miguel Cotto-Daniel Geale playing out? I know the prevalent theory is that Cotto is in for some trouble and will see a challenging distance fight, but I’m not sure I buy that. I know he will be the bigger man and he’s a decent boxer and competitor, but I see the weight drain as a big factor. Additionally, Geale has been on the mat in five fights, four of which were against total bums.
Cotto may be the smaller man, but he is very accurate and strong and has a lot of confidence right now. He’ll land in combination. Geale looked very tentative in his last fight and the way he moves in and out in straight lines is dangerous against a fighter with Cotto’s timing. Unlike GGG, Cotto isn’t as obviously devastating. I could see Geale walking in and thinking he doesn’t have as much to be cautious about. I suppose coupling these variables with the venue and potentially pro-Cotto officials, I would be surprised if Geale made it to the cards. Maybe not too surprised, but surprised. Thoughts? – Vincent, New York, NY
I considered Geale a “live dog” when this fight was first made, but as we’ve gotten closer to it I’ve liked the Australian’s chances less and less. The catchweight is a big part of it. The fact that Geale was as heavy as 166 pounds just a few days ago makes me think he’s going to “dry out” to make 157 pounds and I don’t think that’s a good thing for a 34-year-old veteran who hasn’t weighed under 158 pounds since 2007.
But it’s also about Cotto’s experience, technique and timing, as you noted. Geale is an experienced fighter with some talent and lots of heart, but he hasn’t faced many opponents with Cotto’s style and strengths. I think Cotto’s body attack is going be his key to victory. Geale hasn’t faced many body killers during his respectable career. Golovkin knows how to punish the body, but GGG was content to mainly head hunt during their three-round fight last summer. With the exception of GGG and fellow Aussie Anthony Mundine, all of the notable opponents on Geale’s record (Felix Sturm, Darren Barker, Sebastian Sylvester and Roman Karmazin) had classic stand-up European styles. So my guess is that Geale isn’t used to getting hurt to the body, and if he’s already weakened from making weightÔÇª. well, you don’t have to be Eddie Futch to figure out what might happen.
You bring up an interesting point about the potential Mayweather-Khan fight – if it happens, it could be the first time in a very long time that Floyd enters a bout as the “fan favorite.” You – and many other hardcore fans who can’t stand Khan (I’m not one of them) – could also get your wish and witness Khan getting KTFO by Mayweather. Floyd’s not a huge puncher and he’s never been one to go out and look for a KO, but he doesn’t have to be to get the stoppage against Khan.
Hello Dougie –
I hope you are keeping well mate. I’ve been on fire in the last 12 months making your mailbag 4 times so here’s hoping that my hot streak can continue!
Down to business, are you looking forward to this weekend’s show in the Big Apple between Mr. Cotto and Mr. Geale? Now that Canelo has taken care of business via his TKO of James Kirkland his date with Cotto seems to be set if (and it’s a pretty big if in my opinion) Miguel can get past Daniel Geale.
There’s been a lot of talk made of the catchweight for this fight and I’m interested in your opinion.
As luck would have it, I’m reading “The Sweet Science,” a book by A.J Liebling that you are probably familiar with, and was surprised to read that back in 1952, the middleweight champion of the world Sugar Ray Robinson, agreed to fight Joey Maxim, the reigning light heavyweight champion, at the light heavyweight limit of 175lbs! I had to re-read that paragraph in the book! Sugar agreed to give away 15 pounds in order to take a shot at the light heavyweight title! Wait a minute, wasn’t Sugar the “A” side in this fight? … Yet No catchweight?
My questions are:
– when did catchweights first appear/become accepted in boxing?
– what has been the most controversial or high profile catchweight world title bout to ever take place?
– do you think they are good, bad or a big “whatever” for boxing?
– lastly, how much of an advantage do you think Cotto will gain by having Geale come in 3 lbs under the limit?
Apologies for such a long letter Dougie. Peace. – Craig Brewer, Singapore
Thanks for writing in again, Craig.
Good questions about catchweight bouts. It’s not a new concept in boxing but it wasn’t as prevalent back in the day as it is now.
Generally speaking, in previous eras, when a fighter – even popular/respected world champs like Robinson, Henry Armstrong, Willie Pep and Tony Zale – wanted to challenge a heavier fighter he didn’t ask or demand that his opponent come down in weight.
Armstrong, the reigning welterweight champ at the time, had no problem weighing in at 142 pounds when he challenged Ceferino Garcia for the middleweight title in 1940 and he didn’t ask his Garcia (a small middleweight who had fought at welterweight for many years) to meet him halfway.
Zale, the middleweight champ at the time, was OK with weighing in at 164 pounds when took on former light heavyweight champ Billy Conn, who weighed in at 175 pounds, in 1942.
Pep, the newly crowned featherweight champ, weighed in at 130 pounds when he took on former lightweight champ Sammy Angott, who weighed in at 134 pounds (and handed “Will ‘O the Wisp” his first loss in 63 bouts) in 1943.
And our man, Ray Robinson, the middleweight champ, weighed in at 157 pounds to challenge Maxim, the reigning light heavyweight champ, who weighed in at 173 pounds in 1952.
I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that there was more respect for the weight classes and championships when there were only eight divisions and one title per division.
Still, there were catchweight bouts during boxing’s “Golden Age.” One of them, which was made famous by the Oscar-winning film Raging Bull, was Jake LaMotta’s 10-rounder against Tony Janiro in 1947. LaMotta, as you know was a top middleweight contender (and two years away from winning the title from Marcel Cerdan). Janiro was a popular welterweight contender whose management got LaMotta to agree to come down to 155 pounds to fight him. (If you believe the movie, it was LaMotta’s brother/manager Joey’s idea).
[springboard type=”video” id=”1530147″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]
They basically met at junior middleweight (LaMotta came in a little over 154 pounds) before there ever was a 154-pound division (Janiro, who lost a decision, weighed in at a little over 149 pounds).
Other top welterweights of the time, including Robinson, Fritzie Zivic, Tommy Bell and “California” Jackie Wilson, had no problem allowing LaMotta to weight 160 (or more pounds).
The most controversial (or high-profile) catchweight bout that I can think of was Sugar Ray Leonard’s challenge to Donny Lalonde in 1988. Leonard had won the WBC middleweight title from Marvin Halger the previous year (and immediately relinquished it). Lalonde was the WBC light heavyweight beltholder. They met at a 168-pound catchweight. Leonard weighed in at 165 pounds (though rumor has it that he was around 159 or 160 pounds and added fake weight by wearing a tracksuit with pockets full of silver dollars). Lalonde was the “bigger” man but had clearly drained himself by coming down to 167 pounds. (Still, it was a pretty good fight, and the Canadian “Golden Boy” managed to drop and repeatedly stun the future hall of famer before being overwhelmed in dramatic fashion in the late rounds.)
[springboard type=”video” id=”1530143″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]
What made the bout controversial in the eyes of most purists was that the newly created vacant WBC title for the super middleweight division was on the line along with Lalonde’s WBC light heavyweight title. So Leonard won two titles with his up-from-the-canvas ninth-round stoppage. Some hardcore fans and media thought it was ridiculous for Lalonde to lose his 175-pound belt when they were both fighting under the super middleweight division limit. Others thought the 168-pound title was bulls__t to begin with because the super middleweight division was still new at the time.
I don’t think catchweights are good, but I’m not totally against them unless they cause one fighter to weaken himself while the other is fresh.
I think the 157-pound catchweight is an advantage for Cotto. How much? We’ll find out tomorrow night.
COTTO, BELTS & CATCHWEIGHTS
What’s good Dougie Fresh!
I was reading one of your mailbags after the Danny Garcia/Lamont Peterson fight and someone wrote in about catchweights. You replied that at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter as long as the best fights are made. I couldn’t agree with you more. My question is, why is everyone getting so bent out of shape about Cotto “holding this belt hostage” and now fighting at catchweights?
Does this really matter anymore? In my opinion, f**k that green belt. GGG needs Cotto and/or Canelo on his resume more than that belt. That’s what would ultimately help him transition into a bona-fide crossover star. I mean, there is 9,482 belts out there in 600 different divisions. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration but you get it. Back in the day there weren’t nearly as many divisions and guys had to fight guys twice as big as them and they never complained. Now a guy has to gain or lose 2 pounds for a fight and they instantly become divas. While I’m not a boxer, I don’t find this very hard to do and if it is, they don’t have to take the fight. If they aren’t complaining then why are we? I find it funny that everyone is now s___ting on Cotto. Let the man cash out with Canelo or take “easy fights” for good pay and sail off into retirement. He’s earned it. We all know fighting GGG would be a repeat of the first Cotto-Margarito fight and that isn’t the healthiest choice.
Thoughts? Oh and some Mythical Matchups with a couple of your favorite fighters you loved to watch:
Margarito vs Maidana (147) F. Vargas vs Thurman (147) Mayorga vs Rios (147) Matthysse vs Gatti (who cares)
Be well Douglaston!! – Maintain from Queens!
I’ll certainly try.
I agree that fans – mainly the really hardcore set – is making a bigger deal out of the Cotto-Geale catchweight than they probably need to but I understand their discontent.
There have been too many catchweights in recent years (thanks to the two biggest divas in the sport – Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao) and fans are sick of it. And there have been needless catchweights in recent middleweight title bouts, such as the Paul Williams-Sergio Martinez rematch and Cotto’s challenge to Martinez. There was no point to setting Williams-Martinez II at a 158-pound catchweight. Both P-Will and Maravilla were natural junior middleweights. Neither had a size advantage. And it was just plain silly for Team Cotto to mandate that Martinez weigh-in at 159 pounds. Martinez had weighed in between 157-159 for all of his middleweight bouts. Contractually stipulating that he come in one pound under the division limit was just a d__k move. It was Cotto and his lawyer advisor Gaby Penagaricano throwing their weight around.
People don’t like that type of s__t.
Another reason hardcore heads are being so hard on Cotto is that they want to see him take on Canelo or Golovkin and he isn’t giving them what they want (yet). I agree with you that he’s earned the right to end his hall-of-fame career on his terms. If he doesn’t want to fight the young Mexican star or Grim Reaper of the middleweight division that’s his prerogative. However, fans don’t have to like it.
Regarding my thoughts on the Garcia-Peterson bout, you got it a bit twisted. I didn’t have a problem with that fight because neither fighter had a clear advantage with the weight. The slight edge went to Garcia because he was struggling to make 140 more than Peterson, but Peterson wasn’t going to weaken himself by coming in at 143 pounds. I didn’t really view Garcia-Peterson as a “catchweight” bout. I saw it more as an over-the-weight/non-title bout bout. Both guys held major 140-pound belts and both agreed to weigh a few pounds over the junior welterweight limit for their fight. I don’t think it would have made much of a difference had they weighed in at 140 pounds. They didn’t have their titles on the line because Garcia didn’t want to (which is one of the reasons “Swift” is on a lot of hardcore fans’ s__t lists).
However, when there is a catchweight that gives one fighter a clear advantage over his opponent – as Adrien Broner has against Shawn Porter with the 144-pound limit to their June 20 showdown – I’m against it.
Your mythical matchups:
Margarito vs Maidana (147) – The Tijuana Tornado grinds the naturally smaller fighter down to a late TKO in a brutal battle of attrition.
Vargas vs Thurman (147) – Thurman would stop El Feroz by the middle rounds. Vargas would have to practically cut a leg off to make welterweight. He’d be a zombie if he had to fight at welterweight.
Mayorga vs Rios (147) – Mayorga by late stoppage or close decision in a great slugfest. (They’d probably go out drinking after the fight and duke it out again, old-school style, like Harry Greb and Mickey Walker.)
Matthysse vs Gatti (who cares) – I gotta favor The Machine by close decision in a hell of a fight.
SENSING BIG UPSET
Cotto-Geale is giving me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
It is not that I feel that the fight may suck. In fact, I think it will be a pretty good one. Neither do I feel that the battle-worn Cotto might get hurt, Geale is not a puncher. It is just that, as a boxing fan, we so often don’t get the fights that we crave and a Geale win will seriously upset the apple cart. The scenario that we have all mapped out in our heads are supposed to play out as follows: Cotto will win against Geale, face “Canelo” Alvarez in what is probably the best fight that can be made after Stevenson vs Kovalev and then hand over the torch to the one everyone considers the best middleweight in the world, even though he isn’t “the-man-who-beat-the-man-who-beat-the-man”, Gennady Golovkin.
Nothing against Geale, but should he win, we will most probably be treated to Golovkin vs Geale II, since Golovkin, as the WBC’s interim champion, will be his mandatory challenger. Who wants to see that?
The thing is, to me, this fight isn’t about what Geale can do; it is about what Cotto truly has left at this stage of his career.
There are three things that worry me. Firstly, there was the loss against Austin Trout. Trout is a very good, tricky southpaw, but he is not elite. Cotto was considered done after that and if he went on to fight Geale then, I wonder how many people would have picked him. Secondly, despite the fact that the fight will be at a catchweight of 157 pounds, Cotto is not a middleweight. I think he was at his best at welterweight.
Do you think that the three pounds is going to make that much of a difference?
Then there is the third and main factor, namely, his two fight resurrection under Freddie Roach. He looked like a million bucks again. That is why he is the favorite in this fight, so what is the problem?
One can never be sure in this sport, but I have a feeling that those two fights may have been a mirage. Delvin Rodriguez was at his best as a welterweight and definitely not a middleweight and even at his best, wasn’t really top tier. Cotto fought a flawless fight against Sergio Martinez, but it was clear after the fight and perhaps even before the fight that Martinez was a legless fighter because of all the knee surgeries. Was Cotto simply at the right place at the right time?
I can’t see Cotto doing a Golovkin and smashing Geale out of there. He could always crack, but not as a middleweight. Geale has always had a sturdy chin. Golovkin is just on a way different level. Cotto will need to use all of his experience and savvy to move in and out, land the more eye catching shots and not let Geale get on a volume punching roll. Does he still have the legs and stamina to do that? It may also be a good idea to start fast and see if the ghost of Golovkin might still be in Geale’s head and make him tentative.
Geale needs to do what he always does: hustle and bustle, make Cotto fight at an uncomfortable pace, impose his size and hope that he wears out. Geale can dig to the body as we saw against Darren Barker. That may be a good idea against Cotto.
Cotto has proven me wrong before, I am a big fan of his and will be rooting for him, but I have a feeling that Geale will set a pace that he won’t be able to keep up with, batter him down the stretch and win a decision, providing the judges don’t do what is best for “the business of boxing.”
Tell me I’m wrong. – Droeks Malan, South Africa
You’re not totally wrong, but I don’t think you have it right, either.
Yes, Cotto’s resurgence is a bit of a mirage. D-Rod is a mid-level guy and Maravilla was a faded cripple. However, Cotto’s form and power in those bouts – and, more importantly, the confidence those KO victories fostered in him – cannot be denied.
Geale is the naturally bigger fighter and he’s got a busy style that could definitely trouble Cotto, however, the Australian veteran lacks speed, sharpness and punching power to truly threaten the Puerto Rican star (in my opinion).
I agree that it would be a good idea for Geale to go to Cotto’s body, but I think the four-division titleholder is going to get to the challenger’s body first. Freddie and Miguel are banking on Geale being weakened a bit by having to get down to 157 pounds and they’re going to test his durability by taking the fight right to him. If Geale tries to fight fire with fire, Roach is confident that Cotto’s tighter technique and superior punching power will prevail.
I favor Cotto by decision or late stoppage. I don’t think he’ll need any home cooking from the official judges.
PBC = PREDICTABLE BORING CRAP
My man, Dougie!
Just got back from a month in China. Badminton is prime time TV over there. Thank God some of the female players are mega-hot. This is likely late for your Friday mailbag, but whatever. I’ll write it anyway.
Call me insane, but I have a strange feeling in my gut that a certain middleweight is going to upset the apple cart and shock Miguel Cotto this weekend. That will mean the linear Middleweight Champ will be the guy who was recently obliterated by the guy we all know deserves to me the Middleweight Champ, but can’t because he’s being ducked like a chainsaw at a Texas massacre. How messed up will that be? Geale is a lot bigger than Cotto and if the catchweight doesn’t drain him, he is going to assert that size and frustrate the hell out of the champ and pull off an upset. What say you?
Okay, I didn’t coin this, but it’s a beautyÔÇª PBC = Predictable Boring Crap. And that is the truth. ESPN just announced Danny Garcia is to face a broken down, over the hill, feather fisted Paulie Malignaggi, who’s eggs were beaten and scrambled by Shawn Porter. Paulie is done! Besides his sharp Showtime commentating all he is good for is unfairly insulting Manny Pacquiao. He’s the D side against any top ten opponent. He needs to quit while he can still talk. I saw him fight at Foxwoods way back when and have no wish for the guy to suffer brain damage.
So far the PBC commentators and “reporters” have been kissing Al Haymon’s backside with gimme questions and always failing to mention certain fighters and mandatories, like GGG and Kovalov. Will ESPN’s Teddy Atlas be forced into that position? God I hope not because the PBC crew are not only failing in their duty as broadcasters to at least appear to be fair, they are actively taking part in AH’s efforts to erase the competition. I’m at the point where I’m going to unplug the center channel of my surround system while watching.
Last question, or more of “Hey HBO! Listen to this idea!!!”
Why not have a true Co-Main Event featuring GGG and Kovalov? A flip of the coin deciding who fights last would be fair. Now THAT would be must-see-TV! An event that could not be ignored. Set it in Staples Center or MSG and it sells out. How about passing this along to your pal’s at the network, you got me? Plant the seed, ala Larry Merchant and Pacquiao-De La Hoya. – Matt
I think that seed has already been planted, Matt. No need for me to pass anything along to the good folks at HBO. They know a Golovkin/Kovalev doubleheader would be must see TV. The unbeaten badasses just need the right opponents and venue. If David Lemieux beats Hassan N’Dam for the vacant IBF middleweight title and his management and Golden Boy Promotions decide to roll the dice against GGG, I think Golovkin-Lemieux/Kovalev-Jean Pascal II would be a doubleheader that could be made in Montreal.
Regarding the PBC ass kissing in the media, you’re just going to have to get used to it for the next two years or so. But don’t despair. Keep in mind that everybody can’t be bought. There will always be a few mavericks in the boxing universe who aren’t afraid to tell like it is.
Personally, I have no problem praising Haymon and the PBC when the organization delivers good fights. I also have no problem criticizing or ignoring their weaker cards, such as tomorrow afternoon’s NBC doubleheader topped by Robert Guerrero-Aron Martinez/Jesus Cuellar-Vic Darchinyan mismatches.
I don’t know what to think of Garcia-Malignaggi. I just hope Malignaggi has fully recovered from the concussion he must have suffered against Porter. I think Malignaggi has a style that could trouble Garcia, but I fear the younger, stronger, harder-punching fighter will be looking to make a statement (after his controversial nod over Peterson) and won’t be overly concerned about what the veteran throws his way. If Garcia comes out bombing, it could get ugly and brutal. I think the young man can punch every bit as hard as Porter.
I also think THE RING’s Ratings Panel will have seriously consider stripping Garcia of his junior welterweight title. Malignaggi will likely be his third consecutive non-title bout, and he’s going on 18 months since he’s scheduled a bout at his championship weight.
Regarding Cotto-Geale, I hope the challenger asserts himself and fights like the bigger, stronger fighter, but I have a feeling that if he does so, he’ll play right into Miguel’s heavy, accurate hands.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer