Dougie’s Friday mailbag
WILDER AND VERDEJO
Deontay Wilder seems to be a very marketable boxer that could bring some spark to the heavyweight division. The question lies if he is as good as we want him to be. He seems athletic and looked pretty good against Bermane Stiverne, who is a quality fighter, but still, there’s that question mark, his chin. We know he was hurt in the past, but who hasn’t? Even the real champ, Klitschko has been KO’d a couple of times and has looked vulnerable several times, but still, we want our boxers to look invincible and only show cracks in the armor once they face quality opposition not journeymen.
I know this weekend’s fight is a showcase fight and I hope he looks spectacular, at least that would attract the casuals; the heavyweight division is still the main division in the sport, like it or not, and if Wilder can capture the public’s imagination, things will get interesting. There are several good boxers in the division, specifically Tyson Fury and Klitschko himself. Alexander Povetkin is also pretty good, so I think the future is looking pretty bright for the heavies.
Felix Verdejo has the right first name for his nationality and seems to have captured the Boricuas hearts already. How good is he? I know he’s in the development stage of his career, but is he as good as he seems he is? I also worry that now that he’s going to be showcased on HBO he becomes a little bit less active and the network tries to rush him to a championship (which he’s obviously not ready).
By the way, you we’re right, I watched the Miguel Cotto fight again and he wasn’t slow. I was the one who was slows thanks to those Tecates I was drinking. Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde
Hey, I understand. Beer goes great with boxing, but not if you’re scoring the fight or trying to watch it with a critical eye. You need a clear head for that. I remember having a few Coronas before watching the Felix Sturm-Oscar De La Hoya fight back in 2004. A lot of the folks I watched it with (including Steve Kim) were outraged by the decision. I was OK with it and let them know. Kim told me to watch it again at home and score it round by round – without the “beer goggles.” I did, and scored eight rounds for the Sturmanator!
Anyway, don’t worry about Verdejo. He’s got an extensive amateur background, considerable natural ability and the expert matchmaking and promotion of Top Rank. The kid’s gonna be OK. In fact, I think he’ll be Puerto Rico’s biggest star in two years. And you can expect to see him fight a lot in that period. When he’s not on HBO, Top Rank will put him on truTV, HBO Latino and their pay-per-view undercards. They want to keep him busy, as my buddy Kim noted in this article on the Puerto Rican prospect, which is good for Verdejo and for boxing.
Wilder is also good for boxing. In fact, the Bronze Bomber could be great for the sport. He’s got the persona of a WWE star to go with his world-class athleticism and power.
There’s not much that I can say about tomorrow’s fight on Showtime, other than I’ll be shocked if Wilder doesn’t ice Eric Molina in one or two rounds. But I’m fine with the showcase “gimme” because it’s a home-state (Alabama) fight for the WBC beltholder – and I think it’s good for the powers that be in boxing to cultivate regional attractions in new markets – and he’s coming off a hand injury.
If Wilder blasts Molina like we all think he will, I hope Al Haymon keeps the undefeated American as busy as possible and fighting on NBC and CBS. If Wilder is going to take with the general public, he needs to fight often and on the largest network platforms possible. The more he fights the better he will get. If he’s able to add quality experience to his talent, he’ll be hard to beat. In fact, the only heavyweights I’d pick to beat him right now are the ones you noted: Klitschko, Fury and Povetkin (and he’s very live in each matchup).
Hope you’re doing well. I was one of those people who thought Jesus Cuellar-Vic Darchinyan at the weekend was going to be a sick mismatch, but after watching the fight online I was surprised by how competitive Vic was able to make it until getting caught and stopped in the eighth. While you’ve got to give Vic credit for playing his tricky veteran part and turning up to fight (what else could we expect), I’m not impressed by Cuellar at all. He’s the clear weak link amongst active featherweight titleholders IMHO. If a shopworn, heavily outweighed, 39 year old former flyweight was able to win rounds and wobble him a couple of times, I’d hate to think how he’d fare against the better fighters in the division. I think he gets outboxed by Vasyl Lomachenko, Lee Selby and Gary Russell Jr. Nicholas Walters knocks him out cold.
On the subject of the Axeman, I think he has a potentially dangerous fight this weekend against Miguel Marriaga. Must admit to having never heard of Marriaga before the fight was announced and judging from the mostly fluff opposition he’s faced there’s no reason why I should have. I see that he knocked out the normally durable Christopher Martin, so his power seems to be for real. Also, apparently he beat Walters in the amateurs, just to add some spice to the mix. Could be a barnburner! What are your thoughts on this matchup?
Hope to hear from you and make it into the mailbag for the first time! Best wishes. – Paul L, Coventry, UK
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Paul. Congrats on your first published mailbag email. I’m sure there will be many more in the near future.
I’m looking forward to the Walters-Marriaga fight tomorrow night because, unlike Nonito Donaire and Darchinyan (the two most recognizable names on The Axe Man’s resume), the Colombian is not old/shopworn or naturally smaller. And, hey, when you matchup two unbeaten aggressive punchers with some amateur history, you have the ingredients for a shootout. I happen to enjoy shootouts.
I agree that Cuellar is probably the “weak link” among featherweight standouts (especially now that Evgeny Gradovich has suffered his first loss), but I’m not dissing the Argentine pressure fighter because he had a hard time with Darchinyan. His come-forward style is tailor made for the Armenian veteran’s awkward southpaw power-counterpunching methods. Cuellar is the type of tough guy that Darch Vader would have decapitated at 112 and 115 pounds. But at this stage of his career (39 years old is like 50 for a natural flyweight) and at featherweight, the best the Raging Bull could do was stun the young buck in spots.
I still consider Cuellar one to watch at 126 pounds, though. He just happens to be in a very deep division. I’d also favor Walters to KO him and Lomachenko, Selby and Russell to outpoint him. However, I think he’d make for entertaining fights with each beltholder and I wouldn’t count him out against Selby (who’s savvy but a bit of a one-armed bandit) and Russell (who’s kind of repetitive).
With Cuellar being part of the PBC league means we could see him eventually take on Abner Mares, Leo Santa Cruz and/or Carl Frampton. Those are fights I’d like to see.
MONEY, WILDER, MYTHICAL MATCHUPS
Couple of subjects on which I really want to know your opinion. First one is about Money Mayweather. Since people shelled out the big bucks for the dud of a fight against Manny Pacquiao the market will be pretty much satisfied and that’s why they are selling Floyd’s next fight as his farewell. I still remember an article in the 90’s from KO-magazine in which Roy Jones Jr. stated he did not want to stay around considering the risks. Yeah sure! Mayweather has the best marketing ever in the history of the sport, but the man is no different. He will be back!
The second one is about Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin. New champions take an easy first defence all the time. After Molina it should be Povetkin in front of him. What the Russian did after getting the crap beaten out of him is pretty amazing. He knocked out three credible opponents and looked better than ever. It’s hard to imagine Marco Huck again going 12 rounds against Alexander. Looks like Deontay, being no Klitschko, will not be getting out of there with a win. He has some technique and is smart enough not to stand in front of the Russian but he does not have the hammering jab and won’t be hanging all over him like Wladdy did. Povetkin has developed in to the undisputed second best.
And let’s do a couple of mythical match ups:
Kevin Kelley vs Azumah Nelson (could have happened)
Andrew Golota vs Tony Galento (can you imagine?)
Bud Spencer vs Mr. T (fight of the previous Century?)
Keep on lighting up my Mondays and Fridays! – Bart Plaatje, Groningen, The Netherlands
For Mayweather’s sake (his health and legacy) and for boxing’s sake, I hope you’re wrong about Floyd sticking around past fight No. 49 or 50; but you’re probably right.
I agree that Povetkin has improved drastically since almost losing to Huck and he appears to have sharpened up his offensive technique since being dominated by Klitschko. I also think he can beat Wilder, but I see their WBC-mandated bout as a fairly even matchup. Povetkin has the edge in experience (amateur and pro) and durability. Wilder has the edge in athleticism (speed, power and reflexes). Their ring generalship appears equal. Although Wilder’s jab isn’t as heavy as Wladdy’s, I think he can use it to disrupt Povetkin’s groove and to eventually bust up the Russian’s face (not to mention to set up big right hands that can hurt, but probably won’t stop Povetkin). However, Povetkin can outwork Wilder if he can get inside and corner the American. He might also have the power to drop, and maybe stop, the WBC beltholder. Hopefully, we see this fight before the end of the year. It should be a good one.
Your mythical matchups:
Kevin Kelley vs Azumah Nelson (could have happened) – Nelson by late TKO in a competitive and entertaining fight.
Andrew Golota vs Tony Galento (can you imagine?) – Two-Ton Tony would out-foul and outslug the Polish headcase en route to a wild and ugly mid-rounds TKO. (Hey, if Michael Grant was ultimately too tough and willing for Golota to outlast, no way he’d beat Galento.)
Bud Spencer vs Mr. T (fight of the previous Century?) – I doubt most American boxing fans (under the age of 40) know (or care) who Spencer is, but the Italian spaghetti western actor actually was a good athlete in his youth, and clearly bigger and brawnier than Mr. T (a former bouncer/body guard with some obvious speed, strength and combat ability).
I don’t see much in the way of technique in this old-school bareknuckle fight scene from Ace High. Ole Bud kinda seems like the Italian film version of Randall “Tex” Cobb (all chin).
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Then again, Mr. T’s Clubber Lang character was fierce as f__k but wasn’t known for his stamina. A good chin can often outlast a good puncher (see Cobb vs. Earnie Shavers.) If Bud could get past the third round, he’d probably take T out.
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Tell ya what, if Lang had Spencer training him, he might have beat Rocky in that rematch.
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RESPECT FOR GEALE
I just want to say that we should all respect Daniel Geale for making the contracted weight against Cotto. We have seen fighters not even make weight for their actual weight class yet Geale made it three pounds under. I haven’t seen enough people give him the praise for respecting the sport.
One quick question. Who’s the A side of Cotto-Alvarez? Thanks. – Julio
I respect Geale as I do all fighters who have never missed making weight, and I give extra props to those who have come down past their natural weights for the sake of big fights as the Australian vet, Chad Dawson, Cotto and Alvarez have done in recent years. However, all boxing fans should note that the fighter who comes down in weight for these big catchweight showdowns always loses in one-sided fashion.
Just say no to catchweights, folks.
Good question as to who the A side is in the anticipated Cotto-Canelo showdown. Neither fighter is PPV ‘A side’. Both are more like B+ sides who can help push A sides, like Mayweather, to huge PPV numbers. However, both command very good cable TV ratings and loyal national followings. They both put significant numbers of butts in the seats.
But I figure Cotto is slightly more of the A side in this potential mega-matchup because he’s been around longer. He established himself years ago. He’s paid his dues and he’s got more of a “diva” personality, which means he’ll insist on being the A side. (I’d mention that the Puerto Rican star is the middleweight champ but he’s kind of made a mockery of that distinction.)
Have you met him? I enjoy his writing and glad he is (finally) being inducted into the HOF. Does Nigel still associate with The Ring? – Jordan from NC
No he doesn’t. But I have met him a few times (the first time was back when I was with HouseofBoxing.com and I sat next to him on press row for the Felix Trinidad-David Reid fight in Las Vegas back in 2000). Collins is a gentleman and an esteemed writer and chronicler of the Sweet Science. He’s a worthy inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
DE LA HOYA’S “COMEBACK”
Oscar De La Hoya’s comments about coming out of retirement are intriguing to me for various reasons. I’m curious what your reaction is. My guess is that you’d rather De La Hoya stay retired. BUT, if you had to choose an opponent for him that has the potential to be worth watching, who would it be?
Also, I heard he mentioned Gennady Golovkin as the guy he wants to duke it out against. We all know (maybe including De La Hoya) that is a terrible idea. Still, you have to give him credit for wanting to challenge himself more than any top fighter in recent memory.
Can’t wait for the next mailbag! – Jalaal, Minneapolis
It hasn’t occurred to me to take De La Hoya’s recent comments seriously, but you never know with boxers. The sport is in their blood and they’re all a little bit loco.
You are correct in guessing that I prefer that De La Hoya remain retired (and I wish his former ring foes Bernard Hopkins, Mayweather and Pacquiao would join him), but if I had to choose an opponent for him (that has the potential to make a fight worth watching) I’d pick a modestly talented boxer who has also been away from the sport for a number of years.
I’d go with popular Irish middleweight John Duddy, who hasn’t fought since dropping a 12-round decision to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2010.
Against Duddy, De La Hoya wouldn’t have to lose too much weight (they could fight at 160 or a few pounds lighter) and he wouldn’t have to worry about fighting a faster, more mobile opponent (those advantages should be his). However, Duddy wouldn’t be a walk in the park, nor would he make for an uneventful comeback. He’d bring it and he’d be able to take Oscar best shots directly to the chin. He would also make for a good promotion because he’s a handsome, affable sort who interviews well (what Irish fighter isn’t a good interview?)
I’d place De La Hoya-Duddy in New York City at Madison Square Garden, where both fighters always drew well (on St. Patrick’s Day, of course).
And I’d have GGG serve as color commentator. I can hear him praise both fighters after a hard-fought 10 rounder, “They’re both good boys.”
MAYWEATHER VS. GGG
How r u? I’ve been a fan of yours for ten years, man, keep up the great work. My question is why can’t there be a fight between Triple G and Mayweather Jr., who do you think would win? Thanx for your time man.
(PS I miss watching Edwin Valero) – Williams
Me too. Shoot, I miss watching the little psycho train. I hope they’re not treating him too badly in Hell.
Why can’t there be a Mayweather-Golovkin fight? Apart from GGG being an HBO fighter and having to remove one of his legs to make 154 pounds (at least), there is no reason.
I think a healthy GGG absolutely demolishes Mayweather within six or seven rounds, but I have no idea if the 33 year old would be healthy after boiling his think frame down to the junior middleweight limit. And I have no interest whatsoever watching a fighter who isn’t at his best take part in a huge media event.
I love your mailbags and I respect your opinion, so I’d like to ask you this: if you were brought in as a coach at the 11th hour to implement a game plan (i.e. you’re not there to work on nutrition, or conditioning, or get his head right) for your client to use in an important, upcoming fight, which ONE strategy would you use? In the few remaining training days left to you, would you:
– Maximise your client’s strengths (find out what he does well, then make sure he makes the most of it)?
– Minimise / eradicate your client’s weakness(es)?
– Attack the opponent’s weakness(es)?
– Take away the opponent’s strengths?
(PS – how would you describe your own boxing ability, in terms of style, strengths, weaknesses? Judging by your mailbag, I’d say you were a cerebral counter puncher, with endless patience, and heavy handed enough to stop all but the most determined trolls… I mean “opponents”.)
Cheers. – Richard, from the UK
This is one of the stranger (detailed) questions I’ve received in recent years. Before I attempt to answer it, let me state up front (so I don’t offend any real boxers or trainers) that I don’t think I know the sport well enough to instruct anyone on what to do in the ring (amateur or prize).
I’m flattered that you’d ask me. So, I guess I’d focus on my client’s strengths in the days before the fight, and if I helped to work his or her corner I’d try my best to point out the opponent’s weaknesses.
There ya go. (I can hear actual trainers of all levels grumbling as they read thisÔÇª LOL.)
As for my own boxing ability, I don’t have much, but I did spar and do some exhibitions in the L.A. area 20 years ago. I was a decent counter puncher (especially to the body) but I wasn’t cerebral. I was more instinctual (which is another way of saying I was a nervous sucker). I wasn’t very patient. I’d let my hands go out of anxiety if my opponent or sparring partner wasn’t aggressive. I was fast (again, fear will bring out that quickness) and busy in spots. I moved around the ring OK and could switch hit a little. Believe it or not, I could crack a bit with my right hand, but I was never cold enough to take a fool out (even if he was the gym version of a troll).
BEST POST-ALI HEAVYWEIGHTS
In the post-Ali era, there have been seven heavyweight champs that stood above the others: Holmes, Tyson, Holyfield, Bowe, Lewis, and the Klitschko brothers.
How would you rank these seven on a list of the greatest heavyweight champs since Ali?
I believe the top spot boils down to Holmes and Lewis.
I give the edge to Lewis based upon the level of opposition he faced.
What do you think, Dougie?
Thanks. – Bruce BagA’Chips
Man, how you gonna leave out “Merciless” Ray Merecer and the late, great Tommy “the Duke” Morrison? Just kidding (kind of).
That’s a good group you got there. I’d rank ’em like this:
Holmes, Holyfield, Lewis, Tyson, Bowe, Wladdy and Vitali (even though I think Big Bro beats Little Bro).
Yeah, I know Lewis beat Holyfield (twice really), but I think “LL” fought a faded version of the Real Deal. Same logic with ranking Holmes over Evander (obviously). The version of Holmes that faced Holyfield (and Tyson to a lesser extent) was not the Easton Assassin at his best.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer