Dougie’s Monday mailbag
WILL THE REAL WILDER PLEASE STAND UP
Did I just hear Deontay Wilder say in his post-fight interview that he’s trying to be a “technician” and that he’s “trying to pick his shots”? Really? After that performance I think a lot of other heavyweights will now look at Wilder and see a beatable guy who’s flawed, clumsy and fragile rather than the fearsome KO monster he’s been built up to be. Having said that, he has previously put in much better performances against better opponents than Eric Molina, most notably Bermane Stiverne. So will the real Wilder please stand up?
I think now it’s time for him to fight one of the elite guys – either the winner of Tyson Fury V Wladimir Klitschko or Alexander Povetkin. Then we’ll have a better idea. Personally, I’d love to see Wilder V Fury. I see Wilder as a heavier handed version of Fury with a similar all action style, vulnerabilities and WWE personality. One thing’s for sure; this one would be guaranteed entertainment both in the press conferences and in the ring! Thanks. – Mark!
I have to favor Klitschko, Povetkin and Fury to beat Wilder if they were to fight in the second half of 2015 or in the first quarter of 2016. The unbeaten American titleholder is clearly a work in progress. As he stated, he’s trying to be a patient technician. But that’s not what he is. Right now Wilder is an athletic puncher with enough raw talent to beat a lot of the top heavyweights (but not all – I’d even favor veteran gatekeeper/lower top-10 ranked Tony Thompson to beat him). However, he has the intelligence and willingness to evolve into a world-class boxer-puncher with enough quality rounds under his belt.
To that end, going nine rounds with Molina was a good thing. Wilder’s got 21 rounds under his belt so far in 2015. Having this extra ring time to figure out his ring style and how to deal with uncomfortable moments will only serve him well in future bouts. However, he needs at least another 24 rounds against live opposition before he’ll be ready to beat a heavyweight as experienced and tough as his WBC mandatory challenger, Povetkin. If I was managing Wilder I wouldn’t let him go directly into that fight. He’s got too many flaws for the Russian to exploit at the present time.
IMPRESSIONS OF VERDEJO
Felix Verdejo looks like the real deal to me. He’s got a complete offensive arsenal that will spell trouble for almost anyone in his weight class to deal with as he goes through his progressions.
Do you see him moving up to Jr. Welter or Welterweight sooner than later with his body frame? And if that happens he suddenly will have a world of potential super fights with guys like Brook, Crawford, Broner and Thurman. I especially see him and Crawford on a collision course soon. Do you see any defensive flaws because I don’t see anything but he hasn’t been challenged to this point either.
To me he looks more advanced than Trinidad during his start.
As always, your mailbags are outstanding. Keep up the good work. – Armand in Philly
Thanks for the kind words, Armand.
I thought Verdejo looked very good against Ivan Najera, but I didn’t think he was absolutely sensational as many other observers (including you and esteemed RING magazine editor Michael Rosenthal) believe. I thought Verdejo did what he was supposed to do against a tough and determined but limited young foe. The 22-year-old Puerto Rican did not exceed my expectations. I’ll put it that way.
In terms of natural ability, he’s got the goods. He’s blessed with very fast hands, quick reflexes, and excellent hand-eye coordination. His amateur background has helped forge a solid technical foundation that includes good balance and crisp offense. I love his jab, right cross and his hook to the body. However, I think his power is overrated.
I also think he’s got some room to improve with his defense. He’s good at avoiding a lot of shots with his footwork and lateral movement, but he’s a bit stiff/straight up in his upper body (as Trinidad was). He can be nailed by a quick boxer with good timing, or by a ballsy dude like Najera who just goes for it.
If Najera had better punching power we could have had more of a fight. If the Texan was more of a natural pressure fighter, adept at cutting the ring off, we could have witnessed more drama. I’m sure such opponents and styles are in Verdejo’s future, but not right away. Top Rank is the best at developing young talent. I’m sure they saw the same limitations I did and will keep Verdejo at the “Najera” level of opposition at least until the end of this year.
And that’s a good thing. They plan to keep the young man busy and learning, while getting him the most exposure they can via their network partnerships. Verdejo’s name will continue to grow, and who knows? Two years from now, he might be headlining in the big room of Madison Square Garden. And yeah, Verdejo might be a solid junior welterweight by that time.
He might make his name at welterweight. It’s too early for me to tell if he’ll be ready for the elite likes of Crawford and Brook in a few years. Somehow, I don’t think so.
You might think he looks more advanced than Trinidad at this stage of his career, but I don’t think he’s as devastating a puncher or as good a combination puncher as Tito was at age 22. Oh, and one more thing, Trinidad was a world champion by the age of 22.
NOISE LEVELS, WEIGHT GAIN
Long time reader of your mailbag, first time writer. I always respect your opinions so I’m hoping to get your thoughts on the following:
As I was watching the fights being broadcast simultaneously on competing networks, the huge difference in the atmosphere was hard not to notice. Whereas the crowd in Alabama was loud, electric and fully engaged in support of their native son, Deontay Wilder, the audience’s noise level of HBO’s broadcast reminded me of a room of students taking the SAT. Although I think so, do you think that Wilder has the ability to reinvigorate the sport of boxing in the USA based on what you’ve observed so far?
With the announcement of Sergio Martinez’s retirement, does Maravilla make the hall of fame on the first ballot?
As a result of the absurd levels of weight gain in recent bouts, (a la Nicholas Walters), there was some discussion by HBO’s commentators that maybe the sport should return to same-day weigh-ins as was the case in years past. What’s your opinion on this?
Thanks again for doing the mailbag. Peace-Out. – Long Dong Wong, Alpine, CA
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions LDW.
I would have no problem with professional boxing going back to same-day weigh-ins. For starters, I hate the way weigh-ins have become big media events. I know that building the weigh-in into a televised/streamed event which sometimes plays host to thousands of fans helps to promote the fight, but I’ve never liked those spectacles. I have no idea why. It’s just one of those things I’m grumpy about. I hate them. I hate covering them and I hate writing reports on what should be business as usual. My guess is that promoters and networks would be less inclined to do a “weigh-in” show the day of the fight (but who knows?)
And, obviously, same-day weigh-ins would encourage fighters to fight at more natural weights. Fighters rehydrate to three or four divisions heavier than their fighting weight class when dry out to unnaturally light weights for their bodies.
I also think same-day weigh-ins would discourage all the catchweight bulls__t we’ve witnessed in recent years. I don’t think Canelo would have agreed to weigh-in at 152 for the Mayweather fight if he had to do so the day of the fight. And I know GGG’s people wouldn’t be talking about him coming down to 154 pounds to fight Mr. TBE if the middleweight bomber had to step on the scale the day of the fight.
Who knows? Maybe same-day weigh-ins would also encourage professional boxers to control their weights more between fights – no more of this “walk-around” weight s__t.
I think Martinez will eventually get into the hall of fame but definitely not on his first ballot.
I think Wilder has the personality, talent and fighting style to reinvigorate the heavyweight division in the U.S. – provided he can avoid getting KTFO in his next couple of fights.
It shouldn’t have come as any surprise that the atmosphere in Alabama was a lot louder and electric than it was in NYC. There more than 9,000 fans cheering on a homegrown heavyweight champ defend his title – the first title bout ever in that state – for the first time. There were probably around 4,000 in Madison Square Garden’s Theater, and 99% of those fans were there to see a 22-year-old prospect face a guy they knew he’d beat – not to witness Walters-Marriaga. Give Verdejo a couple of years to grow in NYC, I’ll bet you he’ll be attracting a lot more than 9,000 to MSG’s big arena and they’ll be even louder than the ‘Bama folks (with or without conga drums!).
WEIGHT CRAZINESS, BRONER-PORTER
Hope you are well. I however am not. I am writing in because I can’t hold in my frustrations anymore about fighters not making weight. Nicolas Walters has just tipped me over the edge! Am I alone in my frustrations or are you losing patience with it as well? Are fighters not interested in holding titles anymore because they know they can fall back the invisible HBO, Showtime and PBC titles?
Anyway onto this weekend and Adrien Broner/Shawn Porter. I was reading an article by Francisco Salazar where he said Broner has faced the better opposition. I disagree and just wondered what you thought? I think Brook, Malignaggi, Alexander and Diaz twice trumps Broner’s opposition, Broner’s best name is Maidana who Alexander beat easily. Anyway that’s me. Done, hope I haven’t gone on too much, peace out and take it easy.
MM – Wilfred Benitez vs Pipino Cuevas @ 147. – Mary
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mary (you didn’t drone on at all).
I think Broner and Porter have faced a similar level of opposition. Broner’s best opponents are Marcos Maidana, Paul Malignaggi, Daniel Ponce DeLeon and Antonio DeMarco. He scraped by DeLeon, struggled with Malignaggi, caught a beatdown against Maidana, and obliterated DeMarco.
Porter’s best opponents are Kell Brook, Devon Alexander, Malignaggi and Julio Diaz. He was outboxed and narrowly outpointed by Brook, he outworked and outpointed Alexander, manhandled Malignaggi, and struggled with Diaz before soundly outpointing him in their rematch.
If it wasn’t for that damn 144-pound catchweight, I’d view Broner-Porter as an even fight.
Speaking of weight, yes, I’m sick and tired of professional boxers failing to make weight. You asked if fighters are not interested in holding onto their titles because they know they can fall back “the invisible HBO, Showtime and PBC titles.” Yes, I think in a way you’re right. Nine out of 10 times, a defending titleholder who fails to make weight for a televised bout winds up fighting on TV anyway, and making most of his purse (minus a few fines/pay outs to the sucker who made weight). We saw this with Broner, who lost his WBO 130-pound belt on the scales, before his fight with Vicente Escobedo in 2012. We saw it with Joan Guzman, who came in nine pounds heavy, before his rematch with Ali Funeka for the vacant IBF lightweight title. And we witnessed it this past weekend with Walters giving up his belt on the scales (at least he was only one pound over).
I was glad when Golden Boy Promotions and HBO decided not to go ahead with the Frankie Gomez-Humberto Soto co-feature to Canelo-Kirkland after Gomez came in heavy for what was supposed to be a junior welterweight bout.
This needs to happen more often because the disregard for making the contracted weight or world title weight limit has almost become commonplace. I think the sport either needs to go back to same-day weigh-ins or enact much stiffer penalties for boxers who don’t make weight, such as taking at least 50% of their purse (or even withholding their entire payment pending an investigation into why they weren’t able to honor their contracts/world titles).
Your mythical matchup:
Wilfred Benitez vs Pipino Cuevas @ 147 – I think Benitez at his very best would have outpointed his lethal-punching Mexican counterpart over 12 or 15 rounds. However, if the brilliant-boxing Boricua was anything less than 100%, Cuevas would have caught him at some point during the fight.
Hey Doug, If you had to pick the greatest boxer of all time from each weight class who would you pick? Keep up the good work Doug. – Aaron, UK
I will try, Aaron.
OK, here’s my choices for the all-time best in all 17 weight classes:
Heavyweight – Muhammad Ali
Cruiserweight – Evander Holyfield
Light heavyweight – Ezzard Charles
Super middleweight – Roy Jones Jr.
Middleweight – Sugar Ray Robinson
Junior middleweight – Emile Griffith
Welterweight – Robinson
Junior welterweight – Duilio Loi
Lightweight – Roberto Duran
Junior lightweight – Flash Elorde
Featherweight – Willie Pep
Junior featherweight – Wilfredo Gomez
Bantamweight – Ruben Olivares
Junior bantamweight – Johnny Tapia
Flyweight – Jimmy Wilde
Junior flyweight – Jung-Koo Chang
Strawweight – Ricardo Lopez
This is just one boxing writer/editor’s opinion. It’s not gospel. You won’t get an argument from me if you think Joe Louis or Jack Johnson is the greatest heavyweight of all time. Or if you believe Bob Foster or Michael Spinks is the best light heavyweight. Or you think Joe Calzaghe belongs in the top spot at 168 pounds. Or you claim Carlos Monzon or Marvin Hagler were better middleweights than Robinson. Or if Thomas Hearns is your choice for greatest 154 pounder. Or you call Aaron Pryor the baddest 140 pounder ever. Or you regard Benny Leonard or Pernell Whitaker as the undisputed lightweight king. Or you claim Sandy Saddler or Alexis Arguello or Floyd Mayweather Jr. reign supreme at 130 pounds. Or you think Manuel Ortiz deserves to be history’s best bantamweight. Or Khaosai Galaxy is your man at junior bantamweight. Or you view Pascual Perez or Miguel Canto as the lord of flies.
Oscar De la Hoya vs Antonio Margarito @ 160
With an undercard of B-Hop vs RJJr.
Let’s say they all show up in amazing shape and Margs doesn’t have an issue with his eye.
Who wins and how? – Miguel from Chicago
How much did you have to drink before you wrote this email?
I was interested in your opinion on the top fighters that experienced the most precipitous declines? I’m thinking Tyson, RJJr, Don Curry, anyone else you’d add to that? – BW, Mike
I would add Naseem Hamed and Felix Trinidad. Neither regained their lofty status after their first loss. Hamed fought once after being schooled by Marco Antonio Barrera then retired for good. After being dethroned by Bernard Hopkins, Trinidad fought once, retired, then came back to bludgeon Ricardo Mayorga but was then soundly defeated by Winky Wright and Jones.
Jones probably had the steepest fall of the group. He was regarded – by more than a few – as the GOAT prior to his KO loss to Antonio Tarver. He never regained a major title after the back-to-back stoppages to Tarver and Glen Johnson.
Curry fell from his pound-for-pound perch after losing to Lloyd Honeyghan, but he remained in the rankings (at junior middleweight, despite being knocked out cold by Mike McCallum) and won another world title (against Gianfranco Rossi).
Tyson also regained major titles and in the heavyweight top 10 following his fall from grace after the loss to Buster Douglas (and prison time), but he was never again regarded as the “Baddest Man on the Planet.”
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer