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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

26
Jun
Photo by Chris Farina / Top Rank

Photo by Chris Farina / Top Rank

BRADLEY-VARGAS

Hey Doug,

Hope you’re doing well man! Just wanted to get your thoughts on the Tim Bradley-Jessie Vargas fight. Vargas has been fighting pretty limited opponents for years and despite his lucky wide decisions, I feel he has had no preparation for someone of Bradley’s level or style.

I’m also a little concerned that his late switch in trainers will mostly just confuse him when he experiences Bradley’s speed and skill. The worst thing he could do is switch to a pressure style this late in the game. And I’m not so sure how good of a trainer Erik Morales is.



My feeling is that we will see a rare Bradley stoppage win. I think Vargas is too inexperienced, too slow, and will struggle with the trainer and style switch. Bradley will be very hungry since being tossed aside by Bob Arum and following a bogus draw. I expect that Bradley will dance around him and tag him with punches all night. Late in the game his corner or the ref will throw in the towel.

I don’t like making predictions that aren’t backed by data, but I think there is a solid confluence of variables that suggest it will happen. Bradley hasn’t had many KOs because he’s typically fought very skilled and/or quick opponents. I just can’t see Vargas handling such a big step up.

What do you think will play out on Saturday? – Vincent, New York, NY

I favor Bradley to win a decision because of his experience but I don’t think tomorrow’s bout will be an easy outing for the two-division titleholder, and if he’s fights impetuously as he did against Manny Pacquiao and Diego Chaves last year (or recklessly as he did against Ruslan Provodnikov in 2013) it will be a very difficult outing for the veteran.

Vargas isn’t as quick as Bradley but he isn’t slow, and he’s got a high work rate, which could serve him well if decides to stand and trade or try to crowd the younger fighter. Bradley needs to box a disciplined fight against Vargas, as he did vs. Juan Manuel Marquez, to guarantee a victory. That’s my opinion, anyway.

I’m not sure how good a trainer Morales is, either, but I wouldn’t assume that the future hall of famer is going to bring a pressure-fighting style to Vargas’ game. Morales wasn’t a pressure fighter. He was an aggressive boxer (a boxer-puncher at 122 pounds, and an aggressive ring general at heavier weights). Morales had underrated technique and skill. If some of that knowledge rubs off on Vargas it can only help him against Bradley.

 

RESPECT FOR DESERT STORM

Hey Doug,

Through the years I’ve learned to appreciate Tim Bradley more and more. He’s a fighter that gives it his all and never backs up from a challenge. Hearing him say that he’s serious about fighting GGG further confirmed that this guy doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He has the biggest cojones in boxing by far. His title winning fight was in England for God’s sake, he never backs out of a challenge. I think he’s getting overlooked once again by a lot of people for his next fight against Jesse Vargas. I don’t know why we’re hearing a lot of people favor Jessie in this fight. Tim is the more proven fighter and belongs with the very best the sport has to offer.

Vargas has 10 consecutive decisions, if he can’t hurt Bradley he won’t win. Bradley’s ring IQ is up there and only one man has been able to dominate him, that’s Manny Pacquiao. People were talking crap about Tim after his hard fight with Diego Chaves (which I think he clearly won). That guy is a tough dude, ask whomever’s faced him, and they’ll tell you he’s no easy out. People just don’t like Bradley because he was given that victory over Pacman. I just think Tim will outwork Vargas and earn a tough but clear unanimous decision, hope he doesn’t get robbed. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

I agree that Bradley deserves our respect. You don’t have to like Timmy, but if you don’t respect him I gotta question if you’re really a fan. Desert Storm has never looked for an easy fight, and I don’t think he’ll get one from Vargas.

I don’t think Vargas has to hurt Bradley to be able to beat the 4-to-1 favorite. I think he just has to put forth the more consistent offense; and he has to be able to take Bradley’s best shot. I think Vargas’ whiskers are pretty solid. The Las Vegas resident isn’t much of a puncher, but if Bradley’s many tough fights and training camps begin to take a toll on him, who knows? Maybe Vargas can hurt him. I’m thinking Vargas is going to feel stronger than usual fighting at 147 pounds (where he began his career). Bradley, on the other hand, might be struggling to make 147 pounds (which might explain his recent desire to take on junior middleweights and middleweights, including Cotto and GGG).

 

VIEWER BEWARE

Hey Doug,

I haven’t written in a while so hopefully I make the Friday cut. I just want to touch on a couple of points. I was really surprised the fans who complained about the Andre Ward fight last Saturday. I didn’t watch it but what did people expect? I’ll never claim to be a boxing expert but any avid fan should have known better. As David from Dublin noted on your Monday Mailbag, “this was a rust shaking exercise for Ward.” And nothing more. Andre Ward wants to be his own businessman, like Cotto and Mayweather, and Roc Nation gave a him a contract for a sh*t ton of money so Andre Ward the Businessman and Roc Nation were not going to put Andre Ward the Boxer in the ring with an opponent with even the slightest chance of pulling an upset after an almost two year layoff. The bout ended up on BET because HBO didn’t want it. HBO knew better. The fans that complained about this lousy mismatch should have known better.

Which brings me to my next point. Boxing fans should know better than to expect anything other than a 12-round pillow fight from Bradley-Vargas on Saturday. Vargas has shown the ability to take a punch and we know Bradley has an extra thick cranium, like Homer Simpson, and neither guy has real knockout power. Although, Vargas was given a few gift decisions while fighting under the Mayweather banner, he has shown the willingness to trade punches, however, Timmy has said that he’s reluctant to get into another war like he did against Provodnikov. He didn’t go as far as to say that he is no longer fighting for the fans like Broner did but I think we’re going more of the sweet science than a brawl and anyone that knows just a little about boxing should know this and shouldn’t complain about the lack of knockdowns at the end of the bout. Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and a fight will breakout, but I still think this bout will slowly work its way to 12-round decision. What do you think?

Anyhow, thanks for taking the time to read my email and keep up the great work. – Hugo, Pasadena, CA

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Hugo.

I think Bradley-Vargas will go the distance and will likely do so without any knockdowns, but that doesn’t mean it will be a “pillow fight.” All you have to do is look at Provodnikov’s face after going 12 hard rounds with Bradley to know that the Southern Californian can do damage. Provo looked like he was hit with rocks, not pillows. Vargas used to be a damaging puncher as a welterweight prospect. I think he lost some of his power when he dropped down to 140 pounds. Maybe he’ll pick up some snap on his shots with the move back up to 147 pounds. We’ll see. I’m not expecting a Fight of the Year candidate but I don’t think anyone is going to be complaining about a lack of action.

Bottom line: most fans want to see main event boxers give 100%. Bradley always does that. Vargas is too young and hungry not to give his all against the biggest name he’s ever faced. So I doubt we’ll hear anyone bitch and moan about their fight as fans did after Ward-Smith (or Mayweather-Pacquiao for that matter).

 

JAMES TONEY IS PUNCH DRUNK

Do you hear how unrecognizable his speech is now?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki8OFxD-r3E

– Jason C. Brown

Yeah, it’s sad but Toney’s current condition doesn’t come as any surprise – 90 pro bouts (672 rounds) is WAY too much wear and tear for most human beings (especially if they burned the candle at both ends and had as many tough fights and sparring sessions as James did).

I don’t know if you recall, but I was writing that Toney needed to hang ’em up after his two heavyweight fights with Samuel Peter. When he was approaching 80 pro bouts and 20 years in the fight game (and the age of 40) going into his rematch with Hasim Rahman, I wrote that he definitely needed to retire.

If he lived clean and controlled his weight like Bernard Hopkins, he could’ve been an all-time great and my guess is that he wouldn’t be slurring his words as badly as he is now; but his tongue would still be thicker than it was when he was in his 20s and 30s.

Toney’s condition is a reminder that Hopkins, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather should really make this their final year; Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas and Felix Trinidad need to stay retired.

 

PBC CONTINUES TO UNIMPRESS

Hey Dougie,

So I sure as hell was wrong about Cotto. I predicted he would be shocked. Whoops! Looks like I know jack.

Call me loony but I actually think Cotto can mark up GGG for quite a few rounds before being overpowered late. The linear champ’s hand speed will be noticeably faster (at times GGG looks like he is punching under water). Of course, no way is that fight going down. NOBODY of note is going to risk getting in the ring with GGG any time soon. The ducking is going to be epic in the second half of this year. Does anyone think Golden Boy is going to put Lemieux in there with the God of War? Lemieux is a warrior and I LOVE watching him fight, but his defense consists of putting his face in front of punches and then punching back. He won’t be able to punch back once he’s clobbered by GGG.

And would the Golden Boy himself actually try to pull a SRL and unretired to fight the real middleweight champ? HA! Two days ago Oscar was saying he’s retired and now he’s saying maybe not? No, he is just ginning up publicity for the sport he loves. So let’s get ready for more GGG ducking and even more haters calling the Kazakhstanian a coward for “not fighting the best.”

Now let me tackle two subjects. First some upcoming fights:

I love Bradley vs. Vargas and feel like we might have a great show. I honestly don’t know what to predict due to the punishment Bradley has taken in the last couple of years.

Thurman vs. Collazo is intriguing only because Luis excels at being a spoiler. He can be a real pain in the ass and doesn’t make it easy for the favored fighter. I expect Thurman to employ his jab and keep away, which is the smart move. But hey, I can hope for fireworks, right? This brings me to the second subject and that is PBC.

Their fight cards are coming at us non-stop and yet not one of them has been exciting. They all just fall flat and do not make for compelling television. That includes Broner’s pathetic effort against Porter, which was a non-stop huggy foul fest, complete with a normally good ref acting like a paid PBC shill-man trying to give the house fighter every chance possible. Broner is a lazy chump. He has speed and athleticism, but does not dig down to work for a win. He wants it handed to him on a diamond crusted platter. That’s now how it works. Without some kind of religious awakening Broner is going to be a gatekeeper and not long after his career is over he’ll be broke and homeless because that’s what happens to these guys. It’s quite sad.

I watched the fight with my father and he called it puke city. He’s at the point where he doesn’t want me to come over for boxing unless it’s on HBO. I have no idea what Haymon is trying to do because it seems he and his team haven’t a clue how to make compelling fights and it’s going to hurt the sport of boxing in the long-run.

Another issue with PBC is their lack of will to tweak the broadcasts. Why not fix what is clearly not working? Bring back normal ring walks, ring card girls (anyone who’s been to a live show knows how important they are and how they can affect the crowd) and for the love of Pete, shake up the broadcast teams. Stop banning names like Golovkin and Kovalov. Allow them to say something negative about the fighters. Do I have to name names? I don’t want to put down certain legends, but come on! There are times when I turn off the center channel on my surround setup so I can tune out their comments.

HBO’s crew is the gold standard. Showtime can excel at times and yeah, I even like loud-mouth Paulie, who can quickly and accurately analyze what’s happening in the ring. Then you have ESPN and Teddy Atlas as he double negatives the s__t out of everything he says. But he says it with passion, knows boxing and has a wonderful straight man in Joe Tessitore.

When I listen to the PBC crews my ears start to bleed. And how ironic that the bigger the names, the worse the analysis and color commentary. This is all fixable, Dougie. What do you say?

I apologize for the length but dammit, I love boxing and hate seeing the potential for greatness wasted away. Best regards. – Matt Stevens

Thanks for sharing, Matt.

I don’t really have anything to add what you and other hardcore fans have said about the PBC. I don’t want to get into a rut of complaining about “the Haymonopoly” in every mailbag. I’m not a fan of the commentary and the production for the PBC on NBC and CBS (although I think they do a good job in those areas with the PBC on Spike), but I would overlook the format if the fights were better. Bottom line for me is that the PBC matchmaking is too random. It doesn’t seem to be based on making good fights or setting up significant future bouts.

But whatever, it’s here for now and probably through next year, so hopefully we get a few thrilling fights and one or two breakout stars from the various series during this time. I’m thinking Keith Thurman can emerge as someone casual fans can get excited about if they match him right. I’m not sure a victory over Collazo is going to advance him much. Collazo is a better boxer than Robert Guerrero, but it’s still more of a lateral career move for the unbeaten welterweight boxer-puncher.

I agree that Bradley’s wear and tear makes it hard to predict exactly how he’ll perform against Vargas, but I think the veteran deserves to be the solid favorite.

I’m fairly sure that De La Hoya is not going to make a comeback and I’m certain that he and Eye of the Tiger Management will not immediately toss Lemieux to GGG. My guess is that the Montreal slugger will make at least two title defenses against mid-level contenders before looking for bigger names (which could include Cotto or Canelo).

GGG just has to stay busy against whoever will fight him for now. He’ll catch a break sometime in 2016.

BRITISH SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS

Hey Dougie,

Long time reader still waiting for my first reply when writing but love your work. We in Britain have a great tradition in the super middleweight division we have Carl Froch, George Groves, James DeGale, and 2 good prospects Callum Smith and Rocky Fielding at the minute who seem to be on a collision course. How do you feel Groves will do against Badou Jack when they fight? I feel Groves has a bit too much and will set up a massive fight with DeGale next summer in a football stadium. Now DeGale seems a different animal lately and I was wondering your prediction on a rematch between them?

Here’s a mythical all-British super middleweight round robin: Carl Froch, Micheal Watson, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Steve Collins, Joe Calzaghe.

British boxing buzzing at the minute. Keep it real Dougie and look forward to hearing from you soon. – Paul Humphreys, Stoke-on-Trent, England

Thanks for sharing your super middleweight thoughts.

I think Calzaghe would emerge victorious in your mythical UK super six tournament.

If Groves beats Jack and takes on DeGale in a rematch, I’d favor DeGale to win a close but clear decision.

I believe Groves has more talent and technique than Jack, and I favor him to win that fight, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he was upset by the current WBC beltholder. Groves has got some psychological issues. The dude is just wrapped a little too tight. If he doesn’t hurt or dominate Jack over the first half of their fight, I can see him mentally implode down the stretch.

I’m not too familiar with Fielding but if he handles Bryan Vera today, I will keep a closer eye on him. I know that Smith is very talented and promising. I think Britain’s rich super middleweight tradition will continue.

 

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