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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

29
Jun

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SAVED BY THE BELL?

Dougie,

What rules were in effect for the Tim Bradley-Jessie Vargas fight? (It wasn’t mentioned by Harold Lederman on the telecast; when did HBO stop doing this?) I feel like in most fights, a fighter can be saved by the bell in the final round. In this case, even if Vargas put Bradley down had the fight proceeded normally, it likely would not end in a knockout because there were very clearly less than 10 seconds remaining. And we know from the scores that even an extra point or two from a knockdown would not have given Vargas the victory. Obviously if being saved by the bell was not in effect, that’s a different story.



Either way, I was really surprised and confused that no one (Lampley, Lederman, etc.) mentioned it. Can you shed any light on what the rules switch was? Thanks! – Mark, New York City

This is a good question Mark. I assume that Bradley-Vargas was governed by the Unified Rules of Boxing because the WBO’s vacant interim welterweight belt was on the line. Generally, any bout that involves a major world title is under the Unified Rules, which states that a fighter cannot be saved by the bell in ANY round. (Back in the day the sanctioning bodies all had their own rules for title bouts, which became confusing once there were more than two or three alphabet groups that were recognized by the big networks, so in an effort to bring some conformity to the sport in the U.S., the Association of Boxing Commissions came up with the Unified Rules.)

If the Unified Rules were not governing Bradley-Vargas, it would fall under the jurisdiction of the California State Athletic Commission. California’s rules for professional boxing matches are a little different from the Unified Rules, including allowing a fighter to be saved by the bell in the FINAL round.

Regardless of the rules, I think Bradley would have survived to the final bell had referee Pat Russell not mistakenly called the fight off 10 seconds (or a little less) early. Vargas was not in hot pursuit after rocking Bradley down to the veteran’s boots, and the younger man allowed the battle-tested boxer to grab and hold him while along the ropes.

That’s my take on it, anyway. I’m sure Team Vargas disagrees and I can’t blame them.

I have no idea why HBO failed to mention what rules were in effect for the fight. Maybe there are no official rules pertaining to that bizarre situation. When’s the last time you saw a fight end seven or eight seconds early because the referee mistook the 10-second clapper for the final bell? Bottom line: it was good timing for Bradley; poor timing for Vargas.

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COULD VARGAS HAVE PULLED A ‘CHAVEZ’?

Thoughts on Bradley vs Vargas ending vs the Chavez vs Taylor ending? Gracias! – E

Both fights featured wild drama during the last part of the final round and the boxer who was ahead on the scorecards (or at least leading on two of the three official cards in the case of Chavez-Taylor) was badly hurt in the final seconds of the bout.

However, those are the only similarities. Taylor was busted up, bloodied and worn out going into the final round. Bradley had some swelling around his left eye but was relatively fresh and unscathed. Taylor was badly rocked and then knocked down in the final seconds of Round 12. He got up but was unresponsive when referee Richard Steele was talking to him. Bradley was rocked and wobbled but he remained on his feet and had the wherewithal to backpedal away and defend himself (blocking and holding).

To me, the difference in the endings of Chavez-Taylor and Bradley-Vargas is directly related to the main difference between the entire bouts, and that is Chavez-Taylor was a far more intense fight that gradually became a brutal battle of attrition. Bradley-Vargas was a good brisk boxing match with some heated exchanges but it wasn’t a grueling 12 rounder. Thus, Bradley was not a spent bullet going into the final rounds as Taylor was.

(I guess the quick way to state all of this is: Bradley wasn’t in with a prime Julio Cesar Chavez. ‘Nuff said.)

 

BRADLEY GOT AWAY WITH ANOTHER ONE

Hi Dougie,

The Bradly/Vargas fight was unbelievable! Was it a good fight? Yes! But how lucky is Timothy Bradley? He’s got more lives than a cat. I had him winning most of the rounds like everyone else in a competitive fight. I was quite impressed with Vargas never having seen him fight before. Then, in the 12th round, Vargas landed that right hand bomb which had Bradley out on his feet! The ref calls the fight with seven seconds remaining and Bradley wins the decision! Incredible!

I’m of the opinion Vargas was in a perfect position to knock Bradley out; maybe Bradley would have survived but we’ll never know. I’ve never seen anything like it. Let’s see now, Bradley lost his first fight to Paquiao and got the decision. Provo nearly finished Bradley in the 12th round of their epic fight in 2013 and somehow Bradley, with that stellar beard, survived and got the decision. Now, with an imminent knockout arriving he gets help from the ref who makes one of the biggest blunders I’ve ever seen, believing he had heard the bell to end the fight. You can’t make this stuff up!

Beforehand, Max Kellerman stated that Bradley is Hall of Fame bound. Really? Bradley makes the hall of fame!? Bradley has good wins and was a champion at 140 but when he moved up to welterweight he’s had nothing but trouble against the best like Paquaio, and a good win against the undersized Marquez. He struggled against Provo, against Chavez (though I believe he won that fight though it was scored a draw), and now he was nearly knocked out by a fringe contender in Vargas! Lamply, feeling sorry for Bradley, stated it was another “hard luck win” for Bradley. Another “hard luck win”? Is he serious? Bradley has had nothing but fortune on his side. I don’t even know why he’s ranked so high as a welterweight. Probably because of his Paquiao and Marquez wins. He’s physically strong but packs no punch and finally Vargas landed with power…And I believe, Vargas won the last two rounds.

I’ll give Bradley credit for one thing though, his fights are exciting. And as for Vargas, he was probably robbed out of a legitimate knockout.

Dougie, is Bradley actually Hall of Fame bound ahead of about another dozen fighters who deserve to get in? Regards. – Erik

I think Bradley has accomplished enough to position himself to make the International Boxing Hall of Fame, but I consider him a borderline guy at the moment. His strong body of work at junior welterweight along with his two bouts with Manny Pacquiao and his decision over Juan Manuel Marquez gets him close to the hall of fame doors – because those two are first-ballot inductees – but I think he needs one more signature victory to push himself through. Maybe that’s why he’s been talking about going up in weight. Maybe he thinks winning a 154-pound belt and becoming a three-division titleholder will do the trick.

I don’t know about that. I think the top junior middleweights (guys like Erislandy Lara and Demetrius Andrade) are too tall, rangy and mobile for him and the top middleweights (GGG and Cotto) hit too damn hard for him.

Personally, I would rather see Bradley take on an elite-level junior welterweight or welterweight. Let’s say Terence Crawford continues to impress at 140 pounds and then steps up to 147 to challenge Bradley. If Desert Storm turned back the challenge of a young gun as talented and skilled as Crawford that might be enough to give him the Hall of Fame nod in my book. Unlike JMM and PacMan, Crawford is in his prime. Another worthy opponent, in my opinion, is IBF welterweight titleholder Kell Brook. If Bradley were to challenge the undefeated British standout (who may be the best welterweight in the game right now), that would be a crowning achievement. Brook – unlike Pacquiao and Marquez – is a natural welterweight who is at the peak of his athletic prowess.

I don’t think Vargas was robbed of a knockout victory. I’m fine with saying that the 26-year-old contender was robbed of an opportunity to try for a TKO or KO in the final seven or eight seconds of the bout, but I just don’t think he took enough out of Bradley during the fight to be able to capitalize on that one big shot he landed. That’s just my opinion based on the track records of both fighters, but I won’t argue too much with anyone who thinks otherwise.

Bradley can indeed be a very entertaining fighter. As I wrote in the final graph of my fight report He’s talented but he isn’t perfect. He’s strong and gutsy but he isn’t invincible. And when he’s in with a worthy opponent, as Vargas proved to be, Bradley usually delivers the kind of high drama that only professional boxing can deliver.”

I get what Lamps was saying about Bradley having “hard luck” victories at the end of the broadcast. There’s an asterisk by some of Bradley’s biggest and hardest-fought victories. Even the win against Devon Alexander was technical decision (due to cuts suffered by the then-undefeated St. Louis talent, who couldn’t or wouldn’t continue). He caught unholy hell for the controversial Pacquiao win. A lot of fans – you included it seems – think he was lucky to get by Provodnikov. (I think he earned that narrow points victory. Yeah, it could have been a draw or a point or two win for Provo had the right calls gone his way in the first two rounds, but Bradley won the majority of rounds and he purposely took that knee at the end of the fight – saving himself from follow-up power punches while running out the clock to the fight of the year.) He had to settle for a split decision against Marquez, who he soundly defeated. He got jobbed against Chaves. And now he’s got fans saying he was saved by the bell or saved by a botched referee call. All he does is give 100 percent every time he steps into the ring, but for some reason he can’t avoid controversy or criticism and grief from fans.

By the way, I agree that Vargas won the last two rounds. I had him winning four total rounds. Vargas didn’t do enough to win more rounds, but he did a lot of things well. I thought his jab was excellent. He does a decent job of boxing while backing up. He just couldn’t (or wouldn’t try to) keep Timmy off him. I bet you Vargas works harder the next time he’s in with a top fighter. He may have taken his first (official) pro loss but I think going (almost) 12 rounds with a seasoned but still near his prime veteran like Bradley will serve him well going forward.

 

AMNAT RUENROENG

In case no one else comments on Ruenroeng vs. Casimero no holds barred fight, I ask your opinion about Amnat’s future?

Bernhard Hopkins is a well-known freak of nature but in my opinion Ruenroeng’s current form is almost as impressive. A 35-year-old flyweight is ancient by any standard but in addition to that Ruenroeng has lived a really exhausting life. He started fighting for money as a teenager and I assume that Muay Thai fights in Bangkok backstreet arenas can be even dirtier than what we saw this weekend. Also overcoming drug addiction and three sentences in Thai prison must take a lot out of any man. Thus, I think that every time this crafty but dirty son of a gun fights he is worth mentioning in your mailbag.

Keep up your good work. – Jorma, Finland

Thanks Jorma. I agree that Ruenroeng is a marvel. It’s unheard of for a flyweight to come into his own on the world-class level during his mid-30s, especially someone with the rough past that the former Thai amateur standout has. However, Ruenroeng has the type of classic boxing style and textbook technique (along with dirty pro tricks) that allows a boxer to limit the damage he takes in the ring and prolong his career.

I think the Thai titleholder (he’s got the IBF belt) is on one of the best win streaks in boxing. Since the start of last year he’s only faced quality opponents: winning the vacant belt against a legit top contender (Rocky Fuentes) who was on a long win streak, taking the ‘O’ from two-division titleholder Kazuto Ioka, turning back the challenge of skilled contender McWilliams Arroyo and busting the cherry of amateur star Zou Shiming before handling a dangerous young former titleholder this past Saturday.

He’s beat the best from the Philippines, Japan, China and Puerto Rico. I think he’s ready to face the best flyweights from Mexico and Nicaragua – and that’s Juan Estrada and Roman Gonzalez. I want to see a total unification of the major 112-pound titles. (Can you hear the thunderous echo voiceover to my imaginary commercial for Estrada vs. Ruenroeng or for the winner vs. Gonzalez? “Who is the Lord of the Flies!?”)

But I digressÔǪ Ruenroeng is a worthy challenge to RING/WBC champ Gonzalez or WBA/WBO titleholder Estrada. And he’s definitely worthy of being mentioned in the mailbag after he fights. However, you might have to be the guy to write up each time. Flyweights don’t get much love, even from so-called hardcore fans. Even my man “Chocolatito” was largely ignored prior to his HBO debut.

 

BRADLEY’S POWER-PUNCH OBSESSION NO GOOD

Hey Doug,

Big fan of the mailbag. It’s my first time writing in but I just had to talk about Bradley a little bit. Over the past few years I’ve really come to respect the guy for the heart and determination he displays in the ring, but after what I saw in the last few rounds Saturday I have some concerns about him moving forward and think he may want to consider hanging it up soon.

In my opinion, the obsession he has developed with trying to become a power puncher is doing nothing but disservice to what he is actually good at in the ring and his overall psyche during fights. He spent too much energy at times winging those wide shots when it was pretty obvious that his speed and timing were more than enough to control the action with the jab and straight right, mixed with his good body work when the quarters got close. After he was unable to ever truly hurt Vargas he seemed to drop off into a funk, I even heard Diaz after one of the later rounds telling him not to get depressed!? In the 11th and 12th he honestly kind of looked like he didn’t even really want to be there anymore. He was clearly winning but that wasn’t enough, he’s somehow convinced himself that swinging a sledgehammer is going to turn him into a bomber, but it’s not happening and it really seems to be messing with his head.

Speaking of his head, the left side of his face seems to be becoming a chronic problem area and you have to wonder if that could lead to some Margarito-type of permanent damage down the line. He has nothing left to prove in the ring as far as I’m concerned, why keep hanging around trying to become a fighter he’s just never going to be? Anyway guess that’s it, hope I make the bag I’d be interested in your take on this.

Doing a great job with the commentary too, by the way. Not sure how PBC taking over on Fox Sports is going to affect you but any network out there could do a lot worse than letting you handle the commentary. Hope you keep getting the opportunity. – Tim in St. Petersburg

Thanks for the kind words Tim, and thanks for finally writing into the mailbag.

The PBC taking over Fox Sports means no Dougie commentary on Fox Sports boxing broadcasts. LOL. It is what it is. I’ve enjoyed the Golden Boy Live and LA Fight Club shows I’ve done during the past two months and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s final Fox Sports 1 show from Philadelphia (headlined by fearsome-looking light heavyweight prospect Vyacheslav Shabranskyy). I’ve had a blast (no exaggeration) working with co-commentators Beto Duran and Jessica Rosales (who really do the heavy lifting during the broadcasts).

Regarding Bradley, I think he would be financially secure if he walked away from the sport right now, but I understand and respect his desire to accomplish even more and potentially earn hall of fame status.

I believe he has the right to try and I’m confident that the people he has around him (his father, his wife/manager and trainer Joel Diaz) will tell him to hang up his gloves before he sustains irreparable damage. I don’t Bradley’s father or wife are in the sport to make money. They just want to support their loved one. And Diaz, who has trained Bradley from day one, is a former professional who sustained a permanent injury (a badly torn retina which has partially blinded him) during his fighting days, so my guess is that he would want to save his prize pupil from a similar plight.

I agree that Bradley has been loading up too much in recent fights (vs. Provodnikov, Pacquiao rematch, Chaves and Vargas), which causes him to throw himself off balance and sometimes right into the line of his opponent’s fire. However, when he boxes a more controlled fight against an opponent with a high workrate or an opponent who can crack harder than he does (which is most fighters) he runs the risk of getting jobbed by the official judges. I thought he boxed a near-perfect fight against Marquez but he had to settle for a close, split decision over the Mexican master, and many ringside observers viewed that as a 115-113 fight or a draw. (I thought Timmy won an easy 116-112 and believe an argument for a 117-111 tally in his favor could be made.)

Also, it’s hard for me to fault him when he’s tries to take his opponent out because he gives it so much effort – which is something most fans respond to – and it often adds excitement to his fights (and sometimes off-the-charts drama as it did during the Provodnikov fight and the final seconds of Saturday’s match).

Bradley’s won five major titles in two divisions, faced two bona-fide ring legends in pay-per-view bouts, and he’s engaged in a Fight of the Year. A lot of boxers would be satisfied with that body of work, but Bradley’s more driven than your average prize fighter. Who knows? Maybe scoring more knockouts is another goal he’s set for himself.

 

TODAY’S BOXERS VS. OLD SCHOOL

Hey Dougie,

It seems to me in every sport, players of today are considered on average superior than those of previous generations. The variables are several: better diet, better conditioning, advancements in understanding the sport, larger talent pools due to bigger global population, technological advancements, etc. However, in boxing, it is widely considered that the current generation of boxers are inferior to those of yesteryear. To wit, you wouldn’t even place this generation’s king, Floyd Mayweather, in your top 20 of all time.

Are we to believe that this is only due to the fact that boxing is not attracting as many athletes as it once did? Do those aforementioned advancements and evolutions have little or no bearing on the game today? – Jason Munt

I can’t speak for any other fan, boxing writer or amateur fight historian, but the reason I tend to rate pro boxers from previous decades and eras over the current generation has nothing to do with talent, skill, training, diet or the overall talent pool available to the sport.

It has to do with ring accomplishments. Period. The best fighters from the golden and silver age of the sport (1930s through ’60s) fought a lot more than today’s elite boxers – at least two or three times as much on average. And they had to fight more credible opposition on their way to world titles because there were only one or two championship belts in each division and there were far fewer weight classes to compete in.

I often rate the best fighters of my generation and recent decades (1970s through the ’90s) ahead of today’s pound-for-pound players because they were willing to take on the right fellow elite boxers at the right time. They didn’t engage in boxing politics and business as much as today’s elites do. They didn’t avoid as many challenges. They didn’t fight as much as the Peps, Robinsons and Moores did, but they made the most of their primes by fighting the best fighters of their generation when those rivals were also at their peaks.

As far as talent, skill, technique and athleticism is concerned, I think the best boxers of today – Mayweather, Klitschko, Gonzalez, etc. – could have competed with the best of any generation. But when it comes to ranking them among the all-time greats they often fall short because they haven’t accomplished as much as the legends. And when it comes to Mythical Matchups, I usually gotta go with the fighters with the more complete bodies of work, which is usually the Old Timers.

 

ROCKING THE WOLVERINE

Dear Doug,

First of all, I was digging your threads on that cigar shop discussion video with Kim and the other fellow. Rocking the Wolverine shirt with sport jacket and jeans! Nerd-chic professor style.

Now on to boxing: at this point in time: what is your prediction for Felix Verdejo’s career? To me, he does everything right, he is a complete boxer, but maybe so far he lacks or hasn’t had the chance to show one particular tool (e.g. big punch, cagey-ness, footwork, energy-sapping pressure, speed, swarming offense) to “make a mark” and rely on against the toughest opponents?

If I was David Lemieux’s trainer, I would give him a bunch of Joe Frazier footage and say: “imitate!”

Cheers. – Carlos G., Providence, RI

“Nerd-chic professor style,” yes that is EXACTLY the look I’m going for. Thank you for noticing.

It’s never a bad idea for a hard-punching pressure fighter with a take-no-prisoners attitude to check out some of Smokin’ Joe’s greatest hits.

I think Verdejo has shined in some areas – mainly speed and footwork – and I’m sure he’ll shine in others once he’s forced to by a worthy opponent. I’d like to see him in against an opponent every bit as game as Ivan Najera was but with more experience and punching power to offer in resistance.

The 22-year-old Puerto Rican prospect looks like the goods so far (18 bouts into his pro career) but we’ll know more when we see him in with tougher fighters. By the end of this year I’d like to see him in with rugged veteran like streaking Mexican fringe contender Miguel “Micky” Roman (a tough little booger with 61 pro bouts) or hard-charging Canadian spoiler Tony Luis.

 

 

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