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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

14
Aug
Dougie's Friday mailbag

“Walhall, die G├Âtterwelt der Germanen” (a scene of Valhalla of Norse mythology) by Emil Doepler

WELCOME TO VALHALLA

Hey Dougie,

Take your seat at Odin’s table and grab a glass of mead, because ya ain’t likely to see this again. My fellow bloodthirsty boxing ghoul, we have died and entered Valhalla! And we’re about to watch the Monster of Middle Earth, the Lord of the Flies and the Aztec God go to war! Hell, two of them on the same night! GGG, Chocolatito and Canelo, all in against real threats?! Throw in Klitschko-Fury for fun….ah, Dougie. This is how boxing should be.



Dougie, am I overreacting? Tell me I’m not overreacting. Am I? Bloviation aside, we all know who’s supposed to win in all the upcoming superfights. Which do you think will run the last longest? Man I’m looking forward to the 10 Count videos on those fights!

The Johan Perez-Dmitry Mikhaylenko scouting report? Simple breakdowns even a TBE supporter could understand? Me like dat lots. Maybe have more? And whatever happened to Alejandro Gonzalez Jr.? I enjoyed watching the kid make Carl Frampton’s people feel their insides implode and a__holes pucker up to the size of a decimal point. Tell me Cobrita Jr’s being taken seriously by a decent promoter, because the kid has talent.

“I hope you had a great holiday. You deserve it, but I don’t think this site could survive without your mailbags. So don’t do that too often, huh?” Your boss told you something like that recently, didn’t he? He’s right. Thanks for listening, as always. Sorry for being so all over the place with this email.

Peace. – Abs, Cape Town, South Africa

Thanks Abs. You have a way with words.

I love your nicknames for Gennady Golovkin, Roman Gonzalez and Canelo Alvarez, and I agree 100% that each odds favorite is in tough. GGG is facing the best pure puncher of his pro career in David Lemieux, Chocolatito is in with the best flyweight he’s ever fought in Brian Viloria (and arguably the most accomplished opponent of his career), and Alvarez is in with the most skilled threat he’s ever faced in Miguel Cotto. (Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the most skilled opponent Canelo has faced, but Moody May wasn’t an offensive threat; Cotto can outbox him AND the Puerto Rican star can also HURT him.)

I think all three matchups will be competitive, compelling and will deliver action and drama (especially GGG-Lemieux, which I expect to be a shootout for as long as it lasts), so I won’t tell you that you’re overreacting. After the all the ultimately pointless hype surrounding the May 2 mega-dud and the mainly uneventful debut of the PBC, I think hardcore fans deserve a few high-profile showdowns (and yeah, I’ll include Klitschko-Fury) that will satisfy our primal need to be entertained by sustained, controlled aggression (and maybe a little bloodshed).

I’ve been frustrated and underwhelmed for much of 2015. I was even feeling burned out on the sport going into the summer, but with Golovkin-Lemieux and Cotto-Canelo being made, I’ve got a renewed sense of anticipation. Will we be in “Valhalla” in October and November? Well, technically, Valhalla ain’t for us. It’s for the “warriors” – the brave ones who die in battle. I want some brutality and bloodshed, but not that much.

Still, I like the Valhalla reference. So here’s a cosplay challenge to all “brave” fans who will be traveling to New York City and Las Vegas for Golovkin-Lemieux and Cotto-Canelo: anyone who shows up to Jimmy’s Corner or the Mandalay Bay’s sportsbook dressed like the Mighty Thor when I’m there (and I will be) will have their drinks paid for by Yours Truly. (I don’t know if they serve mead but unlimited Guinness is on me. Let’s toast to our modern-day warriors. I have no doubt that everyone involved in the matchups you mentioned will exhibit the kind of fighting spirit that would make Odin smile.)

Regarding Perez-Mikhaylenko, I’m glad the ref stepped in when he did because that I thought the Venezuelan Thinman was on his way to Valhalla. Mikhaylenko is not to be trifled with at 147 pounds. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Russian tank.

I don’t know what’s next for Gonzalez Jr., but I do know that he is signed with Al Haymon, so hopefully he will figure into some kind of PBC junior featherweight/featherweight round-robin over the next year or two. (Maybe the kid can still make bantamweight. If so, he could be a future opponent for Jamie McDonnell and the Kameda brothers.)

ANALYZING COTTO-CANELO

Hi Doug,

So Cotto-Canelo has finally been announced. Thank God, that fight is such a natural that it would be a shame and a testament for the current state of boxing if it didn’t get done.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can finally start talking boxing instead of business. I don’t care about how much they’re making or who’s the A Side, I only care of what will go on in the ring. To me this is one of those fights that can be debated on and on again and be looked at from different angels before getting to a conclusion of who’s going to win. Even at that point it would be hard to have a solid pick based on both men’s track record. So let me point out some things I think are important to be able to come to a pick:

– Cotto’s experience

– Canelo’s low punch output

– Canelo’s stamina

– Both fighter’s recent form

– Cotto’s recent cherry-picked opposition

– Canelo’s performance against boxers

– Age, wear and tear

To me, those are the main points to analyze in this fight. Cotto has lost to guys that are able to outpunch him or outbox him, everybody else has lost. His style is difficult to most fighters since he punches really hard and has great ring IQ. Add his experience to the table and he suddenly becomes a very difficult fighter for Canelo to beat. Saul doesn’t throw enough punches in a round to be able to overwhelm Cotto, much less punch hard enough to KO him with one punch. He also doesn’t possess the boxing skills to outbox the Puerto Rican superstar. The only way I see Canelo winning this fight is if Cotto’s recent form is just a curtain that doesn’t reveal reality. His wear and tear, age and weight would have to be factored in if we see any chance for Canelo to win. Martinez and Geale are fighters that weren’t 100% for Cotto and Delvin Rodriguez is a C-level fighter. That being said I still think Cotto has enough in the tank to be able to outbox and outsmart Canelo. I also think he has the power to hurt him. He won’t be reckless like Kirkland and he will be patient.

I see a tough but clear decision for Cotto, he will hurt Canelo a couple of times and will gain his respect from the first minute of the first round.

Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

That’s an excellent analytical breakdown of the Cotto-Canelo matchup. Juan. (You really know your s__t.) We’ll see what happens on Nov. 21.

I have a lot of respect for Cotto and I don’t think his recent form is a complete mirage due to careful matchmaking. While I don’t think he’s the powerhouse he has appeared to be against D-Rod, Maravilla and Geale, I think much of his offensive sharpness is mental – the result of a healthy rapport with Freddie Roach – and some of it is due to technical improvements from the hall-of-fame trainer.

As I’ve stated earlier in this mailbag, I believe that Cotto can hurt Canelo. And due to the younger man’s limitations, which you listed out, I think the veteran has a realistic shot of outboxing the odds favorite. I agree with these two lines from your email:

“Saul doesn’t throw enough punches in a round to be able to overwhelm Cotto, much less punch hard enough to KO him with one punch. He also doesn’t possess the boxing skills to outbox the Puerto Rican superstar.”

However, just because Canelo isn’t active enough to outwork Cotto it doesn’t mean he can’t hurt and wear down the older (and battle-worn) fighter. Canelo lets his hands go in spots, but he’s an economical puncher who usually lands with damaging accuracy (unless he’s in with a defensive genius like Mayweather or stick-and-move specialist like Erislandy Lara). Cotto is savvy but he ain’t slick. (Even Geale put hands on him a bit.) Canelo will land his punches with authority and Cotto will know he’s in a fight – the kind of fight that eventually becomes a battle of attrition.

I know Canelo’s stamina will always be a question mark but I think he’ll be the healthier and sturdier fighter down the stretch of a terrific scrap. If it goes the distance I expect Canelo to edge Cotto on at least two of the official cards, but I don’t think it will go the full 12.

CUNNINGHAM-TARVER

Hi Doug,

One can’t always expect prime rib, but sometimes just a good old rump steak is still better than yesterday’s leftovers. If fights like Matthysse-Provodnikov are the prime rib and non-fights like September’s Mayweather-Berto “event” is what’s left after a hungover weekend, then tonight’s heavyweight crossroads fight between Steve Cunningham and Antonio Tarver is a pretty good steak. Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks so?

Both, especially Tarver, are a bit long in the tooth and no longer in their primes, but they are still pretty good fighters, there is a nice story line to go with the fight and most importantly, it promises to be competitive. That is enough to pique my interest after Floyd screwed us all.

Tarver may have played Mason Dixon, but Steve Cunningham has a real life Rocky story. The situation with his daughter, his demeanor outside the ring, he is always in superb shape and has a huge fighting heart. How can you not root for this guy?

Ok, he has gone a so-so 4-3 after moving up to heavyweight and he is not going to win the title, but the stats are deceiving. His only decisive loss among the big boys was to Tyson Fury. The other two losses on points to Tomasz Adamek and most recently to Vyacheslav Glazkov, were highly disputed, I had him winning both. What did you think?

He has tasted the floor several times both as a cruiserweight and heavyweight, so that is his obvious weakness.

Tarver has never been stopped, so we can safely say that he has the better chin of the two. I also think that he has slightly better power, still being able to do damage as we saw against Banks.

For Cunningham, the strategy at this stage is always going to be the same. Avoid the inclination to trade and box, box, box. No different against Tarver. The problem is that Cunningham has done that and ended up on the wrong end of close decisions. After outboxing opponents, the judges rewarded the other guy for less, but more “telling” punches, as seems to be the judging trend nowadays. Will this force his hand and make him be more aggressive? Especially since Tarver doesn’t pose the danger of a Fury? I don’t think so, what is your take?

As opposed to the Adamek and Glazkov fights, there isn’t really an A-side in this one and I expect Cunningham to fight his usual, Naazim Richardson influenced, strategic fight.

Tarver was never a volume punching workhorse, so he will have to pick his spots, try and score a knockdown or two and hope that his southpaw style will throw Cunningham off. What would you tell Tarver?

What worries me a bit about Tarver is the fact that he has fought only once per year since 2009. Inactivity is never a good thing.

I think that Tarver will have his moments, but he can’t match Cunningham’s conditioning and work rate and I think that “USS” is also the slightly faster of the two, with a reach advantage to boot. Therefore I expect him to redeem himself with a competitive but clear decision win.

Who is your pick? Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

Watch it with those food/boxing analogies, Droeks. You’re starting to sound like Teddy Atlas.

Although I respect both Tarver and Cunningham, I don’t view tonight’s PBC on Spike main event as a pretty good steak. I think it’s more like a pound of ground beef that’s in need of Hamburger Helper because I view both guys as being well past their primes.

So I don’t have a favorite in this matchup, but if I have to make a pick, I’ll go with Tarver. He’s got a better boxing foundation and he’s the sharper-puncher of the two veterans. He’s also better at keeping his head and sticking to a game plan. I think he’ll land the cleaner shots, and maybe wobble or drop Cunningham, en route to a close decision.

However, Tarver is not a natural heavyweight (neither is Cunningham, but at the Philly fighter is closer than the Floridian) and as you noted he can be outhustled, so I expect a competitive bout.

I agree that it’s easy to root for Cunningham. (I mean, seriously, if you can’t root for him, you have no soul.) I thought he was jobbed in the Adamek rematch and the Glazkov fights, and I think he make for better heavyweight fights than Tarver does, so I’ll definitely be rooting for him.

WANKERS, FADED FIGHTERS, JOSHUA-WHYTE

Hi Doug,

I’m 2 for 5 in the mailbag – aiming for 50% today!

Loving reading your work as always. Do you ever reckon you’ll make it to the UK for a fight? I’m sure a lot of fans here would love to say hi and talk boxing with you, and I’m guessing you don’t go to a bout with an entourage!

I can’t imagine the grief you get in here (beyond what you print) from the hardcore wanker fans. Last week ago I was arguing on Facebook with a guy who insists that Mayweather is TBE, and the only other fighter who comes close is Mike Tyson! Words fail me. How much abuse do you get that’s unprintable?

I see that Floyd Mayweather has been officially declared as the best boxer in history on Spanish TV, by world renowned boxing historian Floyd Mayweather. I know that Ali – who Floyd put down for only fighting in one weight category lol – called himself ‘the greatest’ but he had a sense of humour about him that is totally devoid in Money. Any thoughts on his rankings or just a firm ‘no comment’.

The fights schedule this weekend makes me sad. Roy Jones, Glen Johnson and Acelino Freitas! None of these guys should have been taking punches for a long time now. How can fight fans do something/anything to protect these guys from themselves?

Unless I’ve missed it, I hadn’t seen your thoughts on a big grudge match upcoming in the UK. Anthony Joshua vs Dillian Whyte. AJ is capturing the general public here like you wouldn’t believe. If he keeps up this progress he’ll be selling out stadiums for big fights soon. Do you think Whyte has a prayer? His unbeaten record and KO stats are being built up already on TV here to hype the match. I can’t help but think back to the first DeGale vs Groves fight when Chunky (another amateur gold medalist) was beaten by his less heralded unbeaten rival. Could that happen again?

Finally, can you settle a bet I’ve got with a friend about your mythical match-ups. I reckon you keep a database of your answers (so you don’t change an opinion on a repeat question). He thinks you always do it off the top of your head.

Thanks. – Jason, Nottingham

You lose your bet, Jason. I always answer Mythical Matchups on the fly (and yes, I do sometimes change my opinion of the really tough ones I consider 50-50, such as Hagler-Hopkins or Chavez-Pryor). I don’t keep a database. But hey, you’re now batting .500 with emails published in the mailbag. Congrats!

I know Joshua is on his way to crossover stardom in the UK. He’s got a strong buzz among U.S. boxing fans, and could conceivably be as big (or bigger) than Lennox Lewis was in the America (if he ever fights over here). Could Whyte possibly derail the AJ Train? I think Joshua’s amateur rival has a slight shot.

Whyte brings a lot to the table – size (with long reach), athleticism, quickness, power, confidence, feints and herky jerky movement, as well as a sharp and educated jab.

However, I gotta favor THE RING’s 2014 Prospect of the Year. Both big men are late comers to the sport, but Joshua has a better foundation thanks to a more extensive amateur background and he also appears to be the more complete boxer. But who knows? The fight could come down to who can take a better punch.

I worry about aging veterans like Jones, Johnson and Freitas, but I respect their decision to continue fighting. It doesn’t make me sad as long as they’re doing what they want to do, and I think that’s the case with these three. I believe that Jones, who I saw in Indio, California last weekend, is enjoying himself more now than when he was in his prime, making millions per fight and was considered the G.O.A.T. by many fans and pundits. Jones and ‘Popo’ are fighting journeymen who don’t pose much of a threat. The Turkish dude Johnson is fighting was a good amateur but he’s a green pro (only five bouts) and he hasn’t defeated anyone of note. Johnson might get robbed if it goes the distance but I don’t think he’ll get beat up (unless he’s shot – I haven’t seen the Road Warrior fight in a while).

If Jones, Johnson and Freitas take on top contenders in their respective weight classes, my opinion will obviously change because I’ll be concerned for their safety.

I’ve done with the subject of Mayweather and his all-time greatness. If he wants to embarrass himself on Spanish TV that’s his right.

Regarding the wankers among Moody May’s faithful, I don’t really get that much grief from them. I probably average one insulting email per week and two or three nasty Tweets a day from Floydiots. It’s not really a big deal. I have fun with some of the emails that I post in the mailbag. I ignore the others. I’m going to start blocking fools on Twitter. It’s time to be elitist with these suckers.

How much abuse do I get that’s unprintable? Good question. The funny thing (or tragic thing depending on how you look at it) about nasty emails from Moody May fans is they’re not so much “unprintable” as they are unintelligible. Many of them are just a series of incomprehensible rants.

MOST ENTERTAINING FIGHTERS

Hi Doug, Really digging the mailbag recently, especially the seemingly weekly smackdown of TMT groupies.

I was watching some old YouTube footage of Tommy Hearns, and it got me thinking; was the Hitman the most entertaining fighter in the ring of all time? Blistering knockout power and speed, those grueling, compelling matchups with Leonard, his domination of Duran, and THAT fight with Hagler, made for a pretty watchable career across quite a few decades and weight classes.

Of course a lot of that is down to a fantastic quality of opponents to make those matchups with. It’s hard to think of such a great series of fights between legends happening in modern boxing, although I kinda feel that if the likes of Pac, Money, Paul Williams, and Martinez had all actually fought each other when they should’ve maybe we could be talking about another golden generation….

Anyway, who would you put on your list of top 5 fighters for in ring entertainment value? And what about a list of least entertaining/most underwhelming? Money, Wladdy Klitschko, Kevin Johnson……?

For the record, I have James Toney for most entertaining out of the ring, although he’s being hotly challenged by Tyson Fury.

Hope you’re well, and keep up the good work! – Joe – The Netherlands

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Joe.

Toney was something special in and out of the ring. The sparring sessions at the Wild Card Boxing Club during the early 2000s could have been a reality TV series. Fury definitely has the same gift for theatrics.

You want a list of least entertaining/most underwhelming boxers? LOL. Come on. You know who they are. Why piss off their fans by calling them out (AND WHO CARES?)

My top five most entertaining active boxers (among world-rated fighters):

1) Lucas Matthysse

2) David Lemieux

3) GGG (how awesome is it that Nos. 1 and 2 are fighting on Oct. 17!?)

4) Sergey Kovalev

5) Roman Gonzalez

My personal choice of the five most entertaining boxers of my era (mid-80s to the present):

1. Terry Norris

2. Thomas Hearns

3. Erik Morales

4. Arturo Gatti

5. Diego Corrales

(A lot of top-notch sluggers, such as Israel Vazquez, Iran Barkley and Micky Ward, just missed the cut)

You can’t go wrong with The Hitman, Tommy Hearns, though. There’s no doubt that his other worldly speed and power and elite-level opposition was a big part of his in-ring entertainment value. He was also an amazing all-around boxer. The man had one of the best jabs I’ve ever seen, he could stick-and-move and drop perfect one-two combos like Ali, but he mastered every punch in the book. However, I think Hearns’ appeal and penchant for thrilling fights came down to his mentality. He had a puncher’s mindset. He believed he could KO anyone and he wanted to take his opposition out. That mentality sometimes got him in trouble against his elite peers and sometimes against lesser talents/boxers.

Check out his underrated razor-thin 12-round decision over James Kinchen (a hard-fought victory that earned him the newly created WBO super middleweight belt – his record fifth major title). If he had a safety first mentality, he could have soundly (I don’t want to say “easily” because Kinchen was no joke) ouboxed “The Heat.” But Tommy was greedy, offensively speaking, and the heavy handed Kinchen made him pay for that.

In Round 4, Kinchen caught Hearns with an overhand right-hook combo that put the Hitman down. Hearns got up on legs so wobbly that he had to hold on for dear life in order to survive the round (so much so that referee Mills Lane penalized him a point for excessive holding). The late, great Emanuel Steard told Hearns to “box him” between rounds. So what does Hearns do at the start of Round 5? He comes out steamin’, doubling and tripling up his jab, hooking off the jab and blasting hard right hands. That’s a puncher! He did back off and box a bit during the second part of the round but my point is that Hearns took chances against dangerous opposition (such as Barkley, who beat him twice). This aspect of his ring identity is probably viewed as a “flaw” by some fans but I think it’s what made him special and must-see TV in the ’80s and early ’90s. (The exact same thing can be said about my favorite fighter of the ’90s, “Terrible” Terry Norris.)

 

DID JACK KIRBY CREATE ABE SIMON?

Hey Doug!

As always, I enjoy your mailbag. Been a fan since the Maxboxing days.

I appreciate the Missouri shoutouts in the Monday mailbag. Good to see Misery get some love. We need it. Our home state has a pretty rich boxing tradition, too, albeit mostly centered around St. Louis.

I just wanted to share something amusing I noticed. I’ve spent the last few years working on a project for my boxing blog (hunterboxing.net). I’ve dug through the resumes of pretty much every good and great heavyweight since 1900, and have put together a ranking of the best of all time (178 in all – strange number, I know). Already finished the calculations, now gradually posting them – hopefully done by 2017. The ranking involves calculating records against top ten contenders, Hall-of-Famers, and linear champs. Long and geeky project. Anyway, in the process of my research, I came across a photo of 1930s-40s contender Abe Simon. As a comic fan, you might appreciate this – he looks like he was drawn by Jack Kirby. I mean, exactly like a Kirby picture. His facial features, posture – it’s perfect. I almost wonder if the early Hulk comics drew inspiration from Simon (probably not, but fun to consider). I’ve attached the photo I found on Boxrec, to show you what I mean. Simon was somewhat limited, but tough and powerful. He really could have been a Kirby creation.

Anyway, Excelsior to you! – Hunter, Kansas City

Thanks for the Stan Lee inspired “shout-out,” Hunter. It’s great to hear from a fellow Missourian who has a geeky passion for boxing and comic book history. (It doesn’t happen often.)

I’m not just a comic fan, I’m a collector with a lot of admiration and appreciation of “The King,” Jack Kirby (especially the Fourth World stuff he did for DC in the early ’70s). I see what you’re talking about in regard to Simon’s posture and thick body build. It’s like he’s straight out of a Kirby-drawn comic. Most of Kirby’s male figures had massive hands (as Simon did) and sported bulky (but not sculpted or pumped up) muscles.

After Simon retired he tried his hand at acting and was in many films, including the iconic On the Waterfront and Requiem for a Heavyweight. I can imagine Simon playing The Hulk or Thor (or Hercules) if those comic characters were around in his day.

Abe-Simon_mailbagKirby-Hulk

Kirbys-Thor-and-Hercules

Anyway, good luck with your all-time heavyweight rankings. Let me know how it progresses.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer

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