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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

24
Aug

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MARES VS. SANTA CRUZ

Hey Dougie,

I just wanted to get your take on the Abner Mares-Leo Santa Cruz matchup as it draws nearer. I know you’re acquainted with both fighters and I was wondering if you have any insider information regarding their training camps/mentalities going into the fight. I’ve heard the guys have sparred each other a bunch in the past and am curious whether Mares wanting this fight a lot more than Santa Cruz has anything to do with those sessions. Of course, it’s dumb to read much into sparring sessions (especially ones I haven’t seen) but is it possible Mares has a mental edge going into this fight?



I know people hate on Leo a lot for his recent cherry picking but I haven’t forgotten, the dude can fight. It wasn’t that long ago I watched him pummel Cristian Mijares for twelve rounds, bombing his way to a near shutout. If he can get his perpetual “loco” motion going I think he’ll overwhelm Mares to a decision. Mares should aim to take him out early before Leo’s engine gets revved up.

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A couple of mythical matchups:

Salvador Sanchez vs Sandy Saddler

Hogan “Kid” Bassey vs Prince Naseem

Keep up the great work, don’t let the “Money Team” getcha down! – Jack

That will never happen, Jack.

Regarding Mares-Santa Cruz, I was kind of cold on the matchup when it was first announced because I felt that both fighters have lost so much career momentum over the past 18 months or so. I still feel that way – Mares’ comeback from being KTFO by Jhonny Gonzalez has been painfully slow, while Santa Cruz has fought a lot of no-hopers since winning the WBC 122-pound belt the same night Abner got iced – however, I know that styles and mentalities make fights and these two should combine to make for a memorable bout.

Another factor is the location of the fight, their hometown of Los Angeles, which should add to the tremendous pride both featherweights carry into the ring on Saturday.

I’ve heard they’ve sparred before but I’ve never witnessed their sessions, so I couldn’t tell if Mares got the better of Santa Cruz. These two have sparred with everybody between bantamweight and lightweight in the Southern California area since their amateur days. They know how to get in good gym work without beating the s__t out of their sparring partners. My guess is that their sparring sessions were professional and amicable.

However, that doesn’t mean that Mares isn’t entering the ring with a mental edge. He should come in with a lot of confidence because as accomplished as Santa Cruz is, the younger man hasn’t faced the level of opposition that Mares has. On his way to winning titles at bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight, Mares went to war with Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko (twice), Anselmo Moreno and Daniel Ponce de Leon. He had to show a little bit of everything in those fierce fights, and it’s because of his experience and versatility that I believe he will beat Santa Cruz – but his mind has to be right. If Mares is still suffering from the psychological wounds of the Gonzalez fight, Santa Cruz will take advantage of that.

Santa Cruz is kind of one-dimensional but that one dimension of pressure and volume punching can overwhelm most opposition.

However, although Leo is the fresher fighter, I think he’s stagnated/plateaued from the weak opposition he’s feasted on recently. And the fact that Mijares – whose best days were at 115 pounds – is arguably the most accomplished fighter that Santa Cruz has faced isn’t a good sign.

I look at Santa Cruz’s distance bouts with Albert Guevara at bantamweight and Cesar Seda at junior featherweight, and I see capable but second-tier fighters giving him trouble with boxing basics – jab and lateral movement. Mares can do so much more than that. At his best, Mares is a complete boxer-fighter who can do it all, including roughhouse tactics. Question is: did Mares leave his best in the ring between 2010-2013? We’ll see.

These are fascinating featherweight mythical matchups (especially Bassey-Hamed):

Salvador Sanchez vs Sandy Saddler – Sanchez by close decision in a grueling fight.

Hogan “Kid” Bassey vs Prince Naseem – Hamed drops the underrated former champ from Nigeria once or twice en route to a hard-fought, close (perhaps unpopular) decision.

 

OGOGO A NO-GO?

Hey, Doug,

You may have heard that Anthony Ogogo’s doing reality TV until his shoulder heals. Do you think his elite-level aspirations are over now because of that injury? My friend dislocated his shoulder and was told by the doctor that he shouldn’t play football (soccer) again because it could pop out at any time – and that’s in a non-contact sport, played at a leisure/ hobby level, never mind professional boxing at a time when Ogogo’s been trying to channel extra power through his punches. Ogogo’s shoulder’s already popped three times now, his Achilles had to be operated on… is his body worn out already? Or can surgeries and a long rehab make him come back a new person? Can he go on to greatness by doing a Mayweather and dialing down volume and pot-shotting his way to titles?

Thanks for reading, and I hope this email wasn’t too strange for you, lol. – Richard from the UK

Nothing strange about this email, Richard. Heck, I ran it just for the clever “Ogogo a no-go” title you gave it.

I know Ogogo has been plagued by injuries since his amateur years, but he’s only 26 years old and eight bouts into his pro career. I don’t think he had too many amateur bouts, so I think it’s too soon to assume that his body is “worn out.” He just needs to make sure that he’s 100 percent healthy before he steps into the ring for pro bout No. 9.

Ogogo was a standout athlete (swimming and soccer) as a kid, obviously a national and world-level boxer as an amateur, and exceptional athleticism appears to be part of his professional boxing style. Sometimes special athletes are able to overcome the type of injuries that usually ruin average players and competitors. I’m not trying to say that your buddy who dislocated his shoulder is some kind of wimp, but my guess is that Ogogo is on another level.

For now let’s just watch Ogogo bust a few moves on Strictly Come Dancing, wish him luck in his shoulder rehab during the final months of 2015 and see how his career progresses in 2016. With his amateur background, natural talent, the Sauerland brothers moving him in Europe and Golden Boy promoting him in the U.S., I think Ogogo can advance quickly and make up for lost time.

Only time will tell if Ogogo can be a great boxer. And only time will tell how his professional style will develop.

 

COTTO-CANELO CRYSTAL BALL

Hey Doug, been a while.

As a lifelong Miguel Cotto fan I’ve thought a lot about the Canelo Alvarez fight, and I’ve pretty much figured out how it goes down:

Cotto is highly skilled but on the downslope of a career filled with brutal wars.

Cotto seems in control the first 3-4 rounds, all the while Canelo is slowly seeing just how much quicker and stronger he is than Cotto. Canelo starts to land crisp uppercuts and heavy body shots through rounds 5-9. He eats some nice counters and leads from Cotto in the process, but Cotto’s face shows who’s taking the real damage

Miguel finishes strong but Canelo trades with him until the final bell. Canelo, by competitive – but clear, unanimous decision.

See any cracks in my crystal ball, Doug? Keep doing what ya do. – Scott

Thanks Scott. I will.

I don’t see many cracks in your crystal ball because I agree – for the most part – with your analysis and prediction (although I can see Canelo winning by late stoppage, too).

However, this is one of those matchups where I nothing would surprise me. I can see Cotto doing more than just “seeming” like he’s in control of the early rounds. I can see the future hall of famer seriously hurting Canelo at the start of the fight.

I view Canelo as the bigger, fresher fighter but I don’t see him being that much stronger or quicker than the Puerto Rican star.

 

MEXICO VS. PUERTO RICO

Sup Dougie,

It’s been a while since I’ve written but I have to express how excited I am for the Cotto-Canelo fight. Eric Raskin said something like “there will be more REAL fans at the Cotto-Canelo fight than the May-Pac.” That has to be one of the truest statement of the year. Cotto-Canelo has everything. Young lion trying to take on an experienced veteran. They both have a whole nation behind them. This is for THE middleweight championship. This is pretty much an even match-up. Plus the Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry is in play. What else can a (real) boxing fan want? Here’s to a great match-up and in hopes for another classic brawl.

What are your Top 3 Mexico-Puerto Rico fights?

  1. Sanchez vs. Gomez – No explanation needed. Just a classic fight.
  2. Vargas vs. Trinidad – All those KD’s were awesome.
  3. Cotto vs Margarito – I know, I know, plaster could have been in Margz gloves but damn it, that was an exciting fight. (I’m a horrible blood thirsty fan and I should feel bad.)

I’m a boxing junkie and can’t seem to get enough of this addictive sport. I read articles online, watch videos, subscribe to The Ring magazine but that can’t seem to be enough. I been listening to the HBO boxing podcast and used to listen to this websites podcast with Michael Rosenthal a couple years back. Any plans on bringing that back? And do you know of any boxing podcast that you may recommend?

Thanks for all the hard work you and the people at ringtv.com do. Have a good one. – PETER, Houston, Texas

Thanks for the kind words and the support, Peter. There are plans to bring back at least one podcast to RingTV.com before the end of this year. I’ll keep you and the readers of this mailbag updated on the progress. There are also a number of original video series that are in the works with the new Ring TV Live venture, so stay tuned.

As for other boxing podcasts, there are dozens out there but I’m not sure which ones are ongoing, weekly shows that remain up-to-date. You’ll just have to Google “boxing podcasts” and check ’em out for yourself, Petey.

I know that The Next Round, hosted by my old pals Steve Kim and Gabriel Montoya, is done every week. I was recently a guest on Tha Boxing Voice podcast (which is available on iTunes) and Tale of the Tape Boxing Radio. You might want to give those podcasts a try.

If you’re not on social media, you should consider starting a Twitter and/or Instagram account(s) as there is a thriving boxing community on those platforms.

What else can I say about Cotto-Canelo that hasn’t already been said by astute boxing scribes like Raskin? I agree with Eric’s opinion 100% and I can’t wait to be at the Mandalay Bay in late November, soaking up all the good memories of the past 16 years as well as the electric atmosphere that the storied Mexico-vs.-Puerto Rico boxing rivalry will surely enhance.

One of my best memories of fights covered at the Mandalay Bay Events Center is the Trinidad-Vargas showdown in 2000 (jeez, I can’t believe it was 15 years ago!). However, I don’t count it among the Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry because Vargas was born in the U.S. Still, Vargas’ Mexican heritage/pride was a big part of the build-up to the fight and the action that ensued once the bell rang.

My top three Mexico-vs.-Puerto Rico fights:

1) Wilfredo Gomez TKO 14 Lupe Pintor – this was one of the last great 15-round championship bouts and it brought out the best of the future hall of famers. If you haven’t seen this fight, please watch these highlights and then check out the full bout when you have the time (you won’t regret it)

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2) Jose Luis Ramirez TKO 4 Edwin Rosario – this underrated shootout, which is also one of the most underrated bouts in the Mexican-Puerto Rican boxing rivalry, was won by one of Mexico’s most underrated champions. After being outpointed by Rosario (and losing his WBC lightweight title to the superbly talented Boricua bomber) in their first bout, Ramirez returned to Puerto Rico and survived knockdowns in Rounds 1 and 2 to rage back and stop the hometown hero. Check it out if you haven’t seen it (and forgive the crappy quality of the video)

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3) Antonio Margarito TKO 11 Cotto – I gotta include one fight that I was lucky enough to cover from ringside and this one delivered. (I’m a proud blood thirsty fan who doesn’t believe that Margarito’s wraps were loaded, so I feel just fine about this fight.)

 

GIVE BREADMAN SOME PROPS

Hi Doug,

Your mailbags are the best, Monday and Friday mornings are always a highlight of the week 🙂

Would you mind telling your hundreds of thousands of followers about Stephen (the Breadman) Edwards’ mailbag on boxingscene?

He keeps the maniacs in check just like yourself.

I know it’s a rival site and all that jazz but soÔǪ

They need to scroll down a little on the main page and search “daily bread”

He doesn’t have the following you have but deserves toÔǪ

Cheers mucker. – Craig

Thanks for the kind words, Craig. I don’t know if I have “hundreds of thousands of followers” but I’m more than happy to direct the readers of this mailbag column to Edwards’ mailbag column. Bread knows boxing (the craft, business and history of the sport) and it’s always a good read.

I consider Edwards a peer and I don’t consider BoxingScene (or any other boxing website) to be a rival to this one. I respect all boxing media and all the other publications and websites.

Anyway, for those who haven’t read the “Daily Bread,” click here for the latest edition on BoxingScene.

 

FOTY, BEST SINCE 1980

Dougie,

I have to disagree with you. Huck vs Glowacki is my pick for fight of the year so far. Though the Pay-per-views coming up may change my mind. Canelo vs Cotto has all the ingredients to make a war. I’ve noticed that many people write and say things like this “with GGG vs Lemieux, Cotto vs Canelo and Klitschko vs Fury I’m excited for the rest of the year”. It feels like I’m the only guy stoked to see Cruz vs Mares. This has got to be the most competitive fight Al Haymon has made for PBC (he rarely makes competitive matchups with his stars). I think Mares wins this and start’s his trail back to the top.

ESPN has been having fun making their top 5 fighters all time lately, so let me give you a list. What are your top 10 fighters since 1980? Here is mine.

  1. Duran
  2. Leonard
  3. Julio Cesar Chavez
  4. Manny
  5. BHop
  6. Hagler
  7. Mayweather
  8. Holyfield
  9. Hearns
  10. Whitaker
  11. RJJ
  12. Calzaghe

I did 12, whatever. This is based on in ring accomplishments that have nothing to do with out of the ring influence.

Where the hell is Naoya Inoue?

Finally, just a prediction on ppv numbers

Mayweather vs Berto 750,000

Cotto vs Canelo 1.2 million

GGG vs Lemieux 300,000

Keep it up. – Jordan from NC

Those seem like realistic pay-per-view projections, Jordan. We’ll see what happens in September, October and November.

Where’s Inoue? Healing from injuries like our man Ogogo. Maybe “the Monster” is participating in the Japanese version of Dancing with the Stars.

I agree that Mares-Santa Cruz is the best matchup, so far, put on by the PBC, and I don’t think you’re alone in being excited about it.

We’ll have to agree to disagree on Huck-Glowacki being Fight of the Year.

That’s good top 12 list of fighters since 1980. I can’t argue too much with the fighters included or their placement, but one question I have is whether you factor in their entire pro careers or just their accomplishments since 1980. I know Duran was one of the best-known boxers of the 1980s – and he kicked a lot of ass during that decade – but his prime years (and much of his accomplishments) took place in the 1970s. If you count his entire career, it’s hard to argue with his top placement, but if you only go by what he did from 1980 on, I think he has to move way down, because Hands of Stone had as almost as many “lows” as he did “highs” in the ’80s. You have to credit Duran for winning major titles at 147, 154 and 160 pounds, and splitting those first two fights with Sugar Ray Leonard is historic stuff, but he lost to Marvin Hagler (which doesn’t count much against him in my book), got KTFO by Hearns (well, yeah, that hurst), quit against Leonard in the rematch (did next to nothing in their awful dud of a rubber match), and somehow lost to Kirkland Laing. I don’t count the close loss to Robbie Sims too much against him, but shoot, it doesn’t help his cause in this particular ranking.

Anyway, here’s my top 10 of the best of the 1980s (but only factoring what they did from 1980 on):

1) Sugar Ray Leonard (thanks to his three-bout series with Duran, unifying welterweight belts against Thomas Hearns in an all-time classic fight, upsetting Marvin Hagler for the middleweight title in another Fight of the Year, winning major belts at 154, 168 and 175 pounds, and beating solid titleholders such as Ayub Kalule and Don Lalonde. The loss to Duran doesn’t hurt his standing in this ranking at all. It was a great fight and he damn near won it. He should have lost the 1989 “draw” against Hearns at super middleweight but it doesn’t detract much from his legacy as both were faded and it was competitive despite the knockdowns. Losses to Terry Norris and Hector Camacho don’t count against much against him as he was badly faded by the ’90s.)

2) Pernell Whitaker (for his “draw” against the then-87-0 Julio Cesar Chavez, unifying the major lightweight titles, winning belts at 140, 147 and 154, and beating the likes of fellow hall of famer Azumah Nelson, Buddy McGirt, Roger Mayweather, Jose Luis Ramirez, Julio Cesar Vazquez; as well as many top lightweights of the mid-to-late ’80s that I’m sure today’s fans have no idea about or respect for. Sweet Pea’s losses to prime versions of Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad actually ADDED to his resume in my not-so-humble opinion. Some observers feel that he deserved the nod against De La Hoya.)

3) Julio Cesar Chavez (for winning major titles at 130, 135 and 140; winning more than 100 bouts, and beating top fighters such as Hector Camacho, Roger Mayweather, Rocky Lockridge, Juan LaPorte, Edwin Rosario and Meldrick Taylor among many other contenders of the ’80s and ’90s. His losses to De La Hoya and Kostya Tszyu don’t count much against him because he was clearly faded at the time. The draw with Whitaker doesn’t count against him even though he deserved to lose it. He faced a fellow a great fighter when both were at their peak. That earns points in my book.)

4) Bernard Hopkins (for earning recognition as undisputed middleweight champion, reigning longer than any other middleweight titleholder in history, breaking the middleweight title defense record, winning the lineal light heavyweight title, twice breaking the record for oldest boxing champion, competing on the world-class level into his late 40s, upsetting Felix Trinidad, Kelly Pavlik and Antonio Tarver, stopping Oscar De La Hoya, outpointing Winky Wright and Jean Pascal; as well as beating many of the top middleweights of the ’90s and top light heavyweights of the 2000s. Losses to prime Roy Jones Jr., Joe Calzaghe and Jermain Taylor don’t count against B-Hop too much in my book. Most observers thought he beat Taylor in both bouts. His willingness to challenge himself, even as he neared 50, earns him extra credit.)

5) Evander Holyfield (for earning recognition as the undisputed cruiserweight champ and the undisputed heavyweight champ; engaging in an all-time great trilogy with Riddick Bowe, beating Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas, Michael Dokes, Ray Mercer, Michael Moorer, Carlos De Leon and Dwight Muhammad Qawi in one of the last great 15-round title bouts. Victories over George Foreman and Larry Holmes don’t count as much due to their age but it should be noted that both legends were legit top-10 contenders at the time Holyfield fought them. The “draw” and rematch loss to Lennox Lewis doesn’t count that much against the Real Deal as he had begun to fade by the late ’90s. The victories he managed in the 2000s is all gravy.)

6) Thomas Hearns (for winning titles at 147, 154, 160, 168 and 175; engaging in epic battles with Leonard and Hagler, which enhance his legacy despite losing in my view; icing fellow hall of famers Pipino Cuevas and Roberto Duran; outpointing fellow hall of famers Wilfred Benitez and Virgil Hill; and beating quality opposition such as Angel Espada, Randy Shields, Denis Andries, Juan Roldan and Doug DeWitt. Losses to Iran Barkley don’t count detract too much from his accomplishments. “Draw” with Leonard in rematch is almost viewed as a victory. Main drawback for the Hitman is that he never really established himself as THE best in any division he campaigned in – although he’s arguably the best junior middleweight of the past 40 years.)

7) Marvin Hagler (for establishing himself as the undisputed middleweight champ, reigning for seven years and making 12 defenses, including a decision over Duran and a stoppage of Hearns in an all-time great shootout; and for beating solid contenders such as Juan Roldan, John Mugabi, Wilford Scypion, Mustafa Hamsho and Fulgencio Obelmejias. Split decision loss to Leonard doesn’t count against him much, as many fans feel he did enough to keep his middleweight crown, though I’m not one of them.)

8) Manny Pacquiao (for winning major titles – or earning recognition as the “lineal” or RING champ – at 112, 122, 126, 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154, more belts in more divisions than anyone in history, his two-, three- and four-bout series with Mexico’s future hall-of-fame trio of Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez, and victories over Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Tim Bradley, Antonio Margarito and Joshua Clottey. Wins over De La Hoya and Shane Mosley don’t count as much because both fellow legends were faded by the time Manny got his frenetic mitts on them. His loss to Mayweather counts a lot because he really laid an egg in the so-called megafight of this era, but not enough to tarnish his amazing run from featherweight to welterweight.)

9) Oscar De La Hoya (for winning major titles at 130, 135, 140, 147, 154 and 160; beating fading but still serviceable legends Whitaker, Chavez and Camacho; stopping Genaro Hernandez and Fernando Vargas; outpointing Ike Quartey; blasting Jesse James Leija, Rafael Ruelas and Jorge Paez; outclassing Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Arturo Gatti and Javier Castillejo; and besting solid standouts such as Juan Molina, Oba Car and Wilfredo Rivera. Losses to Trinidad, Mosley, Hopkins, Mayweather and Pacquiao count against the Golden Boy when added up, but don’t detract much from his legacy in my view. He arguably beat Tito and Mosley in the rematch, and he gets credit for facing top pound-for-pound players when he was past his prime. Few, if any, have faced as many No. 1 P4P-rated boxers as De La Hoya.)

10) Floyd Mayweather Jr. (for winning major titles at 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154; outpointing fellow future hall of famers Pacquiao, De La Hoya, Mosley, Marquez and Cotto; twice beating top lightweight Jose Luis Castillo; stopping borderline HOFers Genaro Hernandez and Ricky Hatton; and outclassing formidable likes of Diego Corrales, Jesus Chavez, Canelo Alvarez, Zab Judah and Marcos Maidana.)

The following fighters just missed the cut and could arguably replace anyone that I ranked in my top 10 (it’s all a matter of opinion and what you value): Duran, Larry Holmes, Roy Jones Jr., Joe Calzaghe, Juan Manuel Marquez, Lennox Lewis, Felix Trinidad, Salvador Sanchez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Michael Spinks, Mike Tyson, Kostya Tszyu, Johnny Tapia, Hector Camacho, Jeff Fenech, Azumah Nelson, Chiquita Gonzalez, Jung-Koo Chang, Hilario Zapata, Daniel Zaragoza, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, and Khaosai Galaxy.

[Editor’s note: This s__t was written and posted at after 3:00 a.m. PT, so believe me when I tell you that I didn’t mean to omit James Toney or Ricardo Lopez. Both were considered for the top 10 and both are deserving.]

[Editor’s note to the Editor’s note: Nobody brought him up, but go ahead and add Mike McCallum.]

Email Fischer [email protected]