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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

28
Sep
Photo by Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions

Photo by Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions

WILDER GOES WILD

Hi Dougie,

Nice coverage this weekend on the Deontay Wilder-Johann Duhapaus heavyweight bout. I think the Alabaman has shown a lot of growth. The Frenchman took it to Wilder throughout the fight, swelled up Deontay’s left eye and refused to go down after being nailed by some hellacious right and left hands. Wilder, though, showed great poise and conditioning in the late rounds ultimately scoring the late TKO. I think Wilder’s ready to take on the best heavyweights in the world. He has the power, athleticism and experience to take over the division. Maybe one more mandatory fight might help his prep work.

I like Wilder’s chances against Alexander Povetkin. I saw Povetkin fight and was totally unimpressed. I don’t care what the experts think, Wilder is becoming the best heavyweight in the world. What bothers me about Wilder is how low he keeps his right hand, always loading up with it looking for the knockout. Wilder’s a sucker for the left hook. Hope he can clean up his defense a bit. In fact, Wilder’s defense is his offense, this is the chink in his armor. I’d like to see him use more blocks and raise his right hand to his chin, and duck and dive a little more. With this fight Wilder proved he has a good chin but his opponents are still landing shots against him they shouldn’t. Dougie, what does Wilder have to do in your opinion to clean up his boxing technique?



I think this was another good weekend for PBC. The fights are improving…Finally! PBC has a fight of the year candidate, put together a great fight card that nobody commented on a few weeks back when Adonis Stevenson was the main event, and now an excellent heavyweight bout showcasing an American heavyweight champ in Wilder.

I’ve tried to get through to you on this next observation and would love your input. GGG has high cheekbones. No one has commented on this but if David Lemieux targets the eyes I believe this could be a key for Lemieux’s victory. GGG’s eyes could easily swell up causing him all kinds of problems during this punchers battle. Your thoughts?

Keep up the great work. Regards – Erik

Thanks Erik. I’ll try. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Regarding Golovkin’s high cheekbones, I agree that they could make facial swelling worse for the middleweight juggernaut and potentially hamper his vision down the stretch of a battle of attrition. If you recall, this was sometimes a problem for GGG’s fellow Kazakhstan native, 1996 Olympic gold medalist and former IBF cruiserweight titleholder Vassiliy Jirov. I think Lemieux would do well to aim as many hooks, crosses and uppercuts just below GGG’s eyes during their pending shootout. (Of course, that’s probably easier said than done.)

Regarding Wilder’s improvement, I’m not seeing it. I still think the best performance of his career is his points victory over Bermane Stiverne in January. Why? Because it was his most disciplined, well-paced and technically sound fight.

Wilder’s two late stoppage title defenses against Eric Molina and Duhaupas have been fun scraps – they’ve definitely made for good TV and electric events in his home state of Alabama – but despite the athletic prowess that was on display, I thought he looked sloppy and flustered at times in both bouts. Maybe Wilder was just trying too hard to appease his home-state fans, or perhaps he figured Molina and Duhaupas were hand-picked to get KTFO quick (which they were), but I didn’t come away from those performances thinking he’s the Heir Apparent to the Klitschko Throne.

I’m not saying Wilder doesn’t have considerable potential. He’s got obvious physical tools, world-class athleticism, solid boxing ability (I think he punches on the fly very well) and good, smart boxing people around him. Plus, a great personality. He could be a real force at heavyweight, as well as a crossover star. However, I don’t see that happening if he doesn’t get his technical game together.

I think the heavyweight I saw go 10-plus rounds with Duhaupus (an unrated and unheralded heavyweight) would lose to Klitschko, Povetkin, Tyson Fury and Bryant Jennings.

You may not be impressed with Povetkin, but he proved against Klitschko that he’s got a chin to handle Wilder’s power and fighting heart to match the Alabama native’s. And while the Russian doesn’t have Wilder’s athleticism, he has enough power to hurt the American, and he’s got much better punching technique and timing.

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I’d like to see how Wilder would fare against Povetkin’s last two opponents – Carlos Takam and Mike Perez. If he truly thought Molina and Duhaupus were difficult, he’ll definitely have his hands full with those two.

With this fight Wilder proved he has a good chin but his opponents are still landing shots against him they shouldn’t. Dougie, what does Wilder have to do in your opinion to clean up his boxing technique?

Did Wilder really prove he’s got a good chin? Did Duhaupas have the reputation for being a big puncher? No, he didn’t have any rep to speak of. Anyway, Wilder’s best bet to clean up his technique would be to get back to boxing basics – straight jab, straight right and arrow-straight one-two combos mixed in with lateral movement. In other words, I’d like to see his best impression of his head trainer – Mark Breland. With his speed and power, he can still get knockouts, but he can do so without laying his chin out there.

PBC has a fight of the year candidate, put together a great fight card that nobody commented on a few weeks back when Adonis Stevenson was the main event, and now an excellent heavyweight bout showcasing an American heavyweight champ in Wilder.

OK, you can put the PBC pom poms down. LOL. So far, I’ll give the organization an ‘A’ for effort, a ‘C’ for presentation, a ‘D’ for overall product, and an ‘F’ for matchmaking. I think it’s oversaturation at this point, to be honest. My job is to follow boxing and I can barely keep up with all the shows on seven or eight different networks. And that’s too bad because some of their shows deserve more coverage and attention. But I couldn’t even get my contributors to write about Wilder-Duhaupas. They either overlooked it or just weren’t interested in the matchup. Same deal with the Stevenson-Karpency show. It got lost in the PBC shuffle. (But I gotta tell ya, “Superman” blowing out an undeserving challenger and Errol Spence Jr. outclassing a game but average welterweight did not constitute a “great fight card” in my opinion.) However, I did enjoy the Wilder fight.

SO MUCH SWAGGER

Dougie,

I won’t be missing any Wilder fights from here on out! The man’s got a lot of critics and a lot of doubters but damn if it isn’t a thrill watching him do his thing. Saturdays fight was vaguely reminiscent of Ali’s first encounter with my fellow Canadian, the oh so durable George Chuvalo. I noticed as he entered the ring that Duhaupas’s head and jaw were remarkably similar to a young Chuvalo’s, and that’s when I realized this fight was going to go longer than expected.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way saying Wilder is anywhere near the level of ’66 Ali, (no one ever will be, at that point of his career Ali was an avenging angel of Allah, no other heavyweight in their respective prime could have beat him,) but I digress… To be honest, Wilder reminds me a lot more of a certain Motor City Cobra; the snapping serpentine jab, the hellacious right hands, the gangly vulnerability… there are definitely some similarities and they make him compelling to watch the same way they made Tommy. I love the way Wilder shakes himself loose before unleashing a big barrage; he fights with a real swagger and when he gets hit he responds with furious disdain, like a proud champion should!

I get why a lot fans are skeptical; they’ve been burned before and they’re very, very, weary. He’s only beat one good heavyweight, (although he was dominant and showed an elite level jab,) and his overall technique comes off a little raw. His chin is still questionable, and of course, he’s managed by Mr. Haymon. The hardcore fans will bet on the more seasoned, less flashy Povetkin to beat him in his next defense because he’s got the power and the fundamentals to hurt the Bronze Bomber, but I just don’t see it going down that way. I’m picking Deontay to outbox the Russian from a distance over 12, then to clip the Ukrainian king in his next outing. Hey, I know it’s a long shot but I just have this feeling, go with your gut right? Let the Bronze Age begin!! – Jack

That’s a great line, Jack. The Bronze Age lasted thousands of years. Most hardcore heads think the Bronze Bomber Age will end as soon as he steps into the ring with Povetkin. (Others would argue that it never actually began.)

I see the physical, mental and stylistic resemblances to Hearns, but while the Hitman was a tall, rangy boxer-puncher who was vulnerable because of his shaky chin, I have to point out that the Detroit native’s technique was MUCH sharper than Wilder’s. If Wilder can try to emulate vintage Hearns (or even his trainer, Mark Breland), I think he’ll get more out of his natural ability and puncher’s mentality. He may even be able to outpoint Povetkin as you predict.

We’ll see. Wilder’s still got some time to develop. Povetkin is scheduled to fight Mariusz Wach in November, so Wilder could possibly fight again in December of this year or in January. If Wilder and Povetkin win their next bouts, I’m sure the WBC will mandate that they fight sometime in the first half of 2016.

As of now, I favor Povetkin, but a Wilder victory would be very good for the U.S. boxing scene, especially if Haymon can keep the Bronze Bomber busy and on NBC.

IOKA AND TAKAYAMA

Hi, Doug!

  1. Kazuto Ioka did what he was expected to do. At 112 pounds he seems to have lost the power that he used to have at 105, but he has a textbook-like style which works well against most fighters (well… forget about Amnat Ruenroeng). While I’m sure that Chocolatito will destroy him with relative ease, how about Juan Francisco Estrada? Estrada is a terrific fighter but isn’t as awkward as Ruenroeng. Can Estrada-Ioka be a good fight? (I strongly favor El Gallo, of course)
  2. Even at the age of 32, Katsunari Takayama retained his title by doing what he has been doing for years: throwing punches forever. He has never been the absolute best in the strawweight division, but he’s still a titleholder: it is impressive. He may face Kosei Tanaka next. Though I favor Tanaka, I believe the fight won’t be easy for him.

Mythical matchup:

Gilberto Roman vs Khaosai Galaxy at 115

Maybe I write to you too often! Cheers. – Taku from Japan

Nah. Keep writing. Somebody’s gotta keep track of Japanese ring action.

I’ll answer your questions in order:

1) I think Ioka-Estrada would be an excellent fight, a matchup of two aggressive but technically sound boxers. I’d also favor the Mexican WBA/WBO titleholder due to his busier style, body attack and greater physical strength, but I believe “Gallo” would have to work very hard for his victory. And I don’t think Roman Gonzalez would have his way with Ioka. I don’t think Ioka is a walk in the park for any of the top flyweights. Ruenroeng is a tough style matchup for anyone. I don’t hold that loss against Ioka.

2) Takayama is getting long in the tooth (for a strawweight) but he remains a tough outing for any young fighter (just ask Hara or Francisco Rodriguez Jr., who the Japanese veteran battled to the 2014 Fight of the Year in my not so humble opinion). Tanaka seems like the Japan’s latest Young Chosen One and he probably will lift Takayama’s title when they meet, but it won’t be easy. (If it is, Kosei is the truth.) Here’s what I like – scratch that, LOVE – about Takayama: he’s a good all-around boxer but he’s aggressive and busy (as you noted), his hands, feet and/or head are moving at all times; he only wants to fight the best, and in seeking to challenge himself he’s done what many other Japanese standouts do not do, such as fight for the IBF and WBO titles, travel outside of Japan, and attempt to unify major belts. He’s got my respect.

Your mythical matchup:

Gilberto Roman vs Khaosai Galaxy at 115 – This is a very good junior bantamweight mythical matchup. It pits one of Thailand’s most celebrated boxing champions against once of Mexico’s most overlooked (and underrated) little masters. In my opinion, the late Roman is every bit as Hall of Fame worthy as Galaxy (who’s been in there since 1999). Roman was a two-time WBC 115-pound champ and true road warrior. He would be the boxer in this matchup. The late Mexico City resident had a great jab. I think his left stick and lateral movement would have troubled Galaxy, the pressure fighter in the matchup. The Thai southpaw had the edge in strength, power and perhaps stamina. His goal would be to get in close enough and often enough for his vaunted body attack to wear down Roman. I honestly think it’s a toss-up fight. If it took place in Thailand (where Galaxy could fudge on the scales and come in a bit heavier than 115 pounds), I’d give the edge to Galaxy and I think he’d win a close decision or perhaps in late TKO in a very competitive fight. If the bout took place in Mexico or a neutral site, I’d got with Roman on points, but it would legitimately be very close.

 

CHUDINOV-BUGLIONI THOUGHTS

Hi Doug, hope you are well.

I watched the Feder Chudinov-Frank Buglioni fight, following your recommendation in the Friday mailbag. As I watched the BoxNation commentary I checked the odds and was surprised to see that Chudinov was a big favourite to win by KO (-1000 to win, -250 to win by KO). That’s not the impression one would get both from your column and from the commentators talking up Buglioni’s chances. As it turned out, the oddsmakers were right in that Chudinov dominated the fight.

I enjoyed watching Chudinov who is relentless in his come forward style and throws a lot of punches. Buglioni would throw eye catching combinations which would have no effect on the champion. I thought Chudinov made the fight harder for himself by not fighting in Buglioni’s chest. Whenever the fight would move to close quarters it was clear that Chudinov is much better equipped for a dog fight. His punches were short and compact and were getting to the target quicker than Buglioni’s wide hooks. A lot of the times when the fighters were at each other’s chest Chudinov was the only guy punching, landing 3-4 punches with no reaction from Buglioni whatsoever!

Unfortunately for us, blood thirsty ghouls, Chudinov couldn’t put Buglioni away. As you have known Chudinov for some time, do you think it’s Chudinov’s lack of power or Buglioni’s chin?

It’s been a long time since I have seen a high energy pressure fighter like Chudinov, and I would like to see him in a meaningful fight soon.

Hryunov, Chudinov’s promoter, is not known for protecting his fighters and seems like an easy guy to do a deal with.

I would like to see Chudinov with George Groves. I am sure Groves doesn’t want to spend a lot of time to build himself back up. A technician mover vs a pressure fighter is always a fun fight to watch.

But another thought that I had was that if Chudinov was willing to drop down to middleweight he could make an excellent opponent for GGG.

Fedor Chudinov is undersized for super middleweight, I am sure he is only fighting there to give more space to his brother who campaigns at middleweight. With KO loss to Eubank Jr his brother needs some time to regroup. Fedor’s style reminded me of Kassim Ouma, the only fighter in modern times who gave GGG trouble before getting KOd like the rest of them. And maybe Chudinov’s punch is going to have more pop at middleweight where he won’t have to move behemoths 3 inches taller than him?

Failing a fight with GGG, a “brother’s revenge” type of fight with Eubank Jr would be a lot of fun. What do you think? – Tigran

I think the “brother’s revenge” fight with Eubank is probably more realistic for Feder, especially if he’s willing to drop back down to 160 (although maybe Junior would be enticed to step up in order to fight for the WBA’s “regular” super middleweight belt). I proposed Feder as an opponent for Golovkin when GGG was without a dance partner for his October date, but Lemieux made much more sense.

But who knows? If Feder continues to win, maybe he’ll develop into an attractive super middleweight debut opponent for GGG once the undefeated Kazakh star is done collecting belts at 160 pounds. It doesn’t hurt that Chudinov now has Roy Jones Jr. to help beat the drums for him in the U.S. and during HBO broadcasts.

Regarding the Chudinov-Buglioni fight, I expected more from the Londoner and a much more competitive fight (although I favored the Russian to win). I thought Buglioni would take the fight more to the titleholder. His constant moving surprised me, and I don’t think it helped him at all against Chudinov’s steady pressure. The bottom line is that Chudinov was simply the more relaxed/confident of the two. He had the quicker jab and the better in-fighting skills (as I noted in my Friday mailbag) and he turned out to be the much better puncher.

I don’t consider either Chudinov brother to have world-class power but I know they have heavy hands. Buglioni went the distance with Feder because he’s got solid whiskers and giant balls. Feder is a good puncher.

I think Chudinov’s dominating performance against Buglioni earned some respect in the UK. Thus, it makes sense for him to return there to face England’s top super middleweights, such as Groves (as you noted), Martin Murray and maybe even James DeGale (if uncle Al says it’s OK). I’d love to see those matchups.

Big fights also await in North America. Chudinov holds the WBA’s “regular” title. Andre Ward has the “super” version of that belt. Technically, that makes Chudinov Ward’s mandatory challenger. It’s time Ward faced a top-10 contender at 168 pounds. Why not Feder? There’s also Gilberto Ramirez (the WBA’s No. 2 contender), Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (No. 6) and Lucian Bute (No. 8).

 

BREAZEALE-KASSI/WILDER-DUHAUPAS

Hi Doug,

I’m still following the return of Boxing to network TV. Admittedly the results have been mixed, but then every fight can’t be Ali/Frazier or Dempsey/Tunney so you take what you can get. I was hoping for a good punchup Saturday night and what transpired was also quite the mixed bag.

First, Dominic Breazeale vs Fred Kassi. I had not seen Breazeale before but by his record it seemed that Kassi had been brought in to lose. I was not that impressed with Breazeale. He is big to be sure, and really, too heavy. He had that James Broad look about him (there’s a flashback for you) His pecs needed a bra and he reminded me of Chris Arreola in that he was 10 to 15 pounds away from being in good condition. His jab was a shove (he needs to study some Larry Holmes tapes) and he hooked with both hands with not much of a straight right. His defense was not much to speak of either. Kassi, the much shorter guy, clearly came to fight and win, got to the bigger man consistently. In short I thought Kassi won it by a point or two but figured it would be a draw. The judge’s scores were beyond bad. I have seen bad decisions before and will see more in the future but they still piss me off like it was the first time I saw one.

Wilder vs Duhaupas. This also was more interesting than I thought it would be. I follow Boxing but had never heard of Duhaupas and figured he too had been brought in to lose. He also came to fight and was in fact one tough SOB. He took it right to Wilder and I think, put some hurt on him. As Wilder’s eye began to close and he got (in my opinion) a bit of a desperate look on his face during the fight and in the corner, I began to wonder if a miracle stoppage in the Frenchman’s favor due to the eye could happen. Clearly, Wilder could not understand why Duhaupas would not fall and was winging punches like crazy late in the fight.

Both of his feet were off the floor in some of those exchanges. Much like Wilder’s pro debut, which I saw in Nashville, some of those wild swings landed and he got the stoppage. What I came away from the fight thinking was, Wilder has fallen short of expectations after his impressive title win against Stiverne. His defense falls short if he gets pressured and he can be reached with the jab. What would he do against a big bruiser like Povetkin much less Vlad? It makes for some interesting fights to come. – David, Nashville

Good analysis of the Wilder-Duhaupas fight. The big question is will Haymon allow one of his biggest potential stars to fight Povetkin and Klitschko? He might want to avoid Povetkin altogether by dropping the WBC title. In the meantime, he can crown Wilder the “PBC champ,” build his name more among causal U.S. fans with repeated NBC exposure (probably against more unrated fighters) and hope and pray that Klitschko shows some age or vulnerability without losing. If Klitschko looks shaky against Fury or anyone else, I think Haymon will pull the trigger on a showdown with Wilder.

But this is all speculation on my part. Maybe Wilder’s first bout in 2016 will be against Povetkin. Time will tell.

Anyway, I agree that the haymakers Wilder flung at Duhaupas marked a regression in his technique. The “wild style” makes him dangerous and fun to watch, but it also makes him very vulnerable to legit contenders who have been developed against better and more diverse opposition than the American.

Breazeale-Kassi was a bitter pill to swallow. I scored the fight even, 95-95, as NBC commentator BJ Flores did, but I expected him to lose a UD by scores of 96-94 and 97-93. The fact that one judge had Breazeale winning eight rounds and the other had him pitching a shutout tells me that Kassi never had a chance to win in their minds. They should have been honest and given him the finger when he stepped through the rope. “Yo Fred! Over here, ring canvas. Look at me. I’m an official judge and I’m telling you right now, before this fight begins, you CAN’T win. Oh, and f__k you.”

Whatever. Those judges are merely delaying the inevitable. Breazeale is a smart and likable guy. His trainer John Bray is a prince. I’m sure Dominic was a decent athlete in other sports on the high school and collegiate level, but he doesn’t have professional-level boxing talent and no amount of poor scoring is going to give it to him. As soon as he’s put in the ring with a competent heavyweight who can punch, he’s going to sleep walk into a KO shot.

COULD KLITSCHKO-WILDER ACTUALLY HAPPEN?

Dougie,

Watching the video packages to open the Saturday PBC card, dare I believe that Uncle Al ACTUALLY has plans to put Wilder in the ring with Klitschko?

Consider, a lot of the time Haymon doesn’t even like to acknowledge that the world outside of the PBC exists (for example, Sergey “Lord Voldemort” Kovalev) but Saturday, they even showed CLIPS of Klitschko in action. That makes me think that Haymon is drooling over the idea of having the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world under his banner, and he’s willing to take one of his toys out of the box to try and make it happen.

Obviously, Dr. Steelhammer is Dr. Steelhammer, but I’m one of the people who still sees a lot of potential in Wilder despite his “questionable” strength of opposition. The man’s got a lot of power and more boxing ability than anyone gives him credit for. If that fight gets made (and who knows, it might get made against Fury instead), I’d call Wilder a very live dog.

One more question, dug up the mailbag after Pac-Marquez III and in one of your responses, as of 2011 you still hadn’t classified Pacquiao as “great.” What say you now? (Also, lots of chatter about Pacquiao-Mayweather. God, we had such hopes.)

Lastly, mythical matchup for you- Sugar Ray Leonard vs GGG at middleweight. Who ya got? Best. – Sean

Like I said in my reply to the previous email, I think a Klitschko-Wilder fight is a big enough world event to make Haymon seriously consider rolling the dice with his potential American heavyweight star. I don’t know if he’s in a rush to make that gamble but I believe he’s watching THE RING champ closely. Klitschko’s less-than-impressive victory over Bryant Jennings and his recent leg injury could be indications that age is catching up with him. Haymon has worked with and continues to work with some of Klitschko’s fellow 1996 Olympic medalists (Vassiliy Jirov, Floyd Mayweather, Antonio Tarver). He knows time is running out for Dr. Steel Hammer. Like I stated earlier, if Klitschko struggles with Fury, I can see Haymon negotiating a showdown for the undisputed championship sooner rather than later. If Klitschko looks like a monster against Fury, I think he’ll bide his time.

Regardless of what the future holds for the heavyweights, it was refreshing to see highlights of non-PBC fighters on a PBC broadcast and to hear Klitschko and Povetkin’s names brought up during the show and during the post-fight interview with Wilder. I hope we see more of this on PBC broadcasts.

Regarding Pacquiao’s “greatness,” I consider him the greatest fighter from the Philippines (which is saying something), arguably the greatest Asian boxer ever, and a first-ballot hall of famer. I think he’s one of the best fighters of the past 25 years. However, I don’t consider him an all-time great. If I put together a list of the 30 greatest boxers of all time, I don’t think he would be on that list (and neither would Mayweather).

Your mythical matchup is an interesting one (and a tough one for me because it pits my childhood favorite against my current favorite):

Leonard vs. GGG – I’m going to go with Leonard by controversial decision (one that could be even more disputed than the Hagler split nod). I think the 160-pound version of Leonard that outpointed Hagler had the speed (of foot and hand), reflexes, lateral movement, coordination and activity to outhustle GGG in spots and then get the hell out of the way before getting clocked. If Golovkin has one glaring weakness it’s average speed. Leonard could take advantage of that. However, I think in some ways GGG would be more difficult than Hagler was in 1987. Golovkin isn’t as busy as Hagler but he’s better at cutting off the ring and I think he would work Leonard’s body more than the Marvelous One did whenever he had Sugar Ray’s back to the ropes. I think Golovkin would get to Leonard more than Hagler did in the late rounds of the bout, maybe visibly hurt the American star, but Leonard’s chin, furious flurries, and warrior’s heart would enable him win some of the heated exchanges and make it to the final bell. All three judges would score it for Leonard 115-113.

 

Fischer can emailed at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter

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