Dougie’s Friday mailbag
COTTO-CANELO IS COMING
Hope all is well! We met at Jimmy’s Corner in NYC and had a great chat on the Friday before the GGG-Lemieux fight.
I’ve attached a pic to help jog your memory, as you were approached by a ton of boxing fans that night. It was great to have a good conversation with someone as knowledgeable as yourself. Ashley and I wound up having a fantastic weekend in New York, notwithstanding the less-than-competitive main event on Saturday night 🙂 The in-arena experience was awesome, and it’s always exciting to see athletes operating at Golovkin’s and Chocolatito’s level.
Now the Cotto-Canelo fight looms ever closer, and I thought I’d send a quick note as Cotto has been one of my favourites for many years:
There seems to be a growing wave of support for Canelo’s chances as the fight gets closer. I can understand this, given that Canelo holds some substantial advantages coming in: He’s bigger, stronger, faster, younger, looked great against Kirkland, etc.
Cotto is no spring chicken, and it’s hard to tell exactly where he stands as a top tier fighter at this stage, especially given his admittedly lower level of opposition over the past couple of years, including going up against a hobbled Sergio Martinez for the Middleweight Championship. I was at MSG for that fight last summer, and Cotto was able to absolutely bulldoze Martinez.
I think that Cotto’s chances are being underrated heading into this fight. Since linking up with Freddie Roach, he’s definitely rekindled the fire, and seems to be attacking his opponents with renewed purpose and vigor. This includes dusting off his punishing body attack, and pressing the advantage aggressively when the opportunity arises to do so.
There’s another area that doesn’t get talked about a lot with Cotto:
I believe that his footwork and movement are underrated. For a period of time his footwork was too ‘passive’, and it reduced the effectiveness of his attacks. The rejuvenated version of Cotto uses less-obvious but more aggressive footwork to close distance, and to step in with hard combinations to the head and body when the time is right. I noticed it particularly in his last fight with Daniel Geale (granted; a weight-drained adversary), whereby Cotto was stepping in and going from middle distance to close distance very sharply, and hammering his opponent with impressive shots.
I believe that Canelo will start fast and do well in the early rounds, but that Cotto will be able to take some of the steam out of his attack with a strong assault to the younger fighter’s body.
Eventually, Cotto will wear him down and ‘own’ the latter part of the fight. It won’t be easy by any stretch, and I’m expecting a very tough and competitive fight, but I think we’ll see Cotto using that underrated footwork to control distance, and to hammer his younger adversary while not taking quite as much punishment himself. A late-rounds-KO may be a long shot, but I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see that result. Either way, though, I’m calling a Cotto win.
What say you?
Pardon the long-ish email. I’ve read your work for 12 or 13 years and I’m a big fan. You’re also a very nice guy and a pleasure to talk to! Take care. – Rob from Toronto
Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts on the GGG-Lemieux experience as well as next Saturday’s intriguing middleweight title showdown. It was a pleasure meeting you and Ashley last month and I hope to see you both at future fights (maybe even in your neck of the woods – Lemieux will be back).
What say I about your Cotto-Canelo analysis? I agree with much of it, but I envision a different outcome – I see Canelo prevailing, but I also expect to see the 25-year-old Mexican star fight through a lot of adversity and punishment.
I agree that Cotto’s footwork and movement is underrated. I think he’s superior to Canelo in these categories.
I also agree that Cotto’s confidence is soaring with Roach in his corner, and that the hall-of-fame trainer has helped the future hall-of-fame boxer dust off his body attack and fight-finishing sensibilities. I believe Cotto has the power, timing and technique to land accurate body and head shots that hurt his younger foe.
However, I do not believe that Cotto will be able to do so without getting hit in return, which is why I view the fight differently.
I believe that Canelo will start fast and do well in the early rounds, but that Cotto will be able to take some of the steam out of his attack with a strong assault to the younger fighter’s body. I think both fighters start cautiously out of respect for the other’s punching power and accuracy, but my hunch is that Cotto will score first blood due to his sharper technique and experience. I think he’ll hurt Canelo with a left to the body or head and I think he’ll try to close show early if possible. However, I don’t think he’ll be able to follow-up without getting clocked in return, and I believe Canelo’s underrated poise and composure will see him through the early rough spots.
Eventually, Cotto will wear him down and ‘own’ the latter part of the fight. I think Canelo will come on in the middle rounds by nailing a stick-and-moving Cotto with counter punches. I believe Canelo has the precision and power to split Cotto’s guard with jabs, straight rights and uppercuts, and I think these punches will do a lot of damage. (As will Canelo’s body attack.)
I think Cotto will have the opportunity to come on strong in the late rounds because of Canelo’s tendency to fade down the stretch, but I don’t think he’ll be strong enough to get the job done. If Canelo is able to mount a late rounds rally, I think he can stop the older man.
Just got my tickets for November 21, my first big fight and I’m stoked! Still can’t decide who to cheer for as I’m a fan of both guys, but I guess that’s a good thing because I won’t be disappointed with the outcome! I’m not even going to worry about making a prediction I’m just going to enjoy it.
Where’s the spot to hang out the night before? – Keegan
Good question, Keegan. Back in the days of MaxBoxing.com, Steve Kim and I used to set up shop at the sports book inside Mandalay Bay (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights). We’d meet boxing fans from around the country and the crazy folks who frequented the MaxBoxing message boards and we’d drink and smoke cigars while talking boxing all night (sometimes into the morning hours).
These sports-book gatherings at Mandalay Bay really peaked 10 years ago, and the resort/casino hasn’t hosted a truly big event in quite some time, so who knows if that will be the social spot for hardcore heads this time around. (Plus, Kim and I are older and we both do broadcast work, so I don’t know if we can drink and smoke up like we used to without messing up our health and voices.)
But drop by Thursday and Saturday nights just in case. (We’ll be at the Hard Rock on Friday for the Estrella TV/RingTV Live show headlined by Diego De La Hoya.)
Anyway, I feel you regarding Cotto-Canelo. I’m a fan of both fighters and I’ll be happy for the winner. If the fight goes the way I think it will, I’ll be proud of both the winner and the loser.
I think you have the right idea and attitude by not worrying about making a prediction and just enjoying the event and fight. You gotta feel sorry for all the fans out there who are unable to do this. Too many fans are concerned about how a Cotto loss will impact Roc Nation or how a Canelo loss will impact Golden Boy Promotions, or how many pay-per-view buys the live HBO telecast garners, or whether the winner will immediately agree to face GGG, or if the winner stipulates that GGG has to fight him at a catchweight, etc.
All that s__t can wait, in my opinion. We’ve got an even matchup in my opinion, one that’s going to deliver an entertaining and dramatic fight. You’d think more so-called hardcore fans would be looking forward to it.
PREDICTING A COTTO VICTORY
Hope you’re well. Avid reader of the bag and appreciative fan of your work.
Firstly, I, like most, am extremely pumped for November 21. It’s gonna be a huge event and there’s no reason (that I know of) that it shouldn’t produce an enthralling, high level contest between two elites. What a night it promises to be!
I feel like I’m in the minority in favoring Cotto, although I can’t figure out why. To me, Canelo is somewhat overrated. That’s not to say that I don’t think the Guadalajaran ginger is a quality fighter, I do. But his status is just so lofty that, to me, it’s unwarranted. The guy is a beautiful puncher, no doubt, he looks pretty fluid for a guy of his bulk, he has good timing and I can’t remember ever seeing him off balance whilst engaging. He is a star- in the pocket. But does anyone really think that the wiley-old Cotto is gonna stand and trade enough to give Canelo a chance to look good?
Daniel Geale (drained as he was) was like an arthritic old man trying to get at a particularly nimble fly vs Cotto. The Aussie ain’t the fleetest of foot but Mexico’s favorite carrot-top is glacial in comparison. If the Puerto Rican can use lateral movement and turn Canelo (which I believe he will) he will eventually start connecting with that lethal left hook to the head and ample torso of Alvarez.
I’ll reserve the specifics for now but I predict Cotto leaving Canelo’s body sore and sorry en route to a deserved victory. I know you favor the youth and strength of Canelo, but could you give your opinion on how the Great Red Mexican Hope can offset the things I’ve mentioned?
A couple of MMUs:
Michael Katsidis vs Ruslan Provodnikov – Lets say at a catch weight of 138 with both guys in their prime.
Kostya Tzsyu vs Terrence Crawford
Sergio Martinez vs Roy Jones Jr. at MW
Until next time. – Riley, Australia
Thanks for the kind words, Riley.
I don’t think you’re in as small a minority as you think concerning your opinion on who will win Cotto-Canelo. I’ve seen a lot of Cotto boosting on Twitter in recent days, and as you can see with the first email of this Friday mailbag, you’re not the only longtime hardcore fan who favors the Puerto Rican star.
Everyone who favors Cotto to beat Canelo has darn good reason to. He’s the more experienced and more versatile fighter, and he’s the sharper technician. He has better footwork and I think he’s got equal power.
I know that Roach has a good game plan for Cotto and I know that Cotto is ready (physically and mentally) to follow it expertly.
However, the X-factor in this fight – in my humble opinion – is the amount of wear and tear on Cotto’s body. I think the veteran has been able to hide this factor with his recent opposition because they didn’t pose a physical threat (i.e. they lacked the brute strength and punching power to move and hurt Cotto).
I think Canelo’s power will remind Cotto of two things:
1) He’s not a “young” 35 thanks to a long – and sometimes punishing – career.
2) He’s not a middleweight.
But does anyone really think that the wiley-old Cotto is gonna stand and trade enough to give Canelo a chance to look good? I don’t think Cotto is going to purposely stay in the pocket with Canelo, but I also realize that the future hall of famer has to plant his feet in order to get leverage on his shots – and when he does this, he’ll be dangerous, but he’ll also be vulnerable. I think Canelo will clip him during an exchange at some point in the fight.
Daniel Geale (drained as he was) was like an arthritic old man trying to get at a particularly nimble fly vs Cotto. The Aussie ain’t the fleetest of foot but Mexico’s favorite carrot-top is glacial in comparison. If the Puerto Rican can use lateral movement and turn Canelo (which I believe he will) he will eventually start connecting with that lethal left hook to the head and ample torso of Alvarez. Good point about Geale being able to move around a lot better than Canelo, who sometimes seems as though his feet are stuck in cement. However, Canelo is a lot better at keeping his guard up while he punches than Geale is, so I don’t expect him to get nailed as soon or as hard as your countryman was against Cotto. Canelo does tend to drop his left while loading up with it but usually keeps his right hand up and is pretty good at bringing it back into position after firing it, so I don’t think Cotto will have an easy time landing his vaunted hook to the head. Maybe Cotto will use his left on Canelo’s body, but the Mexican star will be able to counter with his right when Cotto does this and Canelo is a pretty good counter puncher.
Also, the thing about using a lot of lateral movement during a fight is that it can sometimes allow your opponent to maneuver you to the ropes, which would not be a good thing for Cotto.
Michael Katsidis vs Ruslan Provodnikov – let’s say at a catch weight of 138 with both guys in their prime. – Provo by decision or late stoppage in a bloody war (what else could it be?)
Kostya Tzsyu vs Terrence Crawford – Tszyu by late TKO in a competitive fight.
Sergio Martinez vs Roy Jones Jr. at MW – Jones by mid-rounds KO (after a few rounds of figuring out Maravilla’s awkward lefty style).
ANDRE WARD & THE P4P
First just to let you know that your mailbag reaches distant parts of the world (aka iron curtain). Avid reader here, and I am blessed that due to time difference I am among the first readers of your mailbag every Monday/Friday.
The reason I am addressing you is Andre Ward. I have 2 issues I would like your opinion on. First is his P4P status. Yes, he did a lot of good things for boxing, but I can compare him with Roy Jones Jr. In my humble opinion, RJJ is much better and accomplished boxer than Ward and far more active at the moment (irony). And they are both fighting the same level of opposition. We actually do not know how much of boxing ability has left in Ward. In light of recent Brand affair, RJJ should be in above Ward.
Second issue is Ward resume. We all know who he fought. Froch, Kessler and Abraham are European fighters who fought mostly on home turf. And we all know how hard is to defeat domestic fighter in Europe. So those fighter lost whenever they went abroad. They are all very decent fighters, but nothing spectacular. In my opinion Abraham and Kessler is on the level of Lemieux (Lem is only 26 and I expect him to accomplish much more in future, his power is real and his skills are improving) Froch is the only bright light on Ward resume, but let be honest he is not Eubank or Benn. If Golovkin makes one marquee victory over Cotto/Canelo/Froch I think their resumes would be comparable. So, how do you value Ward’s resume? That’s it from me for now. All the best to you and your pretty family and take care! – Slaven, Serbia
I think Ward’s got a solid resume, a stronger one than his two potential rivals GGG and Sergey Kovalev have at this point – but not by much. Ward’s elite-level pro accomplishments, so far, can be summed up in two achievements: winning the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament and beating reigning light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson (at 168 pounds – which, to paraphrase your boy Roy Jones, “You musta forgot!”). The Super Six experience included decision victories over Kessler, Abraham and Froch, and earned him the WBA, WBC and RING magazine super middleweight titles (as well as THE RING’s Fighter of the Year award for 2011).
That ain’t bad.
I disagree with your opinion that Abraham and Kessler were on the level of Lemieux. Abe had made 10 defenses of the IBF middleweight belt (that Lemmy held for a couple months) and he blasted a still-dangerous Edison Miranda in four rounds in a super middleweight bout before the end of that reign. Kessler only had one loss in 43 bouts prior to losing to Ward, and that was a competitive decision to Joe Calzaghe. The Danish star was a two-time WBA super middleweight titleholder, who had also unified WBA and WBC belts, prior to facing Ward in November 2011. I agree that Lemmy will be back and will likely accomplish significant things, but he’s yet to do it, and he hasn’t come close to doing as much in boxing as King Arthur and the Viking Warrior had done prior to partaking in the Super Six.
I think you make a good point about Jones being more active than Ward (and basically fighting the same level of opposition as the younger man – although I think Paul Smith is better than the dudes that RRJ has recently knocked around). I think Ward’s current place in THE RING’s pound-for-pound Top 10 (and in the mythical rankings of other boxing publications and sports media) can be questioned and debated.
Personally, I’m just glad that THE RING editorial board (after a lot of vigorous debating) agreed to replace Mayweather with my man Roman Gonzalez. Chocolatito is the only fighter in recent years that I’ve given a damn about in regards to pushing pound-for-pound placement.
Do I think Ward was rated too high in the pound-for-pound rankings when he returned from his hiatus from boxing? Yes. Do I think he’s still rated to high given his inactivity and the current level of his competition? You betcha.
Do I care enough about Ward and pound-for-pound rankings, in general, to make a stink about it? HELL NO!
I also think Guillermo Rigondeaux is rated too high on our pound-for-pound list, but if folks want to mentally masturbate to how skilled the Cuban sourpuss is (and how dominant he could be against other 122 pounders if they had the balls to face him) who am I to stop them?
It’s the same deal with Ward. The members of the Editorial Board and Ratings Panel that pump him up aren’t doing so based on his past accomplishments. They’re doing so because they think Ward is an awesome boxer with the type of talent, intelligence, mental tenacity and style to beat every other type of fighter (even elite ones) that are put in the ring with him.
And they have good reason to believe this. Ward didn’t just beat Abraham, Kessler, Froch and Dawson – he dominated them.
You make a good point about not really knowing if Ward still has the form he exhibited from late 2009 through 2012 (or 2013, if you were impressed with his performance against Edwin Rodriguez – I was). But until Ward struggles against an unheralded opponent or loses to rated fighter, you can expect to see his name mentioned among the sport’s elite boxers.
I’m really curious about your take on USADA. I’ve followed a little of the controversy surrounding their involvement with Mayweather. Seems like the consensus is they have conspired with him to cheat, cover up his PED use? I just cannot wrap my head around why an organization like USADA would prosecute a guy like Lance Armstrong to the point of destroying him and then conspire with a sleaze like Floyd to help him cheat?
Why would they risk their reputation and an annual eight-figure contract with the USOC for boxing, a boxer, a six-figure fee? Is he paying them off? They’re involved with the UFC, what’s up with that?
I read some of the USADA and Hauser back and forth, it doesn’t make sense to me. Cheers! – Tony
It took many years for the many allegations (and legit evidence) of Armstrong’s PED use to finally get USADA to launch the investigation that ultimately led to his fall from grace. It’s going to take many years for the story (and the truth) about Mayweather’s suspected PED use and his relationship with USADA to be fully flushed out.
Seems like the consensus is they have conspired with him to cheat, cover up his PED use? Is that the consensus? If that’s the consensus, who are you talking about? Fans? The Nevada State Athletic Commission? The boxing industry? Media? If everybody believed that (or if there was enough evidence to support that opinion) there would probably be an official investigation of USADA and Mayweather (as there was with Armstrong), right? But that’s not the case, and that’s not what Hauser’s articles claimed. Hauser’s articles – here’s links to part one and part two – pointed out that USADA often allows for Mayweather (and other prominent boxing entities) to dictate the terms of the their drug testing (such as the testing period), doesn’t always cooperate with state commissions, and doesn’t always follow the protocols that have been set up by WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency). The articles (especially part one) also pointed out many documented red flags in Mayweather’s recent drug testing history (since he began using USADA in 2010) that have indeed created a cloud of suspicion (among those whose lips are not firmly attached to Floyd’s ass).
However, there is no damning evidence of failed tests or blatant PED use. And, unlike Armstrong’s case, nobody from The Money Team (or anyone formerly affiliated with Mayweather’s training team) has accused him of PED use.
I just cannot wrap my head around why an organization like USADA would prosecute a guy like Lance Armstrong to the point of destroying him and then conspire with a sleaze like Floyd to help him cheat? Like I said earlier, USADA did not come down on Armstrong until several years-worth (10-15 years) of evidence (that included eye-witness reports/testimonies of his PED use) had piled up to the point where it could not be ignored. USADA is not “conspiring” with Mayweather and we don’t know if Mayweather is or has been “cheating.” But USADA’s track record tells me that they wouldn’t bother investigating Mayweather unless there was a mountain of evidence against him. And nobody’s going to bother investigating USADA until there’s a mountain of evidence against them.
Armstrong’s investigation was preceded by numerous articles and books penned by a group crusading journalists who weren’t going to allow him to get away with his lies. Right now, the only crusading journalist actively looking into Mayweather’s case is Hauser (who aided by a lot of the work that Gabriel Montoya did for MaxBoxing.com). But that could change.