Tuesday, December 06, 2022  |

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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

30
Nov
Photo by Lars Baron / Bongarts

Photo by Lars Baron / Bongarts

THE FURIOUS ONE

Hi Dougie,
Tyson Fury/Wladimir Klitschko was PPV in UK and I was in two minds whether to get it because I fell into the clich├® of assuming he would get blasted out in a brave effort midway through. Luckily I went for it and was pleased to see the upset, albeit in a poor fight for the neutral.

I have seen Fury in quite a lot of fights, often winning through his size alone whilst never seeming that powerful but having some good movement at times. I didn’t think he would match well with the better conditioned, equally large, far more experienced home fighter.



What do you put the victory down to and what does it mean for the fighters:

Fury is continuously improving and Klitschko got old over night?
Fury had a great game plan and Klitschko massively underperformed?
Why didn’t Wladimir throw anything of note until it was too late, was he scared of Fury’s power?
Does this diminish Wladimir’s body of work/HOF status, especially given he was pound for pound rated by some?
Does Klitschko take the rematch to set things right and if so would the outcome be any different?

How would you favour Fury vs Wilder and will it be made in the future?

It’s a pleasure reading your mailbags. Something to look forward to (although I got nervous when Fridays took a while to appear until I realised it was Thanksgiving!). – Tim, London

Sorry about that Tim. I really wanted to publish last Friday’s mailbag on time but the combination of all-day car travel and over-eating very rich (and very good) food put me out of commission Thursday night/Thanksgiving.

But hey, better late than never, right?

And how about that Tyson Fury? He came into his own at just the right time. I was underwhelmed (to say the least) by the outcome of Fury’s gameplan (and Klitschko’s inability to overcome it) but I was impressed by the 27-year-old giant’s in-the-ring and between-rounds focus and relaxation. The biggest night of Fury’s boxing career literally seemed like a walk in the park for the Manchester-born heavyweight. And it was his “walk” (which backed up his talk) that seemed to fluster Wladdy the most in my view. Smart use of lateral movement enabled Bryant Jennings to go the full route with Klitschko in the former champ’s previous fight, and it did a lot more for Fury who mixed in herky-jerky feints and long-range offense (which the American couldn’t offer due his smaller size). I also liked Fury’s head-and-upper body movement.

I just wanted more punching from the challenger (hence the reason I described a lot of what he did in the early rounds as “schucking and jiving”). What he did was enough to make Klitschko second guess himself, but I needed more from both big men (especially the defending champ).

Anyway, you asked me what I “put the victory down to and what does it mean for the fighters.” So let’s get to that:

Fury is continuously improving and Klitschko got old over night? Yes, I agree that Fury is continually improving, as one would expect a professional in his mid-20s to do, but I don’t think Klitschko got “old” overnight. I think Klitschko is getting old. I think he’s slowing down. But I don’t think he was “old” going into Saturday’s fight and I don’t view him as a “faded” or “shopworn” fighter, despite 19 years in the hurt biz. I think Fury simply shut him down with his awkward style, mentality, size and game plan.

Fury had a great game plan and Klitschko massively underperformed? Fury obviously had the right strategy to neutralize much of Klitschko’s strengths. I want to say the Ukrainian underperformed because I wanted to see him work on the inside (as Roy Jones Jr. implored all night during HBO’s broadcast), however, Klitschko has never been a good infighter or body puncher. In fact, he’s got no inside game (one of the many reasons I always go with old-school fighters, even little dogs like Joe Frazier, when fans propose mythical matchups that involve Klitschko). So I can’t really say he “underperformed.” That was just Klitschko being Klitschko.

Why didn’t Wladimir throw anything of note until it was too late, was he scared of Fury’s power? I don’t think he was scared. He’s just a really, really smart man and he wound up overthinking during fight time; thus, he “out-thought” himself. This happens occasionally with intellectual boxers. (Actually, this is something that happens with really smart people in all walks of life. Sometimes they over-think things to the degree that they mentally handcuff themselves.)

Does this diminish Wladimir’s body of work/HOF status, especially given he was pound for pound rated by some? I don’t see how one loss (after going unbeaten for 11 years) can detract that much from a nine-year-plus championship reign, multiple title unifications and 18 defenses. But that’s just me. I can’t speak for fans or fellow media. I’m sure a lot of folks will say Klitschko’s reign was s__t, and that he ain’t s__t and never was s__t. Those people fall into three categories: the ignorant, the cretins and the racists. As for his pound-for-pound status, I personally don’t care much about that. But he will probably drop from most (including THE RING’s Top 10) because he was there more for his longevity and title-defense streak than for his ability/talent.

Does Klitschko take the rematch to set things right and if so would the outcome be any different? I think he will definitely invoke the rematch clause in their contract (it remains to be seen if it will be an immediate rematch). I have no idea if the outcome will be any different, but I’m leaning toward Fury in the return bout.

How would you favour Fury vs Wilder and will it be made in the future? I favor Fury, and I really hope this fight is made. I think it will happen if both can remain titleholders through 2016 – which is a big IF.

BIG GREEN DIAPERS

Hi Doug,

Short & sweet: was I the only one that noticed that Klitschko’s successes during round 12 were mainly the result of Tyson Fury being distracted while trying to pull up his sagging trunks? Fury’s trunks were so baggy they looked like a big soiled diaper. But that diaper-wearing giant sure can box his @ss off. The HW division has officially been reinvigorated! – BK in Palm Harbor, FL

I agree. All hail the Gypsy King! Long may he reign!

I did notice that Fury’s giant trunks were falling apart by Round 12. Thanks a lot for the gross mental image that this line produced in my head: Fury’s trunks were so baggy they looked like a big soiled diaper.

You just gave Fury his next press-conference cosplay idea.

 

DR. CAUTIOUS-HAMMER & TYSON NOT-SO-FURIOUS

Hi Doug!What a terrible effort from the defending champ on Saturday. To my eyes Fury seemed to win by default as Klitschko seemed content to follow him around and not pull the trigger at all. Credit to Fury I suppose for being so awkward. Some fans might say in the era of such large heavyweights they have to fight cautiously but Lennox Lewis and Vitali managed to entertain and leave it in the ring, showing heavyweights can still deliver the action. In fact, both of them being there on fight night, they could’ve jumped in the ring and still probably put on a more entertaining fight then that terrible snooze fest. Are you remotely interested in a rematch? Thanks for reading hope the family is well. – Phil, Liverpool

The family is good. Thanks for the well wishes.

I did not enjoy watching Klitschko-Fury (which you’re probably aware of if you follow me on Twitter or read my deadline post-fight column).

I won’t go so far as to say Fury won by default. Had he taken the fight to Klitschko, or stood right in front of the odds favorite, or backed up, the long-reigning champ would have nailed him with ram-rod jabs and powerful straight rights. Fury circled him, feinted him out of position and tapped him enough to keep him honest.

I just wanted more – from Fury and from Klitschko. I wanted a higher punch output (even if it came mostly from jabs) and I wanted both to take more chances.

I pissed off more than a few British/Fury fans and boxing purists on social media by panning the fight for its lack of action, but I’m not going to apologize for my opinion.

I’m a child of the 1970s and I became a hardcore boxing fan in the late ’80s/early 90s. I’m going to have certain standards for world-class boxers, especially those who are competing for what was once the biggest prize in sports.

Lewis and Vitali were in their share of duds, but they let their hands go (especially their jabs – which was often key in wearing down their opposition). And we shouldn’t forget that when they faced each other (on somewhat short notice) they made for an entertaining heavyweight championship slugfest (I think my post-fight column headline for that one, which I covered at Staples Center in L.A., was “Clash of the Titans”).

That’s a far cry from “Big upset, bad fight”.

Are you remotely interested in a rematch? No. I’m not. I wish we could immediately move on Fury vs. David Haye or Deontay Wilder or Alexander Povetkin. Hell, give me Fury vs. Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne. I’m ready for a new heavyweight title reign.

MIND GAMES

Hi Dougie,

So my (our) prediction was very wrong regarding the Klitschko v Fury fight. I really did not see it playing out the way it subsequently did and hats off to Fury for sticking to his game plan. I know you were tweeting about how boring a fight it was and the lack of action. I actually found it pretty damn captivating but I think that was pure shock on how poor Wlad was and how below average Fury made him look. And I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Maybe the alcohol I had consumed made it more compelling?

Anyhow, couple of questions/thoughts….

I was really disappointed by all the mind games/unfair advantages the Klitschko camp tried to gain. The gloves started it, the ring padding was just outrageous and the hand wraps so amateur. I found it all incredibly classless from the champ’s camp and in the build up I could not understand why they felt the need to do it. What’s your thoughts on it all? Was Wlad genuinely worried & trying everything to rattle Fury? Or is that just his style? I expect more from Klitschko, especially the ring canvass padding – that was awful in my eyes and could have made a huge difference. Fair play to team Fury for standing up to it all and getting things (rightly) their way. Wlad and his bro have been consummate professionals and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, has this been going on for years?

Now Klitschko’s reign has come to an end, there are sure to be questions about his legacy and rightly so. He’s dominated so convincingly for so long, does this loss show up the weakness of the division in the last decade? Or has Wlad aged dramatically? Or is Fury better than we give him credit for?

Whatever the answer, I’m excited for the heavyweight division now as there’s good fights to be made, regardless of whether the fighters are anywhere near the quality of yesteryear. Let’s just hope for a bit more ring action. – CJ, UK

That’s all I want, CJ.

I’m hopeful (and somewhat confident) that Fury can bring more entertainment, action and drama to what was once boxing’s glamor division.

We were indeed wrong about how Klitschko-Fury would play out. I’m happy for the new champ, but I don’t have “Tyson Fury Fever” based on the uneventful/low-contact nature of the “fight.” Maybe I’ll catch it sometime next year.

I actually found it pretty damn captivating but I think that was pure shock on how poor Wlad was and how below average Fury made him look. And I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, either. For nine rounds a heavyweight championship bout looked like the class clown (Fury) playing a game of keep-away with the school nerd (Klitschko) in a sandbox. Round 12 of Klitschko-Fury resembled Round 3 of a city Golden Gloves finals – novice division! That was some sad, sloppy s__t, my man.

Maybe the alcohol I had consumed made it more compelling? There’s no doubt about that. If they do an immediate rematch and the early rounds are as void of action as the first bout, I’m gonna start drinking (probably Red Bull and vodka so I can stay awake).

What’s your thoughts on it all? On what? The mind games? That’s just part of the boxing biz, bro. The Klitschkos are students of the game (actually, they are students of everything). They learned the tricks of the trade inside the ring by employing wily old vets as sparring partners for years (such as Tony Tubbs). They learned about hometown promotional machinations by observing the shenanigans of Klaus-Peter Kohl, the founder of Universum and the promotional company that developed the Ukrainian brothers. They learned about fight-team/fight-week mind games from hall-of-fame trainers, such as Freddie Roach and the late, great Emanuel Steward. Don’t hate the K-bros; hate the game.

Was Wlad genuinely worried & trying everything to rattle Fury? Or is that just his style? I don’t think Klitschko was worried, he was just trying to rattle Fury, the same way the challenger tried to rattle him with controversial/wild pre-fight comments and antics.

Now that Klitschko’s reign has come to an end, there are sure to be questions about his legacy and rightly so. He’s dominated so convincingly for so long, does this loss show up the weakness of the division in the last decade? The heavyweight division is certainly weaker now than it was in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. But that doesn’t mean Klitschko’s long title reign is a mirage or that he only faced “bums.” He faced a variety of styles from heavyweights of various levels – from very poor to very good. Between Saturday’s loss and his previous loss (the stoppage to Lamon Brewster in April 2004), Wladdy beat 22 opponents (11 were unbeaten). Some totally sucked. But some were talented. Many were skilled. Five were Olympians. Alexander Povetkin is an Olympic gold medalist. Chris Byrd and Sultan Ibragimov were silver medalists. Povetkin and Ruslan Chagaev were world amateur champs. I’m not saying Klitschko had a great title run. There were no-hopers (Alex Leapai, Francesco Pianeta). There were very faded former champs (Brewster in the rematch, Hasim Rahman, Jean Marc Mormeck). There were grossly undersized opponents (Byrd, Mormeck, Eddie Chambers). But it says here that some of Klitschko’s challengers were superior to those who challenged Floyd Mayweather Jr. during his fellow 1996 Olympian’s supposedly great welterweight title run. I’ll take Povetkin, David Haye, Ibragimov and Tony Thompson over Carlos Baldomir, Victor Ortiz, Andre Berto and Robert Guerrero. I think the heavyweights I noted were better technicians and smarter boxers than the welterweights I noted.

Or has Wlad aged dramatically? Or is Fury better than we give him credit for? Wladdy has aged, but not dramatically. Fury is a lot better than we give him credit for (but for the record, I’ve always given him props for his boxing ability).

HEAVYWEIGHT DUD

Greetings Doug,

I have to say that I was looking forward to Saturday’s heavyweight title bout. Like many, I thought it would eventually come down to Klitschko landing the big right hand and putting a dramatic ending to it although I also thought there might be some fireworks along the way. I was intrigued to see if Tyson Fury was going to try and back up some of his prefight trash talk with action.

Several things were made apparent. Kiltschko has absolutely no inside game. If he did, then a guy as big and strong as him could have ravaged Fury’s body on the inside with short hooks from both sides. Also apparent was the fact that Fury’s awkwardness played in his favor as Vlad could not time him to deliver the big counter.

There were so many factors going on here. Yeah, as has been written, father time seems to have caught up to Klitschko but even so, his jab and grab style just did not work and he just could not pull the trigger on any meaningful punches. If this had been a Hollywood movie it might have looked like Kiltschko was TRYING to throw the fight. I saw more than one instance where he seemed to hold back a good shot (understand…I am not accusing him of that)… but it looked that way.

Props have to be given to Tyson Fury for coming to fight and lifting the title. He did that, but he did not beat up the champ, he just out hustled him. That’s what is sad about the whole thing. Klitschko just seemed to give the title away. I am sure there will be a rematch, but I don’t know if I really care about seeing it. (Yeah, I’ll watch it.)

I don’t think Fury will hold the title for a long period. What I think we are about to see is a revolving door of heavyweight champs much like the 80s (you remember that) when we saw Witherspoon, Dokes, Weaver, Thomas, Tubbs, Bonecrusher Smith etc. hold the title. Not that we have that many worthy contenders right now but I see the title flip flopping a couple of times.

All that being said, I am glad to see a shake up of the heavyweight division. (Klitschko WAS boring let’s be honest.) Now maybe some interesting fights can be made. Fury vs Wilder could be fun (a total circus but fun). Fury is still unpolished but as has been written before, becoming champ makes you a better fighter. We will see…….

Finally, just a few words on the passing of Bob Foster. I am old enough to have seen Foster fight (heck I just retired last week) and he is certainly one of the greatest fighters at light heavy ever. He came to fight, always gave you your money’s worth and delivered some of the most dramatic one punch KOs ever. The KO of Mike Quarry might have been the most devastating in history. I was sad to hear of Bob’s passing. Seeing fighters of your era pass is kind of like seeing Rock stars of your youth start to go (and I have seen a few). We remember them all with love and respect.

But I digress (and thanks for letting me do so)…. do you have any inside info on what is next for Fury? – David, Nashville

I have not a clue as to what Fury might do next. I’ve read reports that he “fancies” (as our British brethren are fond of saying) a rematch with Klitschko at Wembley next summer.

Thanks for bringing up Foster. He is indeed one of the greatest light heavyweights of all time (right up there with Billy Conn, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore and Michael Spinks).

Foster is before my time, but I developed a fascination for the Albuquerque native during the incubation period of my hardcore fandom (late ’80s), when I had to read every magazine and book on boxing. There were always stories and anecdotes about the brazen light heavyweight KO artist who couldn’t help but challenge the best heavyweights of his era. His stoppage losses to Frazier and Ali were more intriguing to me at the time than his chilling KOs of Quarry and fellow hall of famer Dick Tiger. Foster’s interviews in RING and KO mags during the ’90s were hilarious. He was wonderfully jaded and full of piss and vinegar. Virgil Hill was coming close to eclipsing his record for light heavyweight title defenses, and Foster didn’t like it (or Hill) one bit. He had no problem ripping the jab-master, and often tore up or burned photos of Hill when he made public appearances.

Foster was not Politically Correct but he called it like he saw it. You should read this excellent Q&A that rapper and boxing aficionado R.A. the Rugged Man did with Foster in the early 200s (republished on RingTV.com in 2013). I love it because Foster talks about busting some poor kid’s skull over a comic book in 10th grade and says his favorite fighters include James Toney, Felix Trinidad and Kostya Tszyu. A badass after my own heart.

Regarding Klitschko-Fury, I also had high hopes the fight. I knew Klitschko had the ability to stink out the joint but I figured he wanted to make a statement against the big lad with the big mouth. Maybe he actually tried to pull the trigger with bad intentions but Fury wouldn’t allow it. However, it didn’t look like Klitschko made much effort during the first half of the bout and that was extremely frustrating to watch.

(I couldn’t help pulling up classic heavyweight scraps on YouTube, some of which I shared on Twitter, to remind me what big men who like to fight look like.)

Regarding Fury’s title reign, it could end in the rematch with Klitschko. Or against Haye (if he gives the former beltholder a shot, which he has vowed not to because of Haye jerking him around by pulling out of two fights). Or even against Wilder, as raw and vulnerable as the American seems.

Ask most British fans and they’ll tell you Anthony Joshua will be ready to dethrone Fury in about a year. They might be right. But they might be dead wrong.

I can envision Fury befuddling Klitschko into retirement, psyching out Haye into a repeat of what Baby Bro did to the Hayemaker in 2011, and taking Wilder and AJ into deep water and drowning them. The big man has a lot of ability and a lot confidence, and it’s going to take a special fighter to overcome that combination.

BUTE-DEGALE WAS A TOSS-UP FIGHT

Hi Doug, first time writing to you.

First, what are your thoughts on the Bute-Degale fight?

I would have been o.k. with a 114-114 or a 115-113 for either fighter. But two

117-111 makes me seriously think about two options, I don’t know s””’ about boxing, or the judges were out of it… Yes they were close rounds, but I think the champ was beaten tonight. Bute ran after him the whole fight, followed his coach’s instructions, and brought “no-stamina” Degale in trouble since the 4th round. The defense of Bute was also very impressive. He was catching a lot of Degale shots who clearly had underestimated (we’ve all probably did…) a well-trained Bute. Do you think a rematch could be possible in 2016 in England?

What are your thoughts on the Klitschko-Fury fight? Do you think Wlad could come back or should he retire?

One last thing, if the Ward-Kovalev fight was tomorrow, what would be your thoughts on the way the fight would go. Do you think Kovalev is too big for Ward, or that Ward, being Ward, will outbox Kovalev?

Mythical matchups:

Leo Santa Cruz Vs Margarito

Pacquiao (2009) Vs Meldrick Taylor (before JJC sr)

JJC Sr Vs Provodnikov (I love this monster haha)

Keep up the great work! – Nic, Montreal

Thanks for finally writing into the mailbag column, Nic. Please share your thoughts with us more often.

I didn’t watch DeGale-Bute until I got home from an all-day drive (from the San Mateo area to Inglewood), so I was a little too burned out to score it round but round, but I thought the right man won.

The scorecards were a bit wide for DeGale, but I would have been fine with 116-112 and 115-113 tallies for the defending IBF beltholder. Bute did very well, better than expected, which is why a lot of fans (and not just those from Montreal) may have given him a little extra credit in some of the closer, more competitive rounds.

Bute has nothing to be ashamed of. I think he finally recaptured his form with Saturday’s fight and I believe he has the ability to win another world title. He can beat DeGale if he starts faster in a rematch. And, yes, I can see a return bout taking place in England next year. If it happens, I’ll be looking forward to it.

It was sooooooooooo good to see talented fighters letting their hands go in a world title fight. I’m not a fan of the cautious/overly defensive mentality that has gripped much of the boxing world. Kudos to both DeGale and Bute for showing fans that fighters can box AND be active (and take chances) without being reckless.

What are your thoughts on the Klitschko-Fury fight? I thought it sucked.

Do you think Wlad could come back or should he retire? I do think Klitschko can come back, but I hope he retires.

One last thing, if the Ward-Kovalev fight was tomorrow, what would be your thoughts on the way the fight would go. Do you think Kovalev is too big for Ward, or that Ward, being Ward, will outbox Kovalev? I don’t think Kovalev is too big for Ward. I think Ward has the ability to outbox Kovalev, but I also believe that the Russian titleholder has the ability to outbox the unbeaten American. If the fight were tomorrow, I would expect Kovalev to break Ward down to a late stoppage in a competitive fight.

Your mythical matchups:

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Margarito – I assume this is a pound-for-pound matchup; LSC is good but he’s not that good. LOL. But even if they were the same weight, I’d go with Margz by close decision. Santa Cruz is a better technician and slightly more versatile boxer than Margarito but his bread and butter is to come forward and throw punches and he wasn’t a better (or tougher) volume-punching pressure fighter than the prime version of the TJ Tornado.

Pacquiao (2009) vs. Meldrick Taylor (before JJC Sr.) – I like Pac by late stoppage in a great fight. Taylor’s speed and combos would make it must-see TV but his lack of power and over-sized balls (i.e., willingness to battle it out in the pocket) would eventually cost him against that dynamic and mobile version of Pacquiao.

JJC Sr. vs. Provodnikov – This would be brutal fight that ends with a brutal late-rounds stoppage scored by JC Superstar. Provo is a beast. He can be outboxed but nobody has an easy night with him. However, the prime Chavez had an indestructible chin and was the ultimate heavy handed pressure-fighting technician.

 

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

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