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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

28
Dec

WHAT I LEARNED AFTER A WEIRD YEAR

Hey Doug,

What a weird year. If you would’ve told me that Mayweather-Pacquiao and Cotto-Canelo would take place and boxing would be back on regular TV at the beginning of 2015, I would’ve expected this to be the best year ever. In practice though, it didn’t quite turn out the way we expected.

Some things that I learned in 2015:



1.-It was the year of the “A Side.” From the PBC favoring their “stars,” to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto taking advantage of the system, the “A side” simply got it their way.

2.-Boxing Stars don’t risk as much as other eras’ stars. Boxers these days are in love with the guaranteed paycheck. They are more concerned about the business of boxing than actually fighting. They understand that if they lose, they also lose future big paydays. What they’re missing though is that the glory of winning dramatically or putting on a show not only gives you respect, it also builds a fan base which guess what? Will pay you your big purse by buying tickets, PPVs and merchandise.

3.-The best fights didn’t feature the best fighters. Fights like GGG-Lemieux and Cotto-Canelo didn’t produce the expected fireworks. Even fights that were good that featured lesser known stars (Provo-Lucas, Mares-Leo) weren’t up to what we expected. On the other hand, fights like Francisco Vargas-Takashi Miura showed us what a real high quality fight looks like. If you think about it, these fighters had something to prove, they aren’t guaranteed future dates and seven-figure paychecks. They have to fight and win the fans if they want to be back on cable TV.

4.-The most underrated division might be heavyweight. After watching Luis Ortiz vs Bryant Jennings, which was a very good scrap that featured high quality boxing, I realized that the big boys might start producing some good matchups now that Wladimir Cheatsko is out of the picture. Povetkin, Wilder, Ortiz, Fury, Jennings… There’s some good matchups that can be made. If the heavyweight division gives us good fights next year, boxing might be back to where it needs to be.

5.-I won’t miss Mayweather or Pacquiao. After finally getting that done, I’m seeing that every time those two names are mentioned in any article, radio show, podcast or discussion, I quickly turn away and continue doing what I was doing. I’m done with them and I hope they’re done with the sport.

6.-Canelo isn’t who people think he is. The reason a lot of people (especially in Mexico) are turned off by Canelo’s fights is because they expect him to be this all-out warrior that gives everything in the ring and fights a war every time around. Earth to boxing fans, he’s a methodical counterpuncher. He has underrated defense and is economical in his punch output. There won’t be any Fights of the Year featuring Alvarez anytime soon, and that includes a GGG fight. If you stop expecting Canelo to be Jose Luis Castillo or Erik Morales, maybe, just maybe, you’ll start to appreciate his underrated skills.

Doug, my Fighter of the Year is GGG. Fight of the Year, Vargas-Miura. KO of the Year, Canelo-Kirkland. Upset of the Year, Postol-Matthysse. Event of the Year and Disappointment of the Year, May-Pac. Comeback of the Year, Oscar de la Hoya. Thanks Doug, have a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year! – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Thanks for the holiday wishes, Juan. I can’t argue with any of your Year-End award winners.

And I can’t argue with your overall opinion of 2015, either. It was indeed a weird year. You’d think that with the “mega” events that were made and boxing’s return to network television in the U.S., the sport would be in a very good place, but it seems as fractured and frustrating as ever. Oh well, maybe 2015 was simply a rebuilding and repositioning year, which will set up more competitive and entertaining matchups in 2016. I think we’re off to a good start with the Carl Frampton-Scott Quigg showdown in February, the prospect of GGG vs. Canelo, and, as you noted, the heavyweight division is finally interesting again.

Some comments on “what you learned in 2015:”

1- We haven’t just witnessed “The Year of The A-Side,” Juan, we are in the “Era of the A-Side.” There have always been “A-sides” – stars that leverage their popularity and/or connections to gain significant advantages in negotiations/purse splits/fight stipulations – in boxing. However, there are more boxers who view themselves as “A sides” these days and there are more “advisers,” managers, promoters and network executives willing to bend over for these self-centered control freaks than ever. As sick as I am of Mayweather’s bulls__t and Cotto’s prima donna act, those two are first-ballot hall of famers who have paid their dues and have a proven track record of pulling in big numbers (ratings, PPV and live gate revenue). I don’t like that they put the screws to other boxers, but I get it. What makes me roll my eyes is when young fighters who haven’t paid enough dues and don’t bring in huge numbers pull that A-side s__t, such as Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner and Omar Figueroa (among other spoiled brats, many of whom are part of the PBC).

2- Yep, this isn’t only the “A-Side Era,” it’s the “Mayweather Era” (which was preceded by the “Roy Jones Jr. Era” – both of which featured marvelously talented Pound-for-Pound Kings who enjoyed the spotlight but had little interest in pushing their skill and ability to the limit by finding suitable challenges). RJJ and Money May simply weren’t cut from the same cloth as the elite American boxers of the previous decades, such as Ray Leonard, Pernell Whitaker and Evander Holyfield, men who fought the very best of their eras and respective divisions at the right times. However, Jones and Mayweather were very successful and celebrated, so it’s only natural that the next generation of world-class boxing talent would want to emulate their comparatively cautious approach to the sport. I’m hoping that some of the gutsier young standouts at the top of the sport – such as Tyson Fury and Canelo Alvarez – serve as a better example to the current up-and-comers. We don’t have much of a sport if everybody is playing it safe.

3- You make a very good point. I grew up in an era when the best fighters (Leonard, Duran, Hearns, Hagler) made the best fights. We got some of that in the early 1990s with Holyfield and Bowe at heavyweight, and in the late ’90s and 2000s with all those fearless featherweights (Jones, Barrera, Hamed, Kelley, McKinney, Morales, Marquez, Pacquiao), but in recent years the marquee fighters don’t combine to make memorable fights. Thank goodness for the under-the-radar undercard badasses. The dramatic war that Vargas and Miura waged did not come as a surprise to me (and many other hardcore heads). Their aggressive styles, national/cultural pride and track records pointed to a hell of a fight, but the fact that they were fighting for recognition was also factor. Both junior lightweights were determined to make their names in the U.S. Both wanted to steal the show (mission accomplished). The fact that Vargas and Miura are not established big shots definitely played a part in the effort they gave. That WBC title meant the world to both men. They were willing to spill a lot of blood to keep it or to win it. I don’t know if you saw it a couple a weeks ago, but two featherweight fringe contenders – Andrew Cancio and Rene Alvarado – put on thriller in the co-featured bout of the final Estrella TV/RingTV Live show of 2015. They gave all they had and then some just to earn a top 15 or 20 rating and be within range of one day contending for a world title. I’m going to keep my eye (and do more write-ups) on fighters like Cancio and Alvarado in 2016. They deserve more attention. (If Mayweather and Pacquiao, and to a lesser extent, Canelo and Cotto, put forth half as much effort as Vargas, Miura, Cancio and Alvarado did in their fights, nobody would have had a problem with plunking down their hard-earned cash to watch those big PPV events.)

4- We could have a very interesting heavyweight round robin over the next couple of years if these big men are willing to face each other. Wilder should get by Artur Szpilka next month (although I don’t view that matchup as a total “gimme” for the American beltholder). If he does, I think his WBC mandatory vs. Povetkin will put the spotlight on the glamor division. The Fury-Klitschko rematch and Ortiz vs. any legit top-10 contender will keep the public’s eye on the heavyweights next year. By the end of 2016, Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker will probably be major players.

5- Ditto. And the less said about those two, the better. I’ll talk about them when they’re induced into the hall of fame.

6- I agree that Canelo is “a methodical counter puncher” with an “underrated defense” and “economical” offense. I disagree that he won’t be in any a Fight of Year-type scraps anytime soon. Canelo’s offense isn’t so economical when he’s matched with an aggressive fighter. He lets his hands go against guys who bring it. Josesito Lopez was too small to compete with him. Angulo was too damn slow. Kirkland was too reckless (and probably shopworn). That won’t be the case if and when he faces GGG or David Lemieux or Chris Eubank Jr. or Tureano Johnson. I think Canelo will be involved in more than a few Fight of the Year candidates between 2016 and 2020.

WRONG WINNER

Hello Doug:

Did you watch Ms. Universe Pageant last earlier this week? Embarrassing or not Host Steve Harvey made this year’s pageant memorable in some ways. I am just curious, did we have same scenario like this in boxing before (esp. in a high profile fight?). Two fighters fought til the end. Michael Buffer (or another announcer) proclaimed the winner. This fighter and his corner started to celebrate, his fans cheered and their country’s flag was waived also. Suddenly Buffer turned on the microphone once again and said “Hey folks we have a mistake the winner is the other guy.” The next morning it was the headline of the news, not the fight.

MM: Being Filipino I love these 2 fighters but just curious. Pacquiao vs Donaire in Flyweight, Super Bantamweight and Featherweight.

Happy Holidays to you and your family. – Paul (Philippines)

Happy Holidays to you too, Paul.

I did not watch the Miss Universe Pageant. (And if I did, I would not admit it in this column.)

The wacky, tacky world of professional boxing has pulled a “Harvey” a couple times in recent memory. Sometimes the official scores of the judges are miscounted in a close distance fight. One fighter is announced the winner and then officials notice the mistake, do a recount, and then realize the other fighter actually won the bout. A “correction” announcement is then made. Sometimes this happens after the fighters have left the ring (and after many of the fans have left the arena).

Off the top of my head, I can think of two occasions when this has happened. It happened in the first bout between Mark Johnson and Rafael Marquez in 2001. “Too Sharp” was announced the winner via close unanimous decision and then the result was later changed to a split decision victory for Marquez (which was made possible by two point deductions taken from Johnson in a bogus call by a seemingly biased ref). And it happened in the rematch between Jose Luis Castillo and Stevie Johnston, in 2000. “Little But Bad” appeared to earn a razor-thin majority decision in front of a hometown crown in Denver, Colorado, but when the scorecard of Ken Morita was re-tallied the official verdict was changed to a majority draw, and Castillo retained the WBC lightweight title that he had won from the underrated American southpaw three months earlier.

Your mythical matchups:

Donaire stops Pacquiao in a shootout at flyweight.

Pacquiao outhustles Donaire to a hard-fought decision at super bantamweight, and beats down the Filipino Flash to a late stoppage at featherweight.

DOES AMERICA HAVE PPV PLAYERS IN 2016?

What’s up Dougie Friznesh?

So I’m sitting here, thinking about how potentially great a year 2016 could be, before realizing that I can’t think of any PPV caliber fights to look forward to. Not only that, I can’t think of any PPV fights that involve American fighters, particularly “A Side” American fighters…. my hometown Hayward favorite Andre Ward being the exception, as far as potential PPV’s that haven’t been made yet. But, according to what I’ve read, him fighting Sergey Kovalev seems like a late, late 2016 ETA. Given the HBO contractual stipulations that are mandating a Kovalev vs Ward fight, do you think that fight happens before or after Kovalev vs Stevenson, especially with Stevenson giving himself throat gaggers as of late.

As I’ve said before about other fighters, and people in general for that matter, it sounds like Adonis might need some d__khead rehab in the near future, because he’s getting pretty high off sucking his own c__k. It might serve him well to knock himself out d__k slapping himself, as not to overlook the fact that the Krusher has power. However, I disagree with the Blue Chip comparison to GGG. But that said, it seems like UK, in addition to other European nations, is stealing some of the boxing thunder. With the exception of “Son Of I Wonder When the F__k he’s Gonna Fight Again” Ward – who I’m a ride or die fan of mind you – and his fellow southpaw switcher Terence Crawford, what American fighters are even on the hypothetical calendar for 2016 as far as PPV goes?

I don’t discriminate….good fights are good fights…but we’ve been talking up Keith Thurman for a while now as he has been showing glimmers of greatness and overhype, Danny Garcia’s been fairly stagnant, Robert Guerrero providing excitement but minimal upside for him, Deontay Wilder the “Wobbly Sausage” certainly isn’t the guy, and Errol Spence is still in the early stages of being branded. One could argue that “The Problem” is the most well-known current US fighter. And he needs some Charlie Sheen type of d__khead rehab. We need to find a way to redirect some of America’s athletic talent towards our favorite sport. If Floyd did nothing right, he at least exemplified the glamour and glitz associated with being a prize fighter, which I hope can inspire the under-six-foot athletes out there to divert their attention toward something more genetically, pragmatically more attainable than being the next Cam Newton or Steph Curry. – Adam from Hayward

If Adrien Broner (with or without d__khead rehab) or Tim Bradley get the call to play the “B-side” to Manny Pac’s supposed Swan Song, they will be a part of one the PPV events of 2016. Beyond that, and Ward-Kovalev, I don’t see any potential pay-per-view main events that feature American fighters (unless Wilder remains undefeated and works out a deal to face the winner of the Fury-Klitschko rematch by the end of the year).

However, I think that’s a good thing. It helps the U.S. boxing scene if there are more quality fights between top American talent – such as Thurman vs. Shawn Porter or one of the Charlos vs. Julian Williams – or American standouts vs. respected foreign fighters – such as Crawford vs. Viktor Postol or Provo – on network TV, basic cable or regular HBO and Showtime.

We need to find a way to redirect some of America’s athletic talent towards our favorite sport. I think we’ve got a lot of boxing talent in the U.S. We just need these guys to fight each other in order to draw attention to them and advance the winners (and in some cases the losers, too) to the next level. At welterweight, Thurman needs to fight Porter and the winner needs to fight Garcia, and the winner of that fight needs to fight Spence, and so on. Same deal at junior middleweight with the Charlo Twins, J-Rock and Demetrious Andrade. And soon, a pack of West Coast-based featherweights – Joseph Diaz Jr., Tino Avila, Jesse Magdaleno, Julian Ramirez and Abraham Lopez – will need to stage a little round robin to see who’s best.

Regarding Stevenson-Kovalev, that showdown is less likely to happen than Krusher vs. Ward.

GOLOVKIN-ALVAREZ, GONZALEZ-ESTRADA II

Merry Christmas to you and yours Dougie,

It appears that GGG and Canelo will likely have showcase bouts prior to hopefully going toe to toe in September 2016. I know a lot of fans are saying Alvarez won’t take this fight, but I disagree. I think he will, because I think he knows it will do more damage to his reputation if he didn’t take fight at all, than if he took it and got his butt kicked. I don’t think a loss in a fight he’d be the underdog would do much damage to his drawing power. He’s not Mayweather, he’s not protecting an ‘0’ and has an entire gimmick sold around being TBE. His mentor De La Hoya, fought plenty of tough fighters including 6 guys, who at one time or another was the RING’s P4P number 1 (Chavez Snr, Whitakker, Mosley, Hopkins, Mayweather, Pacquiao). He took a few L’s but he was always a big draw.

So who do you think, they should, and will face before they meet?

For Golovkin, I think he should head back to MSG, and face IBF mandatory Tureano Johnson. I know haters will call Johnson ‘a bum’ or other such nonsense, but as the IBF proved recently with Tyson Fury, they would rather follow their own rules than have their name attached to a money generating event like Fury-Wlad II or Canelo v GGG. With GGG wanting to collect all the straps at 160, I think it would be wise to get Johnson out of the way now.

Hopefully HBO continue with its double act and add Roman Gonzalez to the card. Gonzalez can add Amnat Ruenroeng’s IBF flyweight title to his collection. I don’t think the Thai’s style is TV friendly at all, and while I’d strongly favour Gonzalez to win, I think Ruenoreng could make him look bad, or even sour the taste by getting himself DQ’d. As an alternative, I’d suggest Puerto Rican McWilliams Arroyo. As I understand it New York has a large Puerto Rican population, and Arroyo could help shift a few tickets too.

As for Canelo, his choice of opponent is a little more tricky. I think he will find opponents a lot more easy to come by than Golovkin. At the same time, being Canelo is unproven against full Middleweights, I think there are a few more potential banana skins for him. While he’d be fancied to beat the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, David Lemieux & Chris Eubank Jr, I don’t think they are by any means sure things. Perhaps a solid gatekeeper like Gabriel Rosado or fringe contender like Jorge Sebastian Heliand (who is ranked 1st with the WBC). I’d also feel quite confident he’d beat Andy Lee.

On the undercard, I think HBO should also look to build a worthy opponent for Gonzalez to collide with in a double header in September, namely Juan Francisco Estrada. I think China’s Zou Shiming would be a good option for Estrada, given he’s known to HBO audiences from his appearances on some of Manny Pacquiao’s undercards. I’d also assume Estrada would take him apart too.

All this leading to a great card doubleheader in September.

Your thoughts? – Sam, Blackburn, Lancashire.

I don’t think Estrada needs to be built up as an opponent for Gonzalez. He’s already proven himself to hardcore fans with his competitive loss to Chocolatito, his dual title win over Brian Viloria and his 11th-round stoppage of Giovanni Segura. Casual boxing fans who have never seen or heard of “El Gallo” or Chocolatito won’t forget either flyweight after watching them square off in a rematch. Nobody needs to watch Estrada kill Shiming.

I agree with your opinion of Canelo. I think he takes after De La Hoya in that he isn’t afraid to face the most difficult and dangerous fighters of his weight classes/era, and in his ability to retain his popularity after a loss.

I also believe that Canelo and Golovkin will fight in September of 2016, and I think Johnson is a solid choice of “interim” opponent for GGG. I don’t think Johnson will be an “easy” defense for the WBA/IBF titleholder.

My guess is that Canelo will either take on Rosado or Heiland (the WBC’s No. 1 contender) in May. It’s too soon to talk about showdown with Saunders (who just won his WBO belt), Lemieux (who needs a comeback bout or two) and Eubank Jr. (who still needs to establish his name outside of the UK). I agree that all three middleweight standouts would be dangerous fights for Canelo. (I don’t think Lee would be a walk in the park for the 25-year-old Mexican star, either.)

Regarding Gonzalez-Ruenroeng, I’m also interested in this potential matchup even though I’m not a fan of the Thai boxer’s style. Why? Because I’m a proponent of title unifications. I want to see if GGG can gather all the straps at 160 pounds and I want to see if Chocolatito can do the same at flyweight.

 

FIGHTS THAT HOPEFULLY HAPPEN

Hey Doug….

I appreciate your response and your optimism!!! You have dispelled some of my fears regarding the GGG vs Canelo fight!! As a boxing fan you learn not to hold your breath for big fights to get made at certain times. I believe that timing is crucial as to when fights get made. Two examples for me are GGG and Ortiz…they aren’t as young as some of the other up and comers so I hope they get the big fights before Father Time starts making his presence noticeably known! What are your thoughts regarding timing of fights?

I saw Lee vs Saunders and I fell asleep after the 7th! I had been out late! Lol. The fight did lack excitement I thought. What do you think of a rematch? Would Saunders be willing to take on GGG for his next fight? I believe Lee said he would if he won. I wouldn’t mind seeing GGG vs Johnson or against Quillin if he can’t get the unification bouts! Who would you like to see him fight next?

Regarding Ortiz, I think the heavyweight division is getting a bit more exciting than it’s been in quite some time. I think this division more than any other should make fights the fans wanna see sooner than later. What would you advise in order to help the interest keep growing in this division as far as matchmaking? As of now from what you saw on Saturday how much of a chance would you give him against Wilder? I would like to see him against Stiverne but I haven’t heard anything about him for a while. What’s going on with Stiverne?

One more question I would hope you could answer please. What ever happened with Lara calling out GGG? Was that fight ever seriously considered? I have heard many contradicting stories about it. Personally I would still like to see that matchup! Would you? Who do you think would win?! I would go with GGG but I would like to see how well he could cut off the ring. A big thing Canelo was not able to do! Lara is very skillful but he doesn’t pull the trigger enough! You think he should leave Ronnie Shields for a trainer that would make him a bit more offensive minded? I think Ronnie Shields is a great trainer but Lara even in his last fight didn’t throw enough or sit down on his punches when he had the chance! What advice would you give Lara?

My bad Doug for the long post!!! Hope somewhere on your Xmas list you asked Santa for some of these big fights to happen soon!! I know I got a lot of them on my list! Lol. As always thanks for taking the time and dropping mad knowledge! You help make my work week bearable!! Lol. Peace and joy to you and your family! – D

Thanks for the kind words and holiday wishes, D. You sound like a very excitable young boxing fan. (I assume you’re young given the amount of “LOLs” and exclamation points in this email. And that’s OK. This sport needs all of the youth and enthusiasm it can get.)

What are your thoughts regarding timing of fights? Timing is everything in boxing. GGG and Luis Ortiz need land their breakthrough/major-event fight next year in order to have any hope of crossing over to the casual fan while still in their athletic primes.

What do you think of a rematch? Between Saunders and Lee? Pass.

Would Saunders be willing to take on GGG for his next fight? No.

What would you advise in order to help the interest keep growing in this division as far as matchmaking? I think the heavyweight standouts need to work toward re-unifying the major titles. Doing so would provide a lot of interesting matchups and a lot of anticipation among fans. Wilder needs to face his WBC mandatory (Povetkin) and the winner of that bout needs to taken on the winner of the Glazkov-Martin bout for the vacant IBF title. Ortiz, the WBA “interim” beltholder, needs to get a crack at the winner of the Ruslan Chagaev-Lucas Browne fight for the WBA’s “regular” title, and the winner of that fight should get a shot at the winner of the Fury-Klitschko rematch. The winner of that fight should unify their belts with WBC and IBF titles held by whoever emerges from the showdown between the Wilder-Povetkin and Glazkov-Martin winners. Whew!

As of now from what you saw on Saturday how much of a chance would you give him against Wilder? I give Ortiz a very good shot at beating Wilder. In fact, I’d probably favor him 60-40 over the American.

I wouldn’t mind seeing GGG vs Johnson or against Quillin if he can’t get the unification bouts! Who would you like to see him fight next? I’d go with Johnson over Quillin, who needs to win a comeback fight or two against a quality opposition in order to rebound from his first-round loss to Danny Jacobs.

What ever happened with Lara calling out GGG? Nothing.

Was that fight ever seriously considered? No.

I have heard many contradicting stories about it. Personally I would still like to see that matchup! Would you? No.

Who do you think would win?! GGG, and I don’t think it would be close or competitive. Lara is a very good amateur-style boxer but he had all kinds of trouble with the very straight forward (and plodding) pressure of a shopworn Alfredo Angulo. He was competitive with Canelo, and arguably could have held the redhead to a draw or won that bout 115-113, but he did not have the confidence to take the fight to the Mexican star or the power/physical strength to threaten or hurt him. Canelo, a flat-footed counterpuncher, was able to repeatedly get to Lara’s body (as was Angulo). I shudder to think what GGG would do to Lara’s narrow ass.

What advice would you give Lara? Stick with Ronnie, stay the f__k away from GGG. You’ll live a longer, healthier life.

 

 

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

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