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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

04
Jan

PAC-BRADLEY 3, PBC UNDERACHIEVERS

Happy New Year Dougie!

I hope you have had some great family time over the last week or so mate. I didn’t get a chance to write to you before 2015 was up and I wanted to thank you for the passion and really interesting insights that you offer up via your mailbag. It’s so rare to see someone who writes pretty much exactly what they think (that’s certainly how it comes across) while not getting out of line. Bravo young man!

Down to it, I wasn’t terribly surprised by Manny Pacquiao’s pick of Tim Bradley for his last fight. I believe Pacquiao thinks it will be a fairly easy night at the office given his history with Bradley. On reflection though, I think the revitalised and in my opinion improved version of Bradley could end up giving Pacquiao a big surprise by taking the win on points. Think about it, Pacquiao is coming back from a major injury in addition to the fact that in the last two years since facing Bradley, he has become a much slower and less powerful version of himself. This plays right into Bradley’s hands. Bradley boxed beautifully against Rios and most importantly, he showed that he could keep his brain in check, while still being aggressive at the right moments. I think 3rd time round, Bradley’s improvements and Pacquiao’s decline combined, equals a win for Bradley.



Lastly, if I was Amir Khan, Danny Garcia or Keith Thurman, I’d be arranging a sit down with Al Haymon to ask one question and one question only…. “WTF is going on with my career big guy?” Ok maybe the pay checks are good but where are the title shots and the big name fights these guys deserve? All three are high calibre world class welterweights yet none of them have really had a chance to do anything against another champion in their weight class in what, two years? OK maybe I can give Al a pass on Garcia as he’s new to the welterweight ranks but come on! Any ideas what’s going on over there at PBC mate? Peace Dougie. Here’s to a great 2016 my friend! – Craig Brewer, Singapore

Thanks for the kind words, Craig. I did have some quality time with the family during the holiday break. Now I’m ready for the kids to go back to school and wifey to go back to work so I can have the house to myself again! (The kids don’t return to school until next Monday, so pray for me.)

I think this will be a good year for boxing. If the PBC can get it together with its “premier” fighters, such as Thurman, Garcia and Khan, I think the sport will have a very good year.

I have no idea what’s going on with the PBC, but I do know they’re committed through 2016, and if it’s true that the Thurman-Shawn Porter showdown has been made for March 5 (in Las Vegas and televised on primetime CBS) I think the organization is off to a good start this year (I’m not gonna pay too much attention to the Garcia-Robert Guerrero bout on Jan. 23).

IF Thurman-Porter is finally made (the boxing media and hardcore fans have been jerking off the prospect of the fight for last four months) and IF the winner faces Khan (and the winner of that fight takes on Errol Spence Jr.), I think the PBC will be well on its way to delivering on its initial promise. Those are a lot of “ifs,” but that’s what needs to happen in each division that’s home to several high-profile Haymon clients.

I’ve also heard that the PBC will make more of a push in the UK, which is a huge market for boxing, as I’m sure you’re aware of (the first big British fight of 2016, Carl Frampton vs. Scott Quigg, includes a PBC fighter, Frampton). That’s a good sign if the organization carries through with that intention.

The $432-million question is this: If Haymon doesn’t plan to make significant bouts between its major players – Thurman, Garcia, Khan, Spence, Erislandy Lara, the Charlo twins, Julian Williams, Austin Trout, etc. – or match his stars (such as Deontay Wilder, Daniel Jacobs and Leo Santa Cruz) with the stars of other promotional companies, will his clients demand that he makes these fights that fans want to see?

I agree with your take on Bradley-Pacquiao III. I think Pacquiao’s reps (Koncz, Arum, Roach) think the Filipino legend has Timmy’s number; and I think Bradley has a great shot of finally earning a legit decision victory this time.

Bottom line: I think Bradley will be hungrier and more focused. I don’t believe it’s possible for Pacquiao to truly get “up” for a prize fight – no matter what the stakes or significance – at this stage of his life.

 

THE GOLDEN BOSS?

Hey Doug,

Happy New Year and all the best to you and yours! With all the talk of The Ring being owned by Oscar and the bias that this might give to The Ring can you tell us what the situation is between Oscar and the editors of the magazine? Do you ever feel pressure to say what they want to hear, to promote their fighters etc.? Inquiring minds want to know… – Stephen, Montreal

Since I joined The Ring/RingTV.com staff in late November of 2008, I have not felt any pressure to say or write what I think my “bosses” at Golden Boy Promotions (which bought the boxing publication and its brand in 2006) want to hear or have published. I’m not saying that the company, at various times, didn’t try to lean on The Ring’s editorial staff to push their agenda.

When former CEO Richard Schaefer was at the height of his power (and hubris) he fired the magazine’s staff (including longtime editor Nigel Collins). Schaefer never commented publicly about why he did it, and I think Collins signed some kind of gag order/legal agreement upon his exit that prohibits him from talking about the reason, but you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to put two and two together and figure it out. Shoot, LARRY Holmes can tell you in his own inimitable style that “Collins’ lips were not attached to Schaefer’s ass and Richie didn’t like that.” Obviously, Collins wasn’t “playing ball,” so Schaefer took it and went home.

From late 2011 until he left Golden Boy, Schaefer was all about Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Al Haymon-managed fighters (and to his credit, he did a good job of promoting that considerable talent). However, at no time did I ever back off from my opinions of Mayweather, nor was I ever afraid to criticize Haymon’s clients who fought under the Golden Boy banner. I know you know this, Stephen. A lot of folks call me a Mayweather/Haymon hater, and I don’t shy away from that label.

Did I know that it pissed off Schaefer and other GBP executives (who are no longer with the company)? Yep. Did I give a f__k? Nope. Did I enjoying giving Mayweather s__t a little more than I would have had he been associated with a different promoter? Mmmmmmmmaybe.

Schaefer did some shady things (that you’re probably aware of), such as hire retired Nevada judge Chuck Giampa to be the magazine’s “Ratings Chairman”, which was a not-so-subtle way of hijacking The Ring rankings (especially the pound-for-pound Top 10) from the Editorial Board. Fans gave us s__t, and rightfully so, for having Adrien Broner ranked as high as No. 5 in the mythical rankings. However, Michael Rosenthal, who replaced Collins (and has done an excellent job putting the mag out with limited resources), and I publicly disagreed with that placement (and other undue rankings of GBP/Haymon-advised boxers). When Oscar De La Hoya resumed control of his company in late 2014/early 2015, the first thing Rosenthal pushed for was for the rankings to be decided once against by the Editorial Board (with the input of the Ratings Advisory Panel).

So far, De La Hoya has been accessible while keeping his nose out of our editorial decisions. We don’t have to deal with the blatant agenda pushing that we got from Schaefer but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t company decisions that impact the editorial side of things. I can sum this up with one name: Ronda Rousey. I understand why they wanted her interviewed and on the cover, and I honestly did not have a problem with it (or her), but it wasn’t my idea (or Michael’s). This website/publication isn’t run by Golden Boy Promotions, but it is owned by the company, which I do side work for (TV/live stream commentary of GBP cards) so there’s always going to be gray areas and line crossing no matter how neutral/objective/balanced I try to be. I’m going to have more access to Golden Boy fighters and I’m going to be more familiar with them.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to treat them differently (or better) than other fighters. If Frankie Gomez is f__king up, I’ll say so (and I’ll say it during the broadcast of one his fights, along with Steve Kim, if he failed to make weight or did some other stupid thing prior to that bout) and I’ll write about it. I’m not going to pretend to be high on any Golden Boy talent that doesn’t deserve my praise or attention. I’m not going to ride with Golden Boy fighters in fights that I think they will lose (as much as I like David Lemieux, I wasn’t going to pick him to beat Gennady Golovkin, and I’m not going to ride with Canelo when he faces GGG).

If you guys ever feel that I’m cheerleading for Golden Boy, I’m confident that you will let me know. You might have a point. (You’d BETTER have a point, or I’ll rip you to shreds in this column and in the comment section of this site – LOL!) I’ll be listening and answering. I’ve always been an interactive journalist when it comes to fan/reader feedback.

 

CALLING MAYWEATHER’S IGNORANCE

Good job calling Floyd on his bulls__t, but mostly because of the deft way you state facts where they are relevant (i.e. “lets focus on active fighters who put on good fights” – ouch). It’s funny but it’s accurate. Mayweather needed to be rebutted. – Gabriel

Hey, that’s what I’m here for. I wasn’t the only boxing writer who called “bulls__t” on Mayweather’s FightHype.com diatribe on racism, was I? Was I?

 

THE VACANT RING LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE

Hey Dougington (hope you don’t mind the nickname) quick question. If Sergey Kovalev beats Jean Pascal again in impressive fashion as most expect him to, will he become The Ring’s champ of the division?

According to how The Ring’s ratings are compiled, Kovalev (#1) can become champion by beating (#2) Adonis Stevenson, or by beating (#3) Bernard Hopkins if the editorial board deems him worthy.

But Kovalev has already beaten Hopkins and Kovalev-Stevenson won’t be made anytime soon. Will Kovalev have to wait till someone else is moved to #3 and beat him, or hope Stevenson is dropped from #2 and best whoever replaces him?

I think he’s the legit champ in the division and deserves the title but it would suck if he doesn’t get to fight for it while he’s still a prime wrecking machine.

Would the panel consider a rematch and a win over B-hop as worthy at this point?

You’re my favorite writer and kind of a hero of mine. Keep up the radtastic work. – Steve from San Jose

Thanks for the praise, the new nickname and the added vocabulary, Steve. I’m going to use the word “radtastic” in public sometime today.

The answer to your first question is “no.” The recently vacated RING lightweight title will not be up for grabs in the Kovalev-Pascal rematch. Kovalev is currently THE RING’s No. 1-rated light heavyweight. Pascal is the magazine’s No. 4-rated 175 pounder.

But before you get too caught up in an endless spiral of “What-If” scenarios (a common mental pitfall of hardcore boxing fans), let’s wait and see what happens after Kovalev-Pascal takes place on Jan. 30.

Since late November, Kovalev and his promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events, have both been very vocal about wanting stage the long-awaited 175-pound unification bout with Stevenson this year. The WBC titleholder (and former RING champ) has been equally vocal about wanting to do the fight in 2016.

I know boxing politics and network contracts are in the way of this dream bout happening but let’s give the players involved (Kovalev, his manager Egis Klimas, Duva, Stevenson, his promoter Yvon Michel, and his adviser Al Haymon) a chance to make something happen by the spring. They can’t negotiate in earnest until Kovalev takes care of business against Pascal in their rematch.

Would the panel consider a rematch and a win over B-hop as worthy at this point? I don’t think so, but I can’t speak for them. Some members of the Ring Ratings Panel have Twitter accounts and they sometimes answer questions from fight fans like yourself. If you’re on Twitter, reach out to Anson Wainwright (@AnsonWainwright), Martin Mulcahey (@MartinMulcahey), Tom Gray (@Tom_Gray_Boxing) and Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) and feel ’em out.

Come to think of it, Hopkins hasn’t fought in more than a year and he doesn’t have a fight scheduled, so the more appropriate question for the Panelists is whether it’s time for the living legend to be dropped from the 175-pound rankings due to inactivity.

 

IKE IBEABUCHI

Hey Dougie,

I hope you enjoyed the holidays with your family.

What are your thoughts on a potential comeback from Ike Ibeabuchi? I never saw him fight when he was active, but I heard his name. I wondered where he disappeared to (jail) and what happened to his career. Do you have any stories about him personally? It sounds like he may have had a few screws loose.

Thanks for the great work. As I recap the year, reading your mailbag is definitely a highlight. – Jalaal, Minneapolis

Thanks Jalaal.

Ibeabuchi was a nut cake. He has serious issues when it came to interacting with his fellow human beings (more specifically with women, and more specifically prostitutes). You can Google his name to read more about it.

I remember watching him fight in the late ’90s and thinking that he had the tools to beat the top two heavyweights at the time – Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield. Ibeabuchi had the stamina, workrate, chin, physical strength, and overall durability to take the prime version of David Tua’s best shots for 12 rounds and outhustle the Samoan badass. He was also technically sound and patient enough and to walk down and corner the slickest heavyweight at the time, Chris Byrd, and stop the crafty southpaw. The Nigerian wasn’t pretty but he obviously learned some of the finer points of the sport from former welterweight champ Curtis Cokes, who trained him for awhile in Texas.

Now, I could be totally wrong about Ibeabuchi’s potential in early ’99 (when he beat Byrd). If he got a shot at Lewis, he could have been outboxed by the bigger and better boxer. Had he got a shot at Holyfield, he could have been outworked or just plain outgutted by the purest warrior the glamor division had in the ’90s. But I thought he was too big, and too busy for Holyfield, and I thought he had the power and technique to take out Lewis.

We’ll never know.

And after 17 years of inactivity in jails and mental institutions, I think it’s WAY too late for him to make a comeback.

 

SAP

Dear Doug,When HBO broadcasts boxing matches, they always include SAP audio in Spanish. The same is true of most sports broadcasting. However, now that HBO Latino has its own boxing series, it doesn’t have SAP English audio, and neither do the Spanish-language channels that carry boxing. Wouldn’t it make sense for these broadcasters to give us English-speakers a chance to watch their boxing shows? I’ve been an HBO subscriber for more than 20 years and I really feel cheated. – Leslie Gerber, Woodstock, NY

Having SAP English audio for Spanish-language programs on HBO Latino makes sense to me. The next time I’m around HBO executives, I’ll have ask them why this isn’t done (especially with the boxing programming now that HBO Latino often shows fights that are not shown on regular HBO’s Championship Boxing or Boxing After Dark series).

It’s probably a small consolation to you, but the undercards of the Golden Boy Promotions shows that are televised on HBO Latino will be streamed live on RingTV.com/RingTVLive.com and the Ring TV Live Roku channel.

ALL THE BEST WISHES

Hello Doug,

It’s been a while since I wrote you an email. So it’s time to see so what your not so humble opinion is on certain subjects. But first let me wish you a happy and healthy2016 for you and your loved ones.

Now let me start with a couple of self-made awards for the last year.

The dumbass of the year 2015: Tyson Fury for ranting on everything from his biblical point of view on to Lennox Lewis. Do you think he will apologize to Lewis again like he did after the Klitschko win?

The “Oh please get out and don’t make me watch this” award goes to Roy Jones with Razor Ruddock for a good runner up (that was one devastating KO). I love Roy Jones as a boxer and from what I can see he looks like a good guy as well. But I have been scared for him ever since his loss to Lebedev. Do you think he watches his losses afterwards? Maybe he should.

The third and last award: “Stop ducking Povetkin and be a real champ” award goes to ÔǪ.. Ah you know who!

Another thing about 2016 is Sergey Kovalev. The new year could make him a great one in the books. I am pretty sure he would beat Andre Ward. Using his power from the middle of the ring and trap him on occasion like he did with Hopkins on occasion would lead to an eight round knockout. With Adonis Stevenson he should be more careful because of the one-punch power that Superman has. But if Kovalev keeps his punches straight and his defence in check and then work of the one-two he should lock Adonis in twisting and turning until there is a mistake to capitalize on.

Anyway, what’s your take on 2016 for Kovalev?

A final mythical matchup to leave you for now: Tex Cobb vs Chuck Wepner

Best regards. – Bart Plaatje, Groningen, The Netherlands

Cobb by decision or late stoppage (due to cuts – what else!?)

Anyway, what’s your take on 2016 for Kovalev? I admire his ambition. I love that he wants to fight three times and only against the best possible opposition. When Jean Pascal is the “weak link” of your schedule, you know you’ve set the bar high for yourself. But I don’t want to get to overly excited. Krusher’s got to beat Pascal, and then a lot of backroom politics have to take place for the Stevenson fight to come off. I’m fascinated by the potential Ward matchup, but the former super middleweight champ still hasn’t established himself as a legit light heavyweight. The TKO of Chad Dawson in 2012 doesn’t count because Dawson fought Ward at 168 pounds. And can’t read too much into his stoppage of Paul Smith because the British opponent is a second-tier contender and it didn’t look as though he bothered to train for the fight. I’m hoping Ward’s March 26 opponent is a top-10 rated light heavyweight so we can see if his prime super middleweight form carries up to 175 pounds and gauge if he’s a real threat to Kovalev.

I like your year-end awards. I get tired of the usual categories (Fighter of the Year, Fight of the Year, KO of the Year, Comeback of the Year, Round of the Year – who cares!?!). I’m going to predict the co-winners of Dumbass of the Year for 2016: Fury returns and is joined by Mayweather. The dim-witted duo will start a polarizing podcast this year. Floyd tackles issues of race, Fury sounds off on religion. The salt-and-pepper twins of intolerance will find a way to offend everyone who tunes in (and if you waste your time listening to those two you deserve to be insulted).

The “Oh please get out and don’t make me watch this” award will go to James Toney (who is scheduled to fight in Ottawa this month – come on Canada! You should have better safety standards than us). In fact, this not-so-prestigious award should probably be named after ole Lights Out.

It’s just a hunch (probably wishful thinking) but I think Wilder will face his WBC mandatory challenger this year, so he won’t repeat as the “Stop ducking Povetkin and be a real champ” award winner. I’m think the 2016 version of this award will go to Anthony Joshua. I’m not trying to discredit the budding British superstar, because I think he’s good enough to be considered a contender after only 15 fights, but I think he’s rated too high by the WBC, which has him at No. 2 (right behind Povetkin). I think A.J. will be ready to take on most of the top 10 by the end of the year, but the Russian veteran isn’t one of them.

FAVORITE FIGHTERS WHO NEVER WON A TITLE

Say Doug,

If you take the amount of weight classes that exist in professional boxing along with the number of world titles available for the taking, there are ample opportunities for today’s fighter to become a world champion. And I mean no disrespect to the boxers who don’t become a major title holder.

Three fighters that I enjoyed watching fight (for different reasons) that never won a major world title were Harold Brazier, John Wesley Meekins and Anthony Stephens (among other unsung heroes). They weren’t great but they were damn good. Just curious, who were fighters you followed that never won a major world title?

(P.S. – There’s something wrong with that Autosmell guy. I’m sure he means well but I don’t trust him.)

Keep doing what you do, and happy holidays to you and yours! – Scott Orlando, FL

Thanks Scott. This is a good question. It would be remiss of me if I didn’t start with Howard Davis Jr., who left us too soon. The 1976 Olympic gold medalist came within a hair of winning the WBC lightweight title against underrated Scotsman Jim Watt in Glasgow (in 1980) and hall of famer Edwin Rosario in Puerto Rico (in 1984). I remember watching his competitive fights against Hector Camacho and Meldrick Taylor on network TV later in the decade. Davis was known for his blazing hand speed and sharp technique but I always marveled at his balance and footwork.

I used to enjoy watching Brazier in the ’80s and early ’90s (and I thought that split decision title bout loss against Roger Mayweather could have easily gone his way).

I’ve covered more than a few perennial contenders who came up short (sometimes multiple times) in world title bouts and never got their hands on a major belt. Sometimes they only got one shot at a major title and weren’t at their best, sometimes they fought on the titleholder’s home turf and lost close decisions that could have gone their way on neutral ground, or they simply fought in the wrong weight classes at the wrong time and had to repeatedly face super talents. They include: Oba Carr, Arthur “Flash” Johnson, Jose Navarro, Angel Manfredy, Rocky Juarez, David Tua, Antonio Diaz, Ivan Robinson and Micky Ward.

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

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