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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

Fighters Network
01
Feb
MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 30: Sergey Kovalev of Russia lands a jab on Jean Pascal of Canada during the WBO, WBA, and IBF light heavyweight world championship match at the Bell Centre on January 30, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

THE KRUSHER

Hey Dougie,

Hi, I love the mailbags…

I am in Canada so I had to buy the fight on PPV between Krusher Kovalev and Jean Pascal. I was at first rooting for Pascal until he made the spectacle about the racism. So going in I had nobody in particular I was rooting for. I just wanted a great fight.



Great job by the Krusher. He has really developed into a complete fighter (it was evident against Bernard Hopkins and he just seems to become even more complete).

Krusher is kind of an a*hole in his post-fight interview (he won’t be like Gennady Golovkin as far being as endearing to fans) but as long as the likes of Pacal and Adonis Stevenson act like an arse, Krusher’s popularity won’t suffer too much.

But I have to say great call by Freddie Roach. He saw what we all saw, and saved Pascal from possibly never fighting again (or worse).

What were your thoughts on the fight and Freddie’s stoppage? – Mike

I thought Roach took a page from his former trainer and mentor’s book, the late great Eddie Futch, by refusing to allow Pascal to come out for Round 8. (Futch did something similar with a near-blind Joe Frazier before the final round of the epic “Thrilla in Manila” rubber-match against Muhammad Ali 40 years ago.) I absolutely believe that it was the right thing for Roach to do. I thought the fight was over, in terms of being a competitive bout, after Round 5. Pascal could not mount an effective offense, he wasn’t willing or able to follow Roach’s instructions, and he wasn’t able to protect himself.

Kovalev isn’t “kind of an a__hole” during his post-fight interviews, he’s a major a__hole, which most fans will allow him to be as long as he continues to kick major ass in the ring. The lack of sportsmanship after his fights adds to his villain/bag guy/bully image, and I think it’s a real part of his personality. I don’t think Kovalev a racist, as Pascal asserted, but I do view him as a mean, surly, salty S.O.B. who has no problem bringing an opponent’s (or potential opponent’s) race/ethnicity/nationality into his insults (provided he thinks that guy is a d__k.) In this way, he reminds me a lot of James Toney and Erik Morales (two of my favorite anti-PC badasses of the 1990s and early 2000s). Only time will tell if Kovalev proves to be as tough and accomplished as those two future hall of famers.

I agree that Kovalev is developing into a complete boxer-puncher.

 

KOVALEV-PASCAL OBSERVATIONS

Hi Doug. How are you doing?
Here are my thoughts from the Saturday’s fight. I’ll keep it short:

1. Pascal is shot. He did everything a shot fighter does.
2. Only thing I have not seen Kovalev’s arsenal is inside fighting. The situation never presented before so I don’t know if he can fight inside or he can’t. That’ll be a factor against Ward
3. Was that Chris Byrd? (in Pascal’s corner). That’s what he does these days?
4. Stevenson is like a Chihuahua barking at a Pit Bull through the fence. He knows the pit is not gonna bust through the fence to get him.
5. Is that just me? Bernard is getting better commentating each time he gets the gig.

Keep up the good work! – Naoki, Las Vegas, NV

Thanks Naoki, and thanks for sharing your thoughts (and keeping them brief!)

  1. Pascal is shot. He did everything a shot fighter does. I wouldn’t call Pascal a “shot” fighter but I think he’s on his way to being shopworn. His legs aren’t all there and his reflexes have diminished.
    2. Only thing I have not seen (in) Kovalev’s arsenal is inside fighting. The situation never presented before so I don’t know if he can fight inside or he can’t. That’ll be a factor against Ward.
    I agree. Kovalev is excellent from the outside. Nobody has challenged him on the inside. My guess is that’s what Ward aims to do.
    3. Was that Chris Byrd? (in Pascal’s corner). That’s what he does these days? Yes.
    Byrd, who now lives in San Diego, has been training fighters. He trains lightweight prospect Joel Diaz Jr., who recently signed with Pascal’s promotional company. Byrd trained Diaz at Wild Card Boxing Club for the lightweight’s Kovalev-Pascal undercard bout because Pascal was there training with Roach. (Thanks to Steve Kim for giving me the 411 on Byrd, one of the toughest, bravest and smartest boxers I ever covered.)
    4. Stevenson is like a Chihuahua barking at a Pit Bull through the fence. He knows the pit is not gonna bust through the fence to get him.
    That’s what I was thinking during that ridiculous WWE act during Kovalev’s post-fight interview.
    5. Is (it) just me? Bernard is getting better commentating each time he gets the gig.
    B-Hop is like a fine wine; he gets better at everything with age.

 

ONE MEAN RUSSIAN

What’s up Dougie,

Sergey Kovalev is one bad man! I love his broken English, “I only punish not good people.” or, “I want to make him more pain.”

I have no problem with him saying that. When Max Kellerman asked him if he thought that would lose him favor among boxing fans, I chuckled. I remember when Julio Cesar Chavez told Greg Haugen to his face that he was going to punish him. I loved it! Boxing is the hurt business, right?

Anyway, going back to ‘The Krusher’s’ broken English, when he called out Adonis Stevenson and called him Chickenson, he made a duck sound. I know he was alluding to the fact that Stevenson has been ducking him. My boy’s girl was like, “What kind of chickens do they have in Russia?” Lol.

Stevenson’s WWE act was lame. Do you think he’s really serious? I don’t. I can’t wait till’ they make ‘The Krusher’ vs. Andre ‘The Oakland Raider’ Ward fight happen. That’s the fight we all want to see. What do you think, Mr. Fischer? – Miguel, LBC

If Ward performs well on March 26 – and I expect him to – I think hardcore fans worldwide will begin beating the drums for the showdown with Kovalev. By the time the fight happens I think heated social media debates and HBO’s powerful hype machine will have built up the fascinating matchup into a big event. Am I saying Kovalev-Ward will be a huge pay-per-view success? No, I’m saying it’s a fight that diehard boxing fans will be excited about and will tune into.

Regarding Stevenson, I’m not gonna give a damn about the lineal/WBC champ until he’s scheduled to fight someone that I give a damn about.

Regarding Kovalev, I don’t have a problem with his mean streak or his broken English. The man can fight and he backs his sometimes harsh/disrespectful words in the ring.

This is indeed the Hurt Biz. As nice and respectful as Golovkin is, nobody would give a rat’s ass about him if he wasn’t dishing out beatdowns in the ring.

 

GEORGE GROVES

Good evening Dougal, a long time reader and big fan of your opinions and analysis.

Writing to ask you on your thoughts on George Groves and his win on Saturday. A solid win after a tight loss in his third world title fight.

A lot was made of Andrea di Luisa’s power coming into this fight but it was irrelevant as he was a statue. He was so easy to hit that it was only a matter of when, not if, he’d be finished. I don’t think Groves will have an easier night as he was effectively fighting a punching bag.

That’s not to take anything away from Groves. He was competent, did what he had to do, grew into the fight and as his confidence grew he let his hands go and looked good.

Where do you see Groves going from here? Do you think he can get his 4th world title shot by the end of the year? There’s a few massive domestic fights for him, against Callum Smith (although I believe Hearn will have other ideas), Martin Murray and the rematch against James DeGale (potentially for the world title).

I personally think both Smith and DeGale would get the better of him. The Murray fight would be close and very entertaining. And how do you see him developing with Shane McGuigan in his corner now?

2016 is going to be a very interesting year for British Super Middleweights. Keep up the good work, it’s a pleasure to read your mailbags and the comments below when they don’t turn into tit-for-tat.

Cheers. – Blair from Inverness, Scotland

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Groves and the 168-pound division. The UK could have a big year with its super middleweights. Smith is getting close to a shot at the WBC belt held by Badou Jack. There has been talk of Jack unifying titles against Jack. And, of course, both Groves and Murray are on the comeback trail. Groves vs. any of his fellow Brits would make for an entertaining fight and decent-sized event in the UK, but I think the three-time title challenger should hold off on going after the top dogs in his division.

I thought Groves looked very sharp against di Luisa. His jab was sensational. He couldn’t miss with it, he used it to set up his right and hooks (and some nice body shots), and he was creative with it. Sometimes it was a shotgun jab, other times it was an up-jab, occasionally he shot it to the Italian’s stomach. Groves kept his focus, his right hand up, and utilized enough upper-body movement to make for a difficult target.

Obviously, McGuigan is doing a great job with him in the gym. But here’s the thing: In order for Groves and McGuigan to gel completely, and for the 27-year-old Londoner to learn all that the young trainer has to offer, I think he needs to have more fights before getting in with a world titleholder. If Groves was offered the winner of the Abraham-Ramirez WBO title bout, he might be able to beat him on talent and experience alone, but he could also fall back into bad habits if he finds himself in a tougher-than-expected fight.

I think Groves should try to fight two or three more times in 2016, against lower top 10-15 contenders, before aiming for a fourth world title. (Fighting only once in 2015 didn’t do Groves any good. The more times he fights a year, the better his timing and reflexes will be, his stamina – both physical and mental – will improve, as will his his ability to relax in the ring.)

I agree that DeGale would get the better of him if they fought now (not so sure about Smith, but that wouldn’t be a walk in the park, and neither would Murray). Those fights can wait until 2017, in my opinion, and I think they would be even bigger events (provided Smith wins a major belt or DeGale is able to unify titles).

 

FIGHT OF THE YEAR SO FAR?

Hey Dougie,

I’ll keep it short:

Saw the Kovalev fight and he did the same thing. Hopefully we don’t get a third Pascal fight like we didn’t need the second. How do you see Kovalev-Ward? I think the Russian has underrated boxing skills and Ward’s shown he can get caught. Either early surprise knockout or UD for Kovalev.

The international broadcast showed the Lafrienere-St. Juste fight. Wow. Nowadays there are so-called champions who talk business and politics, and then there are guys who leave nothing in the ring. The latter showed what’s possible when you don’t have world-class skills but possess an iron will and bottomless reserves of heart. I know it’s early, but that should be in the conversation for FOY by year’s end. And it definitely puts the path-of-least-resistance PBC on noticeÔÇöfans crave action, not excuses.

Cheers and keep up the good work. – Chris from Chile

I’ll try, Chris. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what could be an overlooked early-year slugfest. You fans that are able to watch the international broadcasts of major events that are televised on HBO in the States often get to see gems on the undercards of the co-features.

Vladimir Lik, who covered the Kovalev-Pascal show for RingTV.com, saw Lafreniere-St. Juste from press row and made sure to include a recap of the scrap of the night in his post-fight report. So I was alerted to the action the under-the-radar middleweight fight produced. Thanks to YouTube, I got to watch it and wasn’t disappointed!

Francis Lafreniere is the definition of a blood-and-guts fighter. His nickname should be “the Bull.” Lafreniere is limited but he did exactly what he needed to do against the more experienced veteran – he didn’t give St. Juste any time to think or any room to operate. He did what a 27-year-old boxer should to do to a 43-year-old boxer, he OUTWORKED him (and relentlessly banged the older man’s body). Credit to St. Juste for hanging in there and firing back (with some of the widest punches I’ve seen since Ricardo Mayorga’s heyday) enough to make a hell of a fight (despite being dog tired). It all comes down to effort for me. Talent and skill are important (and necessary to have a world-class boxing match), but without 100-percent effort from both fighters the bout is not as entertaining as it could be.

How do you see Kovalev-Ward? I think the Russian has underrated boxing skills and Ward’s shown he can get caught. Either early surprise knockout or UD for Kovalev. I agree that Kovalev has underrated boxing skills, and that Ward can be caught by a crafty or unorthodox fighter. However, I think Ward has underrated tenacity and durability. I see an even fight if and when they get in the ring. I would be shocked if Kovalev got Ward out of there early. I’d be shocked s__tless as my dear mother used to be found of saying.

 

KOVALEV WILL KRUSH WARD

Hi Dougie,

No great surprise this weekend. Kovalev destroyed Pascal again but took his time in doing so. In their first fight Pascal had his moments landing some overhand rights, stealing some rounds before being stopped by the Russian. I have no idea why there was a rematch since the first fight was so one-sided, and this fight proved what every fight fan already knew: Pascal never stood a chance. To be quite honest, Pascal was never really that good to begin with. The Haitian has no jab, and his hurky-jerky style only confused himself. Jean’s stamina, suspect; we witnessed that in his two B-hop fights. What does Pascal have as an arsenal? A good chin, a looping, overhand right, and a pretty good left hook. Pascal always appeared awkward in his fights and his technique raw; he never went back and worked on his fundamentals, and I have no idea what he’s doing ducking and diving, fighting low, but not coming over-the-top with combinations! So, all I can say is this fight was just simply a sparring session for Kovalev and a career ending fight for Pascal.

Now there’s talk of an Andre Ward/Kovalev fight! Is Ward serious? He has no chance, absolutely none against “The Krusher”. I don’t even know if Ward can last six rounds. Hell, I see Adonis Stevenson dominating Ward! Can you tell me Dougie what the deal with Ward is? The top light heavyweights will kill him. Ward’s chin is suspect in my opinion, and he’ll be up against bigger, stronger men. Ward’s in-fighting tactics won’t cut it at 175. I’ve wondered why Ward doesn’t go back down to super middleweight and fight the new generation of champions such as James Degale? Is Ward bluffing here, feigning to fight at 175 but intending to go back down and fight guys like Badou Jack or even George Groves? And let’s not forget, Ward does not have the great equalizer in any division he fights in…Power!

You know what Ward should do if he’s serious about fighting at light heavyweight? Fight Fonfara and see how well he does against The Polish Prince. If he can win that match up, maybe he has an outside chance against the two giants of the division, Kovalev and Stevenson.

Regards. – Erik

Facing Fonfara, who has continually improved over the past 18 months and earned spot among legit light heavyweight contenders, would indeed be serious statement for Ward. However, Fonfara is part of Al Haymon’s PBC league and word on the street is that Haymon and the head-honcho of Ward’s promotional company (Roc Nation), Jay Z, are sworn enemies.

I think Sullivan Barrera, the opponent penciled in for Ward’s March 26 return, is a solid-enough test for the unbeaten former super middleweight champ. I’ve never been overly impressed by Barrera, and the 33-year-old Cuban is not rated by THE RING magazine, but he is a natural 175-pounder with a good amateur background and he is coming off of a solid victory (his fifth-round KO of former contender/title challenger Karo Murat).

I think the Barrera fight should answer many of the questions you have about Ward campaigning at light heavyweight.

To be quite honest, Pascal was never really that good to begin with. Really? He was obviously good enough to beat a prime Chad Dawson, a former titleholder in Lucian Bute, and to hold a future hall of famer (B-Hop) to a draw. Pascal, who twice beat rugged former contender Adrian Diaconu twice, was also competitive in his losses to Hopkins and Carl Froch. I’d say Pascal has done well for a guy who was “never that good to being with.”

The Haitian has no jab, and his hurky-jerky style only confused himself. Not true. When he still has his legs and reflexes, that unorthodox style is what helped him trouble much-better boxer/technicians, such as Hopkins and Dawson.

Jean’s stamina, suspect; we witnessed that in his two B-hop fights. What does Pascal have as an arsenal? A good chin, a looping, overhand right, and a pretty good left hook. Yes, Pascal had those tools, plus natural athleticism and a GIANT fighting heart. His stamina wasn’t the best but he never totally gassed out in a championship fight (well, he almost did against Bute but he made it to the final bell).

Now there’s talk of an Andre Ward/Kovalev fight! Is Ward serious? F__k, I hope so!

He has no chance, absolutely none against “The Krusher”. I don’t even know if Ward can last six rounds. I disagree.

Hell, I see Adonis Stevenson dominating Ward! I REALLY disagree.

Can you tell me Dougie what the deal with Ward is? No, I can’t. I majored in journalism in college and grad school, not psychology.

The top light heavyweights will kill him. We’ll see about that.

Ward’s chin is suspect in my opinion, and he’ll be up against bigger, stronger men. Ward’s chin was “suspect” early in his pro career, when he was still boiling down to 160 pounds. His beard has appeared solid since he made the move to super middleweight.

Ward’s in-fighting tactics won’t cut it at 175. We’ll see.

 

THE KRUSHER AND S.O.G.

Hey Dougie,

Sergey Kovalev has to be one of the most interesting boxers in quite a while. He is a calculating assassin inside the ring, he pops the jab with such force that it almost feels like a right cross, while he also chops you down little by little until it is no longer viable to continue. Outside the ring he really is a bully, politically incorrect character that honestly doesn’t give a sh*t whatever people think of what he says. Those pictures he posted a while ago with a monkey seemed like a mistake and after he apologized one could only think the guy was just playing around. After at least a year had passed we can definitely see it was no joke, that’s his personality and he is kind of the bad guy. I’ve never been a Pascal fan, I find him to be quite annoying, but for that reason I really wanted him to hit Sergey hard and KO him. Of course that wasn’t going to happen and once the fight started, once again I was back in the Krusher bandwagon. He is simply too good and entertaining to want him to lose to a guy like Jean. He’s the type of guy that helps boxing be interesting.

Andre Ward on the other hand is super boring inside the ring and does somethings outside of it that are truly not nice. Once you hear him talk, he’s not as bad as he seems, he’s kind of a good guy, which again, is kind of weird considering that he’s type of guy who says things that are quite bad. If you do get to see him inside the ring HE becomes the villain, he is that boring.

Now that a fight between these two is finally in the works, it quickly became my most anticipated fight of 2016, yes, even more than my boy GGG vs your boy Canelo. I think this is a more evenly matched fight with an interesting mix of styles that probably won’t produce fireworks but will definitely give us a guy that can claim Floyd’s previous top spot in the sport.

I slightly favor Sergey in this fight. I think he has the raw power and skills to offset anything Ward has in his favor. Ward used amazing skills plus physical strength to dominate opponents in the 168 division. He would use his body and strength to clinch and hold you off while punching just enough to take your whole game away. Kovalev won’t be easy to manhandle inside the ring; he’s simply way too strong for him. Who do you favor in this fight?

Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde

Like you, I slightly favor Kovalev in a very competitive and interesting (but not necessarily thrilling) boxing match. Kovalev’s activity and corner/brain trust of John David Jackson and Don Turner is what gives the Russian the edge in my book.

I don’t know if Kovalev is too strong for Ward, as you assert. Just because he hits harder than Ward doesn’t mean that he’s stronger than the American, or that he will be able to handle himself against the former super middleweight champ on the inside.

Now that a fight between these two is finally in the works, it quickly became my most anticipated fight of 2016, yes, even more than my boy GGG vs your boy Canelo. Ahem, since when is GGG “your boy” and Canelo “my boy”? Nice try, Juan. But in all seriousness, Kovalev-Ward seems more competitive than Canelo-Golovkin on paper, and the contrasting personalities of the light heavies will play a part in the public’s interest in the fight, however, you never know. The middleweight showdown might be a better fight than the cynics (yeah, you’re one of ’em) expect.

 

A REQUEST AND QUESTION

Hi Doug,

Hey I don’t wanna make it seem like I don’t care but can you please stop answering questions about Mayweather/Racism (not either/or) it’s just that the topic combined has ruined the mail-bag and its comment section of late.

Also (amateur question) but thinking about rehydration and specifically Cotto v Canelo…How much do you think it influences a judge knowing that a bigger ‘hands heavy’ fighter is gonna outweigh his, let’s say ‘boxer’, opponent on fight night? There should be a rehydration clause brought back.

Thanks for answering my questions directly/indirectly… – Ray K

Don’t worry about reading anymore emails on the merits of Mayweather’s comments on racism in boxing in the mailbag. I don’t agree that those emails and my responses/retorts were “ruining” the column or the comment section below, but it was getting old and boring (much like Mayweather himself – sorry, I couldn’t resist). I want to keep things fresh and focused on current boxing events.

Regarding how much weight fighters gain after the weigh-in and how it impacts the judges, it shouldn’t be a factor in the judges’ heads prior to or during the contest. All the judges are supposed to do is watch the fight, note the clean punches landed and the respective ring generalship of the combatants, and score the rounds to the appropriate fighter. How much the fighters weight on fight night should not be on their minds.

However, the heavier fighter will often have an edge if he’s able to land on equal terms with the lighter fighter (particularly if that fighter is naturally bigger, younger and stronger than his opponent as Canelo was against Cotto). Judges notice the impact of the punches, and the harder shots are usually landed by the bigger/heavier man.

I agree that there should be a rehydration limit in all professional boxing matches.

 

 

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

 

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