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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

11
Mar

ortiz thompson recap from Golden Boy Digital on Vimeo.

DC BOXING AT THE ARMORY

Hey Dougie,



Just checking in. You were in my hometown this weekend. I hope you enjoyed DC. It was my hopes to come over; shake your hand; and get a picture. Because I’m a long time reader of your mailbag, I told my wife that I know a celebrity on press row. Ha ha!

Anyways, I think that Luis Ortiz is the real deal at heavyweight. – StretchOnyx, DC

I do too, Stretch. Ortiz is what the British boxing media call “the Danger Man” of the division. I don’t really care who he’s fighting next – be it WBA “regular” beltholder Lucas Browne, or one of the WBA’s “top” contenders Alexander Ustinov, Fres Oquendo, Shannon Briggs – I just want to see him back in the ring within the next four months.

I didn’t have time to sightsee while in our nation’s capital, but I enjoyed the environment inside the DC Armory, which is a venue that I’ve wanted to cover boxing in since the late ’90s. There wasn’t a huge crowd there last Saturday but it was a strong gathering of hardcore boxing fans who showed up early to support the up-and-comers on the undercard (including talented DC-area prospects D’Mitrius Ballard and Lamont Roach Jr.). I enjoyed talking with fans while milling about the arena, and I got a special thrill when I bumped into hall of famer Mark Johnson backstage. I hadn’t seen “Too Sharp” live and in person since he was driving Mexican fans crazy at The Forum in Inglewood, California, 20 years ago.

Anyway, the next time I’m in town for fight, be sure to attend the show and don’t be a stranger!

 

2016 IS NOT SHAPING UP

Hello Dougie,

2015 proved to be the best boxing year in some time. The PBC inundated the regular cable channels, to this fan’s glee, with constant boxing action, mostly on weekends, producing several good fights in the latter half of the year while introducing a whole new generation of viewers to the sport. 2015 showcased a much needed changing of the heavyweight guard from Klitschko to Tyson Fury, along with superlative performances from up and coming heavyweight champs and challengers like Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, and Luis Ortiz. In addition, boxing nuts were treated to the explosive, dominating performances from fighters such as Kovalev, GGG, Roman Gonzales and James Degale, yep, I put Degale right at the boxing pound-for-pound elite heap. Last year’s matches injected new blood, new thrills, and more exposure for pugilism since the 1980’s. The only stain was the over-hyped and overly expensive Paquiao/Mayweather pay-per-view fiasco/bout that had fans pulling out their hair in frustration. Now, after last year’s excitement, 2016 is looking bleak indeed!

Fury is going to actually fight a rematch with Wladimir Klitshko which no one will watch, and, outside Britain and Germany, no one will care about. We have three astonishingly good heavyweights right now and Fury elects to fight Wlad again! Okay, that’s fine but I have the sneaking suspicion that Fury wants no part of Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder. Both have one punch knock out power and Fury is going to try and milk his heavyweight belt for as long as possible, meaning he might fight fringe contenders instead of facing the two heaviest hitters in the division. Too bad for the fans.

By the way, I had to youtube Joshua’s fights after only reading about them, and I was stunned by what I saw! Anthony Joshua, with his perfect physique, his 6’7” frame, is an excellent boxer with pulsating punching power, I swear man, he reminds me of “The Brown Bomber” Joe Louis. Joshua had my eyes popping out of my head after witnessing his perfect punch combinations and his overall composure inside the ring. Joshua will destroy Fury, I have no doubt on that score! And Fury won’t go near Luis Ortiz, the Cuban bomb throwing southpaw is too dangerous and doesn’t have the name recognition yet.

So what do we have coming up this year to get us excited? Nothing. We have a pointless pay-per-view fight, that no one should order, between Paquaio and Bradley. And we have another even more pointless pay-per-view scrap between Canelo and Khan. Wow! Something big needs to happen this year as far as matchmaking is concerned. The only pay-per-view fight that should be on the horizon is Canelo/GGG. Not only that, but after Terence Crawford’s demolition of Hank Lundy, “Bud” needs to jump up right into the welterweight elite. I hope he does it this year since I believe he can defeat any of them. He’s become an almost super-human fighter and Crawford can wreak havoc at welterweight, he simply has all the tools. And yes, I see Crawford beating the likes of Kell Brook or Keith Thurman. But will this happen this year? Probably not. So far, Dougie, 2016 has started out slow and doesn’t seem like it will pick up anytime soon.

Last note. Congrats to Jessie Vargas for his TKO win over Ali. I was impressed with Vargas when he fought Bradley and believed he was robbed out of a KO in that fight. Vargas is now in the welterweight picture, and man, he throws a picture perfect overhand right. A thing of beauty…Vargas/Ali is the best fight I’ve seen all year which isn’t saying much but I do hope he gets a rematch with Bradley, this year. Bradley/Vargas II, now that’s a fight to get the heart racing! Regards. – Erik

We might get that rematch, Erik. I know that Vargas wants it.

Regarding 2016, yeah, the year has started out a little slow (like most years do) but I think it’s way too early to compare 2016 to 2015. We’re only in the second week of March. The PBC, which was lauded so much in your email, didn’t even debut until March 2015. Fury’s game-changing upset over Klitschko did not occur until the end of 2015 (in November). The heavyweights that you ballyhooed, such as Joshua and Ortiz, did not score significant victories until December!

It’s way, way, way too early in the year to be pissing on 2016. It’s cool if you’re not interested in the upcoming pay-per-view events, Pacquiao-Bradley III and Canelo-Khan, but you need to understand that these fights will help determine what happens in the second half of the year. (By the way, you forgot about Andre Ward’s March 26 fight against Sullivan Barrera, which will set up a major showdown between The Great American Hope and unified lightweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev.)

GGG and Chocolatito return next month, and their fights on April 23 will hopefully set up huge fights for the Dynamic Duo later in the year (Golovkin vs. Canelo and Gonzalez vs. Juan Estrada).

I don’t blame you for being excited (perhaps a bit over-excited) about Crawford, but I think you’re getting ahead of yourself with your vision of his welterweight dominance. He hasn’t proven to be the best at junior welterweight yet. Bud has to beat fellow 140-pound beltholder Viktor Postol to do that.

We have three astonishingly good heavyweights right now and Fury elects to fight Wlad again! There was a rematch clause in the contract he signed to fight Klitschko last November. He’s obligated to the return match, which happens to be the biggest money fight out there for him right now.

Okay, that’s fine but I have the sneaking suspicion that Fury wants no part of Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder. Man, you sure don’t know much about Fury.

Anthony Joshua, with his perfect physique, his 6’7” frame, is an excellent boxer with pulsating punching power, I swear man, he reminds me of “The Brown Bomber” Joe Louis. That’s high praise, but calm down a bit. Yes, his physique is impressive (it’s why I call him “Black Colossus”) but he’s 6-foot-6, and you’re creeping me out a little by describing his punching power as “pulsating.”

Joshua had my eyes popping out of my head after witnessing his perfect punch combinations and his overall composure inside the ring. He is indeed special.

Joshua will destroy Fury, I have no doubt on that score! Let’s not go crazy.

And Fury won’t go near Luis Ortiz, the Cuban bomb throwing southpaw is too dangerous and doesn’t have the name recognition yet. We’ll see. I think you’ve misread Fury.

DODGY TIME KEEPING

What do you make of the dodgy timekeeping in the Lucas Brown v Ruslan Chagaev fight?

15 seconds too long during Round 6 when Chagaev was looking to finish Brown, as he threw multiple illegal shots.

Then the following round, Browne starts on the ascendency so they cut the round short by 44 seconds.

Outrageous! Is there any news of the WBA reprimanding or banning whoever was the timekeeper that night? I genuinely can’t believe they tried to pull that stunt during a live broadcast too.

Kind of makes boxing a bit of a joke and incredibly unprofessional.

Cheers bud. – Blair, Inverness

There isn’t any news of the WBA (which sanctioned Browne-Chagaev) reprimanding or even investigating the timekeeper of the “regular” heavyweight title bout that took place in Grozny, Chechnya, this past Saturday. And I don’t think the sanctioning organization will look into it unless Team Browne files an official protest. I think they’re too happy about the underdog’s victory to cry over spilt milk.

Still, it would be nice if somebody of authority, if not the WBA then perhaps the local boxing commission (yeah, right), investigated what the hell was up with the timekeeper. It’s not exactly the most complicated job in boxing.

I was pleased to learn that the DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission is conducting an investigation into the ridiculously hometown-biased scorecard that judge Lloyd Scaife turned in for the Luis Ortiz-Tony Thompson fight. Scaife somehow had Thompson (who, as you know, was dropped three times before the bout was waved off in Round 7) leading by one point at the time of the stoppage.

The state/national agencies that regulate boxing throughout the world need to conduct more investigations of their officials when they screw up on the job.

 

CLIMBING TO HEAVYWEIGHT

Dougie –

I hope all is well pal and you’re fully recovered from your jaunt to these shores!

With the upturn in interest in the heavyweight division over the past 12 months it got me thinking about whether we will see any future heavyweights champs or contenders that rise through the weights a la Roy Jones?

The success of Lennox Lewis seemed to usher in the era of the super-sized heavy (you only need to look at the new breed of Fury, Wilder, Joshua, Martin, Parker, etc to see that) and it makes you wonder whether even a Mike Tyson-sized heavy would have a shot in the future let alone someone who has moved up from 168/175. What do you think Dougie? I’m thinking the sheer size of someone like Fury or Joshua would stop a monster at light heavy like Krusher ever moving up.

Quick note on Joshua – it’s bothers me people saying he was hurt/troubled/found out against Dillian Whyte when he was clipped in the second. Was he caught? Yes. Was it a full blooded punch from a meaty heavyweight? Yes. Was he badly hurt? No. Maybe it’s due to the hype around AJ but people seem to think the fact he even got hit meant he is floored and the next Frank Bruno. At the end of the day he took a flush punch from a fairly big hitter, cleared his head in 10-15 seconds, regained his composure and went on the knock him the f*** out! Every heavyweight out there is going to get caught at some time, for my money if you can take it and go on to win then you’re doing something right.

Quick fantasy fight which has been mooted in the last couple of days – Spence v Brook.

Keep up the good work chap, you make the mornings bearable! – Mike, Weymouth, UK

Thanks for the kind words, Mike.

I’m almost recovered from the Canelo-Khan press tour. I probably would be by now, but I had the LA Fight Club/RingTV Live stream last Friday and then I hopped on a red-eye flight to Washington, D.C., to do a RTVL stream/international broadcast of the Ortiz-Thompson show. I’m only now beginning to feel like I’m back on the Pacific Time zone.

I’m not complaining, though. I’d rather be busy and paid than broke with lots of free time. LOL!

I agree with your thoughts on Joshua’s chin. Fans (and media) made too much of a very brief wobbly moment in a fight that he controlled for the most part and finished in dramatic style. But I guess the hyper-criticism is a byproduct of the incredible hype and expectations that have followed AJ since he won the gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games.

I agree that the massive size (and relative athleticism) of modern heavyweight standouts will discourage dominant light heavyweight champs from accomplishing what Roy Jones and Michael Spinks did in past decades (or even having the balls to challenge the heavyweight champ, such as ATGs Billy Conn, Archie Moore and Bob Foster).

Kovalev is a beast at 175, but he lacks the off-the-charts athleticism that RJ was gifted with. It’s not enough for a standout light heavyweight to be fundamentally sound and heavy-handed when challenging a world-class heavyweight. To have a prayer he has to possess elite-level speed and reflexes so he’ll be able to hit and not get hit in return. Quickness and mobility (along with a good ring IQ) is more important than punching power in this particular challenge.

it makes you wonder whether even a Mike Tyson-sized heavy would have a shot in the future let alone someone who has moved up from 168/175. I think the prime version of Tyson would kick some ass against today’s heavyweight behemoths because of his incredible hand speed, underrated defense/head movement, superb ability to quickly close the distance, his body-head combination punching and tight technique. Oh, and his punching power was pretty good, too.

Quick fantasy fight which has been mooted in the last couple of days – Spence v Brook. I gotta go with Special K (via decision or late stoppage). I don’t think Spence is ready for the elite welterweights yet.

 

PPV WORTHINESS, BOXING JOURNALISTS

Hey Doug! Que pasa?!

I wanted to ask you about PPV fights. In your opinion what constitutes a PPV worthy fight? It seems to me that popularity is at the top of the list. I hear that there might be a Cotto vs Kirkland PPV fight. I know one can choose not to watch the fight. But still I hope they are not serious. Wouldn’t you say this is a basic network fight at best? I’m all for recycling but boxing takes it to the extreme. I wonder how many good young prospects never catch a break because of recycling the fighters that casual fans recognize. The casual fan audience seems to be the demographic that PPV fights are aimed for. Don’t they realize that if they put on more quality fights there can be enough hardcore fans to make a PPV fight a hefty profit. The price of PPV fights goes up but the quality of the matchups lags behind a significant amount. Around my way there are less and less boxing fans like there use to be!

My next topic is about your job. As a journalist of our beloved sport I would like to ask you the following questions: With a lot of the bs that goes on….What is it that keeps you passionate about your profession? Are the questions to the superstars pre-screened? Have you ever been barred from a fighters media day? Did you sometimes feel like writing an article about a particular match up that you knew was bs but had to do it in a subtle way or weren’t allowed to do? If there is one thing you could change in boxing what would it be?

By the way that line…”the promoters holding hands singing We Are The World.” lmfao! Great description!

Mythical matchups: Willie Pep vs Riguendaux , Armstrong vs Mayweather Jr and Lomachenko vs Valero

Love Mondays and Fridays in a big part due to the mailbag and the fact that you always keep it 100%! Peace. – D

Thanks for the kind words, D.

In your opinion what constitutes a PPV worthy fight? It seems to me that popularity is at the top of the list. Yes, fighter popularity, and fan demand, are the two main ingredients for a successful pay-per-view event. Unfortunately, in recent years, the boxing industry has only delivered the first part of that equation with most of the PPV main event matchups.

I hear that there might be a Cotto vs Kirkland PPV fight. Don’t overreact to a possible matchup that is in very preliminary discussion stages. You have no idea if the reps of Cotto or Kirkland will come to an agreement, or if the bout will be pay per view, if they do. There’s no point to your angst over this particular matchup (because it doesn’t exist right now). If the fight is announced, THAT’S when you bitch and moan about it, but for all you know it could wind up on regular HBO – or another network.

I know one can choose not to watch the fight. But still I hope they are not serious. Wouldn’t you say this is a basic network fight at best? Yes. I think Cotto-Kirkland would do very good ratings on HBO. I believe it would do poorly as a PPV event.

The casual fan audience seems to be the demographic that PPV fights are aimed for. PPV fights are aimed at both the hardcore fan and the casual fan.

Don’t they realize that if they put on more quality fights there can be enough hardcore fans to make a PPV fight a hefty profit. I’m not so sure about that. The biggest boxing PPV successes of all time have not been cards that were stacked with quality matchups that hardcore fans salivate over, they’ve been the events that were headlined by the most well-known/popular boxers of their eras (Mayweather-Pacquiao, De La Hoya-Mayweather, Lewis-Tyson, De La Hoya-Trinidad – and it should be pointed out that none of these matchups delivered entertaining fights).

With a lot of the bs that goes on….What is it that keeps you passionate about your profession? I’m a hardcore boxing fan at heart. I love watching a good fight. I also enjoy watching unknown up-and-comers earn their stripes and evolve into world-beaters/international sensations. For example, it’s been very satisfying to watch Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez gain the respect of fans/media who didn’t know or care who they were five years ago, and now sell out major arenas as co-headliners. I love watching young prospects develop. You never know who’s going to make it all the way. I also enjoy new challenges within my profession, such as commentating and studio work.

Are the questions to the superstars pre-screened? Not really. Occasionally, the media is told not to bring up certain things to the prima donna-type stars of the sport, but this is rare. And I generally choose to ignore these guys (can you guess who I’m referring to?)

Have you ever been barred from a fighter’s media day? No. But, again, there are some guys (one who recently “retired”) whose media days I don’t bother covering, so I don’t know if I would be welcome or not.

Did you sometimes feel like writing an article about a particular match up that you knew was bs but had to do it in a subtle way or weren’t allowed to do? Sort of. Generally speaking, if I think a fight is total crap, I don’t bother covering it or writing about it (Mayweather-Berto is an example). But I try to look at the positives of most major matchups, such the upcoming Pacquiao-Bradley and Canelo-Khan fights. It’s probably wishful thinking on my part, but I think both will be better fights than most of us expect. But I’m not into every matchup that I write about or cover. For example, I’m not that excited about Golovkin-Wade, which looks like a gross mismatch on paper, so when I covered the Los Angeles press conference for that fight my story focused more on GGG’s pending WBC mandated challenge to Canelo (or the media/fan fascination/obsession with that showdown).

If there is one thing you could change in boxing what would it be? I’d force promoters and networks to work together.

Your mythical matchups:

Willie Pep vs Rigondeaux – Pep by clear decision (and I think rocks Rigo a few times en route)

Armstrong vs Mayweather Jr – Homicide Hank by late stoppage at 130, 135 and 140. Armstrong by close cut clear decision at 147 and 154.

Lomachenko vs Valero – Valero by late TKO in a very good fight.

FIGHT OF THE CENTURY ON A MONDAY?

Hey Doug,
Do you know why Ali vs Frazier was on a Monday? Simple question, but considering everything is on a Saturday night now, I’m curious. I know the country was watching. Were other big fights of this era put on during the week? Anyway, All the best.

(P.S. I missed you at Jimmy’s when GGG was in NY, but probably better as my brother may have hassled you, but would have bought you a Guinness. I’m sure your used to it. Much love.) – Michael once from bayside now in New Hyde Park

I’m sure I’ll be back in NYC for a major fight before the end of the year, Michael. Don’t be a stranger if you happen to see me at Jimmy’s or the fight venue.

Regarding Ali-Frazier I being on a Monday, it was a normal occurrence for boxing events – from the club show level to big championship bouts – to take place during the week in previous eras. Major boxing on the weekend – Fridays and Saturdays – has only become the norm in recent decades.

Many of the first title bouts that I covered at The Forum and the Olympic during the start of my boxing writing career almost 20 years ago took place on Mondays and Thursdays. Forum Boxing, which did shows at The Forum in Inglewood, The Pond (now the Honda Center) in Anaheim, and the old Tropicana in Las Vegas, used to hold at least one Monday card every month for several years.

Some of the most memorable fights of my youth (and of all time) took place on Monday. I was reminded of this recently, while reading the late George Kimball’s Four Kings (an excellent book about the classic round robin that took place between Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran during the 1980s). (I started reading the book years ago but I finally had the time to finish it during all of the plane time I had during the Canelo-Khan press tour.)

Anyway, the best scrap of the Four Kings’ series – Hagler-Hearns – took place on a Monday (April 15, 1985). The biggest event of the series – Hagler-Leonard – took place on a Monday (April 6, 1987), too. The most underrated fight of the series – Leonard-Hearns II – also took place on a Monday (June 12, 1989).

In case you’re wondering (and you probably are, because most modern hardcore fans are obsessed with little details), Duran-Leonard II took place on a Tuesday (Nov. 25, 1980), Leonard-Hearns I took place on a Wednesday (Sept. 16, 1981), Hagler-Duran took place on a Thursday (Nov. 11, 1983), and the awful Leonard-Duran rubber match also took place on a Thursday (Dec. 7, 1989).

Leonard-Duran I and Hearns-Duran took place on a Friday.

 

MARLON STARLING B.I.F.

Great editorial call doing Best I Ever Faced with Marlon Starling. I always hold Starling up as one those classic 80s fighters who had great craft, fought the best of his era, always came in shape, won fights against other champions, and he could flat out fight, the embodiment of a true professional. He respected the game and he had respect for himself as a fighter. Moochie, The Magic Man, whatever they called him, the dude could fight. Much respect for Marlon.

Hopefully some fans of the current era will read the article and take a minute and check out some footage. Marlon Starling was a heck of a fighter and character, but no one’s clown. – HG in SC

Starling is very underrated. I was happy when Anson Wainwright proposed this particular Best I Faced because the purpose of the series (as I see it) is to give longtime fans (like you) an opportunity to reminisce about a good or great fighter who may have been forgotten about, and to teach newer fans about standouts of previous decades.

Starling was just another welterweight contender/titleholder during the mid-to-late ’80s but, like you stated, he faced the best of his era and he could fight.

If he had come along in this era I think he would have been more popular because he had a crafty/defensive style, sometimes butted heads with his promoters and he could a be salty son of a gun. I can see the same Twitter heads that worship Floyd Mayweather and belong to the Cult of Rigo falling head over heels in love with Starling.

But I should note that (in my opinion) Starling, who twice outpointed Mayweather’s dad, was more entertaining than Floyd or Rigo.

 

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