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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

21
Mar

RING RUST & ANDRE WARD

Hi Dougie,

Long time reader and big fan – thank you for making Monday and Friday so much better.

Andre Ward, when he was active, was a favorite of mine. His athleticism and ability to box, brawl or do both was always something I admired. He won the Super Six tournament impressively and I had hopes for him to fight top guys three times a year. Clearly, all the Ward fans have been disappointed!

I expect him to put Sullivan Barrera away in the middle of the fight, after he figures him out. After that, I cannot wait for him to face Sergey Kovalev, who I believe he will strategically break down for a clear decision win.

However, my question is about ring rust. There are a lot of fighters who have been out a long time but we expect to see soon – Shawn Porter, Juan Manuel Marquez, & maybe BHop – come to mind immediately. If these guys are sparring top competition in preparation of their fights, why would ring rust be an issue? They are veterans who have fought many times on the biggest stage, so nerves shouldn’t be a factor. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Hoping Kell Brook dispatches Kevin Bizier and then gets in with a major hitter. There are certainly a ton of options. This soft touch stuff is making it hard to stay excited about our sport. Who does he get next?

Last item. I am excited for Glen Tapia to get in with David Lemieux. I remember those last few massive shots he took from James Kirkland and wondered if he would ever be the same. We may have gotten our answer when he fought Michel Soro. Tapia is a nice kid, only 26 and easy to root for, hopefully he can show us he still something. What do you think?

Keep up the good work, Dougie. We know you’re one guy we never have to worry about getting ring rust! Sincerely. – Rahn

No rust here, Rahn.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions.

I’m looking forward to watching the Ward-Barrera fight this Saturday and finding out if the former super middleweight champ’s inactivity has eroded his once-elite-level reflexes and hand/foot-eye coordination.

My guess is that the combination of ring rust and fighting at a higher weight will make Ward more cautious than usual in the early rounds, but once he sees what Barrera has to offer and makes the necessary adjustments (probably by Round 3 or 4), he’ll take command of the fight. As I’ve stated in previous mailbags, I favor Ward by decision.

If he earns a stoppage victory – without trouble or controversy – as you predict, I think the talented Bay Area technician will rekindle a lot of the fan support and interest that he lost during his inactive periods. If he beats Kovalev, as you believe he will, he will likely assume the top spot on most pound-for-pound lists and finally put himself in position to evolve into a legit crossover star. We’ll see what happens this year.

There are a lot of fighters who have been out a long time but we expect to see soon – Shawn Porter, Juan Manuel Marquez, & maybe BHop – come to mind immediately. If these guys are sparring top competition in preparation of their fights, why would ring rust be an issue? Sparring will help get a boxing in fighting condition but it can’t replace the experience of an actual prize fight. Ring rust will always be a factor if a boxer is out of the ring for a year or more. Porter won’t be bothered by ring rust as much as JMM and Hopkins for three reasons: he’s fought in the last 12 months (his decision over Adrien Broner last June), he’s only 28, and he has an aggressive, physical come-forward style. It’s a different story for Marquez and Hopkins. They haven’t fought since 2014, one is in his early 40s and the other is in his early 50s, and they have technical/counter-punching boxing styles that rely on timing and reflexes. I expect ring rust to be a factor with both future first-ballot hall of famers if and when they return.

The type of opponent is also a factor in how much ring rust will bother a fighter. For instance, if Marquez faces a fighter he’s familiar with, say the Pacquiao-Bradley winner, it may not bother that much because he knows what to expect. If he does a Seniors’ Tour-type thing and fights a Shane Mosley or Erik Morales, ring rust won’t be a factor at all because those guys are aggressive and just as, ahem, “experienced” as he is. However, if JMM fights a young gun like Jessie Vargas or (God forbid) a technical and athletic stud like Terence Crawford, he’s gonna feel that rust.

Hoping Kell Brook dispatches Kevin Bizier and then gets in with a major hitter. Me too.

This soft touch stuff is making it hard to stay excited about our sport. I agree, but I don’t think we can blame guys like Brook. He wants to fight the best, but he’s a victim of politics.

Who does he get next? Hopefully, the winner of Errol Spence-Chris Algieri.

I am excited for Glen Tapia to get in with David Lemieux. Me too! Ballsy move by the Jersey Boy.

I remember those last few massive shots he took from James Kirkland and wondered if he would ever be the same. We may have gotten our answer when he fought Michel Soro. There’s no doubt that the Kirkland fight took a toll but let’s give Soro some credit. It’s not like Tapia was shot going into that fight. He had won three in a row and had looked solid. Soro is a very talented junior middleweight/middleweight.

Tapia is a nice kid, only 26 and easy to root for, hopefully he can show us he still something. What do you think? I don’t know what he’s got or if he’s already hit his ceiling but I’ll be rooting for him.

BIG UPSET

Hi Dougie,

Not a good night for South African boxing, losing our only major world title holder. Byron Rojas must be a candidate for “Upset of the Year” coming from nowhere to upset the number one strawweight in the world beating Hekkie Budler by identical scores of 115-113.

Don’t know if you saw the fight but Rojas outmuscled and outworked Budler, although it was very close with some rounds that could have gone either way. Budler was on top when he used his speed, jab and feet in the centre of the ring but it was too sporadic. He closed strong, but nothing he threw could really budge Rojas, who just kept coming.

What went wrong? Was it the weight (Budler had an IBO belt at light flyweight years ago before moving down)? Or was it too many back to back tough fights (Zhong, Silvestre, Khonco)? Some of the zip just seemed to be missing from him. What do you think he should do next?

But then again, credit to Rojas, let him enjoy his moment. Shows you how records can sometimes be deceiving especially in the light divisions. I said beforehand that this was not going to be an easy fight for Budler as I checked some of Rojas’ fights on Youtube and he looked pretty solid even though he wasn’t fighting any names.

South African boxing is now in a rather dismal state. Except for Zolani Tete, there isn’t much to get excited about. How do you think he will do as a bantamweight? Really wanted to see him against Inoue.

Moruthi Mthalane is good, but I think he is getting on and we have seen the best of him. Simphiwe Vetyeka is mounting a comeback, but if I look at the featherweight champions, I can’t see him beating Santa Cruz, Russell or Lomachenko. Perhaps Lee Selby? How do you think he’ll do against the Welshman?

At least we have Ilunga Makabu (yeah, he is Congolese, but we’ve adopted him) now fighting Tony Bellew for the WBC cruiserweight belt since Grigory Drozd can’t seem to sneeze without getting injured. How do you think the Drozd fight would have gone? I think his chances are much better against Bellew. I am not very impressed with him as a chubby cruiserweight. He is a rather average brawler to me. I think Makabu knocks him out. Who do you have?

Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

Thanks for sharing, D.M. Don’t fret too much about the South African scene. Budler just lost a tough, close fight to an unheralded hard ass. It happens in boxing. He can come back. In fact, I’m pretty sure he will. Makabu will probably win the WBC 200-pound title. Tete will definitely win another world title (at 118 or even 122).

And somebody new will come along. Somebody always does.

What went wrong? Was it the weight (Budler had an IBO belt at light flyweight years ago before moving down)? Let’s not assume anything went wrong. Yeah, maybe Hekkie had a bad night, but maybe Rojas is the reason for that bad night. Like you said, the Nicaraguan hadn’t fought anyone of note but he looked solid. So maybe the Central American rose to the occasion. Let’s see if he can do it again.

Or was it too many back to back tough fights (Zhong, Silvestre, Khonco)? Some of the zip just seemed to be missing from him. What do you think he should do next? I think he should take a break if he needs one, take a soft tune-up if he wants or needs one, and then get right back in with Rojas. If he wins the rematch, he and his management should do whatever they can to lure another 105-pound world titleholder into the ring. If not, he should move back up to junior flyweight. If he loses the rematch to Rojas, he should head up to 108 pounds.

Except for Zolani Tete, there isn’t much to get excited about. How do you think he will do as a bantamweight? Really wanted to see him against Inoue. Don’t worry, The Monster will be campaigning at bantamweight before you know it. Tete is probably better suited at bantamweight being nearly 5-foot-10. I think he can give IBF beltholder Lee Haskins a run for his money.

Simphiwe Vetyeka is mounting a comeback, but if I look at the featherweight champions, I can’t see him beating Santa Cruz, Russell or Lomachenko. Perhaps Lee Selby? How do you think he’ll do against the Welshman? I think he’d be live against Selby. I’ve never been that impressed with the Welsh jab-master. However, Vetyeka needs to get busy. Fighting once or twice a year is not going to get him ready for any top 126 pounder.

At least we have Ilunga Makabu (yeah, he is Congolese, but we’ve adopted him) now fighting Tony Bellew for the WBC cruiserweight belt since Grigory Drozd can’t seem to sneeze without getting injured. How do you think the Drozd fight would have gone? I favored Drozd by close but clear UD.

I think his chances are much better against Bellew. Me too.

I am not very impressed with him as a chubby cruiserweight. He is a rather average brawler to me. Yeah, but homeboy can act!

I think Makabu knocks him out. Who do you have? Makabu by decision. (Bellew whups his ass on a movie set, though.)

 

F__K YOU DOUGIE!

I’m sick of writing to you Dougie. My emails are thought provoking, controversial and challenging. I might sound like a self absorbed solipsistic ego maniac, but I write regularly from australia and I get no love. So F#*k you.

You always suck up to you’re fellow septic tanks and tell them to say hi, but down here in Oz we get raped financially for PPV’s and there is no public boxing news to speak of.

Our last great champion was Kostya Tzsyu, who I asked you to MM against Thunder Gatti, but no, you’re too in love with exporting you’re fellow war mongering – corporatizing -capitalist – f__k the working class political system.

I have asked many intelligent questions about boxing many times, including MM, politics in boxing, history and etc.

What the hell to I have to do to get published you second rate journo?

Go f__k yourself. – Ki (and an ex boxer, which illustrates your lack of respect you american arrogant arse), Sydney

If you are indeed an ex-boxer you definitely got punched in your head too much. I did a search for your email addy in my [email protected] inbox and I found only two previous emails – sent on May 30 and November 30 of 2015.

I had never seen or read them before. I wasn’t purposely skipping your emails. You probably just sent them during busy periods of last year and they were lost in the “mailbag shuffle.” It happens. It’s nothing personal.

You don’t have to act like a nut case. You don’t have to be rude or a d__k.

I posted this email for two reasons:

1.) Because it was a slow week.

2.) Just so I could tell you (and other readers) that emails often get lost in the shuffle and that it’s never personal if they don’t make it into the mailbag. (And also to tell you that you don’t need to be a rude nut case/d__k.)

I’d also like to point out that, after reading your previous emails, I found nothing “thought provoking, controversial and challenging” about what you wrote.

In your first email, “G’day from Sydney, Australia,” you had some kind words about the mailbag (thanks) and some unkind words about other boxing websites that, in your words, “seem to employ the dux of a third grader to write their stories.” Not very original, my man.

Oh, and you had these mythical matchups:

Kostya Tszyu vs Arturo Gatti

Jeff Fenech vs Julio Cesar Chavez

Sugar Ray Robinson vs Floyd Mayweather Jr.

James Toney vs GGG

Because I’m a nice guy, I’ll answer ’em for ya (well, except for Robinson-Mayweather, you should know the answer to that one):

Tszyu by late TKO, Chavez by mid-to-late KO (I love Fenech but he was too small for JCC), and Toney by close (perhaps controversial) decision.

In your second email, “Who’s (sic) belt is who’s (sic)?” you ranted on and on about the proliferation of alphabet titles. Again, not terribly original or thought provoking.

And in this email you have these little crack-pot gems: “you’re too in love with exporting you’re fellow war mongering – corporatizing -capitalist – f__k the working class political system.”

I gotta tell ya, I’m not looking forward to your fourth email. But I must say that I admire your persistence.

SOME QUESTIONS

Dear Mr. Fischer,

I have been a fan for over 50 years now and I have never sent you or anyone a question about boxing, so this is a first. Do you favor open scoring or not and why? Also, I think the alphabet group of boxing organizations would earn more support if they had mandatory challengers to their top 5 candidates where each one would be forced to face someone in their top 10 or lose their position in their ranking. What do you think? – Robert, a former Mainer

I agree with you in regard to the top five contenders having mandatory bouts against top-10 rated contenders in order to maintain their high ranking with the sanctioning organizations. Personally, I don’t think a fighter should be ranked among the top five of a particular division without having defeated at least two legit top-10 or top-15 contenders.

In fact, I think that’s a guideline that THE RING should consider for it’s divisional rankings. Sometimes unworthy fighters climb the rankings just by staying unbeaten (sometimes through inactivity) when other top contenders fall due to losses or move on to other weight classes (or retire). I think the magazine’s top five contenders are pretty solid in most of 17 weight classes, but there are some “head-scratchers” in a few divisions, such as No. 3 Sharif Bogere and No. 4 Richard Commey at lightweight. I’m not saying Bogere (a former title challenger) and Commey (the Commonwealth champ) aren’t talented or promising. They are. But neither African has defeated a legit top 10 contender. Most of the lightweights rated under them have.

At light heavyweight, we have German veteran Juergen Braehmer at No. 5. The 37-year-old southpaw holds the “regular” WBA belt and has won 17 in a row but his competition has be sub-standard by THE RING’s standards.

Thanks for bringing this ratings concept up. Regarding open scoring, I’ve never been a fan of it. I’m not vehemently against it, but I don’t think it improves the quality of the official judges scores and, for me, it takes away a lot of the suspense and intrigue that comes with watching a hotly contested boxing match.

Sometimes open scoring sucks the life out of a fight that looked competitive. When Mark Johnson fought Ratanachai Sor Vorapin for the vacant IBF 115-pound title in 1994 an open-scoring system was tested on the bout by the sanctioning organization (with scores announced after every four rounds, much like the WBC’s current system). It was a good, hard fight for eight rounds, but when Too Sharp heard he was comfortably ahead after eight, he coasted down the stretch. Canelo Alvarez did the same thing against Austin Trout in 2013.

I also worry about judges reacting to the crowd’s reaction to their scores when announced.

Anyway, that’s just one fan’s opinion. Thank you for sharing yours (for the first time) with me and the mailbag readers. I hope to hear from you again.

 

CANELO VS. GGG

Hi Doug, I’m a big Canelo fan and I hope I’m wrong but it sure looks to me like he wants nothing to do with GGG. I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt considering he’s never ducked anyone and has a very impressive resume for a young guy but when he’s interviewed and says things like I’m not a middleweight it sure seems to me that he’s not thinking about a GGG fight anytime soon. I think there’s basically zero chance this fight happens this year. I think it’s much more likely to see GGG vs Saunders and Canelo vs Lemieux next. What do you think? Will Canelo go back to 154? Will the WBC actually strip Canelo? – Mike

Ahhhhh, you worry too much Mike. You don’t need to have this much angst about what might happen six or more months from now based on Canelo’s belief that he can still make 154 pounds.

He’s a fighter. A young fighter. He’s going to believe that he can make an unnaturally light weight. That’s just how fighters are. There’s no reason in his mind that he can’t still make junior middleweight. He did it for years and he’s been weighing-in one or half a pound over 154 ever since he boiled his stocky body down to 152 to grab that big money against Little Money in September 2013.

He might be right about junior middleweight. He might be wrong. I think he’s wrong. (He thought he could still make 147 pounds when he agreed to meet Matthew Hatton at 150 for their bout for the vacant WBC junior middleweight belt in 2011. He was wrong. Canelo came in at 151.8 and was only able to sweat out about half a pound during the one-hour period he had to shed the extra weight.)

Regardless, just because he thinks he’s still a junior middleweight doesn’t mean he wants to avoid Golovkin. He’s always said that he will face GGG. He means it because he knows it’s a huge fight and he knows it a showdown that fans want to see. Canelo wants to appease his fans. He may not be as obsessed with GGG as the boxing media and hardcore heads like you, but Golovkin is definitely on his radar. If they don’t fight this year, they’ll throw down next year. There’s nobody at 154 pounds for Canelo to fight and there’s nobody at middleweight who can make for a bigger fight/event than GGG.

I think there’s basically zero chance this fight happens this year. I think it’s much more likely to see GGG vs Saunders and Canelo vs Lemieux next. I wouldn’t mind seeing those fights. If they co-headlined the same card they’d build even more interest in their eventual showdown.

What do you think? I think we’ll see Canelo-GGG before the end of 2017, but probably much sooner. Canelo knows he’ll lose fans if he doesn’t take the GGG challenge in a reasonable time frame.

Will Canelo go back to 154? Hell no. I doubt he ever makes 155 after the Khan fight. But we’ll see.

Will the WBC actually strip Canelo? If he doesn’t fight GGG next they will probably strip him of the belt, but they’ll make him the No. 1 contender. They want this fight to happen. They know it’s going to be a blockbuster and they want a piece of the action.

 

 

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

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