Dougie’s Monday mailbag
Big fan of the mailbag. I watched the Andre Ward/Sullivan Barrera and Joseph Diaz Jr./Jayson Velez fights. I loved the first fight, it was very entertaining, Diaz just seemed to land his power shots at will. Is Velez that tough or Diaz not that heavy handed? He should have put him away with that many shots. Either way I would gladly watch their next fight.
As for Ward/Barrera it went as you predicted. I turned off the HBO announcers and listened to music since HBO has a vested interest in the outcome. I scored the fight closer than HBO did. Ward definitely won the fight but I thought he didn’t look comfortable at Light heavy. Do you think he’s ready for Kovalev? I think he needs another tune-up fight first. I don’t it’s all ring rust, it’s also a new weight class and he’s going after the best. Kovalev could fight Adonis Stevenson next and the winner fights Ward. I think it’s preordained that Ward/Kovalev is next which plays into Kovalev’s hands. I think Kovalev wins if Ward is his next fight but it would be a better fight if Ward does another tune-up first. Your thoughts? Regards. – Bill
I agree. It would be best for Ward (and the competitiveness of their eventual showdown) if he had another tune-up bout before facing Kovalev. I think Ward will give Kovalev all the Russian badass can handle if they were to fight right away, but I’d favor Krusher to win. With another legit light heavyweight bout under Ward’s belt, I’d view the Kovalev fight as a 50-50 matchup.
However, we live in a time of impatience. Boxing fans under the age of 40 grew up in the “instant gratification” era. They want it now. They want everything now. And don’t try to tell them that it might be better if they wait. F__k that. They want it now. So, my guess, is that there will be a lot of pressure on Ward to hop in the ring with The Krusher sooner rather than later. Hell, if Canelo Alvarez doesn’t fight Gennady Golovkin in September, I expect groups of hardcore fans to form lynch mobs on the lookout for his freckled booty.
Is Velez that tough or Diaz not that heavy handed? Velez is THAT tough, but Diaz is not a world-class puncher. Jo Jo has the kind of damaging snap that can wear down most fighters if he mixes his attack to the body and head (which he’s pretty good at) but not a dude as durable as Velez.
As for Ward/Barrera it went as you predicted. It wasn’t a hard fight to predict. Barrera’s a JAG (Just Another Guy), as my buddy Steve Kim likes to say. If he wasn’t Cuban (let’s say he was a white guy from the Midwest), half the fans and media that gave him a shot to upset Ward would’ve described him as “big, strong, but ordinary,” and wouldn’t have granted him a snowball’s chance in hell to even compete with the former super middleweight champ.
I scored the fight closer than HBO did. Ward definitely won the fight but I thought he didn’t look comfortable at Light heavy. I thought he looked comfortable enough to do what he normally does. However, his reflexes appeared a tad slower than I recall when he was fighting at 168 pounds, and he seemed more vulnerable to counterpunches than usual (which isn’t good against a fighter as methodical as Barrera).
Do you think he’s ready for Kovalev? I think he needs another tune-up fight first. I agree with you (and Roy Jones Jr.) I think the version of Ward we saw against Barrera can give Kovalev a competitive fight, but I think he will need to totally recapture his 168-pound form to be able to defeat the unified light heavyweight titleholder.
WARD DELIVERED BUT IS HE READY FOR KOVALEV?
I hope you and your family had a Happy Easter! Well was I WRONG! Maybe next time I should use a different coin! LOL. Ward put on a solid performance. Good call Doug!
I was a bit surprised he was as stationary as he was. Do you think it has to do with the extra weight? He was controlling the fight well but he got caught with a couple of good shots. What would happen if Kovalev caught him with those types of shots? Barrera gave a good effort but he looked discouraged and tenative especially after he got knocked down. I do not think Ward will fight Kovalev next. If not Kovalev who would you like to see him fight next? I would like to see him fight Betrebiev.
What did you think of Wards performance? Would you like to see Brook fight GGG? I’m not so sure about that fight. I don’t think Brook has enough power to discourage GGG. I would like to see Brook fight Trout or Lara to see how he does. Who would you like to see him fight if he plans on moving up?
Mythical Matchups: Ward vs Calzaghe, Layla Ali vs Lucia Rijker, Chavez Sr vs Rigondaux
Take Care. – D
Thanks for the Happy Easter wishes and for sharing your thoughts and many questions, D. I’ll get right to ’em:
Ward put on a solid performance. Good call Doug! No need to pat me on the back for that. I went with the chalk! LOL. Picking Ward to win a UD over Sully Barrera doesn’t take an Eddie Futch-level of boxing know-how. But I agree Ward looked solid. Not spectacular, but solid.
I was a bit surprised he was as stationary as he was. Do you think it has to do with the extra weight? Yes, but not because fighting at a heavier weight was slowing him down. I think he was more flat-footed because he felt stronger and wanted to test his power out on Barrera’s big head. Ward’s shot-gun jab and left hook were hard enough to earn Barrera’s respect.
He was controlling the fight well but he got caught with a couple of good shots. I noticed that.
What would happen if Kovalev caught him with those types of shots? He’ll get hurt.
I do not think Ward will fight Kovalev next. If not Kovalev who would you like to see him fight next? I would like to see him fight Betrebiev. Artur Beterbiev is an Al Haymon advised fighter, thus it will probably be difficult to work out a deal with Roc Nation for an HBO show. I would like to see Ward face a legit top-10 contender. (Barrera was not rated by THE RING or the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board; although to be fair, Sully was rated No. 7 by ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael. But he won’t be come this Tuesday.) Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (rated No. 9 by THE RING, No. 8 by ESPN.com, and No. 4 by the TBRB) would bring the ruckus. However, Isaac Chilemba (No. 6 by THE RING, No. 9 by ESPN.com and TBRB) brings more experience.
What did you think of Ward’s performance? I thought he looked pretty good. He controlled the action the way I thought he would. I thought he was a bit hard on himself with his post-fight grade of B-. I’d give him a solid B, maybe a B+.
Would you like to see Brook fight GGG? No.
I would like to see Brook fight Trout or Lara to see how he does. I wouldn’t. I think those bouts would be dreadfully boring.
Who would you like to see him fight if he plans on moving up? I don’t think he should move up. I think he’s the best 147 pounder in the world, but I want him to prove it. I want to see him do what GGG is trying to do at middleweight. I want to see if Brook can unify the major welterweight titles.
Your mythical matchups:
Ward vs Calzaghe – Calzaghe by close decision in a speed chess match that is ultimately determined by the Welshman’s lateral movement and high-punch output
Layla Ali vs Lucia Rijker – Rijker by surprisingly close decision (Ali’s size advantage keeps her in the fight)
Chavez Sr vs Rigondeaux – Come on, man. Why are you fantasizing about Rigo getting killed in the ring? That’s sick.
Tuned in Saturday to see what Ward had left in the tank with eyes toward a big fight with Kovalev. He was understandably cautious to start but I think he saw early on that he could still spot openings and pull the trigger. Of course he wasn’t as slick as when he was more active but he was cracking with the left hook and put together some nice combos along the way. Some of the short (6 inch) right hands were beautiful to see. Almost martial arts like in their delivery. It is to Ward’s team’s credit that they did not throw him in with a total stiff for this comeback fight. He needed someone who would push him a little to see where he was at this point. Sullivan Barrera came to fight, landing some good shots and even when things started to not go his way he still stayed in it trying to win.
Ward has probably the most impressive resume’ of any active fighter today, but I must admit, when he was plowing through the cream of the middles and super middles I was not that excited about watching him. He did not have a crowd pleasing style. He won easily. You had to be impressed but it was kind of like a Mayweather fight.
At this point he is stepping in and engaging more (and it may not be by choice,… ring rust and all, he did take a few good shots) but it made for a more exciting fight to watch. He definitely needs another fight before stepping in with the Krusher. That fight will be a huge challenge, much like Ray Leonard/Tommy Hearns. We learned in the Hopkins fight that Kovalev is more than a big puncher and has real boxing skill. While boxing Kovalev, at some point Ward will have to step in and FIGHT himÔÇª put some hurt on him, all the while trying to absorb as little punishment as possible. It makes for a most intriguing matchup. THAT’S one I would pay to see. What do you think my friend? – David, Nashville
I think Kovalev-Ward is one of the most significant matchups that can be made in boxing. It can also be built into a relatively big event by the end of the year. Dominant performances in their first bouts of 2016 has the momentum rolling for the showdown.
We’ll see if there’s time for Ward and Kovalev to fight a second time this year before sharing the ring. The consensus from hardcore fans is that Ward needs another fight before challenging Kovalev.
I’ll venture to say that Kovalev poses a bigger threat to Ward than Hearns did to Leonard when those hall of famers first met in 1981. Hearns was a champ, but he was very young (22, almost 23). Leonard was also young (25), but he had gone 15 grueling rounds with an all-time great still in his athletic prime (Roberto Duran in their first bout), close to 15 with a fellow future hall of famer (Wilfred Benitez) and had a tough outing against strong junior middleweight titleholder Ayub Kalule (36-0 at the time) before facing Hearns. Leonard was more mature and had more elite experience. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case with Ward and Kovalev. Ward’s got an impressive resume (amateur and pro), as you noted, but Kovalev is a mature unified titleholder who has been well developed (by manager Egis Klimas, veteran trainer Don Turner and promoter Main Events) and refined by the often overlooked John David Jackson.
Of course he wasn’t as slick as when he was more active but he was cracking with the left hook and put together some nice combos along the way. Some of the short (6 inch) right hands were beautiful to see. Almost martial arts like in their delivery. I wanted to see more combinations from Ward but those left hooks were more than enough to keep Sully honest all night. And I agree that some of Ward’s punches are delivered like martial arts strikes (especially his power jab and short right). I’m supposed to visit Amir Khan’s camp on Tuesday. I’ll have to ask trainer Virgil Hunter if he’s got a martial arts background or if he borrows some of the striking technique used in various forms of karate and taekwondo.
It is to Ward’s team’s credit that they did not throw him in with a total stiff for this comeback fight. Agreed. Barrera’s no world-beater but he’s no pushover, either.
He needed someone who would push him a little to see where he was at this point. Well, he didn’t really get that from Sully, but he was in with a big, durable, somewhat game light heavyweight.
Sullivan Barrera came to fight, landing some good shots and even when things started to not go his way he still stayed in it trying to win. HmmmÔÇª I’m not sure I agree with that observation. Yes, Barrera landed some good shots here and there but it looked like he stopped trying to back up his bold pre-fight words shortly after he was dropped in Round 3.
SANCHEZ IS FULL OF IT, WARD SHOULD WAIT
I found it comical that Abel Sanchez says Golovkin would be taking a step back by fighting Ward. Is he f__king kidding?
GGG should not go up for Ward, but Floyd and Canelo should go up for GGG?
Now GGG just wants to stay at 160 to solidify the belts? Now that Ward has moved up, I think GGG will want to fight at 168, he didn’t want to have to face Ward. Found it interesting that Sanchez said, they would take the risk to fight Froch, for the payday, but not WARD????????????????????????????? Meaning, we can’t f__k with Ward, but Froch would be easy money, or a fight we can win.
I think Ward had rust, but he came and stood his ground, did not run at all, was not razor sharp like normal, and I think he would be a fool to fight Kovalev next, and that is out of respect for Ward. You can’t go from inactive, to the best in the division while moving up for the exact reasons he said, he wasn’t clicking as he should be, defensively and offensively, you have to be in there often to get sharp. I think in 3 fights at the weight, he would be back to Ward. I don’t think he deserves any criticism either if he had to get himself active. He would be sacrificing and handicapping himself to just go into that fight. The only people who would push for that are people who want to see him beat. Any honest observer would agree he need a few fights to get sharp. Yes he COULD beat Kovalev in his next fight, but that is not smart at all and I don’t think he goes into it like that. I think 2 more fights and then Kovalev and then we got a real fight on our hands.
Thank you. – Jason C. Brown
Thank you for taking the time to vent with us, Jason. LOL. Man, I hope you don’t suffer from hypertension. If you do, I think it might be a good idea for you to avoid watching or reading anymore interviews with Abel Sanchez. I don’t want you to suffer a stroke, my brotha.
Regarding Ward. I agree that he looked strong, confident and technically sound against Barrera but wasn’t close to being as sharp (in terms of defense, timing and reflexes) as he was during his prime super middleweight years (late 2009-2012).
I also agree that he could use two more bouts before facing Kovalev. However, I believe that the contract Ward has with HBO calls for his fight with Kovalev to take place this year. HBO will televise (and basically underwrite) a second bout in 2016 if Ward can fit it into his (and the network’s) schedule by the summer, but the third HBO-televised bout must be the showdown with Krusher. I don’t know if HBO would allow Ward and Roc Nation to schedule an additional tune-up this year on another network (such as BET). Maybe, but I don’t see that happening.
I think most fans (including a lot of diehard Ward fans) will put pressure on the Bay Area badass to face the Russian power-boxer by the end of 2016 regardless if he has time to fit in another tune-up between now and the showdown.
I found it comical that Abel Sanchez says Golovkin would be taking a step back by fighting Ward. Is he f__king kidding? No, he’s not kidding, but I think you’re missing his point (or context). Sanchez is not saying that Ward is a “step back” in terms of the quality of opposition. Obviously, Ward would be by far the most formidable opponent of Golovkin’s professional career. I talk to Sanchez and Tom Loeffler a lot, and they both readily admit that. They have a lot of respect for Ward’s talent, boxing ability and accomplishments. Sanchez was talking in terms of economics/business. This isn’t 2012 or 2013 when Ward was champ, on top of his game, second to Mayweather on pound-for-pound rankings and pulling in strong ratings on HBO. This is 2016, and Golovkin is a bigger attraction than Ward (even in California). Ward’s got to recapture the momentum he lost with inactivity. This past Saturday was a step in the right direction. If he can fight again on HBO by the summer and take care of business against Kovalev in the fall or winter, his stature and star power will arguably surpass GGG’s (it definitely will if Golovkin vs. Canelo doesn’t happen this year). At that point, Ward vs. Golovkin makes sense to Team GGG.
GGG should not go up for Ward, but Floyd and Canelo should go up for GGG? Come on, man. Don’t be mad at Abel for wanting his fighter to make as much money as possible. (You know he gets a percentage of GGG’s purses, right? LOL!) Mayweather and Canelo are the biggest events and biggest paydays that GGG can be involved in. And he’s not asking them to come up in weight. Golovkin would’ve tried to make 154 for Mayweather, who was THE RING/WBC/WBA champ at junior middleweight. Canelo is the current RING/WBC middleweight champ, so he’s no longer “coming up” in weight to fight GGG. (And, by the way, I saw Canelo last Tuesday in San Diego. He’s probably 10 pounds heavier than Golovkin RIGHT NOW.)
Now GGG just wants to stay at 160 to solidify the belts? No, dude. He’s ALWAYS wanted to unify the major titles and be “the man” of the middleweight division. I interviewed him a few times in 2011, more than a year before his U.S./HBO debut (long before he was even rated by THE RING), and he told me his main goal was to fight then-lineal/RING/WBC middleweight champ Sergio Martinez. Scroll down to the bottom of this story I penned on Golovkin prior to his fight with Kasim Ouma and read what he told me. I asked him what he wanted to do if he couldn’t get Martinez in the ring and he told me he wanted to collect all the belts and be a “unified champ, like Marvin Hagler.” That’s what he and K2 are trying to do now. Yes, they told HBO and the media that they’d fight anyone from 154 to 168 pounds before he debuted on the network and during his first year of fighting on HBO (late 2012-2013). They had to make every concession just to get on those cards (which were often promoted by other companies) and get the exposure they needed. But things done changed. GGG’s got ratings and fans that sellout major venues on both Coasts.
Now that Ward has moved up, I think GGG will want to fight at 168, he didn’t want to have to face Ward. Think again. There are bigger fights for Golovkin at 160 than 168. Canelo, Daniel Jacobs, Billy Joe Saunders, and eventually a young contender like Chris Eubank Jr., make for high-profile bouts for GGG (in the U.S. and UK). Maybe if James Degale and Badou Jack fight, the winner of that title unification bout could make for an attractive option at 168.
Found it interesting that Sanchez said, they would take the risk to fight Froch, for the payday, but not WARD? Meaning, we can’t f__k with Ward, but Froch would be easy money, or a fight we can win. They didn’t view Froch as “easy money.” They viewed that as a very hard fight but worth the risk because of Froch’s star power in the UK. If Ward could draw 80,000 fans (as Froch did with his rematch with George Groves) at any stadium in the U.S., I’m certain that Team GGG would have viewed him the same way.
I think in 3 fights at the weight, he would be back to Ward. I don’t think he deserves any criticism either if he had to get himself active. OK. You might be right, but I hope you’re not one of those fans giving Canelo s__t for not fighting GGG right away.
WHO’S NEXT FOR WARD?
What’s up Doug?
How goes the battle? I’ve just finished watching the Ward/Barrera fight and while Ward showed very little ring rust for a boxer with his fighting style and inactivity level, I have a feeling that Ward’s going to take another fight (or 2) before he steps up to the Krusher. This also makes me believe that this Lt Heavy showdown won’t happen until 2017.
My question is who do you think Ward will/should fight first before his eventually showdown with Sergey? Which fighter (who realistically can fight Ward without promotional issues like the Roc Nation/PBC feud) do you think would be a good barometer for how Ward handles the Kovalev? Keep up the good work. – D.W. from Boston, Ma.
Thanks for the kind words, D.W.
I don’t think there’s a light heavyweight out there who can tell us how Ward would fare against Kovalev and I don’t think there’s anyone out there who can help prepare the Krusher to deal with what Ward brings to the ring.
Relatively green contender, Slava Shabranskyy (15-0), who is promoted by Golden Boy, can bring the power and tenacity that Kovalev possesses but he lacks the WBO/IBF/WBA titleholder’s experience and polish. Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2), whose nickname is “Golden Boy” but he’s promoted by Main Events, brings a lot of experience and a difficult style to the ring, but the Malawi native lacks Kovalev’s brute strength and punching power. Still, I’d like to see how Ward handles either contender.
How goes the battle? Pretty good. I think I’m winning.
I’ve just finished watching the Ward/Barrera fight and while Ward showed very little ring rust for a boxer with his fighting style and inactivity level, I have a feeling that Ward’s going to take another fight (or 2) before he steps up to the Krusher. This also makes me believe that this Lt Heavy showdown won’t happen until 2017. I could be wrong, but it’s my understanding that Ward (like Kovalev) signed a three-fight deal with HBO late last year and the contract stipulates that his team is to begin negotiations with Main Events by the late summer for a fight against Kovalev that takes place in the fall or winter of 2016. If this is true, Ward only has time for one more tune-up before he’s supposed to go up against The Krusher.
BLACKWELL AND EUBANK
God willing Nick Blackwell has the all clear by the time your mailbag is published. His defeat to Chris Eubank Jr. showed how dangerous the sport can be and, in my opinion, why trainers and referees really have to think for boxers’ safety in the heat of the battle.
Blackwell was a game opponent but fighting someone several levels above him. The champion’s courage and pride were at odds with Eubank’s superior skills and spiteful, brutal style. That combination meant Blackwell fought for longer and took far more punishment than I think he should. I say this with the benefit of hindsight of course, and I’m not saying anyone’s to blame for Blackwell ending up in hospital, but in the mid-rounds there were two unbelievable barrages from Eubank where I thought the referee might step in. I also thought Blackwell’s corner might throw in the towel.
During those barrages Blackwell made the ‘mistake’ of managing the odd punch back, which is the main signal that seems to be needed for everyone to accept a fighter is OK. Other than that though, six or seven rounds in he looked a mess and like he knew he couldn’t win.
For me it proved why referees should almost never be given a hard time for stopping fights before things get nasty. We seem to have had quite a few allegedly ‘early’ stoppages in the UK in recent years (Froch v Groves 1 perhaps the most infamous of them) but referees have a perspective no camera can match and they shouldn’t be made to feel they’re spoiling a fight when they stop it. It may also have left trainers including Blackwell’s wondering how to balance the will to see their man win and ‘do himself proud’ with the need to step in and protect him if he’s taking a beating.
Eubank meanwhile impressed again. Definitely one to be tested against top opponents soon. Personally I love his arrogance and swagger (don’t know where he gets them from!), including the way he pretends to rest before launching sudden assaults, and that spitefulness I mentioned earlier that makes him stand out as a danger to anyone. Billy Joe Saunders did himself no credit acting so disrespectfully to junior and his dad on the night. For me, he’ll lose next time they get it on. – Tim, Lancashire, England
I favored Saunders in their first bout, but I would favor Eubank Jr. in the rematch. Eubank showed me a lot in the Saunders fight and has impressed me with each fight since his lone points loss. I think he’s close to being a top-five middleweight. He’s not there yet, but he will be. And when his father says he’s ready for the likes of Daniel Jacobs and GGG, I will look forward to those watching him challenge those veterans.
Regarding Blackwell’s tragic situation, I agree with everything you said about corners and officials allowing a battered boxer to continue fighting in a punishing bout just because he’s tough and game. It should not happen. Once a prize fight stops being a contest and becomes one-sided in terms of physical punishment, it should not continue.
Somebody’s got to be the adult and say enough is enough before things get critical in the ring, and that somebody has to have the courage and professionalism to ignore whatever emotional backlash that comes from the fans, the beat-up fighter and/or his corner. It should be the corner of the boxer who is being hurt but they are often too emotionally involved/connected to think or see straight. I think the referee’s primary job is to protect the safety of the fighters. Enforcing the rules is important but secondary.
I say this with the benefit of hindsight of course, and I’m not saying anyone’s to blame for Blackwell ending up in hospital, but in the mid-rounds there were two unbelievable barrages from Eubank where I thought the referee might step in. He should have.
I also thought Blackwell’s corner might throw in the towel. They should have.
During those barrages Blackwell made the ‘mistake’ of managing the odd punch back, which is the main signal that seems to be needed for everyone to accept a fighter is OK. I know. And that’s OK to think like that if you’re the fighter. It’s not OK if you’re the referee or ringside doctor. What needs to be examined is the amount of punishment a fighter is receiving. Period. So what if he can catch the guy pounding his brains out with one or two clean shots per round? Unless those punches are discouraging his tormentor from teeing off on him they’re useless. Most of the fighters who have died or were permanently disabled from brain injuries sustained in the ring were punching back to the bitter end of their fights. Like you noted, it was their fighting heart that kept them in the fight long after it stopped being a contest. These are the fighters who should be watched very closely in hard fights.
Other than that though, six or seven rounds in he looked a mess and like he knew he couldn’t win. Even if he thought he could win, it needed to be stopped at that point. Props to Chris Eubank Sr. for realizing this and telling his son to lay off Blackwell’s head and go to the body between rounds. He was clearly perplexed by the ref’s decision to allow the fight to continue (and one can understand why given his emotionally draining experience with the Michael Watson rematch almost 25 years ago.)
For me it proved why referees should almost never be given a hard time for stopping fights before things get nasty. I prefer a ref to stop a fight too soon rather than too late.
I pray that the paramedics weren’t too late in getting Blackwell, who was still in a medically induced coma when I published this mailbag, to the hospital. I know that he was attended to a lot faster and more efficiently/competently than Watson or Magomed Abdusalamov were after they sustained their traumatic brain injuries so I’m hopeful that he’ll pull through and eventually make a full recovery.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer