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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network
21
Aug

STATE OF BOXING

Dear Dougie,

First time writer here and just wanna ask your professional opinion on a specific subject. What would you say is the general perception of the current boxing landscape among the professional boxing world today? That is, in relation to the golden age of boxing until today. We all know the heyday is in the past (at least for now), but from your point of view, what does the pro boxing world think of where the sport currently lies in the annals of its history?

With all of the politics and money-hungry business tactics going on, the best fights are not regularly being made and as you know the fans pay the ultimate price. Would you say the pro perception is more on the “boxing is a business and I need to make money” side, or perhaps on the “I realize fans are getting screwed but I can’t make a big enough impact to change the sport” side? I’m really curious what the boxing world actually thinks. Maybe even forget the promoters or managers, what would you say boxers’ opinions are?



As a long life fan, I’m continuously disappointed these days with safe, “low risk, high reward”, fights and I’m honestly thinking that it won’t be long before I give up on a sport that I grew up watching. Never thought I’d actually say that but it seems like I don’t really get the excitement out of it anymore (unless it’s one of the few gems we get per year). Particularly feeling this way the past few years. As a purist, I think I’ll always be interested in new talent but as a hardcore, I’m losing interest because of soft match making. These days up and comers are putting on the great shows and trying to make a statement while the upper echelon are being protected. The worst part about that is that those up and comers eventually get a little fame and begin applying the Floydprint (money blueprint) and recycling the proverbial face slap to boxing fans in the process.

Anyway, just wondering if you, as a boxing fan, ever feel the same way. Do you think this will be the boxing landscape from here on? Is this what we fans will have to put up with forever?? Is there anything we can do as a whole to make a stand? Would an “all encompassing” sanctioning/governing body save the sport?

Anyway, let me know what your honest unbiased opinion is. Keep up the good work and thanks for even reading this.

Mythical Match up:

A Prime Joe Calzaghe vs. Today’s GGG @ 165. – Max D.

Calzaghe gets up from a knockdown (and maybe survives a few wobbly moments) to outhustle and outpoint Golovkin by close decision in a dramatic fight.

Thanks for finally writing to the mailbag column, Max. Sorry to hear how disappointed you are with the sport. You ask so many questions (some of which I can answer, some that I can’t) I might as well start from the top:

What would you say is the general perception of the current boxing landscape among the professional boxing world today? From my perspective – and I can only speak on the U.S. professional scene – I think most of the boxing industry is in survival mode until the PBC experiment runs its course. The U.S. boxing scene was basically divided into to two leagues with the launch of Al Haymon’s ambitious endeavor at the start of 2015 (and the industry had begun to feel its impact in 2014 with the rift within Golden Boy Promotions and good fights that were denied to Showtime), and with the aftermath of Mayweather-Pacquiao. Since last March, we’ve had the PBC (with its subordinate promotional support entities)/Showtime and the PBC’s various time-bought network partners (NBC, Spike, ESPN, Fox, FS1, etc.) on one side and we’ve had everyone else (GBP, Main Events, Top Rank, etc.) and HBO (plus a few other networks, such as UniMas, estrellaTV, beIN Sports and CBS Sports Net) on the other side. From the moment Haymon’s plans were made plain and his deals with NBC, Spike, CBS and Fox were announced, I heard Haymon’s rivals whisper “We’re just going to have to ride this out to its conclusion.” Most believed the “Great Divide” (that’s my title, don’t steal it, I’m gonna trademark it!) would last through 2017 before a more traditional business model and practices settled back in. It’s been tough on all involved. I can tell you that. Everyone has had to hustle and struggle, including the PBC Players (who were downright smug 18 months ago, but not so much anymore). It hasn’t all been bad. Since the start of 2015, there’s been more boxing on free platforms than there has been in a couple decades, and the absence of established networks for non-PBC Players has forced some to up their games (such as GBP revamping its monthly Fight Club series and introducing the RingTVLive streams).

We all know the heyday is in the past (at least for now), but from your point of view, what does the pro boxing world think of where the sport currently lies in the annals of its history? Again, I can’t speak for established pro boxing industries outside of the U.S., such as the UK, German or Japanese scenes. But here in the States I believe most view 2015, this year and next year as “difficult times” and a rebuilding period.

With all of the politics and money-hungry business tactics going on, the best fights are not regularly being made and as you know the fans pay the ultimate price. Eh, you’re going cliché on me here, kid. Boxing has always been about politics and money hungry business tactics. That’s nothing new. And as for the best fights not regularly being made, that’s only true if you equate “boxing” to six or seven fighters (Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson). For the most part, the best fighters DO fight each other. If you’re not aware of this, you’re not really paying attention to the sport.

I’m really curious what the boxing world actually thinks. Well, I’ve given you MY thoughts on the U.S. scene. I’m sure if you asked 10 other “boxing insiders” the same questions you’d get 10 different answers/opinions.

Maybe even forget the promoters or managers, what would you say boxers’ opinion are? I can’t give you a boxer’s opinion. I’m not a boxer. But there’s this popular form of social media called Twitter, where more than a few pro boxers can be contacted. Give it try. Ask them the same questions you asked me (and share the answers with us if you are so inclined and if they are OK with that).

As a long life fan, I’m continuously disappointed these days with safe, “low risk, high reward”, fights and I’m honestly thinking that it won’t be long before I give up on a sport that I grew up watching. It sounds like you’ve already got one foot out the door, Max.

Never thought I’d actually say that but it seems like I don’t really get the excitement out of it anymore (unless it’s one of the few gems we get per year). If you don’t get the excitement out of boxing anymore – if “the thrill is gone” as BB King once wailed – there’s no reason for you to watch or follow the sport.

Particularly feeling this way the past few years. Oh yeah, the thrill is indeed gone. Like I told Kevin from Vancouver/Dublin in last week’s Friday mailbag, you need to leave boxing alone until it’s able to or willing to deliver what you want. Don’t feel bad for doing it. Boxing will survive this transition period and if you don’t feel like waiting it out that’s OK.

As a purist, I think I’ll always be interested in new talent but as a hardcore, I’m losing interest because of soft match making. For me, boxing has always been more about the new talent than the established names.

These days up and comers are putting on the great shows and trying to make a statement while the upper echelon are being protected. That’s why the young guns deserve our attention.

The worst part about that is that those up and comers eventually get a little fame and begin applying the Floydprint (money blueprint) and recycling the proverbial face slap to boxing fans in the process. I disagree. I think there are many young up and comers who don’t want to do things the way Mayweather did during the second half of his pro career. And the ones who do want to emulate Mayweather can’t because A) they aren’t as talented/skilled as he was, B) most lack the polarizing persona/shtick of “Money,” and C) they won’t get the same network/PPV/promotional/fan support he had (Floyd burned those bridges to the ground – LOL).

Anyway, just wondering if you, as a boxing fan, ever feel the same way. No, not really. Even when the “stars,” such as Roy Jones Jr. and Mayweather, refused to fight the opponents I wanted to see them face, there were always dozens of less-popular/less-coddled fighters who were freakin’ fearless and who made for great fights (Barrera-Morales-Marquez-Pacquiao from 122-130 pounds, among many others). Plus, like I mentioned earlier, I was always looking for the up-and-comers, the under-the-radar prospects that would one day shock the boxing world, kick ass against the elite and forge names/legacies for themselves. I knew about and was into Terry Norris years before he embarrassed my boyhood hero Sugar Ray Leonard. I predicted that Sugar Shane Mosley would be multi-division champ back when he was fighting in hotel ballrooms. I had high hopes for both Diego Corrales and Edwin Valero when they were overlooked or underground and I was absolutely captivated by their dramatic lives and ascents despite their tragic flaws and endings. Seeing GGG where he is now in the boxing world is a huge thrill for me, especially when I recall where he was when I first met him five years ago. I love the fighters, their often winding journeys and, of course, the fights they make. I love boxing!

Do you think this will be the boxing landscape from here on? Is this what we fans will have to put up with forever?? What? No! Are you by chance a teenager?

Is there anything we can do as a whole to make a stand? Yeah, watch what you’re interested in and don’t watch what you’re not interested in.

Would an “all encompassing” sanctioning/governing body save the sport? I doubt it.

SEPTEMBER 10

Hey Doug,

Been a long time since I wrote in (by my standards anyway). September 10th has to be one of the best days of boxing all year, with a Big Drama Show, Chocolatito-Cuadras, and Kamegai-Soto Karass 2. Of course, some of your readers are so depressed about other fights that they won’t be paying attention. Who do you see winning the Kamegai-JSK fight?

Thanks man. – Robert from Ashton, MD

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Robert.

I have no idea who will win Kamegai-Soto Karass II. I thought Kamegai won the first fight by a point or two but I was fine with the draw. I don’t care who wins the rematch. I just plan to enjoy the fight.

I plan to enjoy ALL the major bouts that take place on Sept. 10 (including the Lee Haskins-Stuart Hall fight on the Golovkin-Brook undercard).

And to all the Boxing Mopes out there who can’t enjoy the sport until Canelo Alvarez fights Golovkin and plan to bitch and moan their way through GGG-Brook, Gonzalez-Cuadras and Kamegai-Soto Karass II, PLEASE do me a favor and stay the F__K away from me and my social media on Sept. 10, because I’m gonna have a good time.

GGG-BROOK ARGUMENTS, MSG VS. BARCLAYS

Hi Dougie,

Saw our mutual bard buddy, Leslie Gerber, from Woodstock, NY, enjoying a beverage last week at my poetry reading. Like Leslie, I also wrote a poem about a boxer, though my subject was the gritty Chuck Wepner. My poetry is rough and tumble kind of like the Bayonne Brawler.

So us pugilistic poets were talking about GGG-Brook and we disagreed as to how long Kell would last. We did refrain from fisticuffs, however, he thought GGG, in addition to being a destroyer, was too fine a boxer for Brooks to handle, hence, an outcome similar to Canelo-Khan. I think it will be a much more competitive fight as Brooks is a big welterweight with arguably the best skill set GGG has ever encountered and is fighting in his backyard though I think Golovkin can still win a hard fought decision. Maybe as close as 115-113 assuming no knockdowns. What do you think?

I am a GGG fan and I wrote you last year trying to decide whether to go see GGG-Lemeux at the Garden instead of buying the PPV. I ended up going and had a great time. Even went to Jimmy’s Corner beforehand to soak in some atmosphere. Why is it that Brooklyn is getting all the big fights lately instead of the Mecca?

Lastly, the mythical match ups:

Miguel Cotto vs Julio Cesar Chavez at 140

Pernell Whitaker vs Hector Camacho at 135

Wilfred Benitez vs Mike McCallum at 154

Bob Foster vs Tommy Hearns at 175

Thanks Dougie. Enjoy what’s left of summer. – Tony Pena, Beacon, NY

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tony. Say hi to Leslie for me (and thank him for sharing his Winky Wright poem with me via email).

Why is it that Brooklyn is getting all the big fights lately instead of the Madison Square Garden? Good question. Perhaps Barclays, being a relatively new multi-purpose mega-arena has sought out or lobbied for more big fights/name boxers than MSG because it is still in the process of establishing itself.

Also, I think the owners/investors/managers of Barclays Center have an interest in the sport and their relationships with Richard Schaefer (when the Big Swiss Cheese was CEO of GBP), Al Haymon and Showtime have helped keep bigtime boxing in the building since it opened in the fall of 2012.  Of course, “the Mecca” (which also owns The Forum here in my neck of the woods) is an integral part of boxing lore and its current managers still have an interest in the sport through their relationship with Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, Wladimir Klitschko and their new darling GGG.

My poetry is rough and tumble kind of like the Bayonne Brawler. That’s the way it should be.

So us pugilistic poets were talking about GGG-Brook and we disagreed as to how long Kell would last. We did refrain from fisticuffs, however, he thought GGG, in addition to being a destroyer, was too fine a boxer for Brooks to handle, hence, an outcome similar to Canelo-Khan. If you had the decency not to engage in fisticuffs you weren’t drinking enough, but I digress… I think Golovkin is as fine a forward-marching technician as you will find in boxing but Brook may have more natural talent/athletic gifts. Whether or not that boxing talent and those physical gifts will carry up to the 160-pound division against the best middleweight in the sport remains to be seen, but I do not think Brook will be blown out.

I think it will be a much more competitive fight as Brooks is a big welterweight with arguably the best skill set GGG has ever encountered and is fighting in his backyard though I think Golovkin can still win a hard fought decision. I agree that Brook is a monster welterweight and one can certainly argue that he’s GGG’s most skilled professional opponent to date but I would be surprised if he lasted the distance.

Maybe as close as 115-113 assuming no knockdowns. Man, if Brook takes Golovkin the distance and makes it that close of a fight, GGG will have NO trouble getting Canelo and the top middleweights into the ring in December and 2017.

What do you think? I think Brook makes it a fight until succumbing in the late rounds. I don’t see him getting taken out with one shot as Khan was against Canelo.

Your mythical matchups (which are really good):

Miguel Cotto vs Julio Cesar Chavez at 140 – Chavez by late TKO in a brutal, classic war of attrition.

Pernell Whitaker vs Hector Camacho at 135 – Sweet Pea by very close, maybe split decision in a fast-paced tactical showdown between ultra-savvy/talented southpaws.

Wilfred Benitez vs Mike McCallum at 154 – Benitez sticks, moves and counter punches his way to a close but unanimous decision in a competitive chess match.

Bob Foster vs Tommy Hearns at 175 – Foster gets through a shaky first round, stuns Hearns in the second and ices the Hitman in the third round of a classic shootout between explosive thin men.

FRAMPTON FORECAST, BOOTH BUSTS BROOK BUBBLE

Dougie,

Carl Frampton is 10 in the Ring Magazine’s P4P.
He said: “(I am) the only ever Northern Irishman to win a world title in two divisions, only the second ever Irishman after Steve Collins to win world titles in two different divisions, I would like to have a go at three and stand out on my own.”

You think he stands a very good chance of coming out on top against the other standouts in the featherweight division?

Can he make an impact at Jr. Lightweight?

Just for fun – what would Loma, Salido and Vargas do to him right now?

Probably the most premature question ever, but that’s what happens in the UK. We get incredibly over excited (but you probably couldn’t tell from looking at our faces).

Adam Booth knows his s__t & sums up Kell Brook and GGG as follows:

That over excited Kell Brook shaped bubble burst when I saw this video. You think he’s spot on? – Ed, London

Yeah, I can’t fault Booth’s logic, analysis or expertise, and I wouldn’t try to. I have a lot of respect for him.

I love that incredulous look he gave the FightHype interviewer when the kid told him that “not a lot of guys have tried to move around (Golovkin) laterally with the skill that Kell Brook has.” Oh my God, that was priceless, and Booth’s response was “spot on” as folks on your side of the Pond say.

Booth described GGG perfectly by calling him a “pressure-fighting counter-puncher” and he’s absolutely correct in pointing out that talented boxers have been trying (and failing) to stick-and-move successfully against him since the amateurs.

Regarding your enthusiasm for Frampton’s future, don’t hold back. The Belfast native is worthy of it.

You think he stands a very good chance of coming out on top against the other standouts in the featherweight division? Yes, I do. I wouldn’t pick any 126 pounder to beat him, and that includes Gary Russell Jr.

Can he make an impact at Jr. Lightweight? I think so.

Just for fun – what would Loma, Salido and Vargas do to him right now? Lomachenko would likely beat Frampton but I don’t think he’d embarrass himself against the ultra-talented Ukrainian. Salido and Vargas would be dangerous because of their size, physical strength and pressure, but I think Frampton could hang with them I think he could outpoint them on a good night.  

DARNELL BOONE

Just a few quick questions. Can you give us a backgrounder on Darnell Boone’s career? Always heard of him as giving every up and comer from middleweight to light heavyweight a stern challenge.

Was Darnell himself ever viewed as a top prospect? What’s his story? Obviously, he’s gotta be much better than his record shows.

Thanks. – Peter, Dumont, New Jersey

Of course, Boone is better than his record shows. He’s probably the best active fighter in boxing with a .500 record. Hey, if Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev was matched as tough as Boone was in their first three years as a pro the two pound for pound players may not be unbeaten today.

Was he ever viewed as a prospect? No. The risky manner in which he was matched from day one and the frequency with which he fought (usually against unbeaten or once-beaten prospects) is not the way prospects are moved and developed.

Boone has always been a gatekeeper. If he wasn’t as tough and talented as he is he would have been considered a journeyman a long time ago (and likely would have been burnt out by now).

Even at age 36 and clearly past his athletic prime, the Youngstown, Ohioan remains one of the better gatekeepers in the business. I dubbed him “The Godfather of Gatekeepers” (respectfully, of course) while doing the call (with Beto Duran) for Boone’s most recent fight, a close 10-round decision over Shiller Hyppolite in March. Boone ran out of gas against the gutsy Montreal-based super middleweight fringe contender but he dropped and later badly rocked the once-beaten hometown favorite in the middle rounds of the entertaining fight. He’s STILL dangerous!

Can you give us a backgrounder on Darnell Boone’s career? No, not really, but maybe you can find something in these interviews on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2JlMcbjcnM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFIMe1QysRk

And here’s a video analyzing his record/career:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBEN2Vnfwtg

Always heard of him as giving every up and comer from middleweight to light heavyweight a stern challenge. You heard right, just ask Ward, Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson.

PAY PER VIEW NUMBERS

Sup Doug;

What are the ppv numbers for the Crawford/Postol fight? Been a few weeks & I haven’t seen anything.

Thanks Doug, take care. – Gerry K., League City

Don’t hold your breath for any sore of “official” announcement from Top Rank or HBO on the Terence Crawford-Viktor Postol pay-per-view numbers. The show tanked, badly enough for there to be no point in trying to fudge the numbers.

Rumor has it that it did between 50,000-60,000 PPV buys, which is not good at all considering the show needed to do between 75,000-80,000 buys in order to “break even” (according to Bob Arum). The HBO replay a week later didn’t do very good ratings either.

It’s not that big of a deal to me. I didn’t view the matchup as a “big event” (or even a “big fight,” though I recognized its significance) going to the HBO Pay Per View headliner. I saw the PPV for what it was, a necessary mechanism to make a fight between unbeaten 140-pound beltholders and to advance the very promising career of Crawford. And I think it was worth the loss of money. Crawford now holds his second RING title and viewed by most fans as the real champ, as well as an elite boxer. He’s in position for big things next year.

However, I do find it curious how a lot of the same fans that loudly ripped Golovkin for “only” doing around 150,000 buys (or 95,000-100,000 depending on who you believe) for his first PPV against David Lemieux last October have been quiet and subdued in regard to Crawford’s pay-per-view numbers.

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

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