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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

Roman Gonzalez. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
15
Aug

MARGARITO’S LEGACY AND FUTURE

Hi Doug,

Just finished watching the fight between Antonio Margarito and Ramon Alvarez, good scrap for what it’s worth. I actually had ringside tickets and decided not to go, it was a gift from my brother, but told him that I didn’t have time to see a sparring partner vs a washed up ex champ.

The fight was ok, I scored it 5-5 minus the point from the knockdown for Margarito, thought he boxed well enough in the middle rounds to win the fight. Alvarez had good moments when he turned the volume up, but it turns out stamina problems do run in the family. Margarito looked like a shot fighter, he still has the skills of a world-class fighter, but lacks the punch, speed and reflexes that can carry him against a better opponent. Alvarez used all he had, but even that wasn’t enough to offset an over the hill Margarito.

It’s pretty much inevitable that he will step up and look for a final shot at a championship. The question is against who? I hope some Maromerito of the world stops him before he becomes the next Israel Vazquez and loses his eye.

The Tijuana Tornado, much like Erik Morales and Julio Cesar Chavez, will always have a special place in my boxing heart. Much like the two legends, Margarito was a very likable fighter that gave it all in the ring for him and the fans. He knew that the audience came to see a fight and he always gave us one. He is/was a very gracious individual outside the ring, always willing to take a picture and have a nice chat with the fans.   I’ve been to a lot of fights in my life and the first Margarito-Cotto bout was by far my favorite moment I’ve ever had live in a fight. I was so excited for his victory that I almost lost my voice. It was heartbreaking to see him get accused of using loaded gloves and being live to witness his destructive loss in the hands of Sugar Shane Mosley (who had a loaded body but nobody ever said anything).

I was also live in his losing effort against Paul Williams, another very exciting moment at the StubHub Center.

Now that his career is pretty much over, how do you see history treating him? Is he hall of fame worthy? Will his legacy always be linked to that night in Los Angeles? I personally don’t think he did enough, but do consider him a fighter that will always be in my personal hall of fame for all the thrills he gave us. Thank you Tony, I do believe in you and to this day feel that you were unjustly framed. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

You (and anyone else who has read the mailbag column since 2009) know what I think of Margarito/“Wrapgate.” There’s no doubt in my mind that a mountain was made out of molehill and he was railroaded (basically swept up in a territorial power struggle between Golden Boy and Top Rank, as well as intense animosity toward his trainer from the local boxing community). However, I’m in the minority (among fans and certainly among sports/boxing media) with this opinion. I can’t speak for how Margarito will be remembered in Mexico, but in the U.S. his legacy will be s__t on. The gringos in the media here have a massive hard-on for the “TJ Tornado” that they will never lose (shoot, they hate that nickname just because Steve Kim gave it to him), and the brothas don’t have much love for him, either. So basically you got me and Kim as the only non-Hispanic boxing media pullin’ for Margz. I don’t think we’re gonna help his case much, Juan. LOL.

But for what it’s worth, Margarito is also one of my favorite boxers. I loved covering his career because of how friendly and down to earth he and his management were, how open they were with their training camps, his willingness to take on all-comers, the tremendous effort he always gave and the way he bounced back from setbacks.

I’ve been to a lot of fights in my life and the first Margarito-Cotto bout was by far my favorite moment I’ve ever had live in a fight. Cotto-Margarito I was the best big-fight atmosphere I’ve ever encountered in Las Vegas. The entire week leading into the modest Top Rank/HBO PPV promotion at MGM Grand felt like a non-stop convention for only the hardest of hardcore boxing fans. Everybody I met that week was like a good friend I knew in high school. It didn’t matter if you were there for Cotto or for Margarito or if you just wanted to see a good scrap, everybody got along. It was wonderful.

I actually had ringside tickets and decided not to go, it was a gift from my brother, but told him that I didn’t have time to see a sparring partner vs a washed up ex champ. What!? Why’d you mope-out on your brother? I thought Margz was one of your all-time favorite fighters? That was a thoughtful gift from your hermano! You shouldn’t have given him that cynical fan bulls__t. You shoulda been there to cheer for your hombre!

Margarito looked like a shot fighter, he still has the skills of a world-class fighter, but lacks the punch, speed and reflexes that can carry him against a better opponent. Bro, he never had the “speed and reflexes” to carry him against a “better” opponent. He had a rock-solid chin and inhuman conditioning that enabled him to volume-punch and pressure opponents into various degrees of submission. Margz also had underrated inside-fighting technique. But his bread and butter was his workrate and pressure. The fact that he’s FINALLY using his reach and boxing from a distance (working almost exclusively behind a jab) these days is a telling sign that he doesn’t have it any more.

It’s pretty much inevitable that he will step up and look for a final shot at a championship. Of course!

The question is against who? Hopefully someone who won’t kill him. If I were managing Margz, I’d try to keep him away from the young guns with world titles (unless Canelo was looking to avenge his brother and we could get a very significant purse guarantee) and I’d steer him toward a fellow veteran who is just as faded as Margz (maybe more so), such as Ricardo Mayorga. I’d just ask the WBC to come up with “shot” world title belt decorated with spent bullets to put on the line.   

I hope some Maromerito of the world stops him before he becomes the next Israel Vazquez and loses his eye. If he winds up losing an eye one day, it will probably be a formality because I doubt he can see out of one of them right now. But hey, he’s got another eye, right?

 

ATG BLOWOUT

Dear Doug,

Have to share with you how much fun it was to run into my fellow poet Tony Pena and have him tell me how wild it was for him to see a contribution from me to the Mailbag. (He’s been in it also.) I even wrote a poem about Winky Wright once!

I wouldn’t argue against either Leonard or Duran as the #1 greatest living fighter, although if I had nothing else to do I’d have fun making a case for RJJ based not on his opponents but on his skill level. I think at middleweight he would have given both Leonard and Duran an awful time.

But here’s my question: Can you think of any blowout of an ATG

fighter to compare with Hearns vs. Duran?

Best. – Leslie Gerber, Woodstock, NY

That’s a good question, Leslie. There have been several showdowns between all-time great fighters that ended up being one-sided stoppage beatdowns (Salvador Sanchez’s eight-round TKO of Wilfredo Gomez comes to mind), but one- or two-round blowouts between great fighters is rare (not counting occurrences when one of the combatants is way past his prime).

However, it does happen (particularly in the heavyweight division) and some of them were just as devastating as Hearns-Duran. Here are the most notable examples from boxing’s Glamor Division:

Joe Louis-Max Schmeling rematch (first-round KO for The Brown Bomber, who broke some of the vertebrae of his former conqueror), Rocky Marciano-Joe Walcott rematch (first-round blasting by The Brockton Blockbuster eight months after he had to come from behind to earn the title), file_180697_12_Foreman-rocks-FrazierGeorge Foreman-Joe Frazier and Ken Norton (young Foreman dismissed the defending champ and No. 1 contender, both of whom had defeated Muhammad Ali, like rank journeymen), and Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks (undisputed champ Iron Mike walked through the undersized – and terrified – “lineal” titleholder in less than a round to earn universal recognition as “The Man” at heavyweight).

(You can toss Frazier’s second-round KO of Bob Foster in there but there was an obvious size disparity.)

In the lighter-weight classes, there’s Sugar Ray Robinson’s second-round KO of Carl “Bobo” Olson to regain the middleweight title, and Bob Foster’s light heavyweight title-winning second-round one-hitter-quitter against Dick Tiger.

(And if you want to extend the “blow-out” definition to three or four rounds, there’s Robinson’s third-round one-hitter-quitter against Rocky Graziano – although Ray briefly touched canvas in the first round – and his fourth bout with Olson, which ended in a fourth-round KO; as well as Sandy Saddler’s fourth-round knockout of Willie Pep in their first fight, and Aaron Pryor’s fourth-round KO of Antonio Cervantes.)

Some Hall-of-Fame-level blowouts include Julian Jackson’s second-round stoppage of Terry Norris and Mike McCallum’s second-round stoppage of Jackson.

I even wrote a poem about Winky Wright once! Really? Was it a Haiku?

I wouldn’t argue against either Leonard or Duran as the #1 greatest  living fighter, although if I had nothing else to do I’d have fun making a case for RJJ based not on his opponents but on his skill level. Hmmmm. I think a strong argument can be made for Roy Jones Jr. being in the top 10 of the greatest living boxers based on his accomplishments. In terms of skill alone, I’m not so sure. He was an excellent boxer to be sure but he wasn’t on the level of Leonard or Duran in my opinion. Jones’ athleticism set him apart from other elite boxers. If you rated the best living boxers by their level of natural talent (at the peak of their careers) a strong argument could be made for RJJ being No. 1, but I still think SRL gives him a run for his money in that department.

I think at middleweight he would have given both Leonard and Duran an awful time. I agree 100%.

 

PROMOTERS

Dougie –

Have you ever watched any of the IFLTV Eddie Hearn interviews? They are wicked – he’s such a good talker and goes into loads of behind the scenes depth.

(Fascinating one here about the exact financial structures Eddie uses to promote PPV and pay fighters also covers Eubank Snr being a total pain in the arse and basically having a personality disorder). https://youtu.be/zUzPkDdyjzo

Who’s your favourite promoter of all time?

Who’s the best ‘sales man’ promoter of all time (i.e. Could sell ice to an Eskimo, or has super human banter and chat powers)?

Who’s the most immoral and devious promoter of all time? Just kidding – don’t answer that I think we all already know!

Cheers. – Ed, London

I won’t answer that last question, Ed, but I’ll say this: In my opinion, it isn’t “the notorious” Don King.

I have watched many of those IFLTV videos (I think Kugan Cassius does a great job as interview) and among my favorites are the interviews with Hearn, especially the near-hour-long talk that you linked to because I think the young promoter tells it like it is and presented an insightful nuts-and-bolts breakdown of what happened with the Golovkin-Eubank Jr./Brook negotiations and the business of boxing (from his perspective, of course).

Who’s your favourite promoter of all time? I don’t have an all-time favorite promoter but there have been a few that I was fond of and usually enjoyed interviewing (or talking off the record). Two have passed away in recent years, Cedric Kushner and Dan Gooseen. They were accessible, loquacious, passionate and very funny in their own way. Kushner had the best stories (not always about boxing) and Goossen was always approachable and down to earth (even when he was in bulls__t mode). Lou DiBella, depending on his moods, can be a really cool guy to talk to or drink with. I admire Kathy Duva for her spirit and resolve in a ruthless, male-dominated sport/business, and I think she’s got a really good team (Main Events) around her. With Golden Boy, there’s Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins, whose careers I covered and who I respect as boxers-turned-promoters, and there’s also VP Eric Gomez and matchmaker Robert Diaz who really keep fans in mind when they make fights and put together events. And, obviously, I’ve got a lot of respect for Hearn. But my current favorite promoter is Tom Loeffler of K2, a

Gennady Golovkin and Tom Loeffler

Gennady Golovkin and Tom Loeffler

stand-up guy I’ve known for almost 20 years (back when he managed Kevin Kelley and Oba Carr, and advised Shane Mosley). Loeffler doesn’t just promote my top two favorite fighters, Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez (Chocolatito is co-promoted with Teiken Promotions, who are great and honorable people), he’s done an ATG job with GGG (in my humble opinion), he works with everyone that is willing to work with him, and he always operates with class. There’s no bitching, moaning or mud-slinging with Loeffler. He always keeps his cool and he always takes the high road.

Who’s the best ‘sales man’ promoter of all time (i.e. Could sell ice to an Eskimo, or has super human banter and chat powers)? Tex Rickard. In my life time, it’s Don King.

 

POUND-FOR-POUND NO. 1

Hey Dougie,

I read in your Monday mailbag that the winner between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward would become the new #1 PFP across the nation and Chocolatito would get dropped like a “112/115-pound hot potato.”

If Choco beats Principe next month, how much does that affect him losing his #1 spot?

MM for you: The G-Man vs GGG – I could see McClellan laying out the Good Boy cold and crumpled like last night’s laundry still in the washing machine. His left look to the liver was DEADLY. Best. – Brad

Good mythical matchup, Brad, but I respectfully disagree. I think Golovkin would walk through McClellan’s fire behind a strong, educated jab and smart pressure and get to the rangy Detroit bomber’s body before The G-Man could get to his. I like GGG by mid-to-late TKO in a punishing battle.

I read in your Monday mailbag that the winner between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward would become the new #1 PFP across the nation and Chocolatito would get dropped like a “112/115-pound hot potato.” That’s what I think. The heavier divisions always get more attention and respect from the media (which, ironically, is the reason the term “pound for pound” was created – to give deserved attention to lighter-weight talents, such as Sugar Ray Robinson and Willie Pep, back when heavyweight champ Joe Louis was the man of the sport). It’s not out of line to rate the Kovalev-Ward winner No. 1 P4P, after all, both are rated in the top five of most credible mythical rankings. However, I don’t think it should be an “automatic” decision given Roman Gonzalez’s accomplishments and dominance over three weight classes. 

If Choco beats Principe next month, how much does that affect him losing his #1 spot? Winning a fourth world title in a fourth weight class against an unbeaten and talented boxer, such as Carlos Cuadras, should give any boxing writer or member of a ratings committee reason to pause and consider keeping the undefeated Nicaraguan in the No. 1 spot but I know that many media members merely view Chocolatito as “place holder” between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and a higher-profile P4P King.

 

‘BORING’ BOXERS

Hey Doug!

Long time reader here, first time writing in. Firstly I’d like to say a big thanks for your bi-weekly mailbags. They make my Monday morning in the office just about bearable and add to the excitement of the impending weekend on a Friday.

I’d like to know your thoughts on the hate that we see constantly being directed towards Ward (and other fighters of his ilk) for being ‘boring’. I watched his fight against Brand at the weekend and whilst Brand was obviously a sub-par opponent I enjoyed the bout it and was once again impressed by Ward’s skills. Can he do the same against Kovalev? That remains to be seen. But we now have the ridiculous situation on here and across social media where people are stating that even if he does pull it off – after stepping up a weight and taking on supposedly one of the most feared punchers on the planet – he still won’t have their respect as he doesn’t take enough risks.

Are we in danger of losing sight of what this is all about? Boxing is not called ‘the sweet science’ for nothing. I like a blood and guts brawl as much as the next man but every time I hear people decrying those fighters who manage to utterly dominate their opponents without taking serious damage as the fights aren’t ‘exciting’ enough for them, I shake my head a little bit. I’m reminded of an interview with Golden Boy’s own B-Hop, who worded things far more eloquently than I ever could (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxmP_hhADaQ). He is frank in his assertion that the fact fighters are lambasted for being able to hit without being hit is totally absurd.

Anyway sorry for rambling on a bit, it just boils my blood seeing the same stuff constantly reeled out about Ward. Keep up the good work! – Robert, Edinburgh via Harare

Thanks for kind words and thanks sharing your thoughts, Robert.

Question for you: Why do you let those fans who describe boxers you respect and appreciate as “boring” get under your skin so much?

That’s either their earnest opinion OR they just don’t like a particular fighter and calling him “boring” is one way of dissing him and/or pissing of that fighter’s fans. You’re going to get some degree of name calling in every sport.

If you like defensive boxers or technical fighters who don’t take unnecessary risks and specialize in neutralizing their opponents (as Ward does), why not just support them and celebrate them without worrying about what another boxing fan thinks?

I’ll tell you a story and try to make it brief (and I apologize if I’ve told this particular tale before). Two years ago (this month) I took my wife to see Herbie Hancock and Gregory Porter at the Hollywood Bowl. My wife is a big fan of Porter, a soulful jazz/R&B singer who brings a lot of passion to the stage. I was there for Hancock, one of the true legends of jazz. A little over 12,000 were on hand at the famous outdoor venue and everybody was captivated by Porter, who sings from the heart about matter of the heart. The big man has a strong stage presence and he involves the audience in performance, inviting them to sing along with him during some of songs. Hancock, a great composer, musician and innovator who’s been around since the early ‘60s, had a more low-key stage presence. He just walked out

Herbie Hancock and orchestra at Hollywood Bowl

Herbie Hancock and orchestra at Hollywood Bowl

on the stage, sat down at his piano and started playing with his orchestra behind him. I’m not sure if he even looked at the crowd before he began his first song, which was a long composition. The crowd applauded politely after it was done, but midway through the second song, people began to leave. The audience visibly thinned out by Hancock’s fourth composition. I didn’t care. And it didn’t bother me one bit that half of the remaining audience was falling asleep (including my dear wife). I was in heaven. Listening to Hancock’s music live and under the stars took me into the cosmos. I was gone like the Silver Surfer as they played “Maiden Voyage”! I not only appreciated what I was hearing, I was honored to witness it. But, at the same time, I wasn’t mad at the old ladies that left the Hollywood Bowl early to go wait in the charter busses in the parking lot (thereby avoiding the clusterf__k exit of the crowd after the concert). I didn’t resent the folks who fell asleep during Hancock’s complex compositions and I didn’t look down on all the fans that were way more into Porter’s style of music and performance

Gregory Porter at Hollywood Bowl

Gregory Porter at Hollywood Bowl

than they were of the jazz icon in his mid-70s. I understood why they were attracted to Porter. The man exuded emotion. I felt it, and I became a Porter fan that night. But I was more into Hancock because, hey, that’s just what I like.

Boxing isn’t unlike jazz. The complex, cerebral stuff isn’t going to be music that packs large arenas full of loud fans. Porter’s brand can do it, though. He’s a talented artist in his own right (a Grammy Award winner, in fact) but he’s kind of like the slugger/brawler because he GIVES of himself when he’s on stage, and his music/lyrics aren’t as complex as many of the jazz legends that I worship. S__t, they’re catchy! And there’s nothing wrong with that! You can like both styles.

I don’t see why folks can’t appreciate EVERY style of boxing, but I don’t get pissed off if someone isn’t as into a pier-six brawl like Jesus Soto Karass-Yoshihiro Kamegai I. I loved that fight. If you, or someone else, thought the two gatekeepers were disrespecting the sport with a wanton and crude display of violence that’s your opinion. And you guys can have that opinion. I was captivated and thrilled by Soto Karass-Kamegai, so it has meaning and significance to me and that’s all that matters.

If you’re captivated by what Ward or Mayweather or Hopkins does in the ring, that’s all that should matter to you. 

JUMPING ROPE

I enjoyed the video you posted in your mailbag. I see you have a daughter. I have two although both are in their 20’s now. I hope you get as much happiness from your daughter as I had with mine. They grow up but you always see them as little girls.

I see you were jump roping. There is an excellent YouTube video depicting boxers from past to present. The obvious guys like Robinson, Duran, and Mayweather are depicted. Those are not my favorites though. Watching Harry Greb “dancing” with a jump rope almost 100 years ago is to me art. Remember the technology with which that was filmed. The other guy is Sonny Liston and it is astounding to see a man that big and that old spin a rope so gracefully.

By the way, the neighborhood Greb grew up in was described as a ghetto and certainly was half a century ago when I was a kid as well, and sadly still is. I have never been to Inglewood but then again I have. – Eugene

I bet you have, Eugene. (In fact, I’m guessing the area of Pittsburgh you and Greb are from is grittier than “the Wood” currently is.)

Is this the YouTube video you’re talking about? I love it. This is fascinating footage. I’ve seen the Liston footage and he was indeed smooth for a man of his bulk. I thought Greb and Rocky Marciano had some nimble jump-roping feet for two rugged sons of guns known for their aggression and smothering pressure. I like the Sugar Ray Robinson footage best. He had the most impressive rope-skipping rhythm and coordination in my opinion. Benny Leonard was a boss, though.

One more note from this gem, after seeing Roy Jones Jr. do this thing in a public ring, I have to wonder how the Pensacola wonder would handle a pair of nunchucks.

Thanks for sharing, Eugene. You’ve inspired me to jump more rope during the week (and not just on Sunday’s during my Periscopes with Coach Schwartz). I’m gonna try to get my girls to skip with me at home. They’re 8 and 12 years old, but they’ll always be my babies.

Check out this week’s Periscope if you haven’t already done so. Coach quizzed me on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team:

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

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