Dougie’s Monday mailbag
OCTOBER AND BEYOND
What gives? October looks extraordinarily quiet. Is this blowback from potential problems with the PBC and the timing of schedules? Or, do I have to reacquaint myself with up and comers because maybe there is a little bit of a turning over of the guard?
Hawk-time forever. – Mark Abramovich
Indeed, Mark. #HawkTime4Ever. Aaron Pryor’s passing took me by surprise and got me down in the dumps a little bit late Sunday morning, but all the love the former junior welterweight champ elicited from boxing fans on social media picked up my spirits.
Pryor deserves the adulation. I don’t know if we will ever see an American boxer come around again with the freakish blend of athleticism, volume-punching, indefatigable aggression and warrior’s heart that the Cincinnati native possessed.
Here’s a few things you should know about Pryor:
He was a top amateur talent that won more than 200 bouts (only 16 losses), multiple national titles and narrowly missed making the 1976 Olympic squad (after losing to a great amateur boxer in Howard David Jr.).
He beat a bona-fide legend (Colombia’s Antonio Cervantes) to win the WBA 140-pound title in 1980 (it was his fifth of seven bouts fought that year).
Although he’s famous (and also infamous) for his two bouts with Alexis Arguello, it must be noted that he defeated other notable fighters of the 1970s/early ‘80s, including former 140-pound titleholders Alfonso Frazer and Sang-Hyun Kim, and top-10 contenders Julio Valdez, Lennox Blackmoore, DuJuan Johnson and Miguel Montilla.
He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame with just 40 pro bouts (39-1, 35 KOs). Many consider him to be the best junior welterweight ever (which is saying something given that ATGs, such as Tony Canzoneri, Jack “Kid” Berg, Carlos Ortiz, Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell Whitaker, held versions of the 140-pound title).
He was a very cool, down-to-earth dude in retirement (once he got his life together).
Regarding the month of October, yeah it is pretty quiet (especially in comparison to September and November).
But I’m not going to speculate on whether the “quiet time” has anything to do with “potential problems with the PBC” because I’ve heard from PBCheerleaders (among fans and the media) that we shouldn’t do that (even though a lot of these same folks had no problem speculating on the “imminent demise” of Golden Boy Promotions when Richard Schaefer and Al Haymon officially split from the L.A. company with most of its roster late 2014/early2015).
I’m just going to enjoy some down time. If you’re a hardcore boxing nut that can’t live without the sport for a few weeks, you shouldn’t fret too much. Just because HBO and Showtime aren’t airing live boxing from the U.S. doesn’t mean it isn’t happening on other networks and platforms and in other parts of the world.
You just need to brush up on your Spanish and watch networks like UniMas and beIn Sports Espanol (and find the right streams for UK action). I’ll tell you about the fights and fighters that I plan to watch this month:
This Friday on the UniMas show from Studio City, Calif., headlined by once-beaten lightweight fringe contender Jose Felix Jr., Steve Kim’s favorite Eastern European welterweight prospect Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (14-0, 12 KOs) is in action.
On Saturday, in Liverpool, England, my Ozarks homeboy B.J. Flores challenges hometown hero (and arguably the best interview in boxing) Tony Bellew for the WBC cruiserweight title. I know a lot of you hate on Flores, but I like him (I think he’s an excellent commentator) and I’m not going to turn my back on a fellow Southern Missourian. I’ll also be watching lightweight standout Luke Campbell take on Derry Mathews on that card. I’m not sure where you can see it on TV, Mark. You might just have to find a stream.
Also on Saturday, beIn Sports Espanol will televise what should be a decent scrap between Jorge Paez Jr. and Johnny Navarete. Former bantamweight beltholder Tomoki Kameda returns in the co-featured bout.
Next Saturday (Oct. 22), David Lemieux stays busy in Montreal against Cristian Rios. On the same day two UK up-and-comers I’m high on – junior middleweight Liam Williams and middleweight Anthony Ogogo – fight in separate bouts on separate cards. Williams (15-0-1, 10 KOs) defends his British title against unbeaten (17-0) Ahmet Patterson in Wales. (WBO middleweight titleholder Billy Joe Saunders makes his “triumphant return” on this card, and yes, I’m writing that with a lot of sarcasm.) Ogogo (11-0, 7 KOs), a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, faces 16-1 Craig Cunningham for the WBC “international” title in Birmingham, England. (Once again, you’ll probably have to find a stream for these bouts/cards.)
And Oct. 29, a fight that should only attract the interest of blood-thirsty ghouls outside of Puerto Rico – JuanMa Lopez vs. Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. – takes place in San Juan. Both Boricuas are past it (and JuanMa probably shouldn’t be allowed to fight) but I know the atmosphere will be lit for this scrap and I know it will be dramatic for as long as it lasts. It headlines an Integrated Sports PPV.
OSCAR VALDEZ & RANDOM THOUGHTS
Hope you’re doing okay. Thanks as always for the great work, especially appreciate it when we hit a quiet period like this October. It keeps us boxing fanatics sane!
Here’s what’s on my mind:
– Oscar Valdez looks like he could be the real deal, with a fan friendly style and likable personality. His win over Gradovich was solid as was his win over Rueda, I am looking forward to his next bout. Don’t know much about Osawa, will he be a test? Do you think Valdez is ready to get in with a LSC, Frampton or Russell Jr? Arum has said he could be the next Erik Morales!
– in my opinion, the featherweights have quietly become one of the most exciting weight classes. Take the top 7 or 8 guys and match any of them- it is pick ’em fight. Cuellar and Selby are a handful for anyone and am hoping Mares is okay with his eye problems. What weight class do you think has the most toss up fights for their top 8?
– Don’t think Ricky Burns can do much against Broner- assuming fight gets made and Broner has his head on straight. Do you think Broner will be more focused after the brief incarceration? I hope so, he’s hard to root for but talented, want to eventually see him against Bud Crawford, think it would be a good test for Bud.
– Looking forward to the Pacquiao undercard as much as the main event. Donaire-Magdaleno is very intriguing, believe we will see a “changing of the guard” occur with Donaire going out on his shield.
– is it me or does it seem fighters have recently become less worried about protecting their “0”? I was looking at the results from this year and the matches upcoming and think the hangover from Mayweather protecting his record could be over.
Sorry for the litany of items, will blame it on the drought of bouts! Keep up the great work. Sincerely. – Rahn
No worries, Rahn. I’ll try not to ramble too much myself.
– Oscar Valdez looks like he could be the real deal, with a fan friendly style and likable personality. I think Valdez is the goods. He’s got the amateur background, a good training situation (he loves to work hard and he wants to learn) and he’s just entering his physical prime at 25. He’s also a great guy as you can tell.
I am looking forward to his next bout. You should be.
Don’t know much about Osawa, will he be a test? I don’t think Hiroshige will be a test but I expect the Japanese veteran to make for a good fight. Japanese fighters generally bring the ruckus, and Osawa is on an eight-bout KO streak going back to December 2012.
Do you think Valdez is ready to get in with a LSC, Frampton or Russell Jr? Almost. He’s getting there. Maybe by the end of 2017.
Arum has said he could be the next Erik Morales! It’s his job to say s__t like that.
– in my opinion, the featherweights have quietly become one of the most exciting weight classes. No doubt about it. Frampton and Santa Cruz gave us one of the best fights this year. There’s a lot of potential in the 126-pound division.
Take the top 7 or 8 guys and match any of them- it is pick ’em fight. Cuellar and Selby are a handful for anyone and am hoping Mares is okay with his eye problems. I agree. I’ve heard rumors that Mares-Cuellar could happen in L.A. in December, but ya never know (I don’t wanna “speculate” …)
What weight class do you think has the most toss up fights for their top 8? Lightweight. Junior middleweight. Cruiserweight. Junior Bantamweight.
– Don’t think Ricky Burns can do much against Broner- assuming fight gets made and Broner has his head on straight. Really? I think Broner is a talented and gutsy fighter but he hasn’t impressed me in his last three bouts. You’re assuming a lot if you expect him to get his head on straight for Burns.
Do you think Broner will be more focused after the brief incarceration? Now how in the hell would I know that? I would HOPE so, but I expect these guys to be focused from the moment they choose to turn pro.
I hope so, he’s hard to root for but talented, want to eventually see him against Bud Crawford, think it would be a good test for Bud. I’d be into that fight but I don’t see it as a test for Crawford right now.
– Looking forward to the Pacquiao undercard as much as the main event. You are not alone.
Donaire-Magdaleno is very intriguing, believe we will see a “changing of the guard” occur with Donaire going out on his shield. It could happen, but Magdaleno is taking a very big step up in class with Donaire. Keep in mind that Magdaleno, who hasn’t fought under 123 pounds since last January, has only recently graduated to fighting scheduled 10-round bouts (his last two fights).
– is it me or does it seem fighters have recently become less worried about protecting their “0”? Yeah, I think you might be right. All the high-profile candidates for Fight of the Year involved an unbeaten fighter that was in a dangerous matchup (Vargas-Salido, Thurman-Porter, Frampton-Santa Cruz, Yamanaka-Moreno II; and Gonzalez-Cuadras involved two unbeaten titleholders).
Hi Doug –
Regular reader of yours here — just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your painting of the old-time fighters’ mindset. Huge fan of anybody that helps us better appreciate (at least in some ways) the people we inherited everything from.
Also: The Gangs of New York is an awesome book, too (I actually haven’t seen the film yet.) Peace. – Kirk
You should definitely see the film, Kirk. I think it’s one of Scorsese’s top five directorial efforts. And I should definitely check out the book. (I do occasionally read real books – not just comics and graphic novels – it just generally takes me an entire year to complete one if it isn’t about boxing.)
Anyway, thanks for the kind words about my reply to the reader who asked about boxing’s pioneers/old-timers that often fought what seem like impossible distances by today standards.
Most of my favorite boxing legends of the early 1900s, such as Jack Johnson, Joe Gans and Stanley Ketchel, engaged in numerous bouts that were scheduled for 20 rounds (and often fought grueling contests that went beyond that limit). All of them either worked hard labor during their teen years or were literally on their own as pre-teens. They didn’t go to school and they didn’t learn “the Sweet Science” through amateur boxing and silver/golden gloves amateur tournaments.
Johnson, who was the son of a former slave, and Gans began honing their considerable skills in racist spectacles called “battle royals” in which several black men (and often boys) were gathered in one ring where they fought at once until the last man standing. (There’s a great description of one of these in Ralph Ellison’s novel “Invisible Man.”)
Two of the finest fighters from Wales, Jimmy Wilde and Jim Driscoll, cut their teeth in the “boxing booths” of the British Isles where they would take on “all comers” – often bigger and more mature men – inside tents on fairgrounds.
Hard times as youths made for very hard men. If they hadn’t aspired to be boxers, or if they lacked the talent to excel at prize fighting, they still would have likely earned their living through grueling physical labor on the docks or in mines and factories, or on fruit fields, or somewhere else.
THE ENIGMA OF BOXING
Did again what I try to avoid now, talk about boxing. It was pointed out the boxing media has no respect for Mayweather because you all perceive he was “bad for the sport”, “risk averse”, “unwilling to challenge himself”, “cherrypicker”. You’ve found a suitable new ‘face of the sport’ in GGG. Then, some knowledge was dropped…
Mayweather went to 54 to fight/beat ODLH; then beat undefeated Hatton; came back to beat Pacquiao tormentor Marquez (to set up Pacquiao fight, Bob saw what happened and said hell no!); so he beat Shane for the lineal and WBA WW titles; then he beat Cotto for a 54 title; then beat Canelo for his JrMW title; then beat Pacquiao for WW title. Throw in Ortiz, Guerrero, Maidana and you have Floyd, “the risk averse, cherrypicker of boxing”?
GGG on the other hand doesn’t have a SINGLE signature fight on his resume’, not one CHALLENGE. Not once has he gone out of his comfort zone to make something big happen. He’s waiting on Mayweather victim, Canelo. But he’s now P4P#2 and the new ‘IT BOY’ of boxing? – Rufus
I guess Golovkin is the “it boy of boxing.” Guys like you, who are supposedly real boxing fans, appear to be as obsessed with him as the so-called biased media and the “GGGoons.”
You say Golovkin doesn’t have any “signature” fights on his resume and hasn’t challenged himself, but none of the top fighters in the 160-pound division (maybe guys who HAVE challenged themselves and have signature fights on their resume in your eyes) are in a hurry to fight him. Why is that? Why does everyone need so much time to get ready for an “unproven” fighter? Why does everyone demand two-to-three times more than they’ve ever made to fight GGG? Do you ever ask yourself these questions?
He’s not waiting on Canelo. He’s fighting whoever will fight him. He fought Brook because Eubank Jr.’s father got cold feet. His people are trying to get Daniel Jacobs in the ring right now but it looks like the WBA’s “regular” beltholder (and GGG’s mandatory challenger) is going to outprice himself like Billy Joe Saunders.
Sad thing is, if Golovkin-Jacobs isn’t made the boxing world will immediately turn its attention to whatever Team GGG plans to do next. Nobody will bother asking Jacobs what he plans to do next.
That’s because Golovkin is the man in the middleweight division. He’s the guy who fights the most, he’s the guy who creates the most excitement. He’s the guy with three major world titles (four if you count the IBO). How do you think he got those belts, Dufus? By kicking ass! Go ahead and pretend that Golovkin hasn’t faced any formidable opponents. But here’s some truth that you probably can’t handle: David Lemieux, Curtis Stevens and Willie Monroe Jr. are having a hell of time getting ranked opponents to agree to fight them. THEY are avoided. Good fighters are afraid to fight them almost as much as they are afraid to fight GGG. And you, my horribly biased and ill-informed friend, are afraid to admit it.
Mayweather went to 54 to fight/beat ODLH; Yeah, in 2007, when De La Hoya was at least seven years removed from his prime (10 years removed from his welterweight title victory against Pernell Whitaker).
then beat undefeated Hatton; Right, he faced the struggling junior welterweight champ (who was lucky to get a decision over Luis Collazo at 147 pounds and looked like crap against Juan Urango at 140) at welterweight – when Canelo or GGG fight a guy coming up in weight, you pooh-pooh it don’t you?
came back to beat Pacquiao tormentor Marquez; Yep, JMM – the reigning lightweight champ at the time – at welterweight (which was originally supposed to be at a 140-pound catchweight that was changed to a 144-pound catchweight, although it was kept secret, and your boy couldn’t even honor it). Marquez had never fought above 135 pounds. Think about all the s__t folks give Canelo for fighting Khan and GGG for fighting Brook. And don’t act like you ain’t one of them.
so he beat Shane for the lineal and WBA WW titles; Indeed, a Mosley 10 years removed from his prime and badly over-trained by being avoided for all of 2009.
then he beat Cotto for a 54 title; That, I will admit, was a good victory, but despite those ass-kissing scorecards, it did not come easy. Come to think of it, neither was his split nod over De La Hoya. Funny, how when the ’96 Olympic bronze medalist faced fellow Olympians, he didn’t do so hot.
then beat Canelo for his JrMW title; Another good victory. I think Mayweather is a first-ballot hall of famer and he’ll get my vote when his name is on the ballot. But don’t forget that Alvarez was 22 and that Floyd demanded a catchweight (again). The only reason he didn’t demand one for Cotto is because he figured the Puerto Rican was shopworn.
then beat Pacquiao for WW title. Yes, and the sport is still trying to recover from the “mega-dud.” He had a one-armed congressman in the ring and he couldn’t hurt his “ultimate nemesis;” his dad literally had to beg him to let his hands go.
Throw in Ortiz, Guerrero, Maidana and you have Floyd, “the risk averse, cherrypicker of boxing”? Yes, we do. And weirdos like you are proud of it.
Did again what I try to avoid now, talk about boxing. Please try harder next time.
It was pointed out the boxing media has no respect for Mayweather because you all perceive he was “bad for the sport”, “risk averse”, “unwilling to challenge himself”, “cherrypicker”. It’s not the boxing media that has no respect for Mayweather, it’s the majority of fans. Most of the boxing media kisses his ass (like you).
You’ve found a suitable new ‘face of the sport’ in GGG. Isn’t it wonderful?
BEST PROMOTER FOR PROSPECTS
Gday Dougie Big hello form Oz, hope you are well, Long time reader, first time writing.
A quick one, if you were a successful, amateur and turning pro, what promoter would you sign with? I am not a boxer just curious.
Also being from Australia, big fan of Kostya Tszyu and Vic Darchinayan.
Do you think Vic will make the hall of fame?
MM: Tszyu v the elite 147/140 around his time, Mayweather, Mosely, De La Hoya and Cotto? Thanks and take care. – Dean
Thanks for finally writing, Dean. You’re not the first person to ask me which promotional company is the best at developing young talent fresh out of the amateur ranks. I haven’t answered the question in the mailbag in recent months because I knew some readers would accuse me of bias, but what the hell, they can kiss my ass.
Right now, I think Golden Boy Promotions is the best company for young boxing talent. Yes, they own THE RING magazine, so feel free to take my opinion with the tiniest grain of salt.
A couple years ago, I would have said Top Rank was the best company for prospects in the U.S., but I think Golden Boy’s matchmakers (which includes the president of the company, Eric Gomez) have come into their own in recent years while the “LA Fight Club” series and Fantasy Springs Casino shows enables them to keep up-and-comers busier than other promoters. With LAFC, the cards in Indio, California, and the undercards of HBO/HBO PPV shows (at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., and in other states, such as Texas), there are more than 30 shows per year for Golden Boy’s young fighters to be placed on, so they are able to progress quickly if they are willing to fight often and challenge themselves. And GBP is obviously committed to building a new generation of high-profile boxers. I don’t think there’s another company that has as many fighters between 18-21 years old on their roster.
Outside of the U.S., I think Eddie Hearn/Matchroom and the “old man” Frank Warren do an excellent job of developing national- and world-class talent in the UK; and Teiken Promotions remains the top builder of contenders and champions in Japan.
Also being from Australia, big fan of Kostya Tszyu and Vic Darchinayarn. I’ve never been to Australia but those were two of my favorites, too.
Do you think Vic will make the hall of fame? Good question. He’s borderline in my opinion. I think he’s accomplished enough to get on the ballot but I don’t know how many of my peers would vote from him. I’d give him serious consideration because he fought the absolute best fighters of his era in several divisions and he had amazing longevity for a natural flyweight with his aggressive style. Darch Vader fought more than a dozen world titleholders, won a title at 112 pounds and defended it numerous times, unified the IBF, WBA and WBC belts at 115 pounds (where he was unbeaten against quality opposition), he was a top contender and title challenger at 118 pounds and he also fought for major belts at 126 pounds.
Your mythical matchups: Tszyu v the elite 147/140 around his time, Mayweather, Mosely, De La Hoya and Cotto? – King Kostya KOs Floyd at 140 and outpoints him at 147; gets stopped by Mosley in a great welterweight bout; is narrowly outpointed (by being outmaneuvered) by De La Hoya at 140 and 147; and narrowly outpoints Cotto at 140 but gets outpointed by the Puerto Rican at welterweight.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer