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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

24
Oct

WHY DIDN’T HOPKINS AND MCCLELLAN FIGHT?

Hi Douglass. I know it’s late in the day, wanted the inside view of something I thought only you and a handful of others would know about. What with Bernard Hopkins being the man of the moment and all, I’d wandered if you can remember the reason why Hopkins and Gerald McClellan never fought.

Was Hopkins maneuvered away from G-Man for the obvious reasons? The politics, the circumstances, the issues, etc., behind it all and if it was ever close to being.

I’m not being churlish towards the “old rascal”, what you said in last week’s Friday mailbag about loving and hating him is absolutely spot on! I both despise, respect and fear the man. Maybe because I spent a lot of time wanting him to lose I ended up following him more closely than other boxers I actually liked! Just goes to show you, boxing is about all things: race, politics, religion, styles [both in the ring and out of it] and general manner and personality, yet can overcome all of those things.

His opinions and manner have left me in rage at times and yet I still feel compelled to find out what happens in his fights. Maybe there’s something in that “Damned Man” style that just appeals to me strongly. What with that “f__k the world” attitude it’s fun to see if they’ll ever get their comeuppance. He can also be quite amusing and is clearly passionate about the sport in that old-world way.

I would however like to know if you think he would of dared talk trash to McClellan who also had a compelling personality and if you think Hopkins would of owned McClellan mentally? Would the weigh-in have descended into chaos? Also, how their styles would of meshed and how it might of all played out. As well as my biggest point of all, does it affect B-Hop’s legacy cause they didn’t fight? Cheers. – Marcus, England

I don’t think it affects Hopkins’ legacy at all. B-Hop’s legacy is untouchable in my opinion. He’s broken the significant records of all-time greats (including Carlos Monzon and George Foreman), he was undisputed champ at middleweight, a three-time light heavyweight titleholder (including linear champ status), and he arguably challenged himself more than any other “elite” boxer of the past 15 years. He dared to be great and he accomplished this goal.

Hopkins vs. McClellan would have been a hell of a middleweight showdown in the mid-90s, but the timing wasn’t right for the two badasses to fight, as a quick look at their records on Boxrec.com will show you.

Hopkins won his first major title (the vacant IBF middleweight belt) in April 1995. This occurred two months AFTER McClellan had moved up to super middleweight to challenge WBC titleholder Nigel Benn and we all know the result of that savage and tragic contest.

Could McClellan and Hopkins have fought prior to 1995? Yes, although it would have been difficult given McClellan’s affiliation with Don King and Hopkins’ reputation of being a maverick pain-in-the-butt to promoters. For the most part, King preferred to keep his star players within the “Kind-dom” unless it was a superfight. And, at the time, Hopkins was not a major player in the middleweight division. He was a legit contender, but you have to remember that Bernard soundly lost his first title shot (for the vacant IBF title mcclellan-jackson_mailbagagainst Roy Jones Jr. in May 1993). McClellan, on the other hand, looked sensational knocking out Julian Jackson (for the WBC title) a couple weeks before Jones outpointed Hopkins.

So, after May ’93, McClellan and Jones were ranked in the top three of the middleweight rankings of every credible boxing publication of the time. Hopkins was considered a lower-top-10 contender. For example, the June 1993 rankings of THE RING’s sister publication, KO magazine, ranked McClellan No. 1, WBA titleholder Reggie Johnson No. 2 and Jones at No. 3. Where was B-Hop? He was No. 11 (as KO ranked the top 12 fighters in each division), behind McClellan, Johnson, Jones, Jackson, Chris Pyatt (remember this talented Brit?), Thomas Tate, Sumbu Kalambay, Lamar Park (remember “Kid Fire”?), Steve Collins and Otis Grant.

Nobody was clamoring for a McClellan-Hopkins showdown in ’93. In fact, the KO mag with the June ’93 rankings (which featured a cover story by Lennox Lewis entitled “I’ll Break Bowe’s Jaw & Shut Him Up!” and a color centerfold of IBF featherweight titleholder Tom Johnson) had four boxing insiders pick the winner of a McClellan-Reggie Johnson showdown in its Head-To-Head matchup (a regular department that analyzed anticipated matchups between top fighters). Roy Jones, boxing writer Robert Seltzer and late manager/booking agent Johnny Bos picked Johnson to win a wide-margin decision. HBO’s Harold Lederman picked G-Man to win by “a knockout in about eight or nine rounds.”

Could Hopkins and McClellan have fought in ’94? Maybe, towards the end of the year. After the Jones loss,

PhillyboxingHistory.com

PhillyBoxingHistory.com

Hopkins had to work his way back up the rankings and did so with stoppages against Roy Ritchie, Wendall Hal and Melvin Wynn, before outpointing former 154-pound titleholder Lupe Aquino in May ’94 and battling to a draw with Segundo Mercado for the vacant IBF belt (in Ecuador) in December ’94.

Hopkins had climbed to No. 4 in THE RING’s middleweight rankings by October ’94 (behind titleholders Jones, McClellan and John David Jackson), and to No. 3 by the end of the year (although he was still a lower top-10-rated contender in the 160-pound ratings of KO, Boxing Illustrated and Boxing Scene magazines). Meanwhile, McClellan only fought twice in ’94, first-round KOs of Gilbert Baptist and Jackson (in a rematch). Jackson (49-3, with 45 KOs, after his second loss to McClellan) was still highly regarded (higher than Hopkins in many circles), and Baptist had taken B-Hop the full 12 in a competitive fight in ’93, so most fans viewed the G-Man as the superior middleweight. Nobody complained that he didn’t defend his WBC middleweight belt against Hopkins before rising in weight to face “the Dark Destroyer.”

Was Hopkins maneuvered away from G-Man for the obvious reasons? No, Hopkins was not a protected fighter, especially in the ‘90s. He was a gritty outsider that was willing to fight anyone that was willing to fight him. He was too old (pushin’ 30 by the mid-90s) and unconnected to bother with cherry picking or playing it safe. And look at his record. When has he ever avoided a puncher? The man is almost 52 and he’s about to face a puncher.

Just goes to show you, boxing is about all things: race, politics, religion, styles [both in the ring and out of it] and general manner and personality, yet can overcome all of those things. That’s why it’s the best of all professional sports and the only one I give a rat’s ass about.

bhop-looking-at-the-x_mailbagHis opinions and manner have left me in rage at times and yet I still feel compelled to find out what happens in his fights. What with that “f__k the world” attitude it’s fun to see if they’ll ever get their comeuppance. He can also be quite amusing and is clearly passionate about the sport in that old-world way. That’s Hopkins for ya. Shameless plug: I sat down with “the Immortal B-Hop” yesterday at the RingTV LIVE studio in downtown Los Angeles (the future hall of famer is in town for the kick-off press conference for the Dec. 17 Joe Smith Jr. fight at The Forum) and we talked about as much of his storied career and life as we could fit into one hour (which is a short interview by his standards). Look for the entire interview, select segments of it and special bonus features on RingTV.com in the next few days/weeks.

I would however like to know if you think he would of dared talk trash to McClellan who also had a compelling personality and if you think Hopkins would of owned McClellan mentally? Would have “dared talk trash to McClellan”? Come on, man, G-Man was a tough-guy but Hopkins had done prison time. Tough guys, no matter how hard they punched or how fearsome their reputations, didn’t intimidate him. He intimidated them. Hopkins was beyond fearless, he was f__king crazy. The man slapped the Puerto Rican flag out of Felix Trinidad’s hands IN PUERTO RICO. He almost started a riot. He’s nuts. Of course he would have talked s__t to McClellan.

Would the weigh-in have descended into chaos? Probably. And Hopkins would have been fine with that.

Also, how their styles would of meshed and how it might of all played out. I think Hopkins was too complete of a boxer/fighter/technician and too damn tough for McClellan to overwhelm with his vaunted power. I think Hopkins would have stopped G-Man late or won a close but clear UD.

 

THIS HAS BEEN A LAME YEAR

Dear Dougie,

I hope you had a nice weekend.

I just read that GGG-Jacobs is pushed into next year if ever. This is ridiculous and makes me lose much respect for Jacobs or perhaps Haymon. It’s just another nail in the coffin of a bad year in boxing. I can count the meaningful (elite vs elite) and exciting fights in 2016 on less than one hand. Where would we be without Chocalito?

I will be taking the plunge and buy Ward vs. Kovalev hopefully it will be exciting but I have my doubts. My favorite boxer Rigo fought once this year which seems to be the norm for most talented boxers unless you are Danny G then you fight taxi drivers twice a year–wait taxi drivers deserve more respect. The heavyweights have some interesting talent right now but God forbid any of them fight each other. I know you like looking on the bright side but do you remember anything this bad in a single year? What good fights do you see happening next year?

On another note given my religious background I am interested in Jewish boxers. My brothers and I grew up reading over and over “Fighter from Whitechapel the Daniel Medoza story”. Here is the link it was a great read and contained tons of information about the origins of boxing, bare knuckle the start of tactical boxing and 40 rounds plus fights etc.

I have read about Max Baer, Barney Ross and Benny Leonard. My questions for you are; who do you think is the greatest Jewish boxer of all time (I don’t think you will pick Yuri Foreman lol)? and can you recommend some reading material for me on this subject.

Lastly I know I am a little late in saying but RIP Hawk. A great talent and a great athlete with tons of heart.

As always, I look forward to your column and wish you the best. – Aaron the whiny dissatisfied boxing fan in Miami

You really are a whiner, Aaron. LOL. But that’s OK. You’re in a VERY BIG club and you’re not that bad in comparison to other hardcore boxing fans.

Yes, indeed, may “The Hawk” rest in peace. He earned it. Pryor was such a little badass he had trouble getting significant fights in the 1980s. Can you imagine if he were fighting today? He’d be forced to retire! Maybe Bud Crawford would step up to the challenge.

Since you brought up great Jewish fighters, how’s this for a mythical matchup: Pryor vs. Barney Ross at 140 pounds. Talk among yourselves.

Benny Leonard

Benny Leonard

I think the greatest Jewish fighter of all time comes down to Leonard, Ross and that Cockney Jew from East London, Jackie “Kid” Berg, and I’d rank them in that order (or maybe have Leonard and Ross tie for No. 1 with Berg at No. 3). Berg, who won 157 fights, beat Mushy Callahan for the junior welterweight title and owns two decision victories over the all-time great (and much smaller) Kid Chocolate. He also faced hall of famer Tony Canzoneri three times (going 1-3 with the ATG). Ross (my favorite of the three) won 72 bouts, only lost four and fought to three draws. He beat fellow hall of famers Canzoneri (twice), Jimmy McLarnin (two out of three), Battling Battalino and Billy Petrolle (twice); as well as top contenders Frankie Klick, Izzy Jannazzo and future middleweight titleholder Ceferino Garcia (three times). The old great trainers that I had the honor of meeting and interviewing (before they passed on) have told me that they men they learned the boxing game from held Leonard in the highest regard; “The Ghetto Wizard” was the best boxer they had ever seen. Leonard won 91 fights, lost only five, had one draw and took part in 121 “Newspaper Decision” bouts (bringing his total to 218 bouts). He fought the following fellow hall of famers (several times each): Johnny Dundee, Johnny Kilbane, Freddie Welsh, Jack Britton, Ted “Kid” Lewis, Willie Ritchie, Rocky Kansas, Lew Tendler and McLarnin (who he faced and lost to when he was way past his prime). Leonard was one of the best boxers (if not THE best) of the late 1910s and early 1920s. Ross was one of the best of the 1930s. Berg was a player in the ‘20s and ‘30s.

As for reading material on the subject of Jewish fighters, you can’t go wrong with the book “When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport” by Allen Bodner.

I just read that GGG-Jacobs is pushed into next year if ever. This is ridiculous and makes me lose much respect for Jacobs or perhaps Haymon. This is what I’m hearing from many hardcore fight fans (although there is segment that believes that Team GGG and Tom Loeffler are being “difficult,” which I don’t agree with at all). Jacobs has the opportunity to earn three world titles and pound-for-pound status with the GGG fight. He can become an instant star with an upset victory. If Jacobs passes up this opportunity over money I really hope Haymon’s got a good “Plan B” for him.

It’s just another nail in the coffin of a bad year in boxing. That’s a little overdramatic, don’t you think? It’s been a frustrating year for Gennady Golovkin but 2016 has had more than a few highlights in my opinion. It hasn’t been a year to remember but it hasn’t sucked either (at least not in my opinion – but I’m not a gloomy mope).

I can count the meaningful (elite vs elite) and exciting fights in 2016 on less than one hand. Really? I can count them on both hands and I’m just going on memory (something, it seems, a lot of diehards lack). Since June we’ve been treated to Vargas-Salido, Thurman-Porter, Frampton-Santa Cruz, Gonzalez-Cuadras, Yamanaka-Moreno II, Hasegawa-Ruiz, Linares-Crolla and Easter-Commey. These were matchups between the top two fighters in a division (or two top-10 contenders from a particular weight class) or a top fighter stepping up to face a top fighter in the division above him (as Frampton and Gonzalez did). And they ALL delivered exciting fights. We also had top fighters clash in bouts that turned out to be rather one-sided, such as Crawford-Postol and Usyk-Glowacki, but we should still recognize that the best were facing the best.

Next month we’re getting Kovalev-Ward and Lomachenko-Walters (and Pacquiao-Vargas if you want count PacMan as a top welterweight, which he is). In December, we’re getting Zlaticannin-Garcia, Charlo-Williams and Parker-Ruiz. This is more than a “handful” of meaningful fights.

Where would we be without Chocolatito? We’d be without the best boxer, pound for pound, on the planet, without one of the most entertaining active world-class fighters, and without a major player in the very hot 115-pound division.

I will be taking the plunge and buy Ward vs. Kovalev hopefully it will be exciting but I have my doubts. You’re such a downer. LOL.

My favorite boxer Rigo fought once this year which seems to be the norm for most talented boxers unless you are Danny G then you fight taxi drivers twice a year–wait taxi drivers deserve more respect. Why am I not surprised that Rigo, the biggest sour puss in the sport, is you favorite boxer? You are the Charlie Brown of mopey hardcore fans. And stop hatin’ on Danny Swift!

The heavyweights have some interesting talent right now but God forbid any of them fight each other. Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz are set to got at it on Dec. 10, come on, man, don’t get all gloom and doom on me, you know that will be a fun fight.

I know you like looking on the bright side but do you remember anything this bad in a single year? I’ve seen worse.

What good fights do you see happening next year? Golovkin-Canelo (and I still haven’t totally given up on GGG-Jacobs), Gonzalez-Cuadras II, Gonzalez-Estrada II, Gonzalez-Inoue, Thurman-Garcia, DeGale-Jack (if it doesn’t happen this year), Joshua vs. Klitschko and/or Parker-Ruiz winner, Wilder-Povetkin, Vargas-Salido II, Vargas-Miura II, Lemieux-Stevens, and maybe Crawford vs. the Pacquiao-Vargas winner.

 

WARD VS. GGG (NEVERMIND THE BULLOCKS)

Afternoon Mr Fischer,

I hope the autumn (fall as you guys call it) weather is treating you and your family well.

Anyways, just a quick one, I wanted to garner your thoughts regarding Andre Ward’s continuous calling out and slagging off of GGG.

So what we know is that Ward called out GGG, and gave him dogs abuse behind he refused to go up in weight to do so.

Is this the same Andre Ward who demanded that Chad Dawson fight at the SM weight, no catchweight tolerated, even though he hadnt fought at that weight in over six years, and was clearly weight drained?  When Ward himself was struggling to make the SM weight, which has since been highlighted by his move to LH?

And now he expects GGG to move up in weight, even though he has never fought above MW, just to face him?

And this from a man who, since he beat my compatriot the Cobra in December of 2011, has fought just FIVE TIMES??!!

And even though I hugely rate Ward’s ability, the level of those five was questionable in the least Doug. As we mentioned, Dawson was weight drained, Rodriguez I’ll give him a pass on, but Smith, Barrera and Brand?

And we all know Ward couldn’t pack out a hot dog stand, let alone make demands on one of boxings stellar attractions.

So other than to associate himself with GGG’s name, what gives Doug? Regards. – Chris, Birmingham, UK

I think it’s just pride.

Ward has the reputation of being humble because he’s deeply religious and he rarely loses his temper or even raises his voice, but he’s fiercely proud and competitive. Once Golovkin began to quickly make a name for himself within the sport in 2013 and 2014 (a period of time when Ward was doing more commentating for HBO than fighting), he was gaining the attention of the 2004 Olympic champ. I think Ward views any hot fighter in and around his weight class as a potential opponent and when he marks them in his mind he takes it very seriously (as he does everything).

When Golovkins’ fans began to get a little mouthy and the media began to sing the Kazakh’s praises, I think it all began to irk Ward (especially when some of GGG biggest supporters in the media happened to be among his most ardent critics).

I also think there’s some jealousy in this equation and it’s due in part to Ward’s frustration with his own career (at least until last year). While his career was in limbo for long stretches due to injuries and promotional legal battles, GGG was fighting often (three and four times a year), winning world titles (while Ward was being stripped of his) and gaining popularity and respect that Ward probably believes he should have by now.

Is this the same Andre Ward who demanded that Chad Dawson fight at the SM weight, no catchweight tolerated, even though he hadnt fought at that weight in over six years, and was clearly weight drained?  Yup.

When Ward himself was struggling to make the SM weight, which has since been highlighted by his move to LH? I don’t know if Ward was “struggling” to make 168 in 2012. I don’t recall ever reading or hearing that.

And now he expects GGG to move up in weight, even though he has never fought above MW, just to face him? Yup.

And this from a man who, since he beat my compatriot the Cobra in December of 2011, has fought just FIVE TIMES??!! Yup. And during that same stretch of time, GGG fought FOURTEEN TIMES (11 times on HBO and his last three bouts have sold out major arenas in New York, California and London).

And even though I hugely rate Ward’s ability, the level of those five was questionable in the least Doug. As we mentioned, Dawson was weight drained, Rodriguez I’ll give him a pass on, but Smith, Barrera and Brand? Dawson’s got to take the blame for agreeing to fight at 168 and draining himself. Smith and Barrera are solid guys but neither was rated by THE RING when Ward fought them. Rodriguez is the last RING-rated fighter that Ward has faced. I agree that Brand is awful.

And we all know Ward couldn’t pack out a hot dog stand, let alone make demands on one of boxings stellar attractions. That’s pushing it. Ward sells tickets in his hometown. He doesn’t sellout Oracle Arena but he does OK. I agree that he’s in no position to dictate terms to Golovkin, and he and Roc Nation probably realized that too, which is why they headed to 175 pounds to challenge Sergey Kovalev, who was also looking for a significant bout but can’t claim to be “one of boxing’s stellar attractions” (and thus, could not dictate terms to Team Ward).

 

MONTREAL BOXING SCENE

Hey Dougie, how’s it going? Haven’t written in before, but we used to email about Edwin Valero wayyy back before I did some writing for other sites. Haven’t done as much writing in recent years, so I figured I’d chat in the mailbag! Speaking of Valero, have you seen the trailer for the upcoming film “El Inca?” I hope the Spanish-language film from Venezuela makes its way to North America at some point with English or French subtitles…because even without being able to understand the language, I’m intrigued!

Did you catch the fights in Montreal this weekend? What are your thoughts on Lemieux…and if he fights on Dec. 17 on the Hopkins undercard as is rumoured up here…who would you like to see him in with?

I thought Butler stole the show…how do you like the progress of the young Montrealer?

Thoughts on the young Kazakh destroyers who have made their way La belle province? If you aren’t familiar…do yourself a favor and look up Batyr Jukembaev and Ablai Khussainov. These guys have all the tools to be something special in my opinion…they were brought over here by manager Anna Reva and they’re training with Stephan Larouche and Pierre Bouchard…certainly a good team to have!

Heavyweight Simon Kean was also in action…what is your opinion on the former Olympian?

I’d also like to mention that Bob Miller is in my thoughts and prayers. One of the best cutmen in the business, he was recently in a bad automobile accident. There is a gofundme page to help support him. https://www.gofundme.com/bob-miller-fund-2unsxys

Finally…here are some fantasy matchups for you:

Early 2010 Edwin Valero vs. mid 2005 Ricky Hatton at 140 lbs…I know that’s a bit above where Edwin fought….but I don’t think Edwin would need a catch-weight for that one…let’s say the fight is at 140…

2012 Carl Froch vs. 2011 Sergio Martinez…let’s say this one is a catch-weight of about 164 lbs… (side note…could these two go into the HOF together in a few years?)

Finally…

The late great Aaron Pryor…let’s put him in against Kostya Tszyu…in a 15 rounder! Have a good one Dougie! – Hans O.

I’d have to go with The Hawk in that MM, especially if it were scheduled for 15 rounds.

As for your other mythical matchups:

I’ll take the early 2010 Edwin Valero over the mid-2005 Ricky Hatton by mid-to-late TKO in a terrific, fast-paced bloody fight that mixes in equal parts boxing, slugging and grappling (and the “V-nom” gets the better of Ricky in the first two categories IMO).

And I’ll go with the 2012 Carl Froch to outwork the 2011 Sergio Martinez to a close and competitive but clear unanimous decision in a very good boxing match (this is, of course, assuming that The Cobra could make 164 without depleting himself).

Speaking of Valero, have you seen the trailer for the upcoming film “El Inca?” Yes I have.

I hope the Spanish-language film from Venezuela makes its way to North America at some point with English or French subtitles…because even without being able to understand the language, I’m intrigued! I’m not that excited about the film. It seems too soon. But I should note that I’m generally not into boxing flicks. They’re usually way too cliché or exaggerated for me (and I can only tolerate that stuff with the Rocky series). I never saw The Fighter, although I heard good things about it. I haven’t seen Southpaw or Duran, and I don’t plan to because I haven’t heard anything good about either movie. I might watch Bleed For This (the Vinny Paz story) if I can get it On Demand on my cable system.

Did you catch the fights in Montreal this weekend? Just the Lemieux fight.

What are your thoughts on Lemieux…and if he fights on Dec. 17 on the Hopkins undercard as is rumoured up here…who would you like to see him in with? I thought Lemieux looked OK considering he was in with a very tough and cagey Argentine gatekeeper that had never been stopped. He fought in second gear and looked a little soft around his middle (weighing in at a bit under 164), but he landed the harder shots in every round and deserved the wide decision. It was probably good for him to go 10 rounds. I hope you’re right about him fighting on the Hopkins-Smith undercard. If he doesn’t make the Dec. 17 show I hope he fights in January or February of 2017. I’d love to see him battle the likes of Curtis Stevens, Chris Eubank Jr., Tureano Johnson and/or Willie Monroe Jr.

I thought Butler stole the show…how do you like the progress of the young Montrealer? I’ve seen him fight couple times (I’ve actually called two of his bouts) and I think he’s got a lot of talent and potential. He’s got a good look to him. He can be popular if he continues to win and develop.

Thoughts on the young Kazakh destroyers who have made their way La belle province? If you aren’t familiar…do yourself a favor and look up Batyr Jukembaev and Ablai Khussainov. I’ve checked them both out and I think they’re as promising as one would expect 25-year-old former amateur standouts that have more than 200 bouts under their belts. Jukembaev is a strong and powerful looking 140-pound southpaw. He’s got good craft and upper-body movement although he’s a bit methodical and not the faster prospect out there. Khussainov seems to be the scrappier of the two. The orthodox lightweight seems a little more straight up and down (and “hittable” as the message board critics would say) but he applies good pressure and he’s got decent hand speed. Both guys can punch a bit, obviously.

Anyway, they look like they have potential but it’s too early to tell how far they might progress as both are still in the four- and six-round stage of their pro careers.

Heavyweight Simon Kean was also in action…what is your opinion on the former Olympian? Despite his respectable amateur background, I think Kean is a work in progress. To put my opinion into perspective, I think Tommy Morrison’s son, Trey Lippe (who is the same age as Kean, 27), who didn’t have any amateur bouts, is more advanced than the Trois-Rivières native.

One of the best cutmen in the business, he was recently in a bad automobile accident. There is a gofundme page to help support him. I wish Bob Miller a speedy and complete recovery.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer, on Instagram and on Persicope, where you get to join him and Coach Schwartz on Sunday mornings for rope skipping and boxing trivia (such as who are the youngest heavyweight champs of all time):

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