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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

Morales (right) at war with Marco Antonio Barrera. Photo by Laura Rauch/ Associated Press
11
Nov

BADASS ATTITUDES

Hi Doug,
I’m watching (and re-watching!) some prime and latter-era James Toney fights and what a true born fighter he was. He carried that badass ability with an equally badass gives-no-f__ks attitude.

So question is: Who are your top five attitudes on modern boxers?
Here are my five in no order:
1) Roberto Duran
2) Darch Vader
3) James Toney
4) Eric Morales
5) Mike Tyson

Best. – Alan, NYC

That’s a very good, or should I say “bad”(-ass) group, Alan. (And you get extra points for using my “Darch Vader” moniker for Vic Darchinyan, every real fans’ favorite flyweight with heavyweight balls. My boxer nicknames were never as “sticky” as those of hall-of-famer Michael Katz or Steve Kim, but I come up with an occasional gem.)

Who are my top five modern boxers with bad-ass attitudes? Again, you can’t go wrong with the group you presented. Duran is the definition of Machismo de Boxeo. Darchinyan was a throwback to Jimmy Wilde or Pancho Villa, a tiny terror who would not have thought twice about fighting men that were literally twice his size. Toney was just as much of a badass in the gym as he was in the ring, where he was absolutely fearless and had no business schooling heavyweights (but somehow did despite never dedicating himself to his conditioning). Morales is every bit the ultimate Mexican warrior that Julio Cesar Chavez was, only with a nastier attitude (and more boxing versatility). Tyson, in his prime (1987-’89), was the most intimidating heavyweight champ since Sonny Liston, and he was must-see TV.

I think you could argue that the prime version of Fernando Vargas (1998-2000) could be on the list (or in a top 10), as “El Feroz” was as fiery and gutsy as a talented young fighter can be. The welterweight version of Ricardo Mayorga that burst onto the boxing scene with knockouts of Andrew Lewis and Vernon Forrest is worthy, the wild Nicaraguan was pure attitude (backed with violent haymakers and rock-solid chin that he wasn’t afraid to test). The late Edwin Valero wasn’t as mouthy as Toney, Vargas or Mayorga, but he was a sadistic little bastard in the gym and the ring (and obviously in his private life).

I’ve been told that Gerald McClellan was also mean SOB in the gym and obviously took no prisoners in the ring.

Top five among active fighters: Sergey Kovalev, Tony Bellew, Dereck Chisora, Terence Crawford (in a quiet-but-surly way) and Curtis Stevens.

PACQUIAO’S ‘EVOLUTION’
Hi, Doug!
In his long career, Pacquiao evolved from a raw puncher into a versatile fighter.

But can it be called “evolution”?

That is, I wonder if we can say Pacquiao at 147 is simply better than Pacquiao at 126.

Prior to the 3rd fight with Marquez, some (or many) said that Pacquiao was different from the Pacquiao that JMM had faced at 126/130 and the welterweight version of the Filipino star would be too much for the old Mexican warrior. We all know what happened at the night (and in the fourth fight), though.

Pacquiao relied too much on the destructive left hand, but I sometimes feel it was the power of the left hand that intimidated many of his opponents at 122-130.

Had Pacquiao fought at 122-130 as he did at 140-147, would the victims (I’m thinking especially about Barrera) have been beaten more badly?
Or would they have had better chances?

Mythical matchups:
Fighting Harada vs Shinsuke Yamanaka at 118
Erik Morales at the age of 25 vs Oscar Valdez at 126
Benny Leonard vs Henry Armstrong at 135

Cheers. – Taku from Japan

Interesting question about Pacquiao’s evolution as a boxer as he climbed weight classes. I think it’s obvious that he gradually became a more complete fighter towards the end of the 2000s (and probably peaked as the “total package” in 2009). However, does that mean that he was necessarily “better” or more “effective?”

It’s a matter of opinion. I think he was a better offensive force at junior featherweight and featherweight, but a much better boxer at welterweight. (He may have had the best of both worlds during his pit-stop at lightweight, where he decimated poor David Diaz in 2008.)

Prior to the 3rd fight with Marquez, some (or many) said that Pacquiao was different from the Pacquiao that JMM had faced at 126/130 and the welterweight version of the Filipino star would be too much for the old Mexican warrior. We all know what happened at the night (and in the fourth fight), though. True, maybe the one-dimensional but freewheeling version of Pacquiao was more of a threat to Marquez than the more-careful boxer-puncher version. However, keep in mind that apart from those knockdowns in the first fight at featherweight, JMM won a clear majority of the rounds, arguably nine of them. Also keep in mind that the version of Pacquiao that faced JMM in the third bout was very distracted with personal and outside-of-boxing obligations. (Never mind the fact that it was third fight and camp that Marquez had to prepare for Pacquiao’s unique – but more settled-down – style.)

Pacquiao relied too much on the destructive left hand, but I sometimes feel it was the power of the left hand that intimidated many of his opponents at 122-130. It was the SPEED and power of that left hand that mentally and physically discombobulated his opponents. But that vaunted left and reckless abandon was not enough against Marquez and Erik Morales (the first time they fought).

Had Pacquiao fought at 122-130 as he did at 140-147, would the victims (I’m thinking especially about Barrera) have been beaten more badly?

Or would they have had better chances? I think they may have had a better shot against the welterweight-style Pacquiao at those lighter weights. The featherweight version of Barrera usually did well against boxers that didn’t take too many chances. (Junior Jones was able to outbox Barrera in their rematch in 1997, but he had uncommon height and reach – as well as a terrific jab – for a 122 pounder, and he still barely outpointed the Mexico City master.) Yeah, I think Barrera may have had a better chance of beating Pacquiao (in their first meeting in 2003) had the Filipino hero boxed at a more measured pace. The version of Barrera that the PacMan ate up did not like it when his opponents set the pace on him and he wasn’t able to slow Pacquiao down that night in San Antonio. (It should be noted that Pacquiao faced a distracted version of MAB when they first met.) I also think the featherweight version of Marquez soundly outpoints the featherweight version of Pacquiao that fights like the 147 pounder. And I think the 130-pound version of Morales would have won a more decisive decision against the junior lightweight version of PacMac that fights like the welterweight we know now (although it would still be close and hotly contested). El Terrible may have even been able to last the distance in the rematch against the welterweight-style Pacquiao.

Your mythical matchups:
Fighting Harada vs Shinsuke Yamanaka at 118 – Harada by decision in a competitive fight (especially under 1960s rules – same day weigh-ins and the 15-round championship distance).

Erik Morales at the age of 25 vs Oscar Valdez at 126 – Morales by decision or late stoppage in a very good scrap for about seven or eight rounds

Benny Leonard vs Henry Armstrong at 135 – Leonard by competitive but clear decision in a fight that is controlled (for the most part) by “The Ghetto Wizard”

WHAT A SHAME
Mr. Fischer,
As you know I’m a huge GGG fan. Now it seems that we have to wait another 6 months before he is entering the ring again. I think he should stay with his concept: Fight, fight, fight. It is GGG the people want to see – not Daniel Jacobs, not Chris Eubank Jr., not Billy Joe Saunders. If they don’t have the guts to share the ring with the white destroyer – just let them play with each other and enjoy kindergarten. Going through The Ring ratings I think Andy Lee would man up. What about Khurtsidze or Sulecki? And I guess there is no supermiddleweight out there who GGG can’t beat. So GGG should just move on and forget about all those chickens. – Matthias, Germany
Gennady Golovkin might have to move up to the 168-pound division (without fulfilling his goal of unifying all the major titles) in search of willing opponents, but if there’s a chance to make the Jacobs fight in March (which I’ve heard is possible) and there’s a realistic opportunity to make the showdown with Canelo in September (which I believe there is), I think Tom Loeffler and Team GGG will keep “white destroyer” at middleweight at least through the summer of 2017. (And dude, what’s up with that nickname, “white destroyer”? Can’t he just be a destroyer? Can’t he just be from Kazakhstan? Does he have to be a color? Just asking. I mean, those kinds of nicknames aren’t uncommon in boxing – Joe Louis was the “Brown Bomber,” Marvin Hagler was called the “Brockton Blackbuster” early in his career, and one of my favorites, Nigel Benn was known as the “Dark Destroyer” – but come on, it’s 2016.)

Anyway, Loeffler is more patient than most hardcore boxing fans, thank goodness. Golovkin-Jacobs, if it can be made, will be a very big event in the New York City area. Canelo-Golovkin will be the most lucrative boxing event that can be made in 2017, apart from MayPac2, and it would also be the most anticipated fight among boxing fans worldwide. So they’re worth long and arduous negotiations periods. Just be glad you’re not the one that has to deal with camps that may not really want their fighter to get into the ring with GGG.

But if it doesn’t look like either fight can be made next year, I agree that it’s time for Golovkin to move up to super middleweight, where the winner of the James DeGale-Badou Jack IBF/WBC unification bout and WBO beltholder Gilberto Ramirez could present significant, high-profile bouts for the middleweight boogeyman. Perhaps a currently retired former 168-pound champ can be coaxed to return to the ring. Maybe Loeffler was just joking around with this Tweet he posted from Monte Carlo yesterday, maybe there’s more to it:

Going through The Ring ratings I think Andy Lee would man up. What about Khurtsidze or Sulecki? I think all three contenders would “man up” and fight Golovkin, as would IBF No. 1 contender Tureano Johnson. However, if GGG’s next HBO date is in March, I think Lee will be the frontrunner as Jacobs’ stand-in. Why? Because he’s a former titleholder who has fought on HBO and other major U.S. networks before, and he would help push the event if it takes place at MSG (which wants GGG back) around St. Patrick’s Day week.

INCREDIBLE B-HOP COVERAGE

Doug,
Don’t know where to start. You know BHOP is my f__king dude. He was my dude long before people respected his craft. As he states in this interview, he doesn’t say it, but it is known, you have to respect BHOP the man. Let that soak in. I too got into a lot of trouble growing up in Pennsylvania. I too was facing LONG jail time, and I too turned my back and never looked back. I too went places nobody from my neighborhood ever went and achieved those successes. I always looked at Bernard and the thing that stuck out was, he wasn’t blessed with the flashiest talent, RJJ, etc. But what he had was perseverance, work ethic, persistence, indomitable will and an insane inner belief. He was stubborn and he believed in himself when no one did. He stood for what he believed in if it was right or wrong, he stood for what HE believed in. At the end of the day we live with our choices, he is where he is because of all of those things. On top of all of that, he was a GREAT fighter.
Thank you for the BHOP coverage. – JCB

You are most welcome, JCB. I’m glad you’re appreciating the Hopkins interviews and video features. There is more to come before his final bout next month. Hopefully the good folks that run the RingTV LIVE studio don’t forget that Bernard and I sat down and analyzed two of his fights – his fifth pro bout (which, believe it or not, is on YouTube) and his classic master class against Felix Trinidad. (If those two features somehow get lost in the shuffle, I’ll find a way to get you the “bootleg” versions – LOL.)

You said it best about Hopkins, he wasn’t born with an abundance of natural talent or sublime athleticism, he wasn’t an elite amateur standout and he didn’t turn pro with the backing of a top-class promoter or management team behind him, but what he did have – “perseverance, work ethic, persistence, indomitable will and an insane inner belief” (as you put it) – he made work for him. Everything he accomplished in boxing was done against the odds. If you go back and read what was written about him in the late 1990s and in 2000, you’ll see that almost everybody believed that his story would come to an end in 2001. Fifteen years later, he’s still here.

It’s great to hear that Hopkins inspires people who came from the same tough and oppressive background that he (and they) overcame, but it blows my mind that he also serves as an inspiration to folks who had completely different upbringings.

I HATE SCHAEFER TOO
Hi Doug!
Long time Filipino fan/reader (since Pac started his career). Congrats to our Senator. I was really not into his fight with Vargas since his reputation here in the Phil got tarnished when he involved himself in to politics but I was still ecstatic to see him winning the fight.

Anyway, I love your response to one of the “entrepreneur” die hard Schaefer fans saying that ODLH doesn’t know s__t about business. Filipinos who has been watching closely surely don’t like Sh*tfer for being a groupie with Floyd. What can you say about his company’s name “Ringstar” being close to our beloved “Ringtv”? =)

Mind if I ask, Elorde vs. Pacman. Who do you think would win? – Cons, Oriental Mindoro, Phil.

Elorde wins on points from bantamweight to junior lightweight, Pacquiao wins on points or by late TKO at lightweight or heavier. Regardless of the weight class, the fights would be hotly contested and very entertaining.

Allow me to state for the record, I do not hate Schaefer. He’s never treated me rudely or unfairly. He’s never done anything wrong to me, directly or personally. He has, however, treated many people that I know and/or respect in the boxing industry (from the former editorial board of THE RING to past and present Golden Boy employees to trainers and managers) like dogs__t. I don’t care for that. And I don’t respect what he and Al Haymon tried to pull with Golden Boy Promotions while Oscar De La Hoya was fighting for his life in rehab. So, I’m not cool with him and I’m not going to pretend to be. It’s not a big deal. I’m not fond of Bob Arum, either. Bob ain’t getting a Hanukkah card from me next month, Dick ain’t getting a Christmas card and Al won’t be receiving a Kwanzaa card. (I ought to send them lumps of coal with a note reading “You know where to shove this,” but who am I to judge? I’m probably on somebody’s Naughty List.)

What can you say about his company’s name “Ringstar” being close to our beloved “Ringtv”? I don’t have a problem with it. Like I said in last Friday’s mailbag, I wish Dick well with his new promotional company. I hope Ringstar, Top Rank and the PBC put on the biggest events and make the best fights they can next year, while developing the new generation of boxing standouts. I truly mean that. I wish every promotional company – at every level in every region of the world – nothing but success in the new year.

TONY’S RESPONSE
Thanks for the mailbag reply…
“It’s clear you know nothing about life”; this much I do know, two to three stints in rehab for drug/alcohol dependency and related job absences will certainly result in unemployment, no? Try showing up for a broadcast hammered a few times and see how forgiving your employer/ODLH is.

No where in my mailbag post did I say “boxing was thriving” when Schaefer ran GB. I believe he and Haymon recognize the need for change…which is even more urgent now to compete for sports entertainment dollars. Particularly combat sports dollars. I never said they had the answers, but it’s crystal clear the status quo is a loser.

Good luck with your big announcement cause you’re going to need it. There’s a tsunami coming and you/boxing are going to get kicked in the cojones. The UFC was sold for $4B which means there’s $Bs behind it available to invest in growth, promotions aimed at younger demographics and talent. In the meantime boxing can’t afford to put on shows in this country’s biggest market, NYC, because promoters, each operating their competing cartels, can’t afford the insurance premiums.

Finally, please don’t ever reference Dan Rafael as a credible source of ANYTHING unless you cite the source that lazy a**hole stole it from. And lose the name-calling, it’s childish. – Tony

You’re childish, Tony. And like every jerk that gets upset when I criticize the jerks in boxing that they idolize, you try to set the rules on our discourse/debate. You fools come out guns blazing with name calling and disrespect and then you tell me (or whoever you’re arguing with on social media or in comments sections) to be “professional” or “civil” when your sorry asses get smacked down. You just called Dan Rafael a “lazy a__hole,” and now you’re telling me that name calling is “childish.” Get the f__k out of here.

Did you bother reading Rafael’s article? Or Pugmire’s story? You could learn something if you pulled your head out of Schaefer’s and Haymon’s asses every now and then.

No where in my mailbag post did I say “boxing was thriving” when Schaefer ran GB. You insinuated as much with this statement: “In your indictment of Schaefer you never provide any info or background on how GBP was doing under Schaefer’s stewardship. Was the business making money?, was it growing?, was it solvent?, what did the future look like? What was his plan for the business?”

It seemed to me that you were saying that GBP was doing just fine – “making money,” “growing,” etc. – under “Schaefer’s stewardship.” You made it sound like nobody should accuse Dick of anything because he had some kind of grand plan for the company’s future before De La Hoya got sober and kicked his fat Swiss-cheese ass to the curb.

Unless I misread that. Were you saying that the company wasn’t doing so hot? Are you blaming De La Hoya’s personal problems and rehab absences for the company’s troubles at that time? That’s fine if you are. But, once again (and I can’t believe that I need to point this out to you and other De La Hoya critics out there), that does not absolve Schaefer of the rat-fink s__t that he pulled. There are legal ways to deal with an incompetent or problematic corporate executive (even if it’s the founder and figurehead of the company). There are corporate by-laws and protocols that are to be followed. You take the issue before the board of directors, you take your case to arbitration, but you DO NOT sabotage the freakin’ company if you are its CEO!

I believe he and Haymon recognize the need for change… which is even more urgent now to compete for sports entertainment dollars. What change? The PBC? If that’s the change you’re referring to, it’s not what boxing needs. It’s not helping.

I never said they had the answers, but it’s crystal clear the status quo is a loser. No, you just said that they recognize the need for change, and if you’ve been paying attention for the past two years, Haymon’s departure from the “status quo” hasn’t brought new fans to the sport or created much excitement within the boxing world, or developed new stars. Is this the change you’re talking about? Or is Dick’s new promotional company going to bring in the change of which you speak of? Is he going to do something new with Ringstar? Or is he going to do the exact same thing he was doing with Golden Boy Promotions, relying on a subscription cable partner (Showtime) and the traditional sponsors and venues to put on fights that may or may not appeal to hardcore boxing fans, but that general sports fans usually overlook? Time will tell.

Good luck with your big announcement cause you’re going to need it. Again, we’re not the ones in need of luck. We’ve got a solid system that includes certain boxing-insider things that you and Dick will probably never recognize or understand. Dick will need the luck. If he wants to get anywhere close to the status he once held in the sport as GBP CEO, he’s going to have to work with people other than Haymon.

There’s a tsunami coming and you/boxing are going to get kicked in the cojones. The UFC was sold for $4B which means there’s $Bs behind it available to invest in growth, promotions aimed at younger demographics and talent. Thanks for the warning (you’re about 10 years late with it), but I think we’re up for the challenge.

THE FAVORITE FIGHTERS LIST
Douglass McSmashems,
Loved the interview with Bhop. That guy came along at exactly the right time in my life to cement my love of the sport. I had just watched a replay of the drunken master (love that he’s on twitter and looking good) and Mickey Ward beat the snot out of each other which got my ghoulish blood a flowin. For sh*ts and giggles I pulled up a stool at a bar to watch some 36-year-old wizard cast all kinds of spells on what HBO was telling me was supposed to be some kind of Puerto Rican version of Conan the Destroyer. I was hooked.

That being said, I also re-read your top ten fighter list along with the justifications for those choices. Very well presented and thought out. So how about a wholly different list? How about your top ten favorite fighters of all time? Not who you thought were the best period or at any discipline or all the blahblahblah crap that we hardcore heads beat ceaselessly. Just the top ten fighters who you point to when someone asks why you are a fan of the sport. Guys (and gals) who no matter who they fought, you either pulled up a stool, clicked on a youtube video or tuned in on the radio for. Here’s my goofball list:

1- GGG (my generations Tyson, I honestly just like watching him hit the heavy bag, Foreman like)
2- Marco Antonio Barrera (the Hamed fight and alllll the Morales fights oh good god)
3- Erik Morales (MAB slightly edges him but only because I’m biased b/c of the Hamed beatdown)
4- Juan Manuel Marquez (Best combos and counter punching I’ve ever seen)
5- Bhop (his early incarnation as a destroyer and his later, wiser years as a dismantler)
6- Arturo
7- Ali
8- Sergio Martinez (From the Alex Bunema fight on, he had a special run)
9- Manny Pacquaio (Same as above, that run starting with his beatdown of MAB, good god)
10- DLH/ Trinidad (Fought so many of the same fighters with almost identical results, shame their own fight was a dud)

Cheerskies – L.R.

That’s an excellent list. It could easily be my list. I love that you have Barrera at No. 2. He was a fighter that I gladly paid to see fight live in the late ‘90s, even when I was able to get a media credential to his headliners at The Forum in Inglewood, The Pond in Anaheim (now the Honda Center) and the old Tropicana in Las Vegas.

Without thinking too much about it (because I think a list like this should come straight from the heart) my top 10 favorite fighters to watch goes like this:

1. Ali (he was bigger than sports and entertainment when I was a kid, he’s the reason I was drawn to boxing and he remains larger than life even though he’s made the transition)

2. Sugar Ray Leonard (Bruce Lee died a few years before I discovered him, but the 1976 Olympic gold medalist was the African-American version of Lee to my young eyes and he was just coming into his own when I started watching his fights on TV; Leonard is also the boxer that made me realize there was more to the sport than Ali and the heavyweight division)

3. Terry Norris (Terrible Terry emerged at the same time I became a hardcore fan and he delivered everything I wanted from a champion and a TV standout – boxing talent, skill, athleticism, fearlessness, action and drama; I was so into Norris it didn’t matter than he humiliated my boyhood idol or that he got KTFO a few times)

4. the young Roy Jones Jr. (along with Norris, he was that young fighter that I would talk my friends into watching whenever he was on TV, and the early ‘90s version of ‘RJJ’ never failed to blow their socks off)

5. the lightweight Shane Mosley (I had pleasure of getting to know him and his father when he was still a regional prospect and under the radar of most East Coast boxing fans and media during the mid-90s; he was the subject of my first feature story that was published in a major boxing magazine – THE RING – almost 20 years ago; he was also an absolute BEAST at 135 pounds and seldom failed to entertain or give 100%)

6. Marco Antonio Barrera (I was on the Barrera Bandwagon early – a couple years before the Kennedy McKinney fight – and I never hopped off it as most boxing folks did following his back-to-back losses to Junior Jones; I love that he mastered two distinct styles – pressure fighting pre-Jones and classic boxing post-Jones – against the best of his era)

7. Erik Morales (being a MAB fan I had to hate on the Tijuana native during their rivalry/trilogy, which I covered, but he eventually won me over with his remarkable ring valor and underrated ring generalship)

8. Juan Manuel Marquez post-Chris John (I wasn’t always into the counterpunching master prior to his loss to John – I once dubbed him “Yawn” Manuel Marquez due to his careful boxing – but he stepped up his aggression after his frustrating experience in Indonesia and proved to be every bit the warrior that Morales was. His stoppages of Terdsak Jandaeng, Juan Diaz, Joel Casamayor and Michael Katsidis, his narrow loss to Pacquiao in their 2008 rematch, and his decisions over Barrera and Mike Alvarado are all among the most memorable moments of my time on press row)

9. Felix Trinidad (Tito was one of those young champions who emerged in the early ‘90s that ensured that I would remain a hardcore fan even when I began to transition into a beat writer by the later part of the decade; he was a breathtaking offensive force)

10. James Toney (sometimes ole “Lights Out” would let his fans down with subpar performances due to his gluttony between fights but he was a throwback to boxing’s Golden Age in terms of his ring craft, toughness and willingness to fight the best of his era; and like Mosley, he was a marvel in the gym)

Honorable mention: Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler (two ATGs that I didn’t truly appreciate until they were way past their primes/retired), Thomas Hearns, Gennady Golovkin, 2000s Manny Pacquiao, Israel Vazquez, Rafael Marquez, 1980s Mike Tyson, ‘80s/’90s Evander Holyfield, early ‘90s Riddick Bowe, ‘90s Ray Mercer, Jorge Arce, Vinny Pazienza, 1990s Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Fernando Vargas, Roman Gonzalez and Ricardo Lopez

 

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

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