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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

14
Nov

WEEKEND SNOOZE-FEST, KOVALEV-WARD

Hi Dougie,

Hope all is well with you and the family. I haven’t written in a while, but remain a faithful reader of the mailbag. True boxing fan that I am, I snoozed through one of the most boring weekends of TV boxing in recent memory.

Luis Ortiz-Malik Scott deserves less mention than I just gave it.

Spike’s PBC show had some interesting moments in the Jarrett Hurd-Jo Jo Dan and Javier Fortuna-Omar Douglas fights, but it was basically an infomercial for next March’s Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia fight. How do you see that one? I think Keith is too strong and moves too well for it to go the distance. I see maybe a 6- or 7-round TKO.

That WWE scene at the end of the Garcia fight on Saturday was comical. The anger wasn’t real. Like I said, just part of the infomercial.

On to the real one. How do you see Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward? The obvious comparison to me is Hagler-Leonard. Marvin was and still is one of my all-time favorites, and I thought he was going to knock Sugar Ray into another time zone. Guess I was wrong! It still hurts to see Marvin go out that way. I can’t see Ward lasting 5 rounds. I’m not sure Kovalev is the boxer Hagler was, but I also don’t think Ward measures up to Sugar Ray Leonard.

How is he going to react when Kovalev tags him a few times, or is he slick enough to avoid him?

Maybe Ward outboxes him and wins a close decision, but I don’t see it. – Ken Kozberg, Oakham, MA

I can see that happening, but Ward would have to box a near perfect fight – combining the right amount of lateral movement, trap-setting and in-fighting/grappling to neutralize Kovalev’s vaunted power and frustrate the defending champion. And when Ward sets those traps (I imagine by giving ground, staying low and then springing out with power jabs, hooks or crosses over Kovalev’s punches when the Krusher thinks the challenger is cornered), he’s got to land with enough authority to either hurt the Russian or have him seriously second guessing himself. It can be done; it just won’t be easy (even if it winds up looking easy).

How do you see Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward? I see an even fight, two elite boxers – one an aggressive, stalking puncher; the other a technician/neutralizer – trying to impose their style on the other through skill and will. (Geez, I sound like I’m part of the damn promotion, but I’m just being honest.) No outcome would totally shock me in this fight, even Ward winning by stoppage. However, I favor the defending unified titleholder, who is more proven at 175 pounds and (I believe) has an underrated ring IQ. I also think Kovalev’s corner, which includes head trainer John David Jackson and the sagely Donald Turner, is an overlooked factor in this matchup. I think Kovalev will win a hard-earned decision, and I won’t rule out a late stoppage.

The obvious comparison to me is Hagler-Leonard. That’s high praise. I think we will be treated to an intense boxing match with its share of dramatic moments on Saturday but I will be shocked if the light heavyweights put forth the effort and entertaining 12 rounds that the fading all-time greats gave us in 1987. Hagler-Leonard was THE RING’s Fight of the Year. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if Kovalev-Ward is good enough to be considered a FOTY candidate. But I can see the similarities in the two matchups – Kovalev, like Hagler, is the reigning unified champ with a fearsome reputation; Ward, like Leonard, is the Olympic gold medalist and former pound-for-pound king moving up in weight to challenge “the man” of the heavier division. Kovalev, like Hagler, is a methodical boxer-puncher who generally wears down his opposition. Ward, like Leonard, is a supremely gifted boxer/athlete with underrated tenacity. I think Hagler was a better technician than Kovalev is, and I believe that Leonard had more fire/passion than Ward, but I see the similarities (although I have to mention that Kovalev is closer to his prime than Hagler was at that point, and Ward isn’t coming off three-plus years of inactivity or facing The Krusher in his first light heavyweight bout).

I can’t see Ward lasting 5 rounds. Really? You think Kovalev can get to Ward that soon, and wear him down that quickly? Or do you assume that Ward will get knocked out cold with the first flush shot that lands because you don’t believe he’s got world-class whiskers? I don’t think Ward’s chin is that poor, and I don’t believe Kovalev will be able to break him down that quickly (if at all). But, again, this is one of those matchups where nothing would totally shock me.

I’m not sure Kovalev is the boxer Hagler was, but I also don’t think Ward measures up to Sugar Ray Leonard. You don’t need to channel the ghosts of Ray Arcel and Eddie Futch to realize that.

How is he going to react when Kovalev tags him a few times, or is he slick enough to avoid him? This is one of the many reasons to tune in on Saturday. We don’t know. We also don’t know how Kovalev is going to react when Ward tags him with clean shots to the jaw and body.

Luis Ortiz-Malik Scott deserves less mention than I just gave it. There’s not much to say (that is remotely positive) about the fight other than that old adage “it takes two to tango,” and that it was probably good for Ortiz to go the 12-round distance.

Spike’s PBC show had some interesting moments in the Jarrett Hurd-Jo Jo Dan and Javier Fortuna-Omar Douglas fights, but it was basically an infomercial for next March’s Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia fight. Well duh. LOL. And it was long-ass infomercial at that, but at least we got another look at Hurd, who is on the cusp of 154-pound contender status if he isn’t already there. I like watching him fight. I don’t enjoy Fortuna much. The Dominican has heart and some talent but he’s never been my cup of tea. I wouldn’t mind watching Douglas again, especially if he’s matched with a fellow up-and-comer with equal experience.

I think Keith is too strong and moves too well for it to go the distance. I’m a fan of the Thurmanator but I see this fight going the distance. Garcia’s got a solid chin, comparable physical strength, and he’s a dangerous counter puncher so Thurman will have to be smart in there and limit his exchanges.

I see maybe a 6- or 7-round TKO. I like Thurman by close decision.

That WWE scene at the end of the Garcia fight on Saturday was comical. I didn’t find it particularly entertaining or funny (and certainly not real), but I realize that some fans are excited by this sort of thing, so I’m glad the fighters went through the motions to drum up interest for the March 4 fight. I think the matchup is worthy of hype (even contrived WWE-style s__t).

 

FIGHTS THAT MATTER

Hi Doug

I didn’t watch the Danny Garcia fight last night as that fight to me isn’t important, we all knew who was winning. Now that we got that crap out of the way, we can focus and fights that really matter. Kovalev-Ward is the most important fight (inside the hardcore circle) in a long, long time, a fight that is 50-50 on paper and will give us a definite answer on who’s the best within three divisions.

One week later we get Nicholas Walters-Vasyl Lomachenko, another important fight that should tell us a lot about the lower weight classes.   There is also Thruman-Garcia scheduled for the next few months and if the boxing gods listen, a GGG-Jacobs fight that would settle the score in the middleweight division.

Now that’s what I’m talking about! I’m finally getting excited about our sport all over again! Those are the kind of fights that need to happen regularly, there should be one like that every two to three months. If we could just get Manny to sign on the dotted line to face Crawford, as well as Joshua and Klitschko, the sport will start paving its way into the future.

Regarding this next week’s super fight, I like Ward. I’ve never been a fan of his especially ever since I paid to see him and I almost puked.   But after watching the HBO documentary, My Fight, I kind of started getting him. I do think he has the talent to be the best and Kovalev should be his career defining moment. Now, Kovalev, damn, what a great fighter, I might be very wrong in my prediction. Sergei is a top boxer, with exceptional strength, but I think Ward is a little better and has more big fight experience. I see it close, probably 7-5, with Ward managing to clinch and hit his way to a decision. What do you think? – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Hey, there’s a reason Ward is the betting favorite. Most odds makers, media members and boxing insiders foresee what you predict.

I favor Kovalev because of his strong boxing foundation, educated jab, patience and overall activity. Oh, and because even his arm punches seem to land on his opponents with the weight of shot puts. I also believe that his head trainer, John David Jackson (a former two-division titleholder who was very ring savvy), knows how to break down technical boxers that specialize in defense and neutralizing tactics. I think both light heavyweights are going to have very good game plans but I’m pretty sure that Kovalev’s strategy involves a lot more physical punishment than Ward’s will.

Sergei is a top boxer, with exceptional strength, but I think Ward is a little better and has more big fight experience. Are you sure about this? Yeah, the Super Six tournament was a big deal in Europe, where the participants fought in front of huge crowds (especially the first Kessler-Froch fight, which took place in Denmark), but it didn’t make for huge events here in the U.S. (And, as you may recall, Ward never traveled overseas like the other participants of Showtime’s 168-pound tournament.) The tournament final between Ward and Froch that took place in Atlantic City in late 2011 was fought in front of less than 6,000 fans. (Think about that. More fans paid to see Chocolatito vs. Carlos Cuadras at The Forum than the two best 168 pounders at Boardwalk Hall in Donald Trump’s old stomping grounds.)

Ward’s used to fighting at home in Oakland, in front of decent-sized crowds at Oracle Arena, but I’m not sure those gatherings would qualify as major events. Maybe his title defense against Chad Dawson could be considered “big fight experience,” as you put it. But was that fight any bigger than Kovalev-Hopkins? I would argue that Kovalev’s first title win against Nathan Cleverly in Wales, his first victory over Jean Pascal in Montreal and his recent title(s) defense against Isaac Chilemba in Russian were as big or bigger than any fight Ward has taken part in as a professional.

I’ve never been a fan of his especially ever since I paid to see him and I almost puked. But after watching the HBO documentary, My Fight, I kind of started getting him. And that, my friend, is the power of television.

One week later we get Nicholas Walters-Vasyl Lomachenko, another important fight that should tell us a lot about the lower weight classes. I know that it will be a hell of a fight, but it won’t tell me anything I don’t already know about the lighter-weight divisions. I know that most of the best elite-fighter matchups in boxing take place in the sub-welterweight weight classes.

There is also Thurman-Garcia scheduled for the next few months and if the boxing gods listen, a GGG-Jacobs fight that would settle the score in the middleweight division. Don’t forget about the James DeGale-Badou Jack fight, which matches the Nos. 1 and 2 super middleweights (with THE RING title on the line).

Now that’s what I’m talking about! I’m finally getting excited about our sport all over again! Those are the kind of fights that need to happen regularly, there should be one like that every two to three months. I hate to get all “glass-half-full” on ya, Juan, but these kinds of fights DO happen every two to three months. Maybe you meant to say they should happen every month?

If we could just get Manny to sign on the dotted line to face Crawford, as well as Joshua and Klitschko, the sport will start paving its way into the future. I think both fights can realistically be made in 2017.

 

MONACO CARD

Hi Dougie,

Hope you are well. Did you manage to catch any of the fights on Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom card in Monaco? It was a strange night, with fights ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Firstly there was the complete robbery in the Jamie McDonnell against Liborio Solis fight. I had the hard hitting Venezuelan winning by 3-4 rounds. AT THE VERY BEST and extremely pushing it I can see how someone may have scored it a draw. When it went to the cards and I heard the scoring I immediately assumed it would be in favour Solis. For one judge to have given it to McDonnell by 6 rounds is a complete travesty. This kind of thing is no good for boxing and it’s depressing how often we see these judges scoring baffling decisions. It’s been a problem since day one, do you think can be done to improve this? It’s heartbreaking to see someone put their absolute all into a fight like that and come away with an undeserving L.

Then there was the fight that a lot of people (myself included) were anticipating the most, a chance to see King Kong Luis Ortiz in action on his first Matchroom card. Make no mistake, the way Malik Scott ‘fought’ was an absolute disgrace. At the same time though, I was extremely disappointed with Ortiz and have jumped off the hype train temporarily. He was slower than a week in jail (his age catching up with him perhaps?) and I think he struggles with any boxer who can combine athleticism with a bit of power. How do you think he fares against a Joshua, Wilder, Haye or Fury? After last nights performance I have to say I would favour all these guys to beat him.

Finally, there was the fight of the night for me, Jason Sosa with a convincing victory over the brave Stephen Smith. Both fighters gave their all in a protracted war but in the end the Camden pitbull was just too powerful for Smith. I would love to see him in against the winner of Loma vs Walters, whether that be a rematch with Walters or a first bout against the Ukrainian. How do you see either of those fights going?

All the best. – Robert, Edinburgh

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Robert. I was only able to see the Ortiz-Scott fight live (on HBO here in the States – lucky me) and I watched the Sosa-Smith as soon as I could on YouTube because I knew that would likely be the best scrap of the weekend (and it did not disappoint). I haven’t gotten around to watching the McDonnell-Solis fight yet, but every report I’ve read on it states that the verdict was controversial. It doesn’t surprise me that McDonnell had his hands full with the Venezuelan contender (especially given the talk of him perhaps struggling to make 118 pounds). Earlier this year Solis dropped RING champ Shinsuke Yamanaka twice en route to losing a unanimous decision to the elite Japanese veteran (who put him down twice). Yamanaka dropped a few places in THE RING’s pound-for-pound rankings for what was viewed as a “poor performance” but I didn’t agree with that move prompted by the magazine’s ratings panel. Solis is a solid veteran. (And it wasn’t fair, in my view, that Guillermo Rigondeaux waas allowed to be knocked down twice against a lesser challenger without being dropped from his lofty pound-for-pound perch. But I digress…)

This kind of thing is no good for boxing and it’s depressing how often we see these judges scoring baffling decisions. I agree. Judging a professional boxing match isn’t as easy as it seems from TV but it’s not as difficult as too many official judges make it appear with poor cards that range from bizarre to disgraceful.

It’s been a problem since day one, what do you think can be done to improve this? It’s very simple, boxing commissions should only assign the best judges to the high-profile world title bouts. If the combatants are world class, shouldn’t the officials be world class too? Judges with a history of crappy scorecards (or blatant home-cooking) should not get the choice assignments.

Make no mistake, the way Malik Scott ‘fought’ was an absolute disgrace. And that’s being kind to Scott.

At the same time though, I was extremely disappointed with Ortiz and have jumped off the hype train temporarily. Man, you hardcore junkies are such fair-weather fans. So. Damn. Fickle. Where’s your loyalty!? Where’s your support for the precious Cuban boxing system? You was down with the King Kong Krew! You were with the KKK, Robert! (Wait, that doesn’t sound right. You were down with the REAL King Kong Krew! The RKKK… whew!)

He was slower than a week in jail (his age catching up with him perhaps?) and I think he struggles with any boxer who can combine athleticism with a bit of power. I don’t think Ortiz’s hands have slowed down at all, he just doesn’t have the fastest feet in the business, and he has a lot of trouble hitting a moving target. Cutting off the ring isn’t as easy as GGG makes it look. I’m not sure that athleticism and power causes Ortiz problems as much as lateral movement does.

How do you think he fares against a Joshua, Wilder, Haye or Fury? I think he’s even money vs. Joshua and Wilder and I’d probably pick him to win both fights. I’m not so sure about the other two. I’d definitely pick a mentally healthy Fury to beat Ortiz.  

I feel like Ortiz can get the better of AJ because the young buck likes to walk down his opponents, which plays into the talented southpaw’s strengths. Wilder has the height and reach to give Ortiz fits, but the American is a puncher at heart, so he’ll try to go for a KO at some point, plus he isn’t exactly a defensive wizard. Haye, on the other hand, could give Ortiz problems because he’s at a stage of his career where he’s not going to take too many risks. On top of that mentality, he’s got experience, athleticism, boxing talent and sneaky power. That won’t work out well for Ortiz. And neither would Fury’s special brand of ring bravado (provided the giant can get his head screwed back on right). Fury is all wrong for Ortiz. He’d keep Ortiz at bay with his ridiculous reach and he’d never stop moving and playing around in the ring. It doesn’t take much to frustrate Ortiz, which tells me Fury would have him wanting to quit on his stool.

I would love to see (Sosa) in against the winner of Loma vs Walters, whether that be a rematch with Walters or a first bout against the Ukrainian. How do you see either of those fights going? I thought Walters clearly beat Sosa when they fought last December, but Sosa grew from that experience and he’s advanced further with his late stoppage of Fortuna and his UD over Smith (both hard-fought victories earned on the road). His confidence has to be at an all-time high, but so would Walters’ self-belief if the Axe-Man was coming off a victory over Lomachenko. I think Sosa-Walters II would be a legitimately close (and very good) fight and I’d slightly favor Walters on points. I think Lomachenko would win a competitive but clear decision, something like two 117-111 tallies and one 116-112 scorecard.

 

LUIS ORTIZ’S ROPE-A-DOPE

Malik Scott fought a piss poor fight, but did Luis Ortiz buy into it? A win is a win and maybe he can buy a few of the contenders in a best bluff I’ve seen. He could have got stuck in and he didn’t. He has a chin and Scott doesn’t punch, so make of it what you will but it really was sitting ducks and all the while on a debut. I don’t buy it, unless he really is as old as the commentators thought he might be? Cheers. – Bob, UK

Forgive me for not understanding some of your language, but are you suggesting that Ortiz purposely followed Scott around the ring for 12 rounds to entice fellow contenders to grow a pair and fight him? Interesting. I don’t think that’s the case but if it was I’ve got a new-found respect for Ortiz. That’s clever. Unfortunately, I don’t think it works these days. Maybe a few decades ago, but not now, not during the tail-end of the “Mayweather era.” Every standout from 154 pounds to 168 and his sister says Golovkin was “exposed” against both Willie Monroe Jr. and Kell Brook, but NOBODY is eager to sign that dotted line. Ortiz has now looked ordinary (or, at the very least “human”) in his last two bouts (vs. Tony Thompson and Scott) but we really haven’t heard any of the top heavyweights calling him out have we? And even if we do, how many will back up their brave talk?

 

2017

Hi Doug,

Hate to bring up something that may make your stomach turn BUT… don’t you think that a rematch (between those that shall remain nameless) f__ks with GGG vs Canelo? Tune-up bout in April/May… Let’s go for the return in September just to spite ODLH.

Of course though, that would mean Pac, surely, has to fight someone like…my dead granny in the meantime or Postol or Broner? – Ray K

It’s possible that the pending Mayweather-Pacquiao rematch could interfere with the anticipated middleweight superfight. There are industry insiders that believe the reason Golden Boy Promotions pushed for Canelo-Golovkin to go down in September was due to speculation that MayPac2 could happen in May.

Could Haymon, Arum (and Schaefer on the sidelines) want to aim the “Mega-dud” sequel for September just to “spite” De La Hoya, as you say? Maybe, but I doubt it. They want to make as much money with that audacious venture as they can. They already have a hard sell due to the uneventful nature of the first fight (as well as the unapologetic gouging of the public). Why force fans to choose between huge events by putting their show on in the same month (or the same night) as Canelo-GGG? Why split the boxing/sports media? They’re going to need all the coverage they can get, and if given a choice of which events to cover I know a lot of my peers will go with the better fight (which is being promoted by the easier-to-deal with promoters – and I’m not saying Top Rank is a pain in the ass, but as you probably know, if Floyd is going to bother returning to the ring his company is going to be the lead promoter).

 

THE WHITE DESTROYER

Mr. Fischer,

Reading your response in the Friday Mailbag.

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.

Interesting questions. Instead of answering those questions here is the thought process from having the nickname typed until pushing the “send” button:

I asked myself why so many boxers don’t want to take the opportunity to cash a tremendous amount of money and collect three major belts by trying to pull the upset against GGG. The answer passing my mind: Because they are afraid to be destroyed. From there it was a small step to the “Dark Destroyer”. Spontaneously I thought “White Destroyer” fits perfectly. After typing that and reading it on the monitor I stopped and thought whether that could be misleading. Then I checked the dictionary for a better word “bright” “light” “pale”. PC was jumping in: Is it allowed to combine anything with a skin color? So I was considering if I should delete the nickname completely (Quite frankly: I didn’t think about just deleting the color). Next step of the process: “White Destroyer” is neither an insult nor discriminating to anybody and I don’t want to control my language as long as I don’t insult anybody – so why change my spontaneous first idea. Final step of the process: Push the “send” button. – Matthias, Germany

Don’t fret, Matthias, I was mostly messing with you in the last mailbag. But part of the reason I called it out was because Golovkin has become a focal point for racial polarization among boxing fans in recent years, and it seems very unfair to me because there’s nothing racist about him. So, I didn’t want anything to add to the pointless race-baiting between nitwit fans that exists in social media and comment sections.

But just so you know, I was not personally offended by the “White Destroyer” nickname, and as I pointed out, nicknames that refer to a fighter’s skin color or tone is nothing new in boxing. And as someone in the comment section below pointed out, I’ve given Anthony Joshua the corny comic-book inspired moniker “Black Colossus.” So who am I to judge!? LOL.

Believe it or not, your thought process makes total sense to me. And for the record, the “Dark Destroyer” was one of my favorite boxing nicknames of the 1980s/’90s. (No disrespect to your nickname, but it’s a lot catchier than “White Destroyer.”)

 

 

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

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