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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

Photo by Stephanie Trapp / Showtime
Fighters Network
09
Dec

BOXING ALCHEMY (WELL, SORT OF…)

Sup Dougie,

I’m going straight into my picks for this weekend. Here they are, brutha:

Terence Crawford by mid-rounds stoppage. Possible highlight reel KO over the tough but exceedingly easy to find John Molina.



Julian Williams over Jermall Charlo in a spirited, nip and tuck affair. Something about J-Rock just screams hungry pack of hyenas.

I like Jesus Cuellar over the presently in “boxing style purgatory” Abner Mares. Just don’t know who Lil Abner is these days.

Sergey Lipinets looks like a JWW with a future.

Joseph Parker by stoppage but I envision him eating plenty of leather in the interim from Andy Ruiz. Plenty of two-way action in this one.

Anthony Joshua by early KO as he looks to make another statement. He needs some rounds but I don’t know if Eric Molina can give him those. Pretty nice undercard as well.

My apologies for the length. Probably should’ve just did picks sans analysis but I was feeling myself today… lol…

Later pal. – Reggie Woodard

Don’t apologize for the length of your email, Reggie. This is THE boxing column for long-winded boxing nut cases (and I’m the Chief Wing Nut). You don’t see Droeks Malan from South Africa apologizing for the length of his fight analyses, do you?

I agree (for the most part) with your weekend fight picks/opinions.

Terence Crawford by mid-rounds stoppage. Possible highlight reel KO over the tough but exceedingly easy to find John Molina. I favor Crawford (like pretty much everybody that watches boxing) but I think Molina takes Bud into the late rounds. Crawford’s not a fast starter and he will be leery of the well-prepared Molina’s power for at least the first half of the bout.

Julian Williams over Jermall Charlo in a spirited, nip and tuck affair. Something about J-Rock just screams hungry pack of hyenas. I slightly favor Williams by close decision. Charlo is very talented, a handful for any 154 pounder in the game. I like J Rock’s technique and tenacity, but Charlo is a versatile boxer and the more gifted athlete.

I like Jesus Cuellar over the presently in “boxing style purgatory” Abner Mares. Just don’t know who Lil Abner is these days. I feel the same way. I know Mares has the decided edge in skill and experience but I don’t know how much he has left mentally or physically. And I do know that Cuellar, a take-no-prisoners style presser fighter, is at his peak.

Sergey Lipinets looks like a JWW with a future. Only time will tell. Have you checked out Anson Wainwright’s New Faces on the Kazakhstan native?

Joseph Parker by stoppage but I envision him eating plenty of leather in the interim from Andy Ruiz. Plenty of two-way action in this one. I agree, and I can see a distance fight, too.

Anthony Joshua by early KO as he looks to make another statement. He needs some rounds but I don’t know if Eric Molina can give him those. I think Molina will make it into Round 7 or 8 in a “fight” that looks very much like the Dominic Breazeale stoppage.

 

ABNER MARES’ RETURN

Hey Doug,

As I’m sure you know, I’m one of the bigger Mares fans out there. And so, I’m a bit concerned for him come Saturday night. He’s been out of the ring over a year, and just hasn’t looked the same since he got knocked out by Jhonny Gonzalez, which was over 3 years ago now.

I think the stretch he had from 2010-2013 made him way older in boxing years than his actual age. Or possibly the loss just messed him up on the mental side.

How do you see this fight going? If Mares fights the determined way he fought Santa Cruz, I can see him winning a decision. Thanks man. – Robert from Ashton, MD

Hmmmm. I think Mares will need to box with all the experience and savvy that he can muster if he hopes to win a decision. If he goes the hard-and-direct route against Cuellar, he’s going to invite a lot of physical punishment, which could lead to self-doubts given his inactivity and questionable state of his eye.

I favor Cuellar by decision or late stoppage in a good, competitive fight for at least six or seven rounds but I think the younger, bigger, stronger, fresher fighter will take over down the stretch.

He’s been out of the ring over a year, and just hasn’t looked the same since he got knocked out by Jhonny Gonzalez, which was over 3 years ago now. Time flies, eh? Mares has faced some tough, solid guys in his four bouts since getting whacked by ‘J-Gon,’ but he lost to the only world-class fighter he faced (Leo Santa Cruz in his last bout last August).

I think the stretch he had from 2010-2013 made him way older in boxing years than his actual age. I agree 100%. Mares is much older than 29 in terms of boxing years. From May 2010 to May 2013, he faced Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko (twice – in back-to-back fights), Eric Morel, Anselmo Moreno and Daniel Ponce De Leon. All of the fights went 12 rounds except for the De Leon bout, and most of them (Perez, Darchinyan, Agbeko I and Moreno) were grueling scraps. That schedule had to have taken a toll (as similar tough back-to-back bouts faded Perez and Agbeko, and to a lesser extent, Moreno). I’m thinking Mares may have peaked with his ninth-round stoppage of De Leon.

Or possibly the loss just messed him up on the mental side. Could be. Mares was on top of the world, an unbeaten three-division champ rated in most pound-for-pound rankings and then he got iced by a supposed “has-been.” I think the managerial shenanigans that took place after the Gonzalez bout also added to his psychological dilemma (but I won’t go into that; I’ve given ole Dickie Dick enough s__t recently).

 

THUNDER DOWN UNDER

Hi Doug,

I am looking forward to Joseph Parker-Andy Ruiz Jr. and what is more, we are having the rare pleasure of getting to view it live on free TV in South Africa.

If you don’t know boxing and look at Ruiz, you can be forgiven for writing him off. With his baby face, tattoos and roly-poly physique, he looks almost cartoonish in appearance. However, if you do know boxing, you would know never to judge a book on its cover. There have been a fair amount of pretty good heavyweights over the years, like Greg Page, Tony Tubbs and Francesco Damiani, who did not exactly sport beach body physiques. Boxing is not body building, as they say.

Ruiz can fight though. He is a solid all round boxer that can throw every punch in the book well. I love the way he throws those hooks to the body in true Mexican style. Like Parker, he can also be tagged.

There are a few more question marks hanging over his head. Can he take Parker’s power? How will he react under pressure? We’ll find that out on Saturday.

Kevin Barry, Parker’s trainer has stated that Ruiz has faster hands than his man. Bob Arum, Ruiz’s promoter, went one further and said that Ruiz has the fastest hands since Muhammad Ali. Well, I think that Barry was saying that to make Parker understand the gravity of the challenge in front of him and Bob was just being Bob: a promoter. Ruiz does have fast hands and can throw some speedy combinations when his opponent is in front of him, but I don’t think he is quite an Ali or even Corrie Sanders in the hand speed department. In fact, I think Parker has slightly faster hands. What do you think?

Ruiz has respectable power, but I wouldn’t classify him as a huge puncher. I saw him pound out an eight round decision over journeyman, Joell Godfrey, last year. Godfrey just stood there with his hands held up while Ruiz hit him with everything but the kitchen sink, yet he couldn’t budge him. If you are a world class banger, you take those types of opponents out. All in all, I don’t think Ruiz hits any harder than Takam. Do you agree?

Looking at Parker in the Takam fight, there is a gap for a straight right over his left jab that he likes to carry low and a left hook can also work. Ruiz does throw a nice straight right-left hook combo, so there is an obvious opportunity for him.

I think Ruiz has to fight his usual style, but try to be even a little busier than usual. Those body shots could be the key to slow down Parker. He has a good jab, but sometimes he forgets to use it. I think he needs to remember it on Saturday and use it when coming in to set up his combinations to keep Parker off balance. If he just wades in with power punches, he could walk in to a counter and Parker can finish. If he can do that and stand up to the power of Parker, he could wear him down and outwork him to win a decision.

Parker needs to check that chin of Ruiz from the get go. You never know, if it turns out that he can hurt him, then he might score a spectacular victory. If not, he needs to move, change angles and throw lots of jabs, as well as uppercuts on the inside. If he can keep Ruiz guessing, he can simply outbox him.

What do you think each should do?

I think that Parker is the better overall talent and more battle tested. He moves better, is slightly faster and hits harder. I have the feeling that he belongs among the top five of the heavyweight division, while I think Ruiz is just ever so slightly below that. Therefore, I am going with Joseph Parker to outpoint Andy Ruiz in a hard-fought fight that will deliver the action.

Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

I also favor Parker by decision. I agree that he is the better overall talent and is a little more battle tested (thanks to the Takam fight). I don’t think it will be an easy fight for him.

Ruiz has a nice jab and a quick one-two combo (at least as good as Parker has). The Mexicali native is also a good counter puncher and combination puncher when he’s in close. And, despite his size, he’s not that easy to hit.

Parker’s the better athlete and he’s got real power in both hands. He’s also got underrated ring generalship. He’s a good judge of distance. However, despite going 12 rounds with Takam, I still think his stamina is questionable. Can Ruiz test it? I don’t know.

And I don’t know what each fighter needs to do to win. I don’t really care to over-analyze this fight. I just want to watch and enjoy it.  

There have been a fair amount of pretty good heavyweights over the years, like Greg Page, Tony Tubbs and Francesco Damiani, who did not exactly sport beach body physiques. Boxing is not body building, as they say. Amen to that. Page was immensely talented, as was Tubbs, a chubby boxing master (who imparted a lot of knowledge to the Klitschko brothers as an old sparring partner), and Damiani had excellent combinations (a lot of folks forget that he was outclassing Ray Mercer before the “Merciless One” took him out with a nose-cracking shot late in the fight). Anyone remember Joe Hipp? That flabby member of the Blackfeet Nation could box! He gave Tommy Morrison the business (even broke The Duke’s jaw) before getting clipped with a killer right uppercut late in their network TV classic.

Ruiz can fight though. Yes, he can. He was a good amateur boxer.

He is a solid all round boxer that can throw every punch in the book well. I agree. I think he’s comparable to Parker in terms of his technique and toolbox. I think Parker hits harder, though.

There are a few more question marks hanging over his head. Can he take Parker’s power? I have no idea. I do know that if he takes enough clean shots to the face, he will bruise, cut and swell.

How will he react under pressure? I think Ruiz is going to be the fighter applying pressure.

Ruiz does have fast hands and can throw some speedy combinations when his opponent is in front of him, but I don’t think he is quite an Ali or even Corrie Sanders in the hand speed department. Um, no. Not even close.

In fact, I think Parker has slightly faster hands. What do you think? I think Parker is clearly faster.

All in all, I don’t think Ruiz hits any harder than Takam. Do you agree? No, I think Ruiz’s hands are a little bit heavier than Takam’s, but my guess is as good as yours. I’ve never been hit by either man and I plan to keep it that way.

 

DOES HBO STAND FOR ‘HAS-BEEN BOXER’ ORGANIZATION?

Doug,

This is an action-packed weekend and I’m sure you’ll get plenty of us boxing nerds reaching out to you. Although wanting to see T Crawford ply his craft, the fight that I’m most looking forward to is Charlo-Williams. Two heavy handed 154 pounders who have not learned how to lose.

Although my heart says Williams,  as Stephen “Breadman” Edwards is in his corner, I feel that Charlo might have more in his arsenal… don’t even care if I’m right, I just want to see it.

My real reason for writing…I know this is mostly your boy Steve Kim’s territory in regards to the behind the scenes machinations of the boxing power brokers, but please, please, please give me your thoughts on HBO’s decision to put two fighters coming off losses on pay per view???

I like Miguel Cotto and although calling him a “has been” is admittedly a bit harsh, I hope you get the idea. The Mandingo Warrior is exciting to watch but not the same without Anne Wolfe and nothing we saw in him getting knocked out by Carrot-top, would warrant this pay day.

If they want to bang, I’m all for it and it might even be fun if it was on Tuesday Night Fights (did I just write that?) but why exactly (if you don’t mind sharing your thoughts) is this on pay per view? – Carlos in Sacramento

It’s simple, HBO doesn’t want to pay (or can’t pay) Cotto and James Kirkland what they want to be paid to fight each other, so the promoter of this fight (Roc Nation) has to bear the financial burden; thus a fight that belongs on HBO (or maybe the USA network’s old ‘Tuesday Night Fights’ series, good job bringing up that oldie but goodie) goes to HBO PPV. With a pay-per-view event, HBO comes out of the pocket for the production and some distribution and promotional costs but the network is not responsible for covering the fighters’ purse guarantees.

HBO has a long history with Cotto, who is one of the few active boxers that regularly brings in strong TV ratings, so the network obviously wants to air his fights. And Kirkland (despite the fact that he’s looney tunes and inactive) usually delivers action and drama. However, HBO can’t cover Cotto’s huge minimum purse (coupled with Kirkland’s high asking price) without depleting their annual budget.

By pushing the fight to HBO PPV, the network gets to air the fight (and some limited rights to the footage) and the promoter gets help with paying the fighters from hardcore fans like you. Of course, most fans – even the true boxing junkies – are totally fed up with pay-per-view events that aren’t legit SuperFights, so good luck to Roc Nation and HBO with selling this one to the public.

I know this is mostly your boy Steve Kim’s territory in regards to the behind the scenes machinations of the boxing power brokers, but please, please, please give me your thoughts on HBO’s decision to put two fighters coming off losses on pay per view??? I don’t really have any thoughts on this matchup. I view it as it is: it’s the final bout of Cotto’s three-fight $50-million deal with Roc Nation and the future hall of famer wants to go out against an opponent that will provide a few thrills but that he can ultimately beat handily. I don’t think I’m going to be hyped up for this fight, and I’m certainly not going to travel to cover it, but I’ll watch it because it’s my job to do so. If I buy the PPV, I’ll be reimbursed. If was just a fan, I would likely pass on this show (although I should admit that I paid to watch lesser fights and bigger mismatches back in the day). (By the way, I consulted Kim via text while answering this email just to make sure my knowledge of “behind the scenes machinations of the boxing power brokers” was at least somewhat accurate.)

Although wanting to see T Crawford ply his craft, the fight that I’m most looking forward to is Charlo-Williams. Two heavy handed 154 pounders who have not learned how to lose. I’m looking forward to this one, too, and I think the up-and-comers bring a lot more than unbeaten records and heavy hands to the dance. Charlo and Williams are both well-schooled boxers.

Although my heart says Williams, as Stephen “Breadman” Edwards is in his corner, I feel that Charlo might have more in his arsenal… don’t even care if I’m right, I just want to see it. I don’t know of Charlo has more in his arsenal but I think he’s the more naturally gifted athlete. The defending titleholder is also bigger, taller, rangier and more mobile than J Rock, which could cause problems for the Philadelphia native. I think Charlo will have the edge early in the bout and it will up to Williams to make the necessary adjustments and work his way into the fight. I believe he will, which will make for a very interesting second half of the fight.

 

FIGHTER OF THE YEAR?

Hi Dougie,

Hope you had a great holiday and your family is well. Just a quick thought… Who do you think will earn the Fighter of the Year award? I have these as my favorites:

Roman Gonzalez

Vasyl Lomachenko

Carl Frampton

I like Frampton with his two big wins over Santa Cruz and Quigg. For Fight of the Year I’m still liking Salido-Vargas as the best. Upset goes to John Molina beating Ruslan. What do you think?

Cheers. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

I agree 100% with your choices for Fight of the Year (did anything really come close to the ferocity of Vargas-Salido?) and Upset of the Year.

I’m on the fence with Fighter of the Year. I think it’s between Frampton and Gonzalez, but I’m leaning ever so slightly toward the Belfast native. I was in awe of the effort “Chocolatito” and Carlos Cuadras put forth in September. Winning a fourth title in a fourth weight class – especially against a defending titleholder as talented and proven as Cuadras IN HIS FIRST BOUT AT 115 pounds – cannot be diminished in any way.

However, Frampton had TWO impressive performances in 2016 – his 122-pound title unification tilt with UK rival Scott Quigg and his “Super” WBA 126-pound title showdown with Leo Santa Cruz. And never mind the split and majority nods Frampton had to settle for in those bouts – he outclassed two big, strong unbeaten opponents. And what I love about both fights, and the reason I’m leaning toward Frampy, is that he left the comfy confines of Belfast (where he’s a star) to take on these challenges. He fought Quigg in Manchester (which is near Scotty’s hometown of Bury) and he faced Santa Cruz in the U.S. (and will do so again in January, this time even closer to Leo’s home region).

Also, like Gonzalez, Frampton moved up in weight and took on a top dog without any tune-ups. Both men are a credit to the sport. I’ll be content if either wins the honor.

I wouldn’t be upset at all if Lomachenko won Fighter of the Year. He looked absolutely sensational this year. However, while he was practically untouchable the two dudes he manhandled and mindf__ked at 130 pounds weren’t exactly Alexis Arguello or prime Floyd Mayweather Jr. Rocky Martinez is shopworn, and Nicholas Walters had been inactive, largely unproven at junior lightweight and turned out to be a tad fragile in the psychological department.

 

THE REAL DEAL

Merry Chrismas to you and your family Doug,

No Questions this time I just wanted to make a statement about the recent hall of fame fighters named this week. Evander Holyfield was finally named to Canastota. I’m 31 and I grew up in the Holyfield era. This man was a hero to every American boy of that age. I grew up in a house that despised Tyson and always cheered for someone to beat him. The Real Deal had such an impact that my mother was emotionally invested years later in Evander’s competition on Dancing with the Stars, and when I was overseas she bought me his autobiography for Christmas one year.

I won’t waste time listing all of his accomplishments that I’m sure will be beaten like a dead horse over the next six months, however, my father who wished evil on Tyson and his crew loved Evander and always spoke with respect on America’s underdog hero. I’m so excited to see the man who gave me a love for the sport and a sentimental belief in the underdog. I just wanted to write you and say God bless that man.

Mythical Matchups:

Holyfield vs Sullivan

Holyfield vs Jeffries

Holyfield vs Johnson

Holyfield vs Dempsey

Holyfield vs Louis

Holyfield vs Marciano

and Holyfield vs Ali

Sorry about so many MM but I’m on a roll.

Keep up the good work Doug. – Sean from Seattle

Thanks for sharing your personal stories and praise of Holyfield, one of a mere handful of modern boxers that I rank among the all-time greats.

Your mythical matchups:

Holyfield vs Sullivan – My guess is that The Boston Strong Boy would draw the color line and not face The Real Deal, but if he did I think he’d get worked over in a 12- or 15-round bout under modern rules. (Now, if we’re talking bare-knuckle rules in a bout scheduled for more than say 20 or 25 rounds, who the hell knows?)

Holyfield vs Jeffries – I don’t think Holyfield would have an easy time with the prime version of The Boilermaker but I believe he’s skilled and athletic enough to outpoint the turn-of-the-last century legend over 12-15 rounds in a competitive fight. (Again, if we’re talking bouts scheduled for 20 or 25 rounds, I’m not sure if Holyfield could hold out. He’s never had to fight past 15.)

Holyfield vs Johnson – I think Lil Arthur is the one Old Timer with the right blend of skill, durability, athleticism and mental fortitude to give Holyfield a stern challenge, even under modern rules. However, my hunch is that The Galveston Giant (who isn’t that big by modern standards) would be outworked by Holyfield, who would win a very close decision.

Holyfield vs Dempsey – Like Johnson, The Manassa Mauler was a pioneer of style for the big men (only his was offensive, instead of defensive), and I believe he would have had a short window to KO Holyfield in the early rounds. However, I think Holyfield at his best could survive Dempsey’s early round blitz attempt, battle his way back into the fight and outbox the power-punching pressure fighter down the stretch of the fight to earn a hard-fought decision.

Holyfield vs Louis – I believe the prime version of Holyfield had the ability to outbox (and even punish) The Brown Bomber for at least half of the fight, but his natural inclination to mix it up would eventually cost him against arguably the greatest puncher in heavyweight history (and I’m not just talking about raw power, I’m talking about punching technique, timing and accuracy). I think Louis would clip and put Holyfield down for the count at some point between Rounds 7-10.

Holyfield vs Marciano – Oh my God. This would be f__king brutal. Both men would absorb a grotesque amount of punishment in the quintessential battle of attrition. Holyfield gets it worse to his body, The Rock gets it worse to his face, but I think The Real Deal would hang on to the final bell to earn a close decision. (There’s a chance that Holyfield could stop Marciano on cuts, but there’s also a chance that Rocky could land the perfect shot that takes Commander Vander out.)

Holyfield vs Ali – Holyfield isn’t as relentless (or hard-hitting) as Joe Frazier but he’s just as tough and his will is just as strong, so it says here that he gives The Greatest a grueling fight en route to losing close but unanimous decision. Ali’s uncanny speed and mobility would simply be too much for Holyfield to contain, and at the end of the day the Louisville native was every bit as tough and tenacious as the Holy Warrior.

 

 

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

 

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