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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

Photo by: German Villasenor
06
Jan

THANKS

Hey Dougie!!

Just an e-mail to show my gratitude and wishes for next year:

Happy New Year and thank you for all your excellent work during 2016. It was a huge delight to read your bi-weekly mailbags…and here’s hoping to a great 2017. Don’t sweat about your mistakes, no big deal, I already made a few myself in this new year. – Marvin, LA, CA

Me too. I’ll try not to sweat ‘em too much but at the same time I will try my best to be as clear with my opinions, factually accurate, informative, entertaining and free of typos as I can be with every mailbag column of 2017. I’ll also try to keep the twice-a-week schedule for at least 48 of the 52 weeks in this year. I know that’s impossible, but that’s what I’m aiming for. I’ll do some mid-week and specialty mailbags too if time permits.

Thanks for the gratitude and well wishes. Boxing fans like you are the reason I do this.

 

HBO VS SHOWTIME: JAN. 28

Happy New Year Doug,

I have a problem. HBO and Showtime are hosting good fight cards on the same night. My problem is what fights do I watch live and what fights do I watch later. I believe the Showtime card with Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz 2 and Dejan Zlaticanin vs Mikey Garcia has the better, even matchups. However, the HBO card of Francisco Vargas vs Miguel Berchelt and Takashi Miura vs Mickey Roman will be the better action fights and possibly if Miura and Vargas emerge victorious then a fight might be announced live in the ring.

What is your pick Doug? And does your pick change if you are watching with casual sports fans who don’t watch boxing?

Mythical Match Ups:

Micky Ward vs Ruslan Provodnikov

Carl Williams vs Bryant Jennings

Vasyl Lomanchenko vs Sandy Saddler

T-800 from Terminator vs Dutch from Predator

Thanks a lot Doug. – Sean

Although I’ll be at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California on Jan. 28 (working HBO’s international broadcast with Beto Duran), and I’m looking forward to witnessing the Vargas/Miura doubleheader, it’s hard to beat Showtime’s offering that night. There’s no doubt that you’ll get action with Vargas-Berchelt and Miura-Roman, but you’ll also get that with Frampton-Santa Cruz and Zlaticanin-Garcia, plus elite skill and craft in matchups that are more-even (as you pointed out) on paper.

I think HBO’s show will deliver more sustained blood-and-guts action (which I’m all for) and the fights will likely end in brutal stoppages, but Showtime’s co-featured bouts will showcase more drama and world-class boxing, probably over the 12-round distance. You can’t go wrong with either show, but I think most hardcore fans would agree that Showtime’s got the superior matchups (even if you’re watching with “casuals”).

Your mythical matchups:

Micky Ward vs Ruslan Provodnikov – Ward by come-from-behind body shot stoppage in a grueling battle of attrition (surprise, surprise)

Carl Williams vs Bryant Jennings – “The Truth” by clear unanimous decision

Vasyl Lomanchenko vs Sandy Sadler – Saddler by late stoppage in a competitive and entertaining fight

T-800 from Terminator vs Dutch from Predator – Tough one (even for a proud geek like me). Ole Dutch believed it if it bled, he could kill it, and he was usually right. The T-800 series of Terminators bled because of their living flesh exteriors (they were “cyborgs”), but shedding a little (or a lot) of blood didn’t deter them (especially the one that traveled through time to off Sarah Connor). Dutch is a resourceful badass but my hunch is that he isn’t the survivor that Sarah is. After a long, drawn out hunt and battle, I’m going with the T-800 by (what else?) termination. (Maybe I’m biased, though, Dutch’s last name is Schaefer.)

 

ANDRE WARD’S ROLLING STONE INTERVIEW

Hi Dougie,

It’s been awhile since I last wrote into you but I’m always keeping up with both mailbags as it is my ritual every Monday and Friday morning. Can’t thank you enough for taking time out to do these because it really helps to educate a lot of us boxing novices.

I was reading this Rolling Stone article today in regards to Andre Ward’s take on his matchup with Sergey Kovalev and him possibly retiring and was curious to get your thoughts from it as well.

It shouldn’t surprise me but it was interesting to read Ward’s comments on the knockdown that occurred during the second round and how it somewhat woke him up and him also nonchalantly stating that it was his wake up call “to get up and go to work”. Kovalev was on point and on target for at least those first three rounds and it makes me think that if that knockdown never occurred then maybe Kovalev batters up Ward to win a unanimous decision as opposed to suffering that highly questionable loss (I had Kovalev winning 114-113 but I’ll honestly admit I had and won money on Ward at 5/8 odds that night).

With that being said, how do you think the rematch plays out if it does happen and also if Ward was to retire today would you consider him a sure fire hall of famer in your opinion? Happy New Year to you and yours. – Eli

Interesting question (and you owed me one after making me read that uninteresting article). If Ward were to retire now, without facing Kovalev in a rematch, I believe that move would taint his legacy due to the controversial nature of the first bout, but I know that he’s accomplished enough to at least get on the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s ballot.

I think Ward would be inducted. He was an Olympic gold medalist and unbeaten in a pro career that saw him collect five major world titles at super middleweight (where he was universally recognized as the champ) and light heavyweight, plus he’s got a lot of fans among media that are members of the Boxing Writers Assoc. of America (who take part in the IBHOF’s voting). Would I personally consider Ward to be a “sure-fire” hall of famer? Not quite. Not yet. My personal minimum criteria for hall of fame induction is that one must face at least two future hall of famers during his career. He doesn’t have to necessarily beat them, but he’s got to be competitive with the prime versions of those rivals. Ward’s got Carl Froch on his resume. He’s got other names on his ledger, such as Mikkel Kessler and Chad Dawson, but I don’t consider those two to be future hall of famers (we’ll see if they ever get in). So it comes down to what Kovalev does going forward. If the Russian regains his titles and beats more top-quality competition over the next couple years, he’ll probably be considered a future hall of famer. If so, Ward’s resume would be enhanced and he’d probably get a check mark from Yours Truly when his name appears on the ballot. But I gotta be honest with you, if he doesn’t fight Kovalev again, I think that will detract from his legacy.

However, I’m not taking Ward’s talk of retirement seriously (yet). I could be wrong but I think he’s either saying this to torture Kovalev and Kathy Duva or he’s butt-hurt by all the “a__holes,” like Yours Truly, who believe that he got an early Christmas gift on Nov. 19 and won’t back off from our “biased” opinions or shut up about on social media and in boxing forums.

How do I see a rematch playing out? I favor Kovalev by decision (more so now than I did before the first fight) but I don’t have much confidence him getting that decision unless he drops Ward more than once and wobbles him repeatedly (thanks to Roc Nation’s influence and boxing’s shady nature). I hope I’m wrong but Kovalev could wind up like poor Larry Holmes did against Michael Spinks – getting the s__t-end of a poor decision in the first bout and then f__ked even worse in the rematch.

Kovalev was on point and on target for at least those first three rounds and it makes me think that if that knockdown never occurred then maybe Kovalev batters up Ward to win a unanimous decision as opposed to suffering that highly questionable loss (I had Kovalev winning 114-113 but I’ll honestly admit I had and won money on Ward at 5/8 odds that night). At least you’re honest. As to how Kovalev would have boxed or fought had he not scored the second-round knockdown, only he knows.

 

CHOCOLATITO VS. THE MONSTER

Hey Doug,

What are your thoughts on a matchup between Naoya Inoue and Roman Gonzalez on the strength of their recent performances?

I’m wondering if Gonzalez is big enough to handle Inoue’s power. On the other hand, how will Inoue handle Gonzalez’ power and how will he deal with Gonzalez’ non-stop activity. Your thoughts? – Stephen, Montreal

I think Inoue is a real threat to Gonzalez’s impressive unbeaten streak, but I think most of the 115-pound titleholders and top contenders have the ability to take Chocolatito’s “0” if they rise to the occasion and catch him on a bad night.

Of course, the Gonzalez-Inoue showdown is the fight hardcore heads want. They’re both undefeated titleholders, the consensus Nos. 1 and 2 of the junior bantamweight division, and “the Monster” appeals to boxing geeks. He passes their “eye test” with flying colors in the ring and carries a Rockstar aura outside of it.

I was against this fight happening a year ago because Inoue didn’t even have 10 pro bouts under his belt, but I’m all for it now (especially if Inoue can fit in a U.S. debut before they get it on). Gonzalez is showed clear signs of wearing down last year and Inoue could outgrow the 115-pound division by the end of this year.

I think Inoue has the size, speed and rangy boxer-puncher style to trouble and punish Chocolatito in the early rounds but I believe that Gonzalez’s experience and ability to block, slip and counter shots as he advances would eventually enable him to get inside and do his own damage by the middle rounds. Inoue (12-0, 10 knockouts), who has only fought past 10 rounds twice, has never had to deal with the kind of pressure and power-volume punching (body and head) that he will experience against Gonzalez. I know Gonzalez will take his lumps early as he cuts off the ring, and also during the middle rounds when I’m sure a battle of wills occurs with vicious exchanges, but I’m confident the young gun will get busted up down the stretch.

I’ll put it this way, unless Inoue can take the future hall of famer out early, I favor Chocolatito by decision or late stoppage.

 

REMATCH CLAUSES

Hello Dougie –

Happy New Year to you my Friend. I hope that you enjoyed the holidays with your family.

Hey quick question for you. I was just reading about Andre Ward and his whole “I don’t need to fight anymore” stance. Seems like he’s not super keen to get back in the squared circle with the Krusher anytime soon. (Not that I blame him given his last performance.)

My question is, given that his fight with Kovalov had a rematch clause, is he bound to the rematch or can he get away from it in any way? How do rematch clauses usually work mate? Thanks Dougie – Craig Brewer, Singapore

If Ward retires there’s not much Kovalev or his promoter (Main Events) can do about it. If a fighter wants to call it a career due to safety concerns, moral reasons or just because he or she doesn’t feel the competitive spirit any longer, he or she can’t be forced to continue fighting because of a rematch clause or because they’re under contract to a promoter, manager or network.

Now, if they retire but then decide to come back within a year or two, they may have to honor their unfulfilled contracts. It all depends on what was written in the fine print, mate. 

 

PPV & LEGENDARY NIGHTS

Sup Doug;

Happy New Year to you & fellow mailbaggers. Did you happen to see the Fight Game last week?? Jim Lampley basically said HBO lost their ass on all their PPV shows last year. Call me crazy but I don’t think Cotto vs Kirkland is gonna change that. Golovkin vs Jacobs is a good scrap but casual fans don’t really know these guys. Ward-Kovalev 2…. MAYBE it breaks 200k. Canelo vs Chunk Chavez??!! Chavez went to hell & back to beat Brian Vera. Do you see any of these fights breaking 500k buys?

2) I’ve been watching “Legendary Nights” on YouTube lately. Some of my favs are Holmes/Cooney, Pryor/Arguello. If you could make several new shows which fights would you cover? (2003- 2016) I would want to see one on Cotto vs Margarito. Has a great rivalry AND the most important factor, controversy. Take care Doug, all the best. – Gerry K., League City

If I could ask HBO to produce five new Legendary Nights episodes, “the tale of Cotto-Margarito” would definitely be one of them because of the after-the-fact controversy, the brutally dramatic nature of the fight, the immediate rise and fall of Margarito, and the divergent paths their careers took after that 2008 showdown. Good choice, Gerry! My other four choices would be:

Bernard Hopkins-Felix Trinidad – because of the underdog story of an unlikely American hero in Hopkins, the tale of a bona-fide Puerto Rican icon with the meteoric rise, peak and fall of “Tito,” the historical significance of the fight, plus (and most importantly) the event taking place in New York City just two weeks after 9-11.

Bad Blood: The tale of Oscar De La Hoya vs. Fernando Vargas – because it was a legit grudge match between polar-opposite Mexican-American stars, years in the making, that more than lived up to the hype.

The tales of the Barrera-Morales and Pacquiao-Morales trilogies – for obvious reasons, they were fierce rivalries and great fights between the best lighter-weight fighters of the 2000s.

There’s my top five. Get to work on these, HBO, and call me if you need some media commentary. I was ringside for every one of these fights.

Did you happen to see the Fight Game last week?? Yes I did. I recently watched episodes 28 and 29 (the year-end show) and I enjoyed both (especially epi. 28 with its honest and balanced Kovalev-Ward coverage and segments on Lomachenko and the Rock Solid Gym’s Parkinson’s program).

Jim Lampley basically said HBO lost their ass on all their PPV shows last year. I like it when Lamps keeps it real.

Call me crazy but I don’t think Cotto vs Kirkland is gonna change that. Duh.

Golovkin vs Jacobs is a good scrap but casual fans don’t really know these guys. I think casual fans have begun to find out who GGG is. Jacobs doesn’t have a lot of career momentum on his side but he’s been featured on national television for several years and he’s the hometown fighter so he should make for a solid B-side that brings in strong local media coverage to the event. I think Golovkin-Jacobs will do better numbers than Golovkin-Lemieux did.

Ward-Kovalev 2…. MAYBE it breaks 200k. If it happens I think it definitely breaks 200K, maybe 300K or 350K. controversy sells.

Canelo vs Chunk Chavez??!! Chavez went to hell & back to beat Brian Vera. Do you see any of these fights breaking 500k buys? Yeah, Canelo vs. “Chunk” probably will (if it happens).

 

HAPPY 2017

Qué pasa Duglas?

Hope you are doing well.

I wanted to wish you a happy 2017, all the best for you and your loved ones.

Also, I wanted to comment as a MMA and Boxing fan, that your comments on Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor were right on point, it is refreshing to hear an objective/factual opinion such as yours.

Thank you for your work, looking forward to what you will bring this 2017.

Big hug from Gdansk! – Eduardo El Polaco

Thanks for the hug (who doesn’t need one of those every now and then?) and for the kind words, Eduardo. I know that my opinions on Rousey and McGregor are not shared by many hardcore boxing fans (and they’re probably not popular among MMA fans, but I wouldn’t know), so it’s nice to hear that my views on the two UFC stars were appreciated by someone who appreciates both combat sports.

 

DEONTAY WILDER

Hey Dougie,

Is it me or is Deontay Wilder becoming increasingly irrelevant in the exciting top end Heavyweight scene? After his WBC belt win I thought he was going to set the scene alight and be the main man in the post Vitali era. Young, Big punching, Big talking, wild swinging, American and a possibly iffy chin all made him the ideal poster boy for the division, but since taking the belt he seems to be either fighting Polish warehousemen or he is taking an injury break. Now we have Anthony Joshua for the young big punching part, Jarrell Miller seems to have the big talk and American parts covered, Joseph Parker is in there and we have all the pantomime stuff covered by Tyson Fury and David Haye. Wlad is still there and other contenders are emerging.

Wilder has had the belt long enough now and unless he actually gets in the ring with one of the other top end faces he will be seen as just another belt holder who ducks the real challenges. Don’t get me wrong I like Wilder and his style and character, but in the end if he refuses to “walk the walk” and fight the other contenders I am not interested in record padding fighters.

On a separate note, I think the Whyte-Chisora bout was an absolute classic as a fight, neither is a top tier fighter but they both showed how good a contest can be when the opponents are evenly matched and both really putting it on the line, I had it a draw how did you score it? Regards. – Steve, Hertford, UK

I was very much entertained and impressed with the effort put forth by Whyte and Chisora during their 12-round slugfest. It’s been a long time since two heavyweights have gotten down like that for 12 rounds (maybe 10 years, going back to Lamon Brewster-Sergey Liakhovich). I didn’t bother scoring it, but I have no problem with anyone viewing it as a draw. Whyte got the narrow victory and just cracked THE RING’s heavyweight top 10 because of it, but truth be told, he’s more of a fringe contender. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Chisora’s a bona-fide gatekeeper at this point in his career. He still makes for good fights and I want to see him fight again (I’d love to see him butt heads with Andy Ruiz). I’d like to see Whyte challenge Parker or take on Miller or any top-15 big man. One of the other Fight of the Year candidates for 2016 was a 10-round dust-up between Yoshihiro Kamegai and Jesus Soto Karass. Both veterans are gatekeepers. Nothing more. It doesn’t matter, matchups like that one are still worthwhile as long as the combatants know how to fight and are willing give the inhuman efforts that Whyte and Chisora produced last month.

Regarding Wilder, I still think he has as much potential to be a crossover star as any American standout but the clock is definitely ticking. He’s had his post-title bum-of-the-month-club development period and he’s lost some career momentum with his time off due to the hand and arm injuries. After the latest Polish “warehouse man” (good one), he’s got to take on one of the top five of the division or risk being forgotten about by the boxing public. I’m willing to give him a break because it wasn’t his fault that Alexander Povetkin, who was a legit top-fiver, got popped for PEDs, and I also think that Wilder realizes that time is running out and will go for the glory this year.

 

SALIDO-LOMA, LINARES-GARCIA

Hi Dougie,

I hope you had a good holiday and I wish you the best for 2017.

1) If Orlando Salido don’t want a rematch with Vasyl Lomachenko I can’t blame him. I dislike fans who disrespect a badass warrior like Salido.

One the one hand, I want Lomachenko to have the opportunity to avenge his tight loss.

One the other hand, Salido has had some really grueling wars in his career. His marvelous effort against Vargas is maybe his swan song while the Ukrainian is increasingly impressive.

If Siri acccepts the fight, it’s fine. Otherwise, there are other more interesting challenges IMO. High Tech VS Corrales or Gamboa are terrific fights. I think that Corrales is overlooked by The Ring Magazine Rankings, this guy just beat Uchyama twice, he deserves better.

Vargas, Pedraza, Farmer, Sosa are other good options. Loma has a incredible combo of skills and athleticism and I hope he tests himself as much as possible.

As for the Mexican warrior, he can still make some good wars with Vargas or Miura then retire. He gave enough to boxing. Maybe I’m being dramatic. I know it’s his job to be hurt, but it’s ok if he is careful at nearly 40.

2) Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares has expressed the willingness to fight each other. I know that both have tough foes to face before, but Garcia/Linares is a dream fight. Linares’ skills, speed and agility VS Garcia’s timing, accuracy and power!

If Lomachenko cleans out the 130 division, I hope he will take on the winner of this fight.

3) Do you think that a confrontation between Roman Gonzalez and Naoya Inoue can be organized in 2017? Not sure how much longer Monster can make the weight… I don’t see any potential fight better that this. Ironically, such a fight will probably not have half the attention that the media devoted to the rumors between Canelo and GGG.

MM:
Gonzalez vs Inoue (115)Linares VS Garcia (126/130/135)
Lomachenko VS Gamboa (126/130)
Lomachenko VS Corrales (130)

Thanks. – Antoine A.

I agree with your take on Lomachenko-Salido II. It’s not a fight that the grizzled old Mexican warrior can win and he’ll probably be humiliated as well as physically worked over by the peaking Ukrainian dynamo. I didn’t like what Salido did at the weigh-in or the roughhouse stuff he pulled during the fight with Lomachenko, but I don’t need to see a revenge bout because of that. I don’t care to see Salido completely overwhelmed.

The junior lightweight division is pretty deep and as you noted there are other matchups that can serve to test Loma and provide Salido with one last pay day before he hangs up his weathered gloves.

High Tech VS Corrales or Gamboa are terrific fights. I agree.

I think that Corrales is overlooked by The Ring Magazine Rankings, this guy just beat Uchyama twice, he deserves better. Oh come on, Jezreel is ranked No. 4. (behind Loma, Vargas and Salido). That’s not overlooking him. It’s a loaded division, man! He may have caught Uchiyama at the right time, or maybe he’s just got the Japanese veteran’s number. He should have to beat at least one other top-10 junior lightweight before we leap him ahead Siri or Bandito.

Vargas, Pedraza, Farmer, Sosa are other good options. Loma has a incredible combo of skills and athleticism and I hope he tests himself as much as possible. I believe that he intends to do just that.

As for the Mexican warrior, he can still make some good wars with Vargas or Miura then retire. Agreed.

He gave enough to boxing. Agreed.

Maybe I’m being dramatic. I know it’s his job to be hurt, but it’s ok if he is careful at nearly 40. You’re not being dramatic. It’s not just his age, it’s the years in the pro game – 21! Plus the all the grueling wars he’s been in. I can’t think of another world-class fighter with as many ring battles as Salido.

Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares has expressed the willingness to fight each other. I know that both have tough foes to face before, but Garcia/Linares is a dream fight. Yes it is. Let’s start beating the drums for that showdown IF they both win their next fights and look impressive.

Linares’ skills, speed and agility VS Garcia’s timing, accuracy and power! I’ve got a hunch that Linares’ lateral movement and hand speed can give Garcia trouble.

If Lomachenko cleans out the 130 division, I hope he will take on the winner of this fight. From your lips to God’s ears. You’re going to have to wait awhile for this dream scenario.

Do you think that a confrontation between Roman Gonzalez and Naoya Inoue can be organized in 2017? Yes.

I don’t see any potential fight better that this. Really? I think Cuadras and Estrada can give Gonzalez just as tough of a challenge (and make for just as good of a fight) as Inoue, but the Japanese phenom obviously brings more intrigue to the ring.

Ironically, such a fight will probably not have half the attention that the media devoted to the rumors between Canelo and GGG. That’s modern boxing fans for ya, but Gonzalez-Inoue still attract a lot of buzz, probably more than any 115-pound showdown since Tapia-Romero.

Your mythical matchups:
Gonzalez vs Inoue (115) – Gonzalez by close hard-fought decision

Linares VS Garcia (126/130/135) – Linares by close hard-fought decision
Lomachenko VS Gamboa (126/130) – Lomachenko by close decision at 126; by late stoppage at 130
 Lomachenko VS Corrales (130) – Loma by late TKO or clear decision in a competitive fight

 

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

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