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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

James DeGale (right) faces off against fellow titleholder Badou Jack (left). Photo / Amanda Westcott-Showtime
13
Jan

UPCOMING FIGHTS AND PLANS

Doug!
Some solid boxing coming up. Looking forward to 2017. Wanted to touch base with you on a few things on the docket:

– What are your thoughts on Bob Arum’s plan for Manny Pacquiao to fight four times this year all over the world? I’m not so down on him fighting Jeff Horn because I think it will be an exciting fight. Really hope he gets it on network TV and isn’t just blowing smoke. But I don’t know how feasible it is for a politician to have that many bouts in one year.

– I’m really high on Badou Jack-James DeGale. After reviewing some more of their recent fights, I have to say I solidly favor Jack. I’ve noticed DeGale has this cocky demeanor in the ring where he leaves his guard down, he’s lazy with the jab, his punches are kind of slappy, he takes rounds off, and he really telegraphs by throwing a high volume of wide hooks. I really think Jack will step in and leverage his straight punch combos and beat DeGale pretty handily. Maybe even by stoppage (I could be wrong on that last part though haha).

– It sounds like Kell Brook-Errol Spence may come off. I actually don’t care so much about Brook-Khan. It is a rivalry fight, but Amir Khan hasn’t been the same since Danny Garcia. I don’t see that fight as too competitive. Have you had any change of heart in how you see Spence doing versus Brook? In my opinion, Brook still takes that one. Spence hasn’t faced anyone near his level and the size difference on fight night would be pretty big. I think Spence wouldn’t be able to bully Brook. I don’t know how Spence’s chin is but I would still suspect Brook would stop him.

– Lastly, what are your thoughts on Francisco Vargas’ next opponent. I haven’t really seen him before but he’s listed by bookmakers as being even money against Francisco. I watched a few videos and he seems technically sound, but versus limited opposition. I would think Vargas gets the stoppage there.

Anyway, happy new year and hope you are well! – Vincent, Winston-Salem, NC

I’m good, Vincent. Thanks for the well wishes.

From what I’ve seen and heard (from Mexican boxing insiders here in Southern California) about Miguel Berchelt, the Yucatan-area challenger is a live dog against Vargas. Berchelt is a rangy and athletic boxer-puncher who can stick and move when he needs to, but knows when to stand and trade. He lets his hands go when he’s in close and he usually gets results because his power is real.

We all know Vargas isn’t hard to find, so I’m expecting early fireworks in this HBO-televised WBC 130-pound title bout. Bandito’s got a solid chin and mad heart (he wouldn’t have gotten past Tak Miura or Siri Salido if he didn’t), but his face can’t take too much punishment. It won’t take much pounding from Berchelt to make the Mexico City native’s mug look like a catcher’s mitt. Honestly, I think Vargas needs to clip Berchelt (whose one pro loss is a first-round KO) in the early rounds to avoid risk of losing his belt. Bandito can take Berchelt into deep water and drown him by battling into the late rounds (the challenger’s never been past Round 6), but I have no doubt that he will get busted up in doing so.

– What are your thoughts on Bob Arum’s plan for Manny Pacquiao to fight four times this year all over the world? As long as the bouts (or at least two of the four) are off the pay-per-view platform here in the U.S., I don’t see how it could be a bad thing. Pacquiao is one of the best known active fighters in the world, why not allow boxing fans outside of the U.S. see him live, and fans here in America watch him without ponying up an extra $70.

I’m not so down on him fighting Jeff Horn because I think it will be an exciting fight. I agree. Horn will make a fight of it for as long as he is able.

Really hope he gets it on network TV and isn’t just blowing smoke. Well, that remains to be seen. Arum’s not above the ole bait-n-switch routine.

But I don’t know how feasible it is for a politician to have that many bouts in one year. It’s not, but something tells me Pacquiao is not your average politician. My guess is that his senatorial peers in the Philippines probably prefer him to be out of the office.

– I’m really high on Badou Jack-James DeGale. Me too. THE RING’s vacant 168-pound title will be on the line. Whoo-hoo!

After reviewing some more of their recent fights, I have to say I solidly favor Jack. Most fans and media, myself included, are picking DeGale by decision, but you are not alone in favoring Jack. Check out RingTV.com’s Fight Picks.

Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Robert Diaz and RingTV.com/RING contributor and editor Tom Gray picked Jack to win a decision. Main Events matchmaker Jolene Mizzone likes the draw. I have the utmost respect for the boxing knowledge that all three possess, so don’t be afraid to put some money on Jack (who is the underdog in this Showtime-televised matchup).

I’ve noticed DeGale has this cocky demeanor in the ring where he leaves his guard down, he’s lazy with the jab, his punches are kind of slappy, he takes rounds off, and he really telegraphs by throwing a high volume of wide hooks. I’ve noticed these flaws too, and I thought “Chunky” was lucky to get the nod over “Porky” Medina last year, but even when he’s “kind of slappy” with his punches the British standout somehow finds a way to get the “W.” I think Jack will face a more physically prepared, technically sharp and focused version of DeGale.

I really think Jack will step in and leverage his straight punch combos and beat DeGale pretty handily. Maybe even by stoppage. It’s all very possible. This is a battle of fundamentals vs. talent. We’ll find out just how talented DeGale is tomorrow night.

– It sounds like Kell Brook-Errol Spence may come off. Hmmm… Maybe. Seems to me that Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn is more keen on making big-event showdowns with Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao than his fighter’s IBF mandatory against Spence.

I actually don’t care so much about Brook-Khan. Me neither, but I think we’re outnumbered in the UK.

It is a rivalry fight, but Amir Khan hasn’t been the same since Danny Garcia. That’s OK. There’s a good chance that Brook will never be the same since his scrap with GGG. (The could call title this fight “Damaged Goods.”)

Have you had any change of heart in how you see Spence doing versus Brook? Um, yeah, ever since Brook’s face was broken in the Golovkin fight. The physical and psychological effects of that beating, plus having to drop back down to 147 after bulking up to middleweight, is likely too much for Brook to overcome against a hungry and powerful young lion in Spence.

In my opinion, Brook still takes that one. From your lips to God’s ears, my man. It’s not out the realm of possibility. Brook is a talented boxer who can crack.

 

LOVIN’ JAMES DEGALE

Hi Dougie,

Hope all is good mate, happy new year.

DeGale looks like he is in the best shape he has ever been in. He flexes up at the end of this IFLTV vid.

Never seen him looking like this, could make a huge difference.

Let’s assume his fitness is at somewhere between DeGale as per usual and a monster like a Carl Froch (i.e. genuinely could do 15 rounds). How much trouble is Badou Jack in?

How highly do you rate James DeGale in terms of natural talent?

How do you see a fight with Callum Smith if he gets through Badou Jack?

Can anyone touch him at Super Middle?

Finally – I love James DeGale. Does his own thing with Hearn, then Haymon, then back to Hearn again. Doesn’t get screwed or bow down to either promotor, and is a really nice genuine down to earth bloke. Cheers. – Ed

He seems like he can be a bit of a jerk at times, but I still like him. He’s a bit of a rascal. I enjoy his press conference antics and post-fight interviews as much as I do his fights. I just wish he was always in the physical condition that he appears to be in for the Jack fight.

Let’s assume his fitness is at somewhere between DeGale as per usual and a monster like a Carl Froch (i.e. genuinely could do 15 rounds). How much trouble is Badou Jack in? I don’t think Jack’s in trouble, regardless of DeGale’s conditioning. Jack’s been well-schooled, always in top condition and he’s got solid, all-around technique. He’s just got to avoid getting clipped early. If he can do that and get into his rhythm, he’s going to give DeGale a fight.

How highly do you rate James DeGale in terms of natural talent? Very high. I think he’s the most naturally gifted super middleweight in the game, but talent is just one factor in a prize fighter’s success. Discipline and dedication to the sport and to learning the craft of boxing are just as important, and the jury is still out on him in regard to those areas.

How do you see a fight with Callum Smith if he gets through Badou Jack? I see an even fight. Smith is the real deal. I think I would slightly favor DeGale based on his experience (but it all depends on how he looks tomorrow night).

Can anyone touch him at Super Middle? Yes. DeGale is talented, ultra-confident and gutsy but he’s not untouchable. I think most of the top-10 rated super middleweights – including Smith, Zurdo Ramirez, the Dirrell brothers and his old rival George Groves – can compete with him.

Finally – I love James DeGale. Gee, I hadn’t noticed.

 

AN AUSTRALIAN PERSPECTIVE

G’day Doug,

Wrote to you a few times, let’s see how we go in ’17.

Just watched a replay of Carl Frampton V Leo Santa Cruz and I am pumped for the rematch. What are your thoughts on this upcoming bout? Do you think Santa Cruz can make the necessary adjustments to win? Or will Frampton capatilize on the previous rounds with Leo and under the tutelage of the McGuigans, earn a stoppage?

Is it just me or is there zero buzz for DeGale V Jack? In Australia no-one cares, despite the fight being on ‘non-PPV’ pay TV (Foxtel). I’m actually keen to see how ‘Chunky’ goes. I favour him to win and will definetly watch but none of my mates care. Considering this fight is on free TV, should we be worried about the state of our sport?

The first fight I ever saw on TV at the local pub was Kostya Tszyu V Zab Judah (I know… I’m lucky). That day the joint was packed. Everyone went berserk when KT landed that right hand…and I was instantly hooked. I was 12 years old and to this day, have never seen the same enthusiasm and excitement for a fight in my life. The crowds have dwindled by the dozens per year (unfortunately).

So naturally……my next point, Pacquiao V Horn. I 100% understand the uproar from the North American boxing media and fans about this fight. I wasn’t really pumped about the Jessie Vargas fight. At the same time, for us on the other side of the world to have a legit living legend potentially come to our shores and fight one of our own, it’s exciting. I would rather see Pac V Thurman/Garcia as any true fight fan would…but I’m secretly hoping the Horn fight gets made so us die-hard, loyal boxing fans who watch fights in Vegas on Sunday arvo’s (in AUS and NZ), who can’t afford to fly to the US, get to witness a legend in the flesh.

I’m still going for Jeff Horn though.

Thanks Doug, love the mailbag and all the content you produce! (P.S. shoutout to ‘Ki from Sydney’) – Zack (Melbourne, AUS)

It looks like Pacquiao-Horn is a go, Zack. I’m glad Australian boxing fans (who are among the most knowledgeable and passionate in the world) will get the opportunity to watch the future hall of famer do his thing on their soil. I think it’s great that you’re pulling for the local fighter and I hope that the event is a success (and pulls in a capacity crowd at the Suncorp Stadium, which can hold around 50,000 fans).

I’ve been bored with Pacquiao for several years now, so I really don’t care who he fights. If he and Arum want to take his show on the road I certainly don’t have a problem with that. I know that there are fans and media that want to see Pacquiao face Terence Crawford or a legit welterweight standout like the Thurman-Garcia winner, but I’d rather see Bud vs. Thurmy or Garcia.

Just watched a replay of Carl Frampton V Leo Santa Cruz and I am pumped for the rematch. I don’t think it’s going to disappoint you.

What are your thoughts on this upcoming bout? I see another competitive, entertaining distance bout with Frampton getting the close nod (unless we get some Vegas funny business).

Do you think Santa Cruz can make the necessary adjustments to win? No, I don’t think so. Leo’s not an “adjustment-making” type of boxer. He’s a pressure fighter/volume puncher. What he can – and will likely – do is start faster and begin applying the hard pressure earlier in the fight, which will make for an eventful bout.

Or will Frampton capitalize on the previous rounds with Leo and under the tutelage of the McGuigans, earn a stoppage? I would be shocked if Frampton won by knockout. Santa Cruz has world-class whiskers and heart.

Is it just me or is there zero buzz for DeGale V Jack? It’s not just you. There isn’t much of a buzz for it here, either, which is too bad because it matches the two best 168-pound fighters in the world. I know that neutral territory was probably important to both camps, but I can’t help thinking that DeGale-Jack would have been a much bigger event had it took place somewhere in the UK (London or Manchester, with Eddie Hearn acting as lead promoter).

In Australia no-one cares, despite the fight being on ‘non-PPV’ pay TV (Foxtel). I’m actually keen to see how ‘Chunky’ goes. I favour him to win and will definitely watch but none of my mates care. That’s how it goes in boxing sometimes. I guess this matchup is just for the super hardcore heads. Perhaps if it’s a really good scrap, the winner will earn more attention going into his next fight.

Considering this fight is on free TV, should we be worried about the state of our sport? Not really. I have a hunch that your mates would care more about DeGale-Jack if at least one of the super middleweights were Australian or had some connection to Australia. As silly as the Feb. 3 rematch between Danny Green and Anthony Mundine (more than 10 years after their first bout) seems to most of the boxing world, I have no doubt that it will garner a lot of media and fan attention in Australia. The Pacquiao-Horn fight should attract unprecedented media exposure for a boxing match on Australian soil. Who knows? It might spark a resurgence of boxing interest with the Australian public, interest that promising young up-and-comers like the Moloney twins and Tim Tszyu can capture and run with during their careers, creating more fans in the process.

 

PACQUIAO VS. HORN

Wazzup Doug?

Long time writer here, I hope it gets in. I just want your opinion about this fight, does this bout against Horn hurt Manny’s career?

Mythical matchups:

Israel Vasquez or Rafa Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao @122

Tim Bradley vs Thurman @ 147

Jeff Horn vs Rod Salka @145 catchweight

Thanks for your time Doug! – Yvess, UAE

Fighting Horn can’t hurt Pacquiao’s career. It’s just going to give him one more relatively risk-free payday and provide an opportunity to fight in a new market. Pacquiao’s legacy was secured several years ago when he was duking it out with Barrera, Morales and Marquez as a featherweight and junior lightweight. He punched his ticket as a first ballot hall of famer (and arguably an all-time great) with his breath-taking run from 2008 through 2010. The Horn fight might as well be a high-paid exhibition bout by comparison to those accomplishments.

Your mythical matchups:

Israel Vasquez or Rafa Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao @122 – PacMan survives several wobbly moments to battle his way to a bloody late-round TKO against Izzy, but Rafa takes him out in the middle rounds of a wild shootout that features both jr. featherweights hitting the canvas

Tim Bradley vs Thurman @ 147 – Thurman by close, maybe controversial decision

Jeff Horn vs Rod Salka @145 catchweight – Horn by mid-to-late TKO

 

HOW DO VENUES MAKE MONEY WITH BOXING?

Yo Dougie!

Simple question today. How do venues make money with boxing? I would think other forms of entertainment are more lucrative. I’ve never heard it explained. The proposed Pacquiao world tour prompted my question.

Thanks for consistently being a source of truth and controversy. Boxing needs it. – Jalaal, Minneapolis

Thanks for the kind words, Jalaal. The way most venues make money from boxing isn’t that much different from other sporting events or forms of entertainment (such as music or comedy concerts). The venue makes its money from ticket sales (often getting a significant share of this revenue from boxing events, while A-list music or comedy acts might take as much as 100% of this revenue), parking, food and beverages, merchandise (such as hats, shirts, fight programs, etc., which is splits with the promoter or star fighter), sponsors (that the promoter, talent, network or arena bring in; the venue usually gets a cut), VIP packages/clubs and miscellaneous stuff (such as ATM fees, etc.).

 

ROC NATION SPORTS

A quick question, did the boxing judges who ensured Wards win vs Kovalev meet with Vegas officials to be briefed on how important it was to not offend Jay-Z or was their decision to grant Ward’s win instinctual?? Another quick one, what do you think is more important to Vegas, ensuring the integrity of the sports book with honest odds and wagering or keeping Jay-Z happy in NYC??

If what you’re alleging is true, why should fans patronize boxing; why would public companies like TW/HBO and CBS/Showtime associate themselves with and broadcast a fraudulent product?? Obviously you’re smarter than Plepler and Moonves to have figured this out, right? After all, you’re a website editor and they’re just a couple of ‘wannabes’ willing to risk their multi-billion dollar companies/brands for Jay-Z’s happiness. I guess that makes sense in your eyes if Vegas is willing to risk the integrity of its multi-billion dollar per year sports book to ensure Rihanna and Shakira play the T-Mobile Arena some day.

I try to be respectful but the level of dumb you exhibit with this tin-foil hat conspiracy is off the chart. IMO it’s this type of rampant ignorance in the so-called ‘boxing media’ that keeps this sport so far down on the US sports landscape. You need to wake-up, boxing is in serious trouble. HBO is pulling out; ESPN, other than Deportes, is out. PBC is incompetent, going nowhere. Arum is ready to literally pimp Pacquiao out starting with an Australian venture. The sport needs real dialog about solutions to real challenges not tin-foil hat conspiracies.

Good luck! – Tony

Thanks Tony. But you know who really needs luck? Your therapist. And if you don’t have one, please GET one. Now.

What’s my “tin-foil hat conspiracy”? That Jay-Z and Roc Nation have influence with boxing officials? That’s a crazy concept to you? Really? I took the liberty of doing a search with your email address in my [email protected] inbox. Nineteen emails from you to me popped up, including this one. I read them all. In one of them you boasted about being a teen during the Leonard-Hagler-Hearns-Duran round robin years, so I’m assuming you’ve been watching boxing for decades (just as long as I have). Are you telling me that you’ve never witnessed a disputed or controversial decision in which one fighter clearly got the benefit of every doubt from the judges (or maybe the referee), won a few rounds he didn’t deserve, because of his star power or because of the power and influence of who he was affiliated with (be it his promoter, manager, advisor or network)?

Of course you have. Why was Chavez-Whitaker a draw? Because Chavez earned it? No, because Chavez was the far bigger attraction, who had way more influence with the Mexico-based WBC (which in those days had a hand in bringing in the officials) and the Texas commission, and whose promoter (Don King) and network (Showtime/SET) presented the show at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Roc Nation, as I pointed out in the Monday mailbag, is no different from Don King during the 1990s, Top Rank or Golden Boy Promotions.

It’s a well-funded company headed up by a superstar whose net worth surpasses half a billion dollars. I’m not saying that Roc Nation or Jay-Z are corrupt in any way. Jay-Z is just a very successful celebrity, and boxing judges are going to want to kiss his ass (the same way they wanted to kiss King and Arum’s rings back in the day, or fawn over Oscar De La Hoya). It sucks but it’s the way it is.

Do you think Maurice Hooker, a Roc Nation fighter, really earned a draw against Darleys Perez on the Kovalev-Ward undercard? Be honest, Tony. I like Mo, but he didn’t do s__t in that fight.

Do you think Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, another Roc Nation fighter, really earned a draw against Mike Dallas Jr. last May? Did you see the fight? Again, nothing against Dusty, who I like a lot and wish nothing but the vest for, but he was clearly outboxed and outhustled (and dropped) that night.

Listen, I’m not trying to pick on Roc Nation or Ward. I know part of the reason you’re upset about what I wrote is because you’re very protective of Andre Ward. More than half of the 19 emails you’ve sent me were diatribes aimed at me where you’re basically protecting the honor of Ward and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Three were in defense of Richard Schaefer, which is just sick, and two were criticizing the supposedly “fake” popularity of Gennady Golovkin; so it’s not hard to figure out what kind of boxing fan you are, Tony, and who you are biased for and against.)

But I have no problem pointing out the same thing with fighters who are promoted by Golden Boy and Top Rank. If you pair a talented, well-known, promising fighter like Ward with an influential promotional company, believe me, that fighter is going to win rounds he didn’t deserve on at least one of the official judges’ scorecards.

We saw it with young De La Hoya, then the star of the Top Rank stable, against Whitaker and Ike Quartey – fights he won, and arguably deservedly so, but not by the margin that he did on some of the judges’ scorecards for those two bouts. Marty Sammon’s 115-113 tally for De La Hoya in the first Shane Mosley fight is another example. (Although it should be noted that Oscar also got the s__t-end of the stick in the Mosely rematch and the Felix Trinidad showdown, two bouts where most of the public thought he won.)

Same deal with Mayweather in the first Jose Luis Castillo fight, but also against Zab Judah (there’s no way he deserved Glen Hamada’s 119-109 card in such a competitive fight) – fights under the Top Rank banner – as well as with Miguel Cotto (where Robert Hoyle gave him a 118-110 tally) and the first Marcos Maidana fight (where our good friend Burt Clements handed in a 117-111 card for “Money”). Mayweather was fighting under the GBP banner for those two bouts.

Canelo got the gross benefit of the doubt on the lopsided scorecards of Stanley Christodoulou (118-109 for the Austin Trout fight), C.J. Ross (114-114 for the Mayweather fight), Levi Martinez (117-111 for the Erislandy Lara bout) and Dave Moretti (119-109 for the Cotto fight).

So, Ward is in good company, and I guess you could say the same thing about Roc Nation (although I know that you despise GBP and Top Rank).

did the boxing judges who ensured Wards win vs Kovalev meet with Vegas officials to be briefed on how important it was to not offend Jay-Z or was their decision to grant Ward’s win instinctual?? No, they don’t need any direction on whose ass to kiss.

what do you think is more important to Vegas, ensuring the integrity of the sports book with honest odds and wagering or keeping Jay-Z happy in NYC?? I don’t know about “Vegas” as an entity, but I think Vegas boxing judges are more concerned with kissing Jay-Z’s ass when he’s in town and promoting a major event that they are working.

If what you’re alleging is true, why should fans patronize boxing; why would public companies like TW/HBO and CBS/Showtime associate themselves with and broadcast a fraudulent product?? HBO and Showtime are concerned with ratings, subscribers and potential PPV revenue. If boxing brings it in, they will keep it as part of their programming. Why should fans patronize boxing? Because when it’s good, nothing comes close to the drama and excitement that it provides. Why do you keep coming back to the mailbag? Why do you continue to post comments below this column? Why do you keep emailing me? In one of your emails, dated Nov. 11, 2016 with “I promise…” in the subject line, you VOWED that it was “the last time” that I would “ever hear from you.” And then you emailed me FIVE more times including this one. You can’t quit boxing, Tony. You can’t get enough of it. I’m part of your boxing experience, so to paraphrase those gay cowboys in Brokeback Mountain, you can’t quit me!

Obviously you’re smarter than Plepler and Moonves to have figured this out, right? After all, you’re a website editor and they’re just a couple of ‘wannabes’ willing to risk their multi-billion dollar companies/brands for Jay-Z’s happiness. They aren’t risking anything, Tony, but they know who Jay-Z is, just like the boxing judges do.

I guess that makes sense in your eyes if Vegas is willing to risk the integrity of its multi-billion dollar per year sports book to ensure Rihanna and Shakira play the T-Mobile Arena some day. Hey man, it’s a city that was built on gambling. It’s all about risk. It ain’t about integrity.

 

 

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

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