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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

Photo by Tom Casino / SHOWTIME
Fighters Network
16
Jan

GREAT START TO 2017

What a cracking start to the year for boxing fans! I thought James Degale V Badou Jack could be a good 50/50 matchup but I didn’t expect it to be that dramatic. I’ve got no problems with scoring the fight a draw; many rounds were hard to score and it just comes down to what you prefer – the fast combinations and flashy skills of Degale or the pressure fighting and solid shots of Jack.

In my opinion Jack has been the most underrated fighter of recent times. What do you think?

As for Degale, he’s perhaps the most gifted fighter in the SM division but there just seems to be something missing and I’m not sure what it is. When he uses his movement and jab he looks truly world class and even top quality opponents struggle to live with him but then he has rounds where he seems to switch off and neglects his skills or he fights his opponents type of fight. Is this a mental problem or a stamina issue?



Lastly, has this fight changed your opinion on how either fighter would do against Callum Smith? – Cheers Mark, England

No, it hasn’t. I still consider Jack and DeGale to be the top two fighters in the 168-pound division (only now I have Badou at No. 1 and Chunky at No. 2). And I still consider Smith to be a legit top-10 contender with the talent and skill to compete with the top two. I would slightly favor the defending titleholders based on experience but if either had a sub-par night – for instance, if Jack drained himself making 168 pounds; or if DeGale overlooked Smith – I could see the unbeaten young challenger beating either man.

Regarding DeGale, I agree that something is missing from his overall game. He’s got talent, skill, versatility and guts but “the something” that is missing is that intangible aptitude to tie all of his abilities together into what we define as “ring generalship.” I definitely see the problem as mental, and not physical.

I’ve got no problems with scoring the fight a draw; many rounds were hard to score and it just comes down to what you prefer – the fast combinations and flashy skills of Degale or the pressure fighting and solid shots of Jack. I don’t have a huge problem with the draw verdict, but I definitely thought Jack deserved the decision. Yes, DeGale has some fast and flashy combos and pot shots, but a lot of those punches were caught by Jack’s gloves and forearms. DeGale, on the other hand, caught most of Jack’s punches with his face.

In my opinion Jack has been the most underrated fighter of recent times. What do you think? I agree 100% and I also consider him to be one of the most improved world-class fighters in any weight class. Jack has evolved from being considered a “suspect” after suffering a first-round TKO against Derek Edward in early 2014 to a legit world titleholder who outboxed/outfought/outpointed (or competed with on even terms) Anthony Dirrell, George Groves, Lucien Bute and DeGale. And I believe that he clearly beat Bute and DeGale despite the official draw verdicts. That’s impressive. I think Mayweather Promotions (and the trainers at the Mayweather Boxing Club) have done an excellent job developing Jack.

 

BAD NIGHT FOR BOXING?

Hey Doug,

The less we see of Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring as a promoter the better. Bad night for boxing? What is he talking about?

We got the two best super middleweights in the ring together both putting their belts on the line and they gave the fans a great fight. Gervonta Davis-Jose Pedraza was also an entertaining fight, so I think it was a pretty good night for boxing if you ask me.

I think the draw was the correct result, Degale started the stronger, Jack took control in the middle rounds and I gave Degale 9, 10, 11 with Jack taking the 12th. 6 rounds each. How did you see the fight? – James, Vancouver, BC

I thought Jack won, eight rounds to four or 115-111. I scored Rounds 1, 2, 3 and 7 for DeGale; and the rest for Jack. I’m not totally outraged by the official result because I thought Rounds 9 and 10 could have gone to DeGale, but I scored them both (and Round 11) for Jack because I thought he dished out more damage than DeGale did with his gutsy spurts of offense.

We got the two best super middleweights in the ring together both putting their belts on the line and they gave the fans a great fight. Gervonta Davis-Jose Pedraza was also an entertaining fight, so I think it was a pretty good night for boxing if you ask me. Agreed.

However, I can see why Mayweather was pissed off (as much as it pains me to acknowledge that). From his perspective, this is the second time his top fighter was jobbed in a high-profile title bout. And it’s probably made him a tad paranoid about the business (not that he needed any help) since both fights (the Bute and DeGale bouts) took place on the East Coast and away from his comfy confines of Las Vegas.

I doubt we see another Mayweather Promotions show staged outside of Nevada any time soon (and if we do, it will only be because Floyd was able to import some Vegas good ole boys to the “away game”).

 

WAR CANELO! THE DREADED DRAW

Yo Dougie,

First, let’s talk James and Jack from Saturday. Personally, I had Badou Jack squeaking by with a win in a really good clash between DeGale’s skill and Jack’s hammer fists, but I think I would have been happier with a DeGale win than I was with a draw. There are some fights that have a feeling like the fighters are perfectly matched and a draw’s the only outcome, but this wasn’t one of those fights. One way or another, this was the kind of fight that one guy did better than the other. Hopefully there’s a rematch. (And hopefully Floyd’s mouth gets duct taped shut beforehand.)

As for Canelo-Chavez, I swore after the Khan fight that I wouldn’t  buy another Canelo PPV until the GGG fight gets made, but I have to be honest, this one has me tempted. Chavez is crude, but his come forward style, iron chin, and pile driver punches will be a good warm up for GGG. And let’s be real, my inner ghoul is giddy at the thought of the masterpiece of savagery that Canelo is primed to paint all over Chavez’s face.

Fortunately, I have a wedding that weekend so this clash between Principle and Ghoul will be ruled a No Contest, but if they’re deadset on avoiding GGG until “September,” there are worse choices out there. Best. – Sean

As far as making the biggest event in May (without fighting Gennady Golovkin), I don’t think there’s a better choice for Canelo. This matchup had my Mexican and Mexican-American boxing fan neighbors buzzing before it was made official. Now they are planning to make the trip to wherever the HBO PPV event lands. Most folks are siding with Canelo, but Junior has his supporters (mainly because of who is father is, but also because some are just pissed off at Alvarez for not facing GGG right away). 

I think there were more legitimate choices in terms of Canelo proving his place in the 160-pound division, such as WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders or top-five rated Golden Boy stablemate David Lemieux; however, the British beltholder has no name recognition in the U.S. and he looked like refried dogs__t against unrated Artur Akavov last month; and the Montreal puncher isn’t a strong PPV B-side (and would likely be branded “limited GGG leftovers” by the legion of Canelo Critics and social media doomsayers).  

I’m not high on Junior, and I do not consider him to be a top-10 contender in any division, but I think he’s a solid opponent for Canelo because:  

A) he will help Canelo put butts in the seats – lots of them!

B) he’s a former middleweight titleholder who had a respectable reign before losing to Sergio Martinez in September 2012

C) he’s a strong fighter and underrated boxer who will no doubt bring his best to the ring on May 6 given the pride (national and family) that is on the line

D) he’s HUGE and there’s no rehydration clause in the contract, so there’s no limit on how much weight he can put on after the weigh-in, which means Canelo might go head up against a cruiserweight come fight time

Personally, I had Badou Jack squeaking by with a win in a really good clash between DeGale’s skill and Jack’s hammer fists, but I think I would have been happier with a DeGale win than I was with a draw. Firstly, why would you be happier with a DeGale win if you thought Jack won? (You hardcore boxing fans are an odd lot.) Second, Jack brought more than “hammer fists” to the fight, he brought skill and ring generalship. I’ll never understand why it’s so damn hard for some folks (both fans and media) to recognize skill in a fighter who comes forward. And yes, DeGale brought skill to the dance, but he also brought a lot of flaws into the ring with him.

There are some fights that have a feeling like the fighters are perfectly matched and a draw’s the only outcome, but this wasn’t one of those fights. I agree. This wasn’t like Francisco Vargas-Orlando Saldio. Jack should have won.

Hopefully there’s a rematch. We’ll see. It doesn’t sound like there will be one if you go by the post-fight comments of Jack and his promoter.

(And hopefully Floyd’s mouth gets duct taped shut beforehand.) That ain’t gonna happen. Floyd’s going to be to post-fight interviews on Showtime broadcasts what Don King was to post-fight interviews on HBO broadcasts before his Royal Hairness departed for Showtime (and took Tyson and Chavez Sr. with him).

As for Canelo-Chavez, I swore after the Khan fight that I wouldn’t buy another Canelo PPV until the GGG fight gets made, but I have to be honest, this one has me tempted. If that’s the case then Team Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions chose wisely.

Chavez is crude, but his come forward style, iron chin, and pile driver punches will be a good warm up for GGG. I don’t think Chavez Jr. will help prepare Canelo for Golovkin in any way in terms of styles, but he will force Canelo to test the waters above 155 pounds. So maybe this fight will help Canelo acclimate to training and fighting at a heavier weight than he’s used to.

And let’s be real, my inner ghoul is giddy at the thought of the masterpiece of savagery that Canelo is primed to paint all over Chavez’s face. Your inner ghoul isn’t the only inner ghoul giddy about the bloody possibilities of his fight, Sean.

 

WILD WEEKEND

Hello Dougie,

Best to you and the family. Hope the new year is off to a good start for you.

Friday’s fights continued to fit the PBC pattern, Predictably Boring Contests (or “crap,” as you will). What a disappointment PBC is. The old Friday Night Fights on ESPN and its predecessors on USA Network gave us competitive fights, or windows to up-and-coming boxers, not just showcases. I miss those shows. At least we can hope Garcia-Thurman breaks the mold in March.

Saturday on Showtime was a different story, actually Sunday for me as I had to watch the Patriots continue their march into history. The Pedraza-Davis Jr. Lightweight bout ended with a powerful knock-out of the champion and maybe a new star in Davis. What do you think about him? Will he last? He reminds me of Mike Tyson, in style, background and age. I hope he doesn’t follow the pattern.

Floyd Mayweather during the interview just shows that he still has no class. I’m no Puritan. I often watch boxing matches with my grandson, as I did with his father. A trainer cussing in the corner is part of the game, but leave it alone when discussing the fight, Floyd. Show some class to go with your skills.

What a wonderful affair the Jack-Degale fight was, a boxing fan’s dream! Intelligent, disciplined fighters at the top of their games, following their plans, lots of action, and respect for each other. I had it even going into the 12th, giving it to Jack 114-112, but there were close rounds so a 113-113 score was fair to me, but like the old-timers used to say, look at their faces. Degale was a mess, not so with Badou Jack. Did you catch referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. congratulating both fighters at he end? He knew he was part of something special. Paulie Malinaggi nailed it, “violent, but highly skilled.”

Speaking of the broadcast, Showtime now has the top team. Al Bernstein has long been best, in my opinion, and Mauro Ranallo is shedding some of his wrestling verbage and sticking to the game. Pauli is right up there with RRJ.

Sorry to be so long, but one last MM. How would both of these champions do against one of my favorites, Joe Calzaghi?

Thanks as always for all the great writing. – Ken Kozberg, Oakham, MA

How does a prime Calzaghe do against Jack and DeGale? Do you really have any doubt that the prime version of the Italian Dragon slaps both current beltholders around silly for 12 one-sided rounds? I don’t. #46-0 #PrideOfWales.

Friday’s fights continued to fit the PBC pattern, Predictably Boring Contests (or “crap,” as you will). I’ll go with Crap. Spike deserved better than that.

What a disappointment PBC is. It’s not easy to hijack an entire sport, even an old, “dying” one like boxing.

The old Friday Night Fights on ESPN and its predecessors on USA Network gave us competitive fights, or windows to up-and-coming boxers, not just showcases. I miss those shows. You should have done yourself a favor and missed that PBC doo-doo on Spike last Friday.

The Pedraza-Davis Jr. Lightweight bout ended with a powerful knock-out of the champion and maybe a new star in Davis. Tank has star potential. He just has to continue to dedicate himself to the sport and be moved appropriately by Mayweather Promotions. They did a good job with Jack. Let’s see what they can do with this young man.

What do you think about him? I think Davis is a talented boxer-puncher. He proved to be a legit player at 130 pounds with his first title victory and he’s in a deep division that can continue to test his skills and mettle.

Will he last? If he’s developed right, I think so. It mostly depends on his own hunger and discipline.

He reminds me of Mike Tyson, in style, background and age. I hope he doesn’t follow the pattern. I think he’s going to be OK.

Floyd Mayweather during the interview just shows that he still has no class. This was surprising to you? You thought he’d retire from boxing and suddenly become Barack Obama as a promoter?

A trainer cussing in the corner is part of the game, but leave it alone when discussing the fight, Floyd. Show some class to go with your skills. You’re asking too much from a man-child. Skills and talent never had anything to do with class and/or intelligence.

Photo by Tom Casino / SHOWTIME

I had it even going into the 12th, giving it to Jack 114-112, but there were close rounds so a 113-113 score was fair to me, but like the old-timers used to say, look at their faces. That’s what I was saying to myself while the fight was still in progress. One fighter’s punches had more impact and effect than the other’s and it wasn’t hard to tell.

Degale was a mess, not so with Badou Jack. That’s because Jack did a good job defending (with a high guard) on his way inside, where he landed the more damaging punches (to DeGale’s head AND body).

Did you catch referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. congratulating both fighters at the end? He knew he was part of something special. Yep, he had a right to feel like a part of it, he took a pretty hard shot himself midway through the fight.

Paulie Malinaggi nailed it, “violent, but highly skilled.” I thought there was action and drama, and saw that there was skill involved on both sides, but it wasn’t a Fight-of-the-Year caliber scrap IMO, and it wasn’t elite-level boxing. It wasn’t Leonard-Hearns I. Folks need to calm down a bit.

Speaking of the broadcast, Showtime now has the top team. Al Bernstein has long been best, in my opinion, and Mauro Ranallo is shedding some of his wrestling verbage and sticking to the game. I think Showtime’s boxing broadcast booth is every bit as talented, informative and entertaining as HBO’s.

Pauli is right up there with RRJ. Stop with the blasphemy! Paulie is a top contender among boxer-commentators (seriously one of the best), but Jones is the Pound-for-Pound King. (Ya’ll musta forgot!)

 

GREAT BOXING WEEKEND

Good day Doug!

I’ll start by saying that I have being reading your mail bag every Monday and Friday ever since I have discovered them. Keep up the good work!

Anyway, let’s talk about this weekend.

First stop, let’s talk about Friday night’s boxing. I only saw the Dirrell vs Nemesapati and the Lara vs Foreman fights but I kinda felt cheated as a fan. I thought both fights were kinda won before they even started. Am I missing something?

And to see Lara calling out GGG and Canelo after the fight kinda scared me. There are a bunch of more exciting fights to be made for them than to take on Lara. What’s your take on the next fight for Lara?

But then after this disappointing Friday we had a very nice night on Saturday!

First stop for me was the Davis vs Pedraza Fight, what a shootout it was! It seems to me that Davis has a nice future at that weight, He kinda reminds me of Broner when he was at that weight. How do you see him do against the other champion of that division?

And the Degale vs Jack fight, what a fight! I was stressed as f*** the whole length of the fight. I thought the scores were fair. I had 114-112 Degale, how did you have it?

I was not that exited about this match-up (I thought it was going to be a very technical and strategic distance fight), but you bet I will tune in for the rematch.

Speaking of which, do you thinks it’s gonna happen? Or should I believe all the crap that came out of Mayweather after the fight and see Jack going up to 175?

Last thing, if Jack moves up to 175, do you give him a chance against any of the big shots of that division? Namely, Ward, Kovalev, Stevenson, Beterbiev, Joe Smith Jr.?

A couple mythical match ups for the blood thirsty ghoul that I am…

Diego Corales vs Francisco Vargas at Super Featherweight

Salido vs Castillo at Super Featherweight

Sorry for the long mail (and the bad English), it was my first time…

Keep up the good work! – Felix, Montreal, Qc

Thanks for the kind words and for being a loyal mailbag reader, Felix. I hope visit your beautiful city sometime this year (if Lemieux can land a significant home fight).

I believe Mayweather and Jack when they say that the next stop is the light heavyweight division. Mayweather is bitter about what has happened with his top fighter in the 168-pound division and Jack, who is a dedicated and disciplined athlete, wouldn’t state that he’s having trouble making super middleweight if it wasn’t true.

I don’t give Jack much of a shot to upset Ward or Kovalev, but I think he’s very live against Stevenson, and I’d probably favor him over Beterbiev and Smith (although both contenders possess the power to hurt him).

First stop, let’s talk about Friday night’s boxing. Do we have to? Wouldn’t you rather bitch about Canelo-Chavez or make fun of that silly dress jacket Mayweather wore at the Jack-DeGale fight?

I only saw the Dirrell vs Nemesapati and the Lara vs Foreman fights but I kinda felt cheated as a fan. Come on, really? You felt cheated? You didn’t know those were gross mismatches going into that Spike broadcast? I don’t believe you, Felix.

I thought both fights were kinda won before they even started. Am I missing something? Nope. They were merely stay busy fights for Lara and Dirrell.

And to see Lara calling out GGG and Canelo after the fight kinda scared me. It kind of made me retch a little bit.

There are a bunch of more exciting fights to be made for them than to take on Lara. Yeah, like ANY fight.

What’s your take on the next fight for Lara? It’s like this: I don’t care what Lara does next. I’m not enamored with his skills or his style and I’m not thinking about who he wants to fight next. I recognize Lara as a top junior middleweight but I won’t care about what he does at 154 pounds unless he takes on a junior middleweight that I give a damn about. If he were to face the winner of the Demetrius Andrade-Jack Culcay fight (a “regular” WBA title bout scheduled for March 11), I would pay attention (particularly if Andrade wins). I won’t care about his professed aspiration to challenge Golovkin until he actually fights a notable middleweight. If he and his management are serious about facing GGG, they should try like hell to secure fights with the top contenders to each of Golovkin’s title belts (and beg Al Haymon to dig into his deep pockets in order to entice those 160 pounders into the ring): Hassan Ndam (WBA), Tureano Johnson (IBF) and/or Jorge Sebastian Heiland (WBC). At the very least, they should try to face one of the PBC’s middleweight up-and-comers, such as Immanuwel Aleem (who just scored a terrific KO of Ivegen Khytrov to earn a high ranking in the WBC), Sergiy Derevyanchenko (who is rated No. 2 in the IBF; No. 6 in the WBC) or Maciej Sulecki (who is rated No. 7 in the WBO and the WBC). As for another shot at Canelo, he’s got a better shot at winning the Powerball jackpot than getting that return match. (Keep dreaming that American Dream, Eris!)

It seems to me that Davis has a nice future at that weight. I think so.

He kinda reminds me of Broner when he was at that weight. Yeah, I agree. He’s sharp and explosive in spots and he knows when to let his hands go just like Broner did at the lighter weights.

How do you see him do against the other champion of that division? He’s not ready for WBO boss Vasyl Lomachenko (so all of you nutty hardcore fans already beating the drums for that one, please chill the f__k out), but I would consider him to be very live against Francisco Vargas (WBC) and Jezreel Corrales (WBA). I can envision him winning those fights, but I can also see those more battle-tested beltholders getting the better of him. Even regular WBA beltholder Jason Sosa and lower top-10 contender Tevin Farmer would be risky opponents for Davis at this stage of his title reign. Let’s see how he fares against the IBF’s No. 1 contender Liam Walsh (unbeaten former British champ) before we turn him loose against his fellow titleholders and the top fighters of the 130-pound division.

Davis is only 22. He doesn’t have 20 bouts yet. There’s no reason for him to be rushed.

And the Degale vs Jack fight, what a fight! I was stressed as f*** the whole length of the fight. I wasn’t emotionally invested like that, but I was entertained. It was a compelling fight.

I thought the scores were fair. I had 114-112 Degale, how did you have it? I saw a different fight.

Your mythical matchups:

Diego Corrales vs Francisco Vargas at Super Featherweight – Yikes! This would produce a lot of action and a lot of blood, and you wouldn’t have to wait for it. I think Chico stops Bandito by the middle rounds of a shootout that has both fighters’ faces looking like tattered old catcher’s mitts by the end of the fight.

Salido vs Castillo at Super Featherweight – I think the 130-pound version of Siri is far more skilled and seasoned than the 130-pound version of JLC (one of Temible’s early TKO losses was a 10th-round stoppage to Julio Alvarez at junior lightweight) and I think the rugged veteran would grind Castillo down to a late stoppage in a rough-and-tumble all-Mexican ring war.

 

SCORING FIGHTS

Doug!

I need your help here, maybe I’m scoring fights wrong…. but how can Degale/Jack be a draw?

I’ve had to have the Kovalev/Ward argument with people endlessly and now this! Degale scored a knockdown in the first round but apart from that I saw a fighter in Jack whose better fundamentals helped him win a clear, CLEAR majority of the rounds. The majority of Degale’s work was ineffective, he landed lots of punches on the gloves and arms of Jack who kept his shape really well and fired back with short, sharp shots that were hurtful and effective and was always on the front foot pressing the action. To top it all off he scored a knockdown in the 12th.

I’m not taking anything away from Degale, he dug in and fought bravely through losing teeth and getting his ear busted (I know you shouldn’t use facial damage as an indication for scoring but Jack seriously messed Degale up bad) but effort does not equate to effectiveness.

So! Am I wrong? How did you score the fight?

Keen to hear your thoughts as always! Regards. – Phil

You and I saw the same fight, Phil. I thought Jack won eight rounds. Believe me when I tell you that I hate to agree with Mayweather, but I agree with the little butt-head’s claim that the judges got it wrong on Jan. 14. The irony is that he helped popularize what I call “Stinker Worship,” which is to assume that the boxer who moves AWAY from the fight and limits clean exchanges is the one exhibiting SKILLS or ring generalship.

I thought Jack was the sharper technician, the better defender and the superior ring general (from the fourth round on); but most importantly he was the busier fighter and the HARDER PUNCHER. This can’t even be debated. He threw more punches (including jabs, which DeGale neglected) and he laded more punches. He visibly hurt DeGale to the body more than once in the middle and late rounds.

I thought that was the goal in boxing. I thought this was the “hurt game.” I know the art of the sport is to hit and not get hit, but sometimes the AGGRESSOR is the one who is hitting more and getting hit less in return. That was the case with Jack, but he didn’t get credit for it for some odd reason. It’s as though the fighter that comes forward is penalized by judges (as well as many fans and media) these days, and I simply don’t understand their reasoning.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s baffled by what passes for “superior boxing” these days.

 

 

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