Dougie’s Monday mailbag
FRAMPTON-SANTA CRUZ II & NOT-SO SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS
Between Badou Jack’s unspectacular workman-like grind and James Degale and his piss poor pity patter performance it was all a bit elevator music. I hope while he is getting a new tooth put in his head the answer to why he can never put together 12 rounds of a hard-fought fight is put in as well. As for Jack I wish him well. He showed he punches harder, works harder has the better fundamentals. He may well send me to sleep but it is a technically sound sleep.
On to the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz battle, I have always rated Frampton from when I first saw him. He passed the eye test and I was jumping up and down after the Chris Avalos drubbing but picked against my better judgement in his recent outings based on similar recent opposition (I know styles make fights). I think he will really find his legs at featherweight and I think this is his division (i.e., he puts on a showcase on Saturday). Cheers. – Rob
I always liked what I saw of Frampton but I wasn’t sold on the Belfast badass until I witnessed him handle Scott Quigg (who I had long favored to beat him) live at Manchester Arena last February. I had been on the fence about how Frampton would fare against Santa Cruz (122 or 126), but his performance against Quigg (plus the fact that he’s got the smarter corner) convinced me that he had the ability to outpoint the relentless volume-punching pressure fighter when they locked horns last summer.
I think he will do it again on Saturday, but I believe the fight will be legitimately close this time (I thought Frampton won eight rounds in their first bout). Santa Cruz is limited but his will is crazy strong. He’s going to be 100% ready, mentally and physically, and he’s going to press Frampton from the get-go (instead of waiting until mid-point of the fight). However, at the end of the day, Frampy can just do more in the ring than Santa Cruz, and he knows when employ the right tactic (be it stick-and-move, counterpunching, pressure, or stand-and-trade). And if he forgets, he’s got Shane McGuigan in his corner to keep him cool and remind him.
Between Badou Jack’s unspectacular workman-like grind and James Degale and his piss poor pity patter performance it was all a bit elevator music. So, I’m guessing that you are not among the fans that believe Jack-DeGale is an early Fight of the Year candidate.
I hope while he is getting a new tooth put in his head the answer to why he can never put together 12 rounds of a hard-fought fight is put in as well. Not gonna happen. DeGale is what he is: Talented but flawed, with more guts than actual skill or ring generalship. I like his personality and I usually enjoy watching him fight.
As for Jack I wish him well. He showed he punches harder, works harder has the better fundamentals. He certainly did in my view. It will be interesting to see how far Jack’s work ethic and fundamentals carry him at light heavyweight.
He may well send me to sleep but it is a technically sound sleep. You are aware that you don’t HAVE to watch these guys fight, right?
CHRIS EUBANK JR.
Hey Doug,Are you disappointed by Chris Eubank Jr.’s lack of progress this past 12 months and if he gets past his next fight what path should he take next? I think a rematch with Billy Joe Saunders would help them both restore some momentum, especially if the fight is competitive. They both really need it. Mythical matchup: Joe Louis vs Sonny Liston Hope you are well. – Anish Parekh, Ashton under Lyne, UK
I think 2016 was a bit of a lost year for Eubank (and he and his father as mostly to blame), but at age 27 I think time is on his side.
A rematch with Saunders, who had an even worse 2016, is one way for Eubank to regain some of the momentum he lost but I don’t think a victory over the heavily criticized WBO middleweight beltholder would mean that much to hardcore fans given BJS’s last bout (and inactivity).
If Eubank defeats Renold Quinlan in impressive fashion, and he feels strong at 168 pounds, I think he should forge ahead at super middleweight and not worry about Saunders (at least until his southpaw rival reestablishes his rep or follows him to the 168-pound division).
There are attractive matchups for Eubank at super middleweight, including a domestic title showdown with DeGale, a clash with WBO beltholder Gilberto Ramirez, and an attractive “Battle of the Juniors” with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (provided JCCJ acquits himself well vs. Canelo, or upsets his red-headed rival). If George Groves or Callum Smith win a major title this year, you can add them to Euby’s hit list.
Your mythical matchup: Joe Louis vs Sonny Liston – Yikes! Tough one. Did you know these guys were friends? And I suspect Liston would hold back a little bit against his idol. It’s a toss-up, but on this particular day (dark and stormy here in Southern Cali.) I’m feeling Liston thanks to the ex-con’s longer reach, educated jab (every bit as powerful as the Brown Bomber’s left stick) and underrated boxing ability. Liston by close decision. Ask me tomorrow and I might go with Louis by decision or even by late TKO. But I’ll share this little info. nugget with ya, the late, great boxing historian Hank Kaplan once told me that the prime version of Liston was the best heavyweight he’d ever seen.
EDDIE MUSTAFA MUHAMMAD
This is my first proper attempt at writing to the mailbag after being an avid reader for a few years now.
Reading Rahn’s e-mail on Friday and your subsequent response where you mentioned Badou Jack’s trainer, Lou “Honey Boy” Del Valle (what a ring-name by the way! Must have been smooth with ladies), I found myself intrigued as I’d never heard of him previously.
Cue a visit to Wikipedia to find out that he was the first fighter to put RJJ on his backside in their 1998 fight.
I then thought “let me look at Eddie Mustafa Muhammad” as I had no idea who he was! Forgive my ignorance, I would have been 9 when he retired and the first big fight I remember watching on the box was Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
I look at Muhammad’s record and see that he beat Matthew Saad Muhammad in 1977… I’m scratching my head saying this guy must’ve been the business, how have I never heard of him?!
Perusing his record makes me realise further that so many events in boxing go unheralded or remain hidden in the sands of time – never mind the talk of A-side and B-side.
Would you in your esteemed position as one the modern-day founts of boxing knowledge be able to give an idea of how good Mustafa Muhammad was and how the fight with Saad Muhammad played out considering it looks like it was relatively early in their careers?
Thanks for being the first stop and a credible voice for boxing’s current affairs. – TON, U.K.
Thanks for the very kind words. Rather than get my account of how Mustafa Muhammad’s 10-round (split decision) victory over Saad Muhammad played out, why don’t you take a look for yourself on YouTube? The fight is there (with the late, great Don Dumphy’s wonderful call) in two parts. The fight was early in the career of Saad Muhammad (then known as Matt Franklin), but not so much for Mustafa Muhammad (then known as Eddie Gregory), who was engaging in his 24th professional fight and was one bout away from his first title shot (against Victor Galindez). So if you watch the fight, you’ll see Eddie in or near his prime/peak form and you’ll get a good idea of his style and what made him formidable.
From what I’ve seen of Gregory/Muhammad, he was very good all-around boxer who could punch and could scrap as well as he could practice the Sweet Science. He began his career at middleweight, where he was a good enough prospect to have locked horns with popular and respected Philly fighters Eugene Hart (who he stopped in four rounds) and veteran Bennie Briscoe (who beat him by split decision), but he matured into a world-class light heavyweight and was a legitimate contender during the modern Golden Age of the 175-pound division. In the late 1970s/early ‘80s, the light heavyweight division was just as deep and competitive as the welterweights (and almost as popular).
Gregory/Muhammad faced two current hall of famers in Saad Muhammad and Michael Spinks, as well other top light heavies, including Galindez, Marvin Johnson (who he beat for the WBA title), James Scott, Lottie Mwale, Jesse Burnett, among others.
Other Gregory/Muhammad fights that are on YouTube, include his title-winning stoppage of Johnson, his decision loss to Scott (in a prison), his fourth-round KO of Mwale and his title-losing decision to Spinks. (If you watch all of these videos you’ll get a sense of how good Gregory/Muhammad was and how popular boxing was at the time.)
I first became aware of Muhammad as a trainer during Iran Barkley’s brief early 1990s comeback. Eddie knew how to get into The Blade’s head and get the best out of the Bronx badass. Barkley, a former middleweight beltholder, won titles at 168 pounds (with a second-round TKO of Darren Van Horn) and 175 pounds (with a grueling split-decision over Thomas Hearns in their rematch), with Muhammad in his corner.
Obviously, Muhammad still knows how to coach a hardnosed fighter to world-class prominence. Early in my boxing-writing career (late ‘90s), I used to enjoy talking to Muhammad at club shows that were held at The Orleans (an off-strip casino) in Las Vegas. He’s a smart man and was an early proponent for staring a union and pension for professional boxers.
I hope you are well. I’ll keep this brief – I have written previously and I bring up the same question for you as I did previously.
Following the Kovalev/Ward and now the more recent DeGale/Jack scoring ruckus what is your opinion upon a more liberal use of the 10 point must system…you know the score (sorry for the pun), fighter A wins a round by a little so gets the round 10/9, fighter B then wins the next round really obviously so gets the round 10/8.
Then say if a knock down occurs 10/7 etc., etc.
I remember reading (probably in The Ring many years ago) this subject coming up and somebody mentioned we could have rounds scored ie 10/5 and it was stated that if there is need of such a big difference in the scoring of a round then perhaps it would indicate it was the right time for the ref/fighters corner to halt the fight. Ha ha!
Thanks for your time.
I love the mailbag and often find that I defend your opinion with my great friend Tommy Trouble who can have a very Anti-Fischer take on things. Having said that I’ll put my hands up and say I did score for Ward by one point and for Degale by one point…even though before adding up my scores I instinctively felt that both Kovalev and Jack had won…only to be surprised by my own tally.
Sorry not so short after all. – Mike Da Bass
You don’t have to feel bad about scoring Kovalev-Ward for Ward or Jack-DeGale for DeGale, and you definitely don’t have to defend me to anyone with an “Anti-Fischer” take on boxing.
Although I was outraged by the official result of Kovalev-Ward and frustrated by the Jack-DeGale verdict, I’m not of the opinion that there is anything wrong with the 10-point must system. I think the problem is usually with the official judges and a scoring criteria that is loose enough to be open to a degree of interpretation. Who deserves to win a round really should come down to who lands the clean and effective punches. It’s really that simple, but different judges have different ideas of what “effective aggression” is, and they are human beings who can be enamored with speed and flash and mistake it for clean punching. Sometimes they give “the boxer” too much credit for mistaking grab-and-stall tactics and time-killing movement for “ring generalship,” and sometimes they give “the puncher” or “aggressor” too much credit by mistaking activity or willingness for achievement. In the Kovalev-Ward and Jack-DeGale bouts, I thought the judges failed to give enough credit to the forward-marching boxer who (in my humble opinion) landed the more meaningful (i.e. damaging) punches.
Rather than alter the 10-point must system, I’d like to make official judges more accountable for their scores. And I’m not talking about subjecting them to public ridicule in social media, I mean I’d like to get to know them as much as we have been allowed to get to know prominent referees in recent decades. In other countries (most notably Japan), the judges are part of the press conferences and are introduced to the media (they are also held in much higher esteem over there than here in the U.S.). I think it would be helpful for the producers of boxing programs to occasionally produce segments on how to score a professional fight that include input from veteran judges. The more we get to know these officials, the more we will come to know which parts of the scoring criteria they value and the better we will understand their scoring philosophies. That way we’ll at least know what to expect from them (as we do with certain referees). And if there is controversy with the scoring, I’d like to hear from the judges, the way we sometimes hear from the referees when they make a controversial call during a fight.
It’s just a hunch, but I think judges would be a little more hesitant to give into biased scoring if they weren’t allowed to be as invisible as they have been for so long.
EDDIE HEARN AND LUIS ORTIZ
Hope you are well. I really like the idea of Luis Ortiz vs Jarrell Miller. There must be easier routes to a title shot for both but like David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens they are doing what fighting men do, fight! Aside from the fight, what interests me is Eddie Hearn promoting his first American show. What would you say needs to happen for him to successfully bring his Matchroom banner to the US? He seems to have a good relationship with Showtime which is a good starting point.
I was surprised when he signed Ortiz as he already has Anthony Joshua, who is surely intending to unify the division, and Dillian Whyte who is after a world title shot sooner rather than later. It seemed like there wasn’t enough to go ‘round for all three. Now I’m thinking that he realises that AJ will have to fight Ortiz at some point and everyone says Ortiz is high risk and low reward. Maybe this is a way to maximise the reward for that fight and also to grow the Deontay Wilder fight on US soil. How much risk do you say Miller poses to this possible strategy?
As always thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for the mailbag in general. Take care. – Joel
It’s my pleasure, Joel.
I wasn’t that surprised when Hearn signed Ortiz. Where else was the Cuban lefty going to go after severing ties with Golden Boy? At first I figured Ortiz was going with Al Haymon and the PBC (with a showdown with Wilder as the eventual prize), but when that didn’t happen, it made sense that he would wind up with Matchroom Boxing.
Hearn is in the heavyweight business. Haymon is more in the Wilder business than the heavyweight business. Top Rank, Main Events, and most of the other U.S.-based companies (with the exception of K2 Promotions) aren’t really about the big boys.
Yeah, Hearn has Joshua, a potential superstar, but AJ can’t fight ALL of the heavyweight standouts. So maybe Eddie figured Ortiz could take on some of the top big men – in shows that could, like the Miller showdown, wind up in the U.S. – while building the Cuban’s name/rep (on both sides of the Pond) en route to a future clash against his cash cow (AJ). Hearn is smart like that.
How much risk do you say Miller poses to this possible strategy? I think Miller is the riskiest opponent Ortiz has faced since Bryant Jennings. Big Baby isn’t battle tested as Jennings was but he’s more talented and he’s got the size/weight that the Philadelphian lacked.
Aside from the fight, what interests me is Eddie Hearn promoting his first American show. You, kind sir, are a modern hardcore boxing fan. Even at the peak of my diehard fan boxing addiction I never once gave a rat’s ass as to who was promoting the events I was interested in. I knew who the bigtime promoters were (Don King, Bob Arum, Dan Duva, etc.), I knew who was promoting the fights I had to see, but I just didn’t spend any time wondering about what their next move would be or what their various promotional strategies were. These days, fans want to know that stuff, along with all the deal points on the fighter/event contracts, whether or not certain members of the boxing media are covering certain events, and God only knows what else. Oh well, in your defense there was more boxing for general public consumption at that time and it was (on average) a higher quality of fighter/fights. I guess modern hardcore heads have to spend their time and attention on something while waiting for truly significant matchups to take place. Anyways, Hearn is more than welcome to invade the U.S. market, which can use all the action it can get. The more promoters, the merrier!
What would you say needs to happen for him to successfully bring his Matchroom banner to the US? All he needs to do is get his license in the appropriate U.S. state and then put on fights the fans want to see. It ain’t rocket science, my man. Ortiz-Miller is a good start.
He seems to have a good relationship with Showtime which is a good starting point. Indeed, and HBO has an interest in the Ortiz-Miller and Joshua-Klitschko fights, so Hearn is obviously putting together fights the U.S. boxing public is interested in seeing.
POOR CHOICE OF WORDS
Saw I got a letter in the mailbag on Monday (always a thrill), but in your response you seemed to think that I was insulting Badou Jack by talking about his “hammer fists.” Maybe it’s because I spend so much time arguing with Lara and Floyd nuthuggers on other sites, but I can’t let such slanderous “FAKE NEWS!” about my boxing character go unanswered.
To be clear, all of my favorite boxers know how to bring the hurt, and I fully recognize how much skill it takes to be an effective offensive fighter and not just a brawler. I was just speaking from the results. Badou Jack looked basically unhurt, so all there is to say for DeGale is how “skilled” he looked with his movement and hand speed.
DeGale, on the other hand, looked like somebody ran him through a farm combine, so we’ve got a more concrete result to praise him for.
I hope I don’t sound like I’m offended, because I’m not, but the thought that I might get lumped in with the kind of fans that live for the boxing equivalent of a 1-0 baseball game with no homeruns but lots of neatly fielded ground balls was just not how I was prepared to start my boxing year. Be well, Dougie. Best. – Sean
Thanks for the clarification, Sean. For the record, I figured you respected Jack’s boxing ability (and not just his “hammer fists”), and I wasn’t pissed off or irked by you. I just bristled at Jack being typecast because he was the one who, as you would say, “brought the hurt.”
I don’t like it when the come-forward fighter isn’t thought of as a boxer because I think it sometimes hurts him if the official judges view him as “the puncher,” or “the brawler” in a matchup against a fighter who is thought of as a “boxer.” The man perceived as “the boxer” often gets the benefit of the doubt in a close round. As you know, this scoring tendency has frustrated me in recent months, LOL.
Anyway, I must point out that I LOVE your baseball analogy for the type of boxing match that ultra-purists profess to appreciate.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer