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Dougie’s Friday mailbag

Photo / Esther Lin-SHOWTIME
27
Jan

FINAL THOUGHTS ON FRAMPTON-SANTA CRUZ II

Hey Doug,

I’m pretty pumped up for the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz rematch Saturday. My final prediction for this fight is going to be Frampton by UD.

I think he’s right when he says Santa Cruz won’t really change his game plan, because he really only fights one way. And if Frampton was able to figure it out the first time, I don’t see why he won’t again. Here’s to hoping we get another great fight between the two (and that Frampton doesn’t get screwed by the judges). Thanks man. – Robert from Ashton, MD

The only way I can envision the Frampton-Santa Cruz rematch not being as good or better than the first fight is if Frampton decides to stink it out with a dedicated stick-and-move-clutch-and-grab game plan (and I don’t think that’s really in his nature) or if he clips Santa Cruz early or if Santa Cruz can fold the Belfast boxer with a perfectly placed body shot in the opening rounds. Apart from those rather extreme scenarios, I see another terrific 12-round tussle.

I’m pretty pumped up for the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz rematch Saturday. As well you should be. I’m not going to be able to watch it live (as I will be at the Vargas-Berchelt/Miura-Roman doubleheader) but I’m very much looking forward to it.

My final prediction for this fight is going to be Frampton by UD. That’s my prediction as well, although I can see a legitimately close fight that ends in a MD or SD win for Frampy.

I think he’s right when he says Santa Cruz won’t really change his game plan, because he really only fights one way. Yeah, but he fights very, very well in that one way. Santa Cruz is a world-class pressure fighter and volume puncher who happens to have solid whiskers – that’s a very hard combination to beat, regardless of one’s talent and skill level. (Why do you think Floyd Mayweather Jr. had so much trouble with a mid-level dude like Marcos Maidana?)

 

MIKEY GARCIA

Hi Doug,

It slipped my mind that Mike Garcia is fighting this weekend. What do you expect from him in the future?  Is he still a potential pound for pound fighter? Kind regards. – Anish Parekh, UK

Ask me after Saturday.

Photo / Esther Lin-SHOWTIME

Dejan Zlaticanin, the WBC lightweight beltholder, is Garcia’s proving ground at 135 pounds.

If Mikey beats DZ, he’s a legit player in the lightweight division. I’m sure some will automatically consider Garcia to be an elite boxer if he wins impressively (maybe more than “some”), but I think his pound-for-pound status depends on what he achieves after Zlaticanin.

What do I expect from him in the future? If Garcia wins the WBC title I’d like to see him try to unify major belts against the likes of Robert Easter and the winners of the upcoming Linares-Crolla and Flanagan-Petrov fights. In short, I expect him to face the best of his division.

 

ZLATICANIN-GARCIA

Dear Mr. Fischer,

Long time first time, and let me just thank you for your work with the Mailbag, I thoroughly enjoy reading them.

I am hoping to get your thoughts on Garcia vs Zlaticanin. I am kind of surprised at how this fight is being completely overshadowed by Frampton-Santa Cruz II, but I really think this has all the makings of a great fight.

Two top fighters in the lightweight division with two contrasting styles that could make for a very aesthetically pleasing contest; personally I am more hyped for this one than the main event. So why do you think there is so little chatter for this one?

As for the outcome, do you think Zlaticanin will be able to swarm and overwhelm Garcia, or does Garcia outbox and outsmart him? Thanks for the work. – D., So-Cal

I’m not sure about either scenario, which is one of the reasons Zlaticanin-Garcia is such a good fight. (The other main reason is the style matchup, as you alluded; it’s pits a tenacious rock-throwing, pressure-fighting southpaw against a talented, power-boxing counterpuncher.)

I’m going with the chalk in this one and picking Garcia to win by decision or late TKO but by no means am I counting Zlaticanin out. The Montenegro native is the proven lightweight standout. Garcia’s name was made at featherweight and junior lightweight. Now, Mikey certainly has the frame and athleticism to effectively carry 135 pounds, but he’s never been in the ring with a world-class lightweight (outside of the gym).

Two top fighters in the lightweight division with two contrasting styles that could make for a very aesthetically pleasing contest. I think it can be more than “aesthetically pleasing,” D., I think Zlaticanin and Garcia might throw down and get their mitts bloody. (I always crack up a little bit when I hear boxing fans anticipate a fight like it was ballet or a gourmet meal or an art exhibit – dudes, are you fight fans or food critics?) And, for the record, THE RING does not consider Garcia to be a “top fighter in the lightweight division.” He is not in our 135-pound top 10. If he can beat Zlaticanin, who is the magazine’s No. 1 contender, obviously, that will change.

Personally, I am more hyped for this one than the main event. I can understand that. While Frampton-Santa Cruz is an excellent matchup, it’s one that we’ve seen before. Zlaticanin-Garcia is something new and most can agree that it’s a promising style mesh.

So why do you think there is so little chatter for this one? Good question. There’s the main event, which you noted, taking up a lot of space on boxing websites and sports columns (on both sides of the Pond), and there’s the fact that neither lightweight is a chatter box. Garcia and Zlaticanin can fight, but they’re not the most quotable fighters out there. Of course, you can say the same thing about Santa Cruz. So, I think there’s few other factors:

1.) Zlaticanin is still under the radar.

2.) Garcia is better known than DZ but he’s still regaining the career momentum that he lost while he was waiting out his Top Rank contract (two and half years away from the ring).

3.) Perhaps Las Vegas wasn’t the best locale for this fight (or the main event). If Zlaticanin-Garcia were the main event of a show at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, I bet you DZ’s green belt that there would be more buzz for this showdown.

Thanks for the kind words and for finally writing in to the mailbag, D. Please do so again real soon.

 

IS FRAMPTON-SANTA CRUZ A RIVALRY IN THE MAKING?

Hi Doug,

I feel the making of a classic rivalry coming on Saturday night.

What can Leo Santa Cruz do different this time to get revenge against Carl Frampton?

Theoretically, he could utilize his obvious reach advantage and box more from a distance, using his jab. However, Santa Cruz didn’t start boxing yesterday and in the fight game it is rare for a leopard to change his spots. I recall Marco Antonio Barrera turn from slugger to boxer later in his career but my hunch is that Santa Cruz isn’t Barrera. Do you think there is any chance that we will see a different, reinvented Santa Cruz?

Maybe he could change his spots to stripes and use his jab more as an offensive weapon coming in to set up his combinations and keep Frampton from settling into a rhythm. On the other hand, I think that Frampton has shown that he has the Santa Cruz jab neutralized, staying outside its range or using his speed to slip past it, so I am not sure whether Santa Cruz can be effective with it. What do you think?

If I was in the Santa Cruz corner, I would tell him to do what has historically brought him to the dance, just do more of it and most importantly, start earlier. A slow starter, he took too long to get his engine revving in the red and by then Frampton had banked too many rounds. He is not going to win a boxing match, he needs to make it a war of attrition and overwhelm a fading Frampton late. On the other hand, a faster start could drain Santa Cruz almost as much as Frampton and he might not have enough left to sustain his attack over the last third of the fight. You don’t want to be fading and give a guy like Frampton the opportunity to take advantage.

As for Carl Frampton, he just needs to do what he did last time, fight in and out and use his superior hand speed. He could, perhaps, throw an extra shot here and there once he gets inside. Although it thrilled the crowd, I don’t think that those sessions he had of slugging it out with Santa Cruz in the first fight was a wise idea. Better to preserve his stamina and keep boxing.

What would your game plan be for each fighter?

This is another very evenly matched fight where one can see different scenarios playing out. Santa Cruz is fighting in Las Vegas and should have the crowd behind him, whereas when they fought in New York, Frampton’s Irish fans made the place sound like Belfast. Could that play in his favor with the judges if it is really close?

Frampton has stated that he wants to stop Santa Cruz and if he could do that, it would be a massive statement. I can’t see it happening though, can you?

I think the fight will play out pretty much the same as last time, which is not a bad thing at all from a fan’s perspective. Maybe Santa Cruz will start a bit quicker but I think that Frampton will be a bit bolder this time and might score a flash knockdown countering a charging Santa Cruz. I think that Frampton can hurt Santa Cruz a little more than Santa Cruz can hurt him, is quicker and just has more tactical options in this fight and therefore I am going with Carl Frampton to win another hard fought decision.

Mythical matchups:

Larry Holmes vs Gerrie Coetzee, Greg Page and Tony Tubbs

Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

Thank you for your thorough analysis of Frampton-Santa Cruz, Droeks. It’s always good to hear from you. (And good mythical matchups, too!)

Do you think there is any chance that we will see a different, reinvented Santa Cruz? Absolutely not. However, I do think we will see a reinvigorated Leo Santa Cruz, and I believe that’s enough to make the rematch competitive.

Maybe he could change his spots to stripes and use his jab more as an offensive weapon coming in to set up his combinations and keep Frampton from settling into a rhythm. That’s something Leo says he plans to do. He feels that he gave up his height and reach too much in the first bout and wants to try to keep Frampton at the end of his jab more on Saturday. However, I’m not sure Santa Cruz is quick or crafty enough with his jab to catch Frampton on a consistent basis.

On the other hand, I think that Frampton has shown that he has the Santa Cruz jab neutralized, staying outside its range or using his speed to slip past it, so I am not sure whether Santa Cruz can be effective with it. What do you think? I think Santa Cruz can be busier with it and just use it to help keep Frampy at bay. I don’t think he’s going to be able to bust Carl up or disrupt the British/Irish fighter’s rhythm with it.

If I was in the Santa Cruz corner, I would tell him to do what has historically brought him to the dance, just do more of it and most importantly, start earlier. That makes sense to me, and it’s what Santa Cruz says he intends to do.

What would your game plan be for each fighter? Bro, who do I look like? Virgil Hunter? I’m not Teddy Atlas. I’m not a trainer-commentator. I think both men need to stick with what got them here. That’s just my opinion. I’m not qualified to come up with any gameplans for any fighter. I don’t mean to sound like I’m blowing you or this question off, but I really can’t comment on what the proper gameplan should be for either fighter because I haven’t been in their camps. I don’t know what areas of the game they’ve been shining at or lacking in so it’s impossible to say exactly what they should do and when they should do it come fight night.

Santa Cruz is fighting in Las Vegas and should have the crowd behind him, whereas when they fought in New York, Frampton’s Irish fans made the place sound like Belfast. Funny how that worked out, eh? The guy who lost the first match gets the rematch close to his home. If Leo has any more kids, he needs to name them ALL after Al. (That’s OK. Word is, around 4,000 Frampton fans have flown in from Ireland to support their man, and trust me, they will make the noise of 12,000.)

Could that play in his favor with the judges if it is really close? Of course, it can! Territory matters in boxing. Do you think their first fight was really a draw as one of the official judges tabbed it? Do you think Scott Quigg really outpointed Frampton as one of the official judges claimed? I sure the f__k don’t. I thought Frampy won eight clear rounds in both fights.  

Frampton has stated that he wants to stop Santa Cruz and if he could do that, it would be a massive statement. Fa sho!

I can’t see it happening though, can you? If Frampton is feeling more settled at the weight, and physically stronger because of it, anything is possible.

Your mythical matchups:

Larry Holmes vs Gerrie Coetzee – Holmes by late stoppage (especially if they’re fighting a 15-rounder) in a fight that’s competitive early but becomes one-sided down the stretch as the Easton Assassin picks apart the South African standout’s face with his jab. I think Coetzee was tough and fundamentally sound enough to hang with Holmes for half a fight but he wasn’t fast or creative enough to impose his will on the American.

Greg Page – Holmes by close, competitive UD in what turns out to be a heated grudge match (the late Page always maintained that Holmes ducked him, and the hall of famer did indeed abdicate the WBC title when the talented Louisville native was the No. 1 contender in order to take a more lucrative – and much easier – fight against Marvis Frazier). I think Page would compete with his blend of skill, athleticism and versatility but Holmes would gradually take over with his more-sound fundamentals.

Tony Tubbs – Holmes by split, perhaps controversial, decision in an uneventful chess match that would probably only appeal to the most diehard of boxing purists. Tubbs gets a lot a flak for his unathletic body (and his last name didn’t help with the ridicule), well-documented drug problems, inconsistent performances and his second-round blowout loss to a prime Mike Tyson; however, the Cincinnati native was a superb boxer who troubled the hell out of fellow technicians when he was at his best. (Even a past-prime version of Tubbs was slick and crafty enough to come close to outpointing a near-peak Riddick Bowe in 1991; in fact, I thought Tubbs deserved the nod in that one.)

I’m going to assume that Tubbs would be at his best against Holmes and I think he would have bothered Larry with his quicker hands, clever footwork, crafty head-and-upper-body movement and educated jab. It would be a frustrating night for Holmes (and for the viewer, as this particular style matchup has “stinker” written all over it) because Tubbs was very good and slipping jabs and countering, but I think Larry would land the harder punches over the distance and get the benefit of the doubt from the two of official judges.

 

THE BROOK-KHAN SAGA

Hi Dougie,

I have been following the silly goings on with the Amir Khan and Kell Brook saga this week and definitely conclude that Khan wants no part of Kell as he knows within himself it’s going to end up in another bad KTFO for Bolton’s finest.

I just can’t understand how a boxer who has had 3 bad KOs and has been on the canvas a dozen times in 35 pro fights can claim to be the A side, wants 70-30% share of the purse and wants the main walk out even though he ain’t the champion, after only facing 3 guys who aren’t near the top of their division at 147.

It’s now becoming ridiculous this A-Side scenario wishing to be like FMJ or PAC without going through all the hard earned graft to be worthy of the rewards that then come.

I know Brook has always fought his mandatories so he does need to fight Spence IMO. I have Brook winning and if he then does I wonder what Khan’s next move or excuse will be then? He is slowly running out of options whatever he does and the British fans will start disliking him even more if his demands stay ludicrous like they have been and this is the guy who basically talked his way out of getting a fight with FMJ as he can’t keep his mouth in check, so I don’t know what your take on it is but I’d like to hear it and hope to make your Friday mailbag at the 3rd or 4th attempt, hehe, ATB and keep up the great work. – Stuart from Glasgow

Thanks for the kind words, Stuart, and congrats on finally making the bag (third or fourth time is the charm).

Regarding Brook-Khan, to be honest I’m not interested in the matchup enough to get caught up or emotionally heated about the recent negotiations drama. It’s just a typical pissing contest between boxing egos. It’s nothing special in my view. And I’m not pissing on the potential fight, mind you. I think Brook-Khan can be a very good fight, and obviously it would make for a big event in the UK.

I just read Khan 70-30 demands as hard bargaining from the more accomplished/established fighter, and a sign that he may not be ready to roll the dice against the Sheffield native. The current impasse doesn’t mean the fight won’t happen. It just probably means that it won’t be Brook’s next fight. I’m OK with that. There are enough good, high-profile showdowns already on the early 2017 schedule. We can push some potential bigtime matchups to the second half of the year.

I have been following the silly goings on with the Amir Khan and Kell Brook saga this week and definitely conclude that Khan wants no part of Kell as he knows within himself it’s going to end up in another bad KTFO for Bolton’s finest. Hmmmm… I’m not saying that you’re wrong but given his history, when has Khan ever shied away from being KTFO? He seems to be OK with that possibility.

I just can’t understand how a boxer who has had 3 bad KOs and has been on the canvas a dozen times in 35 pro fights can claim to be the A side, wants 70-30% share of the purse and wants the main walk out even though he ain’t the champion, after only facing 3 guys who aren’t near the top of their division at 147. Hey, sometimes the guy who has been knocked out (more than once) is the bigger name and attraction, even when he doesn’t hold a world title and he’s going up against a fighter that does. Mike Tyson was the bigger name when he fought Lennox Lewis. It didn’t matter that he was almost totally shot or that he’d been knocked out twice or that he was challenging for the titles that Lewis held. Tyson had been around longer than Lewis and he had been in the bigger fights. (And Tyson was just a larger personality/celebrity than the more mature and somewhat private Lewis was.)

Even though Khan turned pro a year after Brook, he’s still been in the public eye longer than the IBF welterweight titleholder because of his Olympic accomplishments. And despite is first-round KO setback to Breidis Prescott,  Khan was in major fights – vs. Marco Antonio Barrera, Andreas Kotelnik, Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana and Zab Judah – that were televised (and took place) in both the U.K. and the U.S. when Brook was still establishing himself as the top British welterweight and gradually developing into a world-class fighter. Khan won his first world title FIVE years before Brook won the IBF belt from Shawn Porter. That’s a long time in boxing.

It’s now becoming ridiculous this A-Side scenario wishing to be like FMJ or PAC without going through all the hard earned graft to be worthy of the rewards that then come. Well, I agree that it is annoying but that business mentality has always been a part of boxing to some degree and it’s even more a part of the sport’s culture in the wake of the Mayweather/Pacquiao era, so you’re just going to have to get used to it (at least until a new generation of young boxers that want to put the sport before the business come of age).

I know Brook has always fought his mandatories so he does need to fight Spence IMO. If Brook doesn’t want to fight Errol Spence right away are you going to give him as much s__t as you’ve given Khan for not settling with Team Brook and Eddie Hearn?

I have Brook winning and if he then does I wonder what Khan’s next move or excuse will be then? I wouldn’t casually dismiss Spence like that. Prior to the Golovkin fight, I too favored Brook to beat the American uber-talent but now I’m not so sure. I have no idea how much that beating took out of Brook, or how difficult it will be for him to drop back down to 147 pounds.

He is slowly running out of options whatever he doesHow about the winner of Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia unification fight? Isn’t that an option for Khan, who is the No. 1 contender for Garcia’s WBC title? What if Lamont Peterson beats David Avenesyan for the WBA’s “regular” title? Wouldn’t a Peterson rematch be an option? What if Khan decided to settle in at 154 pounds? Isn’t there a bevy of junior middleweight standouts in the PBC Universe for Khan to choose from?

… and the British fans will start disliking him even more if his demands stay ludicrous like they have been… That might be true, but does that mean they won’t watch him if he eventually fights Brook, or if he faces another high-profile welterweight (such as the Thurman-Garcia winner)?

… and this is the guy who basically talked his way out of getting a fight with FMJ as he can’t keep his mouth in check… Really Stuart? You think that’s the reason Mayweather never fought Khan? Because Khan talked too much? Is there even such a thing when it comes to hyping a potential fight/PPV event?

Speaking of Floyd….

 

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. – THE PROMOTER

Hello, Mr Dougie,

This is random, but I’ll try to keep this short and sweet, so I’m gonna talk about my favorite boxer, Mayweather. Not too long ago, I watched Mayweather on ESPN, hoping he would put on his promoter hat and promote the fight between Jack/DeGale and his up-coming prospect in Davis, but we all know it turned out to be a “look at me” segment.

The point that upset me, but not surprise me, as a boxing fan was his insistence of wanting to box an MMA star with no professional fights. Since I’m tired of these Mayweather School of Business Graduates, this leads me to a few questions since I followed you and others like Steve Kim and Kevin Iole since the late ‘90s:

1) Why would you seriously want a fight with McGregor, who has no professional boxing fights, but bash Golovkin on his resume?

2) Why entertain a fight with McGregor, when you can sell a fight between the winner of Thurman/Garcia for a legitimate 50th win?

3) Who in the hell would pay a Mayweather $100M after his drop in market value with that fight with Berto?

4) Was Showtime required to speak of, speak to, or show Mayweather every chance they got during the Jack/DeGale card?

5) Are you or any other boxing media required to speak on meaningless fights as Mayweather/McGregor’s boxing match?

Thanks for listening. – Jeremy, Louisiana

No problem, Jeremy. Always good to hear from boxing fans from my mother’s home state. And thanks for reading my stuff for all these years.

1.) Why would you seriously want a fight with McGregor, who has no professional boxing fights, but bash Golovkin on his resume? Because Golovkin won’t stoop to his level and verbally bash back in the media, and because McGregor doesn’t have the boxing ability to physically bash back in the ring.

2.) Why entertain a fight with McGregor, when you can sell a fight between the winner of Thurman/Garcia for a legitimate 50th win? Because there’s some risk involved in a fight with Thurman or Garcia. There isn’t any risk in fighting McGregor in a boxing match. There’s also WAY more money involved with the McGregor exhibition than there would be with a legit welterweight title bout against the Thurman-Garcia winner.

3.) Who in the hell would pay a Mayweather $100M after his drop in market value with that fight with Berto? All the dips__ts that either love or hate Mayweather and McGregor and can’t get enough of media circus in their vapid lives. And, Jeremy, there are A LOT of dips__ts out there.

4) Was Showtime required to speak of, speak to, or show Mayweather every chance they got during the Jack/DeGale card? Probably. Mayweather was the network’s flagship fighter from 2013 through 2015, and he remains one of the most famous and influential people in the sport.

5) Are you or any other boxing media required to speak on meaningless fights as Mayweather/McGregor’s boxing match? No, but it’s going to be hard for even high-profile mainstream sports media to ignore this matchup if it becomes a reality because of the general interest in both fighters and the spectacle of the event.

 

 

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

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