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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

Photo by: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
Fighters Network
30
Jan

ONE BRUTAL SATURDAY NIGHT

Hey Dougie,

Longtime mailbag reader, bigtime fan.

Just wanna start off by taking my hat off to the warriors that gave it their all last night. It’s nights like these that elevate the sport and remind fight fans old and new of the magic that can happen when skillful and aggressive fighters with an iron will clash in the ring.



I was mainly watching the HBO card with my fam (none of whom are into sports, let alone boxing) and they were loving what they saw. Both fights just felt like it was a matter of time until someone’s body could no longer keep up with their fighting spirit. Takashi Miura, Mickey Roman, Francisco Vargas, and Miguel Berchelt definitely deserve a nice, long vacation after last night. Although, I’m wondering if Vargas should consider hanging up the gloves. That scar tissue over his eyes does not look like it will be the same ever again. After 3 consecutive FOTY-caliber efforts, I believe there’s no shame in calling it a day. I do think Berchelt has the skill and possibly the will to overcome Miura. But, as long as Miura is on his feet he is dangerous. Great fight when it happens.

I also kept my eye on the Showtime card and was sincerely worried that Mikey Garcia might’ve killed Dejan Zlaticanin. That was a scary one but it proved that Mikey is the goods (for those like me who may not have been entirely sold on him).

In short, both hardcore and casual fans alike were treated to a night of sublime violence. 2017 is off to a promising start. Let’s hope the promoters are taking note and give us more brutal nights like this. Best. – Benjamin, Portland, OR

I think the promoters have taken note, Benjamin, because the momentum that was kicked off by the “sublime violence” (I LOVE how that sounds) will likely continue building with already scheduled bouts, such as Thurman-Garcia, Lemieux-Stevens and Golovkin-Jacobs. Even some of the lower-profile fights like those of Showtime’s excellent Feb. 18 tripleheader (Broner-Granados, Russell-Escandon and Charlo-Hatley) or ridiculed showdowns such as Cotto-Kirkland, Bellew-Haye and Canelo-Chavez have the potential to make for bloody, dramatic action.

Let’s hope the fighters, managers, promoters and networks keep the momentum going over the second half of the year.

I was mainly watching the HBO card with my fam (none of whom are into sports, let alone boxing) and they were loving what they saw. I’m not surprised. You don’t have to be a diehard fight fan (or a blood-thirsty ghoul) to appreciate the effort those brave men put forth on Saturday. They all pushed themselves beyond human physical limits, in my opinion. I honestly don’t know how they do it. Spirit strength, I guess.

Takashi Miura, Mickey Roman, Francisco Vargas, and Miguel Berchelt definitely deserve a nice, long vacation after last night. I agree, but I think Berchelt, the newly crowned 25-year-old WBC 130-pound beltholder who hasn’t been in many grueling ring battles, can come back quicker than his older peers. If Miura isn’t ready to challenge Berchelt in a timely fashion because he’s still recuperating from his war with Roman, I wouldn’t mind seeing “El Alacran” stay busy with a solid top-10 contender such as Tevin Farmer (No. 4 in the WBC) or an up-and-comer like Andy Vences (17-0 Top Rank-promoted prospect from Northern Calif., who currently holds the WBC’s Continental Americas 130-pound belt).

I’m wondering if Vargas should consider hanging up the gloves. You’re not alone.

That scar tissue over his eyes does not look like it will be the same ever again. Bro, his scar tissue has scar tissue.

After 3 consecutive FOTY-caliber efforts, I believe there’s no shame in calling it a day. Nobody would fault Vargas for hanging up the gloves, but I can tell by his post-fight comments that there’s still a fire burning in the 32-year-old warrior’s belly. He’ll be back, probably against a soft opponent (for real this time) in late summer or fall, and then he will get in line to either face the Berchelt-Miura winner or he’ll engage in that other rematch – vs. Siri Salido.

I do think Berchelt has the skill and possibly the will to overcome Miura. I agree.

But, as long as Miura is on his feet he is dangerous. True.

Great fight when it happens. No doubt about it. I hope to be ringside for this one.

I also kept my eye on the Showtime card and was sincerely worried that Mikey Garcia might’ve killed Dejan Zlaticanin. I didn’t watch it until Sunday and I was STILL worried about him! That was an ICE COLD knockout.

That was a scary one but it proved that Mikey is the goods (for those like me who may not have been entirely sold on him). He’s definitely the goods against anyone that will stand in front of him or bring the fight to him. I still think a speed demon with good lateral movement will trouble him. I noticed he called out all of the 135-pound titleholders EXCEPT for his fellow PBC Player Robert Easter Jr. (the IBF king). Hmmmm… I wonder why?

 

CHESS MATCH, GREAT FIGHTS & SPORTSMANSHIP

Hey Dougie –

Wow! A great weekend of fights!! Some thoughts:

1) Frampton-Santa Cruz, no surprise, was again a great one. What I really enjoyed was watching the adjustments both fighters made coming into the fight and during it. Leo did exactly the right thing by keeping Carl at the end of his jab. To Frampton’s credit, he began to get inside and make it more of a phone-booth fight. That being said, I thought a big factor was Leo’s ability to move laterally so effectively that Carl didn’t really have the ability to cut off the ring and keep him on the ropes.

2) Mikey Garcia was masterful. That KO, with the side step and one punch finisher was a thing of beauty and could be a contender for KO of the Year! Not sure how to gauge Zlaticanin, but want to see Mikey in against a top guy. Was thinking it would be great to see him in against Jorge Linares (assuming a win against Anthony Crolla), and if he goes to 140, how about vs. Bud Crawford?

3) Miura is a freakin warrior, always gives us our money’s worth and can’t wait to see him again. Hope they match him with Berchelt or Salido. Vargas has had too many wars, but I also think Berchelt is the real deal, his work rate was just too much. Perhaps Vargas should retire, he takes so much punishment, it would be a shame if he ended up continuing and sustaining permanent damage.

4) It is great to see all of the fighters this weekend show such respect to their opponents. No trash talking, no theatrics (hoping Angel Garcia reads this) – these guys behaved like gentlemen and simply let their fists do the talking. Awesome moment when Frampton and McGuigan applauded LSC getting the decision. Then during the interview Frampton gave him props for being the better man that night. Also gotta appreciate the muted response of Mikey and Robert Garcia. You could see their concern until they saw Zlaticanin was up and okay. When fighters show respect and dignity, it showcases one of the best things about the sport.

I am pumped, what a great start to 2017! Thanks for everything you do each Monday and Friday!! – Rahn

Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts, Rahn.

Photo by Esther Lin / SHOWTIME

Frampton-Santa Cruz, no surprise, was again a great one. What I really enjoyed was watching the adjustments both fighters made coming into the fight and during it. I thought Santa Cruz made the far better adjustments (boxing, pressuring and exchanging in a manner that I didn’t know he was capable of at this level – but hey, that’s why they fight the fights). To my eyes, Frampton tried to make adjustments but wasn’t able to ever truly find his range or a comfortable/effective distance. By the late rounds of the bout it was a like a role reversal from their first bout – Frampy had become the “one-dimensional” aggressor, while Santa Cruz was the versatile boxer who controlled distance.

Leo did exactly the right thing by keeping Carl at the end of his jab. Agreed, and he put more snap on it than he has in recent years, plus he was smart with it.

To Frampton’s credit, he began to get inside and make it more of a phone-booth fight. Frampy’s got heart and warrior spirit, nobody can doubt that about him. However, I think he came into this bout a little overconfident, and I don’t like the amount of weight he put on after the weigh-in.

Mikey Garcia was masterful. Absolutely. His ability to jab and control the distance on a southpaw reminded me of Marco Antonio Barrera (vs. any lefty not named Manny Pacquiao) and his form/counterpunching technique reminded me of prime Juan Manuel Marquez. He had Zlaticanin sleepwalking by the end of Round 2, and then he put beltholder to sleep in Round 3.

That KO, with the side step and one punch finisher was a thing of beauty and could be a contender for KO of the Year! Indeed. And, once more, the power-punch combination and the leverage and accuracy with which he delivered it was reminiscent of the 126-pound version of JMM.

Not sure how to gauge Zlaticanin, but want to see Mikey in against a top guy. Was thinking it would be great to see him in against Jorge Linares (assuming a win against Anthony Crolla), and if he goes to 140, how about vs. Bud Crawford? You’re getting WAY ahead of yourself with the Crawford showdown. Garcia should at least establish himself as the best 135-pound titleholder before jumping weight to face the 140-pound champ. Linares-Garcia would be a dream fight, but Crolla and Flanagan are tailor made for Mikey, in my opinion. In terms of style and stature, I think Easter Jr. might prove to be Garcia’s most difficult task at 135 pounds.

Miura is a freakin warrior, always gives us our money’s worth and can’t wait to see him again. I’m sooooooo happy this Japanese veteran has earned some hardcore U.S. boxing fans. I’ve been impressed with him since his excellent 2013 (when he beat Gammy Diaz, Yeyo Thompson in Mexico, and Dante Jardon).

Hope they match him with Berchelt or Salido. Berchelt is the plan and the WBC mandate.

Vargas has had too many wars, but I also think Berchelt is the real deal, his work rate was just too much. Berchelt is realer than Real Deal Holyfield and a very welcome addition to the deep 130-pound division.

It is great to see all of the fighters this weekend show such respect to their opponents. Boxing is usually a gentleman’s sport outside of the ropes.

Awesome moment when Frampton and McGuigan applauded LSC getting the decision. Team Frampton seems to be all class.

Also gotta appreciate the muted response of Mikey and Robert Garcia. You could see their concern until they saw Zlaticanin was up and okay. I’m sure they ran through a few “Hail Mary” prayers in their heads during those tense couple of minutes following the knockout.

 

TRILOGY!

Hey Dougmeister General!

What can I say? It might not have been the back-alley scrap that it was in Brooklyn, but yet again the fight between arguably the best two fighters in the division delivered (take note promoters!).

It was hugely engaging and thrilling to the last with both fighters leaving it all in the ring. Some people may say Frampton was a little sluggish early on, but I would put that down to the excellent tactics of Leo Santa Cruz and his corner, and it threw Frampton off his game plan. Hats off to The Jackel for admitting the better man won on the night, and thankfully the judges scored the contest accordingly. Do you see Santa Cruz/Frampton as top ten pound for pound fighters after Saturday night? I personally don’t take any rep off either Frampton and surely Santa Cruz has enhanced his standing following such an impressive display.

And so…. On to the third fight surely?! I can’t see a bigger or better fight for either man. To quote The Ring report, “Boxing needs a good trilogy”. The question is where and when? I would personally like it to be there next fights, I don’t see any gain in a tune up, unless it were to build extra hype. That runs its own risks however and I can’t see how they could build it much more. Where? Frampton wants Belfast, which would do huge PPV numbers in the U.K. and would be a fast sell out in any arena/stadium there. I would personally like it maybe back in Vegas or MSG even if it does mean another 2am alarm call! I think US boxing needs the big events back in the traditional venues to keep building the sports reputation. If boxing dies in the States, it dies everywhere, and the U.K. is doing just fine for big fights at the moment! What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading even if it doesn’t make the bag. I look forward to reading your analysis on Monday as always. Keep it up Doug! – Dan, UK

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dan.

Just one man’s opinion, but I think serious consideration should be given to staging Santa Cruz-Frampton III in Belfast or somewhere in England (maybe Manchester). Why? It’s only fair. Why should all three fights be held in the U.S., where the events draw 10,000 fans, when it could EASILY do twice that in the U.K. (plus, PPV revenue as you pointed out)?

Why does Frampton have to be the Road Warrior? He’s not Brian Mitchell during apartheid-era South Africa. He’s not the high-risk, low-reward gatekeeper that Glen Johnson was for many years. He’s a draw in the U.K. He’s a bona-fide star in his native Belfast. To me, it’s ridiculous that Frampton hasn’t fought at home in almost TWO years.

Yo man, boxing is not in danger of dying in the U.S. Some of these American standouts can dust off their passports every once in awhile – especially if it means making good money with a huge events overseas.

Some people may say Frampton was a little sluggish early on, but I would put that down to the excellent tactics of Leo Santa Cruz and his corner, and it threw Frampton off his game plan. No doubt about it. Leo fooled A LOT of people with the performance he put forth on Saturday. Much respect to him, his father and his brothers. They proved a lot of folks wrong, including me. But I’m happy for them. The Fighting Santa Cruz family are good people.

Hats off to The Jackal for admitting the better man won on the night, and thankfully the judges scored the contest accordingly. I thought the judges gave Frampy the benefit of the doubt in some of those rounds that were competitive but he was soundly outworked.

Do you see Santa Cruz/Frampton as top ten pound for pound fighters after Saturday night? No, I don’t. I expect Frampton to be replaced by either Naoya Inoue or Mikey Garcia in THE RING’s Pound-for-Pound Rankings.

I personally don’t take any rep off either Frampton and surely Santa Cruz has enhanced his standing following such an impressive display. I think he’s done enough to merit replacing Gary Russell Jr. as THE RING’s No. 1-rated featherweight.

On to the third fight surely?! I can’t see a bigger or better fight for either man. I would personally like it to be their next fights, I don’t see any gain in a tune up, unless it were to build extra hype. I don’t need to see Santa Cruz-Frampton III right away. The Barrera-Morales trilogy didn’t take place in back-to-back-to-back fights, and I think that enhanced the series.

I’d be fine with Frampy taking a tune-up bout in Belfast just as a gift to his loyal fans there, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Santa Cruz give Abner Mares a rematch (which would be a gift to L.A. fans) before going for No. 3 with the Jackal.

 

IT’S GOOD TO BE A BOXING FAN RIGHT NOW

Hi Dougie!

As always thanks for your passion and dedication (ok, ok, hardword-dedication) for boxing. It’s a pleasure for us boxing fans to have people like you, and hope everything is alright with you and your loved ones.

It’s Sunday and I’m about to leave office but I’m still excited about Vargas-Alacran. Respect for those 2 warriors. The younger and more powerful boxer won, but one has to admire Vargas and his level of opposition. Miura, Salido and the “gimme” fight is a Berchelt. Other boxers could take a look at him, because these days there are some boxers that go YEARS without facing a “danger” foe. I think it was a great fight from the beginning and I think it could be FOTY, but great fight nevertheless.

Now I’m high on Alacran and I would LOVE to see him against SALIDO. How can that not be a FOTY? Both guys are warriors. I think it is a doable fight. What do you think? Maybe the winner can take on Miura.

By the way, here in México, Frampton-Santa Cruz and Vargas-Berchelt started at the same time, so I couldn’t see (live) Frampton-Santa Cruz but I think it was a good fight, and people (and fighters) should notice the level of respect of these two had for each other all the way to the fight, during the fight itself and post-fight. Hope there is a third one.

Mickey Garcia, wow! I didn’t see that scenario. It was an impressive way to become a three-time champion. Who do you think he should get next?

And finally, I hope that Oscar De La Hoya gets on the right track. I know people who have the same demons, and it is a daily battle, but Oscar can prove something to us and that is that he is a Warrior, and I really believe that he can win this fight.

Mythical Matchup: Sadly it looks that we are not gonna see it, but Matthyse-Maidana. I believe they fought 4 times in the amateurs and Maidana won 3 and the other one was a draw. You think in the pros Matthysse can get revenge?

(Pd. Hope you and Steve Kim get the gig in ESPN new deal with Golden Boy!) Thank you. – Salomon

Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts and questions Salomon. I think if Kim and I (and our fearless front man Beto Duran) got that Golden Boy/ESPN gig, we’d know it by now. The only broadcaster we know for sure that will be working the new series is Bernardo Osuna and you can’t go wrong with him.

It’s Sunday and I’m about to leave office but I’m still excited about Vargas-Alacran. Respect for those 2 warriors. Dude, I was so emotionally drained from calling the action to Mirua-Roman that I barely made it through Vargas-Berchelt, but the action and drama of both fights had me so hyped that I didn’t sleep until 5 a.m. Sunday morning. Respect to all four warriors.

Photo by Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos / GBP

The younger and more powerful boxer won, but one has to admire Vargas and his level of opposition. Miura, Salido and the “gimme” fight is a Berchelt. Alacran was not just the younger, harder-hitting fighter, he had the boxing skills to match and surpass Vargas’ aggressive technique and combination punching. The sad thing about Vargas’ brief WBC title run is that too many hardcore fans overlooked Mirua because he’s Japanese and hadn’t fought on U.S. TV prior their fight, too many viewed Salido as “old” and “shopworn” prior to their showdown, and way too many dismissed Berchelt as a “handpicked” opponent because of his one loss and low profile in the States.

Now I’m high on Alacran and I would LOVE to see him against SALIDO. How can that not be a FOTY? The only way it wouldn’t be is if Siri finally hits the wall. It’s gotta happen sooner or later, and we don’t know if the Vargas war was his last great effort.

I think it is a doable fight. What do you think? Of course, it is. Both fighters are promoted by Zanfer, both are popular in Mexico and HBO would be interested in that showdown. However, Miura’s got dibs, according to the WBC.

Maybe the winner can take on Miura. Or maybe the Berchelt-Miura winner can take on Salido.

Mickey Garcia, wow! I didn’t see that scenario. It was an impressive way to become a three-time champion. Who do you think he should get next? I’m going to keep banging this drum: I want to see Garcia attempt to unify the WBC-IBF titles against Robert Easter Jr. I think the Toledo, Ohio native’s height, reach, speed, lateral movement and durability will present a proper challenge to the three-division titleholder.

And finally, I hope that Oscar De La Hoya gets on the right track. He was at the HBO B.A.D. show at Fantasy Springs Casino on Saturday, and seemed to be in good spirits. I think he’s going to be OK, but I’m sure your concern and encouragement are appreciated.

Your Mythical Matchup: Matthyse-Maidana. I believe they fought 4 times in the amateurs and Maidana won 3 and the other one was a draw. You think in the pros Matthysse can get revenge? I think Lucas is the better overall boxer and athlete, and would have probably been the odds and media favorite had they met in the pro ranks, but Matty doesn’t seem to have the same mental fortitude and durability that Chino carries into the ring. I’m going to go with Maidana by come-from-behind late-rounds TKO.

 

THE 130-POUND DIVISION

Dear Mr Fischer,

I appreciated your article on the BAD action, although not nearly as much as the fights Saturday night (but even the best Mailbag can’t completely scratch the ghoul itch). I have HBO (but not Showtime), so my decision as to viewing was made for me. I’m just pleased the card delivered so well (not that there was much of a doubt). I’m watching Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz as I write (and after three rounds, I’ve been much more impressed with Leo’s adjustments than I expected).

I am writing out of curiosity about your not mentioning Vasyl Lomachenko in the mix for compelling fights at 130. He’s certainly more of a sweet scientist than the fighters who put it on the line in Indio, but his fights promise all the same action (if maybe less of the intrigue about the outcome) and I’m fairly certain HBO loves him.

If Loma’s fight with Jezreel Corrales is made, I’d like to see the winner against any of the other major players at junior lightweight equally as much as the fights involving Saturday’s combatants. You?

I’d also like to know what you think will happen with Billy Joe Saunders’s mandatory now that Canelo Alvarez has made the fight with Chavez Jr. I hope they give Avtandil Khurtsidze the shot, he’s earned it.

All the best, Doug. Thanks again for all the work on the mailbag and articles (and the occasional added humor). I hope this finds you and your family hale and happy. Peace. – John

We’re good, John, thanks for the kind words.

Regarding Saunders, the man just needs to get busy. Khurtsidze is the WBO mandatory, so he should fight the squat-but-grizzled Georgian. It’s sad that “the Tazman” hasn’t fought since giving the promising Antoine Douglas a frightful beating last March. I also wouldn’t mind seeing BJS take on the Japanese Olympic gold medalist, Ryota Murata, which has been talked about. Like I said, Saunders just needs to fight a solid contender, beat him and look good doing so in order to be credible middleweight player. Holding the WBO belt is not enough.

Regarding my post-fight column on HBO’s B.A.D. doubleheader (which appears to have rubbed a few “sanctimonious slobs” and pacifist purists the wrong way), I didn’t mean to exclude Lomachenko from the mix or insinuate that the master boxer is a stinker. I think most fans know that the Ukrainian southpaw is the class of the 130-pound division and the he generally makes for entertaining fights.

I was just focusing on the four junior lightweights that were in action on Saturday (as well as Loma’s good buddy Salido, who was ringside for the brutal festivities). The WBO titleholder is always in the mix, but as you noted he’s close to landing a unification about against WBA boss Corrales, and seems on his way to being regularly featured on HBO Championship Boxing series. In the meantime, Berchelt and Miura have a WBC-mandated date, while Vargas and Saldio will remain highly rated in the Mexico City sanctioning organization’s 130-pound rankings (Siri is currently No. 3, and Vargas will likely replace Roman in the No. 2 spot).

So it looks like there could be a 130-pound round robin involving those four “blood brothers,” and one of the points of my article is that they can make for the kind of fights that forged the legend of the Boxing After Dark series 15-20 years ago (and also converted a lot of casual fans into lifelong blood thirsty ghouls).

 

 

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

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