Dougie’s Friday mailbag
BOXING GETTING BETTER IN 2017
My man. Seems like boxing keeps getting better in 2017. So many good fights getting made, not the least of which is Kell Brook-Errol Spence Jr. Can’t wait for that one. Wanted to get your analysis on a few upcoming bouts starting with this weekend:
Adrian Broner-Adrien Granados
I have narrowed my criteria for picking winners to boxing skill, speed, historical connect %, level of opposition, and hunger. I think Broner wins all categories here, except the last. And of course, that one gives me the most pause here because if Broner isn’t hungry he will get outworked. I have to pick him by close decision at home, but his 3:1 favorite status seems too wide. He won’t fade down the stretch like Amir Imam. How do you see this one playing out?
David Haye-Tony Bellew
I may be crazy, but I’m not sure how to read this one. Bellew has been on a streak, Haye has been out for years and has had two soft touches totaling a couple of rounds. Everyone says Haye KO early and maybe they’re right, but it seems like a hard one to call. I could see Haye playing it safe and winning by late stoppage or decision. Have you got a strong position?
Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia
This one seems like a no-brainer to me. Danny Garcia is slow. He has been facing weaker competition and appears less motivated. Thurman has the advantages in every category. I feel his only real hope at winning is a one hitter quitter. I think Thurman will bust him up over the long haul and win an easy decision. Am I underestimating Garcia? He looked pretty ordinary vs. Peterson and Guerrero.
Lastly… I am a gambling man. I won’t hold you to anything, but if you had to pick 5 upcoming fights or outcomes for me to consider as part of my parlay, which ones would you pick? For example, I feel very confident about Lamont Peterson, Ohara Davies, Demetrius Andrade, and Keith Thurman winning their fights. I also feel very good about the GGG fight not going the distance. Anything else you would suggest looking into? If I win big, I’ll buy you more than one beer in NYC during fight week, haha. – Vincent, Winston-Salem
I think Golovkin by stoppage is usually a safe bet, Vincent. Speaking of GGG, two of his former challengers face off on March 11 and I can’t see David Lemieux-Curtis Stevens going the distance. I have no idea who wins that middleweight bout but wherever the money line is in terms of rounds, I’d bet the under. The co-featured bout to Lemieux-Stevens is Yuriorkis Gamboa’s return against Rene Alvarado. Despite having been out of the ring for more than a year, I expect the dynamic Cuban to dominate the hardnosed but made-to-order Nicaraguan, and a stoppage is very likely.
I see Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. going the distance. I know some hardcore heads view this as the proverbial “gimme” fight for Alvarez, but I don’t believe Chavez will half-ass it in training and even if Canelo puts it on him during the fight, his pride, durability and natural size advantage will keep him upright through 12 rounds. I also expect junior middleweight prospect Erickson Lubin to make the transition to contender in impressive fashion when he faces Jorge Cota in their WBC title-elimination bout on the Thurman-Garcia undercard.
I have narrowed my criteria for picking winners to boxing skill, speed, historical connect %, level of opposition, and hunger. Sounds like sound criteria, but keep in mind that Broner’s boxing skill is overrated and Granados has faced a high-level opposition.
I think Broner wins all categories here, except the last. And of course, that one gives me the most pause here because if Broner isn’t hungry he will get outworked. Agreed, and this is a possible scenario, which is why this is an interesting matchup.
I have to pick him by close decision at home, but his 3:1 favorite status seems too wide. He won’t fade down the stretch like Amir Imam. How do you see this one playing out? I also favor Broner by decision in a competitive fight. I think moving the contracted weight limit from 142 pounds to 147 favors “The Problem” as much as the bout taking place in Cincinnati. I don’t think Imam “faded” against Granados. I think the streaking contender was pulled into a dogfight, overwhelmed and beat into submission. I believe that Broner is more durable and battle-tested than Imam was.
I may be crazy, but I’m not sure how to read this one. You’re not alone. Most UK boxing folks I’ve talked to give Bellew no shot against Haye. They believe the size and talent disparity is too great for Bellew to overcome, and I see where they are coming from but I view Haye as semi-retired. I wouldn’t be shocked if Bellew clipped or overwhelmed the former heavyweight beltholder.
Everyone says Haye KO early and maybe they’re right, but it seems like a hard one to call. I could see Haye playing it safe and winning by late stoppage or decision. Have you got a strong position? I do not. I’m just gonna sit back and enjoy this one for however long it lasts.
[Thurman-Garcia] one seems like a no-brainer to me. Danny Garcia is slow. He has been facing weaker competition and appears less motivated. I favor Thurman, but I don’t view his victory as a foregone conclusion. Garcia is very live in my opinion (and more than a few U.S. boxing scribes favor the former 140-pound champ). Garcia doesn’t look very fast, but he’s got quick reflexes (especially where counterpunching is concerned) and, more importantly, he’s got good timing. Trust me, he’s a threat.
Thurman has the advantages in every category. Really? What about quality of opposition? What about chin/durability? They seem about even in terms of skill and technique to me. Neither reminds me of a prime Donald Curry, if you know what I mean.
I think Thurman will bust him up over the long haul and win an easy decision. Am I underestimating Garcia? Yes, I think you are.
He looked pretty ordinary vs. Peterson and Guerrero. I agree, but I assume that he will be better prepared and more motivated for Thurman.
I feel very confident about Lamont Peterson, Ohara Davies, Demetrius Andrade, and Keith Thurman winning their fights. I favor those four too, but keep in mind:
Peterson has a lot of wear and tear on his body (plus he was inactive in 2016), while David Avanesyan is a tough cookie and in his prime.
Davies is the younger, fresher, naturally bigger man, while Derry Mathews appears to be on the downslide, but at the end of the day, the 25-year-old prospect only has 14 fights and has never been in the kind of battles the veteran has experienced.
Andrade could do just enough to suffer a home-country decision loss to Jack Culcay in Germany.
You know my thoughts on Thurman-Garcia.
JERMALL CHARLO AT MIDDLEWEIGHT
Great job on the mailbag! Been a fan since your MaxBoxing days. Always look forward to Monday and Friday for your spread.
Just wanted to see what you thought of Charlo dropping his IBF 154 strap and jumping up to 160.
I think it’s a great move as he seemed huge for that division and it was doubtful that any other name fighters wanted to fight him.
Who would you like to see him fight at 160? I thought Andy Lee would make a good fight or the winner of Lemeiux/Stevens. I just hope that he doesn’t have any more showcase fights and goes straight to the top ten for a fight. Thanks. – Vin from Canada
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for the kind words, Vin.
If Charlo and his team want to make a major statement at middleweight and get into the big-fight mix right away, I think the Lemieux-Stevens winner makes sense. A lot of fans will watch that HBO-televised bout on March 11, and the winner will be highly rated by the WBC and the IBF (which was the sanctioning organization of the 154-pound belt that Charlo held). If Charlo beats the Lemmy-Stevens winner he’ll have instant credibility at middleweight and will be in position challenge whoever holds the WBC and IBF titles later this year (I’m going to assume it will be GGG, but ya never know…)
I won’t be mad at Charlo or his team if he wants to get his feet wet first before jumping into the deep-end of the 160-pound pool. But after his middleweight tune-up, I’d like to see him in with a legit top-15 contender. There are many to choose from: Tureano Johnson, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Ryota Murata, Chris Eubank Jr., Avtandil Kurtsidze, Hassan Ndam, Willie Monroe Jr., Rob Brant.
Just wanted to see what you thought of Charlo dropping his IBF 154 strap and jumping up to 160. I’m intrigued, and I’m glad that Jarrett Hurd and Tony Harrison will fight for the vacant IBF junior middleweight title.
I think it’s a great move as he seemed huge for that division and it was doubtful that any other name fighters wanted to fight him. Agreed. Charlo was a giant at 154 pounds. Sooner or later, he was going to hit the wall with making that weight. And given that two of the major beltholders at 154 pounds are his twin brother (Jermell) and Erislandy Lara (his longtime training mate who he shares head trainer Ronnie Shields with), it made sense to move up in weight.
THE DANGERS OF BOILING DOWN
Long time reader – your mailbags are always two highlights of the week. Thinking about Kell Brook coming all the way back down to 147 prompted me to write for the first time. I like him a lot but I fear for him.
It seems like dropping a division, let alone two, can be devastating for a mature fighter. I think of Roy Jones dropping to 175 from heavy – his reflexes and punch resistance had slipped hugely. When Chris Byrd made the same move, instead of being quicker and more mobile he looked like he was moving in mud. Ditto Oscar when he weighed 145 against Pacquiao – he was so much better even 2 lbs heavier against Floyd. None of them could pull the trigger like they used to. Each had become a significantly lesser fighter – in a way that you couldn’t just put down to aging.
You’ve seen many more fights than I have – what do you see as the dangers of boiling down? Can you think of any other cases where dropping back down in weight has been disastrous? Can you think of anywhere dropping down was hugely successful?
Cheers. – Charlie, LA
Thanks for the kind words and for finally writing in, Charlie.
I think the older a fighter is, the more dangerous it is for him to drop a significant amount of weight. Jones, Byrd and De La Hoya are all good examples. Jones was 35 years old when he dropped down from the solid 193 pounds (around 200 on fight night) for his showdown with John Ruiz back to light heavyweight, where he struggled to beat Antonio Tarver and then was iced in their rematch. (I covered both fights for MaxBoxing.com. Jones looked like a zombie at the weigh-in for the first bout with Tarver, his skin was gray; but he seemed OK at the weigh-in for the rematch, one of the reasons I tend to give Antonio more credit for his upset victory than many insiders and hardcore fans do.)
De La Hoya was also 35 (going on 36) when he dropped down from junior middleweight to face Pacquiao at welterweight. Byrd was 37 (going on 38) when he dropped from heavyweight to light heavyweight to fight Shaun George.
Keep in mind that Brook is 30 and still in his prime. Also keep in mind that unlike Byrd and De La Hoya, Brook hasn’t been campaigning at a heavier weight for years prior to dropping down. He went up to middleweight for one fight. Byrd, who fought George in 2008, had fought above 200 pounds since 1994. De La Hoya, who fought Pacquiao in late 2008, had been fighting above 147 pounds seven years (he weighed in at 154 pounds for Mayweather, not 147).
Jones, like Brook, climbed two divisions for one fight and then dropped back down. However, Jones had several months (under the guidance of fitness guru Mackie Shilstone) to literally bulk up. Brook, on the other hand, was a last-minute replacement for Chris Eubank Jr. He barely had eight weeks to prepare (if that). So Brook really didn’t put on significant amounts of muscle, he just ate healthy and hearty during camp and didn’t have to sweat off as many pounds as he usually does.
So, while I agree that going back down to 147 pounds after fighting at 160 will be a factor in his showdown with Spence, I don’t think we can compare this fight to the disastrous losses that Jones, De La Hoya and Byrd suffered after dropping down in weight. Those veterans were older and they had more wear and tear on their bodies from long and distinguished careers.
Can you think of anywhere dropping down was hugely successful? Two boxers immediately come to mind: Shawn Porter and Orlin Norris.
Porter, a super middleweight amateur standout, turned pro at 165 pounds in October 2008 and fought between 152-158½ pounds from late ’08 to mid-2010 before settling in at welterweight where he won a world title and remains a top contender.
Norris, a small heavyweight contender in the late 1980s/early ‘90s, dropped down to cruiserweight (which had 190-pound limit at the time) from late ’91 to mid-’95 and won and defended the WBA title during that time before going back to heavyweight.
I think age was a factor in their success. Porter, who is only 29, was in his early 20s when he dropped down in weight (and he didn’t face world-class welters right off the bat); Norris (the older brother of hall of famer Terry Norris) was 26 when he dropped down to cruiserweight.
Here’s a random question. (Generalizing a little bit) It seems like a lot of Boxers share a common story: Poor upbringing, broken home, troubled youth, etc. Obviously, this comes with a lot of fighting and rebellious environment so boxing becomes almost the only way out and for some a do or die situation… Can you mention a few notable boxers with different stories? Have there been many World Champions with accomplished studies or even Master Degrees? Keep up the good work! – E
The Klitschko brothers didn’t grow up rich or privileged but they had a stable home environment and both pursued higher education as they made their way up the amateur and professional ranks. Both Vitali and Wladimir not only earned master’s degrees, but PhDs in Sports Science.
Many notable professional boxers have studied at college (and it should come as no surprise that most of them came from loving family backgrounds), some have earned college degrees.
Former WBA heavyweight titleholder James “Bonecrusher” Smith holds an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree in business administration. It should be noted that he turned pro at the advanced age of 28 and had earned these degrees before embarking on his professional boxing career.
Other major world titleholders who earned college degrees (during their professional careers) include hall of famer and former WBC welterweight champ Carlos Palomino (recreation administration), future hall of famer and four-division titleholder Juan Manuel Marquez (accounting), former unified lightweight beltholder Juan Diaz (political science), two-division titleholder Darren Van Horn (broadcast journalism), and former WBO light heavyweight beltholder Nathan Cleverly (mathematics).
Some former contenders and noted prospects that earned college degrees include former four-time welterweight title challenger Mando Muniz, former junior welterweight title challenger John Duplessis, Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Audley Harrison, and former heavyweight standout Chazz Witherspoon.
Please understand that these examples are just off the top of my head, and I realize that most of them are Americans. I know that I’m leaving several notable fighters out from numerous countries. You’ll have to do your own Google search to find out about them all.
You might want to look into some of the notable current titleholders and recent standouts from Japan, where it’s not out of the ordinary for professional boxers to pursue college degrees during their careers.
Mayweather Jr. prime lower weights
High right hand defence
The shoulder roll
Sneaky lead right
Cheeky lead left hook
Why did I not see that! – Kev, Edinburgh
Hmmmm… the sneak lead right and the “cheeky” lead hook, yeah, you can say that the prime versions of Roy Jones Jr. (160-168 pounds) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (13-135 pounds) had those punches in common.
The “high right-hand defense,” and “shoulder roll”? No, I don’t think so. That was just Floyd. Jones often kept both hands down. Why? Because he could. Jones was a super athlete and boxer, so while he was a boxer at heart (and a former amateur champ and Olympic medalist like Mayweather), his style was more dynamic and intuitive than Floyd’s (or any other standout fighter of the ‘90s). Jones was more offense-minded and prone to showboating than Mayweather was.
Mayweather was more technical and measured than Jones, even at junior lightweight and lightweight where he was strong enough to manhandle and knockout his opponents.
I’ll say this about the ultra-talented prima-donnas, they boxed brilliantly but went for the kill when they hurt their opponents during their prime years. I became a major critic of both late in their careers, but I was a big fan when they were starting out, especially of Jones, who often overwhelmed his competition in breath-taking fashion. I still recall him tripping and quadrupling his left hook with lightning speed like no one had ever done before him. I hope he doesn’t get hurt tonight against Bobby Gunn.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer