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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

Deontay Wilder finishes Gerald Washington in Round 5 of their WBC heavyweight title bout on Feb. 25, 2017. Photo / Ryan Hafey-PBC
27
Feb

A NIGHT OF HEAVYWEIGHT ACTION

Hi Doug,

It was a fun card Saturday night. Much more so than I expected. I want to try and keep it short so I will just focus on the two heavyweight fights.

Looking at Dominic Breazeale and Izu Ugonoh before the bell I thought Breazeale looked soft and I assumed, not fully prepared for the fight. Ugonoh looked like a well-trained man who had come to pull the upset. From the first bell Ugonoh was balanced, his combos were crisp and overall I thought he looked good. He was getting to Breazeale until the third round when Breazeale put him down. Even though he put Ugonoh down, Breazeale was, I thought, just swinging for the fence and connected. This is not to take anything from his heart and desire to win. He did not quit even when things weren’t going his way and when he made his own trip to the canvas. In the end, I think conditioning (Ugonoh’s) was the difference. He had taken some shots but I also think he was gassed… but that’s what happens sometimes when you are fighting a much bigger guy (I give you Tyson Fury opponents). Someone wrote that Ugonoh is too small for today’s heavyweights….. probably. A move to cruiserweight might be wise. Breazeale has earned a big payday. Good for him. I can just wish him good luck. Any names mentioned for him next?

Deontay Wilder and Gerald Washington. When I asked about Washington in a previous letter you didn’t give him much of a shot. I had never seen him and expected an easy beat down by Wilder. Instead, Washington (who looked near as big as Wilder) looked, to me, poised and confident as he took it to Wilder. For all of his height and reach, Wilder seems to have trouble with the jab…. meaning, he can be reached with it and the look on his face was anything but “I’m in control here.” I wasn’t necessarily thinking upset but I did think Washington was making a fight of it. As you have written, “Wilder’s power is real” and you are so right about that. One big right hand turned it all around and… game over. If a big right hand was all it took though, Earnie Shavers would have won the title and might STILL be champ. That power has taken Wilder a long way. Others have speculated when Wilder’s lack of craft will betray him but who knows? He showed in the Stiverne fight that he can box a disciplined fight and he does have the heart to get in there and rumble. He tends to stop boxing and start fighting when he gets hit.

I want to see him in there with the winner of Joshua-Klitschko. That will be a monster event and the kind of heavyweight title showdown we haven’t seen in awhile. Even casual fans might be sold on that one. Las Vegas or Wembley Stadium? Am I getting ahead of myself? What do you think? – David, Nashville

You’re not getting ahead of yourself. Wilder vs. the Joshua-Klitschko winner is THE fight to be made in the heavyweight division. That’s a major sporting event in the U.S. and in Europe (bigger in Europe than in America, but it could still be pushed as a PPV show here). It would do crazy business worldwide. If the Joshua-Klitschko showdown produces a clear winner, I expect him to call out Wilder, and I expect the American to accept that challenge.

I also expect Wilder to be the underdog (in the view of odds makers, the media and most fans) against Joshua or Klitschko. Despite his athleticism, very real power, and the fact that he’s defended his WBC title five times – all by stoppage – he still looks technically raw and vulnerable. And if he’s looking vulnerable against Washington, Artur Szpilka, Johann Duhaupus, Eric Molina and a very shopworn Chris Arreola (none of whom were ranked by THE RING), we have to figure he’s going to have real problems against Joshua, Klitschko, Luis Ortiz, Joseph Parker, maybe even “Fat” Andy Ruiz and the semi-retired David Haye.

But that’s OK. Who cares about odds? Wilder’s power, speed and unpolished delivery makes him dangerous against anyone. Bottom line: The Alabama native makes for dramatic fights, and the higher the stakes the more intensity and entertainment the undefeated puncher will bring to the ring.

Looking at Dominic Breazeale and Izu Ugonoh before the bell I thought Breazeale looked soft and I assumed, not fully prepared for the fight. If you go by body type, Larry Holmes was never “fully prepared.” Boxing ain’t a body building competition. It’s a gloved fist fight, and balls and poise count as much as conditioning. If nothing else, Breazeale has proven (in his last three bouts) to have as much heart and cool-under-fire as any of the standouts of the division 

Ugonoh looked like a well-trained man who had come to pull the upset. Homie was not f__king around. I like this guy!

From the first bell Ugonoh was balanced, his combos were crisp and overall I thought he looked good. True, but he loaded up with every punch, which contributed to his burning out. He needs to learn to change up the speeds and leverage of his punches, every swing doesn’t have to be a home run.

In the end, I think conditioning (Ugonoh’s) was the difference. Maybe, or maybe he just hasn’t learned to relax in the ring; or perhaps he doesn’t have a world-class chin.

He had taken some shots but I also think he was gassed… but that’s what happens sometimes when you are fighting a much bigger guy (I give you Tyson Fury opponents). Breazeale had more than 30 pounds on Izu, that’s got to take a toll in a physical shootout.

Someone wrote that Ugonoh is too small for today’s heavyweights….. probably. A move to cruiserweight might be wise. I don’t think so, even though Ugonoh began his career at cruiserweight (fighting around 200 pounds from 2010-2013). Since 2104, he’s fought in 225-235-pound range. Given that he’s 30 years old and 6-foot-5, I think he would severely drain himself getting down to 200 pounds. If he were fighting about the 210-215 range, I’d agree that cruiserweight is the better division for him, but I think he just needs to learn how to relax, move a bit better and mix-up/set-up his power punches.

Breazeale has earned a big payday. Yes, he has. He’s at least earned another spot on a high-profile card.

Any names mentioned for him next? Yeah, Deontay Wilder – in court.

 

DON’T HATE ON WILD WILDER

lotta folks goin off on how bad wilder looked forcin that ref stoppage sat. i dont think his wild windmill swingin at an unresponsive washington is much of an issue at all. whats important is he showed his patience and discipline, had a good plan & seemed to work it just like he did against stiverne. hes got some smarts. that counts for an awful lot.

thats what i saw. i mean, he went all windmill wild against a guy already in lala land. hardly reckless or vulnerable there.

still wish hed go to the body. those long arms gettin a left hook behind an elbow would be devastating.

i think hell have no problem with parker or fury. heck i dont think hed have too much trouble with tyson fury.

vlad and aj – thems a different story, but i still give him a good chance. – ceylon

Hey, Wilder is a threat to any big man he gets in the ring with. If Dillian Whyte can give Joshua the wobbles, Wilder can ice him. If Corrie Sanders can blitz Klitschko, so can Wilder (who is taller, rangier and just as quick as the late South African contender). But I favor Klitschko, Joshua and Luis Ortiz over Wilder – I see them winning by knockout. I think Parker is very live against Wilder, in fact, I think I view that as an even matchup. And if Fury ever gets his mind right, and gets a tune-up bout or two under his belt, I’d favor him to outpoint Wilder.

i dont think his wild windmill swingin at an unresponsive washington is much of an issue at all. No, it probably wasn’t an issue against Washington. It will be against a legit top-10 contender.

whats important is he showed his patience and discipline, had a good plan & seemed to work it just like he did against stiverne. Wilder may look awkward and vulnerable at times (and he usually looks like that before he scores the knockout, even going back to when he was fighting rank journeymen who weren’t even trying to win), but he knows when to let his fast-and-furious hands go.

hes got some smarts. that counts for an awful lot. Yes it does, and I agree that Wilder does have ring smarts or more ring generalship than he’s given credit for.

i mean, he went all windmill wild against a guy already in lala land. I know there’s an Academy Awards Best Picture joke somewhere in this line, but I’m too lazy to fish it out. (And I don’t give a f__k about the Oscars, even though I did see Moonlight and I’m glad it won.)

Wilder eats a stiff left jab from Washington. Photo / Ryan Hafey-Premier Boxing Champions

hardly reckless or vulnerable there. I don’t think Wilder looked vulnerable when he was trying to finish Washington. I think he looked vulnerable when he was getting caught and backed up by Washington’s jab. As for his recklessness, I’m OK with it. I don’t think it’s a bad thing if you’re a natural-born puncher with Wilder’s speed and athleticism. You can make it work for you.

still wish hed go to the body. those long arms gettin a left hook behind an elbow would be devastating. He’s probably leery of getting countered.

 

HARRISON-HURD, PBC ON FOX

What’s up Dougie hope all is well,

Good weekend of boxing but Tony Harrison-Jarrett Hurd was the one to watch in my opinion. Two young, hungry, talented fighters going at it for a title. I started following Hurd just before his fight with Galarza and he improves every fight and shows something new. In this one he fell behind early on the cards to a talented fighter in the biggest fight of his career and showed one of the best traits a fighter can: composure.

Hurd simply remained calm, stuck to his game plan, broke Harrison down with a good variation of head-body shots and put him out with a cracking right after slipping a lazy jab. Great stuff!! Apart from potential weight issues down the line due to his size I don’t see any glaring weaknesses, do you? Where does he go from here?

Also props to him and Justin DeLoach Friday night, two lesser known fighters from the amateur system taking chances and making names for themselves. Been following Harrison since he was under Manny Steward on Klitschko under cards and thought he looked the part and once again displayed brilliant fundamentals early (Kronk-learned) jab, great combos, switching stance along with blazing speed and power but for the second time he crumbled under a fighter who wouldn’t quit. Is it mental or a chin problem? I can’t decide but he’s got nothing to be ashamed of he put up a great fight. I see this so often in boxing, in Harrison’s case a fighter who offensively is gifted and can look like a world beater at times but seems to crumble when they’re on the backfoot or things get rough and tumble.

Who can you remember watching thinking they looked destined for bigger things only to be let down by their chin or mental toughness Dougie? Amir Khan and Victor Ortiz not included.

I get Haymon and company want to keep the WBC strap on Wilder but maybe Izu vs. Washington and Wilder vs. Breazeale would’ve made for better fights and been more developmental for all involved? Keep up the good work! – David, Dublin

Thanks David. I think Washington would have worn down Izu without the action and drama Breazeale provided with his lovely blend of flaws and heart. And I think Breazeale would have lasted longer with Wilder, but he wouldn’t have troubled the beltholder as much Washington did with his stiff jab and solid fundamentals. So, all in all, I think the fans were better treated with the matchups as they were. It was a good, entertaining card. Props to all six fighters. I hope the FOX network did strong ratings.  

Regarding Harrison, I think it’s both a chin problem and a mental issue. He doesn’t like pressure and he doesn’t take a good shot. He can’t do anything about his chin, but he can try to get it together psychologically so that he holds his form and keeps his poise when he’s under fire. He’s got the athletic talent and boxing ability to hit and not get hit, so if he wants to advance his career he’s going to have to improve his defense and his mental focus/resolve during a fight.

Who can you remember watching thinking they looked destined for bigger things only to be let down by their chin or mental toughness Dougie? Amir Khan and Victor Ortiz not included. Former heavyweight title challenger Michael Grant and light heavyweight title challenger Ismayl Sillakh come to mind. Grant had the body and the heart, but not the chin to advance from hyped heavyweight hopeful to world champion. Sillakh had the all the talent and skill in the world – and, man, you should have seen how many top contenders he humbled in sparring sessions – but without headgear and big gloves, the Ukrainian boxer-puncher was as vulnerable as Bambi. With those two, it was their lack of a good chin/pro durability that held them back. I think they both had heart (in other words, they were more Amir Khan than Vic Ortiz). A dude who had a lot of natural talent and ring generalship but lacked the mental toughness to evolve from a prospect/“name” to a legit contender was Hector Camacho Jr. He had more than a famous last name, he had real ability, but he could not stand the heat (and he didn’t always train the way a professional should). 

In this one (Hurd) fell behind early on the cards to a talented fighter in the biggest fight of his career and showed one of the best traits a fighter can: composure. Yes, he had that and the confidence in his power and in Harrison’s inability to take it.

Hurd simply remained calm, stuck to his game plan, broke Harrison down with a good variation of head-body shots and put him out with a cracking right after slipping a lazy jab. Great stuff!! There was room for improvement, but Hurd got the job done. I think he was a bit tight because of the magnitude of this fight.

Apart from potential weight issues down the line due to his size I don’t see any glaring weaknesses, do you? I think he needs to work on cutting the ring off on moving opponents, and he could improve his defense (head-movement, blocking/parrying ability, etc.).

Where does he go from here? I think Hurd has a lot of potential, but he still has a lot to learn. I don’t think he’s ready to unify titles against the likes of WBA boss Erislandy Lara or WBC beltholder Jermell Charlo. I would also steer him clear of talented contenders, such as Austin Trout, Michel Soro and Demetrius Andrade. I think he should defend against European champ Cedric Vitu (the IBF’s No. 4 contender) or a grizzled vet like Carson Jones and get a quality 10-to-12 rounds under his belt before targeting tough cookies like Willie Nelson or Diego Chaves. Once he gets a few hard fights under his belt, then I’d turn him loose on the division.

Also props to him and Justin DeLoach Friday night, two lesser known fighters from the amateur system taking chances and making names for themselves. Dude! I like this young man, DeLoach. Damn, he was sharp against Chris Pearson. I don’t think Pearson’s gonna come back from that domination. DeLoach, on the other hand, might be worthy of top-10 contender status at age 23 (and just seven bouts removed from an embarrassing TKO loss). The Augusta, Georgia native has defeated four consecutive fellow prospects.

 

WHAT’S UP WITH THE KHAN BASHING?

Hi Doug,

Hope you’re well!

What’s with all the Khan bashing in the media??

So let’s just clarify. He overlooks Kell Brook to fight a harder fight. Considering most of the criticism boxers get these days is about taking easy fights and avoiding people, what’s the problem?

The guy has to be given some credit for taking on the toughest fights out there.

I’m not saying Khan would have beaten Floyd Mayweather but he would have been a total nightmare for him. I think this is the reason Mayweather didn’t fight him and yes for less money.

Reference to the money Khan brings to the table from the UK market.

If it makes money it makes sense????

Yes there’s a lot in money in this fight. And I keep hearing “it’s a win-win as a loss to Pacman won’t hurt him”. A knockout to Pacman will hurt! And let’s be honest it an interesting fight. Two fighters with the same styles but different strengths and weaknesses.

I’m a big Khan fan and really wish him well, but! I think Khan will beat Manny for speed, but Manny is much, much better “in the pocket”, and that’s the place Khan stays too long and get clipped.

I question Manny’s engine later on in his career. Khan’s engine has always been a strength and will also be in the night. But it’s a tough one for Amir.

Win, lose or draw, Khan will remain a force in the welterweight division and a handful for any of the top guys.

2017 is just getting better and better! I’m hoping this a masterpiece of speed and the sweet science from this one!

Finally, can’t wait for Haye Vs Bellew. Hope the fight lives up to the build up! What’s your prediction? Keep up the good work! – Tabraze, London, UK

I favor Haye by mid-to-late TKO, but the former heavyweight titleholder will have to hurt the current cruiserweight beltholder early on. If Haye plays it safe and bides his time, I wouldn’t be shocked if Bellew got into a rhythm and gave him a rough fight. I’d give Bellew more of a shot if he wasn’t already talking about retirement.

What’s with all the Khan bashing in the media? What members of the media are bashing the prospect of Pacquiao-Khan? Are you talking about fans on social media? Well, of course, you’re going to have a bunch of whack jobs rip the fight on Twitter. That’s what they do. They complain and bash, especially if they don’t like a certain fighter and both Pac and Amir have their share of detractors. For the record, I think it’s an interesting matchup that will likely make for an entertaining and competitive fight.

So let’s just clarify. He overlooks Kell Brook to fight a harder fight. That’s a matter of opinion. I think Brook is more formidable than Pacquiao at this stage of their careers. However, I have no problem with Khan holding out on the Brook fight. Had Khan fought Brook, a lot of Errol Spence Jr. fans would have claimed that Brook was ducking the IBF No. 1 contender. The way it is now, fans of Spence get to see if their Great American Hope can beat Brook and win his first world title, and fans of Khan and Pacquiao get to see their guys in a meaningful matchup. I think Pacquiao-Khan adds to the excitement the 147-pound division already has with Thurman-Garcia coming up and Brook-Spence on deck.

Considering most of the criticism boxers get these days is about taking easy fights and avoiding people, what’s the problem? Dude, why ask why? If certain fans can’t see that Pacquiao is a tough out for Khan and that Khan is a difficult task for Pac, that’s their problem. They’re either nitwits or they’re just being miserable a__holes. Just “mute” them on Twitter and comment sections. Who has time for chronic complainers?

The guy has to be given some credit for taking on the toughest fights out there. That’s how I see it. Since his first-round KO loss to Breidis Prescott in September 2008, Khan has fought 11 former, current or future world titleholders, including a hall of famer (Marco Antonio Barrera). Pacquiao, a future first-ballot hall of famer, will be his 12th champion (and his fifth current titleholder).

I’m not saying Khan would have beaten Floyd Mayweather but he would have been a total nightmare for him. Agreed. If Floyd was a lefty, I’d say Khan could beat him.

Reference to the money Khan brings to the table from the UK market.

If it makes money it makes sense???? That’s the golden rule – no, it’s THE LAW (in my best Judge Dredd voice) – in boxing.

And I keep hearing “it’s a win-win as a loss to Pacman won’t hurt him”. A knockout to Pacman will hurt! S__t, it will retire him.

And let’s be honest it an interesting fight. Two fighters with the same styles but different strengths and weaknesses. At their best, they are frenetic boxer-punchers who also happen to be defensively flawed speed demons. I imagine they’ll make for a compelling fight.

I think Khan will beat Manny for speed, but Manny is much, much better “in the pocket”, and that’s the place Khan stays too long and get clipped. Khan’s gotten a lot better with that in recent years, especially against southpaws (see the Devon Alexander and Luis Collazo fights).

I question Manny’s engine later on in his career. Khan’s engine has always been a strength and will also be in the night. But it’s a tough one for Amir. He’ll likely be considered the underdog by the odds makers and media.

Win, lose or draw, Khan will remain a force in the welterweight division and a handful for any of the top guys. If he wins, yes. If he loses, no. If they fight to a legit draw, we’ll probably get a rematch.

 

VARGAS-MCDONNELL & FEATHER-FISTED CHAMPS

Hey Dougmeister G!

Hope all is well with you and yours!

Just writing having watched the spirited but ultimately doomed attempt by Gavin McDonnell to become world champion for the first time. Coming up against a heavily backed and heavy handed Rey Vargas always looked a tall order. In all honesty I’d not heard nor seen Vargas before the fight, but he was very impressive from the start, using some beautiful quick combinations and slick movement to outbox the Yorkshireman. To be fair to McDonnell he left everything in the ring, took every shot from Vargas and kept moving forward, and looked strong towards the end of the fight, but lacked the pop in his shots to ruffle any feathers or disrupt the classy Vargas. I hope he gets another shot, he’s an honest, hard working fighter who has had to work hard for everything he has achieved thus far in his career.

Did you see the fight? Going off this and looking at his size, do you think Rey Vargas could make the jump up to featherweight and look for bigger fights with his fellow Mexicans?

McDonnell’s problems I suppose lay in his punch power.

I read the other day about Willie Pep, the two-time featherweight world champion and his low KO percentage, and it got me wondering if there have been many other world champs with such lights hands, as these days it would appear they are a dying breed with no “Box Office” appeal. Maybe Gavin’s brother Jamie being the only one that springs to mind of recent years.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as always. Continue doing your thing Dougie, we all love it! – Dan, UK

Thanks for the kind words, Dan. A fighter can have a low KO percentage and still have box-office appeal, it just depends on his style and ring mentality. A gutsy scrapper like Gavin McDonnell will always have fans and there are more than a few respected boxers enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame who had strong followings despite low career KO ratios. Billy Conn (15 KOs in 64 wins), Barney Ross (22 KOs in 72 wins), Jake LaMotta (30 KOs in 83 wins), Kid Gavilan (28 KOs in 108 wins) and Emile Griffith (23 KOs in 85 wins) were all attractions and/or popular TV fighters in the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. They could all box but they also knew when to get in the trenches and go to work. (There are several hall of famers that you should check out – including 1920s/’30s flyweight stars, Frankie Genaro and Fidel LaBarba; hardnosed 1940s/’50s standouts, Joey Maxim and Billy Graham; overseas stylists, Nicolino Locche and Duilio Loi; and Mexican master Miguel Canto – who are proud members of the low-KO % club.)

Low-KO % club members of recent years include, two-division champ Cory Spinks (11 KOs in 39 wins), former 154-pound titleholder and middleweight contender Sergio Mora (9 KOs in 28 wins), and former welterweight champ Carlos Baldomir (15 KOs in 49 wins).

Just writing having watched the spirited but ultimately doomed attempt by Gavin McDonnell to become world champion for the first time. Don’t be hard on your guy, he didn’t lose to a chump. Vargas is currently THE RING’s No. 4-rated junior featherweight and the newly crowned WBC 122-pound titleholder will probably move to No. 3 based on the McDonnell victory.

In all honesty I’d not heard nor seen Vargas before the fight, but he was very impressive from the start, using some beautiful quick combinations and slick movement to outbox the Yorkshireman. Vargas has the classic Mexico City/Nacho Beristain boxing style, which is stand-up technical aggression. He’s got the one-twos from the outside, the body attack, the combinations and counterpunching that Beristain stresses in all of his fighters.

To be fair to McDonnell he left everything in the ring, took every shot from Vargas and kept moving forward, and looked strong towards the end of the fight, but lacked the pop in his shots to ruffle any feathers or disrupt the classy Vargas. McDonnell’s got nothing to be ashamed of. He lost to the better man that night. He can grow from the experience.

I hope he gets another shot, he’s an honest, hard working fighter who has had to work hard for everything he has achieved thus far in his career. I enjoy watching Gavin fight, and I’d love to see him test some of the many the young Californian 122-pound contenders, such as former bantamweight beltholder Randy Caballero (the WBC’s No. 10 contender), Diego De La Hoya (No. 8 in the WBC), Ronny Rios (No. 4 in the WBC) or the WBA’s No. 1 contender Daniel Roman.

Did you see the fight? I watched it on YouTube Sunday morning. It was a good fight.

Going off this and looking at his size, do you think Rey Vargas could make the jump up to featherweight and look for bigger fights with his fellow Mexicans? He could, but I don’t think there’s any rush for him to do so. He’s got a rangy, lanky 5-foot-8 frame and he’s only 26, so you figure he’ll fill out a little bit over the next year or so, but he just won a major world title at 122 pounds I’ve never heard about him struggling to make the junior featherweight limit. (He weighed in at 120 pounds for McDonnell and at 119½ for Alexis Kabore last June.) I’m sure that all of the Southern California 122-pound standouts that I mentioned as potential opponents for McDonnell would love to get a shot at Vargas’ belt, so he’s got plenty of action at junior featherweight.

 

 

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

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