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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

Lemieux icing Curtis Stevens was Knockout of the Year for 2017. Photo by Tom Hogan/ HoganPhotos/ Golden Boy Promotions
Fighters Network
12
Mar

LEFT HOOKS

Dear Mr Fischer,

Happy March! This will be a week of heightened anticipation on account of the upcoming NYC/HBO PPV card (Chocolatito and GGG on the same night is still by far the best show in boxing, as it has been for some time). Daniel Jacobs and Sor Rungvisai are exceptional opponents and to get a Carlos Cuadras fight as well is gravy.

I hope we’ll get three knockouts (although if Naoya Inoue can’t put Carmona out, I don’t know if Cuadras can). I’m less sure of how the Little Drama Show will unfold, and I’d appreciate your assessment of the warrior from Siam and his chances against the pound for pound king. He definitely has the goods, and seems to have better footwork than Cuadras, although that may no longer be true (Cuadras showed some serious skill in his loss to Chocolatito).



As for last night’s main event, I was surprised at how easily David Lemieux’s right found its way past Curtis Stevens’ guard. He had been forcing it through and setting up that one-two since the opening bell. I don’t know if Curtis’s physique (his shoulders are ridiculously broad for his height) makes defense more difficult, or if Marc Ramsay just had a great game plan. Although that plan seemed to be to land the same punch that GGG used to knock Stevens down early in their fight. If it ain’t broke, I guess.

John David Jackson, on the other hand, may have been better served coaching up the jab. Stevens seemed to box well with distance, and he may have been able to prevent Lemmy from squaring up if he’d have had a more active left hand. And hindsight is 20/20.

I hope Stevens recovers, I’d appreciate any word you have about his health.

Thank you again for the mailbags and the hard work, Doug. I hope this finds you and yours well and I send the best. The next time the work lets up, I’ll try to find you at a GGG fight and buy you a round. Very Respectfully. – John

You got it, John. Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts on this Saturday’s Big (and Little) Drama Show and this past Saturday’s middleweight shootout.

Stevens appears to be doing fine (he was talking and moving his hands as he was being carried out of the ring on a stretcher, but he was out cold for a few very tense minutes). Here’s a Tweet from his official account sent out yesterday:

As far as Stevens’ game plan, hindsight is definitely 20-20. I thought he was in the fight after dropping the first round to the ultra-busy and aggressive Lemieux. It looked like his prime key to victory was to weather Lemmy’s early storm and to pick the Montrealer apart as he petered out. And, ya know what? Stevens had his moments in Round 2 and the first minute of Round 3 when it looked like Lemieux was slowing down.

Could he have jabbed more? Absolutely. It’s not a good sign when Lemiuex is out-jabbing you. I disagree that Stevens needed to box from a distance. I think he was at his best when he was closing the distance and pushing Lemmy back. I thought Jackson gave Stevens good advice between Rounds 1 and 2 when he told him to go to Lemmy’s body. Stevens got his jab going a little bit early in that round and landed some choice body shots (one of which, a left, momentarily hurt Lemieux as Roy Jones Jr. astutely pointed out). His main problem with Lemieux – which has been his major fault in other losses and harder-than-expected bouts – is that he didn’t let his hands go enough.

I hope we’ll get three knockouts (although if Naoya Inoue can’t put Carmona out, I don’t know if Cuadras can). Knockouts are always great, but I’ll be satisfied if we just get three competitive fights.

I’m less sure of how the Little Drama Show will unfold, and I’d appreciate your assessment of the warrior from Siam and his chances against the pound for pound king. I’ve given fairly comprehensive assessments of Sor Rungvisai (AKA Wisaksil Wangek) in previous mailbags, including this past Friday’s edition (March 10, scroll down to the fourth email,CHOCOLATITO V SRISAKET”) and the January 9 edition (scroll down to the third email,SRISAKET SOR RUNGVISAI”). Check ’em out.

He definitely has the goods, and seems to have better footwork than Cuadras, although that may no longer be true (Cuadras showed some serious skill in his loss to Chocolatito). I don’t know if Wangek’s footwork is better than Cuadras’ but I know he will bring it. I have no doubt about that. I’ve never seen a world title challenger from Thailand half-ass it.

As for last night’s main event, I was surprised at how easily David Lemieux’s right found its way past Curtis Stevens’ guard. Really? Stevens just carries his gloves high and tight around his chin to block punches, he doesn’t usually parry shots like an old timer. All Lemmy had to do to get around Stevens’ guard was aim his right a little higher on the head. The only thing that surprised me was that Lemieux was able to take Stevens’ left hook whenever the Cerebral Assassin blocked his hook and countered.

I don’t know if Curtis’s physique (his shoulders are ridiculously broad for his height) makes defense more difficult, or if Marc Ramsay just had a great game plan. Be like Roy and give Ramsay some credit.

 

LEMIEUX’S ONE-HITTER-QUITTER

Hey Dougie –

Wow David Lemieux certainly made a statement with his “One Hitter Quitter” shot on Curtis Stevens on the weekend! (I hope you don’t mind me borrowing one of your catchphrases.)

I thought Lemieux looked great from the opening bell. He wasn’t so much loading up with his shots he just seemed to be able to set up his combinations and his power shots with ease. To me, he seemed like the much bigger guy in that ring.

Anyway, the way Stevens fell to the ground and didn’t move was a bit scary. It was good to see him giving the “OK” as he was carried out.

So who do you like for Lemieux from here mate? How about Canelo if the fight doesn’t get made with GGG? (That’s assuming he gets past Chavez in May.)

Lastly, I was pumped and then disappointed to see Gamboa’s return to the ring. I mean, he’s finally back fighting after more than a few year’s drama outside the ring, and he literally “faxed” that performance in. The boos were warranted in my opinion. I get that he’s shaking off some rust but come on man, settling for outpointing a guy at this stage in his career won’t be landing him big fights anytime soon IMO.

Anyway, I hope all is well with you and your family Dougie. Peace. – Craig B., Singapore

We’re good, Craig, thanks for the well wishes and for sharing your thoughts on Lemieux-Stevens.

Regarding Gamboa’s less-than-impressive comeback victory over Rene Alvarado, it’s clear that he needs to get more rounds under his belt before he can truly toss his hat back into the fairly hot 130-pound mix. He also needs to rekindle the excitement he once delivered as a featherweight dynamo before HBO invites him back. Being a newly signed Golden Boy Promotions fighters, I think he’s a perfect headliner for one or two of their ESPN-televised cards (provided he’s matched well enough).

I thought Lemieux looked great from the opening bell. Unlike his GGG challenge, Lemieux fought his fight on Saturday (because, let’s be honest, Stevens allowed him to). At his best, the former IBF middleweight beltholder is forward-marching power-combination puncher who works the body as hard as he does his opponent’s cranium. He was able to be that/do that against Stevens for the most part. He could have jabbed a little more and kept his combo punching more consistent, but he never neglected Stevens’ body and he knew when to press his advantage.

He wasn’t so much loading up with his shots he just seemed to be able to set up his combinations and his power shots with ease. Hey, I wasn’t there at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, but it sure looked like he was loading up on every shot from my TV.

To me, he seemed like the much bigger guy in that ring. Your eyes didn’t lie to you. Lemmy put on 18 pounds (rehydrating to 177 after weighing in a pound under the middleweight limit of 160), so by fight time he was a few pounds over the light heavyweight limit while Stevens was a couple pounds over the super middleweight limit.

Photo by Tom Hogan-HoganPhotos / Golden Boy Promotions

Anyway, the way Stevens fell to the ground and didn’t move was a bit scary. That was the definition of the “one-hitter-quitter” (and of course it’s OK for you to use that line, that’s what catchphrases are for, right?)

So who do you like for Lemieux from here mate? Any middleweight ranked in THE RING’s top 10.

Andy Lee (provided the Irish veteran wins and looks good doing so on the Golovkin-Jacobs undercard on Saturday), Chris Eubank Jr. (who could meet Lemmy at a few pounds over 160 since he moonlights as a super middleweight) and the Human Anvil, Avtandil Khurtsidze, would all pose different challenges for the Montreal Mauler as well as make for entertaining fights (which is usually the case with Lemieux).

How about Canelo if the fight doesn’t get made with GGG? (That’s assuming he gets past Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in May.) As good of a matchup as Canelo vs. Lemieux is, I can’t fathom the boxing world tolerating that fight or any other in place of the hyper-anticipated Golovkin showdown. But I think Canelo-Lemieux is a middleweight fight that will eventually happen.

 

WHERE DOES LEMIEUX GO FROM HERE?

Hey Doug,

Wow! That was a highlight-reel knockout! Even though the fight turned out to be a little more one sided than we wanted it to be, it still delivered fireworks ending with a big explosion worthy of a 4th of July celebration. Lemieux went all out and fought the only way he knows how to, bombs away. He didn’t try to reinvent the wheel by jabbing or dancing because he is in a difficult fight, he said hell with it this is what I do, this is how I do it, and this is what people want me to do… love it!

As for Curtis Stevens, man I feel bad for the guy. He also had a couple of good shots and tried his best but it just wasn’t enough for the Lemieux onslaught. It’s easy to see that he’s no longer at his best, but even at his best I think he would have lost to a guy like Lemieux.

So where does David go next? BJ Saunders is a joke, he’ll never agree to face him. GGG already beat him clearly and I don’t think he would waste his time with another Lemieux fight. Canelo probably has his eyes set on bigger more lucrative fights. Maybe Eubank? How bout Charlo?

Who would you pick if he fought any of the guys I mentioned? Thanks Dougie. – Juan Valverde

I would favor (slightly) Lemieux over Saunders and Jermall Charlo. I think Canelo and Eubank Jr. would stop him late. But those would all be interesting style matchups and, with the exception of the Saunders fight (because Billy Joe can stink things out), these bouts would likely deliver fireworks.

 Lemmy’s primary goal is to get another title shot, but he might bide his time and see how the 160-pound division shakes out in the aftermath of Golovkin-Jacobs, Khurtsidze-Tommy Langford, Canelo-Chavez Jr., and Ryota Murata-Hassan Ndam (if that fight is made) before he decides who to target. 

The Stevens KO garnered Lemieux the continental belts of the WBO and WBC so he’ll soon be rated near the top of both sanctioning organizations’ middleweight rankings (he’s already No. 3 in the WBC and No. 4 in the WBO). In time, the 28-year-old contender will become the mandatory challenger for those major titles. 

That was a highlight-reel knockout! It’s going to give Mikey Garcia-Dejan Zlaticanin serious competition for KO of the Year front-runner this year so far. Did you see that right-hand chiller Joshua “Don’t Blink” Greer Jr. landed on fellow bantamweight prospect James Smith on ShoBox this past Friday? Yikes! That was the definition of a highlight-reel KO. I heard junior middleweight prospect Danny Valdivia scored a first-round one-hitter-quitter against Douglas Ataide (also on Friday), but I haven’t seen it yet. It was a weekend of KOs.

Even though the fight turned out to be a little more one sided than we wanted it to be, it still delivered fireworks ending with a big explosion worthy of a 4th of July celebration. Although Lemieux clearly won the opening round and likely won Round 2, I thought Stevens had enough moments to make for a competitive shootout.

As for Curtis Stevens, man I feel bad for the guy. Hey, as Stevens Tweeted, it’s part of the game. Somebody was gonna get KTFO Saturday night. If Stevens had his way it would have been Lemieux being carried out of the ring on a stretcher.

He also had a couple of good shots and tried his best but it just wasn’t enough for the Lemieux onslaught. Lemmy was a middleweight juggernaut… um, I mean 177-pound juggernaut on Saturday.

It’s easy to see that he’s no longer at his best, but even at his best I think he would have lost to a guy like Lemieux. I’m not so sure about that.

 

EARLY KO OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE

Hi Doug,

David Lemiuex’s knockout of Curtis Stevens is by far the early Knockout of the Year frontrunner. Outside of a one punch knockout in a title fight, I can’t think of anything else that can upstage that KO although it is still early in the year. I am glad to hear that Stevens is okay.

I think that Lemieux is the hardest puncher in the middleweight division; I think he hits harder than any of the other heavy handed middleweights such as Golovkin, Jacobs and Canelo especially in terms of one punch KO power. I rarely see as many one-shot knockouts by any other fighter in the middleweight division and maybe any other division. He mentioned Canelo as a future fight; due to Lemieux’s come forward aggressive style, above average chin and elite punching power I would favor him over Canelo 60-40; how about you?

Fantasy Matchups:

Middleweight: Sugar Ray Leonard vs Bernard Hopkins

Featherweight: Henry Armstrong vs Vasyl Lomachenko

Cruiserweight: Oleksander Usyk vs David Haye

Thanks. – Parvez

I favor Canelo (probably 60-40) over Lemieux. Although not as fast and powerful as Stevens, I think the Mexican star would do a better job of countering Lemmy, and stemming the Canadian’s onslaught, than the Brooklyn-born veteran. Canelo can mix head and upper-body movement (i.e., punch-slipping) in with his block-and-counter game, and he wouldn’t go to the ropes as readily as Stevens and some of Lemmy’s other victims (such as Ndam) did. I think Canelo, who generally prefers to stake out the center of the ring, has the physical strength to push back when Lemieux marches in to bully him. However, Canelo also fights off the ropes well. The body attack will be keys to victory for both fighters, but I think Canelo is a little more accurate to the mid-section than Lemmy. Having said all of that, Lemmy can never be counted out thanks to his power, relentless style and iron will.

Regarding Lemieux’s punching power, I think I agree that he’s the heaviest hitter in the 160-pound division. If he had Golovkin’s technique and timing, or Danny Jacobs’ speed and leverage, he’d blast everyone out within a couple rounds like the prime Mike Tyson. However, his natural brute power and decent technique is enough to make a beast.

David Lemiuex’s knockout of Curtis Stevens is by far the early Knockout of the Year frontrunner. Outside of a one punch knockout in a title fight, I can’t think of anything else that can upstage that KO although it is still early in the year. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Mikey Garcia blast WBC lightweight titleholder Dejan Zlaticanin with a right hand that deposited the Montenegro native to the ring apron in a chillingly similar unconscious state and prone physical position as Stevens was against Lemieux? (Or do you figure the right uppercut that set up the right cross finisher did most of the damage to poor DZ, and thus don’t consider than a “one-punch” KO?)

Your Mythical Matchups:

Middleweight: Sugar Ray Leonard vs Bernard Hopkins – Hopkins by close, maybe majority or split decision

Featherweight: Henry Armstrong vs Vasyl Lomachenko – Armstrong by competitive but clear decision or late TKO

Cruiserweight: Oleksander Usyk vs David Haye – Usyk by competitive but clear decision

 

ROCK-‘EM-SOCK-‘EM MIDDLEWEIGHTS

Hi Doug,

Wow!…. an exciting rumble Saturday night. David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens delivered everything expected this weekend. I noted myself, and then the HBO guys mentioned, that Lemieux didn’t look to be in the kind of shape that I remembered him in past fights. He just did not look as stout as he had before but that was not reflected in his attack as his strength and punching power were evident throughout. He clearly rattled Stevens in the first but Stevens had his moments too with the left hook and even the hooks that missed looked like they might have ended the fight.

Lemieux seemed to fade a little in the second and I thought he wasted some punches as Stevens covered up along the ropes. I thought he might punch himself out and Stevens could come back with his own power shots but…… the sudden ending in the third was as dramatic a one punch KO as I have seen. I hope Curtis Stevens is OK.

David Lemieux has earned another big fight. To me the winner of Canelo-Chavez would be the logical choice (at least the one I would like to see). I’m sure Canelo would be the favorite but I think that is a great match up. There are other fights Lemieux could take but let’s make this one while it’s hot.

Do you think Canelo would take this fight or is there a chance that Canelo/Golovkin could happen in the fall?…. (we can dream can’t we?)

I would consider paying to see that one (heck I’m considering Triple G’s fight this week). – David, Nashville

If Golovkin takes care of biz against Jacobs on Saturday and Canelo does the same on May 6, I think Golden Boy and K2 Promotions are going to seriously step up their preliminary discussions and begin serious negotiations to make GGG-Canelo for the fall. I don’t think Canelo vs. Lemiuex is a priority for Golden Boy or Team Canelo at the present time, but it’s definitely a future matchup that they are aware of and I think it will eventually happen.

I noted (to) myself, and then the HBO guys mentioned, that Lemieux didn’t look to be in the kind of shape that I remembered him in past fights. It’s not easy to showcase your abs when you put on 18 pounds overnight.

He just did not look as stout as he had before but that was not reflected in his attack as his strength and punching power were evident throughout. Nope, Lemmy’s got an engine (I think he proved that during his 12-round title-winning battle with ridiculously gutsy Hassan Ndam in 2015) and you know he trained hard for Stevens knowing that the veteran possesses world-class speed and power.

He clearly rattled Stevens in the first but Stevens had his moments too with the left hook and even the hooks that missed looked like they might have ended the fight. I agree 100%. It was intense stuff.

Lemieux seemed to fade a little in the second and I thought he wasted some punches as Stevens covered up along the ropes. I thought he might punch himself out and Stevens could come back with his own power shots but…… You and I were seeing the same fight…

the sudden ending in the third was as dramatic a one punch KO as I have seen. This is why we love boxing. This is why boxing is still the king of all sports.

I hope Curtis Stevens is OK. I think he’s fine. We’ll see him again. I think he’s going to make one more run before hanging up his gloves.

 

CANELO VS. LEMIEUX, R.I.P. LOU DUVA

Whats up Dougie old chap,

Sorry for being a troll on my last email. I don’t really want to see Jones Jr. vs Bhop 3. But, I wouldn’t mind seeing Lemieux vs Stevenson 2 because that s__t was great. I was rooting for the American, mainly because I don’t like Montreal Canadians from Europe, for no particular reason.

And it looked like Lemieux was starting to gas out, especially after that body shot in round 2. But, if that’s Lemieux when he’s out of shape, dude is a force in the MW division to be reckoned with, regardless of his loss to GGG. Dude throws bombs and is fun to watch. It’s a testament to GGG that he was able to dominate both fighters the way he did. Hope The Cerebral Assassin’s cerebellum is OK after that Quebec Chin Check. What’s next for Lemieux?

Also, R.I.P. Lou Duva. I remember seeing him in Wrestlemania 2 as Rowdy Roddy Piper’s trainer and because of that associated him with Captain Lou Albano. Come to find out they are distant cousins…but what a life and legacy. All the legends he trained….how many living people can say they were friends with Rocky Marciano? Pretty astonishing all of his accomplishments and influence he’s had on boxing. Iconic. He will be missed.

Lemieux vs Canelo….who you like? – Adam

Canelo.

Duva will indeed be missed. He was a genuine character and a dyed-in-the-wool boxing guy, Old School to the core. And he had boxing stories for days. I interviewed Duva for a feature on the greatest heavyweight of all time that was part of the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis I fight program. Most of the insiders and experts I spoke to either picked Ali or Louis and left it at that. I was off the phone with them in a matter of minutes. Duva, of course, went to bat for his old pal Marciano (he and late historian Hank Kaplan, who picked the prime Sonny Liston, were the only ones not to go with The Greatest or the Brown Bomber) and we remained on the phone for close to two hours as he filled my hungry young head with several tales of The Rock I’d never heard before or read about.

If you became a boxing fan during the 1980s, Duva is attached to many of your favorite memories of the sport. He’s part of one of the all-time best corners with head trainer George Benton. Many of the top Main Events-promoted fighters received cool technical/strategic instructions from Benton while getting an emotional/spiritual lift from the fiery Duva, who also passionately protected them from any referee or official he deemed “unfair.” He was sometimes over-the-top in the manner in which he lobbied and fought for his fighters, but that was part of his appeal and what made him fun and entertaining to young fans.

And it looked like Lemieux was starting to gas out, especially after that body shot in round 2. That’s what I thought… at least for about 45 seconds…

But, if that’s Lemieux when he’s out of shape, dude is a force in the MW division to be reckoned with, regardless of his loss to GGG. He was in good shape. If he wasn’t, he’d have been spent after the first round.

Dude throws bombs and is fun to watch. Nothing wrong with that.

It’s a testament to GGG that he was able to dominate both fighters the way he did. Golovkin knows when to reach into this toolbox and he’s smart enough to know when not to play with fire.

What’s next for Lemieux? I reckon another HBO date.

I don’t really want to see Jones Jr. vs Bhop 3. But, I wouldn’t mind seeing Lemieux vs Stevenson 2 because that s__t was great. I was rooting for the American, mainly because I don’t like Montreal Canadians from Europe, for no particular reason. You’re a sick f__k, Adam, but at least you’re honest about it.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer and on Periscope where every Sunday (rain, shine or the foggiest fog) he’s running 100s, skipping rope and talking boxing with Coach Schwartz at the SMC track.

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