Dougie’s Monday mailbag
Dougie’s note: A new RingTV studio show, Between The Ropes, debuted this weekend. As you may have seen, the show, which is co-hosted by Steve Kim and Yours Truly, reviews and previews the “Golden Boy on ESPN” series and analyzes major boxing events in three segments. Going forward, a fourth segment where Kim and I answer viewer questions will be added to the show. If you’d like us to answer YOUR question, send them to [email protected] with “Between The Ropes” in the subject line. Include your name and where you are from, and most importantly, keep your question or statement to ONE SENTENCE and we might use it on the show.
A FRESH START FOR CHOCOLATITO
Hey Doug what’s up?
I think his size and style does not belong to jr. bantamweight as evident by his past two fights.
He’s not big and powerful enough to overwhelm his opponents at this current weight. But I think a change of style would be the key if he wants to fight at jr. bantamweight and above. A change of trainer might also help him just like what happened to Marco Antonio Barrera after he lost back to back, he became more disciplined and tried to box more.
Vernon Forrest vs Tito Trinidad
(I picked this matchup because they were supposed to fight and also I had a ton of flak a few weeks back for my Spinks vs Lara MM, lol)
As always, keep up the good work Dougie & God bless you. – Yvess, UAE
Thank you for the kind words, Yvess. Sorry I gave you a hard time about the Spinks-Lara mythical matchup (but I still refuse to even think about it).
Somebody posed the Trinidad vs. Forrest mythical matchup to me and several other boxing history aficionados on Twitter several weeks back and I was the only one to pick The Viper (by close decision). I figured that at 147, Tito would not have his usual size advantage and that Forrest’s jab would constantly disrupt his rhythm while his laser-straight/accurate right hand would keep the Puerto Rican star honest (and maybe even produced an early knockdown) over the distance of a competitive fight. I’m sure Trinidad would have had his moments, but I don’t see welterweight wrecking machine clipping Viper or spooking him enough to earn a decision the way Ricardo Mayorga did in their back-to-back bouts in 2003. Mayorga was wildly unorthodox and unpredictable. Trinidad, on the other hand, was cool and methodical with textbook technique/orthodox form, which I believe would have favored the classic-stand-up boxing style that Forrest had mastered.
Anyway, if you disagree with my take you’re in good company. Steve “Breadman” Edwards, Cliff Rold, and I believe Max Kellerman all favored Trinidad by knockout.
I think his size and style does not belong to jr. bantamweight as evident by his past two fights. I beg to differ. I know Chocolatito will have to fight tooth and nail with every top 115-pound contender he faces, but even without a major belt to call his own, I view Roman Gonzalez as a real champion (let’s just call him “The People’s Champion” for now), and a true champion deserves worthy challengers. Right now, the junior bantamweight division has more worthy challenges for Gonzalez (Sor Rungvisai, Nayoya Inoue, Juan Estrada, Carlos Cuadras) than the flyweight division. So, the 115-pound weight class is where I want him to be.
He’s not big and powerful enough to overwhelm his opponents at this current weight. So? Why are so many boxing fans fixated on one guy totally dominating his division or all of his opposition? That’s awesome when those special boxing talents exist (and Chocolatito certainly was one of them at 105, 108 and 112 pounds), but it’s just as cool (and way more entertaining in my opinion) when a top fighter has a lot of stiff competition in his chosen division and has to EARN every victory. Think about it, Yvess, when people talk about Evander Holyfield’s career, do they reference his dominant cruiserweight title reign or his quest for the heavyweight championship and Don Quixote-like quest to regain portions of the title after he lost the undisputed crown to Riddick Bowe? More often than not, fans (both hardcore and casual) talk about Holyfield’s heavyweight days because he was in so many grueling battles of attrition and slugfests against the big men of his era. The fact that he struggled against top opposition (and sometimes against “merely solid” foes like Bert Cooper) doesn’t detract from his legacy – it adds to it!
But I think a change of style would be the key if he wants to fight at jr. bantamweight and above. I know he’s “only” 29, but it’s late in the game for Chocolatito to undergo a style change. The man has 47 pro bouts under his belt (and probably only another year or two of competition left).
A change of trainer might also help him just like what happened to Marco Antonio Barrera after he lost back to back, he became more disciplined and tried to box more. A) Barrera didn’t change trainers for his transition of styles, and B) there’s some revisionist history in your statement. Barrera didn’t change styles because of his back-to-back losses to Junior Jones. In fact, if you go back and watch his rematch with Poison, you’ll see that the former Baby-Faced Assassin switched to boxing mode in that fight (and gave a good account of himself but still came up short). For his next seven fights leading up to his classic first confrontation with Erik Morlaes, Barrera went back to his old hard-charging take-no-prisoners style (and of course, his relentless technical pressure fighting was on display against El Terrible in 2000). Barrera didn’t adopt the more-calculating jab-and-counterpunch style until he faced Naseem Hamed in 2001, and that was because he was facing a featherweight would could knock him out.
I was watching your show with Montero and Kim, 10 Count and even though you guys say you hate pound for pound lists, you do talk about them a lot!
I usually don’t write to talk about those rankings because they’re all a matter of opinion and most people really haven’t seen all fighters or contenders for this mythical title enough to be able to judge accordingly. Again, as you said in the video, discussing pound for pound is very fun and reminds me of old school barber shop talk, so I do like it (depends with who I’m discussing though lol)
Well, getting that out of the way, let me tell you what I think. To me the definition of pound for pound is perfectly described when you look at Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, a guy who has the credentials, style, record, and has challenged himself to the point that every fight is now a challenge because he already climbed to a 4th weight class. To me, every fight he keeps winning against high quality natural bigger guys enhances his status as the best in the game. He’s so good that even though he lacks the size to be in the ring with these guys, he makes up for it with intensity, style, power, speed, technique, and ring IQ. To me he is the best fighter in the game and has the gold to prove it.
Guys like Andre Ward, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Keith Thurman shouldn’t even be in the conversation as they don’t fight often enough and haven’t looked that great recently (even though Thurman and Ward did fight very good fighters).
One thing that strikes me is that most Pound for Pound lists these days exclude the second or third best fighter in the world right now, Manny Pacquiao. If you think about it, Manny is still the best welterweight in the world, a division which at least physically he’s never belonged to, and when he fights, he usually fights guys that are good enough to be world champions. The way he disposed of Timothy Bradley and Jesse Vargas is stuff that you don’t see that often. Yes, he’s older but he’s still better than 99% of the boxers in the world today, has the credentials, and at his age probably shouldn’t be beating younger, bigger fighters like Vargas so easily.
Finally, I would like to talk about Lomachenko and Ioune. These guys haven’t fought enough for us to be able to consider them the best of the best. Lomachenko lost to Salido and still hasn’t avenged it or fought someone similar to show that he has learned from it. Yes, it’s easy to say that Vasyl would run over him right now based on his recent line of work, but really, are we going to start giving W’s to fighters for fights that have only happened in our heads and not inside the ring? To me the fight has to be fought, I’m not going to give credit to a fighter just because I think he should win. If that were the case then Tyson would have Holyfield as a win on his record and Manny would’ve won his 4th fight against Marquez very easily. We wouldn’t had the need to have had those fights happen!
What I’m saying is, let’s start giving credit that’s deserved. The “eye test” isn’t the only test as there are fighters like Chocolatito that have proven inside the ring that they’re the best with their fists, sweat and blood. It’s an insult to their line of work to name a fighter who hasn’t done it yet get more credit than what he has done just because we think they’re going to do it.
And for the record, I’ve never seen Yamanaka fight and have only seen a couple of Ioune fights so my biased pound-for-pound list isn’t very good. – Juan Valverde, San Diego
You haven’t seen a single Shinsuke Yamanaka fight? Why the hell not, man!? It takes less than five minutes for you to open your laptop, go to YouTube.com and type in “Shinsuke Yamanaka.” Do it now. Then type in “Anselmo Moreno” and “rematch.” And watch the two elite southpaw bantamweight boxers go at it for the next 28 minutes (it’s a classic slick-boxer vs. boxer-puncher shootout).
Anyway, you’re preaching to the choir in regard to Chocolatito deserving to be at the top the mythical rankings. You know I’m his biggest fan, and you should probably figure that I haven’t received a single email from a regular mailbag reader who thinks he legitimately lost to Sor Rungvisai and should no longer be pound-for-pound king. In my mind, Gonzalez is like KRS-One, he’s still No. 1.
Why? For the same reasoning you listed: he’s got the skill, technique, accomplishments, quality of opposition, and overall body of work. He’s the total package and still in his athletic prime, though no longer at his peak as a fighter now that he’s in with naturally bigger world-class opponents. But I’m not going to penalize him for challenging himself.
I agree with pretty much everything you had to say about the pound-for-pound rankings. Loma and Inoue are amazing talents and have accomplished much for the number of bouts they have but they still need more fights and worthy challenges before they get to the very top of the list (and the same can be said about Terence Crawford). I have no problem with anyone including Manny Pacquiao in their top 10 given his body of work and longevity, but I’m not convinced he’s the best welterweight in the game as you believe. I think he’s one of the best welterweights and definitely in the top-four mix, which is very impressive given his age and long career, but no other top active 147 pounder is on the P4P list.
Thurman, who you know I like a lot, isn’t in THE RING’s P4P top 10. Rigo, I believe, should be dropped. As for Ward, I’m not happy that he’s in the No. 1 spot, but I understand those who agree with that placement if they believe he legitimately beat Kovalev (and if they’re not big on “body of work” and activity as P4P criteria).
Anyway, just to clarify, I don’t hate pound-for-pound lists or rankings. I think they’re a lot of fun to compile and debate. What I don’t like is how much time we often spend debating and arguing the order of these lists. It’s too much. The reason I quit compiling my own personal list more than 10 years ago is that fans got so caught up in arguing with me about who I ranked in the top five (hell, even who I had ranked at 14 or 15, because I used to give a top 20) they ignored good fights that had just happened or were about to take place. Seriously, the week of Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I, my mailbag was about 15-20% about that awesome lightweight championship matchups and the rest of the emails were about where I had ranked Winky Wright and Manny Pacquiao in my pound-for-pound list. Not long after that I said “F__k this silly s__t.”
You’re a knowledgeable longtime boxing fan, Juan, and you watch a lot of the sport (except for Japanese bantamweights). I’d have rather heard your thoughts on how Mairis Briedis or Antonio Orozco looked on Saturday, or your opinion of upcoming April matchups, such as Lomachenko-Sosa, Flanagan-Petrov, Burns-Indongo and Porter-Berto, than get 650 words on Chocolatito and the rest of the pound-for-pound crew.
Dear Mr Fischer,
I hope all is well for you and yours, and that this finds you all hale and happy. I had a couple of questions for you arising from your last mailbag (which continues to be the sports highlights of my weekdays, with the weekends for the spectacles themselves).
During the Chocolatito fight with Sor Rungvisai (which I watched broadcasted, not from the seats), I thought the knockdown was more a result of a clash of heads than Sor Rungvisai’s landed body shot. My questions are as follows: do you think the unintentional headbutt resulted in the knockdown? The punch landed after the head, and Gonzales reacted more to the impact to his head, but no one seems to have mentioned it. Also, what’s the scoring policy when a knockdown occurs after a headbutt/ punch combination? My understanding is that it is the referee’s discretion to determine what the actual cause was and indicate it to the judges, but I imagine there are nuances of which I’m unaware.
I also have a few permutations on mythical matchups, phrased more like questions:
Does anyone beat a peak Sugar Ray Robinson at welterweight? I have little doubt that The Real Sugar Ray (no disrespect to Mr. Leonard) was the greatest of all time, but styles make fights. Is there any boxer or any style that you think beats the man?
Does anyone beat a peak Henry Armstrong at lightweight?
Those are the two guys I consider closest to untouchable at their peak, do you have any others (or disagreements)? I likely could be talked into Harry Greb at middleweight as well.
Willie Pep against Hurricane Hank (I like Hurricane more than Homicide or Hammerin’ because I think it best communicates the pressure Mr Armstrong demonstrated) at featherweight?
Roberto Duran against Armstrong at lightweight? I tend to think that Armstrong’s pressure was even more relentless than Manos de Piedra’s, and that the small differences in their chin favored Armstrong. Heart seems about equal.
That’s it for me, Dougie. I send the best. Peace. – John
Thanks John, and thanks for all the kind words.
Duran vs. Armstrong would’ve have been a legendary clash of lightweight titans. I agree that Armstrong was more relentless than Duran. I’m not sure he had a better chin (at lightweight). I’m not sure he was as strong as Duran was at 135 pounds (although I have no doubt that he was a physical marvel at that weight – he weighed-in around the lightweight limit for many of his welterweight title bouts). I agree they had equal heart; both were expert practitioners of the Savage Science. However, the difference in this mythical matchup, I believe, would come down to the finer points of the Sweet Science. And I think Duran edged Armstrong in defense, ring generalship and the subtleties of boxing, so I’ll go with Hands of Stone by close decision in an all-time great fight.
Does anyone beat a peak Sugar Ray Robinson at welterweight? Sure. Nobody’s unbeatable. Robinson was unbeaten at welterweight (against fellow welterweights) but that doesn’t mean he was untouchable at 147 pounds. He didn’t have an easy time winning the vacant welterweight title against Tommy Bell in December 1946. Bell, an unsung former contender from Youngstown, Ohio, dropped Robinson in Round 2, troubled him over the first third of the 15-round bout, and then rallied in the championship rounds after suffering a knockdown in Round 11. Robinson had 75 bouts under his belt when he faced Bell and had only lost once (to middleweight contender Jake LaMotta) and been held to a draw once (to middleweight contender Jose Basora). Perhaps if Bell, an aggressive boxer, had a little more size to him he could have pulled out a decision against Robinson. Georgie Abrams, a seasoned, crafty former middleweight contender, nearly outpointed Robinson in a non-title bout a few fights after Ray won the 147-pound title. Fellow hall of famer and welterweight champ Kid Gavilan also gave the prime welterweight version of Robinson competitive fights (in a title bout and a non-title bout); maybe if the Cuban Hawk (who only scored 28 KOs in 108 wins) had more power his style would have gotten the better of Robinson.
I have little doubt that The Real Sugar Ray (no disrespect to Mr. Leonard) was the greatest of all time, but styles make fights. Is there any boxer or any style that you think beats the man? I agree that Robinson is the G.O.A.T but I wouldn’t count out the best version of Leonard against Robinson at 147 pounds.
Does anyone beat a peak Henry Armstrong at lightweight? Lou Ambers did it in 1939.
Those are the two guys I consider closest to untouchable at their peak, do you have any others (or disagreements)? I likely could be talked into Harry Greb at middleweight as well. Like I said, I don’t think anyone is untouchable but Muhammad Ali from 1965-‘67 was close to it. As was Duran at lightweight, Pep at featherweight prior to suffering plane crash injuries in 1947, Ricardo Lopez at strawweight, Michael Spinks at light heavyweight, Carlos Monzon from 1970-’75, Wilfredo Gomez at junior featherweight, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. at junior lightweight.
Willie Pep against Hurricane Hank (I like Hurricane more than Homicide or Hammerin’ because I think it best communicates the pressure Mr Armstrong demonstrated) at featherweight? I think Pep at his best could handle the pressure (and power and volume punching) and would outpoint Armstrong in a hotly contested 15 rounder.
During the Chocolatito fight with Sor Rungvisai (which I watched broadcasted, not from the seats), I thought the knockdown was more a result of a clash of heads than Sor Rungvisai’s landed body shot. I saw that Sor Rungvisai’s head landed a split second before the right to Gonzalez’s body but it didn’t appear to clash with significant impact. I think the knockdown Gonzalez suffered was more from being off balance than Sor Rungvisai’s head or right-to-the-chest.
What’s the scoring policy when a knockdown occurs after a headbutt/ punch combination? My understanding is that it is the referee’s discretion to determine what the actual cause was and indicate it to the judges, but I imagine there are nuances of which I’m unaware. Nah, that’s pretty much it. If the referee sees an unintentional headbutt land before a knockdown punch it’s up to him or her to decide if it counts. If the headbutt was significant and the receiving fighter reacts to it before getting clipped by the punch, or if the headbutt results in a nasty cut, the referee often will not count the knockdown.
Hope all is well! It’s been a long time; haven’t been able to interact as much as I’d like since I’ve gotten older and busier lol. I came across an article stating that new court records indicate that Tommy Morrison actually hid his HIV diagnosis since 1989. That indicates that most of his opponents, including Lennox Lewis and George Foreman, fought against an HIV positive fighter. I seem to remember you were a fan of his. Do you believe this is true?
Also, how likely do you think it is to catch HIV / HEP C in boxing being that it would be very costly to test everyone who has ever walked into a gym to spar? Best regards! – Will
I think it’s very unlikely that a boxer can contract HIV or other blood-transmitted viruses (like Hepatitis C) from an infected boxer during a bout or sparring, but it’s not impossible.
Do I believe that Morrison (who I was indeed a fan of and had the pleasure of meeting a few times before he died) had been HIV positive since 1989? Well, it sounds far-fetched, but that’s the kind of life Tommy led. I have a hard time believing it because he turned pro in November 1988. If it’s true, it means he fought most of his career HIV positive.
That wasn’t impossible to do in the late 1980s and early ‘90s because most state athletic commissions did not begin testing for the virus until the late ‘90s. However, Nevada was one of the first U.S. athletic commissions to test boxers for HIV, and has done so since 1988. Morrison fought in Nevada six times from December 1989 (when he outpointed Ken Lakusta over six rounds) to June ’93 (when he outpointed Foreman for the WBO title.
Morrison tested positive in Nevada in 1996. Now maybe his viral load (the number of HIV viral particles in a milliliter of blood) wasn’t dense enough to be detected by the type of testing he may have received prior to fights in Las Vegas and Reno from ’89 to ’93, or perhaps he wasn’t tested for all of those fights (such as the undercard bouts against Lakusta, Bobby Quarry and Jerry Halstead). However, his Nevada-based fights against Joe Hipp (Reno in June ’92), Carl Williams (Reno in January ’93) and Foreman (in Las Vegas) were all major events that were either on network TV, HBO or TVKO (HBO’s PPV arm back in the day). My guess is that he was tested for HIV prior to these bouts.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer