Thursday, July 25, 2024  |

News

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

Photo / David Spagnolo-Main Events
Fighters Network
07
Apr

JASON SOSA MUST HUSTLE

Hey Doug,

I just wanted to get your thoughts on the Loma vs Sosa fight coming up. I was a little late to the party but after he “no mas’d” Nicolas Walters, I’ve jumped on the Vasyl Lomanchenko train.

I suspect he will be able to get that lead foot dominance and get to the blind side past Sosa’s lead shoulder fairly often in this fight, but the one thing that gives me pause in predicting another Loma wipe out is that Sosa is probably the most “hustly” pressure fighter he’s fought since Orlando Salido, which seems to be the best style to have when facing an ultra-technician.



I know Walters clearly beat Sosa but Walters is a true boxer-puncher, and you can’t box Loma. If Sosa’s gonna have success I think he needs to embrace the grind and go balls out.

Mythical matchups:

Kid Gavilan vs Aaron Pryor

Ike Williams vs Julio Cesar Chavez

Timothy Bradley vs James Kirkland (jr. middle)

Thanks. – Jack

Styles make fights. Just because Walters should have gotten the ‘W’ against Sosa and Lomachenko put the Jedi Mind F__k on The Axe Man doesn’t mean that Loma will dominate Sosa just as easily.

I agree that boxers (be they punchers, speed demons or cuties) will not fare well against the Ukrainian amateur legend. I agree that Sosa must “embrace the grind,” as you put it. And I agree that Sosa has “hustle.”

However, I don’t think the New Jersey native has anything close to the relentless aggression of Salido. Sosa applies gradual pressure. He’s not a born-pressure fighter like Siri. He’s not the volume puncher Saldio is, either, and he’s nowhere near as dirty as the Mexican slugger. Salido is tricky as he advances and quicker to let his hands go on the outside and the inside than Sosa is. The 21-year veteran is also a busier body puncher and better grappler than Sosa. He commits to the body once he’s in range and he knows how to heap legal and illegal punishment in a clinch.

I’m not saying Sosa can’t do any of these things. He gets a lot done against quality opponents, including Walters, Javier Fortuna (an awkwardly athletic switch-hitter) and Stephen Smith. Sosa just doesn’t put it all together as naturally as Salido does, and he’s not facing the 1-0 version of Loma that Siri fought three years ago.

I think Sosa will put up a better fight than Rocky Martinez or Walters, but I still envision a dominating Lomachenko performance. Hopefully, Sosa – who’s craftier than he gets credit for – doesn’t overthink things, but instead takes a page from Saldio’s book and bum rushes the Boxing Baryshnikov.

Your mythical matchups:

Kid Gavilan vs Aaron Pryor – The Cuban Hawk would tame the Cincinnati Hawk in a very entertaining junior welter or welterweight fight. Gavilan – too tall, rangy, tough and technical for the modern-day Hank Armstrong – by competitive but clear 15-round unanimous decision.

Ike Williams vs Julio Cesar Chavez – Williams by decision or late TKO in brilliant but brutal lightweight (or junior welter) battle of attrition. As great as JCC is (and as sensational as the pressure fighting Mexican technician was at 135 pounds), he wouldn’t bring anything to the ring that Williams hadn’t already experienced battling the likes of Johnny Bratton, Juan Zurita, Enrique Bolanos and fellow hall of famers, such as Beau Jack, Bob Montgomery, Jimmy Carter, Sammy Angott, Kid Gavilan and Carmen Basilio.

Timothy Bradley vs James Kirkland (jr. middle) – Desert Storm uses his underrated ring savvy to win a competitive but clear 12-round decision in an entertaining match that features some thrilling exchanges.

 

KOVALEV’S ADJUSTMENTS IN WARD REMATCH

Dougie –

Last time I wrote you was about Canelo ducking GGG and this time about a rematch I didn’t think would happen (typical boxing pessimist that I am) but I am truly ecstatic that it is.

I go with Sergey Kovalev by decision in the June 17 rematch with Andre Ward.

Everyone talks about how great Ward is at adjusting and making opponents fight this fight. All true. The first fight turned into a Ward fight from about round 5 on. Because of this I have two reasons why Kovalev can win the rematch:

1) I had Kovalev winning the first fight (I scored it the same as Lederman and believe you had a similar card) and I thought he did very well fighting Ward’s fight for at least 8 rounds.
2) Because the majority of the fight was Ward’s fight, I think Kovalev has more options regarding adjustments than Ward has. Kovalev has a better opportunity to either be more successful in fighting Ward’s fight or in trying to make it a Kovalev fight. Here’s areas I think that can happen:

  • Kovalev did a decent job of tying Ward up in the clinch. The main issue with Kovalev was that he was not active doing much in the clinch. His main priority was just to tie up and prevent Ward from doing anything. Kovalev needs more of an inside plan than wrapping Ward’s arms or using a headlock.
  • Increase the body work. Use the jab to the chest more to lead all action and follow-up with a two-handed body attack rather than head hunting. Especially in the early rounds.
  • After the KD in the first fight, Ward was great at neutralizing that big right from Kovalev. Kov couldn’t get an opening again for most of the rest of the fight. Watch the tapes, figure out a better way to keep that right poised as a big weapon throughout. Don’t always go for the kill. Let Ward know it is there, it will still be powerful enough to make Ward wary coming in.
  • If the cutting off the ring (or not cutting off the ring) in the first fight was the best that Kovalev could do then live with that but don’t follow or chase Ward. Kovalev is a great reset fighter and he was pushing Ward back for the majority of the first fight. If Ward becomes too elusive, just reset and start again. Don’t force the opportunities by following Ward.

Now I know that you can come up with ways that Ward will prevent these things from happening and also things he can improve. That’s all true. My main point is that because the first fight was mainly Ward’s fight, and Kovalev was still successful (and won on a high majority of fans/press/etc scorecards) he can do even better and I think with the proper adjustments can make it even a clearer win this time around.

Very excited about this rematch. What’s your thoughts? – Dennis O., Jersey City

I don’t think the first fight was “mainly a Ward fight.” If it were mainly a Ward fight, the American boxer would have been able to slip Kovalev’s jab, put more punishment on the Russian, and he would have been in firm physical command of the fight (especially during the clinches). I didn’t see that happen.

I’m glad the rematch was made because that’s what should happen A) when fighters contractually agree to an immediate return bout if the titles change hands, and B) when there is a controversial decision in the first bout. Kovalev deserves first crack at those three world 175-pound title belts that Ward holds, and the defending champ deserves the opportunity to set the record straight. However, although I believe that this is a competitive matchup (and I’m proud that THE RING championship is on the line), I’m not that excited about it. I thought Kovalev clearly won the first bout. I thought he won eight or nine rounds. To me, he would have clearly won the fight WITHOUT the knockdown. So what’s he gotta do to win the rematch? He’s either got to stop Ward or drop the American favorite two or three times. That’s a lot of pressure and very hard to accomplish against a master neutralizer.

But if Kovalev is going to get it done I agree that he’s got to do more during their clinches. He should study fight footage of Bernard Hopkins and Siri Salido for what to do when engaging in grappling tactics. Not all of it is legal.

Photo / Main Events

I also agree that he needs to have more of a body attack, including a stiff jab to Ward’s chest and shoulder areas.

The only “adjustment” suggestion that I will add is that Kovalev should allow John David Jackson to do his job and be the head trainer (in camp and in the corner during the fight). JDJ should not be muted in any way. His voice should be the lead instruction between rounds. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

PUT YOUR MONEY ON WARD

I am going on record and picking Ward to win the rematch. I am going to put my money where my mouth is an be in Vegas for this event.

I think with Ward’s IQ outside of Kovy catching him with something he doesn’t see coming Ward wins. I know we disagreed on the fight the first time and opinions are like a$$holes, but Ward was the better fighter. Ward showed balls, bravery, intelligence and I see more of the same from him, only better. He had to dig himself out of a hole the first time, minus that in a rematch, Ward all the way.

Now, I am not saying that Kovy may not put him down again. Not taking anything away from Kovy, just giving props to my dude Ward, who I am riding with on this one. I am excited for the rematch and plan to be ringside.

Thank you. – Jason C. Brown

Jason, as Steve Kim says on The Next Round podcast (with Gabe Montoya), YOU are on the record.

I have three responses to your email:

1. If Ward was clearly the “better fighter” as you assert, nobody would’ve disputed the

Photo by: David Spagnolo/ Main Events

official verdict and few would care to see this rematch.

2. I don’t think the main thing Ward needs to be concerned about is Kovalev’s power or getting dropped again; I think he needs figure out a way to deal with the Russian’s jab – that was his bane in the first fight.

3. I think you might be more confident than Ward is.

 

PARKER-FURY & THE NEXT HEAVYWEIGHT RULER

Hi there Dougie!

I am an avid follower of the Mailbag, but have only just plucked up the courage to write in! Originally from New Zealand, I am now currently living in Berlin of all places, and have developed an absolute obsession with the sport over the last few years.

Anyway, down to business. I just saw an interview with the one and only Tyson Fury, who sadly looked like he was close to 25 stone, with a wheeze and a sweat to match. It got me thinking about the current heavyweight scene, and our own champion from down under, Joseph Parker, who is going into battle with Tyson’s cousin Hughie very soon. Who do you pick in that matchup?

Fury is the taller man, and would have benefited immensely from sparring the slimmer version of his more famous cousin for all those years, but with only 10 knockouts to his name, perhaps doesn’t have heavy enough hands to hurt our NZ hero. He has also had a very stop-start career due to illness, so ring rust may count against him. Joseph on the other hand has been in wars with Andy Ruiz and Carlos Takam in the past year or so, and has been pushed to the limit each time. His much talked about power was definitely exposed to a certain degree however, as his biggest shots didn’t seem to bother either opponent very much at all.

That being said, I would happily make the argument that both those men are miles above anyone Hughie has faced, and are also superior to any of the names on Anthony Joshua’s and Deontay Wilder’s resume’s as well. Would you agree?

I just hope it’s not a jab-and-grab stinkfest, and that Parker can find a way inside to land one on Fury’s untested chin! Easier said than done though.

One last question! In 18 months or so, do you think we will finally have a true ruler of the heavyweight division? Will Joshua dominate like Lewis did, or will the belts still be held hostage in different parts of the world? The pungent odor of politics always hangs in the air I guess!

Mythical matchup, an all NZ affair! A young David Tua vs current Joseph Parker.

Thanks very much for your time! I’m sure there are bunch of other Kiwis who follow this blog as fervently as I do. All the best. – Mikey 🙂

Well Mikey, even if you’re the only New Zealander to give a rat’s ass about the mailbag, I appreciate your attention. Thanks for finally emailing me.

I think the young Tua would stop Parker inside of five or six rounds of a fun shootout. (If Parker thinks Ruiz and Takam can take a punch, he would have been totally demoralized launching his best shots at Tua’s anvil-like chin.)

I’m going to be that glass-half-full guy (that hardcore boxing fans hate) and say that we will have a clear heavyweight ruler in 18 months. I have no idea who that heavyweight will be, we just need the Joshua-Klitschko winner to face Wilder and Joshua (provided those two beltholders remain unbeaten), and maybe Tyson Fury if he’s serious about returning.

That being said, I would happily make the argument that both those men are miles above anyone Hughie has faced, and are also superior to any of the names on Anthony Joshua’s and Deontay Wilder’s resume’s as well. Would you agree? I think Ruiz and Takam are better than anyone AJ has faced (obviously, until April 29), although I suppose one could argue that Dillian Whyte is on par with those two. I think Bermane Stiverne, who Wilder outpointed for the WBC title, is a notch above Ruiz and Takam.

It got me thinking about the current heavyweight scene, and our own champion from down under, Joseph Parker, who is going into battle with Tyson’s cousin Hughie very soon. Who do you pick in that matchup? I gotta go with Parker. He’s the more mature, experienced/battle-tested defending titleholder and he’s on home turf. I think he’ll out-hustle the bigger man over the distance and win a decision. However, I don’t think Fury will be an easy opponent. Hughie’s got a good, sharp jab and a nice feint to go with it. Like his cousin, he’s very relaxed and moves about the ring very well for a big man. He can also switch-hit very well like Tyson. I expect Fury to box well in spots and to attempt to frustrate Parker with hot-dogging/clowning tactics, but I don’t think he’ll let his hands go enough to take the WBO title.

 

HAGLER-LEONARD 30-YEAR ANNIVERSARY THEORY

I think that the fight actually helped Marvin Hagler’s legacy because if he had gotten the decision, it wouldn’t have been impressive because Ray Leonard was coming  off only having one fight in 3 years and having a detached retina (back when the laser eye surgery was nowhere near as good as it is today).

So Hagler basically would have beaten an inactive welterweight, who had never fought at middleweight and had vision problems. By them giving Leonard the decision, it made Hagler a sympathetic figure who got ripped off by the establishment. It actually made him appear to be a victim.

He really should be getting roasted for not knocking out a smaller fighter who had been inactive for 3 yrs. That is why the decision doesn’t bother me. The fight had no business being close. Hagler didn’t do what he was supposed to do. He was supposed to kick Leonard’s ass and he didn’t. He knew going in if the fight is close Leonard was going to get the decision. – Allen

You know what, Allen? I don’t agree that the fight shouldn’t have been close, but I don’t think you’re not wrong about Hagler’s legacy being enhanced in some ways due to the controversial nature of the loss to Leonard. I definitely believe that the close, high-profile loss helped casual boxing fans and general sports fans recognize and identify with Hagler.

A lot of current boxing fans who either weren’t paying attention in the 1980s or weren’t around 30-35 years ago assume that Hagler was just as popular as the other members of what is now known as the Four Kings (Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran). He was not. The undisputed middleweight champ had a loyal New England following but he wasn’t the crossover star Leonard was or the must-see TV Hearns was, and he hadn’t achieved the legend status Duran had earned by the start of the decade. The other three achieved mainstream recognition years before Hagler did (Leonard turned pro with mainstream attention due to his success in the 1976 Olympic Games – which was something that bugged the s__t out of the Marvelous One). When Hagler defended his

Photo / THE RING

title against Duran in 1983, Duran was the star. Hagler’s instant classic shootout with Hearns is what finally pushed the Brockton badass into casual-fan consciousness, but he wouldn’t reach true stardom until his final fight – against Leonard. The hype of “SuperFight” brought Hagler more attention than he’d ever received – and when he lost a legitimately close/either-way type fight, he absolutely benefited from public sympathy (even from diehard Leonard fans like myself).

However, don’t think for a second that Hagler wouldn’t have received any credit for beating Leonard in a close fight. Fans and members of the boxing press weren’t a bunch dips__ts back then. Yeah, Leonard had eye issues, was coming off a long layoff and had never fought at middleweight, but he was still regarded and respected as a great fighter. And astute boxing fans and media had also noted that Hagler had begun to show signs of age in his previous bout (a much-tougher-than expected slugfest with John Mugabi). If you think a Hagler victory would have detracted from what was THE RING’s Fight of the Year in ’87, or from his performance or from the middleweight champ’s legacy, you’re nuts.  

 

TSZYU VS. MAYWEATHER MYTHICAL MATCHUP

Hi Dougie,

I always felt Tszyu in his prime would have caused all types of problems for Floyd and would have possibly been too much for him. What do you think?

Thanks mate. – Will

Will, to paraphrase Public Enemy’s Chuck D. from Don’t Believe The Hype, “We’re brothers of the same mind, unblind…”

When it comes to 140-pound mythical matchups, I’ll take the 1991 World Amateur Champ (who won the 139-pound title by out-boxing top American talent Vernon Forrest in the finals) over most classic stand-up boxers that relied on distance, jabs and one-two combos no matter how gifted they were.

Tszyu had excellent balance, coordination, timing, accuracy, punch-slipping-and-counterpunching ability to go with a reliable chin, tremendous power and brute physical strength. He wasn’t one to be picked apart from a distance. To beat him, one had to break him down physically (as Vince Phillips did, and as Ricky Hatton did to a 35-year-old semi-retired version) and that wasn’t an easy task.

The best style to trouble Tszyu was that of a high-volume pressure fighter or an aggressive boxer puncher. Thus, I’d give fighters like Aaron Pryor, the prime lightweight or 140-pound Julio Cesar Chavez, Frankie Randall, or even the 135-pound version of Shane Mosley more of a shot to beat King Kostya than elite finesse boxers like Mayweather.

 

GRIGORY DROZD

Hi Doug,
With the cruiserweight division becoming pretty stacked, where would you rate Drozd if, by the end of the year, he’d had 2/3 wins back from injury? All the best. – Stephen

It would depend on the level of his opposition, but the 40-1 Russian veteran had to take an injury-forced hiatus as the reigning WBC champ, so whenever he’s healthy and ready to fight for his old green belt I believe that the Mexico City based sanctioning organization will mandate a title shot. If Drozd, who was THE RING’s No. 1-rated cruiserweight before he was dropped for inactivity, gets a tune-up fight to knock off ring rust and then takes on current WBC beltholder Mairis Briedis, I would favor the Russian.  

Briedis is currently ranked No. 4 by THE RING.

 

ONE TITLE IN EACH WEIGHT CLASS

What’s up Dougie?

Hope all is well. Sitting hear getting my car worked on figure I shoot you an email.

Over the weekend we were talking about the Lomachenko fight coming up and a friend of mine brought up the good old days of one champion at each weight. Those good ol’ member-berries!

I disagreed with him. I do think today’s current climate is not great but I would be ok with their being 2 maybe even 3 belts in each weight class.

How many fighters did it take years for them to get a title shot such as Archie Moore? What about Charley Burley who if I’m not mistaking never got a title shot? Fighters were the same back then as today…Some would avoid difficult challengers. Plus, today’s fighters are much less active.

My point was IMO people bring up 1 champion in a weight class a lot but I don’t think it would really make things better. Think Adonis Stevenson…Ward, Kovalev, etc. probably would never get a title shot.

Neither today nor back in the day is perfect but what are your thoughts on this? As I mentioned I do like the idea of 2 titles in each weight classes. Always love big unification fights. Take care. – Ryan, Shaolin, NY

I’m fine with multiple world titles as long as there are enough elite fighters willing to attempt to unify the belts (as we had with Lennox Lewis, Bernard Hopkins, Wladimir Klitschko and Joe Calzaghe,a nd more recently Sergey Kovalev, Gennady Golovkin, Terence Crawford and Keith Thurman). Props to Ricky Burns and Julius Indongo for being willing to unify their 140-pound belts next Saturday. Hopefully the winner takes on the Crawford-Diaz winner and boxing gets a unified junior welterweight champ. Hopefully, Thurman targets the Brook-Spence winner and Pacquiao. Hopefully, Billy Joe Saunders and K2 Promotions can finally work something out.

I like the idea of just one world title, but I think that reality would drive impatient modern boxing fans crazy if that “one champ” didn’t immediately grant the most worthy (and/or popular) challengers a shot at his title.

Fighters and fans have more options with multiple belts. Plus, fighters love collecting belts and fans love watching them do so. Some of the brightest memories I have as a member of the media are from covering title unification bouts (from Barrera-Morales I to Hopkins-Trinidad to Tszyu-Judah to De La Hoya-Vargas to Forrest-Mayorga I to Corrales-Castillo I).

 

TOO SHARP VS. CHOCOLATITO

What’s happening Doug?Long time reader, I enjoy your work I wish you continued success.

Just have a MM I’d like your opinion on: “Too Sharp” vs Gonzalez

Thanks. – MAJ Russell J. Harris, Arlington, VA

You know I love me some Chocolatito but, damn man, Mark Johnson is the best all-around boxer/fighter I’ve ever seen live.

I think Johnson – a natural 115 pounder who dropped down to flyweight to win his first major title – would have been more than “Too Sharp” for Roman Gonzalez, the Washington, D.C. native would have been too big, too strong, too fast and fluid, too busy, too slippery, and too mobile for the Nicaraguan hero (who was probably at his best at 108 pounds) to deal with.

I think Johnson would win a competitive (and entertaining) but clear unanimous decision at flyweight (and certainly at junior bantamweight).

 

 

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

 

SIGN UP TO GET RING NEWS ALERTS