Dougie’s Monday mailbag
Just wanted to grab your thoughts on the following:
Ricky Burns – he was completely outclassed on Saturday. Where does he go from here? I personally think he should retire…he’s got nothing left to prove to anyone and he’s been in a lot of grueling fights over the years. He said he’s going to continue so if you were Eddie Hearn what would you do with him?
Julius Indongo – WOW! I don’t think anyone knew what to expect with this guy but he definitely impressed me. He is so lanky and so awkward that I can see him giving a lot of the top dogs in the division a tough fight.
The atmosphere inside the SSE Hydro was electric and British boxing overall is in good health with several world champions. What’s your thoughts on Martin Murray vs Gabriel Rosado next weekend?
Cheers & hope you had a good Easter (if you celebrate it), at least over here it’s a couple of days off work! – David, Glasgow Scotland
I had a nice Easter Sunday with my family and church (even though I had to skip my “other” usual church, which is the track workout and Periscope I do with Coach Schwartz at Santa Monica College). Thanks for asking.
My initial thoughts on Murray-Rosado is that Murray is too big for his faded fellow two-time former middleweight title challenger. But who knows? The 34-year-old Englishman is conceivably just as shopworn as Rosado, and the 31-year-old Philly native might feel good being able to weigh in a few pounds over the middleweight limit. I gotta favor Murray by decision (home country advantage and all), but I won’t be surprised at all if Gabby gives him hell (especially if he comes right to the American). It should be a decent scrap.
The U.K. boxing scene remains hot, as strong (or stronger) than it was during the ‘90s with the 160/168-pound round robin (highlighted by the Benn-Eubank rivalry), the reign of Prince Naz and eventual rise of Lennox Lewis.
Regarding Indongo, I am also impressed. I’ve got nothing but respect for a pro fighter who wins his first two world titles back-to-back in hostile foreign territory. The 34-year-old Namibian showed the world that he could seriously crack by icing poor Eduard Troyanovsky in December and this past Saturday he proved that he could box a disciplined (but aggressive) 12-round bout by dominating Burns. I think he’s legitimately one of the top three junior welterweights in the world (I hope THE RING’s rating panel suggests that he advance from No. 6 to No. 1 or No. 2 in our 140-pound rankings), and I believe that the rangy southpaw boxer-puncher is a worthy future challenger for RING champ Terence Crawford.
As for Burns, I’ve really enjoyed watching him fight over the past six or seven years but, like you, I think it’s time the 16-year vet hang up his gloves. He’s been through the proverbial meat grinder. But he’s a born-fighter, so he’s not going to quit just yet. If I were Hearns, I wouldn’t bother dropping him back down to the domestic level because, let’s face it, he’s so battle-worn that he could lose to any solid pro or prospect (in fact, I’d favor young British guns like Jack Catterall and Ohara Davies to beat him). I’d cash Burns out against the biggest name (that would bring in the most money) that I could get into the ring with him, someone who would command attention and help hype the showdown like Adrien Broner or a respected-but-faded former titleholder like Ruslan Provodnikov (if the Russian hasn’t retired for good).
BAD FOR BURNS, GOOD FOR BOXING
Hope you are well buddy. I’ll try to keep it short. I’ve just watched the Indongo-Burns fight and although it was a shame to see the U.K. lose one of its champions it is probably in the best interest of the sport. Given the one-sided nature of Burns’ fight with Crawford a rematch would have been a hard sell whatever trinkets were up for grabs. But with his victory the travelling title-taker has set up a massive six-title showdown for 140-lb. supremacy. This isn’t a fight that needs to marinate. The longer it is left the more chance one of them moves up to welterweight or one or more sanctioning body withdraws recognition due to mandatory requirements. Besides Indongo is already 34. If the promoters can’t sell a match-up between two undefeated champions for all the marbles it is a sad day for boxing. Hopefully, it happens and before the end of the year.
Keep up the good work. – Steve Done, United Kingdom
Thanks Steve. I don’t see why Top Rank and Matchroom couldn’t reach an agreement by the of this year (provided Crawford takes care of biz against Felix Diaz next month and Indongo beats any immediate IBF or WBA mandatories he’s got to face). Crawford has had a difficult time finding worthy dance partners. Team Pacquiao don’t want to hear his name, and the other notable 147 pounders are advised by Al Haymon, who has a very uneasy history with Top Rank boss Bob Arum. The PBC standouts like Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr. will fight each other or non-Top Rank fighters (not named Pacquiao) before they consider Bud. And who else is out there for Crawford in the 140-pound division? I can’t think of any “name” junior welterweight at the moment. I know Indongo isn’t a name at all in the U.S., but he does bring two major world titles to the table (three if you count the IBO belt). A showdown for the undisputed 140-pound championship is something HBO can get behind, I think. I hope it’s something that Crawford and his team view as worthwhile.
AN OLD-SCHOOL FAN VENTS
Hope all is well. I was going to say how great the weather finally is, but then remembered you are in sunny California, not the frozen Northeast. I just got done watching the re-run of the Sullivan Barrera-Paul Parker fight on HBO Latino. I guess that adds to my hard-core creds, as I don’t speak Spanish and turned off the volume after the intros and just watched the fight. Maybe an early stoppage, but I don’t fault the referee for seeing things the TV can’t.
But the real reason for my writing is I’m so tired of people wanting every fight to be fight-of-the year, every knockout, knockout of the year. To me it’s sort of ridiculous. I watch a fight because I like the sport, I want to see good technique, to see how fighters adapt to circumstance and adversity. Every fight can’t be measured against Fight of the Year standards, every knockout KO of the Year. I wonder how some people enjoy the sport. My favorite fight is still when I took my 12-year-old son to see a 19-year-old Jose Antonio Rivera fight in a small hall in Webster, MA. I don’t remember his opponent. (Although he did when I talked to him about it a few years ago!).
Enough already of all the pound-for-pound crap. I found myself rooting for Jason Sosa to upset Vasyl Lomachenko last week, even though I think Loma is just a beauty of a boxer, because I’m sick of the p4p stuff. I want to see Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward II because it will be a great fight, and the winner will be the best light heavyweight, not to compare the winner to other fighters of other weight classes. I know I’m a little hypocritical, as I do get into p4p discussions, especially as a devoted RJJ fan, but it isn’t the mainstay of my interest. Leave all that for the end of the year. I wish there was more passion about having post-fight interviews with judges and referees and keeping every decision a fair one, more passion about fighters’ health and safety, than mythical rankings. Thanks for the chance to vent. – Ken Kozberg, Oakham, MA
Thanks for sharing your rant, Ken. I feel your frustration.
This is a strange time to be a boxing fan thanks to social media and comment sections under almost every online article about the sport. On one hand, it can be interesting to read the opinions of fellow boxing fanatics from around the globe (and engaging to converse with them), but it can also be a pain in the butt given the significant number of self-defined “hardcore” fans that have not grown up with the sport (as you probably did), haven’t watched it as much or as long as you have, and probably have never enjoyed a live club show (as you obviously have). To many of these “fans” the boxing world is whatever they see (and hear) on HBO and Showtime and it’s a very small universe. The center of that universe is the dreaded pound-for-pound list. (I should point out that HBO, with the help of your boy Roy Jones, turned that mythical title/rankings into the marketing tool that promoters piggy backed on and young fans foolishly embraced as gospel during the ‘90s.)
I don’t have a huge problem with pound-for-pound worshippers. Fans can anoint whoever they wish as the “best boxer in the world, regardless of weight.” If they have the spare time (and are geeky enough), they can rank the best from 1-to-10 (or 1-to-50 for all I care). And I don’t mind when they get all worked up about it when publications and members of the media rank different fighters or have a different order, or when they argue among themselves about it. (I’m just not going to bother publishing my own list and I’m not going to get too involved with their bickering.)
The thing that bugs me about the pound-for-pound fixation (as well as the non-stop year-end award compilations/comparisons) is that some of those fans (and sadly some members of the media) basically only recognize a dozen world-class boxers and have no time for or interest in ANY OTHER BOXERS or MATCHUPS. Only top-five contenders in the sport’s glamor divisions matter to these fans. Once a fighter is past his prime, they’re done with him. The only prospects they give a rat’s ass about are the ones that they are CERTAIN are not only headed for multiple world titles, but their cherished P4P list (Errol Spence Jr., who I like, is a perfect example). They can never just enjoy a fight between two promising up-and-comers or two solid professionals. A boxing match only has significance in their view if the winner is headed toward “elite status” (in other words, the f__king pound for pound).
The sad thing about this mentality is that it sets the poor bastards up for endless frustration. Because they only recognize the men on the pound-for-pound list (and the few world-famous players who are no longer P4P ranked or not yet in the top 10, such as Mayweather, Pacquiao, Klitschko, Mikey Garcia and Anthony Joshua), there are only seven or eight matchups that they deem worthy of taking place. How insane is that!?!?
The only fight for Canelo Alvarez is Gennady Golovkin. The only fight for GGG is Andre Ward. The only guy Ward can fight is Sergey Kovalev (and vice versa). The only rival they wanted for Roman Gonzalez was Naoya Inoue. They want Manny Pacquiao to fight Bud Crawford or retire. They want Crawford to abandon 140 pounds because he’s the only pound-for-pound ranked junior welterweight! If Mikey Garcia can’t get a showdown with Jorge Linares, they want his ass to jump to 140 and fight Crawford. Lomachenko is wasting his time at 130, they say, he’s gotta fight Mikey at 135 and then Crawford at 140 (maybe in back-to-back fights!)
And it goes on and on. After Indongo’s excellent performance against Burns I saw a number of Twitter-heads pooh-pooh a potential undisputed title unification with Crawford because the Namibian isn’t a pound-for-pound talent in their view and in their minds Bud would simply wipe his ass with the IBF-WBA beltholder.
The only thing that goes through my head when I read this stuff is “Wow, being a boxing fan must really suck for you.” They literally can only anticipate and/or enjoy eight or nine bouts per year: the few times pound-for-pound ranked boxers are matched together, the top three or four Fight-of-the-Year candidates (and some of them hate on these bouts if they don’t involve at least one “elite” boxer) and a couple KO-of-the-Year candidates.
They’re missing out, Ken, but hey, it’s their loss.
INDONGO VS. CRAWFORD
Dear Mr Fischer,
That’s consecutive unification bouts in the junior welterweight division that have been hopelessly one-sided. I favored Julius Indongo against Ricky Burns, but expected their fight to be much more competitive than it was. The Blue Machine was not to be denied, and when Burns was unable to step in and smother those long punches that Indongo loaded up from the opening bell, the writing was on the wall. A tip of the hat to the winner.
Provided Terence Crawford takes care of business against Felix Diaz (who I do not see as a very live underdog), I believe another unification fight is in the cards, because I don’t see anyone in the division who represents a bigger payday for Indongo than Crawford (who I believe would be very capable of smothering Indongo, as well as beating him to the punch with the jab and straight cross). I like Indongo and hope he gets a shot at an undisputed championship if he wants it, but I think Terrence Crawford could beat him with either hand. I don’t yet know how well Indongo can fight inside, but I’m quite certain Bud’s got that part of the sport down.
How do you see that fight (as a possibility and as a matchup)? I think Indongo’s style would make for a very entertaining fight against Crawford and I can’t see it going the distance like Burns-Indongo (Mr. Burns, for all his valor, spent a great deal of time avoiding the power shots) unless “machine” refers to an iron chin as well as work rate. I’m very hopeful that this one can be made. We might get two undisputed champions by the end of the year! 2017!
I hope this finds you and yours well, and I send the very best. Thank you again for your work and your wit. As always, the mailbags make me a better (and more thoroughly entertained) fan of the sport. Very Respectfully. – John
Thanks for the very kind words, John.
I agree that Crawford represents the most lucrative bout for Indongo, and I view the African as the most significant fight for THE RING 140-pound champ outside of getting a break against Pacquiao or one of the top welterweights (which is unlikely).
Provided Terence Crawford takes care of business against Felix Diaz (who I do not see as a very live underdog), I believe another unification fight is in the cards. From your lips to God’s ear, John. I hope you are right. By the way, I wouldn’t casually dismiss Diaz as some kind of “stay busy” fight for Crawford or a “tune-up” the unification tilt you and other hardcore fans want to see. The Dominican Olympic champ is a squat and athletic, unorthodox southpaw with a herky jerky rhythm, a lot of confidence and a penchant for showboating. In other words, it won’t be easy for Bud to shine against Diaz.
I like Indongo and hope he gets a shot at an undisputed championship if he wants it, but I think Terrence Crawford could beat him with either hand. I’d favor Crawford to beat Indongo for the same reason I thought he’d beat Viktor Postol, he’s the more versatile boxer-puncher. However, I don’t think he will dominate Indongo the way he did the Iceman. Indongo’s got more speed and power at his disposal, and he’s active without overextending himself, so I think it would be difficult for Crawford to get inside where you think the American will take over the fight. I envision a competitive distance fight.
BURNS-INDONGO, THE UKRAINIAN TRIO & BAD CHINS
Been reading your mailbag for a while (first thing I usually look for on a Monday and Friday). Hope I can make the mailbag this time.
Before the Burns-Indongo fight this weekend, the cynic in me thought that it was one of the worst title unifications I could remember. Burns, while a highly capable fighter, has consistently fallen short on the highest level and his status as a three-division champion is emblematic of today’s paper belt era, his biggest wins in terms of name-recognition being Rocky Martinez or his robbery over Ray Beltran. Indongo meanwhile was still a relatively unknown quantity, a win over a faded Kaizer Mabuza and a 40-second blowout over an admittedly worthy beltholder in Troyanovsky don’t provide the most accurate yardstick of someone’s ability on the world stage.
Nonetheless, I found myself rooting for my fellow African and was mightily impressed by Indongo. This guy is the real deal! Being freakishly tall for your weight class isn’t a guarantee of success, otherwise Ali Funeka would’ve been a dominant lightweight champ (Maravilla’s sweet KO over Williams comes to mind as well) but the Blue Machine fully utilised this advantage; his jab and body work was top class as well as his footwork. He won every single round (can’t see how a judge could get a 118-110 score let alone the absurd 116-112) and just thoroughly outclassed a decent fighter in every way on hostile turf. The fight to go for now is obviously Crawford to unify all 4 belts. Indongo’s awkward southpaw stance and reach would give the pound for pound star a tough challenge (assuming he gets past Diaz which is no guarantee). Also loved the fact that the guy is all smiles away from the ring!
Turning briefly back to the week before. Lomachenko was completely outstanding but his display of otherworldly skills wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before, just cemented his position. I was more impressed with Gvozdyk, who completely obliterated the undefeated (by rights) Yunieski Gonzalez, adding to a resume that is already highly impressive given his short pro career. He is ready for a title shot. Less impressive was Usyk. He showed phenomenal talent as well and was never in danger of losing but Hunter is really someone he should be putting away. He can become an all time great cruiserweight but I’m unsure he would do well at heavy. He would likely be small for the division and doesn’t have the game-changing power to make a difference. His knockouts have generally come from wearing his opponents down.
Lastly, in last week’s mailbag, you answered a question on great chins and it got me thinking. Obviously we know what makes a good chin, but less clear is what constitutes a bad one. To give three examples:
1) Wlad Klitshko was knocked out 3 times earlier in his career but hasn’t been koed in 12 years since he improved his defence. Is he a case of bad defence or bad chin?
2) Amir Khan takes a lot of flak here in the U.K. for having a poor chin but does he really? His first bad loss was in the rookie stage of his career in a manner similar to say Danny Jacobs or Badou Jack, neither of whom have major question marks over their chins. His loss to Garcia came about more due to him getting overconfident and overreaching himself. And his loss to Canelo was against a man much bigger than himself whilst fighting at an uncomfortable weight class. Does he have a suspect chin considering the above?
3) Hassan N’dam in his fights against Quillin and Lemieux was knocked down 10 times in total but was never in any serious trouble at all and both fights were highly competitive. In fact, I don’t think Quillin won a single round in which he didn’t score a knockdown in their fight meaning a score of 111-111. Does he have a poor chin? If he could stay upright, he’d be a top tier middleweight.
So what exactly makes a poor chin?
My mythical matchup: I don’t know how much amateur boxing you know about but you might have heard of Felix Savon, 3 time Olympic heavyweight gold medalists. Savon vs prime versions of David Haye, Evander Holyfield, Marco Huck, Dwight Muhammad Qawi and Usyk at cruiserweight.
Sorry if this is a bit long, I don’t know many people who follow boxing to any great depth so I have a lot of thoughts whirring in my mind. Also super stoked to go see Brook-Spence, taking place where I go to uni (college?) and have grabbed tickets for! All the best! – Hatau in Sheffield, England
Thanks for sharing your many thoughts and questions, Hatau. Something tells me that you won’t have any problem penning your dissertation when you get to that point in your college career. Enjoy Brook-Spence!
That’s an interesting mythical matchup. I am, of course, familiar with Felix Savon (he carried Cuba’s amateur heavyweight boxing torch after the great Teofilo Stevenson). I even recall watching some of his Olympic (and maybe some of his Pan-Am Games) bouts on TV back in the day. I’m assuming that you’re matching the peak amateur version of Savon with the prime professional versions of Haye, Holyfield, Huck, Qawi and Usyk (even though the Ukrainian may not have hit his pro prime yet) in 10- or 12-round pro bouts. If this is so, I favor all of the pros to gradually break him down and stop him late, or outpoint him over the distance. There’s a chance that he could KO the somewhat chinny Haye with his monster right hand, and I can envision a scenario where he outboxes Huck and checks Usyk with his length and power, but I gotta favor the pros – especially hall of famers like Holyfield and Qawi – to beat even a great amateur in a professional boxing match.
Indongo won every single round (can’t see how a judge could get a 118-110 score let alone the absurd 116-112) and just thoroughly outclassed a decent fighter in every way on hostile turf. I agree. I thought Indongo clearly shut out Burns.
I was more impressed with Gvozdyk, who completely obliterated the undefeated (by rights) Yunieski Gonzalez, adding to a resume that is already highly impressive given his short pro career. He is ready for a title shot. I think The Nail is top light heavyweight contender but I’d like to see him fight a hard 10-round bout before going for a major world title. I know Gvozdyk is 30, but at 13-0, and having never fought past eight rounds, I think he could use two to three more bouts under his belt before aiming for Adonis Stevenson or the Ward-Kovalev winner.
Less impressive was Usyk. Geez, you’d think Michael Hunter busted Usyk up, dropped him a couple times and got screwed on the decision the way fans talk about his performance.
He showed phenomenal talent as well and was never in danger of losing but Hunter is really someone he should be putting away. Why do you think that? How familiar are you with Hunter? How do you know Hunter doesn’t have a terrific chin? The American, who was an amateur standout, obviously has skill and heart. Why did you expect Usyk to wipe his ass with Hunter? Because the media and/or HBO was all over his d__k? So what?
He can become an all time great cruiserweight but I’m unsure he would do well at heavy. You’re getting WAY ahead of yourself. Forget about heavyweight. And hold up on proclaiming that he can be an ATG cruiserweight. I know Usyk was an Olympic gold medalist and a world amateur champ, and that at age 30, he’s gotta be moved fast in the pro ranks, but as of right now he’s a guy with 12 pro bouts. Granted, he’s a world titleholder with obvious skill and athleticism, and he’s arguably the top dog at 200 pounds, but it’s not like he wouldn’t have his hands full with a beast like Murat Gassiev or hardnosed never-say-die veterans, such as Denis Lebedev and Tony Bellew.
Lastly, in last week’s mailbag, you answered a question on great chins and it got me thinking. Obviously we know what makes a good chin, but less clear is what constitutes a bad one. To give three examples:
1)Wlad Klitshko was knocked out 3 times earlier in his career but hasn’t been koed in 12 years since he improved his defence. Is he a case of bad defence or bad chin? Klitschko’s defense wasn’t bad back in the day, and neither was his chin. He just had high-volume offense that occasionally left him open for a quick countershot or caused him to burn out if he was in with the rare heavyweight who could take his power. The late, great Emanuel Steward didn’t really teach him better defense, but rather showed him how to control his work rate, slow down the pace of the fight, and relax during a fight. It didn’t happen overnight but when it all began to gel, what we saw in Wladdy was improved ring generalship, not necessarily better defense.
2)Amir Khan takes a lot of flak here in the U.K. for having a poor chin but does he really? Well, he doesn’t have a good chin, but that shouldn’t earn him flak in the U.K. or the U.S. The man challenges himself despite certain shortcomings and that should be respected.
His first bad loss was in the rookie stage of his career in a manner similar to say Danny Jacobs or Badou Jack, neither of whom have major question marks over their chins. A lot of fans and media doubted Jacobs chin going into the GGG bout, and I’m sure the same folks will doubt Jack whenever he steps into the ring with the feared puncher.
His loss to Garcia came about more due to him getting overconfident and overreaching himself. Um, yeah, but Garcia’s monster left hook to his neck in Round 3 also had something to do with his stoppage.
And his loss to Canelo was against a man much bigger than himself whilst fighting at an uncomfortable weight class. True, and he also had the misfortune of being the smaller man against a very accurate puncher.
Does he have a suspect chin considering the above? Yes, he does. But a suspect chin is better than a bad chin. Khan is vulnerable to heavy handed sluggers or accurate punchers – think about the spaghetti legs Marcos Maidana gave him in Round 10 of their barnburner or when the faded Julio Diaz had him down and repeatedly rocked – but it’s not like he’s got a glass chin that shatters against anyone who clips him.
3)Hassan N’dam in his fights against Quillin and Lemieux was knocked down 10 times in total but was never in any serious trouble at all and both fights were highly competitive. I think he was in trouble a few times in each of those title bouts but his competitive spirit is so strong and his recuperative ability is so special that he was able to quickly overcome that adversity.
Does he have a poor chin? I don’t think he has a poor chin at all. If he did, Quillin would have beat him into submission by the mid-to-late rounds and Lemieux would have put him to sleep early. I think Ndam’s tendency to get dropped against hard hitters has more to do with poor balance/foot placement than it does with his chin.
If he could stay upright, he’d be a top tier middleweight. Ndam’s a legit lower-top-10 middleweight as he is. (He’s THE RING’s No. 7-rated 160 pounder.)
So what exactly makes a poor chin? Genetics. Same thing that grants fighters exceptional speed or power. Of course, form and technique can enhance one’s natural ability or help protect inherent weaknesses. And one’s mental strength and spirit also has an impact. A tight defense, exceptional conditioning, good ring generalship, the ability to relax and a strong will can help a fighter with a poor chin get through a grueling fight.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer