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Dougie’s Monday mailbag

24
Apr

JOSHUA VS. KLITSCHKO

Hi Dougie,

The fight draws near. What are your views on Wladimir Klitschko vs. Anthony Joshua? I think it made Klitschko angry and woke him up when he lost to Tyson Fury. I think we will see the best Klitschko we have seen in a long time when he fights AJ. Klitschko has never really been beat up or damaged in the ring so I think he has a couple of good fights left in him. Joshua has never fought anyone anywhere Klitschko’s calibre and has never been tested. His stamina and chin have never been tested. I look for Klitschko to KO AJ in the middle rounds.

It’s a shame that Luis Ortiz hurt his thumb and won’t be on the card. The guy he was fighting had no chance of winning anyway. The top guys seem to want no part of Ortiz!

Also, looking forward to Kovalev vs. Ward II. Sergey got shafted in the first fight. I doubt he will let this one go to the judges.

Who wins these heavyweight matchups:

  1. Wilder vs Miller.
  2. Fury vs Wilder.
  3. Ortiz vs Joshua.
  4. Miller vs Joshua.
  5. Ortiz vs Wilder.
  6. Fury vs Ortiz.

Keep up the good work. Love your column. – Mike

Thanks! Love your enthusiasm and bold pick in the big heavyweight title bout this Saturday. Very few fans and members of the sports media are picking the former champ and future hall of famer to upset the supposed Heir Apparent. If Klitschko does beat Joshua – especially if he stops the odds favorite in the middle rounds as you predict – you will get mad props from this boxing scribe. (And I will NOT allow any of these Twitter/comment section Know-It-Alls claim that they saw it coming because 99% of ‘em have been s___ing on Klitschko ever since the loss to Fury. Unless they go out on a limb as you did and straight-up predict “the upset special” between now and Friday, I will call bulls__t on every Armchair Eddie Futch that claims they picked Klitschko to win after the fact.)

What are your views on Wladimir Klitschko vs. Anthony Joshua? I don’t view AJ as an overwhelming favorite in this matchup. I think he can and probably will beat Klitschko, but I think the elite veteran is very live and likely has a few tricks up his sleeve that the British star has yet to see in the prize ring. To be honest, I’ve had a very hard time picking a winner in this one. I see Klitschko’s long jab bothering Joshua, but then I envision AJ countering the former champ’s jab with quick and well-timed right hands, but then I imagine the Ukrainian landing a compact hook that takes the Englishman’s legs, however, before I can give up on my beloved Black Colossus I picture the favorite exploding discombobulating up-jab/uppercut hybrid shots off Wladdy’s chin.

In other words, I’m visualizing a tit-for-tat contest, at least in the early going of the fight, and I can see both big men experiencing wobbly moments. But at the end of the day, this is a young man’s sport, so I slightly favor Joshua, probably by mid-to-late rounds TKO.

I think it made Klitschko angry and woke him up when he lost to Tyson Fury. I think we will see the best Klitschko we have seen in a long time when he fights AJ. I agree. Or maybe I’m just being conned by his Twitter account. Whatever the case, I’m excited about his chances and this matchup.

Klitschko has never really been beat up or damaged in the ring so I think he has a couple of good fights left in him. Maybe. Maybe not. He may not have experienced a lot of grueling battles but there’s a lot of mileage on his “fighter’s odometer.” Wladdy’s going on 21 years in the hurt business and Saturday’s showdown will be his 69th pro bout. Think about all the training camps, sparring sessions and road work between all of those fights. It takes a toll.

Joshua has never fought anyone anywhere near Klitschko’s calibre and has never been tested. It’s true he’s never faced anyone near Klitschko’s level of talent, skill and experience, but he did receive a decent gut check from Dillian Whyte.

His stamina and chin have never been tested. His chin and recuperative ability was tested by Whyte in my opinion. His chin didn’t pass with flying colors but he remained upright and kept his cool. That’s says a lot about AJ.

I look for Klitschko to KO AJ in the middle rounds. Bold pick, my man. Respect.

The top guys seem to want no part of Ortiz! True, but if AJ wins on Saturday perhaps Eddie Hearn’s connection to Showtime and Ortiz’s new affiliation with Al Haymon will entice the U.S. cable network to push to for a Joshua-Ortiz showdown in the near future. (Or Wilder vs. Ortiz.)

Also, looking forward to Kovalev vs. Ward II. Sergey got shafted in the first fight. I doubt he will let this one go to the judges. He’d be a fool if he did.

Who wins these heavyweight matchups?

  1. Wilder vs Miller. Big Baby by late TKO (if he can get a couple tune-up fights under his belt)
  2. Fury vs Wilder. Fury by UD or late TKO (again, if the big goof can get some tune-up bouts first). If Wilder gets Miller or Fury cold (coming off long layoffs) I think they would still give him hell but his power would bail him out by the late rounds.
  3. Ortiz vs Joshua. AJ by UD.
  4. Miller vs Joshua. AJ by UD or late TKO.
  5. Ortiz vs Wilder. Ortiz by mid-to-late KO
  6. Fury vs Ortiz. Fury by UD.

 

MONSTER NIGHT OF BOXING
Hello Doug,
Over here in the UK we had access to 4 huge cards tonight headlined by: Porter v Berto, Murray v Rosado, Langford v Khurtsidze and Valdez v Marriaga. I’ve not had a chance to catch up on the Top Rank card so I can’t comment on that but the other three have lots of talking points.

1) I’ll start with Porter v Berto. The headbutts decided the fight. The sequence before the conclusion started with a huge headbutt that pretty much shocked Berto to his boots. I’ve not noticed the referee in charge of that contest before but I thought he was poor. A fighter as wild as Porter needs to be kept in check with a strong ref but this ref wasn’t up to scratch. What did you make of the ref? And where do you see Berto go from here? Retirement, possibly?

On the undercard there was a pretty good performance from Jermell Charlo and a knockout of the year candidate. He looked like he was 2 weight divisions above Hatley. Was it known what both fighters’ weights were on fight night? After the fight he could be heard shouting sleep which I thought was rather uncalled for. Apparent from both his attitude and his brother’s attitude which might stop them, I think the Charlo’s will take over boxing. Do you think Charlo is the best at 154 ahead of Andrade, Lara, etc?

2) Murray v Rosado. How did you score it? One of the scorecards returned from the judges was horrific. It’s scoring like that which makes US fighters reluctant to fight over here. I had Murray winning it but I wouldn’t have had an issue if Rosado pipped it by a round or two because it was that sort of fight. The fact that one judge only gave him one round is a joke.

3) You called it spot on with regards to the Langford vs The Anvil bout. The squat Georgian caught him with a lovely left hook and now he’s in line for BJ Saunders. How do you see that fight going?

And finally, will you be on this side of the pond for the Wembley showdown on Saturday? It’s 5am here so I apologise if some of it doesn’t make sense. Keep well. – Hasan, England

I will be watching Joshua-Klitschko from my cozy home here in Inglewood, California, live on Showtime and then the replay later in the evening (11:00 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO.

I’ll start with Porter v Berto. The headbutts decided the fight. I think headbutts were definitely a factor in the contest but it was ultimately decided by the relentless, mauling pressure from the younger, fresher, stronger welterweight.

The sequence before the conclusion started with a huge headbutt that pretty much shocked Berto to his boots. I think Berto’s legs/punch resistance was pretty much beat out of him before the start of the ninth round.

I’ve not noticed the referee in charge of that contest before but I thought he was poor. I’ve viewed Mark Nelson as one of the most experienced and competent U.S. referees for several years.

A fighter as wild as Porter needs to be kept in check with a strong ref but this ref wasn’t up to scratch. What did you make of the ref? I thought Nelson did alright. It wasn’t his fault Berto’s and Porter’s heads kept clashing, and it wasn’t anything the fighters could help. That’s just how their styles meshed in the ring. They are both, squat, muscle-bound welterweights that tend to lunge forward with arcing power shots. The technique and timing of both fighters was a bit off because they only fought once in 2016.

I don’t think the headbutts were intentional on Porter’s part. He’s usually the fighter who suffers bad facial cuts from head clashes, so I really don’t think he goes into fight looking to make that happen. The more cuts he gets around his eyes, the more susceptible that area of his face will be to future lacerations and the shorter his career will be. 

And where do you see Berto go from here? Retirement, possibly? I hope so. He’s been in a lot of hard, punishing fights, he’s already won a couple of world titles and fought on big stages, and he’s made a lot of money. I think it’s time for Berto to move on. He’s very nice man and I’d hate to see him suffer any sort of permanent neurological damage.

On the undercard there was a pretty good performance from Jermell Charlo and a knockout of the year candidate. I knew he’d ice Hatley, but the Dallas native made it interesting.

He looked like he was 2 weight divisions above Hatley. Was it known what both fighters’ weights were on fight night? They both put on their unfair share of extra pounds following the weigh-in (Hatley with the help of an IV). They’re modern fighters, bro. Like I said in Friday’s mailbag, Charlo edge has nothing to do with size; it was all about superior skill and technique.

After the fight he could be heard shouting sleep which I thought was rather uncalled for. Hey, they don’t like each other and neither was going to fake it before or after the fight. It is what it is. We can’t all be English gentlemen, LOL.

Apparent from both his attitude and his brother’s attitude which might stop them, I think the Charlos will take over boxing. It all depends on who (and how often) they fight. I like their attitudes and I wish them luck.

Do you think Charlo is the best at 154 ahead of Andrade, Lara, etc.? No. I think Lara deserves to be numero uno. THE RING ranks Charlo one spot ahead of Andrade (at No. 3), but if they fought I’d slightly favor Boo Boo.

Murray v Rosado. How did you score it? I had it 115-113 (or seven rounds to five) for Rosado. I thought a draw or 115-113 for Murray would have been fair. Cruiserweight titleholder Tony Bellew, who was an excellent color commentator, had a tally of 115-114 for Murray, which was just fine. I’m not totally mad at the official 116-112 card for Murray, even though I think that judge gave him the benefit of every doubt. The 119-109 card from Polish judge Leszek Jankowiak was the most egregious score in favor of a UK fighter on UK soil since New York’s Carlos Ortiz Jr. scored the Ricky Burns-Ray Beltran fight for The Rickster.

One of the scorecards returned from the judges was horrific. It was criminal.

It’s scoring like that which makes US fighters reluctant to fight over here. Yeah, but I’m not going to act like grossly biased official scorecards like that one don’t pop up in favor of American boxers in the good ole US of A.

You called it spot on with regards to the Langford vs The Anvil bout. You didn’t need to be possessed by the ghost of Ray Arcel to see that one coming. Langford simply wasn’t ready to face a beast like Khurtsidze yet. I hope he bounces back fully from the setback.

The squat Georgian caught him with a lovely left hook and now he’s in line for BJ Saunders. How do you see that fight going? I think Billy Joe will have his hands full with Khurtzy but I think he can out-point the mighty midget if he has a good camp and a good night.

 

REEVALUATING SHAWN PORTER

Dougie,

Up until last night I thought I had the measure of Porter – solid, B+ fighter always destined to come up a little short against the top guys.

Now, I might be changing my tune. Maybe it’s just a case of looking good against a guy on the downward swing, but the Porter who beat Berto unleashed hell with that body attack and looked more deliberate and less flailing on the inside. I had the Porter-Thurman fight 7-5 in favor of Keith. Put a little more polish on Porter and I could easily see it flipping the other way.

The fight I’d really like to see though is Porter vs Danny Garcia. He’d have to worry about eating some shots on the way in, but so long as he can avoid the left hook I think Porter outmuscles Garcia and pummels him into a late TKO.

Then, take the winner of that fight and let him fight the winner of Thurman vs Spence/Brook for all the marbles. Who do you see coming out on top of that mini-tourney? Best. – Sean McDonough

I’m going to continue to ride with my fellow ponytailed Halfrican-American Kool Keith, although I doubt he’ll beat any of his potential future opponents decisively – the welterweight division is deep and very competitive.

If Porter is able to fight more than once a year and get some real momentum going, I can see him beating Thurman, Garcia and the Brook-Spence winner if he has a good night. I can also see the Brook-Spence winner taking over the 147-pound division.

There are a lot of good welterweight matchups to be made. Let’s hope they happen this year and next.

I’m glad to hear from at least one fan who thinks Porter beat Berto with more than just headbutts. I agree that his body attack was the key to victory (as it could be in his rematch with Thurman and potential showdowns with Garcia and the Brook-Spence winner).

Regarding the “flailing on the inside,” I think the more active Porter is, the less we will see of that.

 

CAN OSCAR VALDEZ BE A SUPERSTAR?

Hi Dougster,

Do you think Oscar Valdez has a good chance to become another Mexican Super Hero?

The first one I embraced as such was JCC. No need to explain why. Canelo has crossed over, but as you know, there are many, MANY people in Mexico who hate him (for the record, I think they’re nuts).

In Valdez’s case, I cannot think of a reason why not to like him. He refrained from the pro-money not once, but twice, to represent his country in the Olympics. Has a take-no-prisoners attitude. Trains his ass off. Has some freaking boxing skills, and seems down to earth.

So, from both a marketing and boxing perspective, I think he has the tools to cross over. I really hope he does.

Is it too early to start beating the stardom-hope drums on this kid? – Carlos, from Hermosillo, México

Nah, it’s never too early beat the drums on a promising young pro, especially after he passes his first gut check in the manner than Valdez did against a legit featherweight contender and worthy title challenger like Miguel Marriaga.

Valdez is in a very competitive division but we can’t question his mettle going into any matchup with the 126-pound elite (which includes Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton, Abner Mares and Gary Russell Jr.). We know the Nogales native gets tougher as the action gets hotter.

I don’t know if he can be “super star,” but I think he can be developed into regional attraction (Southern California, Arizona and Texas) over the next two years given his genuine personality, bi-lingual/bi-cultural background, fan-friendly style and willingness to challenge himself. All he needs are the right dance partners. Hopefully, boxing politics don’t hold him back.

Do you think Oscar Valdez has a good chance to become another Mexican Super Hero? I don’t know about that. You gotta have super powers to be a super hero, no? Oscar’s a badass, don’t get me wrong. He can be hero, like a masked vigilante, Batman or Punisher style, but I don’t think he’ll become Mexico’s Superman. He hits hard but he doesn’t have a super-punch like a Ruben Olivares or a Carlos Zarate. He’s got skills and technique but he’s not laser-perfect-sharp like a Finto Lopez or a JM Marquez. He’s a tough, rugged hombre but I don’t think he’s got inhuman punch resistance like the late, great Sal Sanchez or the prime Julio Cesar Chavez.

But hey, it’s still all good, people love Batman and Punisher. Boxing fans will love Valdez once they get to know him.

In Valdez’s case, I cannot think of a reason why not to like him. There is no reason not to like Valdez. He’s a badass in the ring and a prince outside of it.

He refrained from the pro-money not once, but twice, to represent his country in the Olympics. True.

Has a take-no-prisoners attitude. True (maybe to his detriment).

Trains his ass off. He LOVES training.

Has some freaking boxing skills, and seems down to earth. True. And he IS down to earth.

So, from both a marketing and boxing perspective, I think he has the tools to cross over. I hope you’re right. I think you are.

 

WHO DOES AJ REMIND YOU OF?

Dougie, long time no speak.

I am very high on AJ (Froch was my favourite fighter until he retired, now its AJ)

Looking at AJ on the bag, his speed and power look incredible, his conditioning is awesome: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wg2pb8aZw8

(IFLTV with the goods as always)

Is he ANYTHING like Tyson

Hasn’t got the head movement and bob and weave Tyson has, but he’s twice the size and has got explosive power and speed like Tyson right? He also has the Tyson-esque I KO everyone mystique (which will become really serious if he nails Klit)

People be saying all sorts!

– he is like Tyson, he’s a monster

– others are like no he’s stiff and s__tty, Tyson eats him

– others are like nah he’d KO Tyson, it’s a next gen thing’

Is the Bruno comparison HARSH?

I think that’s a bit unfair … he is stiff but he’s not that 1 dimensional and I think his psychological game is way better (confidence, commitment, tenacity, continual improvement)

Talking of psychology

People complaining about his lack of personality just don’t understand him. He’s awesome, carries positivity and underneath it all he has a ruthless streak in him. He is VERY driven too. The billionaire chat doesn’t indicate a lack of love for the game as some suggest, it indicates pure unadulterated drive.

Who he like! Who else can we liken him to?

Who would you liken him to? Even if it’s a ‘he has this kind of potential isn’t there yet’ comparison

Cheers for the education each Monday and Friday. – Ed, London

Thanks for the kind words, Ed.

To me, Joshua is kind of like a modern version of George Foreman. He’s a big, strong natural talent who won an Olympic gold medal after very few amateur bouts and became an instant destroyer when he turned pro.

There are obvious differences, of course. Young Foreman was sullen, brooding sort. AJ is more personable (at least on camera). Young Foreman’s technique, though while brutally effective, was a bit raw. AJ’s got very tight technique. And young Foreman was developed longer (with way more fights) before he fought for his first world title. However, Foreman fought during the Golden Age of the heavyweight division. Who knows? If he were around for today’s weak (by comparison) division, maybe he’d have been moved just as fast as Joshua was.

One thing’s for certain, Joshua’s style is like the young (and old) Foreman in that he’s at his best when he’s methodically walking and breaking down his opponent with a stiff jab, mean power shots and a debilitating body attack (especially when he gets his opponent along the ropes).

We might find out on Saturday if Joshua has the same stamina problems that young George had. Or maybe he’ll crush Klitschko with the same merciless efficiency that Foreman dispatched Joe Frazier and Ken Norton with.

Regarding the Tyson comparisons, AJ definitely has the speed, snap and power the Iron Mike possessed but he’s a tall, upright stalker (like Foreman), not a squat bob-and-weave pressure fighter (like Tyson or Frazier). And it’s still too early in AJ’s career to wonder how he would have fared against the prime Tyson.

Regarding the Bruno comparisons, you shouldn’t view that as a bad thing. Bruno could fight. He had a very good jab, if I recall, and respectable career (it’s not like he lost to any bums). And he was absolutely beloved (as I’m sure you know). If AJ realizes his potential, he’ll be even more popular than the Londoner.

 

BERTO-PORTER

Hi Doug:

I read and enjoy the mailbag every week. It is my favorite feature of the site.

I am really impressed with Harvey Dock as a referee. You never know he’s there until he needs to be there.

On the Berto-Porter fight, I felt the officiating was really good. Given the rough and tumble nature of it the referee and doctors correctly stayed right on top of things and the stoppage was appropriate as Berto was clearly gassed and defeated and didn’t need to be beaten down to the canvas.  I thought it was ridiculous that there were so many fans booing the medical checks. Your thoughts on the manner in which the fight was handled would be appreciated.

BTW, “Showtime” is not the right nickname for Porter. I’m thinking “Ace” as in Hudkins. Or Wildcat.

Historical MM: Hudkins and Porter.

Best Wishes. – Adam, Warshaw

Wow. An Ace Hudkins reference and mythical matchup. Very good. And I thought I was hardcore by bringing up James “Hard Rock” Green and Lou Brouillard in last week’s Friday mailbag.

I gotta go with Hudkins over Porter by decision in your mythical mauler matchup. The Nebraska native held his own in two middleweight title challenges to the great Mickey Walker.

I am really impressed with Harvey Dock as a referee. You never know he’s there until he needs to be there. I think Dock is the best young referee on the East Coast right now and he’s only going to get better.

On the Berto-Porter fight, I felt the officiating was really good. I agree with you but we may be in the minority with this opinion.

Given the rough and tumble nature of it the referee and doctors correctly stayed right on top of things and the stoppage was appropriate as Berto was clearly gassed and defeated and didn’t need to be beaten down to the canvas. Agreed.

I thought it was ridiculous that there were so many fans booing the medical checks. Same fans who would loudly and publicly blame and shame the officials if something tragic occurred to one of the fighters.

Your thoughts on the manner in which the fight was handled would be appreciated. I thought they worked as professionally as they could given the awkward and somewhat sloppy nature of the matchup.

Thanks for the kind words about the mailbag column.

 

WBA HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MADNESS

Dougie,

This is the heavyweight scene according to espn.com (4/20/2017):

IBF: Joshua

WBC: Wilder

WBO: Parker

WBA: Vacant

If Wladimir Klitschko vs Joshua somehow ends in a Draw, what would happen to the heavyweight titles (IBF & WBA)?

Shannon Briggs vs Fres Oquendo are in a WBA title fight, would the winner elevated to the SUPER-DUPER CHAMPION?

If you can just sort out this madness for us especially during a time in which the buzz for the heavyweights is getting up there, that would be greatly appreciated.

My prediction: Klitschko wins a majority-decision because he is fighting in England and it gets weird there because of the home field advantage for Joshua and the constant holding that Klitschko will do. Sorry it is just the way I see it guys.

What is your prediction? – Tim, Laguna, Philippines

I’m going with Joshua by mid-to-late stoppage but I don’t feel as confident about that pick as most of my media peers and fellow fans.

I agree that Klitschko’s clutch/clinch/grab-and-hold tactic is something that Joshua hasn’t dealt with before and could throw the younger man off his game, but if you believe that the fight taking place in England gives AJ a “home-field advantage” (and you’re probably right), what makes you think the referee will tolerate the holding and why are you picking the former champ to win a decision?

If Wladimir Klitschko vs Joshua somehow ends in a draw, what would happen to the heavyweight titles (IBF & WBA)? Joshua would retain the IBF title and the WBA belt would remain vacant until the Shannon Briggs-Fres Oquendo bout.

Shannon Briggs vs Fres Oquendo are in a WBA title fight, would the winner elevated to the SUPER-DUPER CHAMPION? No. The winner of bout will hold what is known as WBA’s “regular” heavyweight title as long as there is a winner in the Joshua-Klitschko showdown. The Joshua-Klitschko winner will earn the WBA’s “super” heavyweight title. The sanctioning organization doesn’t call it that because these dudes are freakin’ huge, it’s because the winner will be a unified beltholder. The WBA elevates its titleholders to “super champ” status if the unify major belts or if they make more than 10 titles defenses. (At least that’s how they used to justify it.) I know all this is confusing (especially when the WBA hands out an interim title to someone else, often giving them three “world champs” in one division), which is why THE RING only recognizes the holder of the “super” belt.

By the way, Briggs will always be the official HouseOfBoxing.com heavyweight champ because he had a hand in my becoming a fulltime boxing writer back in the day (which he probably regrets, but whatever…)

 

 

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

 

 

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