Dougie’s Friday mailbag
ANDRE WARD IS AN ‘ATG’
I like reading your mailbags because you provide such insight.
After Andre Ward’s rematch victory over Sergey Kovalev, someone wrote to you that he’s placing Ward alongside Floyd Mayweather Jr., but you think Mayweather has a better career.
I also somewhat agree that Ward is very close. If Ward beats Adonis Stevenson, I’ll place him over Floyd.
Floyd, in my opinion, beat lots of “not-in-their-prime” champions. His matchmaking skills were second to none. Always waited for his opponents to show a downslide before fighting them. Fought Juan Manuel Marquez with him being 4 pounds overweight. Canelo Alvarez when he was still a “toddler.” Waited for Manny Pacquaio to “get old.”
Sugar Ray Leonard went after Wilfred Benitez, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran in their prime. Came out of retirement for Marvin Hagler. All the all-time greats did that, and Ward followed suit. He cleared out the super middleweight division when they were all in their prime. Lost 3 years of his career & came back to beat the best 175-pound fighter – TWICE.
I know Floyd goes on about the 49-0 and beating lots of champions, but I believe people are looking at stats and not giving the stats any context. Example, victory No. 49 was Andre Berto, a former champion. But if he’d fought Errol Spence Jr. it would have made for a more competitive fight.
If Rocky Marciano could be “harassed” for fighting fighters past their prime, why not Floyd?
Personally, I don’t see him as a top 10 ATG because of his excessive matchmaking. But if Ward beats Stevenson (agree he may be past his prime) & maybe Artur Beterbiev or moves to cruiserweight to beat a champion, I would place him above Floyd for having a career where he beat mostly prime fighters.
Cheers. – Tofunmi from Lagos, Nigeria
You know I’m not one who appreciates Mayweather, or puts that much stock into the 49-0 (soon-to-be 50-0) record, or includes him among boxing’s all-time greats, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he deserves to be a first-ballot hall of famer (hey, maybe as a fighter AND as a matchmaker) and that, for the time being, his boxing resume FAR exceeds what Ward has accomplished to date.
Mayweather is a five-division champ. He won major world titles at 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds.
Ward is a two-division champ. He won titles at 168 and 175 pounds. I do keep in mind that Ward also earned championship recognition from THE RING in both divisions, which is an impressive feat (last fighter to do that was first-ballot hall of fame inductee Joe Calzaghe).
However, Mayweather held three RING titles – at lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight – so he’s got Ward beat by one belt.
Mayweather also fought 22 men who held major world titles, including one current hall of famer (Oscar De La Hoya) and four who will be first-ballot inductees (Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto). Ricky Hatton and Genaro Hernandez will no doubt be enshrined eventually (if not in the next couple years).[Editor’s note: I was reminded via social media that Mayweather has fought TWO current hall of famers, De La Hoya and Arturo Gatti. Gee, how did I forget that Gatti was in the International Boxing Hall of Fame? Oh that’s right, because I don’t think he should have been inducted when he was!]
I agree that many of the better names that Mayweather faced were well past their primes (most notably De La Hoya and Mosley), and it’s pretty clear that he faced others at the most opportune times for him (such as Marquez at welterweight in the natural featherweight’s first bout above 135 pounds). However, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Zab Judah and Jesus Chavez were all in their primes when Mayweather faced them. Not. Too. Shabby.
Ward, on the other hand, has faced a total of six opponents who have held major world titles. Six. Kovalev, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Chad Dawson, Arthur Abraham and Sakio Bika. These are/were all formidable fighters, but at the present time Froch is the only future hall-of-fame candidate. Maybe Kovalev will bounce back from the losses to Ward and accomplish enough to be considered a future hall of famer, but the current RING light heavyweight champ is going to need more scalps than Stevenson, Beterbiev and one of the cruiserweight beltholders to surpass Mayweather’s legacy.
That’s my opinion, anyway.
WARD AND KOVALEV ARE OVERRATED
Ward was on his way to wining and he deserved to win… but I don’t think I ever saw a fight stopped because of a low body blow. That was a very bad stoppage and it taints the sport. Micheal Spinks would have beaten both on the same night and I think a 1980 version of Mathew Saad Muhammad would have stopped both. A great technical fighter could beat Saad Muhammad or a human tank like Dwight Braxton, but neither Kovalev or Ward fits those descriptions. Both are good 175 fighters, though.
From 1970-1990 was a very good era of boxing, maybe not the top era, but a very good era. There’s a great YouTube video called “Infighting” on Roberto Duran and another on Joe Louis. Duran was a master. It’s easy to forget his technical skills in his peak since he fought so long. Louis was technically as gifted a fighter to ever step in the ring and a great, great puncher. People need to remember that old Joe was not recorded on modern video equipment yet he still looks fantastic all these years later. – Eugene
He certainly does to my eyes, Eugene.
A former light heavyweight contender named Paul Andrews (an excellent boxer-puncher from Buffalo, New York, who fought hall of famers Ezzard Charles, Harold Johnson and Joey Maxim in the mid-‘50s, and trained fighters in Southern California for a while long after his retirement) once told me this of Louis (who managed much of his career and briefly trained him): “He knew HOW to punch, WHEN to punch and WHERE to punch.” Which means Louis had technique, timing and accuracy (along with bone-jarring power and the understanding of how to paralyze a man by landing punches in the right spots).
After Andrews told me this, I collected a bunch of Louis’ fights on VHS (this was long before YouTube) and quickly fostered an appreciation of the Brown Bomber’s offensive brilliance. He was almost always in position to take his opponents’ heads off and he always delivered his power shots and combinations with maximum leverage.
And Duran? Forget about it. He was so amazingly talented that I’m awed by his performances when he was far past his prime. Seriously. I’m transfixed by the craft he exhibited in his decision losses to Marvin Hagler in 1983 (no shame there) and to The Marvelous One’s half-brother Robbie Sims in ’86 (I thought Duran deserved the nod). I could watch his ’89 masterpiece against Iran Barkley every day for the rest of my life.
I think the infighting video you mentioned highlights his systematic breakdown of Davey Moore for the WBA 154-pound title in ’83. As the narrator says, that’s another one of his fights worth studying.
But what’s the point of bringing up Duran and Louis? Are you saying Ward and Kovalev lack their “in-fighting” game and technique? Well, no s__t. You don’t have to be Eddie Futch to notice that. But so what? Louis is arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time and Duran is arguably one of the top five or 10 fighters, pound for pound, of all time.
Ward and Kovalev are just two of the best light heavyweights of 2017.
Ward was on his way to winning and he deserved to win… but I don’t think I ever saw a fight stopped because of a low body blow. How about the great Roberto Duran’s first world title victory against fellow hall of famer Ken Buchanan?
That was a very bad stoppage and it taints the sport. It wasn’t a good stoppage, that’s for sure. Does it really “taint” the sport? I don’t know. We see this brand of home cooking all the time, unfortunately. Some of us overlook it when the fighter we like is the beneficiary of the biased officiating, and most of us are just too damn jaded to give much of a s__t. Sadly, we’ve come to expect it.
Micheal Spinks would have beaten both on the same night and I think a 1980 version of Mathew Saad Muhammad would have stopped both. Yeah, I’d have to take the Jinx over both Ward and Krusher – maybe by stoppage (but not on the same night). MSM probably overwhelms both in the late rounds of good scraps. A great technical fighter could beat Saad Muhammad or a human tank like Dwight Braxton, but neither Kovalev or Ward fits those descriptions.
I think Ward is a very good technical fighter, but yeah, Braxton (AKA Muhammad Qawi) had WAY too much for him (and Kovalev). Both are good 175 fighters, though. Yes, and there’s nothing wrong with being “merely” good. It’s OK not to be “great.”
Mate, how unreal is this SUPERFLY card going to be! 2017….. such a fun year to be a boxing fan.
I’m so pumped for ‘The Monster’ Naoya Inoue to make his American debut on such an awesome card that features a sensational rematch of a fight of the year contender and an awesome matchup of world class, top contenders. I have to be honest though, Doug, I’ve never heard of Naoya Inoue’s opponent Antonio Nieves. After a quick BoxRec search, it looks like his last few fights have been at bantamweight and he lost by SD last time out. Is this a showcase fight for The Monster on US soil? Do you expect Nieves to give Inoue some problems?
I won’t ask for your predictions this far out, but how excited are you for each of these three Superfly match ups? I just don’t see how this card could not deliver. I have no idea what venue SUPERFLY will be held in, I’ve never been to America, but I feel like it belongs at the StubHub for some reason.
With all the controversy surrounding the low blows that Ward delivered, is there an actual definitive rule that states what area of the lower stomach is legal/illegal? I have always assumed it was up to the individual ref’s discretion. Watching as a fan, whenever I see a fighter with the groin protector and trunks up above the belly button, I’ve always been OK with any punches landing to the lower side of the belt line or even slightly below the belt line because I believe it is a deliberate tactic by the fighter to reduce the perceived legal scoring area of his opponent and let’s be honest, the old meat and two veg aren’t up that high. I may be totally off on this but I would appreciate your clarification.
Also, any chance you’ll be doing the international commentary for GGG V Canelo? (The Colonel didn’t have a great night calling Ward V Kovalev 2.)
The road to the real super-fight will be even more fun with SUPERFLY made official and Mikey Garcia V Adrien Broner announced. As boxing fans we’re being spoiled but I’m loving every minute of it.
Thanks for the time Doug and always pumping out the mailbags to get us through the week. The ‘Best I Faced’ with Iran Barkley was a top read and shout out to Steve Kim for the awesome GGG interview.
All the best to you and your family. Thanks again. – Zack (Melbourne, AUS)
Thanks for the very kind words, Zack.
I’m looking forward to both of HBO’s upcoming tripleheaders – the July 15 show topped by the Miguel Berchelt-Takashi Miura fight and the Sept. 9 card headlined by the Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez rematch – which are so darn good they are reminiscent of the “Boxing After Dark” telecasts of the late ‘90s/early 2000s.
I’m bummed that I won’t be able to be ringside for the July 15 show (my 25-year college reunion goes down that weekend and my wife, who I met in college and graduated with, REALLY wanted to go). So, I’m definitely going to cover the Sept. 9 show. That’s a card that if you’re a hardcore fan living within 100 miles of the venue you HAVE to attend it live.
I’m so pumped for ‘The Monster’ Naoya Inoue to make his American debut on such an awesome card that features a sensational rematch of a fight of the year contender and an awesome matchup of world class, top contenders. I don’t think there’s ever been this much anticipation for a Japanese fighter – or any sub-bantamweight fighter from outside of the U.S. – to make his debut on American soil. Boxing Geekdom and “Inoue-fever” have officially arrived.
I have to be honest though, Doug, I’ve never heard of Naoya Inoue’s opponent Antonio Nieves. That’s because he’s not a world-class fighter. He’s mature, solid pro who has only recently stepped up to the 10-round level. He’s not a journeyman by any stretch of the imagination, he can fight, but he’s not in Inoue’s class.
Is this a showcase fight for The Monster on US soil? Yes.
Do you expect Nieves to give Inoue some problems? No.
I won’t ask for your predictions this far out, but how excited are you for each of these three Superfly match ups? I think the Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez and Juan Estrada-Carlos Cuadras bouts are among the best matchups that can be made in boxing – in ANY division. Inoue-Nieves is a showcase bout but I’m still excited to get the opportunity to watch “The Monster” fight live (and I’m curious about how many fans he pulls in).
I just don’t see how this card could not deliver. You’d have to be one cynical, mopey son of a bitch to envision this card failing to live to up to expectations.
I have no idea what venue SUPERFLY will be held in, I’ve never been to America, but I feel like it belongs at the StubHub for some reason. Trust that intuition, Zack. The 8,000-seat outdoor arena in Carson, California, is EXACTLY where this card should go. Having said that, I wouldn’t be displeased if the card landed at The Forum in my hometown of Inglewood.
With all the controversy surrounding the low blows that Ward delivered, is there an actual definitive rule that states what area of the lower stomach is legal/illegal? Generally speaking any punch that lands below the belt is considered a low blow. If the waistband of a fighter’s trunks covers his bellybutton, most referees will consider punches that land on the beltline legal or borderline.
I have always assumed it was up to the individual ref’s discretion. It is.
Watching as a fan, whenever I see a fighter with the groin protector and trunks up above the belly button, I’ve always been OK with any punches landing to the lower side of the belt line or even slightly below the belt line because I believe it is a deliberate tactic by the fighter to reduce the perceived legal scoring area of his opponent and let’s be honest, the old meat and two veg aren’t up that high. If a punch clearly lands below the belt, it shot should not be considered legal. Even if it doesn’t land directly to the area of the fighter’s genitals, the force of a hard punch to the pelvis area can shift or cram the cup up into his groin. And that’s not OK.
Also, any chance you’ll be doing the international commentary for GGG V Canelo? There’s a chance. I’ve done color commentary on the international broadcasts for Canelo-Lopez, Canelo-Lara, Canelo-Kirkland (with your favorite The Colonel), Canelo-Khan and Canelo-Chavez Jr. (and maybe one other Canelo headliner), so it’s possible I could get that assignment on Sept. 16. (Fingers crossed.)
HEARN CLAIMS HE COULD’VE DONE IT BETTER
Eddie Hearn is at it again but he makes a good point. He would have done a s__t load more with the Ward-Kova PPV numbers if he was in charge.
See first ten mins here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=do0XPHRl1sg
He is unimpressed with the hype and drama around the fight and he’s right about one thing – how weird is Roc Nations lack of Jay Z!?!?
They must hate money.
Cheers and thanks for entertaining me twice per week. – Ed, London
Entertainment is what it’s all about, Ed.
And entertainment is what was lacking throughout the build-up to Ward-Kovalev II.
I agree with EVERYTHING Hearn had to say about the rematch – from its weak promotion to the potential it had to exceed the pay-per-view numbers of the first bout to how weird it is that Jay Z doesn’t participate in his own boxing promotions to Roc Nation’s very shaky future to his view on the fight itself – during the iFL TV interview.
And I also agree with Hearn’s boast that if he had promoted Ward-Kovalev II, he could have guaranteed at least 300,000 PPV buys.
Hearn is arguably the best promoter in boxing and Roc Nation is arguably the worst.
WARD’S BODY ATTACK
Good job choosing the body attack picture for the heading of your June 19 mailbag. The picture tells the story of the fight. Ward is banging away at Kovalev’s right side of the body, while one can see that the left side of Krusher’s body already looks deep red with some epidermal inflammation showing.
So the story is that while Kovalev was cashing and spending paychecks by headhunting, Ward was investing soundly to the body (with, yes, some side investments to the gonad area :)), and the strategy paid off. Kovalev was a spent boxer by the 8th round and I don’t see how he could have survived beyond the the 9th even with a standing count or a 5-minute foul rest. Yes, I would have preferred to see a cleaner conclusion, but it seems to me that the writing was on the wall, so to speak.
I wonder if Ward watched JC Chavez Sr fights leading to this rematch, because he followed a very JC-like strategy of investing to the body early even by losing rounds. Or maybe he just realized that this was the only strategy that he could win with against Kovalev’s long, straight, accurate punches.
Keep up the good work Dougie! High quality writing in sports journalism is becoming a rare commodity these days, so it’s always refreshing to read your prose. Cheers. – Carlos G., Providence RI (by way of Río Piedras, PR)
Thanks for those very kind words, Carlos.
I gotta be honest, I’ve never thought of comparing Ward to Chavez. Their styles are just too different in my opinion. Chavez was the quintessential pressure fighter – an expert at cutting off the ring with a high-volume body-head attack to back up his ring generalship. Ward’s the consummate craftsman who does whatever works – be it stick-and-move strategy, trap setting and counter-punching or maul-and-grapple tactics. However, one thing they do have in common is TENACITY.
I think best comparison (and highest compliment) for Ward is one of my all-time favorites, Bernard Hopkins. He’s fought like a more-athletic “old” version of B-Hop since the Super Six tournament. He’s a tough technician who isn’t shy (or apologetic) about getting down and dirty.
However, I think he would do well to study some of Bernard’s fights and learn how to be a bit more subtle with the low blows. Tony Weeks let him get away with some fairly blatant stuff against Kovalev. Going forward, the camps of Ward’s opponents are going to really put a lot of pressure on the referee to watch him closely and to penalize him for gross infractions. Ward’s gonna have to be sneakier from now on.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer