Dougie’s Monday mailbag
MORE GREAT MATCHUPS!
Dear Mr. Fischer,
2017 is going to be the best year for boxing in well over a decade. I can’t recall one since the turn of the century that has done as well after six months, and the six still to come look better.
We will get an undisputed 10 stone champion when Bud Crawford and Julius Indongo meet on 19 August. Bud is one of my favorite active fighters to watch, and I think he has the goods to make some serious noise over the long haul, but I still find myself pulling for the Blue Machine as an underdog story. If he can walk into his opponent’s territory over three consecutive fights and walk out an undisputed champion, I would put his on the short list of best three-fight series in history. Which such runs make your list?
Vasyl Lomachenko will get to showcase his talent against an overmatched (but still very game) Manuel Marriaga. I thought Marriaga had a good outing against Oscar Valdez, and I like his style, but I don’t see how he can win against High Tech. Any reason for me to believe it will be more of a two-way action than showcase fight?
Oleksandr Usyk joined the World Boxing Super Series (which makes that tournament even more compelling that the well-recalled Super Six in my eyes). I like Usyk or Murat Gassiev to win the big enchilada, but I think Mairis Briedis is something of a dark horse threat. Who do you favor?
October 7 will give us another fantastic Leo Santa Cruz rematch, this time with Abner Mares. I think Mares looked great in his most recent fight, but Santa Cruz’s activity against much better opposition has me thinking that we’ll get the same result with wider points. Do you think the tweaks to Mares’ style will improve the action?
I’ll have more to say about Billy Joe Saunders’ proposed fight against Willie Monroe Jr. if that fight is made. Suffice to say that I think the Brit could do worse (he did, in his first title defense) and that I hope the match gets made.
I hope this finds you and your family well, Doug. It has been a great year for the sport we love, and it’s been much better for your effort and coverage. I look forward to the bag tomorrow and send all the very best to you and yours in the meanwhile. Very Respectfully. – John
Thanks for the very kind (and “very respectful”) words, John. It’s nice to see hardcore fans acknowledge the outstanding run of quality matchups that have been made this year. There’s always things to complain about in boxing, but the good has far outweighed the bad this year (and the best is probably yet to come).
It looks like Billy Joe Saunder’s WBO middleweight title defense against Willie Monroe Jr. is set for Sept. 16 at the Copper Box Arena in London. It probably won’t produce a Fight of the Year candidate but it’s a quality matchup between confident and competent southpaw boxer-technicians. Saunders will probably be the odds favorite but if the same version of BJS that struggled with Artur Akavov shows up against El Mongoose, he’s gonna lose his WBO belt.
We will get an undisputed 10 stone champion when Bud Crawford and Julius Indongo meet on 19 August. The undisputed “Ten Stone” champ. I gotta admit, that sounds a lot cooler than junior welterweight, super lightweight or 140-pound champ.
If (Indongo) can walk into his opponent’s territory over three consecutive fights and walk out an undisputed champion, I would put his on the short list of best three-fight series in history. Best three-fight series (and I assume you’re talking about three consecutive victories, not just three consecutive quality opponents) in all of boxing history? Nah man. Maybe among the best three-fight series of the past 10-15 years. But ALL of boxing history? Come on, bro, professional boxing has been around since before the turn of the LAST Century.
Which such runs make your list? Dude, I can’t give you a list of the best three-fight win streaks of all time. That would take at least an entire week of research (no exaggeration). I can give you a few runs that have occurred since I’ve been a hardcore fan/covered boxing that come to mind (and are confirmed by a quick BoxRec check):
The first one that pops in my head is Manny Pacquaio’s three-bout run from December 2008 to November 2009, which saw him defeat current hall of famer Oscar De La Hoya (admittedly faded, but still a strong odds favorite and Manny’s first bout over 135 pounds), then-RING “Ten Stone” champ Ricky Hatton and then-WBO welterweight titleholder Miguel Cotto.
De La Hoya had an excellent run between June 1996 and April ’97 when he beat Julio Cesar Chavez (definitely faded but still the WBC “Ten Stone” titleholder with an unreal record of 96-1-1), then-unbeaten (41-0) Miguel Angel Gonzalez and then-WBC welterweight champ Pernell Whitaker (past prime, but still P4P No. 1 with a 40-1-1 record that should have read: “42-0”).
Oscar’s Puerto Rican rival, Felix Trinidad, earned hardcore fan respect early in his IBF welterweight title reign when he turned back the challenges of a still-serviceable Hector Camacho (43-2 at the time), Yory Boy Campas (56-0) and Oba Carr (32-0) in 1994.
Glen Johnson earned THE RING’s Fighter of the Year award when he won the IBF title by beating Clinton Woods, defended it with a stoppage of Roy Jones Jr. and then won THE RING championship with a close decision over Antonio Tarver in 2004.
From March 2004 to May 2005, the late Diego Corrales scored a rematch split nod over Joel Casamayor (30-1 at the time), a come-from-behind TKO of then unbeaten (35-0) Acelino Freitas and an epic up-from-the-canvas stoppage of Jose Luis Castillo.
Joe Calzaghe’s last three bouts (from Novembers 2007-2008) deserve mention even though the two legends he beat in back-to-back fights were far removed from their primes: a 168-pound title unification decision over then-undefeated (39-0) Mikkel Kessler, THE RING/lineal light heavyweight title winning split nod over Bernard Hopkins and career finale rout of Jones Jr.
Some honorable mentions: Evander Holyfield’s back-to-back victories over Mike Tyson followed by his rematch TKO of Michael Moorer (from Novembers ’96 to ’97) and Winky Wright’s back-to-back decisions over Shane Mosley followed by his near-shutout of the come-backing Trinidad (November 2004-May 2005).
Vasyl Lomachenko will get to showcase his talent against an overmatched (but still very game) Manuel Marriaga. Miguel. The challenger’s first name is Miguel, and yes, he’s as game and competent as they come.
I thought Marriaga had a good outing against Oscar Valdez, and I like his style, but I don’t see how he can win against High Tech. Me neither.
Any reason for me to believe it will be more of a two-way action than showcase fight? Nope.
Oleksandr Usyk joined the World Boxing Super Series (which makes that tournament even more compelling that the well-recalled Super Six in my eyes). Like Trinidad agreeing to take part in HBO/Don King’s 2001 middleweight title unification tournament, Usyk MAKES the WBSS cruiserweight tournament.
I like Usyk or Murat Gassiev to win the big enchilada, but I think Mairis Briedis is something of a dark horse threat. Who do you favor? Usyk.
October 7 will give us another fantastic Leo Santa Cruz rematch, this time with Abner Mares. The three-division beltholders should once again pack Staples Center in Los Angeles.
I think Mares looked great in his most recent fight, but Santa Cruz’s activity against much better opposition has me thinking that we’ll get the same result with wider points. Probably. I favor Leo. (I favored Mares in the first bout.)
Do you think the tweaks to Mares’ style will improve the action? No. I think both featherweight veterans are transitioning to a more mature (read: lower volume, less risk taking) boxing style.
THE TARTAN TORNADO
What’s your thoughts on Josh Taylor? I personally haven’t been impressed by a boxer this much from the UK in a long time. How far does he go for you? Would love to see him in with Lucas Matthysse. – Hammi, Dunfermline
I don’t think Taylor is ready for The Machine just yet but he might be by the time he’s got 15 or 16 pro bouts under his belt.
I was impressed with Taylor’s showing against fellow unbeaten “Ten Stone” up-and-comer Ohara Davies. He controlled distance like a seasoned pro while exhibiting excellence with his footwork, jabbing, combination punching, and block-and-counter ability. His body attack gradually took the fight out of Davies, an athletic puncher who usually boxes with supreme confidence. Davies, who has the kind of style that usually gives aggressive orthodox boxers fits, wasn’t able to get started with Taylor. The Scotsman’s foundation was too solid and he knew when to let his hands go throughout the fight.
I think Taylor’s going to go far. I definitely see a world title in his near future.
BEST BOXING YEARS EVER
Enjoy your mailbags and keep up the good work. I happened to be watching a fight of prime Sugar Ray Leonard in 1979 against Marcos Geraldo on YouTube the other day and man he looked good and showed the complete repertoire that made him the top pound-for-pound fighter in his heyday. I then looked back at his 1979 year and it was truly remarkable.
He recorded a 9-0 record, beat a number of top contenders, captured the WBC, The Ring and lineal welterweight titles by defeating title-holder Wilfred Benitez, and took home Fighter of the Year from Ring Magazine.
It got me thinking about the best boxing years ever for a fighter and Ray Leonard’s 1979 season stood out for me as one of the best ever.
Others like Ali in 1974, Pacquiao in 2008 and/or 2009, Henry Armstrong in 1937 when he went 27-0, Joe Louis in 1938 and Sugar Ray Robinson in 1942 all have to be in the conversation I would think for the Best Years Ever for a Fighter.
What would you top five look like? Or even your Top 10? – James, LaGrange, GA
I can’t give you my top five or 10 without a least a week of thorough research. Like I told “Ten Stone” John, pro boxing has been around for a looooooooong time and there have many great fighters that had several great years since the late 1800s/early 1900s.
However, the fighters and calendar years you brought up are all notable.
As incredible as Armstrong’s 1937 was, I think his 1938 was better (and arguably the greatest calendar year for any prize fighter in history). That year Hammerin’ Hank fought 14 times (going 14-0, with 10 stoppages) and, weighing between 129 and 135 pounds, he lifted the welterweight title from the great Barney Ross (W 15), won the lightweight championship from fellow ATG Lou Ambers (W 15), and defeated a number of top-10 contender at the time, including future featherweight champ/hall of famer Chalky Wright (TKO 3) and Mexican legend/HOFer Baby Arizmendi (W 10). Armstrong, who also outpointed welterweight contender (and future middleweight beltholder) Ceferino Garcia in defense of his 147-pound title late that year, finished ’38 as the reigning featherweight, lightweight and welterweight champ. Bow down!
Here’s a notable fighter and year for all the British fans who read the mailbag: Jackie “Kid” Berg, arguably the greatest boxer ever from England, and 1930. That year Berg (born Judah Bergman) was unbeaten in 11 bouts, including 10-round decisions over all-time greats Tony Canzoneri, Kid Chocolate and Billy Petrolle, a “Ten Stone” championship winning TKO of Mushy Callahan, and two title defenses against top-10 contender Joe Glick. Get Berggie with it!
During my years as a hardcore boxing observer, 1991 stands out because the torch was passed from my boyhood idol, Sugar Ray Leonard, to my young adult favorite, Terry Norris, who also beat a still serviceable Donald Curry (KO 8) and super-rugged top-10 contender Jorge Castro that year. Also in ’91, James Toney earned THE RING’s Fighter of the Year award with his come-from-behind middleweight title-winning TKO of Michael Nunn (36-0 at the time), split-decision title defense over top-10 contender Reggie Johnson and, of course, his scintillating draw with future hall of famer Mike McCallum.
Later in the decade “The Golden Boy” let doubters know that he was legit by winning THE RING’s Fighter of the Year in ’95 (for beating John-John Molina, Rafael Ruelas, Genaro Hernandez and Jesse James Leija – in that order) and for going 5-0 in ’97 (a year that included future HOFers Whitaker and Hector Camacho, the 41-0 M.A. Gonzalez and top-10 contender Wilfredo Rivera). But people still gotta hate on De La Hoya. (Shame on y’all.)
Love the mailbag, I’m a long time reader and second time writer, maybe this one will make the cut.
Just watched Josh Taylor take O’hara Davies apart in what was a 50/50 clash with the bookies and only Taylor’s 10th fight. I think he looks like a genuine world class contender with great movement and accuracy.
Have you seen him fight yet and if so how far do you think he can go? His promoters (the McGuigans) are already getting ahead of themselves and are declaring him the best to come out of Scotland since Ken Buchanan which is quite a call. What do you think? – Martin, Scotland
It’s way too early to tell if he’s in Buchanan’s class, but it should be noted that the McGuigans aren’t prone to hyperbole. Barry, a hall of famer along with Buchanan, knows what he’s got with Taylor, which is why he was so confident going into this matchup.
I think THE RING’s ratings panel is going to suggest that Taylor crack the magazine’s “Ten Stone” rankings, and I’m not against that move. Still, Davies is a prospect, not a contender. I think Taylor needs to notch an impressive victory over a legit top-10 rated opponent (somebody like Regis Prograis or Adrian Granados) before we all get swept up in Tartan Tornado fever.
WORLD BOXING SUPER SERIES
It’s been a while, I hope you and your family have been well. By the way, major props for those workouts you do, very impressive!
I am very excited for the upcoming tournaments put on by Comosa AG. Many of these fighters are not household names, but the thing that’s great about the tournaments is it allows the fans to get acquainted with the fighters and follow them through each stage. The super six back in 2009 was awesome because we were introduced to fighters we didn’t necessarily know about but we got to follow them over a few years. What I am curious about is the level of competition.
Who are your picks? Do you have a favorite dark horse? Hard to see Usyk not rolling through the cruiserweights – the guy is a badass. I like Dorticos and want to see more of him. That’s what I love about this tournament, we get to see guys we know of but aren’t totally familiar with.
For the super middleweights, the field looks wide open to me. We don’t know what a Brant, Skoglund or Yildirim will do – I confess to not know anything about these guys, again, the reason why it’s intriguing. To say George Groves is the favorite is setting up the U.K. fans for disappointment. Any thoughts on your early favorites?
Can’t wait for the Jr Bantamweight triple header! Hoping Chocolatito has a lot left in the tank, would be great to see him in top form against Inoue at the end of this year. I think if the referee doesn’t let Rungvisai get away with the dirty stuff, it should be a clear cut win for Choco. Happy for these guys and the attention this weight class is getting.
Once fight that seems to not be getting much love is Miguel Berchelt-Takashi Miura. This bout has FOTY written all over it and I expect a war. Not sure why we haven’t heard more about it.
Final thought – GGG has had the toughest time with guys who move well laterally. Danny, Kell and, until he caught him, even Willie Monroe. Canelo is a stationary fighter and, unless he adds a few wrinkles into his game, don’t see how he gets it done.
Thanks for a great start to our Mondays and Fridays! Warmly. – Rahn
You are most welcome, Rahn.
I partially agree that lateral movement can be a problem for Gennady Golovkin, but I don’t think it’s the way to beat him. He cuts the ring off as well as anyone in the game; and to my eyes, Monroe was not able to compete at all when he was trying to stick and move against GGG. The brave challenger didn’t have any moments in the fight until he planted his feet and punched with the middleweight world-beater. Jacobs was able to compete and last the distance with a stick-and-move game plan because he had the size and power to earn GGG’s respect. Most middleweights can’t do that. So, I’m not sold on the idea that one has to play “keep-away” to beat Golovkin. I think the man who finally beats GGG in the pro ranks will stand his ground (for extended periods), or even attempt to push the unbeaten badass back on his heels. I don’t know Canelo can do this enough to beat Golovkin, but I think he’s got the tools (and yes, the “wrinkles”) to hang in there and make it a fight.
Regarding the lack of buzz on Berchelt-Miura, it’s not surprising. Neither man speaks English and neither bothers with talking s__t about his opponent. This is a throwback “Boxing After Dark” main event, which means it’s only going to appeal to the hardcore BTGs (“Blood-Thirsty Ghouls”). There wasn’t a huge buzz among U.S. or U.K. fans prior to Erik Morales-Marco Antonio Barrera I. Only diehard Mexican boxing fans anticipated that 122-pound showdown. The Mandalay Bay’s Event Center was cut in half because “only” 6,000 or so fanaticos turned out for that instant classic. As awesome as Arturo Gatti’s back-and-forth shootout with Wilson Rodriguez was, it should be noted that “Thunder” made his first IBF 130-pound title defense in Madison Square Garden’s Theater (which seats about 5,000), not the big room, where he won the belt from Tracy Harris Patterson. And, trust me, very few fans were “buzzing” about Gatti-Rodriguez BEFORE the fight. But, as I’m sure you are aware, those tuning into HBO’s “B.A.D” were treated to something special, just as they were with the Morales-Barrera war four years later.
I expect around 7,500-8,000 hardcore fans to gather at The Forum this Saturday and those will be the lucky S.O.B.’s who can say they were there. Everyone else will just have to enjoy the fireworks on HBO and there’s no doubt in my mind that they will. (And I also expect the co-featured bouts – Jezreel Corrales-Robinson Castellanos and Joe Smith Jr.-Sullivan Barrera – to be entertaining.)
I am very excited for the upcoming tournaments put on by Comosa AG. Everybody who closely follows boxing is.
Many of these fighters are not household names, but the thing that’s great about the tournaments is it allows the fans to get acquainted with the fighters and follow them through each stage. True. It also helps us to get a better bead on the fighters that we THINK we know, such as Usyk, Callum Smith and Chris Eubank Jr. (if the son of the boxing enigma beats Arthur Abraham on Saturday).
Who are your picks? I favor Usyk and Smith to earn the inaugural Muhammad Ali trophy.
Do you have a favorite dark horse? I’d like to say Mike Perez but I just haven’t seen enough of him at 200 pounds. I suppose the “other” Cuban, Yunier Dorticos, is live but I’ve never been blown away by the unbeaten Havana native. I think Smith, Groves and Euby are all solid faves for the 168-pound tourney. I don’t see any strong dark horses there, but there might be something to Avni Yildirim.
For the super middleweights, the field looks wide open to me. George Groves would probably take exception to that point of view, but I agree with you.
We don’t know what a Brant, Skoglund or Yildirim will do – I confess to not know anything about these guys, again, the reason why it’s intriguing. There isn’t a legitimate super middleweight contender scalp on their collective resumes (and part of that is due to Brant being a middleweight and Skoglund being a light heavyweight), so this tournament is truly their proving ground.
Can’t wait for the Jr Bantamweight triple header! You and me both, brotha!
Hoping Chocolatito has a lot left in the tank, would be great to see him in top form against Inoue at the end of this year. I don’t think there’s much left in his tank, to be honest, but that doesn’t mean he won’t beat Sor Rungvisai or eventually face The Monster.
I think if the referee doesn’t let Rungvisai get away with the dirty stuff, it should be a clear cut win for Choco. I think the uncrowned pound-for-pound champ will have to dig deep against the Thai badass no matter what the referee allows.
Happy for these guys and the attention this weight class is getting. Viva Superfly! Viva Tom Loeffler! Viva HBO! Viva StubHub!
TAYLOR-DAVIES, MIKE PEREZ
I don’t suppose you caught this one but it’s worth a look. Taylor looks a solid addition to the local lightweight scene. He took apart Davies with style. Davies looked wild and without great balance and from this showing will never be even fringe world level. Taylor called out Burns afterward. I for one don’t really want to see Ricky fight again but it seems his monetary needs are keeping him in it.
Also Mike Perez at Cruiser looks a beast his skill was real and in this competition I would see him as a live dog against all the other contenders if his head is straight as he says it is after the problems he’s had with demons and drink.
Mondays and Fridays wouldn’t be the same without you, Dougie! – Robert
Thanks for the kind words for the mailbag column, Rob.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Perez has had psychological issues following the tragedy of the Magomed Abdusalamov. He didn’t seem like he was all there during his disappointing outings against Carlos Takam and Bryant Jennings (and I don’t hold those performances against him as he was dealing with heavy s__t and those are solid heavyweights).
But if his head is straight as you say, and his body agrees with carrying 30-40 pound less than he usually fights at, I agree that he can make some noise in the WBSS tournament. However, I have no idea if cruiserweight is really his division based on his one 200-pound outing (which lasted what? Half a minute?).
I don’t suppose you caught this one but it’s worth a look. Come on, man, give me some credit. Of course, I was gonna watch the Taylor-Davies fight. I didn’t catch it live but I was eagerly anticipating the matchup.
Taylor looks a solid addition to the local lightweight scene. Lightweight? Nah man. The Tartan Tornado ain’t no lightweight. That bad-mother-watch-yo-mouth fights at “TEN STONE”! Don’t forget that!
He took apart Davies with style. He did indeed. The man does a lot of things the right way, including some of the finer points of boxing.
Davies looked wild and without great balance and from this showing will never be even fringe world level. It’s far too early to write Davies off, and it’s far too early to crown Taylor as the next great junior welterweight. I think Davies will be back.
Taylor called out Burns afterward. No thanks. Ricky has given enough to Scottish fans. He doesn’t need or deserve to be anyone’s sacrificial lamb.
I for one don’t really want to see Ricky fight again but it seems his monetary needs are keeping him in it. Well, if he really needs the money, I think a showdown with former WBA lightweight titleholder Anthony Crolla makes more sense for the veteran three-division beltholder.
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