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Montero’s Monday mailbag

13
Aug

[Editor’s Note: A very special thanks goes to fight scribe and boxing vlogger Michael Montero for substituting for Dougie Fischer, who is celebrating his 20-year wedding anniversary with his beautiful wife on Catalina Island this week.]

 

A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER

I’m looking forward to a special September. I’d like to get your insights about some issues crossing my mind:

Has there ever been a better card than the three world-class match ups at StubHub on 9/09? The five highest Ring-ranked junior bantams fighting against each other – including the former #1 p4p (in my opinion still #1) and, with Naoya Inoue, one fighter who could easily be part of the top 10. Do you recall a better card? What would be your criteria? What are your best three cards overall?

I’m very excited about the Canelo-Golovkin clash. I was ringside for the last three Gennady Golovkin fights and was most impressed by his win over David Lemieux (that card was something special as well). Compared with his fight against Daniel Jacobs, I felt GGG had the best balance between being cautious and wanting to take Lemieux out (in my humble opinion he was too cautious against Jacobs).

I know Canelo Alvarez is more of a counter-puncher, but I think since Lemieux couldn’t hurt GGG, why do people think Canelo can? Therefore, I think GGG will go for it against Canelo and has a pretty good chance to finish him before round ten.  Do think GGG can win on the scorecards if it is not a complete shut out? I don’t – too much money involved. – Matthias

The first super flyweight (or junior bantamweight if you prefer) champion was crowned by the WBC in 1980, when Venezuelan Rafael Orono won a split decision over Korean Seung-Hoon Lee in Caracas, Venezuela. In the 37 years since, I can’t think of a single event where the top five fighters in any division (as rated by THE RING) topped a card. It used to be that the “little guys” couldn’t get any love on the premium networks; now the super flyweights will headline an HBO broadcast.

Consider that five of the fighters in the triple header are current or former titlists (former junior flyweight and flyweight titlist Brian Viloria is on the undercard as well); I simply can’t remember the last time that’s happened. I don’t know if I could pick a best three cards, I would really have to think about that one for a long time.  But my criterion is simple – STACK THE CARD with competitive fights and top-rated fighters. This is something I believe the folks over at UFC do a much better job of on average. Too often in boxing it’s all about the main event, but not this time. “SuperFly” has two legitimate pick-‘em fights and although the third bout is a bit of a layup, it features the American debut of a phenom on the verge of stardom.

I’m very excited about the Canelo-Golovkin clash

You’re not alone in your excitement for the Canelo-Golovkin card, Matthias. From the SuperFly card, to Canelo-GGG only a week later, it’s a hell of a time to be a fight fan (and a fight scribe).

I was ringside for the last 3 GGG fights and was most impressed by his win over David Lemieux

Golovkin’s drubbing of David Lemieux was indeed his most impressive performance to date. When reviewing all of GGG’s opponents, Lemieux is perhaps the most comparable to Canelo in terms of body shape and size. But Canelo fights much differently and regardless of what you think of his most recent opposition, the ginger counter puncher has gone 48 rounds with Austin Trout, Floyd Mayweather, Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto.

in my humble opinion (GGG) was too cautious against Jacobs

I believe Golovkin should’ve gone to the body more against Jacobs, but just like with Lemieux, his jab won that fight. Going into that contest I felt Jacobs would give GGG his toughest test as a pro and that’s exactly what happened. I have the same feeling now with Canelo. Once again, I believe the jab will be the key to this bout. Canelo has the faster hands and throws nice combinations; the timing on GGG’s jab can negate that.

Do you think GGG can win on the scorecards if it is not a complete shut out?

Considering that Golovkin has never fought in Las Vegas, while Canelo has eight times since 2012 – and received some favorable judging in the eyes of many fans in his MD loss to Mayweather (should’ve been unanimous) and SD win over Lara – this is question on the minds of many fans. I asked Gennady, his trainer Abel Sanchez, and promoter Tom Loeffler that very question just a couple weeks ago and they all feel confident about the scoring. Nevada judging can be dodgy; there seem to be countless examples.

I was ringside for the first Ward-Kovalev bout last November and felt the judges favored the “establishment” fighter too much. Canelo-Golovkin is similar in the sense that one fighter, regarded as a puncher, is bringing in all the titles (Golovkin, Kovalev) against an establishment fighter, regarded as the boxer (Canelo, Ward), who has more experience in big fights. History would suggest that Canelo may receive the benefit of the doubt in any close round against GGG. But unlike Ward-Kovalev, which felt a bit closed off the world in many ways, this event has had millions of eyes on it from the moment it was announced. It may sound crazy, if not naïve, but I feel the NSAC will get this one right. 

 

RETIREMENTS

With Wladimir Klitschko, Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley retiring in the span of a week, has there ever been another group of boxers at this level that rivals this many greats leaving the sport so close together?  – MT from OC

Joe Calzaghe, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad all officially retired within about six months of each other in 2009. But three future hall of famers in a week!  I’m stumped, I simply can’t think of a situation like this in modern boxing history, and I’m a pugilistic nerd who keeps up with stuff like that. For me, it’s just another feather in the cap in what has been a phenomenal year of boxing in 2017.

 

MAYWEATHER FOOLING FANS

I know you must be sick of the Mayweather-McGregor fiasco by now, but since I heard that Floyd Mayweather plans to “go for the KO” vs Conor McGregor, I can’t help but feel a massive sense of Deja Vu.

For years the same lie has been peddled by Floyd. Before his fights, he promises to go toe to toe, look for the knockout, make it a fight, etc. Then fights in his same safety first, defense orientated way. Don’t get me wrong, he is a fine defensive fighter.  And in such a high risk sport, Floyd has the right to preserve his faculties and fight how he damn well chooses. But don’t lie to the fans and treat them like morons.

The thing that really gets me is that after the fights he trolls fans by saying that he was obviously going to fight this way, that is how he fights, he wants to stay healthy for his family, why would he suddenly change his style, why would he risk taking unnecessary punishment, etc. (Because you told us you would Floyd, yet again!!) Again, fine approach to have, but the same narrative plays out time after time, fight after fight, and people buy in to it.  Can’t people see that this guy is conning them and lying to them over and over again, for every fight in the last 5-10 years?

I personally won’t be watching May-Mac, and wouldn’t be surprised if May does KO his opponent who has no professional boxing experience, but equally wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes clear that he is carrying McGregor through the early rounds to provide “value for money”, and I don’t really care.

My issue really is seeing the same nonsense spouted time and time again before fights, then being told by the man who spouted it that I am stupid to think he’d actually go through with it. But of course we should believe the same BS before his next fight, and so on, and again. He is clearly a shrewd business man and ultra-talented fighter, but has been brazenly insulting fans’ intelligence for years. Shame on (some of) us for falling for it.

Rant over. – Paul UK

Much like my esteemed colleague Mr. Doug Fischer, I have little to no interest in anything the self-appointed “TBE” says or does.  I have been referring to the August 26th circus event as the #ShitShow on social media and my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/MonteroOnBoxing) since it was announced. 

Can’t people see that this guy is conning them and lying to them over and over again, for every fight in the last 5-10 years?

I can, you can, many of us can, but as the old adage goes, “there’s a sucker born every minute”. I haven’t been heavily invested in a Mayweather bout since his rematch with Jose Luis Castillo in late 2002. Floyd narrowly escaped with a win in their first encounter earlier that year, and from that point on he changed his style – not only in the ring, but in terms of playing matchmaker. He built up his profile with carefully maneuvered bouts against Arturo Gatti, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton. From that point on, “Money” only signed the dotted line when he held every conceivable promotional advantage.

Floyd has never been above fighting guys coming off a loss (Corley, Judah), moving guys up in weight (Hatton, Marquez), draining them (Canelo), waiting them out (Pacquiao), or even fighting someone in their professional boxing debut (McGregor). Further, Mayweather only goes for the knockout when his opponent is looking away (Ortiz). How or why anyone would want to pony up a bunch of cash to watch another pre-scripted slapfest is beyond me. But what’s that adage again?

I personally won’t be watching May-Mac, and wouldn’t be surprised if May does KO his opponent who has no professional boxing experience, but equally wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes clear that he is carrying McGregor through the early rounds to provide “value for money”, and I don’t really care.

Took the words right out of my mouth; I’ll be working the Cotto-Kamegai card.

My issue really is seeing the same nonsense spouted time and time again before fights, then being told by the man who spouted it that I am stupid to think he’d actually go through with it.

Hey, is it really any different than most political elections these days? Think of Floyd as playing the role of a politician, making promises he has no indication of keeping. Fans will bitch and moan about unfulfilled promises, but many of them will show up at the “voting booth” as they purchase the next PPV. Some people are just a glutton for punishment I suppose.

 

JMM’s PLACE AMONG THE MEXICAN GREATS

So Juan Manuel Marquez retires…  To me, Marquez, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera are the best Mexican fighters since Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. retired; out of those three Marquez is probably the most accomplished. Was he the best? I don’t know, but I would still favor Barrera and Morales over him in his prime.

One of the things that bugs me is people saying Marquez should be just behind Chavez, part of the top 5 all-time Mexican fighters ever. I really don’t agree. I followed Marquez’ career almost from the beginning, he basically was Ricardo Lopez 2.0 light. He had the typical Nacho Beristáin style without the finesse that “El Finito” had. Later in his career Marquez became a more aggressive, exciting fighter and he became even more popular than Morales and Barrera ever here in Mexico, thanks to his series with Manny Pacquiao.

Another thing that bothers me is certain members of the media saying that Marquez’ late career resurgence is based on PEDS use, especially because he used Memo Heredia was in his camp. To me, if that’s the case, then you have to point the finger at any fighter who wasn’t tested over the age of 35 and was performing at a high level. Examples include Bernard Hopkins (who nobody ever mentions), Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and the Klitschko brothers. None of them were ever caught so we can’t just allege and judge them on something that was never actually proven.

How do you rate Marquez among the all-time best Mexican fighters ever? I still think Chavez, Rubén Olivares, Salvador Sanchez, Miguel Canto and Finito are the top 5, with the lower half being a mix of any of the following: Carlos Zárate, Vicente Saldivar, Gilberto Román, Barrera, Morales, Marquez, Kid Azteca (Luis Villanueva Paramo), Chiquita (Humberto González).

The main thing keeping me from putting Marquez higher is that when he was in his prime he wasn’t as dominant (unbeatable) as Chavez, Sanchez, Olivares, Canto, Finito and Zarate. All of them were on hot streaks that nobody could touch. What do you think?

Thanks. – Juan Valverde

I certainly rate Juan Manuel Marquez as one of the best Mexican fighters ever, but his career did have some question marks, if not oddities. He lost his pro debut in 1993 via disqualification for headbutting his opponent. Through the mid 90’s, Marquez built his profile at The Forum in Inglewood, fighting there a dozen times until losing in his first world title attempt against Freddie Norwood in Las Vegas on September 11th, 1999.

Marquez would win his first title (IBF featherweight) in 2003 against Manuel Medina, add the WBA belt later that year against Derrick Gainer, have a draw against Manny Pacquiao in their first bout, defend his titles twice (including a very solid win over Orlando Salido), before traveling to Indonesia and dropping a decision to Chris John in 2006. It was a strange business decision, as Marquez split $125K with John while a lucrative rematch with Pacquiao loomed in the background. “Dinamita” would go on to win more titles at 130 and 135lbs, scoring a win over fellow Mexican great Marco Antonio Barrera in the process. But the highlight of Marquez’s career came on December 8th 2012 with the right hand felt around the world against Pacquiao.

I would still favor Barrera and Morales over him in his prime. 

I agree, and it’s a shame we never got to see Marquez and Erik Morales lock horns. Personally, between the three of them, I rate Barrera first, followed by Morales and then Marquez. I just feel that Barrera and Morales did more.

Another thing that bothers me is certain members of the media saying that Marquez’ late career resurgence is based on PEDS use, especially because he used Memo Heredia was in his camp.

In the age of performance enhancing drugs, a cloud of suspicion grew when Marquez began working with Angel “Memo” Heredia late in his career and appeared bigger, stronger and faster than ever before. But suspicion does not equal proof, and that KO win over Pacquiao to close out their four fight rivalry was the Mexican’s crowning achievement. Personally, I wish there would’ve been a fifth bout with Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) testing, just to set the record straight. But it was not to be.

To me, if that’s the case, then you have to point the finger at any fighter who wasn’t tested over the age of 35 and was performing at a high level. Examples include Bernard Hopkins (who nobody ever mentions), Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and the Klitschko brothers. 

I hear ya, but the difference is that several of those fighters have participated in stringent testing. Wladimir Klitschko and Manny Pacquiao have worked with VADA, which conducts the best testing panel in all of fight sports. Hopkins and Mayweather declined to use VADA, which opened them up to suspicion from fans, but it’s not as if they suddenly began stopping opponents late in the career. Klitschko, Pacquiao and Hopkins all showed signs of decline in their last few bouts; which is indicative of an athlete going through the natural process of aging.

How do you rate Marquez among the all-time best Mexican fighters ever? 

I rate Marquez in the lower top ten. As you stated, Dinamita didn’t go on the runs that other Mexican greats like Chavez, Sanchez, Olivares – even Barrera and Morales – went on. Without the Pacquiao win, Dinamita would probably be looking in from the outside of my ten All Time Mexican Greats list.

I still think Chavez, Rubén Olivares, Salvador Sanchez, Miguel Canto and Finito are the top 5, with the lower half being a mix of any of the following: Carlos Zárate, Vicente Saldivar, Gilberto Román, Barrera, Morales, Marquez, Kid Azteca (Luis Villanueva Paramo), Chiquita (Humberto González).

That’s a solid list Juan, not a whole lot that I would change except swapping Lopez with Zárate in the top five. Honorable mention to Alberto “Baby” Arizmendi, who had a win over Henry Armstrong and was competitive in a decision loss to Tony Canzoneri, two of the greatest p4p fighters of all time. 

 

TAKING HEARTS IN THE RING

I was struck by something that both Teddy Atlas and Stephen Smith said after Vasyl Lomachenko so thoroughly outclassed another championship-level opponent. They said that Loma is the first fighter they can recall who could get an otherwise world-class boxer to just give up (Mr. Atlas referred to it as taking the heart right out of the other man in the ring).

I am struggling to remember a fighter who could do this as effectively as Loma. Pernell Whitaker and Floyd Mayweather Jr. could certainly frustrate opponents, and Gennady Golovkin has beaten the fight out of more than one fighter, but their counterparts either didn’t give up (Sweet Pea and Pretty Boy) or if they did, it wasn’t until after the beating may have threatened their career (GGG). Can you recall a boxer who could dominate fighters with championship pedigree so completely that they would quit, just to avoid a prolonged beating?

I hope this finds you and your loved ones well, and that you get to watch some of the outstanding, forthcoming match-ups boxing has to offer live. I look forward to the mailbag tomorrow (as I do twice every week) and I send the best.

Very respectfully. – (Ten stone) John (Hauser Jr)

Ever heard of “No Mas”?  Ray Leonard avenged the first loss of his career in a rematch with Roberto Duran on the 25th of November 1980, only five months after their first bout. “Sugar” was just too sweet for Duran on that night, telling referee Octavio Meyran “No Mas” on his stool just before the ninth round. It was shocking for fans to see Duran, regarded by many as the best lightweight ever, to quit. Much like Lomachenko did in his recent fights against Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa and Miguel Marriaga, Leonard had been taunting his opponent as he boxed circles around him all night. But it wasn’t Walters, Sosa, or Marriaga, it was “Manos de Piedra”.

Never underestimate the ability of Teddy Atlas and Stephen A Smith to speak in hyperbole. Don’t get me wrong, I’m on the Lomachenko hype train, but we need to pump the breaks just a bit. I have to admit that I was awed as I witnessed the footwork ringside at the Microsoft Theater a week ago; the Ukrainian certainly lives up to his “Hi-Tech” moniker. It seems he has hit his stride since moving up to 130lbs last year. For what it’s worth, I want to see Lomachenko stay there and set a legacy, unify titles, then move up to 135 and challenge himself against the best there.

Many feel the best lightweight at present is Mikey Garcia, but Jorge Linares would have something to say about that. Should Lomachenko and Garcia clean out their respective divisions and meet in a “little guy super fight” 12-18 months from now, that would likely determine the #1 pound for pound fighter in the sport. Could Hi-Tech make Garcia quit? Hopefully we get to find out.

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