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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (‘SuperFly’ and Canelo-Golovkin)

Wisaksil Wangek and Roman Gonzalez pose at the final press conference for their anticipated rematch. Photo by Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos / K2 Promotions
08
Sep

THE SUPER FLYS ARE GREAT

Hi Doug,

This SuperFly card is simply what boxing needs. 1) the division is actually really great (maybe the strongest in terms of elite fighters?) and 2) the best fight the best.

I am too young to have known the Don King pay-per-view cards, but I imagine that SuperFly is the nearest. When was the last time that the Top five of a weight division fought on the same evening with the idea of facing each other afterwards?

Chocolatito/Sor Rungvisai was a terrific fight between two real badasses. Like many I saw Roman Gonzalez win a close, clear decision; he has better skills but the Thai is a really berserker. He just don’t want give up. Even if he takes back his belt, I think that Gonzalez hit his peak at 112 pounds, and he’s pushed his limits at 115. I hope the Nicaraguan wins, then takes a rest or a cool fight before facing the top guys.

Juan Estrada/Carlos Cuadras: I pick Gallo to win a competitive fight.

Naoya Inoue/Antonio Nieves: I admit that I don’t know Nieves, so I have no idea. I plan to watch more of him before Saturday’s fight. Do you think he is able to surprise Inoue or at least trouble him?

I have no favorite in this “tournament”, I just want to see good fights but something makes me smile… What if The Monster beats the winners of Gonzalez/Sor Rungvisai and Estrada/Cuadras then goes up to conquer the bantamweights? Imagine Money May’s face (and the faces of his worshipers) by seeing a “no PPV under-featherweight Asian fighter” claiming the Pound for Pound King title! Blasphemy!

Seriously, I wish you the best, 2017 is a great boxing year.

MM:

Gervonta Davis Vs. Tevin Farmer @ 130

Mike McCallum Vs. Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Wilfredo Benitez @ 154

Mike McCallum Vs. Marvin Hagler @ 160

Thanks – Antoine Aubin

Good mythical matchups, Antoine.

I’m going to go with a healthy and in-shape Farmer over Davis via close decision.

I think McCallum loses competitive decisions to all of the greats you mentioned except for Duran. Junior middleweight was not a good division for Hands of Stone, and his slower, less active style of boxing above 147 pounds probably would have suited The Body Snatcher just fine. I think McCallum was too big, busy and technically sound for Duran at 154 pounds and likely would have outpointed the Panamanian legend. However, I think Leonard, Hearns and Benitez would beat him by close decision. Leonard (the 1981 junior middle version that stopped Ayub Kalule) was too fast and dynamic for the methodical technician from Jamaica. (This doesn’t mean I believe Leonard could have beaten McCallum during McCallum’s 154-pound title reign during the mid-80s. I’m mentally matching both men at their best at this weight.) Hearns, who was unbeaten at 154-pounds, was more focused and disciplined in his boxing at junior middle than at any other weight. And Benitez, who was brilliant against Duran and Maurice Hope at 154 pounds, was arguably at his best at junior middle.

Hagler beats his fellow technician by competitive but clear decision at middleweight.

Naoya Inoue. photo by Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos / K2

If Inoue eventually beats Saturday’s co-main event winners and then goes on to kick ass at bantamweight, he BETTER be at the top of all these bulls__t pound-for-pound rankings (and I think they ALL suck, including THE RING’s). I don’t give a rat’s ass what Floyd and his followers might think about it. They’ll probably call it “racism.” Mayweather will definitely say it’s racist and then admit that he has no idea who Inoue is.

This SuperFly card is simply what boxing needs. 1) the division is actually really great (maybe the strongest in terms of elite fighters?) It is in my book. Along with the top five that are in action tomorrow night,  the 115-pound division is home to Kal Yafai (unbeaten WBA titleholder from the UK), Jerwin Ancajas (once-beaten IBF beltholder from the Philippines) and U.S. standout Rau’Shee Warren. It’s like the United Nations of badass boxing talent.

and 2) the best fight the best. That’s why the junior bantamweights are “Super Fly.”

When was the last time that the top five of a weight division fought on the same evening with the idea of facing each other afterwards? As far as I can recall this is the first time. Those old Don King PPV shows featured the top-five fighters from three or four divisions going at it, they seldom (if ever) just focused on one weight class. Although, I do recall a couple heavyweight bouts under the first Tyson-Holyfield fight that may have featured top-10 heavyweights that may have been viewed as future opponents for the winner (Henry Akinwande vs. Alexander Zolkin and Michael Moorer vs. Frans Botha – and, indeed, Holyfield did face Moorer in a rematch after his business with Tyson, while Iron Mike eventually fought Botha following his suspension for the “Bite Fight”). Naseem Hamed’s 1998 WBO featherweight title defense against Wayne McCullough also comes to mind because two 122-pound title bouts that featured potential opponents for “The Prince” were on the undercard – Vuyani Bungu vs. Danny Romero and Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Richie Wenton. And, as I’m sure you know, Hamed eventually fought both Bungu and Barrera. However, those three were not in the same weight class at the time (and Barrera, who was still rebuilding after losing back-to-back fights to Junior Jones may not have even been highly rated). “SuperFly” is a very special fight card. It’s like the 2001 middleweight unification tournament put on by HBO and Don King, only all of the participants are fighting on one night instead of two separate cards that lead to a finals match.

Photo / Hoganphotos

Chocolatito/Sor Rungvisai was a terrific fight between two real badasses. It’s still my Fight of the Year front runner.

Like many I saw Roman Gonzalez win a close, clear decision; he has better skills but the Thai is a really berserker. He just don’t want give up. I agree. I knew Sor Rungvisai was going to be a blood-thirsty beast (and I tried to warn all the fans who didn’t know who he was and viewed him as a “tune-up” or “gimme” title defense).

Even if he takes back his belt, I think that Gonzalez hit his peak at 112 pounds, and he’s pushed his limits at 115. I agree, which is part of why I’m so impressed with his efforts, so far, at junior bantamweight.

I hope the Nicaraguan wins, then takes a rest or a cool fight before facing the top guys. That doesn’t seem to be Chocolatito’s way, which is why he’s one of my favorite fighters.

Juan Estrada/Carlos Cuadras: I pick Gallo to win a competitive fight. I can’t call this one. I really don’t have a favorite. I think Estrada has better technique, but Cuadras might be a little more versatile and could trouble “Gallito” with his lateral movement.

Naoya Inoue/Antonio Nieves: I admit that I don’t know Nieves, so I have no idea. Do you think he is able to surprise Inoue or at least trouble him? I don’t think he can surprise Inoue but I he may be able to give the Japanese phenom a fight for at least the first half of the WBO title bout. I think Nieves, who is naturally bigger and had a good amateur career, is solid.

 

THE REAL ‘BIG FIGHT’

Hey Doug,

First time emailer here. Really enjoy your mailbag. It is always great to know that there are other passionate folks out there that still love boxing the way that I do even with everyone that I talk to about boxing acting like it went away with the dinosaurs.

Like all other boxing geeks, I can’t wait for the GGG-Canelo fight.

However, I am a bit concerned that this might not meet my expectations and might need you to perk me back up. Is there any chance that this turns into a snooze fest with Canelo turning into a boxer after getting hit a few times?

While GGG doesn’t mind taking a punch to land two, Canelo has tended to not mind going to decision. Doug, please spike my punch again! This won’t happen, right? – Rob

You’re right that Canelo doesn’t mind a fight going the distance (because he knows that he usually gets the benefit of the doubt in close rounds, and that one of the official judges often bends over backwards for him) but you’re wrong about Golovkin taking a punch to land two. Yeah, he does that when he’s in with a lighter-punching middleweight (Monroe Jr.), a naturally smaller fighter (Brook) or an outclassed opponent (Wade). But against bona-fide bangers (Stevens, Lemieux), or big talented boxer-punchers (Jacobs), he’s more careful. I think he knows Canelo has good technique and heavy hands, so he’ll box accordingly.

So will Canelo. He isn’t suddenly going to “turn into a boxer” because he’s already a boxer. He’s always been a boxer. Box is what he does. But he’s not a stick-and-move specialist, or a defensive genius or a neutralizer. He’s not one to stink out the joint provided his opponent is taking the fight to him – and that’s what GGG does (even when he’s being cautious and defensively responsible).

At the end of the day, Golovkin realizes that he’ll be taking a risk if he allows the fight to go to the scorecards, so even though he won’t be reckless, he’ll still apply his trademark pressure and look to break Canelo down. And Canelo is usually at his best when fighting off an attacker, that’s when we see his best combinations and body punching.

I don’t see how this fight won’t deliver quality, world-class boxing AND heavy hitting action. I don’t think you have anything to worry about, Rob. Canelo vs. GGG is going to deliver.

Thanks for the kind words, by the way.

 

BETTING ON CANELO

Hi Dougie,

I know you’ll be getting loads of mail on the Superfly card but just to jump ahead to next weekend…

I’ve bet on Canelo by KO rounds 9-12 at 50-1 (each round as a separate bet). My reasoning? I think this weight suits Canelo. I personally don’t think GGG has fought anybody of his calibre – defence, power, body attack, boxing skills – and I think GGG will be getting frustrated/leaving wide holes in his defence come the middle rounds with a very cautious/defence-minded opening from Alvarez.

GGG’s defence isn’t great and he can become relatively easy to hit if he loses concentration and gets frustrated, and I can see Canelo turning the tide and grinding him down mid to late rounds.

If Brook can mark up and lay shots on Golovkin then Canelo can give him hell. He’s younger, fresher, stronger, more accomplished, more composed than any other GGG opponent.

I know I’m in the minority and I’m a fan of Golovkin, but I think middleweight is ideal for Canelo and he’s too fresh, more accomplished and a better boxer than any previous GGG opponent. Canelo by late stoppage is my call. Thoughts? – CJ, UK

Photo by Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Canelo definitely looks like a full-bodied middleweight as we get closer to fight week, and his physical/technical performance against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was impressive. However, he was in with a big, stupid zombie looking to collect a pay check in May. That obviously won’t be the case on Sept. 16. And while he looks formidable hitting heavy bags and Eddy Reynoso’s mitts, those bags and mitts don’t hit back. (And those pool noodles that Eddy loves, which do occasionally smack Canelo in the face, don’t carry GGG power.)

I’m riding with Golovkin in this contest because of his extensive, elite amateur background and because he’s far more proven at 160 pounds than Canelo, but I’m not dismissing the redheaded Mexican star like so many of my peers. I think Canelo can frustrate Golovkin (as you believe) with his head/upper-body movement and counter-punching ability, and I think he can hurt the 35-year-old veteran with body shots and uppercuts.

But make no mistake, Sept. 16 is Canelo’s proving ground at middleweight, not the other way around.

I’ve bet on Canelo by KO rounds 9-12 at 50-1 (each round as a separate bet). Props for putting your money where your mouth is.

My reasoning? I think this weight suits Canelo. We’ll find out for sure in eight days. One thing I’m certain of is that he’s having a stronger tail-end to his training camp than he has in recent years because he’s not having to sweat out those final four or five pounds to make 154 or 155 for this fight. Cutting out his usual fight-week “drying-out” process will likely make him stronger and sharper on fight night.

I personally don’t think GGG has fought anybody of his calibre – defence, power, body attack, boxing skills – and I think GGG will be getting frustrated/leaving wide holes in his defence come the middle rounds with a very cautious/defence-minded opening from Alvarez. I don’t know if Golovkin is going to give Canelo the luxury of being “very cautious” in the opening rounds of the bout. Canelo might be able to frustrate GGG by slipping the unified beltholder’s shots and counter punching on a consistent basis, but I don’t think he can hurt or totally discourage Golovkin with single shots to the head. GGG is going to keep coming whether he’s getting tagged or frustrated or not. As for Canelo’s caliber, yeah, the young man brings a lot to the table (mainly pro experience in my view), but Golovkin fought a more talented boxer/athlete in Daniel Jacobs and faced harder punchers in Curtis Stevens and David Lemieux. GGG is also used to facing bigger, heavier opponents.

GGG’s defence isn’t great and he can become relatively easy to hit if he loses concentration and gets frustrated, and I can see Canelo turning the tide and grinding him down mid to late rounds. That’s a bold pick, my brotha, so bold it could be sponsored by Tecate beer. But I just don’t see Golovkin losing his concentration during a fight of his importance and magnitude. Having said that, if Canelo is able to hurt GGG or if the younger man senses that the odds favorite is starting to fade during the middle or late rounds, I do expect him to jump on the Kazakhstani hero.

If Brook can mark up and lay shots on Golovkin then Canelo can give him hell. That’s a good point. I don’t think Canelo will get the reckless version of Golovkin that showed up for Brook, but I do expect the accurate 26-year-old boxer-puncher to bust up GGG’s mug over the first half of the fight. Of course, I expect Canelo to get busted up too. But I seriously doubt Golovkin’s face will be as clean as it was following the Jacobs fight.

He’s younger, fresher, stronger, more accomplished, more composed than any other GGG opponent. I think you’re right about this, but it still might not be enough.

 

SOR RUNGVISAI WILL WIN AGAIN

Hi Doug,

I live in Thailand, and am starting to see a LOT on the Superfly fight, on variety shows and the news. Just quickly before I start:

His name is pronounced Wisaksin Wung-air (L is an N on the end of Thai phonemes, so the ‘sil’ in Wisaksil is ‘sin’; and the K on the end of ‘Wangek’ is very subtle – you don’t breath out when you say it; and the ‘a’ in ‘Wangek’ rhymes with ‘sung’) or Sisaket Sor RoongWisai (the R in Srisaket is not pronounced – it’s the name of a town in North East Thailand, the U in Rungvisai is like the oo in book, and the V is a w, because there’s no V sound in Thai). You can see on this clip how to say it, if you’re commentating that night https://www.thairath.co.th/clip/157300 (If you’re not working, I guess it doesn’t matter. But it would be nice if ONE English language commentator could learn how to say the WBC world champion’s name right).

Anyway. I think he’s going to win again, this time more convincingly. He’s had a hard life, which is well documented, and has an amazing heart. But Gonzalez is the same there. But I think that he’s had a lot less ‘wear and tear’ than Roman, from fighting overmatched opponents on local shows in Thailand. Add to that the new Camp and trainer for Roman, the positive support from Thailand for Sisaket, and the fact that if he wins, he can change his life forever.

Skillwise, I think his ferociousness and tenacity and roughness shocked Chocolatito last time. It won’t be a shock this time. But Chocolatito is only getting slower and ‘weaker’ (in a relative sense) as he moves up in weight and years, and I don’t think he will be able to hurt Sisaket – Even though he’s so very skilled, Chocolatito doesn’t hit like some of the 115 pound sluggers Sisaket has dealt with in regional bouts in Thailand over the years.

I think that sadly, this is the bout where Roman Gonzalez will start to look old. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the show – I can’t think of a time when I’ve seen a better card on paper in terms of world-class all-action bouts. Take care. – Kim

I will be at StubHub Center on Saturday and I aim to enjoy myself even though I will be at work and it will be a very busy day for me. Unfortunately, I will not be calling the world-feed action to this modern classic tripleheader, so I won’t be able to practice your Thai-pronunciation tutorial to an international, but I appreciate it.

Regarding the main event rematch, it’s not a stretch to predict a return victory for Wangek. The Thai veteran is a seasoned warrior, the naturally bigger man and every bit as tough and active as Gonzalez.

Photo : Chris Farina – K2 Promotions

And one can argue that the four-division champ from Nicaragua began showing signs of hitting the wall/physical breakdown when he fought Brian Viloria in late 2015. Some said he looked began looking old against McWilliams Arroyo and Cuadras. I thought he looked like the wear and tear of his hall of fame career had begun to take its toll during the first bout against Wangek.

So, obviously, after a decorated 12-year career and 47 bouts, it’s possible that Gonzalez could get “old” during the rematch on Saturday. Whether he gets old or not, there’s no doubt in my mind that Chocolatito will have his hands very full once again.

I think he’s going to win again, this time more convincingly. He’s had a hard life, which is well documented, and has an amazing heart. No doubt about it, Wangek’s management tossed him to the wolves early in his career but he was able to overcome three on-the-road (in Japan) losses in his first five bouts (including stoppages in his first two bouts) and go on a 27-bout win streak before losing (in somewhat controversial fashion) to Cuadras on the road once again (Mexico). Wangek is a special competitor and he proved it against Gonzalez in March.

But I think that he’s had a lot less ‘wear and tear’ than Roman, from fighting overmatched opponents on local shows in Thailand. I agree, but facing a much-higher caliber of opponent for much of his career has forced Gonzalez to evolve into a more complete fighter than Wangek. Gonzalez’s experience is one of his decided edges in this rematch.

Add to that the new camp and trainer for Roman, the positive support from Thailand for Sisaket, and the fact that if he wins, he can change his life forever. I’m sure Wangek is more motivated than ever, but so is Gonzalez, who was not only working with a new head trainer in his corner during their first fight but was also probably still mourning the death of his longtime coach (Arnulfo Obando due to a sudden stroke) last November.

Skillwise, I think his ferociousness and tenacity and roughness shocked Chocolatito last time. It won’t be a shock this time. But Chocolatito is only getting slower and ‘weaker’ (in a relative sense) as he moves up in weight and years, and I don’t think he will be able to hurt Sisaket – Even though he’s so very skilled, Chocolatito doesn’t hit like some of the 115 pound sluggers Sisaket has dealt with in regional bouts in Thailand over the years. I’m not sure I buy that, Kim. I thought Gonzalez was getting weakening Wangek by the late rounds of the first fight and even had the Thai challenger hanging on in the final round.

 

GGG, THE BOXER, WILL OUTBOX AND KO CANELO

Hi Dougie,

Thanks again for you informative and entertaining mailbags. I learn something about my favorite sport every Monday and Friday by reading your work.

Just a quick comment…I’ve seen lots of discussion by boxers and other “experts” on the Canelo/GGG fight, and most of them call Canelo the boxer and describe GGG as the power puncher. It’s bizarre. Don’t they see the boxing skills GGG has displayed throughout his career? I would venture to say that GGG is at least as good a boxer as Canelo, if not a bit better in terms of jab and footwork.

I really think GGG is going to outbox Canelo in this fight, not vice versa, and that is what might ultimately lead to a KO or TKO in the later rounds for GGG. What are your thoughts? Thanks again for your great work every week. – Karl

Thanks for you very kind words for the mailbag column, Karl.

My thoughts on who the “boxer” is in the Canelo-Golovkin matchup? I think both middleweights are boxers. They are boxer-punchers. Golovkin is a pressure-fighting technician gifted with world-class durability, physical strength and punching power. Canelo is more of a counter-punching ring general who fight in spots unless his opponent presses him (then we get to witness his combination-punching prowess).

Photo / Tom Hogan-HoganPhotos / k2 Promotions

Both middleweights have excellent jabs, and I think GGG has the edge with this particular punch. Both are very good at blocking or parrying punches, and I’ll give Canelo, who also moves his upper-body well in avoiding incoming shots, the edge in this department. Both possess good timing and punch variation. Neither man is a mindless punching machine.

The both have good balance, but I think Golovkin’s footwork is a little better (especially when it comes to cutting off the ring).

Why do so many observers – including fighters and “experts” – describe GGG as a puncher and Canelo as a boxer (despite Golovkin’s elite amateur career)? I think it just comes down to narrow definitions (and in some cases narrow thinking). GGG is just known more for his power than his technique or ring generalship – and to be fair to those who mainly view him as a “puncher,” that’s going to happen when one scores 23 consecutive stoppages. He also is always seen marching forward and, sadly, post-Mayweather era there are a legion of fans, boxers, media (and even official judges, much to my frustration) that simply don’t appreciate come-forward boxers no matter how effective they are.

And while Canelo is also known for having heavy hands, we’ve seen him go the 12-round distance numerous times, and many of his highlight-reel KOs came against shopworn or smaller opponents, so few will call the Mexican star a “puncher.” The only time he was officially outpointed was against Mayweather, so he must be a pretty good “boxer,” right? (He IS a good boxer, as well as a student of the game, but his physical strength and punching power are factors in his success.)

That’s probably the line of thinking when folks slap the style labels on GGG and Canelo. But you and I (and more observers than you think) know that it’s not that simple. We know GGG is a lot more than a puncher and that his ring IQ will play just as much of a role in his showdown with Canelo as his power.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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