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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (SuperFly feedback, Chocolatito in perspective)

Photo / @HBOBoxing
11
Sep

FAREWELL AND HELLO

Mr. Fischer,

I bow to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and wish him the best. A great fighter he is but now it’s time to retire. It was such a joy following his craft or should I say “his art of boxing.” Would you consider him an ATG?

Carlos Cuadras vs. Juan Estrada: 12 action packed rounds. This fight is in the running for Fight of the Year with Gonzales vs. Sor Rungvisai I. I had it for Estrada 114:113 – the knockdown made the difference.

Nayoya Inoue seems to be the small version of GGG. Did I get something wrong or does he have exactly the same style as Gennady Golovkin? Only thing: He could get some additional lessons from GGG to cutting the ring off.

Can’t wait for the middleweight clash on Saturday. Hope it’s not going to the scorecards and will not be stopped premature. – Matthias

I don’t want to stress you out, Matthias, but I think Canelo-Golovkin will go the full 12. This shouldn’t be a bad thing as long as the official judges are fair.

Does Inoue have the same style as Golovkin? Not to my eyes, although I can see why you would compare the two. They have the same ring mentality, which is that of an expert hunter. They both walk their opponents down with a stiff jab and wiked body attack. However, Golovkin is a more of a methodical technician with a fuller arsenal, while Inoue is a more dynamic/athletic boxer-puncher. I think GGG is the more complete fighter at this point, but Inoue is only 24 years old with 14 pro bouts under his belt. He’s got A LOT of time and room for improvements. Hopefully, U.S. fans will get the opportunity to view more of his development on HBO.

Photo by German Villasenor

I think Estrada-Cuadras is definitely a Fight of the Year candidate, but it wasn’t as intense and savage as Gonzalez-Sor Rungvisai I. That’s still my front-runner. But Saturday night’s Mexican grudge match was boxing at its highest level: two skilled, talented, gutsy world-class fighters in their primes – with contrasting styles – going tit for tat for 12 rounds. I had the same scorecard as you and all three official judges. The knockdown was the clincher for Estrada. However, more than a few ringside fight scribes scored for Estrada by wider margins, 115-112 and 116-111. And I can understand those scores. Estrada was outhustled by Cuadras over the opening three or four rounds, and energetic Guadalajara native did a good job of sticking and moving over the first half of the bout, but “El Gallo” was landing the harder punches throughout the contest.

I bow to Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and wish him the best. That’s the most appropriate thing to do. (I don’t get why

A great fighter he is but now it’s time to retire. I agree (and I like how you phrased that statement the way Yoda would say it because Gonzalez is a Jedi master among prize fighters).

It was such a joy following his craft or should I say “his art of boxing.” Indeed. While still at his peak, his technical aggression was so breath taking even a great boxer like Larry Holmes had to give him his props. It’s too bad that most U.S. fans never saw or heard of him until his HBO debut just a little over two years ago. Too many loudmouths on Twitter don’t even realize that they’ve never seen Chocolatito at his best.

Would you consider him an ATG? I don’t know about that, but he’s definitely a future hall of famer, probably a first ballot inductee.

 

AMAZING!

Hi Doug,

I would very much like to see Chocolatito go the rest of his life without ever getting hit like that again. So either retire, or fight a gatekeeper in his home country for a farewell bout.

With that out of the way… Incredible effort by Wangek! Like everyone in Thailand said, but now the world believes!

I’m sure everyone will write to you asking who he should fight next, etc., but my question is: will Wangek be able to be a star in America? Or is he better off trying to draw the defenses of his title back to Thailand, or even fighting Inoue in Japan?

Thanks, and hope you enjoyed the show! – Kim

I did indeed, Kim, even though I witnessed one of my favorite fighters get stretched in chilling fashion (and was then nearly made ill by the disrespectful comments that a small group of Twitter cretins spat upon him). “SuperFly” delivered a Fight of the Year candidate, an impressive U.S. debut of a young Japanese star, a KO of the Year candidate and the end of a legendary lighter-weight run. 

Props to you for not only predicting (in Friday’s mailbag) that Wangek would win again, but that he would do so “more convincingly.” He certainly did. 

Can Wangek be a star in the U.S.? No, I don’t think so. As amazing as Chocolatito was, he couldn’t draw more than 6,000-7,000 fans when headlining shows in the U.S. It’s very rare even for sub-bantamweight American boxers, no matter how talented (just ask hall of famer Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson), to become a star in the U.S. I think the late Johnny Tapia is the closest we ever got to embracing a badass 115 pounder (and, apart from his showdown with Danny Romero, his biggest fights – vs. Marco Antonio Barrera and Paulie Ayala – took place between 118 and 126 pounds). 

Having said that, just because Wangek may never be an attraction in the U.S. doesn’t mean he can’t fight here and make a darn good living. If he’s matched with popular Mexican fighters, such as his WBC mandatory with Estrada or a rematch with Cuadras, his fights would draw very well in Southern California, Arizona and Texas. I think HBO would be interested in those fights, and if he returned to StubHub Center against one of those two Mexican standouts they would sell out the outdoor venue. 

And I tell you what, hardcore Mexican/Mexican-American fans that saw his first fight with Gonzalez, and those who were in attendance for the rematch at StubHub (and are familiar with his fight with Cuadras) will give him his due respect going forward. He was booed before the Gonzalez rematch (which was messed up), but I doubt that ever happens again. 

His victory on Sept. 9 was the most significant and emphatic victory by a Thai fighter on U.S. soil since Saman Sorjaturong knocked out future hall of famer Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez at The Forum back in 1995 (and, yes, I was there that night – as a fan).

 

NUMBER ONE POUND FOR POUND?

If you recall I emailed after the first fight that Chocolatito that he was taking too much punishment and he was allowing people to run him through the meat grinder taking oun after punishment even in wins. He clearly lost the last fight to me and from the very beginning he lost this fight.

He moved up in weight taking on badass after badass that leads to a short career. When he’s punch-drunk and broke nobody will give a damn, that’s the sport.

But people hate on Andre Ward. I don’t get it… Thank you. – Jason C. Brown

People “hate” on Ward? Really? I think folks – fans, media, network executives, Nevada boxing commissioners and officials – have been lining up to kiss his ass even before he got a gift decision against Sergey Kovalev. He got elevated to the consensus No. 1 Pound for Pound spot after back-to-back controversial fights. Then he announces to the boxing media that his HBO contract is up, that he’s a free agent, and even tosses in how impressed he is with Top Rank and ESPN’s boxing program (after working the Crawford-Indongo broadcast), and what does HBO do? They welcome him back as a commentator on their network with open arms and a big warm, wet kiss to his mulatto butt cheeks.

If that’s “hate,” we should all hope to be hated like that.

My definition of hate is what some Twitter trolls said about Gonzalez – a man who fought the best fighters in FOUR freakin’ weight classes, always gave 100% in the ring, and never disrespected his opponents or the sport – after Saturday’s knockout loss. These trifling dirt bags called a competitor like that a “bum” and “hype job.” I had to mute ‘em all.

He moved up in weight taking on badass after badass that leads to a short career. It almost sounds like you’re saying that it’s a bad thing for a boxer to challenge himself. So what if it leads to a short career? (Not that 12 years – nine at the championship level – is “short,” especially for straw/flyweights.) A long career isn’t good for anyone’s brain, either.

When he’s punch-drunk and broke nobody will give a damn, that’s the sport. Why do you always bring up the prospect of being “punch-drunk” whenever an aggressive fighter gets cold cocked? Neutralizers and safety first stinkers get KTFO too, ya know! There are just as many boxers who were once savvy stylists walking around on their heels as there are former blood-and-guts brawlers. I don’t recall you bringing up the prospect of pugilistic dementia when Bernard Hopkins got knocked out of the ring by Joe Smith Jr. and had his cranium cracked against the cold, hard floor of The Forum. And he was nearly 52 years old, with more than 26 years in the game! For B-Hop you rightfully gave the old man his props for a grand career. Why can’t you do that for Chocolatito?

 

APPRECIATION FOR A THROWBACK FIGHTER

Hi Dougie,

Hope all is well, bro.

Such a dramatic and epic card this weekend, Superfly truly delivered. From the US debut of Inoue, to the great fight between Estrada and Cuadras, to the drama of the Gonzalez fight. Excited to see Rungvisai-Estrada and Inoue hopefully fighting the winner in a great unification bout next year.

Just wanted to say to those who are doubting the achievements and career of Roman Gonzalez after this fight such a Lou DiBella and his ilk. Shame on you.

.  The first fighter from his native Nicaragua to win a Championship in four different divisions. His mentor and idol, Alexis Arguello, was a champion in three and valiantly went for his fourth with the great Aaron Pryor.

. One of the very few lower weight class fighters to achieve Pound for Pound best fighter status.

. In an era with selective matching of fighters, Roman Gonzalez truly fought everyone and the best opposition. Carlos Cuadras, JF Estrada, Yaegashi, Viloria, Takayama, Niida. The list goes on and on.

. He was a fighter that was truly global, fighting across the world, in Japan, Mexico, USA, etc. That is a true world champion, not just staying in Las Vegas.

. True boxing fans were in awe at his incredible boxing skills, his footwork, combination punching, and his relentless approach. Lee Wylie shows the greatness of the little man in his videos. For me, his victory over Yaegashi is his best victory of his career. What do you think Dougie?

. Maybe most significantly, as mentioned by Cliff Rold, he bought boxing’s lower weight classes to the masses, once cruelly ignored to overseas streams for a very small number to watch and admire to our TVs via HBO and global TV. He led the way for talents such a Naoya Inoue to be shown on HBO, to be appreciated by the masses, not just the hardcore.

Thank you Roman for giving me and boxing fans so much enjoyment. Your career was an epic one, and we salute you for being a true throwback fighter. Mark Johnson and Finito Lopez were the gold standard when I started to watch boxing. Undoubtedly, you have joined such hallowed company. Thanks Dougie. – Abdul-Qadir Ali, Ireland

No doubt about it, Abdul-Qadir, Gonzalez belongs in that hall-of-fame enshrined company. Thank you for submitting this well-written tribute to Chocolatito. It has restored my faith in boxing fans. (You spend enough time on Twitter and you start to wonder if anyone has any damn sense.)

Just wanted to say to those who are doubting the achievements and career of Roman Gonzalez after this fight such a Lou DiBella and his ilk. Shame on you. These folks are shameless. They’re either ignorant and narrow minded to the extreme, or they’ve got an agenda. (Or they’re just worthless pieces of s__t.)

The first fighter from his native Nicaragua to win a Championship in four different divisions. Yes, and it should be noted that Gonzalez was THE RING’s No. 1-rated fighter at strawweight, junior flyweight and flyweight (before he earned the WBC and the magazine’s 112-pound titles); and he was No. 2 (behind only Inoue) at junior bantamweight, so he was obviously facing the best fighters of each weight class that he campaigned in. His four-division title run was not of the Adrien Broner variety.

One of the very few lower weight class fighters to achieve Pound for Pound best fighter status. As far as I’m aware, he’s represented the lightest divisions (flyweight and junior bantamweight) ever to reach No. 1. (It’s too bad that his mere presence in the top spot of the mythical rankings ruffled the feathers of a very insecure and xenophobic segment of U.S. boxing fans/insiders – their collective blind spot caused them to miss out on something really special.)

Gonzalez cracks Sosa with a jab. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

In an era with selective matching of fighters, Roman Gonzalez truly fought everyone and the best opposition. Carlos Cuadras, JF Estrada, Yaegashi, Viloria, Takayama, Niida. The list goes on and on. Yup, and Rocky Fuentes, McWilliams Arroyo, Francisco Rodriguez Jr., and Ramon Hirales were no slouches either when Chocolatito faced them. Edgar Sosa was past his prime when Gonzalez faced him in his HBO debut, but Choco did what an elite fighter should do against a faded veteran – he blew the former long-reigning WBC 108-pound champ out.

He was a fighter that was truly global, fighting across the world, in Japan, Mexico, USA, etc. That is a true world champion, not just staying in Las Vegas. I’m so glad (honored, really) that I got to see him fight live seven times (going back to that sensational 12-round battle with Estrada in late 2012) when he fought in the U.S.

True boxing fans were in awe at his incredible boxing skills, his footwork, combination punching, and his relentless approach. Gonzalez was an irresistible force for almost nine years, plowing through or outworking tough and talented 105, 108 and 112 pounders until he met his immovable object at 115 pounds – Sor Rungvisai.

Lee Wylie shows the greatness of the little man in his videos. For me, his victory over Yaegashi is his best victory of his career. What do you think Dougie? He was in top form for his flyweight championship victory, but I think the points win over Cuadras for his fourth world title in a fourth weight class has to be the most significant of his career. His 108-pound title

Gonzalez and Viloria go at it. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

defense against Estrada is my personal favorite. “Gallo” gave Gonzalez all he could handle and brought out his best. The atmosphere inside the L.A. Sports Arena that night was sensational (and Gonzalez-Estrada was the co-featured bout – the Brian Viloria-Tyson Marquez WBO/WBA flyweight unification fight was the main event and it was just as dramatic and entertaining). Speaking of Viloria, I thought Gonzalez’s ninth-round stoppage of the Hawaiian veteran in October 2015 was one of his signature victories.

Maybe most significantly, as mentioned by Cliff Rold, he bought boxing’s lower weight classes to the masses, once cruelly ignored to overseas streams for a very small number to watch and admire to our TVs via HBO and global TV. There were other sub-bantamweights who made their way onto premium U.S. cable (HBO and Showtime) before Chocolatito – including Tapia, Johnson, Viloria, Jorge Arce, Vic Darchinyan, Fernando Montiel and Nonito Donaire – but the Nicaraguan badass ended a five-year draught, and reminded HBO executives of the talent that resides in the flyweight classes.

He led the way for talents such a Naoya Inoue to be shown on HBO, to be appreciated by the masses, not just the hardcoreYes indeed, and hopefully the masses are treated to a 115-pound round robin that includes Inoue, Sor Rungvisai, Estrada, Cuadras, Kal Yafai and Jerwin Ancajas over the next 24 months.

 

WHAT A NIGHT!

Dougie how’s everything? Hope you were entertained as much as I was on Saturday night.

So I was debating with my friend on weight classes and fighters after Saturday night. He stated that there is no way that a fighter like Chocolatito would last at welterweight or higher because the lower weight class guys can give and take a lot better than then most higher weight guys so it kind of takes a lot away from their career. I argued that it isn’t the weight but the fighter himself that determines this. If someone can throw punches, bang, has a chin then he does regardless of weight. It’s a style thing. What do you think??

I thoroughly enjoyed the night Saturday. I loved this card, easily the best card I have seen since maybe the Garcia vs Matthysse and Floyd vs Canelo card. What is your favorite fight card of recent years?

Mythical matchups: Crawford vs Tim Bradley 140

Maidana vs Thurman 147

Canelo vs Sergio Martinez (prime)

Sor Rungvisai vs Inoue

Thank you so much for reading and answering. I can’t wait to read the next mailbag! You’re the man!! – Juan

Thank you for the kind words, Juan. 

I’ll go with Crawford, Thurman, Martinez and Inoue by close decision in your mythical (and potential) matchups. 

My favorite fight card in recent years? “SuperFly” is definitely among my top four or five during the past five years. The doubleheader that featured Viloria-Marquez and Gonzalez-Estrada that I mentioned in my previous response is among the best. The Showtime quadruple header that was topped by Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana and Keith Thurman-Jesus Soto Karass in December 2013 was a good one (I did the international call to that one with Dave Bontempo); and the Showtime triple header headlined by Thurman-Diego Chaves, Andre Berto-Jesus Soto Karass and Omar Figueroa Jr.-Nihito Arakawa (the toughest S.O.B. from Japan before Yoshihiro Kamegai took that mantle) in July 2013 was a hell of a card (I watched that one on TV). 

Regarding the longevity of sub-bantamweight fighters, I think you and your friend are both right. It is natural for lighter-weight fighters to mature, peak and burnout quicker than heavier-weight fighters. They have faster metabolisms than the bigger men and on average they’re way more active in the ring. It’s normal for a flyweight to have hit his peak by his mid-20s, where as a heavyweight is usually still developing at that age and may not hit his athletic peak until his late 20s/early 30s. However, fighting styles are also a factor. An aggressive, relentless fighter like Chocolatito is going to hit the wall a lot faster than a versatile boxer-puncher like Viloria. Gonzalez is probably done at age 30. Viloria is still going at age 36.

 

END OF AN ERA, START OF A NEW ONE

Hey Dougie,

Just finished watching the SuperFly match ups and for the most part they lived up to the hype.

Entertaining fights from both Estrada-Cuadras and Inoue-Nieves. Some thoughts on Inoue’s debut. The kid has some shocking power at 115. The body shots he landed on Nieves late in the fight looked devastating. I can see Inoue possibly cleaning house at 115, but his fight did leave me with some questions regarding his style and technique. He is selective and accurate with his shots and looks very efficient using his energy, and his opponent’s energy, to his advantage, but his punches sometimes come off awkward leaving his chin high and very exposed. He also tends to loop his punches a bit, which also leaves himself open to be countered, which could make or break him against a strong Sor Rungvisai or a more technical Estrada (hopefully we see those matchups.) Overall an impressive showing if not appearing a bit amateurish at times. Obviously, he was putting on a show and wasn’t worried about his opponent so not too surprising of an outcome. What’s your thoughts on where Inoue goes next? How do you see him against Estrada, Sor Rungvisai, Cuadras, or Chocolatito? (Sadly, I don’t think that one will come to pass.)

As for Chocolatito-Sor Rungvisai, that was a hard one to watch being a longtime fan of Chocolatito. After the 1st minute of the 1st round I knew he wasn’t in that fight. HBO commentary made it seem as if he simply didn’t want it anymore, that remains to be seen, to me it seems he just got old in the last two fights. I think the Cuadras fight and the first fight with Sor Rungvisai just sucked the life out of him (not to mention the wars he was in before those fights). Just show that it’s a young man’s game, especially in the lighter divisions. Where do you see Chocolatito going from here? He could move back down to flyweight, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hang the gloves up. All I can say is, what a champion, and that even in defeat he will still be recognized as one the greats.

If this is indeed the end of the Chocolatito era do you believe Inoue or Sor Rungvisai can take up the mantle for the truly little guys? I’m not sure Sor Rungvisai has crossover appeal but if Inoue is managed correctly I can definitely see him being a cross over star as more and more fans are welcoming of the blooming Japanese boxing scene.

GGG vs Canelo—Just excited! No questions or comments, I just hope fans and media alike step back and enjoy this one.

Final Thought and Question: What is one of your favorite all time fights that you believe the general boxing world, even some hardcore heads, don’t know about and why? Thanks. – Jon M., Grand Rapids, MI

I have no idea what fights the “hardcore heads” don’t know about, but in honor of Chocolatito’s prime divisions, I’ll name favorites at strawweight (the 2014 IBF/WBO title unification bout between former Gonzalez opponents Francisco Rodriguez Jr. and Katsunari Takayama), junior flyweight (the IBF/WBC title unification between future hall of famers Michael Carbajal and Chiquita Gonzalez – their classic first confrontation in 1993) and flyweight (the savage slugfest between Giovani Segura and Tyson Marquez in 2013). Marquez’s 2011 war with Luis Conception for the WBA title is also worth peeping.

You have the right idea about Canelo-GGG. Let’s just try to enjoy this one. Fights like this don’t come around very often.

I agree with your thoughts on Sor Rungvisai-Gonzalez (“Chocolatito” just didn’t have it, and “it” may very well have been sapped from him in his previous two bouts) and on Inoue’s U.S. debut (it was an impressive but not awe-inspiring performance).

What’s your thoughts on where Inoue goes next? There are rumors that he may move to bantamweight by the end of 2017, but I hope he remains in the extremely deep 115-pound division for at least another year. If he does jump to 118 pounds, I’d like to see him challenge Mexico’s Luis Nery or South Africa’s Zolani Tete as soon as possible.

How do you see him against Estrada, Sor Rungvisai, Cuadras, or Chocolatito? (Sadly, I don’t think that one will come to pass.) I’ll be happy if we don’t see Inoue-Gonzalez. Chocolatito would get smashed at this stage of his career. I think Estrada, because of his sound foundation and complete game, presents the biggest threat to Inoue. In fact, if they were to fight this year, I’d pick “Gallo” to beat him, maybe by late stoppage. I think “The Monster” can outpoint Sor Rungvisai and Cuadras, but those would be tough fights.

Where do you see Chocolatito going from here? Hopefully, retirement. He’s made good money and he’s got nothing more to prove or accomplish.

If this is indeed the end of the Chocolatito era do you believe Inoue or Sor Rungvisai can take up the mantle for the truly little guys? Inoue can do it if he makes the right moves. He’s got the talent, the style, the charisma, and time is on his side.

 

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