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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Ward’s retirement, more Canelo-GGG feedback)

Photo by Khristopher Sandifer/Roc Nation Sports
22
Sep

ANDRE WARD’S RETIREMENT

Hi Dougie,

Andre Ward just announced his retirement…

  1. Do you think he’ll stay retired?
  2. Does he have enough for the HOF?
  3. With Ward out of the picture, who, if anybody, takes over the LHW division?

Hope all is well with you. Regards. – anoymzb

It’s all good with me. I’m finally feeling like myself again after a very long and eventful big-fight week and weekend in Las Vegas.

I do believe that Ward will stay retired. I know that most boxers come back at least once after announcing their retirement for the first time, especially accomplished and high-profile champions, but I don’t think Ward has the same kind of ego or need for attention that others have. I’m not saying he doesn’t have a big ego or a typical fighter’s pride, but he seems to be a private person by nature and from what I’ve heard, he’s always been very careful with his money, so if he comes back it won’t be for financial reasons. Bottom line: Ward has always seemed extremely goal-oriented – and I don’t think his main goals included fame and money. I’m sure he appreciates some levels of celebrity and he wants to make as good a living as he can for his family, but I think his athletic career was focused on fully learning his craft and earning recognition as the best boxer in the world in his chosen weight class. He did that as an amateur by winning the 2004 Olympic gold medal, he did it as a pro by winning the Super Six World Boxing Classic 168-pound tournament (during which he unified the WBA and WBC titles, and won THE RING championship and RING Fight of the Year award), and he did it at light heavyweight with his repeat victory over Sergey Kovalev.

As far as Ward is concerned, there are no more mountains to climb in the sport, thus, it’s time to move on while he’s still healthy. I wish him nothing but success in the next stage of his life.

Has he accomplished enough to merit Hall of Fame induction? Absolutely. I’m certain that he will be a first-ballot inductee.

Who takes over the 175-pound weight class? I’m not sure. I think light heavyweight is now a wide-open division. Kovalev is a front-runner, provided the back-to-back losses to Ward haven’t damaged his self-confidence. His comeback fight against rugged and hard-punching Vyacheslav Shabranskyy should tell us what’s left of The Krusher, mentally and physically. But I hesitate to predict with certainty that Kovalev will reclaim his crown due to his age (he’s 34) and attitude (he’s clearly not an easy guy for trainers to get along with).

Adonis Stevenson, the longtime lineal and WBC champ, just turned 40. “Superman” still looks sharp, but he’s been facing sub-par opposition – for years. I know he’s formidable with his blend of speed, power, experience and underrated ring generalship, but his dominance may be a mirage.

I think the new ruler of the 175-pound division will emerge in a year or two when the young guns – such as Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Dmitry Bivol – mix it up with some of the mature contenders – such as Elieder Alvarez, Artur Beterbiev, Sullivan Barrera and Badou Jack – and then the winners of these matches get a crack at Kovalev and Stevenson.

I think I’m leaning toward Gvozdyk to come out on top by the end of 2018. Regardless of who eventually emerges as the real champ, there are a lot of really interesting matchups to be made at light heavyweight.

 

LOMA-RIGO, WILDER-ORTIZ & RANDOM THOUGHTS

Dougie,

I hope this email finds you well and I appreciate your candidness in the aftermath of Golovkin-Canelo. Canelo surprised me but GGG won.

On to other exciting matters. Can you give me your preliminary thoughts on Rigo-Loma & Ortiz-Wilder. I feel awful for Guillermo Rigondeaux that he has to take this fight given no one else of consequence will go near him. I think the world of his skills but the weight difference is way too much. It would be like Ward fighting Anthony Joshua if Joshua was an elite boxer.

Luis Ortiz-Deontay Wilder, I think Ortiz is a much better boxer but he may be a tad slow and I could see Wilder jabbing to a boring decision. Good news is both of these match-ups are on regular TV.

Lastly, it’s a shame that none of the World Boxing Super Series early match ups are on TV. The cruiserweight fight this weekend with Dorticos looks exciting.

Have a good weekend. – Aaron in Miami

Yeah, I feel bad for the main event fighters. Yunier Dorticos and Dimitry Kudryashov are two entertaining world-class cruiserweights whose showdown have been almost completely lost in all of the news this week (the Canelo-GGG fallout, the Top Rank/ESPN show in Tucson, Arizona, the passing of Jake LaMotta and Andre Ward’s retirement announcement). I can’t help but think that had this fight taken place somewhere in Europe, it would have received a lot more attention from the sports media there. It’s

Francisco Perez/Ringstar Sports

puzzling that a cruiserweight fight between a Cuban and a Russian wound up in San Antonio, Texas, without a major U.S. network involved. Perhaps Nonito Donaire being in the co-featured bout will bring in a strong Filipino fan base to the Alamodome.

Regardless, Dorticos-Kudryashov is worth watching on any stream that you can find (the World Boxing Super Series website live streams the events). I think it’s going to be a lot of fun (as most matchups between top cruisers are). I think Dorticos will wear Kudryashov down to a late stoppage, but The Russian Hammer will be dangerous throughout due to his heavy hands and puncher’s mentality.

I think Lomachenko-Rigondeaux might be a better matchup in the obsessive minds of boxing geeks than in the ring, but it’s got a strong story line in that it pits two of the most talented and accomplished amateur boxing legends against each other. I agree with your take, though, Loma is just too big, too busy, too mobile and too fresh for the aging 122-pound boss to deal with at the junior lightweight limit.

Wilder-Ortiz is a quality heavyweight matchup and kudos to Showtime for helping to get this one done. As much hype as Ortiz brings to his first title, and as maligned as Wilder has been in recent years, I slightly favor the defending American beltholder. Ortiz’s rep has been largely built on one fight – the knockout of Bryant Jennings. But he’s looked rather ordinary (and a bit long in the tooth) when in with boxers that move on him (see his ugly/boring fights with Malik Scott and Tony Thompson). Wilder is a born puncher but as he showed against Bermane Stiverne, he can stick and move if he needs to. That same gameplan will work against Ortiz in my opinion.

 

CANELO v GGG / THE OTHER SIDE

Doug,

I hope this message finds you well. I was itching to write to you right after the fight but I decided to wait until the dust settled to get my thoughts straight.

I had the pleasure of watching the fight live at the T-Mobile and twice now on TV with your commentary (good job) and the México commentary. The main story I’m reading is Gennady Golovkin won “clearly”, GGG was robbed and the bad judging, which I will not get into as I want to focus on the fight.

I really believe we are not being fair to Saul Alvarez. I’m originally from México but I’m a bigger GGG fan than an Alvarez fan. I’m actually a boxing fan and I can appreciate both. Whenever I get the chance I go to as many boxing events as I can. I’ve probably paid to attend for more GGG fights than Canelo fights. I’m in LA but I often travel to Vegas or NY to boxing events.

With that said, first, where are all the GGG predictions about him KO’ing Canelo in 8 or 10 rounds? I haven’t seen any of those dudes in Twitterville lately. I saw GGG being very slow, especially at the beginning of the fight. I saw Gennady missing A LOT of punches, some wild swings Canelo would just go easily under. A lot of people said Canelo didn’t stand a chance on the ropes and he took it to the ropes and took a few shots but also did amazing at defense by blocking, rolling and avoiding punches.

I saw GGG cutting the ring sometimes but also chasing a lot. I saw GGG being just on the chase, and a little bit one dimensional, where Canelo, to me, showed more variety and new wrinkles to his game. Canelo made GGG look slow, he made him miss, Canelo landed some great (highlight-reel) shots, actually the more eye-catching shots where landed by Canelo who also outlanded Golovkin in the power punch department.

Alvarez has many detractors in México probably more than in the U.S. and for some of the same reasons we hear here in the U.S., they say his career was tailored, only fights smaller guys, he’s not humble and he doesn’t fight like Barrera or Chavez. Well Canelo is his own fighter and we have to treat him like such. On TV Azteca, among his many detractors, they saw Canelo win the fight including Chavez Sr. On another broadcast Erik Morales also saw Canelo win by a narrow margin. Marquez and a few others saw GGG win.

Before the fight I also heard talk about this being Canelo’s graduation, his first legit fight at middleweight vs. a guy with real punching power, etc. Well, I think he passed with flying colors. With no amateur career, no Olympic background and 27 years of age, he took on the undisputed, unbeaten “monster” middleweight champion of the world with a 90% KO ratio and gave him a hell of a fight. If one fighter was exposed on Saturday night, to me, it was Golovkin. To me Canelo had a better body attack, great foot work, and Canelo was probably the better at the close in-fighting and his defense was flawless even putting his hands down while at the ropes… my one criticism for Alvarez would be he needed to throw more punches. GGG was the same pressure fighter showing amazing relentless pressure but looking one dimensional, slow at times with no adjustments on how to catch Alvarez and missing a lot.

Is Gennady getting old? Or was it the A-level opposition? He was shinning, but are more elite fighters like Jacobs and Alvarez showing his true colors?

I personally scored the fight 2 rounds for Canelo with 4 rounds being very, very close. So I’m OK if its Gennady by 2 or a Draw.

But of one thing I’m certain. It’s time for us to show our respect to Señor Ginger the face and future of Boxing. Thank you Doug! Keep up the good work! – E

I said this during the online PPV/international broadcast with Beto Duran and Kevin Kelley, and I think it bears repeating: The worst thing about Adalaide Byrd’s awful, one-sided scorecard for Alvarez is that the majority of fans would focus on that and either forget how well Canelo performed or use it as an excuse to rip him (even if they were among his legion of critics that predicted that he would get grinded down to a mid-to-late rounds TKO or quit on his stool between rounds).

I know that most of the fan and media outrage has been directed where it belongs – toward Byrd and the Nevada State Athletic commission (with a growing number pointing out Don Trella’s suspicious Round-7 scoring) – and a significant portion of scorn has also been tossed at Golden Boy (which isn’t fair in my opinion but comes with the territory), but I’m also aware of a small hardcore group of boxing observers that are simply mad because Canelo didn’t get KTFO. They never liked him, never thought much of his ability, never could understand his popularity and they desperately wanted to see him get smashed by a very likeable ring punisher by the name of Gennady Golovkin. That didn’t happen and the fact that the fight was legitimately competitive, along with the controversial nature of the split-draw, only serves to burn their collective a__holes.

I think most casual observers and neutral fans (or folks who liked both fighters, as you did) came away with a newfound respect for Canelo and now view him as a legitimate middleweight. They may not view him as the real middleweight champ, but they now recognize that he’s a complete fighter who can beat most of the elite 160 pounders on a good night. However, you’re just going to have to live with the fact that there will always be a significant number of hardcore fans that hate Canelo’s guts. To them, he’s the poster boy for all that is wrong and unfair about professional boxing. It is what it is.

I saw GGG being very slow, especially at the beginning of the fight. I saw Gennady missing A LOT of punches, some wild swings Canelo would just go easily under. Golovkin was definitely tight during the opening rounds. Sept. 16 was by far the biggest stage he’s ever fought on and it showed (even between rounds when he appeared to engage in deep/rapid breathing exercises to calm his anxiety and bring his heart rate down). However, like a true professional, he gradually got into his fighting rhythm and into the fight, and he started doing it by the fourth round. Canelo, on the other hand, was calm, cool and collected. He had confidence from the opening round (something Daniel Jacobs didn’t gain until the middle of his bold stand against GGG) and his slip-and-counter game was on point, as were his inside combos and body punching. However, by the middle rounds, Canelo’s bad habits began biting him in the ass – his tendency to get arm weary, his sporadic offense and his penchant for going to the ropes all combined to allow Golovkin to forge forward and outwork him.

A lot of people said Canelo didn’t stand a chance on the ropes and he took it to the ropes and took a few shots but also did amazing at defense by blocking, rolling and avoiding punches. His defense on the ropes was brilliant but he needed to return fire more often. If you’re going to take a page from Sugar Ray Leonard’s book, you gotta let go with some dynamic flurries when being pressed to the ropes by a badass middleweight (especially during the final 20-30 seconds of the round).

I saw GGG cutting the ring sometimes but also chasing a lot. I saw GGG being just on the chase, and a little bit one dimensional, where Canelo, to me, showed more variety and new wrinkles to his game. I thought Golovkin’s defense was almost as solid as Canelo’s. He blocked and turned with a lot of Canelo’s big shots. And if coming forward is being “one dimensional,” so be it, as long as that one dimension equates to effective aggression, which I believe it did in this case.

Canelo made GGG look slow, he made him miss, Canelo landed some great (highlight-reel) shots, actually the more eye-catching shots where landed by Canelo who also outlanded Golovkin in the power punch department. Although I favored Golovkin to win this showdown there two things that I was very confident of (and made sure to let my friends know, including my sagely Coach Schwartz during our Sunday Periscope sessions at SMC track): One, Canelo was tough and savvy enough to go the distance; and two, GGG would know he’d been in a fight, and by that I meant (and predicted) that his face would be more marked up after 12 rounds with Alvarez than it was after 12 rounds with Jacobs.

Before the fight I also heard talk about this being Canelo’s graduation, his first legit fight at middleweight vs. a guy with real punching power, etc. Well, I think he passed with flying colors. I agree. I wish he would have made the move to full middleweight last year, though.

With no amateur career, no Olympic background and 27 years of age, he took on the undisputed, unbeaten “monster” middleweight champion of the world with a 90% KO ratio and gave him a hell of a fight. Canelo’s lack of an extensive amateur career is something many of his critics overlook. He had between 30-40 regional junior amateur fights in Guadalajara. Yet, since turning 22, he’s faced five Olympians (Floyd Mayweather, Golovkin, Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and Alfredo Angulo), three of whom were Olympic medalists (Mayweather, Golovkin and Khan) and one was a world amateur champion (GGG). He also faced another elite amateur and world amateur champ in Erislandy Lara. That’s an amazing. I can’t recall the last pro boxer with such a modest amateur background doing as well against Olympians as Canelo has. Maybe Felix Trinidad (who beat Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya, David Reid and Fernando Vargas), but “Tito” possessed the proverbial “eraser” with that lethal left hook of his.

If one fighter was exposed on Saturday night, to me, it was Golovkin. Nonsense! Golovkin won in the eyes of the majority of observers. Don’t detract from his performance, which was sensational, just because a lot of people overestimated him and underestimated Canelo. GGG is the consensus No. 1-rated middleweight in the world and he’s earned that status.

Is Gennady getting old? Yes. It happens to all of us, E. He probably plateaued in 2015, but he’s still the baddes mother f__ker at 160 pounds.

Or was it the A-level opposition? He was shinning, but are more elite fighters like Jacobs and Alvarez showing his true colors? I think Golovkin has been less dominant as we’re used to seeing by fighting fellow elite middleweights. That’s was to be expected. I keep reading and hearing fans and pundits ask where GGG’s body attack went, and I think the combination of lateral movement and quick, hard punching from Jacobs and Alvarez had something to do with its absence. Still, Golovkin found a way to walk down and outjab/outwork two excellent boxers.

 

WHAT’S UP WITH INACTIVITY?

I have been watching boxing and reading your mailbag for years now. I am a big boxing fan.

Question: What’s up with Errol Spence…Daniel Jacobs…Danny Garcia’ why are they not fighting anyone?

The only way to get Big fights is to get noticed…Keep Fighting!

What’s your take??

Great job you’re doing Doug, keep it up! Thanks. – Joe

Thanks for the kind words, Joe. I get this question a lot via Twitter. My usual response is #AskAl. In other words, these standout boxers all share the same advisor, Al Haymon, who signed more than 200 fighters between 2013-2014 and launched the Premier Boxing Champions organization/TV series in early 2015. Haymon had too many fighters even for the plethora of network platforms (which included NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, Spike and FS1) that he bought air time on with hedge fund investment money (estimated at close to a billion dollars). The PBC burned through at least half of that money by the end of last year and as the money – which was also used to pay his star fighters the kind of purses they were used to getting with HBO and Showtime appearances (while overpaying everyone else) – quickly dried up, so did those networks (NBC, CBS, ESPN and Spike).

Right now, Haymon provides the majority of talent for Showtime, which pays a licensing fee, but has limited dates (and a relatively high standard when it comes to matchups), and he still has dates on Fox and FS1 (which is a platform for up-and-comers). Rumor has it he’s close to finalizing new multi-year deals with Fox and with CBS, which will create more TV dates to keep his world-class talent, including Jacobs, Spence and Garcia, busier. But for the time being, most of the PBC’s top talent will only fight once or twice a year.

To be fair to Haymon and his fighters, most of his talent seem to be OK with their activity. They are paid very well, especially when they are in risky fights, so many of them don’t seem to mind the stagnation of career momentum or the loss of potential stardom.

 

THE VACANT RING LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE

Doug –

Who should face off for Ward’s vacated title and who will claim it? – Kevin Key, Duluth, MN

If you’re talking about THE RING 175-pound title, Kevin, in a perfect world it would be the magazine’s Nos. 1- and 2-rated light heavyweights: Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev. Hey, better late than never with this showdown.

If you’re talking about Ward’s three soon-to-be vacated sanctioning organization belts, it will probably be the winner of Dmitry Bivol vs. Sullivan Barrera facing “regular” WBA titleholder Badou Jack for his old WBA strap; the winner of the Nov. 11-scheduled title eliminator between Artu Beterbiev and Enrico Kolling for his old IBF belt; and perhaps the winner of Kovalev-Shabranskyy vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk for his old WBO title.

 

EVERYONE SEES THINGS DIFFERENTLY

Dear Dougie, best wishes to you and yours. Long time reader, first time writer… you make my Mondays and Fridays a touch more enjoyable.

Can we just all agree that Canelo v GGG is one of those fights where we all see things differently? It was not a robbery, it was a close fight with a number of swing rounds, and it was a good fight, let’s appreciate it. I have read that none of the boxing authorities who watched it live had a problem with the overall result, just with the one scorecard. Also, that nobody has much of a problem with anything from 7-5 Canelo to 8-4 GGG – that says a lot.

Personally, I’ve watched it three times now, all on TV and scored it 7-5 to GGG twice and once I actually had it as a draw. Watching it live with 9 other guys who have been following boxing longer than I have (about 17 years), five of us scored the fight for Canelo, there were 3 for GGG including myself and two draws. I watched it with a neutral crowd and I have to admit being surprised only 3 out of 10 of us scored it for GGG but that’s just the way it went where I was.

I suppose if I have one question for you it would be this: why when a fight is scored a draw are the scorecards usually all different, with one going to one fighter, the other to the other and one draw? Do the judges really see things so differently that they can’t all make it 6-6 rather than one scoring it even and the other two going in different directions? I’ve been following boxing for almost 20 years and it amazes me how there is never a draw all across the board from all three judges, so many of them it seems are afraid to score fights even. I know we all see things differently but come on, seriously, every single fight? There can never be a top fight where everyone sees the same thing… surely even by the law of averages there should be a few.

Keep doing what you do brother.

MM:

Roger Mayweather v Ricky Hatton @140

Froch v Eubank @168

Prime Vitali v Prime Holyfield

Emile Griffith v Antonio Margarito @147

Tommy Hearns v Shane Mosley @147

Homicide Hank v Edwin Valero @135

Thanks. – Amele, London

Thank you for the kind words, Amele. I’ll start with your mythical matchups because, to be totally honest, it’s more fun for me than answering another Canelo-GGG-related question, statement or rant.

Roger Mayweather v Ricky Hatton @ 140 – Mayweather by close but unanimous decision (it would be slightly more competitive than the Black Mamba’s 1988 WBC 140-pound title defense against Vinny Pazienza).

Froch v Eubank @ 168 – Froch by close, maybe split decision. I think Eubank’s bizarre style and mind games would get to Froch early, and he would probably land the harder punches throughout, but I envision The Cobra making the necessary adjustments and outworking Eubank over the second half of the bout.

Prime Vitali v Prime Holyfield – Real Deal outhustles Dr. Iron Fist over 12 hard but awkward rounds to earn a close, maybe majority decision. I’m thinking Klitschko hurts Holyfield with a well-timed right hand at least once, but figuring the version that survived Riddick Bowe’s monster uppercut in the 10th round of their classic first fight, could get past any rough patch with Vitali (who didn’t have the Big Daddy’s inside game). Again, we’re not talking about late 1990s/early 2000s Holyfield here; we’re talking about late ‘80s/early ‘90s Commander Vander.

Emile Griffith v Antonio Margarito @ 147 – Griffith by unanimous decision in a competitive, fun fight.

Tommy Hearns v Shane Mosley @ 147 – Hitman by early-to-mid-rounds KO.

Homicide Hank v Edwin Valero @ 135 – Armstrong by mid-rounds stoppage in a savage, bloody slugfest.

Regarding your take on Canelo-GGG, I agree that the fight was competitive. I thought Golovkin won 7 rounds to 5 after watching it live, and I thought he won 8 rounds to 4 on second viewing. I’m not mad or outraged at anyone who thought it was a draw or that Alvarez won 7 rounds.

Can we just all agree that Canelo v GGG is one of those fights where we all see things differently? No, we can’t. Come on, man, you say you’ve been following this sport for 20 years, you should know better. The only thing hardcore fans love more than complaining is arguing with other hardcore fans.

I suppose if I have one question for you it would be this: why when a fight is scored a draw are the scorecards usually all different, with one going to one fighter, the other to the other and one draw? Because judges aren’t there to agree with each other. They sit at opposite sides of the ring to have different perspectives/visual angles of the fight. If they were supposed to agree with each other they’d be required to sit next each other together and allowed to chat with one another during the fight.

Do the judges really see things so differently that they can’t all make it 6-6 rather than one scoring it even and the other two going in different directions? Obviously. Unanimous draws happen, but they are rare.

 

IS WARD AN ATG?

Hey Doug, hope you are well.

Just read that Andre Ward has retired, and am somewhat shocked by the news. Do you think he’ll remain retired (unlike so many great fighters in the past)?

Also, what is his legacy in boxing? Has he done enough to be considered an all-time great in the eyes of boxing fans?

All the best. – Owen

I wasn’t shocked by Ward’s retirement. The Kovalev fights took a physical toll and there aren’t any lucrative matches out there for him at 175 pounds. He’s a family man who’s always lived within his means, plus he’s got other business interests and career options (such as commentating), so it makes sense for him to get out of the combat side of the sport while still healthy.

What’s his legacy? I’d say it was doing things his way, on his terms, persevering through rough times, and achieving considerable goals while remaining unbeaten.

Is he an all-time great in the eyes of boxing fans? I think some believe he’s accomplished enough to be considered “great,” while others believe he falls short of that status.

Personally, I don’t think he’s accomplished enough to be considered an ATG. I kind of went through this in a June mailbag when somebody asked me to compare Ward’s resume with Floyd Mayweather’s. I pointed out that they weren’t even close. Mayweather (who I don’t consider an ATG) accomplished WAY more.

To put this into perspective, if you asked 20 fans if Canelo is an ATG, I’m fairly certain that all 20 would tell you HELL NO! Yet, the 27-year-old Mexican has arguably accomplished more than Ward in the pro ranks. Ward was a two-division RING champ who fought six men that held major titles. Canelo is also a two-division RING champ, but he’s faced 12 men that have held major titles, including three future first-ballot hall of famers (Mayweather, Cotto and Mosley; and it looks like Golovkin could be on his way to the IBHOF).

I think Ward is future hall of famer and he will definitely get a check mark from me when I see his name on the International Boxing Hall of Fame ballot. However, let’s compare his resume to three recent first-ballot hall of famers (that many hardcore fans believe are NOT all-time-greats): Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Joe Calzaghe (who were all inducted in 2014).

Trinidad, who had a long title reign at welterweight, won belts in three divisions and faced 15 men who held major titles. De La Hoya (who is underrated in my opinion) won titles in six divisions and faced 26 men who held major titles. Joe Calzaghe was the longest reigning super middleweight champ and he tied the division record for title defenses. He also won all four major belts at super middleweight, earned RING titles in two divisions and faced 10 men who held major titles.

Ward accomplished a lot, but not as much other current or recent standouts that most fans do not recognize as ATGs.

 

 

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

 

 

 

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