Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Crolla-Burns, Eubank Jr., Groves-Cox, Charlo-Lubin, IBHOF Class of 2018)
JUST ENJOYING THE FIGHTS
I liked your reply to my last post about “questions being answered in the WBSS”: don’t get all cerebral about it just enjoy the fights! Well I did this weekend. Couldn’t figure out if I was rooting for Burns or Crolla until they called it I figured out it was Burns. A good fight, but I’m thinking Luke Campbell might get past either of them (it’s hard to think of Burns at lightweight by now but he actually looked good), with the winner facing Terry Flanagan. Who do you think is last man standing in that pile-up? I think Flanagan if he can stay at lightweight, and I’d love to see him fight Josh Taylor if he moves up to 140.
I’m even more excited about next weekend. I really like watching the Charlo twins fight. I’m betting on Jermell to get past Erickson Lubin but like everything about this fight, starting with the gutsy matchmaking. Also, easy to feel good about watching Jarrett Hurd take on Austin Trout. I don’t know which way I’d place a bet. Either Hurd solidifies his IBF title creds or Trout gets his not undeserving hands on a title one more time. Which I could see Jermell taking back away from either of them. It seems like he’s upped his game recently.
Plus, George Groves vs Jamie Cox across the pond (loving these Saturdays where the UK fights come on early with the stateside stuff coming on later in the evening, for long hours of entertainment!). And btw, Chris Eubank Jr. looked sensational, and I’m still waiting to see some questions answered, about either man, if/when he faces Groves.
Thanks for always doing the mailbag Doug! Cheers. – Alec
Thanks for sharing your thoughts (and enthusiasm) again, Alec.
Eubank looked like the world-class super middleweight that most believe he is (THE RING ranks him No. 7 among 168 pounders) in dispatching Anvi Yildirim in three rounds. However, it should be noted that the unbeaten Turkish standout had the perfect style for Eubank to display his strengths. It will be interesting to see how he fares against a more experienced and versatile boxer, such as Groves.
Speaking of “The Saint,” his WBSS quarterfinal opponent is totally unproven on the world-class level but still could be a handful in Wembley this Saturday. Cox is an athletic, scrappy southpaw who had a solid amateur career (in fact, he and Groves were roommates on the British squad at one time). He’s a bit undersized for the 168-pound division (having turned pro at welterweight and spending half his career at 154 pounds) but he makes up for that with passion/aggression and a frenetic work-rate/fight pace. If nothing else, the rowdy Swindon man should make for a fun fight. Groves deserves to be the decided odds/media favorite but we should keep in mind that he had some rough moments in his WBA title-winning stoppage of Fedor Chudinov, against whom he suffered a broken jaw, this past May.
Couldn’t figure out if I was rooting for Burns or Crolla until they called it I figured out it was Burns. This lightweight contest was one of those rare occasions in boxing where, apart from the regional fans of the two veterans, you HAD to root for BOTH fighters (if you cared at all about it).
A good fight, but I’m thinking Luke Campbell might get past either of them (it’s hard to think of Burns at lightweight by now but he actually looked good), with the winner facing Terry Flanagan. I agree that Burn looked pretty sharp for a veteran with so many hard fights under his belt, and I agree that Campbell should be considered a big favorite against Crolla or the Scotsman. The Crolla-Campbell winner vs. Flanagan is a natural British showdown.
Who do you think is last man standing in that pile-up? I think Flanagan if he can stay at lightweight, and I’d love to see him fight Josh Taylor if he moves up to 140. I would favor Flanagan against Crolla. Tubo vs. Coolhand? I’m not sure. I think I slightly favor Campbell but Flanagan’s busy, mobile style could take advantage of the Olympic champ’s tendency to wait and pose a little too much (especially if the fight takes place in Flanagan’s hometown of Manchester). Regarding Taylor, he’s waiting for all of these lightweights to step up to junior welterweight, and I think the ultra-talented Scot will be ready for them when they do.
I’m even more excited about next weekend. You should be, that’s a quality tripleheader that Showtime is airing. And don’t sleep on the GBP on ESPN show this Friday (co-headlined by Fidel Maldonado Jr.-Ismael Barroso and Cesar Pablo Cano-Marcelino Lopez – two fights that will not disappoint).
I really like watching the Charlo twins fight. I’m betting on Jermell to get past Erickson Lubin but like everything about this fight, starting with the gutsy matchmaking. I also favor Charlo to defend his WBC 154-pound title against THE RING’s 2016 Prospect of the Year. The Houston native is in his athletic prime (27), he’s got excellent technique (especially his jab) and he’s been tested against a varied assortment of hungry contenders, dangerous/difficult fringe contenders and tough gatekeepers over the past five years. He’s ready for the world in my opinion. Lubin was the better amateur and has more physical tools but at age 21, and with the caliber of opposition he’s faced so far, I’m not convinced that the Floridian is ready to win his first world title. Having said that, I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on Charlo. Lubin is a formidable young gun.
Also, easy to feel good about watching Jarrett Hurd take on Austin Trout. I don’t know which way I’d place a bet. Save your money and just enjoy the matchup.
Either Hurd solidifies his IBF title creds or Trout gets his not undeserving hands on a title one more time. I’ll be happy for whoever wins this one (though I slightly favor Hurd to keep his belt).
Which I could see Jermell taking back away from either of them. It seems like he’s upped his game recently. He has, but he’s got to take it one fight at a time; just like his twin brother at middleweight (where too many fans want to christen him the Heir Apparent before he’s defeated anyone of note). The 160-pound division ain’t no joke, and neither is Lubin.
HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2018
What’s up Dougie?
A few things… First, did you hear Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez comment that not only does he want to continue fighting, but it would be his dream to have Felix Trinidad Sr. train him and be in his corner? As a huge Tito fan myself, I am greatly honored (as if I had anything to do with this lol), but I am also a little thrown off. I honestly don’t see Felix Sr. as the solution to Chocolatito’s recent struggles. Although, for all I know, Roman knows something that I don’t know. What are your thoughts?
Second, I saw you received your nomination ballot for this year’s Hall Of Fame Induction. A lot of great names to choose from. I personally like Vitali, El Terrible, Eubank, Calderon and Vazquez. I believe you put out a similar stance, with the exception of Vazquez, instead going with Nigel Benn. Could you share with us your thoughts on who you’ll end up going with? Big fan. – Jensen Ruiz, Tampa
Thanks Jensen. I put out an Instagram post about the five International Boxing Hall of Fame ballot fighters that I’m “leaning” toward picking, and yes, my initial picks were very close to yours (you chose a good group, by the way).
I went with the clearest first-ballot choice among new names to the ballot, which is Erik Morales (and anyone who needs an explanation as to why is a lost cause), Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank (who I believe MUST be inducted together), former heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko and longtime strawweight/junior flyweight boss Ivan Calderon.
Those were my immediate/off-the-top-of-my-head/no-research choices, and I’d totally fine if they wound up being my final picks, but in the one day since that IG post, I’ve reconsidered Klitschko for another European standout, Darisz Michalczewski (who, unlike Vitali, has been on the IBHOF ballot for several years) and I’ve replaced Calderon with former junior lightweight titleholder Rocky Lockridge (who’s been on the ballot for as long as I can remember).
Somebody via Twitter reminded by that D-Mich made 23 defenses of the WBO light heavyweight title, which in an era of four “world” belts and careful matchmaking isn’t the be-all-end-all in terms of legacy, but the Germany based Pole also scored a title-unifying (WBO-IBF-WBA) decision over Virgil Hill, who is now in the hall of fame, and he also notched victories over the very solid likes of Graciano Rocchigiani (twice) and Montell Griffin (and he also won the WBO cruiserweight belt) en route to compiling a snazzy 48-2 (38) record.
And Lockridge, man, forget about it. This guy deserves so much more recognition and respect than he gets. He fought EVERYONE of note in the featherweight and junior lightweight divisions during the extremely competitive 1980s, beating the prime 130-pound version of Roger Mayweather (via first-round KO for the WBA belt) and former champ Cornelius Boza-Edwards among other standouts, and giving THREE great (or arguably great) Latino legends all they could handle in world title bouts – Julio Cesar Chavez, Wilfredo Gomez (who I believe he should have outpointed) and Eusebio Pedrosa (twice). Lockridge was a glove-trotter, often fighting in his opponents’ back yards, and late in his career, he and Tony Lopez fought THE RING’s Fight of the Year for 1988.
I know I’ll be in the minority in putting a checkmark next to Lockridge’s name, but I’m feeling pretty good about it, as I am about the other four candidates I’m voting for. Having said that, I’ve got most of this month to mull it over, so I might switch one or two out before mailing the ballot. There have been many borderline guys added to the ballot in recent years, such as Ricky Hatton and Winky Wright; some of whom are favorites of mine like Julian Jackson, Fernando Vargas, Genaro Hernandez and Buddy McGirt.
My thoughts on Roman Gonzalez deciding that he will continue fighting is that he shouldn’t do it, no matter who trains him (although I do believe that Trinidad Sr. would be a good fit). I think he’s given everything he has during a hall-of-fame worthy career. The opposition at junior bantamweight is just too damn big and talented for him to overcome at this stage. However, I respect his decision and his willingness to get right back into the ring against world-class opposition, such as WBA titleholder Kal Yafai. He may no longer hold a world title or be on any pound-for-pound lists, but Chocolatito remains a true champion at heart.
BURNS AND EUBANK JR.
I’m feeling a little ill at ease with the boxing world. I kind of find boxing to be a painfully awkward proposition sometimes. Ricky Burns is in no way a stay-up-to-watch fighter but the sheer fact a 3-weight world champion is not known outside his own house is sad. Coupled with the fact he is such a nice guy. He was in a tough fight but rightly lost. Is it a bit demoralizing that these fighters still have to contend with bad management, poor contract arrangements, so they have to fight way past their prime? Are promoters to blame? Or is it their own stupidity, etc.?
As for Chris Eubank Jr. I think once he meets the likes of George Groves and Callum Smith he will need more than his arsenal contains, that is, being big with knockout power. I know Smith and Groves aren’t one punch KO artists but they have a distinct power and height advantage, not to mention the natural weight advantage, etc., also, lots of the earth’s natural rays.
It been good to read your work, many thanks. – Rob
Thanks for the kind words, Rob.
I agree that Eubank Jr. will receive a stern test if and when he shares the ring with Groves (which could be soon) and Smith, but I think that has more to do with the style matchups than it does with the physical tools/ability of the super middleweights. I know Eubank broke into the world ratings as a middleweight a few years ago, but he weighed in between 162-164 pounds for the first 17 bouts of his pro career and he looked very much at home at that weight, as he has fighting at around 167 pounds for his last three bouts this year. Eubank is very talented athlete who appears every bit as fast and strong at super middleweight as he did at 160 pounds. Groves and Smith won’t beat him by trying to be the “bigger” fighters; I think the key to beating Eubank Jr. is to box him from a distance and to do so while employing a lot of lateral movement. Taking the fight to him or standing and trading with him for too long only leads to concussions.
I’m feeling a little ill at ease with the boxing world. I kind of find boxing to be a painfully awkward proposition sometimes. Geez, why so down and dramatic? It sounds like you simply weren’t into the Crolla-Burns fight. Nothing wrong with that, but why not skip the fight if you felt that one of the combatants was not worthy of staying awake to watch? Go see a movie. Go bowling. Hit the pub or exercise somewhere. Or stay home and read a good book or wank it to some quality internet porn. Whatever floats your boat. Why get depressed over a boxing match? The fighters and the fans that packed the Manchester Arena were all thrilled to be there Saturday night. If you weren’t into it, why watch?
Ricky Burns is in no way a stay-up-to-watch fighter but the sheer fact a 3-weight world champion is not known outside his own house is sad. Boxing fans outside of Scotland know who Burns is, Rob. Trust me on this. They may not all respect him (as they should), but he was on the world-class scene long enough – and he faced enough badasses during his time as a titleholder/contender – that he broke into the consciousness of fans throughout Europe and the U.S. He’s a bona-fide attraction in Glasgow and he’s made several healthy paydays in his time, so no need to shed any tears on his behalf.
He was in a tough fight but rightly lost. I didn’t score the fight but I thought it was legitimately close. Burns boxed well, exhibited solid form and did not embarrass himself in any way against Crolla, who is still a top-10 rated lightweight.
Is it a bit demoralizing that these fighters still have to contend with bad management, poor contract arrangements, so they have to fight way past their prime? It is when that’s the case, but I don’t believe that’s the situation with Burns. I don’t think he’s been poorly managed or promoted, as his large local fan base and three world titles (in three divisions) are proof of. I think he continues to fight because he loves boxing. He loves training, he loves learning in the gym, he loves his team and his fans, he loves the thrill and the challenge of competition, and he wants to do it for as long as he can. There’s nothing wrong with that and there’s no reason why anyone should feel sorry for him.
Are promoters to blame? Or is it their own stupidity, etc.? Nobody is to blame. If you want to blame something, blame boxing. It’s more than a sport for some people, it’s a life choice and it’s addictive. It’s got nothing to do with “stupidity” and everything to do with passion.
WILL LOMA GET CREDIT FOR BEATING RIGO?
I have a question for you, what happens when (not if, in my opinion) Vasyl Lomachenko stops the smaller, older, chin suspect Guillermo Rigondeaux? I mean Rigo is a top P4P player, no doubt, so should Loma finally get that No. 1 spot the fans are looking forward to? If he stops him convincingly, I think so…
I would also love that to be followed by a matchup with the Linares-Garcia winner.
Btw, your mobile site is f…ed up man, I always have to refresh and go back and forth to the site and the mail bag cause it keeps sending me to this:
Love you man, keep the honesty to that 100! – Ciobanu
Thanks for the love, Cio.
Sorry about your problems with the mobile site. I will pass this information along to the appropriate people and hopefully the glitch gets resolved soon. I think there’s a new RingTV App that is in the works, which should help boxing fans access the site via phones and mobile devices.
Regarding the Lomachenko-Rigondeaux matchup, I think many fans, media members and boxing publication will recognize the winner as the best boxer, pound for pound, on the planet, especially if the Cuban springs the upset because he’s the fighter that’s coming up in weight.
But if Loma wins in dominant fashion, especially if he scores a stoppage, the Ukrainian amateur legend will make a strong case for being the top dog among elite boxers. However, the same reasons you believe Lomachenko will defend his WBO 130-pound title on Dec. 9 – the 122-pound boss being “smaller, older, chin suspect” – will likely be used by Hi-Tech’s many haters (or by members of the “Cult of Rigo”) to deny him that coveted spot among boxing geeks. They can just say that Rigondeaux “got old overnight,” or that Loma picked on a “little guy.”
I would also love that to be followed by a matchup with the Linares-Garcia winner. You and everyone else, Cio. One step at a time, though. Let’s see if Loma can beat Rigo and if the lightweight championship showdown can get made first.
Long time reader, first time writer. Wanted to run a few MYTHICAL MATCHUPS by you:
Tapia vs. Chocolatito
Canelo vs Trinidad
Lomachenko vs Arguello
Thanks for your time. Love the mailbag. – John
Thanks for finally sharing your thoughts with us and for the kind words about this column, John. These are good mythical matchups.
Tapia vs. Chocolatito – I’ve got to go with Johnny Tapia, who was a natural 115/118 pounder and at his best at junior bantamweight (where he was unbeaten), via competitive unanimous decision. Gonzalez would make it close with his pressure and volume punching, but Tapia’s iron chin, speed and aggressive stick-and-move game would enable him to outpoint the Nicaraguan badass.
Canelo vs Trinidad – I like Tito at 154 pounds, either by late stoppage or by competitive decision in a terrific fight; and I favor Alvarez (the version we saw against GGG) by close decision at middleweight.
Lomachenko vs Arguello – Man, longtime fans are not going to like this opinion, but I think Loma’s footwork, angles, speed, reflexes and creative offense/defense would have been all wrong for the Nicaraguan, who was great, but had rather heavy feet and often struggled with cagey stick-and-movers such as Ernesto Marcel (who outpointed Arguello in Flaco’s first title challenge), lightweight fringe contender Vilomar Fernandez (who upset Arguello in a non-title bout during the hall of famer’s 130-pound reign) and Ruben Castillo (who gave him fits for 10 rounds during a junior lightweight title defense that ended in Round 11 with the unbeaten contender getting stopped). The great Ruben Olivares troubled Arguello with in-and-out-side-to-side movement before getting clipped in Round 13 of their showdown in 1974 (later in the same year Arguello lost to Marcel). Arguello would catch Lomachenko late at 126 pounds, and either stop the southpaw or hurt him enough to take over and win a narrow decision; but at 130 pounds I’m going to go with Loma via decision in a competitive fight.
JACKIE “KID” BERG
Just saw your tweet regarding Jack Berg. Here’s a link to a great tribute to him. The last guy who pays tribute is particularly good (I won’t spoil the ending):
Always read the mailbag every Monday and Friday but never emailed but thought I’d send this as a thank you for all your good work.
All the best. – John W, Leeds (England…!)
Thanks for finally writing in, John (I know where Leeds is!).
And thank you so much for sharing this 1987 feature on Berg (AKA Judah Berman), arguably Britain’s greatest prize fighter ever. I had no idea that the “This is your Life” series lasted into the ‘80s, nor that one was done on Berg (or that he was even still alive at that time), but I’m glad he was honored by so many British boxing luminaries (along with film-making legend John Houston) and his former trainer, the great Ray Arcel, in such a public forum.
I hope boxing fans on both sides of the Pond that aren’t familiar with Berg look into his amazing 192-bout career that spanned from the mid-1920s through the mid-‘40s. His multiple fights with fellow hall of famers Kid Chocolate, Tony Canzoneri and Billy Petrolle alone qualify him as an all-time great.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer