Dougie’s Friday mailbag (PED testing, Joshua vs. Fury, Keith Thurman, UK trainers)
WHY ISN’T THERE MORE RIGOROUS PED TESTING?
Kudos on the well-deserved promotion. Always appreciate your perspective, even in rare disagreement.
So, I wanted to discuss the PEDs ambiguity in the sport. Why haven’t there been significant, fruitful talks between promoters and sanctioning bodies about working together to guarantee full, rigorous testing for all fighters? Boxing is booming, so with small percentages of large events, sanctioning fees and broadcast revenue, surely it can’t be financial.
That’s the way I see it, admittedly idealistically. I just wondered what are the main barriers you see in place for a transparent system to be implemented.
To echo most mailbag contributors, keep up the good work. Warm regards. – JB, Manchester
Thanks for the kind words, JB.
Boxing is doing better in the U.S. in 2017 than it has in previous years, but it isn’t “booming” the way the sport is in the U.K. So I think the cost would be a major “barrier,” along with trust (or lack of it from the public and within the industry).
I doubt that even the biggest, most successful promotional companies could afford all-year-around random Olympic-style PED testing (which is the only way to know for sure that the athletes are not training on banned substances) for all of their boxers. Think about how many fighters Golden Boy, Matchroom and Top Rank have on contract. And keep in mind that most promotional companies are very small – just two or three full-time employees – and don’t make a huge profit after paying their clients.
So if promoters were to pay for the PED testing, it would be the big ones that could do so, and if a big company did a co-promotion with the little company that couldn’t afford it, then what? Does the big company pay for everyone on the card? Will the little company trust the big company?
Think about this: Many hardcore fans believe that the big promotional companies “pay off” or “influence” the officials (judges and referee). Do you really think they’re going to trust promoters to handle the drug testing of their own fighters? I KNOW they won’t, and they shouldn’t.
PED testing should be handled by the athletic commissions, trusted anti-doping agencies and the sanctioning organizations. The funding should come out of the state taxes on the events (maybe a percentage of the live gates) and sanctioning fees (if a title of some kind is on the line). And, as I’ve said many times before, boxing fans that are concerned, obsessed or angst-ridden about PED use in the sport should support VADA and its partners. You can make a tax-deductible donation (or even set up monthly donations) here.
COULD ANYONE BEAT DURAN AT LIGHTWEIGHT?
I’ve seen you say previously there’s no one you would pick over Roberto Duran at 135 pounds in a mythical match up. If you had to choose someone though, who would it be? Obviously Henry Armstrong, Julio Cesar Chavez, etc. come to mind. But I think Pernell Whitaker or the late ‘90s ‘power boxing’ version of Shane Mosley would have fared pretty well. Thanks mate. – Will R.
The fighters you mentioned certainly would have given Duran a run for his money, although I believe that the best version of Hands of Stone beats those formidable lightweight standouts.
The great lightweights I’d choose to upset the prime 135-pound version of Duran are Joe Gans, Benny Leonard, Ike Williams, Carlos Ortiz and Cholo’s fellow Panamanian, Ismael Laguna. And those style matchups would make for sensational fights (especially Duran vs. Williams and Ortiz).
Maybe the 135-pound version of Jose Napoles could have also given Duran a fight. (Those two Latino Legends definitely would have fought close fights at 140 and 147.)
FURY AND JOSHUA
Hope you are good. It’s been over a year since I last wrote in . . . But in the wake of the Joshua-Takam fight, I’ve read a whole bunch more comments from various journalists, and all over the web, that a physically fit and mentally right Tyson Fury would ‘school’ the current version of Joshua. This claim was also popping up everywhere after Joshua-Klitschko, with everyone pointing out how much more easily Fury had ‘handled’ Klitschko than Joshua’s Life-and-Death struggle to victory. So now it seems almost every day I am reading something about Fury’s superior ‘boxing intelligence’ and ‘ring general-ship,’ etc. And I want to call Bulls__t.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the big loon, I really do. And I’ll concede that Fury does bring a kind of low, gypsy cunning to the ring. But people seem to have forgotten how clumsy and rash Fury often looked in his fights before the Klitschko bout. This is a guy who was dropped by Steve Cunningham, an over-the-hill, puffed-up cruiserweight (no disrespect Steve!), who was outweighed by like 50 pounds. This is a guy who was also dropped by a relatively unknown journeyman like Neven Pajkic (no disrespect Neven!). This is a guy who was booed by the crowd during his lumbering decision victory over Kevin Johnson, who Joshua demolished in two rounds.
And, lest we forget, this is a guy who once punched himself in the face when attempting an uppercut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsKPJehHIfg[Though Tyson’s claim afterwards that ‘it was probably the best punch I have ever been hit with’, is one of my favourite boxing one-liners – and one reason why I like him so much.]
The point being, Tyson Fury is no kind of defensive master or boxing super-intelligence – like an enormous fat white version of Bernard Hopkins! All these guys proclaiming that Fury would school Joshua are either focusing far too much on their respective performances against Klitschko, or trying too hard to show that they have not been caught up in the hype surrounding AJ. I feel that the Fury-Klitschko fight was a kind of weird, freak event. Klitschko wasn’t expecting Fury to run all night and so then he somehow psyched himself into not throwing any punches. We shouldn’t read too much into it.
That’s not to say that Joshua would definitely beat a fit Tyson Fury – this is heavyweight boxing and all kinds of crazy stuff can happen. But let’s remember that Joshua had more amateur fights than Fury and fought at a higher level in the amateurs. So my question for you Doug is: supposing that Joshua and a fit, happy Fury were gonna fight tomorrow, and your life depended on picking the winner. Would you really go for Fury on the basis of his supposedly superior ring generalship? I know who I would pick . . . Keep up the good work! Regards. – Tommy (now in Germany)
If my life depended on picking the winner of Fury-Joshua I would be very nervous regardless of who I picked.
I agree that some hardcore fans are trying too hard not to get caught up in “AJ-mania,” but Joshua is beatable, as is Fury. I’m not going to spend a lot of time analyzing their potential matchup because Fury is so far removed from being fight ready (it makes more sense to fantasize about Joshua-Wilder), but I do believe it would be an even-money bout if “the big loon,” as you call him, were able to recapture the form and confidence he had for Klitschko.
I don’t hold AJ’s struggle against Klitschko or his difficulty in putting away Takam against him. He’s 28-year-old two title-beltholder but he’s still learning, just as Fury was when he faced Cunningham, Pajkic and Johnson.
Joshua has the edge in technique and athleticism, but Fury is very mobile and versatile for a man his size and he’s one of the few heavyweights with a height and reach advantage over AJ. And, most importantly, Fury’s a lot smarter (in the ring) than the public gives him credit for. Don’t call it “a kind of low, gypsy cunning.” The big man knows his way around the ring. Perhaps more so than Joshua, who’s clearly got a good head on his broad shoulders. If and when they finally meet in the ring, I’m expecting a chess match.
DOESN’T ANYBODY BELIEVE IN KEITH?
Were you at Game 6 of the World Series? If so, I saw you at the top of the 6th during Correa’s at bat doing a funny dance. It was cool to see.
My main question, though, is why do you think everyone writes off Thurman as being the last man standing at 147? It’s usually assumed that it’ll either be Terence Crawford or Errol Spence battling it out. Why doesn’t Thurman get his due respect. He’s very capable of beating both. – Jay M.
I agree with you, but we’re in the minority.
A lot of fans are turned off by Thurman. Personally, I think he should be in the lower third of the Pound-for-Pound rankings. He’s defeated seven men who held major world titles (and stopped a still-dangerous Jesus Soto Karass and undefeated Diego Chavez) en route to compiling a 28-0 record and unifying two major welterweight titles.
But you know the old saying – out of sight out of mine. He only fought once in 2016 and once this year. His competition was top-notch, but some thought he lost to Shawn Porter and many were underwhelmed by his performance against Danny Garcia. More than a few fans believe he’s become a boring boxer since the Soto Karass fight.
So, until Thurman starts fighting more than once a year and rekindles the excitement in his boxing style, we can expect most fans to write him off (or just ignore him) when it comes to analyzing the elite welterweight mix. I, however, am going to stick with my fellow pony-tailed Halfrican and enjoy pissing off his haters by picking him to beat both Spence and Crawford.
BEST BOXING TRAINER IN THE UK
Best boxing trainer in the UK?
Adam Booth, Dominic Ingle, Rob McCracken, Shane Mcguigan
I’m going with Booth based on historical performance with numerous fighters.
Am I missing anyone who’d break in?
Booth also takes the weirdest trainer title.
He’s the dark lord.
He and Kugan at IFLTV have great interview chemistry but he’s always acting so weird. Here’s a sample: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KdLufBz7SmM
Cheers. – Ed
I’ve seen other interviews that Kugan has done with Booth and they definitely have a weird chemistry that makes them funny and informal but still informative and a bit charming.
I always enjoy hearing what Booth has to say, especially when he analyzes upcoming fights. He’s knows his s__t and he knows how to articulate his thoughts well.
Regarding who’s the best UK trainer, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the four coaches that you mentioned. They’re all excellent and have proven that they are among the best trainers in the world, not just in the UK.
I’ve got a soft spot for McCracken because he was still fighting when I first began to cover the sport (he had a few fights in the U.S. after he signed with the short-lived America Presents in the late ’90s) and I admire what he’s done for Great Britain’s national amateur team/program. I thought he did great job training Carl Froch and I think he’s doing a great job with Anthony Joshua now.
To me, fighters who don’t—or won’t—make weight is a bigger scandal than steroids. It’s blatant cheating. Commissions don’t allow fighters who get caught using steroids to pay their opponents a little extra and then go into fights with that advantage—they suspend them. Why should they let fighters cheat on the scales and buy an advantage that way?
Make fighters post bonds for their entire purses. If they don’t make weight, the fights get cancelled, they get losses on their records, they don’t get paid, they forfeit the bonds to their opponents (who get paid via the bonds and get wins on their records), and they can deal with Dog the Bounty Hunter if they can’t pay off the bonds.
And quickly: In the aftermath of Canelo/Golovkin, Teddy Atlas ranted about corruption in boxing—that he’s often seen promoters feting judges. Have you ever seen this happening? If so, shouldn’t the Ring report it?
Has anyone asked about George Foreman versus Steven Seagal? I’d like to see Big George knock some sense into Seagal, even though I know that’s not how the brain works.
Keep up the good job! Thanks! – Chris Wissmann, Carbondale, IL
You are most welcome, Chris. Thanks for checking back in with us.
I believe that you are the first person to mention Foreman-Seagal to me for the mailbag. Congratulations. Or shame on you. Whatever.
I’ve seen some promoters in other countries host the officials (referees and judges) of major title bouts in lavish hotels, and also pay for their meals at very expensive restaurants, but I haven’t witnessed this kind of treatment in the U.S. (which is not to say that it doesn’t happen).
If Mr. Atlas has seen “feting” (love that word) that goes beyond what I mentioned, and he wants to name names, I’d be happen to run his story in the next issue of The Ring magazine or on RingTV.com.
I agree that failure to make weight is a major problem that has gotten worse in recent years, mainly because so many high-profile fighters (and their management) have been willing to pay the fines and pay whatever it takes to get the opponent to agree to go through with the fight and the athletic commissions, for the most part, have allowed this to happen (and have even allowed the “A-side” fighters and their promoters to repeatedly “reset” the contracted weight going into the fight).
Your bond idea with the automatic losses will never happen because it’s too extreme, but fight cancellations or extreme fines to the fighters that grossly miss weight (and don’t even try to lose the amount that they are over), such as 50% of their purses, will do a lot towards dissuading that sort of unprofessional behavior. This punishment should come from the commissions, but if they don’t step up and do the right thing, I think the networks that televise boxing need to make a stand and refuse to let boxers who appear to purposely come in heavy from fighting on their platforms. And it’s also time for trainers to A) make sure their fighters compete at natural weights, and B) get tough with their fighters and not allow them to go through with a fight if they know they won’t make weight. Both trainers and fighters lie too much to their promoters when they are asked if they are “ready” to fight at a certain weight on a particular weight. If they haven’t been training and they’ve been pigging out for weeks or months, they need to be honest with their promoters about this.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer