Wednesday, October 05, 2022  |

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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (the rise of Ancajas, Williams-Smith, and more mythical heavyweight matchups)

Holyfield (left) and Bowe. Photo from The Ring archive
20
Nov

IS ANCAJAS THE NEXT PACQUIAO?

Hi Doug, it’s been a while since I last wrote to you.

Move over Sor Rungvisai, Inoue, Estrada, Cuadras and Chocolatito for the new king of the division and his name is JERWIN “PRETTY BOY” ANCAJAS!!!

No disrespect to those guys cause all of them are truly great fighters in my eyes but I would definitely bet Ancajas takes them all out. I’m really, really excited for the Super Flyweight division. I think it is most definitely the best division right now in terms of quality fighters and potential fight of the year wars.



Did you catch the fight Doug? I have to say I am really impressed with this kid Ancajas. Southpaw, brutal power, fast and technically gifted. Man, those body punches were something else. Every time he hits Conlan with those body snatchers you could really see agonizing pain in Conlan’s face.

What are your thoughts on the first knockdown? Was it delayed effect from a punch or was it some kind of a bizarre injury? How do you rank him in the division? Can you give your predictions on how he fares against those 5 guys I mentioned earlier? Is he the next Manny Pacquiao?

Hope to hear from you again. – Jayson

Nice to hear from you Jayson. Now, take a deep breath, and calm down a bit on your boy Ancajas. Was he impressive against Jamie Conlan? Hell yes. Was Conlan a top-10 junior bantamweight contender? Hell no.

Jerwin Ancajas

So let’s put the Filipino titleholder in perspective. He’s definitely among the best of a very deep division (arguably one of the top five talented weight classes in all of boxing), having won his last 15 bouts, including his IBF title-winning decision against respected standout McJoe Arroyo last March. He’s willing to travel to other countries and not afraid of a challenge. And, at age 25, he’s in his prime. I think Ancajas (28-1-1, 19 knockouts) had a very bright future, but I don’t think he’s earned the right to be considered the “new king of the division” (as you dubbed him). He’s currently rated No. 6 in THE RING’s junior bantie rankings, behind Inoue, Wangek, Estrada, Cuadras and Yafai, and I agree with that order (although I wouldn’t complain if switched places with Yafai or Cuadras).

I would favor Inoue, Wangek (AKA Sor Rungvisai) and Estrada to beat Ancajas but I would expect the southpaw give them a good fight. I’d consider showdowns with Cuadras and Yafai toss-up matchups, but if you demanded that I pick a winner, I’d probably go with the Mexican veteran and the British talent (via close decision).

What are your thoughts on the first knockdown? Was it delayed effect from a punch or was it some kind of a bizarre injury? I thought it was a delayed reaction off of a right hook to the temple area.

How do you rank him in the division? Between No. 4-No. 6.

Is he the next Manny Pacquiao? I don’t think so. Pacquiao was a once-in-a-lifetime boxing talent who was in the right place at the right time with the right people who matched him against the right opponents. However, I understand the comparisons. Ancajas is a fast, aggressive southpaw from the Philippines who is promoted by the PacMan. And there are stylistic similarities, but Ancajas is not as relentless and dynamic as the young/prime Pacquiao. He’s not as quick or explosive as his promoter, but he’s more poised and solid fundamentally than Pacquiao was three bouts into his IBF 122-pound title reign. I think Ancajas has a more educated jab than the young Pacquiao. I like the way Ancajas fights. He boxes relaxed and patient from the outside, but once he hurts his opponent, he swarms them like a savage and commits to his body attack on the inside. I hope he gets an invite from HBO and Tom Loeffler to participate on a future “SuperFly” card.

 

J-ROCK VS. ISHE SMITH

Hey Dougie,

The Ishe Smith–Julian Williams fight turned out to be much better than I thought it would. I can’t recall a fight where Ishe threw as many punches as he did last night. Too bad he didn’t show that sense of urgency earlier in his career, it probably would have reversed 4 of his losses.  Do you think that was his last stand?

Who do you think is next for JRock? I think Hurd is a bad move, but Tony Harrison makes sense to me. I’d favor JRock in that one but I haven’t given up hope on Harrison yet.

My boxing prediction: Barley will be back soon.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. – Scott, Orlando, FL

Thanks for the kind holiday wishes, Scott.

That’s a safe prediction. No boxing forum/message board/comment space warrior can stay retired.

I have no idea who’s next for Williams, but I don’t think he’s ready for another title shot, or even a title-elimination bout, quite yet. He’ll get there, probably by the second half of 2018, but I think he faced one of the most solid and reliable gatekeepers of the division (or any weight class) in Ishe Smith and juuussst got by. I didn’t agree with those two wide official scorecards. The 97-93 tally was OK, but I had Williams winning 96-94 (or six rounds to four). When you struggle to beat a gatekeeper it means you’re not ready to take a big step up in class with your next bout. So, I agree that Tony Harrison – who is also coming back from a title-challenge KO loss – is a respectable future opponent for J-Rock.

If Williams, who boxed well early and showed some grit down the stretch vs. Smith – but was also tight and tentative during the middle rounds – can look good beating Harrison (or another young-but-vulnerable talent), perhaps a grizzled fringe contender, such as Diego Chaves, could serve as a test. And if he were to pass it, I think it’s time to go for contender (unless one of the PBC-managed titleholders elects to make a voluntary defense against him).

Kanat Islam

One of the overlooked junior middleweights in the PBC league is Kanat Islam, the undefeated (25-0, 20 KOs) Kazakhstan national (born in China, currently residing in Florida), who happens to be rated in all four sanctioning bodies (No. 1 by the WBA, No. 3 by the IBF and WBO, and No. 8 by the WBC). “K-Slam” is strong, athletic and crafty, but isn’t without his flaws and he hasn’t been in as tough as J-Rock. Beating Islam would put Williams in position to challenge any of the four titleholders.

I can’t recall a fight where Ishe threw as many punches as he did last night. Agreed, but Smith was winging his shots wider than usual, and I think Williams found it easy to block a lot of them on his arms early in the fight. I also think Williams was trying to pace himself and box more in this fight (and he exhibited a nice jab and good head movement over the first four rounds), which encouraged Smith to be the aggressor. And the aggression paid off for the 39-year-old veteran when he set up his right hands with a stiff jab and followed up to the body during the middle rounds.

Too bad he didn’t show that sense of urgency earlier in his career, it probably would have reversed 4 of his losses. No doubt about it.

Do you think that was his last stand? I don’t think so. Apart from those awful cuts from accidental headbutts, Smith put forth a good performance. I still consider him to be a gatekeeper, but I think there are young fringe contenders that he can beat. And the ones he probably can’t beat, I’m certain he will test in ways they’ve never been tested. There’s this 21-year-old prospect out of Tijuana that a lot of insiders and hardcore fans are high on named Jaime Munguia (he fights on the Salido-Roman undercard on Dec. 9 in Las Vegas). He’s he the next bigtime Mexican standout? I have no idea. I won’t know what Munguia’s really got until he fights a guy like Smith.

 

LOMACHENKO VS RIGONDEAUX THOUGHTS

2 glove Doug,

Let me get right to it!

I must be blind or heavily biased towards Rigo because I still believe that Guillermo Rigondeaux will beat Vasyl Lomachenko Dec. 9th. Which is a shocker to me because I am a big fan of both. The boxing nerd in me has been geeking out over this fight since it was announced (as I usually am with good to great matchups). I see this fight as an intense chess battle where both fighters will be ultra focused. I say ultra because both Loma and Rigo have a keen eye that can see different angles and traps that your normal champion cannot see. I just cannot visualize Loma outclassing and turning Rigondeaux around as he has with all of his previous opponents. Rigo has seen every style as has Loma due to their amateur background. I have too many opinions and questions about this fight but I will just ask a few.

As a lifelong boxing fanatic to another, I highly respect your opinion on the fight game.

Who do you believe will punch harder fight night?

What are the biggest disadvantages for each fighter?

And, has there ever been a more meaningful fight between 2 boxers with under 20 bouts each? – Raul G, Oside, Ca

Not that I can think of, Raul. Lomachenko are not just two of the most accomplished amateur boxers of all time, they are two of the most accomplished pros with less than 20 bouts.

Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) had won two major world 122-pound titles and earned a pound-for-pound ranking (with his unanimous decision over Nonito Donaire) by his 12th pro bout.

Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) has won major world titles two weight classes (featherweight and junior lightweight) and earned top-five pound-for-pound status within 10 pro bouts.

Graphic by Lorin Elise/RBR Boxing

Who do you believe will punch harder fight night? I think Rigo will hit harder with his vaunted left than any single power punch from Lomachenko, but I think the Ukrainian will throw (and land) the heavier shots on average.

What are the biggest disadvantages for each fighter? I think Lomachenko’s activity/high-punch output is a disadvantage for him because it makes more vulnerable to the Cuban counter-punching specialist, and it’s a disadvantage for Rigo because it will enable the defending titleholder out outwork and outpoint him.

I must be blind or heavily biased towards Rigo because I still believe that Guillermo Rigondeaux will beat Vasyl Lomachenko Dec. 9th. You’re not blind. You’re just a little bit biased, and that’s OK. That’s one of the things that makes boxing fun.

Which is a shocker to me because I am a big fan of both. Loma being the favorite in this matchup should not come as a “shock” to anyone. He’s younger (29 to Rigo’s 37), naturally bigger, just as athletic (if not more), just as experienced, arguably more versatile, and he’s been the busier fighter (this will be his third fight this year, while it will be Rigo’s third fight in the past two years – and he’s only gone a total of three rounds in his last two bouts).

Maybe I’m being a hater, but I envision an intense chess match for five or six rounds while Loma figures out how to get to Rigo, but once the odds favorite hurts the older man I think the Cuban will go into survival mode and the second half of the bout will become a stinkfest.

I’ve said this several times via social media (and maybe in this column), but I’ll repeat it – I’d be way more into Rigo vs. Zolani Tete at 122 pounds than I am for Rigo vs. Loma at 130 pounds.

 

COONEY VS KLITSCHKO

Hi Dougie,

I’ve been ruminating over a MM for a long time, what about Gerry Cooney vs. Vitali Klitschko? Seems ridiculous to get excited over a MM but I can’t help it. How would that one play out (both in their primes)?

Best Regards. – Sebastian

I think the prime Cooney, who had a left hook from hell (to the body and head), would have had a brief window in the early rounds to hurt and take out Klitschko, but if he couldn’t get it done in the first two or three rounds, I think Dr. Iron Fist would gradually/systematically pick him apart from a distance (even while backing away from the New Yorker), take him into the late rounds and stop him in Round 11 or 12. I favor Klitschko in this mythical matchup.

 

RIDDICK BOWE

Hi Doug,

Just like to say how much I enjoy your work with The Ring magazine.

The 25th anniversary of Bowe vs Holyfield 1 has just passed. I feel that version of Riddick Bowe would have been a very tough opponent for any heavyweight champion.

Do you think he is possibly the biggest waste of talent in heavyweight history?

Mythical match-ups:

George Foreman (1973/74) vs Riddick Bowe (1992)

Mike Tyson (1986/88) vs Riddick Bowe (1992)

Best regards. – Gerard Mullarkey

These are sweet heavyweight mythical matchups, Gerard.

First, let me tell you that I believe that the 235-pound boxing/fighting machine that the late, great Eddie Futch had manufactured with 31 pro bouts – the 6-foot-5 heavyweight that could get down on the inside and grind at a middleweight’s pace – the version of the Big Daddy that outpointed the great Evander Holyfield in a modern classic in November 1993, THAT version of Bowe could have held his own with any heavyweight champion in history.

It’s hard for me to say that he was a waste of talent because he beat a great fighter in a great fight. Despite winning a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics, he was branded as gutless and lazy before he turned pro and wasn’t expected to do much. But he proved his many critics wrong and became the undisputed heavyweight champ. He didn’t have a long reign because of his trilogy with Holyfield (who beat him in the rematch and probably wore him down a bit in the rubber match) and due to his lack of discipline between fights, but he was a top heavyweight from late 1990 through 1995.  

I think Bowe could have been managed better in terms of how his title reign was handled (dumping the WBC title and not fighting Lewis was a bad look), but he was expertly developed (beat some quality fighters on his way up the ladder) and he made the most of his physical peak (going 2-1 against the 92-95 version of The Real Deal is impressive). I’m pretty sure there have been bigger “wastes of talent” in heavyweight history.

Your mythical matchups:

George Foreman (1973/74) vs Riddick Bowe (1992) – I’d take the post-Ali/1976 (Gil Clancy trained) version of Big George over Big Daddy, but I think peak Bowe (with the help of a good game plan and corner work from Futch) could have taken the sullen bully version of the Houston native into deep waters and drown him there.

Mike Tyson (1986/88) vs Riddick Bowe (1992) – I think Big Daddy keeps the ’86 version of Kid Dynamite at bay with his ram-rod jab and takes him out by the late rounds after badly hurting him with a monster uppercut in the middle rounds. However, I think the ’88 version of Iron Mike (that stopped Pinklon Thomas, Ty Biggs, Tony Tubbs and the old/inactive but still great Larry Holmes, demolished poor Michael Spinks in one round, and had gone the 12-round distance with Tony Tucker and Bonecrusher Smith) takes his time and systematically chops down even the late ’92 version of Bowe to a brutal eighth- or ninth-round stoppage.

 

DEFENSIVE BOXING

Hey Dougie,

Hoping this can somehow get included in Monday’s mailbag as I could use your help!

I got sent this video of Nicolino Locche and I loved it: https://youtu.be/Qj-bLfsQSFQ

Where do you rank him amongst the defensive greats?

I’m 6ft 3ins and 90KG, and I find it hard to make the small bob and weave movements. My first line of defense is a long hard jab and my second is getting the f__k away from smaller pressure fighters and just planting a hard straight right or hook on them to try and keep them away and at range again. I also put lots of weight on my back foot to keep my head away.

Not sophisticated, I know.

Who is the best ‘big’ defensive fighter in your opinion that I can watch and learn from? By big I mean cruiser upwards, I definitely don’t have the speed to model my style on a good light heavy.

Also, do you think it’s impossible for a big tall heavy range fighter to be effective fighting on the inside with a bob and weave?

Hopefully, there’s enough interesting content here to get my request for 121 coaching tips through 🙂

Cheers. – Ed

I appreciate the email, Ed, but I’m not a coach, I’m a columnist/editor/commentator, a member of the media, not the boxing trainer fraternity.  

But I’ve been around long enough to know that a tall-and-rangy boxer shouldn’t bother with bobbing and weaving. That fact that you’re fascinated with Locche highlights tells me you’re not a killer, which is OK, but with your body type and mindset you should be emulating Ali, not Frazier. Or better yet, you should study footage of Larry Holmes, who was technically more complete than Ali (who relied a lot on his elite-level athleticism and reflexes to avoid punches).

Larry Holmes (R) connects with a right hook against Gerry Cooney during the fight at Caesars Palace, on June 11, 982 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by: The Ring Magazine

Don’t look for highlights of Holmes on YouTube, the dudes that post those kinds of vids usually focus on knockouts or hot exchanges, but if you watch Holmes’ fights in their entirety – prime version and the early/mid ‘90s comeback – you’ll see a classic boxer that knew how to use his arms to keep his opponent at bay and in front of him, and to block incoming punches. He also had no problem using his legs to create space or to control the tempo of his fights. Vitali Klitschko and the Manny Steward-trained version of Wladimir Klitschko also knew how to use their height and reach in a manner that protected their chins (while wearing down their opposition). Lennox Lewis is certainly worth watching. Again, avoid highlight videos with these heavyweights, all you’ll learn from those is how to set up big right hands against already groggy opposition. You gotta watch the full fights. And TAKE NOTES, darn it!

Where do you rank him amongst the defensive greats? Locche is top 10, maybe top five, but behind Whitaker, Mayweather and prime Toney. He notched 117 wins and only suffered four losses, but I’m curious about those 14 draws he had. He didn’t leave his native Argentine until the end of his career, and he was a popular fighter there, so I wonder if he got a few gifts. I need to check out the full fights of his draws with Ismael Laguna and Carlo Ortiz (who he faced in non-title bouts during their lightweight title reigns), which took place in Argentina. I’d heard from old-timers out here in Southern California that he was soundly outworked by contender Adolph Pruitt, who he defended the WBA 140-pound title against via 15-round decision in Buenos Aires. But he had to be sublimely skilled to just fight as many distance bouts as he did (he only scored 14 KOs) and to outpoint hall of famers, such as Joe Brown, Eddie Perkins and Antonio Cervantes, who stopped him in their rematch that took place in Venezuela.

I’m 6ft 3ins and 90KG, and I find it hard to make the small bob and weave movements. Don’t try to emulate slippery little defensive geniuses or short, murderous-punching heavyweights like Frazier or Tyson. Fight tall and constantly work on your technique/form.

My first line of defense is a long hard jab and my second is getting the f__k away from smaller pressure fighters and just planting a hard straight right or hook on them to try and keep them away and at range again. I also put lots of weight on my back foot to keep my head away.Not sophisticated, I know. Who cares if it’s sophisticated? If it works, stick with it! And keep improving.

Also, do you think it’s impossible for a big tall heavy range fighter to be effective fighting on the inside with a bob and weave? Check out some of prime Riddick Bowe’s fights for an example of a big, tall heavyweight with very good in-fighting ability. It can be done. But, again, leave the bob and weave for the shorties.

 

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

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