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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (return of The Krusher, Gamboa’s gift, Brook at 154, SuperFly 2)

Lightweight Yuriorkis Gamboa (left) jabs at Jason Sosa during their 10-round bout on November 25. Photo courtesy of HBO Boxing
27
Nov

KRUSHER KOVALEV AND JDJ

Hey Doug, just wanted to write in and ask you about the fallout between Sergey Kovalev and John David Jackson. I may just be biased because I really like JDJ and find Kovalev kind of off putting, but I tend to believe JDJ that Kovalev was disrespectful and difficult to coach. What’s your take on JDJ ripping Kovalev since they parted ways?

Aside from that, Kovalev looked like the Krusher of old Saturday, totally destroying Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and showing some very nice counter-puching with that Ali-like straight right to the side of the head over the lazy jab, as well as a very sharp jab of his own.

Once again, Kovalev showed us that he’s not merely a power puncher, but a fairly technical boxer too. Can’t wait to see him in the ring with Adonis Stevenson, Artur Beterbeiv or Dmitry Bivol! Wouldn’t even mind a rubber match with Andre Ward though I seriously doubt that’ll happen. – Jack E.



Too soon for any Ward talk, Jack. Too soon.

Ward has barely been retired for two months. I agree that Kovalev looked very sharp against Shabranskyy, but let’s see how the veteran fares against at least two of the three potential rivals you mentioned (plus maybe Sullivan Barrera) before we entertain the prospect of a Ward comeback and a third bout.

Of the three opponents you mentioned, I think Stevenson would make for the highest-profile promotion because it would be a grudge match several years in the making. I think Beterbiev would make for the best fight because of his brute physical strength and aggressive grinding style. And I believe that Bivol would make for the most anticipated matchup among hardcore fans, as well as the most difficult challenge due to his boxing style and athletic talent.

With the form and confidence he showed on Saturday, and assuming he continues to improve under new trainer Abror Tursunpulatov, I favor Kovalev over Stevenson (who remains dangerous despite his age and inactivity) and Beterbiev (who I suspect is a little overrated despite his amateur accomplishments). I slightly favor Bivol, but I admit that I might be getting caught up in the 26-year-old talent’s quickly escalating hype train.

just wanted to write in and ask you about the fallout between Sergey Kovalev and John David Jackson. I’m over it. The trainer and the fighter need to be over it. They probably are over it, so the boxing media needs to get over it and allow everyone to move on. This soap opera s__t just don’t hold my attention.

John David Jackson working mitts with Sergey Kovalev. Photo / Main Events

I may just be biased because I really like JDJ and find Kovalev kind of off putting, but I tend to believe JDJ that Kovalev was disrespectful and difficult to coach. I haven’t heard that Kovalev is disrespectful in camp but I’d heard that he can be difficult (or stubborn), even back when he was with Abel Sanchez. That’s not a rare thing in boxing. In fact, if memory serves me, Mr. Jackson had a reputation (among trainers, managers and promoters) for being “difficult.” So, it is what it is. Bottom line, if either side felt disrespected, there was no need for them to be a team anymore.

What’s your take on JDJ ripping Kovalev since they parted ways? Kovalev had made more than a few negative public comments about Jackson’s ability as a trainer, so I believe that the veteran coach had a right to defend himself and his reputation. However, now that both have made their claims and aired their grievances, I hope they cease the mud-slinging and move on with their respective careers.

 

GAMBOA-SOSA SCORING

Hi Dougie,

Hope you and your family enjoyed Thanksgiving. I thought HBO had a real enjoyable trio of fights Saturday night. The light heavyweights were no surprise, but like I said, enjoyable to watch. Not too sure what to make of their new statistic “Movement Forward”. Forward getting hit? Backward boxing brilliantly? Seems meaningless to me. Who comes up with this nonsense?

With Yuriorkis Gamboa and Jason Sosa, my first thoughts were here we go again with the judges, but then I watched the Sunday rerun with the sound off and the scoring made sense. I had it 86-84 Gamboa going into the 10th, then scored the 10th for Gamboa, 9-9 with the point deduction. That makes it 95-93 for Gamboa. Give the 10th to Sosa and its a 94-94 draw, as one of the judges had it. Anyway, good or bad, the commentators really affect the broadcast.

I’m really looking forward to the Dec. 8th light heavyweight bouts and wonder what your thought are. Chad Dawson-Eduardo Rodriguez is a big fight up here, Rodriguez being a local fighter I’ve followed since his amateur days. Dawson obviously the bigger name from next door in Connecticut. What would a victory do for Rodriguez? Does it put him back in the mix? How much does Dawson have left? The same questions for Jean Pascal-Ahmed Elbiali. I honestly know nothing about Elbiali, except he’s got a nice record against fighters I’ve never heard of. What can you tell us about him?

MM – Sonny Liston and Larry Holmes

As always, the best to you and yours. – Ken Kozberg, Oakham, MA

Thanks for the kinds words and holiday wishes, Ken.

That’s an interesting mythical matchup. Holmes has many of the same attributes a young Ali used to upset Liston for the heavyweight crown in 1964. However, I don’t believe that was Liston at his best. I think Liston’s peak years were prior to his overdue title shot against Floyd Patterson in ’62. I favor the 1959-’60 version of Liston over prime Holmes – via competitive decision.

The only thing I can tell you about Elbiali is that he’s unbeaten (16-0) but untested against the caliber of fighter Pascal has faced over the years. However, all those hard rounds against world-class opposition has taken a toll on the former champ and it’s clear that his legs and reflexes aren’t 100%. But Pascal still has a lot of heart and he’s used to battling it out over the distance. Elbiali is strong and game (and employs a lot of roughhouse tactics, which could test Pascal’s aging legs) but he’s never been past eight rounds. And his aggression could play right into Pascal’s heavy punches. I think I’m leaning toward the veteran in this crossroads match.

How much does Dawson have left? I have no idea. Here’s what I do know: Dawson’s prime was seven-to-nine years ago, and the 35-year-old former champ has got almost as much wear and tear on his body as Pascal (who is the same age). It doesn’t help that Dawson’s coming off a TKO loss (to Andrzej Fonfara) in March. Rodriguez, who also has a lot of mileage on his “fighter’s odometer,” suffered a KO loss (to Thomas Williams Jr.) last April but he got in a come-back bout in July, so he might have the edge in momentum in this matchup of veterans.

Will a victory put E-Rod back in the mix? No, not in the real world. However, we have to keep in mind that Rodriguez dwells in the PBC universe, so it’s conceivable that a victory over Dawson could qualify him for a shot at Stevenson’s WBC title. (OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch even for the PBC. Perhaps the Dawson-Rodriguez winner gets some bogus semifinal title-elimination bout for the WBC belt against Marcus Browne).

With Yuriorkis Gamboa and Jason Sosa, my first thoughts were here we go again with the judges, but then I watched the Sunday rerun with the sound off and the scoring made sense. I turned the sound down midway through the bout because the HBO commentary crew had become repetitive (it happens). I wasn’t scoring it round by round, but I thought Sosa had the edge in a competitive bout. The knockdown he scored and the point deduction (which I didn’t totally agree with) should have clinched it for him in my view. Maybe if I watch it again and score it round by round, I’ll be able to make a case for Gamby, but I doubt it. (And there’s no way in hell I’d agree with Don Trella’s awful 96-92 tally – that’s just shameful Stinker Worship.)

Robinson Castellanos (right) punches Yuriorkis Gamboa during their WBA elimination bout in May 2017. (Photo by Tom Hogan / Hoganphotos-Golden Boy Promotions)

The Cuban veteran has lost his world-class form. He’s experienced and talented enough to be difficult against fringe contenders like Sosa, and I think he can pose a stern test for still-learning up-and-comers, but I’m not going to pretend he’s something he’s not. I’m not going to pretend he isn’t two bouts removed from being stopped by Robinson Castellanos (in May), and I’m not going to forget that he won those two bouts by the skin of his teeth.

Not too sure what to make of their new statistic “Movement Forward”. Me neither. The less said about it the better.

 

EL CICLON

Hey Fresh,

It was tough for me to watch Gamboa this weekend. I know he took the fight on short notice, he’s old and inactive, but I didn’t want to believe the athleticism had truly faded. I think it’s safe to say it has. That was like watching Bo Jackson come back with the White Sox. You saw flashes of brilliance, but just enough to remind you of what a special athlete he once was.

It was interesting to hear Max Kellerman speak out against holding the whole night. Considering what a cheerleader he’s been for Andre Ward, Max sure made a good case against the clutch and hold techniques Ward used plenty of during his career.

Anyways, I hope Gamboa gets a payday before he hangs em up. He’s only lost twice, and his gutsy stand against Crawford looks more and more heroic, if not plain crazy the higher Buds star rises.

How would a prime Gamboa have dealt with Rigondeaux? They probably did meet at some point in the amateurs.

I was in the Garden theater over 10 years ago when Gamboa shared a card with Juanma, waiting for that mega fight to “marinade”. Back then Lopez was the class of the two, headlining the card, but I remember walking away favoring Gamboa for his flashy style and ballsy demeanor. In retrospect I would still pick him, but I can’t pick a winner between him and Lomachenko. Who would’ve won between these guys?

Would Edwin Valero have KO’d them all?

All the best. – WS

Hell yeah, Valero woulda sparked ’em all! That’s a silly question!

Hardcore heads are still mad at Bob Arum for wanting to marinade Lopez-Gamboa. Thing is, JuanMa had gone life-and-death with Rogers Mtagwa and struggled with a shopworn Rafael Marquez before he lost those career-shortening wars with Orlando Salido. As much as I liked the gutsy Puerto Rican southpaw, that “dream fight” with Gamby may not have been all that competitive.

It was tough for me to watch Gamboa this weekend. It wasn’t easy for me, either, I thought he kind stank it out against Sosa.

I know he took the fight on short notice, he’s old and inactive, but I didn’t want to believe the athleticism had truly faded. Yeah, I hate to break it to you, but the athleticism has been gradually fading for the past four or five years. Gamby’s peak years were arguably from 2008 through 2011. And while it’s true that he took the Sosa fight on short notice and that he’s getting long in the tooth (35), he’s far from “inactive.” The Sosa fight was his fourth bout of 2017.

I think it’s safe to say it has. It’s more than faded. It’s fizzled.

That was like watching Bo Jackson come back with the White Sox. That’s a bit of a stretch but I see what you’re saying.

You saw flashes of brilliance, but just enough to remind you of what a special athlete he once was. I saw flashes of something… not sure it was “brilliance”… but I saw enough athleticism, offensive technique and ring generalship to make me think that Gamboa can continue his career as a serviceable gatekeeper.

It was interesting to hear Max Kellerman speak out against holding the whole night. I was compelled to lower the volume after the third or fourth round, so I guess I missed this.

Considering what a cheerleader he’s been for Andre Ward, Max sure made a good case against the clutch and hold techniques Ward used plenty of during his career. No comment.

Anyways, I hope Gamboa gets a payday before he hangs em up. I think that’s the plan. He could be a win away (or even next in line) for newly minted WBA 130-pound beltholder Alberto Machado (a fight that would be chided by some hardcore fans but would probably do well as an event in parts of Florida).

He’s only lost twice, and his gutsy stand against Crawford looks more and more heroic, if not plain crazy the higher Bud’s star rises. Gamby gave Crawford a good fight at 135 pounds, there’s no denying that.

How would a prime Gamboa have dealt with Rigondeaux? Gamby is naturally bigger and the more gifted athlete, but his impetuous style, technical flaws and tendency to leave his chin exposed when on the attack probably would have played right into the more fundamentally sound Rigo’s sublime counter-punching talent. I think Rigo would score a couple knockdowns en route to a close but unanimous decision.

They probably did meet at some point in the amateurs. Not that I am aware of.

 

KELL BROOK AT 154

Hey Doug,

With the talk being that Kell Brook will move up, how do you rate him amongst the 154 title holders, as well as the likes of Julian Williams, Kanat Islam and Liam Smith?

Also, nearly two years ago I gave you a MM of Haye v Usyk and you chose Haye – If Usyk beat Briedis, would Haye still be your pick?

-I’m still fangirling for Drozd, if he was the same man who beat Wlodarczyk, how would you rate him in the WBSS?

Thanks. – Ste, Manchester

Yes, I would rate Grigory Drozd in the WBSS if the former WBC cruiserweight titleholder was somehow able to retain the form he had three years ago when he beat Wloddy for the belt.

I don’t recall your mythical matchup from two years ago but if I went with Haye it was because Usyk, only 8-0 or 9-0 at the time, had yet to face his first real test as a pro (which was his WBO title fight against Krzysztof Glowacki last September). I think your cruiserweight champ mythical matchup is a toss up now. If Usyk dominates Briedis I might give him the edge.

With the talk being that Kell Brook will move up, how do you rate him amongst the 154 title holders, as well as the likes of Julian Williams, Kanat Islam and Liam Smith? It’s hard to say because of the facial damage Brook took in his back-to-back stoppage losses to Golovkin and Spence, but if he’s able to recover 100% I think his experience makes him to a threat to most of the top junior middleweights. However, I would rank him behind Erislandy Lara, Jermell Charlo and even Jarred Hurd, despite the fact that the IBF beltholder is still learning.

I would put Brook on par with Smith, Islam, Williams, Brian Castano, Austin Trout and Michel Soro. I rate him ahead of Maciej Sulecki, Diego Chaves and Jack Culcay.

In other words, I think Brook can be a player at 154 pounds (and he can add some much needed name recognition to the division with the imminent departure of Miguel Cotto), but again, it all depends on how his body (his face/orbital bones in particular) has healed.

 

SUPERFLY 2

Hi Doug,

I was just having a look over the schedule and had hoped that the Wangek v Estrada fight would top a superfly 2 card on Feb. 24, but with Naoya Inoue fighting on Dec. 30th would he be ready to take part in such a card?

I would have hoped that the undercard would feature 4 fighters out of Inoue, Cuadras, Yafai, Ancajas and Gonzalez squaring off against each other.

Out of those 5 fighters what matchups would you most like to see on a Superfly 2 undercard, and how do you see them playing out?

Thanks. – Brendan, Scotland

I’d want to see Inoue in a title unification bout vs. Yafai and Ancajas vs. Cuadras, who would be the 25-year-old beltholder’s most experienced and talented opponent to date. I love Chocolatito but I think he should retire.

Regarding Inoue, it’s true that he’s set to face French veteran Yoan Boyeaux in Japan on Dec. 30, which does make it seem unlikely that he’ll take part in SuperFly 2 less than two months later. Maybe Inoue’s people think he’ll blast Boyeaux out early, but “Yo Boy” has never been stopped in 45 pro bouts (41-4).

Tom Loeffler talked about the February 24 card during my customary Sunday morning periscope with Coach Schwartz and JP (check out the 36:12 mark in the YouTube vid below) and he said that “Inoue is supposed to fight on the show.”

I guess we’ll have to wait and see how he does on Dec. 30 before we know what’s up with the Monster. We’re lucky that Sor Rungvisai-Estrada is set for the main event. That’s gonna be an early Fight of the Year candidate.

I also think we’ll get Carlo Cuadras on the show (maybe against Brian Viloria). Ancajas is also possible. Loeffler’s working on it. Be patient.

 

DOUGIE’S P4P & THE UKRAINIAN TRIO

Hello Doug Sir!
First off, thank you for being always real. Your love for boxing is inspiring!

I know you like to keep things short so here it is: Doug’s p4p today?

Also, would appreciate your opinion and comments on the skillful Ukrainian trio Lomachenko/Usyk/Gvozdyk. – Grant

I think all three are currently at their athletic peaks and just entering the prime of the careers. I consider – as most do – Lomachenko and Usyk to be the top fighters in their respective weight classes. I consider Gvozdyk to be a top-five light heavyweight and a future world titleholder.

I think Loma and Usyk are special athletes with unique and creative boxing styles. The Nail’s technique and boxing style is more orthodox, but his solid foundation and ring smarts will serve him well.

My pound-for-pound? Funny you should bring up the mythical rankings because our obsession with it just happens to be the cover story to the next issue of THE RING, which is due out in three-four weeks. The man on the cover (along with some past P4P Kings), Gennady Golovkin, is my No. 1. After GGG I’ve got…

  1. Terence Crawford
  2. Vasyl Lomachenko
  3. Naoya Inoue
  4. Canelo Alvarez
  5. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  6. Sergey Kovalev
  7. Keith Thurman
  8. Mikey Garcia
  9. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

It’s not that much different from THE RING’s P4P Rankings (or anyone elses).

 

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

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