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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Inoue, Spence Jr., SuperFly 2, Joshua-Klitschko, Berchelt-Mijares)

Hardcore fans are torn by Naoya Inoue's announcement that he will move from the 115-pound division to the 118-pound weight class. Photo by Naoki Fukuda
05
Jan

NAOYA INOUE AND SUPERFLY2

Dear Mr. Fischer,

I’ll be brief. I’ve missed your name in the bylines of the online Ring publications and hope that you and your family have had a wonderful holiday. I wanted your insight into Naoya Inoue announcing his move to bantamweight and his intention to abandon his WBO super flyweight belt. I’ve yet to read it from a publication I entirely trust, but that does seem to be the gist of some of his press conferences subsequent to annihilating Yoan Boyeaux.

The Monster’s left hand continues to impress, and it would have been great to see him in against any of the top fighters on the Superfly II card. I believe 118 is almost as competitive as 115, and if Inoue jumps in against Zolani Tete or Shinsuke Yamanaka (talk about a battle of overwhelming lefts!) at any point during 2018 it will be hard to say he avoided challenges at super flyweight, rather he likely just outgrew the division.



I do still feel a measure disappointed that at least a few great matchups are left on the table. What are your thoughts? Very respectfully. – John

Thank you for the kind words about the holidays and missing my bylines on RingTV.com. The mailbag column returned today and you’ll read stories on Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Cecilia Braekhus by Yours Truly very soon.

Regarding The Monster, I view Inoue’s imminent move to bantamweight much like you do. I’m a bit sad to see him leave the stacked 115-pound division but I’m also very interested in seeing if he can compete with 118-pound standouts, such as Tete, Ryan Burnett, Jamie McDonnell, and the winner of the Nery-Yamanaka rematch.

Some fans think The Monster is avoiding Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and other stern challenges at 115 pounds.

I’ve already read nasty Twitter comments about Inoue “running away” from challenges and being “overrated” (or not worthy of being in anyone’s pound-for-pound rankings), but having seen him fight live (at the inaugural SuperFly card last September) I can tell you that The Monster is very big for the 115-pound division and is likely moving up because he has begun to struggle to make the junior bantamweight limit.

The only way to respond to Inoue’s social media detractors is to quote Roy Jones Jr. and tell ‘em “Y’all musta forgot…” that The Monster fought and beat Ryoichi Taguchi (the new RING magazine junior flyweight champ who has held the WBA title for three years) in his FOURTH pro bout, won his first world title (the WBC 108-pound belt) in his sixth fight (vs. RING-rated Adrian Hernandez) and won his second world title (the WBO super flyweight strap he currently holds) in his eighth bout (vs. consensus No. 1-rated 115 pounder Omar Narvaez).

Inoue (15-0, 13 knockouts), who is only 24, is clearly not one to avoid a challenge.

His presence will be missed at junior bantamweight, but with him out of the division, the main event to “SuperFly 2” (Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Estrada) will be contested for THE RING’s vacant 115-pound title and that excellent matchup will spark several other showdowns. When I interviewed Sor Rungvisai he said his goal is to unify all the 115-pound belts, so should he defeat Estrada (which certainly ain’t a given) we can look forward to the Thai hero vs. Khalid Yafai and Jerwin Ancajas. Sor Rungvisai also says he still wants a revenge rematch with Carlos Cuadras. And Estrada matches up wonderfully with the other four standouts (his bout with Cuadras was one of the more enjoyable 12 rounders I witnessed live last year). Trust me, there’s plenty of super-fly action to be had without Inoue.

 

ERROL SPENCE JR. AND SUPERFLY 2

Hey Dougie, sinc it’s a bit of a slow time for boxing right now I wanted to jump ahead to some future fights.

Who do you favor in the Estrada vs Rungvisai matchup? This is a terrific fight and I have great respect for both fighters. Estrada-Cuadras was one of the more underrated fights of the year and I loved how Estrada kept his cool and looked for sharp counters in the exchanges. That being said, I have to favor Rungvisai in their upcoming fight as he is seems to be made of steel, puts on an incredible pace, and is frankly just a total beast. Estrada might be a little better schooled but I don’t think it’ll be enough.

Errol Spence vs Lamont Peterson: Peterson’s an underrated welterweight and is always a bit of a dark horse, but I kind of see Spence smashing him up in this fight. Unlike Danny Garcia, Spence knows how to cut off the ring on a fleeing opponent and I see him breaking Peterson down with body shots and uppercuts on the ropes as Peterson covers up, a bit like the Algeri fight. How do you see the rest of the year playing out for Spence?

Lastly, although I know it isn’t your decision, I was a bit disappointed that The Ring didn’t name GGG fighter of the year. Even though he technically had one win and one draw in 2017, in my opinion he clearly beat the two other best middleweights (and pound-for-pound level talents) in two close competitive fights. This should top Loma’s three wins, of which only one was against a pound for pound level guy, and a guy who put up a pretty lousy effort before quitting. Loma was very impressive this year but his competition was not. Same goes for Crawford. Just my opinion.

Hope you had a good break with your family, happy new year:) – Jack

Happy New Year to you too, Jack.

Should GGG have been Fighter of the Year for 2017?

I agree that Golovkin had a standout 2017 and I believe that he should have been a strong candidate for Fighter of the Year. I think Jacobs and Canelo are heads and shoulders above Felix Diaz, Julius Indongo, Jason Sosa and Miguel Marriaga. However, in terms of talent and skill, Rigo was considered a step above both middleweights. I know the Cuban counterpuncher is almost 10 years older than Loma and the smaller man, but his reputation (as an amateur and pro) was so strong in the boxing world that their showdown was viewed as a major event, even “historic,” by most fans and media. Yeah, Rigo’s effort left something to be desired and he pulled a “No Mas,” but Loma had everything to do with that and deserves the credit he’s received.

Back to GGG, I think he was a victim of his own success and of boxing’s poor (and some would say “shady”) officiating. Versus Jacobs, his impressive KO streak worked against him because most fans and media thought he’d blow right through the talented Brooklyn native. So when he went the full 12 in a competitive fight, rather than give him credit for boxing well enough to drop, out-jab and avoid getting clipped by a big, athletic and versatile middleweight like Jacobs, much of the boxing world viewed it as GGG “struggling.” And versus Canelo, he flat-out got screwed by Adalaide Byrd and also fell victim to over-expectations due, in part, to the intense dislike hardcore fans (and some media) have for Alvarez. A lot of people DESPERATELY wanted to see Canelo get the s__t beat out of him en route to a brutal late-rounds stoppage. And when that didn’t happen, what could they other than “Well, f__k, I still think he won, but GGG’s getting old… Where were the BODY SHOTS!”

Boxing isn’t fair.

Who do you favor in the Estrada vs Rungvisai matchup? I don’t have a clear favorite in this EXCELLENT matchup. SSR has the edge in size, physical strength and raw power. Estrada has the edge in technique and versatility. I think they’re equal in terms of experience and chins/durability. If I have to make a pick, I slightly favor Estrada, who might be able to stick-and-move when he needs to, and stand and trade (and counterpunch) when he HAS TO on his way to a close, hard-fought decision.

Estrada-Cuadras was one of the more underrated fights of the year and I loved how Estrada kept his cool and looked for sharp counters in the exchanges. I agree that Estrada-Cuadras was championship-level boxing between two experienced former champs in their primes, and I was also impressed with Estrada’s poise and precision during those 12 quality rounds.

That being said, I have to favor Rungvisai in their upcoming fight as he is seems to be made of steel, puts on an incredible pace, and is frankly just a total beast. SSR is scary. His record and his performances vs. Roman Gonzalez speak volumes. However, he may have just had Chocolatito’s number or the four-division champ could have been worn down by his eight-year rise from strawweight to junior bantamweight. We’ll know for sure if he’s an elite fighter after the Estrada fight.

Estrada might be a little better schooled but I don’t think it’ll be enough. You might be right.

Errol Spence vs Lamont Peterson: Peterson’s an underrated welterweight and is always a bit of a dark horse, but I kind of see Spence smashing him up in this fight. Me too, but I don’t think Peterson will be blown out.

Unlike Danny Garcia, Spence knows how to cut off the ring on a fleeing opponent and I see him breaking Peterson down with body shots and uppercuts on the ropes as Peterson covers up, a bit like the Algeri fight. That’s pretty much what everybody is expecting, but there’s a reason they fight the fights…

How do you see the rest of the year playing out for Spence? Hopefully, he’s able to fight three times this year to make up for only one ring appearance in 2017. Maybe he faces the Danny Garcia-Brandon Rios winner or Omar Figueroa Jr. in the summer and then (fingers crossed) Keith Thurman (or the winner of a Thurman-Shawn Porter rematch) by the fall or winter. Nobody has to tell me that this is wishful thinking.

 

2018 WISH LIST

Hey Dougie,

I hope you had a great Christmas and are looking forward to another great boxing year after a brilliant 2017. It’s that time again to do our yearly wish list where I give you the list of the boxing matches I want to see the most and you give me the chance of the fight being made on a scale of 1-10 and your prediction of the result. We only got to see 2 of the 10 last year – Kovalev vs Ward 2 and Canelo vs GGG – let’s hope for more success this year.

Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder at heavyweight

Olaksandr Usyk vs Murat Gassiev at cruiserweight

Sergei Kovalev vs Badou Jack at Light-Heavyweight

George Groves vs Chris Eubank Jr at super middleweight

Canelo Alvarez vs Gennedy Golovkin at middleweight

Terrance Crawford vs Errol Spence at welterweight

Vasyl Lomachenko vs Manny Pacquiao at light welterweight

Mikey Garcia vs Jorge Linares at lightweight

Carl Frampton vs Lee Selby at featherweight

Ryan Burnett vs Zolani Tete at bantamweight

Srisaket sor Rungvisai vs Naoya Inoue at light bantamweight

Thanks. – Ronan Knox, Waterford, Ireland

Happy New Year, Ronan. Thanks for making this a mailbag tradition. It’s fun!

Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder at heavyweight6.5. They just have to get past their credible challengers in March (Luis Ortiz for Wilder and Joseph Parker for A.J.) and then their representatives need to enter earnest negotiations with a reasonable mindset. The first part is easier done than the second part. Fingers crossed.

Olaksandr Usyk vs Murat Gassiev at cruiserweight9. They just need to win their World Boxing Super Series semifinal bouts (Usyk vs. Mairis Briedis on Jan. 27; Gassiev vs. Yunier Dorticos on Feb. 3). I think they will, but Breidis and Dorticos have other ideas….

Sergei Kovalev vs Badou Jack at light heavyweight3. The only way I can see this fight happening is if Jack beats Adonis Stevenson for the WBC belt (and the sanctioning organization recently sanctioned this title bout), and then the Mayweather Promotions standout proposes a unification bout with Krusher, AND is willing to fight the Russian on HBO. That’s a lot of “Ifs.”

How do you like that, Ronan? You already got one of the fights on your 2018 wish list! Photo courtesy of World Boxing Super Series

George Groves vs Chris Eubank Jr at super middleweight10! This all-British showdown is signed, sealed and delivered (on Feb. 17 in Manchester, England) thanks to the good folks with the WBSS (Comosa AG, those wild and crazy Sauerland Bros. and my old pal Richard Schaefer).

Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin at middleweight9.5. The rematch (or “tie-breaker” as Golden Boy’s El Presidente Eric Gomez likes to call it) has got to happen this year, in September if not in May (but I think they’ll get it done for Cinco De Mayo). What else are they going to do? Fight Billy Joe Saunders? The “Gypsy Prince” is a major stylistic pain in the “arse” and there isn’t anything close to the amount of money on the table for that fight (or any other middleweight matchup) than there is for the return bout.

Terrance Crawford vs Errol Spence at welterweight1. Dude, we’ll be LUCKY if we get Spence vs. Thurman this year.

Vasyl Lomachenko vs Manny Pacquiao at light welterweight3.5. I don’t care at all for this matchup but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility seeing that Loma is getting desperate for name opponents and both fight under the Top Rank banner. (I tell you what, if Pac accepts this fight, he’ll learn how Oscar De La Hoya felt facing him in December 2008.)

Mikey Garcia vs Jorge Linares at lightweight4.5. Provided Linares doesn’t trip up against Mercito Gesta on Jan. 27, and despite all the headaches Mikey Da Bidness Man gave Golden Boy Promotions in late 2017, this is a dream match that can still happen. Linares wants the fight and Garcia says he’s willing to drop back down to 135 to face him after his IBF 140-pound title bout vs. Sergey Lipinets on Feb. 10. Still, it won’t shock me if Garcia says Linares has to come up to junior welterweight after Feb. 10. (So, I’ll give Garcia-Linares at 140 pounds a 6.)

Carl Frampton vs Lee Selby at featherweight5.5. This is possible. Both U.K. featherweight standouts trudged through a disappointing 2017 and are getting desperate for a significant fight. It wouldn’t happen during the first half of 2018 – Frampton seems close to securing an April 7 showdown with Nonito Donaire and Selby has an IBF mandatory defense against Josh Warrington on May 19 – but if both can make it to the summer without a loss I can see it taking place late in the year.

Ryan Burnett vs Zolani Tete at bantamweight4. Burnett will have his hands full fulfilling the mandatory obligations of two belts, plus his promoter (Eddie Hearn) doesn’t often see eye-to-eye with Tete’s promoter (Frank Warren). Having said that, I know Burnett and Tete are fearless and the sub-lightweight top dogs are generally willing to face each other (in part because it’s the only way they’ll make a decent payday), so maybe they can convince their promoters to make the fight before the end of 2018.

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Naoya Inoue at light bantamweight2. Inoue says he’s moving up to 118 pounds and Sor Rungvisai tells me that he makes 115 just fine and has a goal of unifying all the junior bantie belts. Maybe we’ll see this one at bantamweight in 2019.

 

2017 FIGHT OF THE YEAR

Hey Dougmeister G!

As always hope all is well with you and yours, and as always before we begin…keep up the damn good work Sir!

Writing this on a Friday eve, before other awards have been given out but glad to see that Anthony Joshua V Wladimir Klitschko got The Ring Fight of the Year award.

In my humble opinion anything else would have been a travesty. As per an unpublished (no blame attached Doug, I know you just doing your job!) email I sent stated, I saw this as possibly THE most important fight in boxing for possibly decades or I certainly didn’t recognise many other fights with such significance as this. The fact is, boxing relies on its heavyweight division…say what you want about my views, 40:50% of the world knows who the heavyweight champ is.

Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko delivered in so many ways.

It was more than just a build up of the old v new, more than just the 80,000 tickets sold in under 3 hours then 90,000 (10000 additional) bloodthirsty fans inside Wembley. It was the boxing spectacle boxing craved for, dreamed for, two boxers, one old, legacy already confirmed, former Olympic gold former world champ, willing to lay it all on the line, against the young, unproven power punching world champ and Olympic gold medalist.

It delivered, and boy did it deliver.

Read the reports. Read the opinions, post fight analysis, but for God sake watch it, and watch it over and over again. Everyone should be proud, what an event, what gladiators and theatre, a night for boxing to show what it really can provide.

It’s what made Boxing relevant to the casuals and it’s what will prick the ears of them again when Wilder/Fury/Parker v AJ comes around, hopefully this year.

Great year, great choice, happy new year Doug and as always keep up the good work! – Dan, UK

Thanks Dan.

Joshua-Klitschko wasn’t my personal choice for Fight of the Year, but I had no problem with it receiving THE RING’s award. It was certainly worthy of the honor, and everything you said about it is true.

It had all the story lines going into the showdown and then it delivered action and drama for 10 and half rounds on the biggest possible stage. Most importantly, as you and many others have notes, it gave boxing a tremendous boost when the sport needed it.

In terms of pure sustained action, I think Gonzalez-Sor Ruingvisai I (my choice) beat out the big boys. That’s just me. I want my Fight of the Year winner to be like Morales-Barrera I or Vazquez-Marquez III. I know they took place in front of a mere fraction of the fans that Joshua-Klitschko did, and I’m well aware that casual fans (and much of the U.S. and U.K. boxing media) were either unaware of the Mexican junior featherweights or just didn’t give a rat’s ass about ‘em at the time those fights took place, but I don’t care.

However, I understand the magnitude of the heavyweight championship, especially when the torch is passed in dramatic fashion. The heavyweights transcend boxing. That’s why Ali-Liston I, Foreman-Frazier I and Ali-Foreman were RING Fights of the Year, despite being one-sided or generally without sustained back-and-forth action. Joshua-Klitschko was more competitive than those past winners. It ain’t no Ali-Frazier I (RING fight of the year for 1971) or III (1975), but for me, it lands firmly ahead of Holyfield-Tyson I (1996) but behind Bowe-Holyfield I (1992).

 

BERCHELT VS. MIJARES

Happy new year Doug!

I just saw the news that Miguel Berchelt is fighting Cristian Mijares.  Why? Really, why would anyone put Mijares, an old washed up fighter with no power, and expect anything other than a bad thing? This worries me a lot, we need to start boycotting these and all mismatches. It really hurts the sport and puts the fighters in great danger.

Hope your year is better than last year! Thanks for the great mailbags and articles that make our Mondays and Fridays start out on the right track. – Juan Valverde

Thanks for the kind words, Juan.

I’m not thrilled about Berchelt vs. Mijares, but it’s probably a safer fight for the “old” veteran than Berchelt vs. Orlando Salido would have been had that fight taken place on Dec. 9 (as originally planned). Mijares is no Spring Chicken at age 36 (and after 68 pro bouts) but the Durango native is not nearly as shopworn as “Siri” is.

The only time he really took a beating in the ring was the one time he was knocked out (by Vic Darchinyan in 2008) and maybe against Leo Santa Cruz in 2014. He’s won nine in a row (vs. solid opposition) since the Santa Cruz fight.

Go check out some of his recent bouts on YouTube. He’s still got his legs and reflexes. Unlike Salido, he hasn’t been in a lot of wars because he’s not an aggressive/physical grinder. Mijares is a ring savvy southpaw who relies on a lot of lateral movement, upper-body movement and well-timed jabs and counterpunches to get the job done. There was a time when he could come forward with a high-volume, combination-punching attack, but that was at 115 pounds and more than 10 years ago. These days he’s happy to do his best impression of Jersey Joe Walcott.

Does Mijares stand a chance against Berchelt? Of course not! He doesn’t have the size, power or physical strength to threaten the Cancun native. He doesn’t even have the edge in speed and activity.

But his mobility, experience and craftiness/ring generalship might give the young gun a tactical test for the first half of the bout. I expect Berchelt to patiently walk the older, smaller man down with his jab and zero in with power punches sometime in the middle rounds. Hopefully, Mijares’ corner or the officials of this bout will not allow him to take too much punishment (if he isn’t knocked out cold by the first clean power shot that lands).

As I stated earlier, I don’t like this matchup at all, but I can understand why Zanfer made it. It makes sense as a first voluntary defense of Berchelt’s WBC title in Mexico (where Mijares remains a TV fighter), especially with the 26-year-old boxer-puncher coming off of an injury. (And if you’re mad about Mijares getting a title shot, you should direct your displeasure with the ratings committee of the WBC, which currently ranks the former two-belt junior bantamweight titleholder at No. 5 in its junior lightweight rankings.)

 

 

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

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