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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Joshua-Wilder, the heavyweights, Amir Khan, Okolie-Chamberlain)

12
Jan

MAKE ONE DREAM FIGHT

Yo Dougie,

Happy New Year to you and yours, here’s to a prosperous 2018!

A very short question for you (for once). If you could play matchmaker and make one dream fight in 2018, irrespective of promotional or purse split barriers, what would it be, why, and who would you favour to win?

Looking forward to what will hopefully be another stellar year for the noble art and no doubt another great year for the mailbag! All the best mate. – Mike, England

Thanks for the start-of-the-year positivity, Mike. It is appreciated.

This is an easy three-part question (well, at least the first two parts are). If I could make one dream fight happen this year it would be the heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder because it’s the biggest boxing event that can come together. It would create massive general sports interest in the U.K. and the U.S., it would generate obscene amounts of revenue, and given the styles and strengths (and weaknesses) of the two unbeaten titleholders, it would make for an intense, entertaining and potentially explosive/dramatic fight once the bell sounds for Round 1. It goes without saying that Joshua-Wilder would be a boon for boxing worldwide. (And to make it even more interesting – and to help set up what happens next – I would insist on having Tyson Fury serve as one of the international broadcasters and partake in some of the fight-week public media events.)

Who do I think wins? Joshua, by late TKO, but I wouldn’t bet a lot of money ($$$ or £££) on that opinion.

 

HEAVYWEIGHT PICKS

Hi Dougie,

I see in Monday’s mailbag that you pick Joshua and Wilder to win their upcoming fights. I mostly agree except I give Luis Ortiz a pretty good chance. Joseph Parker has a chance too but maybe not as much – it’s all about Joshua’s chin. The heavyweight division is looking up for the first time in a long time. Sure wish there weren’t so many meaningless titles! I like one champion like it was in the 50s & 60s. Hope “The Ring” magazine gets their heavyweight rankings updated. I think there are better fighters to be on the list than Dominic Breazeale and Andy Ruiz. Maybe even Dillian Whyte. Here are some fun mythical matchups:

  1. Miller vs Povetkin
  2. Povetkin vs Pulev
  3. Whyte vs Miller
  4. Fury vs Joshua
  5. Fury vs Wilder

Who are your picks? Keep up the great work and congrats on your promotion. – Mike

Thanks for the kind words, Mike.

Miller vs Povetkin – Povetkin by close but unanimous decision.

Povetkin vs Pulev – Povetkin by late stoppage in an entertaining fight.

Whyte vs Miller – Miller by close (maybe controversial) decision in a competitive boxing match that’s almost as entertaining as its promotional build-up.

Fury vs Joshua – Fury by decision (provided he can get at least one tune-up bout, ideally two, and keep his head on straight going into the showdown). I’ll go with Joshua by decision if Fury were to go straight in the fight.

Fury vs Wilder – Same as above.

I see in Monday’s mailbag that you pick Joshua and Wilder to win their upcoming fights. I mostly agree except I give Luis Ortiz a pretty good chance. Joseph Parker has a chance too but maybe not as much – it’s all about Joshua’s chin. You’re not out of line for thinking that way. Joshua’s chin (and stamina) have appeared shaky at times, and Parker’s an aggressive fighter who can punch (and take a shot). Wilder has his share of technical flaws, and Ortiz is a good combination puncher with a lot of power. However, AJ has survived his wobbly moments (and the knockdown vs. Klitschko) and grown from those experiences (as he has from being taken into the late rounds in his last two bouts). He’s a better technician than Parker, as well as the bigger, taller and rangier of the two. And despite Wilder’s sometimes raw offensive bursts, he’s good at establishing range and moving when he needs to. I think his lateral movement, speed (and ultimately, his vaunted power) will be too much for the Cuban. But we’ll see.

The heavyweight division is looking up for the first time in a long time. There are enough respected players to make for a very entertaining round robin for the next three or four years.

Sure wish there weren’t so many meaningless titles! I like one champion like it was in the 50s & 60s. It appears as though the sport is working toward crowning an undisputed heavyweight champion by 2019. Three belts are on the line with Joshua-Parker. And the biggest, most lucrative machups that can be made in the sport are Joshua-Wilder or Fury-Joshua, so I expect to see these fights happen eventually.

Hope “The Ring” magazine gets their heavyweight rankings updated. I think there are better fighters to be on the list than Dominic Breazeale and Andy Ruiz. Maybe even Dillian Whyte. The current heavyweight scene is pretty strong at the top but it’s not the deepest division in boxing; the bottom half of the top 10 is comprised of fighters that are flawed (Breazeale, Whyte), inactive (Ruiz) and unproven (Jarrell Miller). However, who would you have us replace these contenders with? Hughie Fury? Agit Kabayel? Am we missing a young up-and-comer deserving of a spot in THE RING’s top 10, or even a mature veteran, such as Carlos Takam? I’m listening.

 

RETURN OF KING KHAN

Hi Doug,

Hope you had a nice break.

Didn’t see this coming! Amir Khan signed with Matchroom Boxing.

I think it’s a brilliant move. I think signing with Al Harmon was a massive mistake for Amir. He seemed to have a really good relationship with Golden Boy, but he had Floyd Mayweather clearly in his sights and only Uncle Al can deliver that. Apparently?? Also, it was GBP who set up the Canelo Alvarez fight, which Amir made a ton of money for.

If you ask me, Floyd Mayweather never wanted to fight a prime Amir Khan. I’m not saying Floyd isn’t the favourite in that fight, but Amir would have been a nightmare for him with his hand and foot speed and an exceptional engine.

I mean, with all due respect, to fight Marcos Maidana, someone Khan beat, and Andre Berto over Khan?? His own fans from the Twitterverse chose Amir Khan.

Also, Manny has been maneuvered away from Khan in recent years I think.

I think the move to Matchroom will be great for Amir. Eddie really knows what he’s doing, and Amir needs a team like this to steer his carrier. Also, back on Sky Sports in the U.K. Interesting that Eddie is looking to increase his profile in the U.S. Amir is well known in the U.S. and gives Matchroom a further opportunity in addition to promoting Daniel Jacobs.

Eddie Hearn is saying 3 fights this year. Who would you like to see him in with?

My pics are:

1)      Garcia rematch

2)      Spence

3)      Thurman

All at 147.

I think a prime Khan beats all three. Let’s see if he takes a tune up first? None can match him for speed for skill, but Amir’s vulnerabilities make these exciting fights.

We also need to see if Amir is still in prime form after two years off and 3 hand operations? Has the time off done him good or hindered him?

Wouldn’t mind seeing the Manny fight either and I think Amir makes mincemeat of Jeff Horn. As long as that fight is in the U.K./U.S. Shawn Porter would be interesting. I think both are a nightmare for each other. Might make for a great fight?

Where does this leave Khan Vs Brook? Which every Englishman and his dog wants to see? I just feel Amir has bigger and harder fights in front of him. With all due respect to Kell, I think it’s an easy night’s work for Amir. Amir s just too fast and too experienced at the top level. Will be a similar performance to the one against Devon Alexander. If both can have a good 2018 and can agree a catch weight, egos aside, this would then be huge in early 2019. But it’s a big money fight in the UK so might happen earlier.

Good to hear he’s staying with Virgil Hunter and Tony Brady. I think they make a good team. All the best to you and your family for the new year. Keep up the good work. – Tabraze, London, UK

Thanks, Tabraze. Wow. I knew you were an Amir Khan fan but I didn’t you “fancied” him THAT much. You really think he would beat Danny Garcia, Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman in succession? That a Fighter-of-the-Year-lock schedule if it were all to happen in 2018. And if he were to win, of course. I’d give him a shot at outpointing Garcia, provided Hunter (who I agree does a good job with Khan) can keep him boxing a disciplined fight, but I would favor Spence and Thurman to beat your guy. And that doesn’t mean I don’t think he would trouble them. He would – until he got clipped.

I agree that his speed, boxing style and overall athleticism would have been frustrating for the superstar duo of Floyd and Manny, but I still would have favored the future hall of famers to beat him.

Amir Khan and Ppromoter Eddie Hearn. Photo by Mark Robinson.

I also agree that Matchroom Boxing and Khan should make for a good team. Hearn will get Khan back on a regular fighting schedule, bring the Bolton native back to the U.K. for at least one of the bouts of three-fight deal, and he’s proven to be able to work with most of the promotional players in the U.S.

Khan says he’s “determined to win another world championship.” Hearn says he has a plan for Khan to fight all three bouts this year – a scheduled April 21 comeback fight, an August/September date and then a “superfight” in winter. Hearn says “the target is to provide him with the biggest fights possible with a mouthwatering list of names including the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Kell Brook, Keith Thurman and Errol Spence,” but I think the April 21 bout will come against British-level fighter – such as Sam Eggington – and I think they can pass that off to Sky Sports because Khan is coming off a long layoff (not to mention a devastating KO loss) and the fight would likely take place in England.

The second fight would be the title bout. I think they’ll make an offer to Horn, whose management probably isn’t all that enthused with Top Rank’s plan of putting him in with Terence Crawford. If the WBO titleholder isn’t available, they’ll go after Haymon’s two studs, Spence and Thurman. Regardless of what happens in the title bout, I think the third fight (whether it happens in 2018 or 2019) will be against Brook at 154 pounds.

 

TEWA KIRAM

Hey Doug, just wanted to get your thoughts on Tewa Kiram. I hadn’t heard of him before his fight with Lucas Mathysse was announced so I checked out one of his more recent fights on youtube. He’s a fairly meat and potatoes type of fighter but he does have quite a nice left stick, very stiff and accurate, along with a tight high guard defense with a little bob and sway to it.

It’s also interesting to see he’s undefeated, as my understanding is they throw you to the wolves pretty early in your career in Thailand. Maybe this means he’s got the durability and toughness to hang with The Machine long enough to get his jab rhythm going? – Jack

Kiram is on the attack against Joel De La Cruz.

Kiram certainly has the looks of a strong and durable fighter, but despite being 38-0, he’s never been in with a veteran of Matthysse’s class and punching power. And that’s not to say that he was babied or protected in Thailand. He was fighting 12 rounders against experienced fighters by his sixth pro bout, but it’s hard to find quality opposition heavier than featherweight in Thailand. I think Kiram was well developed – he’s got a good jab (as you pointed out), solid balance, decent footwork and head movement – but he’s never been in the ring with anyone he wasn’t supposed to beat.

The only name on his resume is Kaizer Mabuza, but the former 140-pound contender from South African was on the slide (and was 2-8 in his previous 10 bouts – although it should be noted that Mabuza had been in with very good opposition). Mabuza took Kiram the full 12, which was good experience for the Thai standout.

Can he hang with The Machine? I don’t know, but I’m not going to count Kiram out. I’ve witnessed too many unknown Thai fighters give the favorites hell when traveling to the U.S. over the decades. The only time I can recall when a Thai fighter wasn’t competitive (or, at the very least, tough) was when Jorge Arce blew out former Pacquiao conqueror Medgoen Singsurat in one round in December 2007 in New Mexico (the Top Rank “Latin Fury” PPV show that bout was on was my first professional broadcast experience). However, in Arce’s very next fight, in Aguascalientes, Mexico, he was taken the distance by another Thai national, Devid Lookmahanak, who I thought deserved to win the decision. (Arce won a razor-thin majority decision in the headliner to another “Latin Fury” show that I worked.)

Two of my favorite Thai travelers are Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (who won a bantamweight belt and lost it to Jhonny Gonzalez in Tucson, Arizona in 2005) and Terdsak Jandaeng, who helped turn Juan Manuel Marquez into an action fighter with their shootout in Lake Tahoe in August 2006. They seldom won (although, I recall Sor Vorapin outworked Danny Romero on the Hopkins-Trinidad undercard) but they always made their opponents work hard for the victory.

Of course, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai recently reminded the world that Thailand sometimes produces world-beater talent.

I’ll never forget witnessing (as a fan) Saman Sorjaturong knock out hall of famer Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez at The Forum in 1995. He went on to have a long, respectable 108-pound title reign. I’m sure Kiram will do his best to capture that upset magic in the same venue 23 years later. Anyone who thinks he can’t do it should keep this in mind, that he is 10 years younger than the 35-year-old Matthysse, who has been in his share of punishing fights.   

 

BRITISH BEEF

Hi Dougie,

Hope you are well and you and the family had a good holiday period.

I was wondering if the “British Beef”, Lawrence Okolie (7-0) vs Isaac Chamberlain (9-0) fight had crossed your radar? Promoted by the irrepressible Eddie Hearn, who could sell wool to sheep, it’s two young, talented UK boxers with potentially bright futures going head to head. Okolie an Olympic standout who appears to possess real power and Chamberlain a slick athletic boxer. I’m impressed they’ve both put it on the line at such an early stage in their career, especially in a period where the “0” can apparently mean so much. Do you agree whoever loses still has a potentially bright future in the game?

I also wondered if you can remember other talented young standouts fighting each other at such an early stage in their career? Also has there been a time where the loser has gone on to win a world title(s)?

Finally have you got a prediction for the fight? I fancy Chamberlain – he’s a good technical boxer and while Okolie can certainly bang, he sometimes looks a bit upright and static which makes me think he may struggle to land on an opponent who’s more fluid. Plus, Chamberlain boxes out of my local gym so gotta support the Brixton boy!

Cheers and all the best! – Peter, London

I don’t have a prediction for Okolie-Chamberlain, Peter. I’m not familiar enough with the cruiserweight prospects to make a pick, but I’m aware of the fight and I think it’s great that the grudge match has attracted as much attention in your neck of the woods (the greater London area?) as it has.

“British Beef” sort of reminds me of when George Groves and James DeGale fought as prospects in 2011. They were a little more advanced (Groves was 12-0; DeGale was 10-0) but I recall there being a U.K. buzz about the fight. That super middleweight showdown of London natives is an example of the loser of such an early matchup going on to win a world title. Both of them did, but DeGale won his belt two years earlier than Groves (who beat Chunky via razor-thin majority decision as I’m sure you know). Of course, he just lost his world title to one of Minnesota’s finest, Caleb Truax.

Speaking of Minnesota, here’s an extreme example of the loser of an early prospect showdown going on to win a world-title honors. Will Grigsby, a tough and talented Minnesotan, faced 1988 Olympic silver medalist Michael Carbajal when he was 1-0. Carbajal, who is now in the hall of fame, was making his pro debut. Grigsby dropped a four-round decision to the Arizona legend, but “Steel Will” went on to win two world titles at 108 pounds and took another future hall of famer, Finito Lopez, the distance in one of his world title fights.

Anyway, from what I know of Okolie and Chamberlain, your analysis of their strengths and weaknesses is “spot on.” Okolie’s got the more extensive amateur background but Chamberlain comes from a fighting family. Okolie is taller and rangier, but Chamberlain appears to be the more polished boxer. Okolie is the more aggressive, harder puncher, but he’s also visibly tense in his fights. Chamberlain always looks relaxed in the ring, plus he’s got guts, he won a 10-round bout after suffering a dislocated shoulder early in the fight.

I think Okolie is probably the odds/media favorite but I can see your prediction coming to fruition if Chamberlain can keep his composure and take him past five or six rounds.

Regardless of what happens on Feb. 3, I agree that the loser of the contest will likely have a bright future.

 

FILIPINO RIGHT-HANDED SOUTHPAWS 

Happy New Year my friend! I lost ur number so I’m just emailing you.

But still mailbaging, you know.

If you noticed, all great Filipino fighters are all left handed… Elorde, Navarette, the Penalosas (Dodie Boy, Gerry), Malcolm Tunacao, then MannyPac… they are all right handed, but switched to southpaw when boxing. – Anthony

Thanks for the New Year’s wish, and for that tidbit of information on some of the southpaw champs/legends from the Philippines, old friend. 

I was surprised to learn how many southpaw standouts over the past 40 years are actually natural right handers.

 

 

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

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