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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Errol Spence Jr., THE RING rankings)

Photo / Amanda Westcott-SHOWTIME
22
Jan

A GOOD START TO THE NEW YEAR

Hi Doug,

I will try and keep it short and sweet. I watched the Showtime card Saturday night and I still think that Errol Spence Jr. is going to be the man once the dust settles in the welterweight division. Make no

mistake though, he is going to have to work for it. There is an incredible round robin of matchups that can be made at welter, and for me the most exciting match in boxing outside of Joshua/Wilder is Errol



Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford. I know that one is down the road but stop a minute and think about what a fight that would be… (and I would pay to see that one) at the same time some of the fights we will see in the meantime also fire up the boxing fan in me.

While I am looking to the future let me not overlook the fight that Lamont Peterson put up Saturday. He put in a good effort, though I guess he thought taking it to Spence was a better strategy than boxing. He paid the price for it, though he did reach Spence several times. What if that had been Crawford’s punches? I am just glad Lamont got out of it without any serious hurt being put on him.

Spence seems to want Keith Thurman now. Is there any chance that can actually happen? Do you think Thurman wants it? How do you see that fight playing out in the ring? It looks to be another good year for

boxing fans…if politics don’t get in the way of the best fights being made. – David, Nashville

Politics (and network contracts) will definitely keep some dream matches from happening this year (and probably next) – such as Spence vs. Crawford – which will frustrate hardcore fans; but I think enough big fights will happen to keep the diehards in the sport and maybe even attract more casual fan interest. I believe that boxing grew a little bit last year thanks to all of the significant fights that were made around the world – Joshua-Klitschko and Canelo-Golovkin in particular – and the sport may have even received a boost from the Mayweather-McGregor PPV exhibition (along with ESPN’s renewed interest in the Sweet Science).

The stage is set for boxing to attract more fans this year. We’ll see if the promoters, managers, network power-brokers and deal-makers can get it right (with the cooperation of the elite fighters, of course).

While I am looking to the future let me not overlook the fight that Lamont Peterson put up Saturday. Indeed. Let’s not brush over Peterson’s brave challenge. He did himself proud, as did his trainer and father figure Barry Hunter by halting it after seven rounds. I thought Peterson was done after Round 5, but you have to give a gutsy veteran and former world titleholder like Peterson a chance to rally in those situations. Hunter did that and then made the difficult decision to save Peterson from himself.

He put in a good effort, though I guess he thought taking it to Spence was a better strategy than boxing. Peterson probably could have lasted a few more rounds by employing the same stick-and-move strategy that he used against Danny Garcia during the first half of their fight in 2015, but keep in mind that Spence has better footwork than Swift, and is more adept at cutting off the ring behind a constant hard jab and debilitating straight lefts to the body. I think result would have been the same had Peterson attempted to be more elusive from the get-go, it just probably would have occurred after Rounds 9 or 10.

Spence got tagged by a few right hands from Peterson. Photo / Amanda Westcott-SHOWTIME

He paid the price for it, though he did reach Spence several times. Spence is an excellent boxer-technician, but he’s an offense-minded volume puncher and when a fighter has that style and mentality, he’s going to take some flush shots from time to time. I’m OK with that. I’ll take the Spences and Golovkins over the Mayweathers and Wards every time.

What if that had been Crawford’s punches? I don’t know. Hopefully, we find out one day. We know Crawford can crack at 140 pounds, but we don’t know if his power will have the same authority at welterweight.

I am just glad Lamont got out of it without any serious hurt being put on him. Well, I wouldn’t say that he got through that fight “unscathed.”

Spence seems to want Keith Thurman now. Gee, what was your first clue? LOL.

Is there any chance that can actually happen? Yeah, Spence wants it. The fans want to see it. Showtime wants to televise it. Only two things prevent it from happening: Thurman (who wants to put it off) and Al Haymon (who also probably wants to put it off).

Do you think Thurman wants it? No. I don’t think any welterweight is eager to get into the ring with Spence. But that doesn’t mean he won’t eventually do it.

How do you see that fight playing out in the ring? As good as Spence looked against Kell Brook and Peterson, I still think Thurman can give him a difficult night. However, I slightly favor the improving-yet-to-peak Spence now.

 

ERROL SPENCE IS VERY GOOD, NOT GREAT

Hi Doug,

Watched the Spence-Peterson fight Saturday night. It was a very good showing by Errol Spence, one of my favorite young fighters. I never expected Lamont to be competitive in this fight. As a matter of fact, his 11-month inactivity plus him always being just a good opponent was enough for me to favor Spence big. And boy did he deliver. This is how I want younger, stronger, fresher fighters to dominate their opponents, combination punching, no fear, power, and with intention to KO.

Now coming back to reality, I didn’t like the fact that he let himself get hit much more than I expected. I didn’t see subtle movement on the inside (a la GGG) to make his opponent miss by inches. And let’s be honest. It’s not like Peterson has blinding speed. As of now I would still favor Keith Thurman and Terrance Crawford over him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his resiliency would take over and eventually beat them.

I would favor him over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. If he beats these guys the way he beat Peterson then we’re talking a whole different ballgame.

Overall, I can say he didn’t disappoint and he’s one of the most exciting boxers in the game right now. Thanks Doug! – Juan Valverde, San Diego

That’s all that needs to be said, Juan. Too many fans and members of the media go overboard with accolades whenever Spence fights. We can all see that he’s special. We see the poise, power, precision. We know he’s one of the top three (or top two welterweights) and, arguably, one of the best boxers regardless of weight. We don’t need to proclaim him the Pound-for-Pound King or a future hall of famer right now (as some have). That doesn’t make sense after only two significant victories, both of which he was a strong odds favorite to win. We should just enjoy witnessing his legitimate climb to the top. He’s getting there, but he ain’t there yet. (And stating this fact does not make anyone a “Spence hater.” Anyone who claims this is a hopeless nitwit.)

This is how I want younger, stronger, fresher fighters to dominate their opponents, combination punching, no fear, power, and with intention to KO. This is what everybody wants (or SHOULD want). That’s why there’s so much excitement surrounding Spence. (It’s also why there’s too much prognostication regarding his supposedly limitless potential from the boxing media.) As long as he continues to deliver like this, his stature in the sport will continue to rise.

Now coming back to reality, I didn’t like the fact that he let himself get hit much more than I expected. It didn’t bother me much. He knew (just as well as you did) that Peterson did not possess the power to threaten him.

I didn’t see subtle movement on the inside (a la GGG) to make his opponent miss by inches. I saw subtle movement, but it was more offense-oriented footwork and technique. Spence is not slick or slippery in there. Never has been, probably never will be. He’s more Marvin Hagler than Sugar Ray Leonard. I’m OK with that.

And let’s be honest. It’s not like Peterson has blinding speed. True. I don’t think Spence has blinding speed, either. That’s one area that Thurman might edge him in, and one of the reasons that’s an interesting matchup (although most boxing fans and media think Keith has no chance and would rather see Spence skip ahead to Crawford).

As of now I would still favor Keith Thurman and Terrance Crawford over him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his resiliency would take over and eventually beat them. Prior to the Peterson fight, I slightly favored Thurman and Crawford over Spence. Now, I’m not so sure. He’s getting better. They may have plateaued.

I would favor him over Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. Me too, but I think Porter can at least match his physical strength when in close (which he’d have to be all night in order to have any chance).

If he beats these guys the way he beat Peterson then we’re talking a whole different ballgame. Agreed. And I wouldn’t be shocked if he did it.

 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR SPENCE, EASTER?

Hello Doug,

Spence impressed, Marcus Browne and Adam Kownacki were entertaining for as long as their fights lasted and I must say that the Robert Easter v Fortuna fight was competitive but at times a difficult fight to watch.

Spence proved to have a deep tool box of skills that he can pull from which will make him a true world champ for years to come and a tough out for any of the top tier fighters in the game. Lamont Peterson just never got going; was it the skill and power of Spence and/or the fact that Lamont’s best years have come and gone? Keith Thurman has to walk away from watching that performance by Spence with the realization that Errol is The Truth. Add Spence to the list, along with the Charlos, of guaranteed stars for the future that fight in an aggressive yet calculated manner and can end the night at any moment in dramatic fashion with a one punch knockout. What do you think of Spence fighting Shawn Porter (he did very well commentating alongside Barry Tompkins and Farhood for the prelim fights) next while he waits for Thurman to make his comeback?

Robert Easter v Fortuna was a close hard-fought fight but neither fighter ever really took full control. Robert Easter was struggling to find his range and just kept smothering his punches throughout the night. I was fine with the decision and I also enjoyed Fortuna’s post-fight interview that ended with Easter calling him out on his BS excuse for missing weight. I like that Easter called out the other top dogs @135 – Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares, but judging from his performance and his struggles with distance and his lack of consistency with his jab, I don’t know if Easter is ready for the challenge but I definitely want to find out. How do you think Easter fares against Linares or Mikey? Thanks again! – Andrew, Chula Vista, CA

Robert Easter Jr. launches a left hook at Javier Fortuna during their hotly contested, often ugly 12-round non-title bout. Photo / @ShowtimeBoxing

I think Easter would look better against Garcia and Linares than he did against Fortuna, an unorthodox southpaw with an awkwardly athletic style. But he’s just not seasoned or complete enough to beat the veteran three-division titleholders. Believe it or not, I think he would have more success with Garcia than Linares, because of his quick hands and Mikey’s planted feet. Easter’s got heart and pretty solid whiskers but I think Garcia would gradually break him down to a late stoppage. I think Linares’ speed and movement would be difficult for Easter to zero in on, but the Toledo native’s height would likely bother the Vegas-based Venezuelan. Still, Easter consistently gives up his reach, so I’d have to favor Linares by competitive but clear decision.

Regarding the Easter-Fortuna fight, it was too awkward and ugly for me to bother scoring every round (I think I lost interest after the seventh) or to have any interest in a rematch. Both lightweights need to move on.

Spence proved to have a deep tool box of skills that he can pull from which will make him a true world champ for years to come and a tough out for any of the top tier fighters in the game. No doubt about it. You don’t have to be Ray Arcel or Jack “Chappie” Blackburn to realize that.

Lamont Peterson just never got going; was it the skill and power of Spence and/or the fact that Lamont’s best years have come and gone? It was mostly due to Spence’s skill and power (and steely focus), but I think a younger, fresher version of Peterson could have put up more of a fight and lasted longer.

Keith Thurman has to walk away from watching that performance by Spence with the realization that Errol is The Truth. Maybe. Maybe not. Thurman’s a very confident competitor. He’s earned his spot at (or near) the top of the welterweights. Thurmy’s also a sharp dude. He knows Spence is dangerous and hungry, so he’s likely going to make the young lion wait for the opportunity to fight for his WBC and WBA belts until he sees frustration or flaws in the Texan.

Add Spence to the list, along with the Charlos, of guaranteed stars for the future that fight in an aggressive yet calculated manner and can end the night at any moment in dramatic fashion with a one punch knockout. I hope you’re right. I know the Texas trio can KO most of their opposition in thrilling fashion, but I wish I could be certain that they’re destined for stardom. They’re going to need better promotion than they’ve received so far in order for that to happen. It’s crazy to me that of the three of them, only Jermall has defended a title (his old IBF 154-pound belt) in his hometown, but that was a 4,000-seat venue (The Bomb Factory) in Dallas. The Charlos should be defending their world titles in their hometown of Houston and their fights should be at a big venue like the Toyota Center (which can hold between 17,000-19,000). Spence should be fighting in Dallas, and not at TBF (not that there’s anything wrong with the venue, I’m sure it’s great for concerts, but the IBF welterweight king should be defending his title at a major arena). Hopefully, the Charlos and Spence have a busy 2018 and fight at least once in their home state.

What do you think of Spence fighting Shawn Porter (he did very well commentating alongside Barry Tompkins and Farhood for the prelim fights) next while he waits for Thurman to make his comeback? I’m OK with that matchup. Porter is a legit top-five welterweight and he deserves another shot at a title. Regarding his excellent interview, of course he shined. He’s “Showtime” Shawn Porter. And he’s from Ohio! All Ohio fighters are good interviews. (Didn’t you know that?) Even if he wasn’t such a great guy, Tompkins and Farhood are hall-of-fame pros that would have made it work. Those two could make Frankie Gomez seem like he’s got a personality.

 

SPENCE IS A BAAAAAAAAD MAN!

Whattup Doug! Happy New Year!

Wow, Spence is a baby-faced assassin! To break the spirit of a guy like Lamont Peterson takes some doing. Peterson was never going to quit, but he seemed like he wanted to pick up and go home and I (and I think Lamont) was thankful when Hunter saved him from his own bravery.

What next for Errol? How do you see the Garcia fight playing out in June (assuming that’s the fight that gets made)? Does “Sometime” want any part of him? How does Errol fare against the top 154 guys if he moves up?

Quick one on one of Errol’s previous conquests – how do you see Brook v Khan if it’s made for the end of 2018?

Thanks for the twice-weekly check-ins, always a good way to bookend the work week! – Alex, NY

Thank you, Alex. I’ll keep the column going in 2018 and maybe add a weekly Twitter mailbag to the mix.

Prior to his back-to-back stoppages to Golovkin and Spence, I favored Brook to get the better of Khan (probably by late KO in a competitive fight). Now, I’m kind of feeling Khan (even though the former 140-pound titleholder is coming off a brutal KO loss himself). I need to see how Khan looks in his April comeback bout to really gauge where he’s at, but I think Brook absorbed a lot more punishment in his last two bouts than Khan did in absorbing that chilling one-hitter-quitter against Canelo.

What next for Errol? Danny Garcia at Barclays Center in June, according to Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza. Of course, this depends on what happens with the Garcia-Rios fight next month, and if Angel Garcia is OK with putting his son in with the “danger man” of the division (as the Brits would say).

How do you see the Garcia fight playing out in June (assuming that’s the fight that gets made)? I think Spence will grind him down to a late stoppage.

Does “Sometime” want any part of him? Not right now. (As much as I like Thurman, I love that nickname.)

How does Errol fare against the top 154 guys if he moves up? I think he would well because of his excellent boxing foundation and technique, but he would be able to outmuscle and overpower the top junior middleweights. He could outpoint tough guys like Jarret Hurd and Liam Smith, but it wouldn’t come easy. I can envision Erislandy Lara, Jermell Charlo and even Sadam Ali giving Spence fits with their lateral movement and speed. Ali would have to box a very disciplined fight given his questionable whiskers but my guess is that he’s gained a lot of confidence from the Miguel Cotto upset and may continue to improve.

 

SPENCE VS. SWIFT, EASTER VS. LOMA

Hey Doug,

Hope you enjoyed the Spence fight, as well as the other fights this weekend. The way Spence took Peterson apart made me feel pretty bad for Lamont, a fighter I really like. He was part of the first fight I ever watched, when he should have handed DSG his first L. Where do you think he goes from here? Errol doing what he did to a fighter who beat up DSG pretty bad makes me wonder how a fight between the two would go. Do you think he could knock Danny out?

Finally, of the champs at 135, I always ranked Robert Easter in a tie for third with Flanagan. However, with Loma likely moving up in the very near future, I wondered if he were to fight Easter how Easter’s vast height advantage would factor into the fight. Now, having seen Easter struggle in his last two fights with guys around the same height as Loma, I have a hard time not seeing Loma make Easter look pretty bad. What do you think? Best to you and the family. – Graham, Bangkok

Thanks Graham. I would favor Lomachenko to outpoint Easter and Garcia at lightweight. (I know many fans and media disagree with my opinion on that second matchup, but hey, it’s just a matter of styles.) Of the lightweight standouts, I think Linares gives him the most trouble because he’s a fast and offensively creative mover, much like Lomachenko, who doesn’t have the power to threaten the talented Venezuelan’s shaky whiskers or brittle skin.

The way Spence took Peterson apart made me feel pretty bad for Lamont, a fighter I really like. Losses like that are hard to watch when the guy on the s__t-end of the stick is a classy, hard-working veteran like Peterson, but it’s just part of the sport.

He was part of the first fight I ever watched, when he should have handed DSG his first L. Where do you think he goes from here? I think he sticks around for another year or so, long enough to make one more significant payday, and then he’ll hang ‘em up. He can still make for some competitive and entertaining matchups against the PBC’s non-elite welters such as the losers of the upcoming Garcia-Rios and Ortiz-Alexander bouts, Omar Figueroa Jr., and (gulp) Andre Berto.

Errol doing what he did to a fighter who beat up DSG pretty bad makes me wonder how a fight between the two would go. Do you think he could knock Danny out? Yup. I was ringside for the Garcia-Robert Guerrero fight and I thought Swift struggled against The Ghost. If Guerrero can get in that ass for five or six rounds, what do you think Spence will do?

 

THE RING RATINGS

Hi Doug,

Couple of questions about the RING ratings, even if I don’t always agree with them, they are still THE ratings.

The winner of the WBSS, where would you hypothetically place them P4P? The winner at Cruiser surely has to be in there after getting through a murderer’s row in a stacked division. What about the Super Middle version?

Will Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Estrada be for the lineal Super Fly belt as Inoue is on his way up and its 2 vs. 3

What 5 fighters at the moment do you think have the best chance of crashing the list this year?

MM:

Harry Greb vs. Joe Calzaghe

Joe Gans vs. Pacquiao

Povetkin vs. Tyson

All the best. – Conrad, Sheffield

I’ll go with Greb, Gans and Tyson – all by knockout.

The winner of the WBSS, where would you hypothetically place them P4P? The winner at Cruiser surely has to be in there after getting through a murderer’s row in a stacked division. I think so. Some boxing writers already consider Oleksandr Usyk a lower-top-10 pound-for-pound player. If he unifies the four major titles by winning the World Boxing Super Series, I can see him being universally ranked near the top five. Whoever wins the cruiserweight Ali Trophy is going to crack the P4P Top 10. The winner will also earn THE RING’s vacant cruiserweight title.

What about the Super Middle version? I think the winner of the 168-pound tournament will be close to making the P4P Top 10, maybe right outside of it. And I’m fairly certain he will be crowned THE RING’s super middleweight champ.

Will Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Estrada be for the lineal Super Fly belt as Inoue is on his way up and its 2 vs. 3. Yes, I believe it will be, although Inoue has yet to vacate his WBO 115-pound title. I think most of THE RING’s Ratings Panel is in favor of this. (In fact, the opening bout of HBO’s “SuperFly 2” broadcast – Donnie Nietes vs. Juan Carlos Reveco – is between THE RING’s Nos. 1- and 3-rated flyweights, and thus, is eligible to be for the magazine’s vacant 112-pound title.)

What 5 fighters at the moment do you think have the best chance of crashing the list this year? Usyk (if he wins his next two bouts), Estrada (if he beats Sor Rungvisai), Nietes (if he beats Reveco), Leo Santa Cruz (if he dominates Abner Mares), and Anthony Joshua (if blasts Joseph Parker).

 

THE RING’S HEAVYWEIGHT TOP 10

Hi Dougie,

In my last note on my opinion on who should be added or taken off the top ten heavyweight rankings you asked for my thoughts.

  1. I don’t think Dominic Breazeale should be on the list. In my opinion, Fred Kassi beat him in their fight. He really has no wins over notable fighters.
  2. Dillian Whyte will probably be removed from the list when Lucas Browne knocks him out in their upcoming bout which I think he will.
  3. Adam Kownacki should be in the top ten. Unbeaten and takes on all comers.
  4. Lucas Browne should be on the list. Also, unbeaten and has fought some very good fighters.
  5. Andy Ruiz Jr. and Kubrat Pulev need to be more active to remain on the list.
  6. Bryant Jennings should probably move down to Cruiserweight. He is a great fighter but just too small to compete with todays ‘Giant’ heavyweights.
  7. Would love to see Jarrell Miller fight one of the top 3 or 4 guys.

The biggest thing to me is that all top ten fighters should fight at least 4 times per year. This would make for a lot more excitement and competition in boxing. Keep up the good work. – Mike

Thanks for sharing your opinions, Mike.

I agree with your advice of greater activity among all top-10 rated boxers. That’s they way it often was in past decades when boxing was more popular in the U.S.

Breazeale after winning his slugfest with Ugonoh. Photo / Ryan Hafey-Premier Boxing Champions

I don’t think Dominic Breazeale should be on the list. In my opinion, Fred Kassi beat him in their fight. He really has no wins over notable fighters. Yeah, but you can say that about the No. 9 contender in most weight classes. I think Breazeale, who’s developed into one of the sport’s more reliable action fighters, is worthy of a lower top-10 ranking. I thought he legitimately beat Kassi. I know the counterpunching gatekeeper gave him fits, and I understand that Dom looked rather sloppy (and missed a lot of punches to the head) in most of the rounds, but he was the aggressor throughout the fight and he landed hard shots (to Kassi’s arms and body as well as the head) in most of the rounds. Did every head shot land clean? No, but Kassi often covered up and allowed himself to get knocked back or pushed back into the ropes, which is not a good look when you’re only getting off in spots. I scored it six rounds to four for Breazeale, who just plain outhustled Kassi. The rock-solid fireplug could have won the bout if he let his hands go a little more. Along with Kassi, Breazeale owns stoppages over fringe contender Eric Molina, another stocky gatekeeper in Amir Mansour and two unbeaten (17-0 at the time) prospects in Izuagbe Ugunoh and Yasmany Consuegra. Dom’s only loss is to the No. 1 heavyweight on the list. No shame in that.

Dillian Whyte will probably be removed from the list when Lucas Browne knocks him out in their upcoming bout which I think he will. Well, when Big Daddy does the deed, then he’ll get the ranking. ‘Till then, we got Whyte at No. 8. I’m looking forward to that scrap.

Adam Kownacki should be in the top ten. Unbeaten and takes on all comers. The popular Pole has defeated two solid opponents in back-to-back fights, but he JUST stepped up from the eight-round level to 10 rounders. If we drop Andy Ruiz due to inactivity, he has a good shot of getting in, but that spot could go to another up and comer.

Lucas Browne should be on the list. Also, unbeaten and has fought some very good fighters. Browne was briefly rated in our top 10 after beating Ruslan Chagaev, but he tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol after that stoppage in March 2016, a result that he and his team vehemently disputed. He was stripped of the WBA belt he won by beating Chagaev and was suspended for six months. And he didn’t fight for more than a year.

Andy Ruiz Jr. and Kubrat Pulev need to be more active to remain on the list. Pulev fought last April and was scheduled to challenge Anthony Joshua this past October (but had to pull out due to an injury). Ruiz, who hasn’t fought since dropping a close majority nod to Joseph Parker in December 2016, had a fight scheduled early this year but that bout appears to have been scratched, which means Andy is about to be dropped from the rankings.

Bryant Jennings should probably move down to Cruiserweight. He is a great fighter but just too small to compete with today’s ‘Giant’ heavyweights. OK. You want me to pass that suggestion on to his management?

Would love to see Jarrell Miller fight one of the top 3 or 4 guys. So would Jarrell Miller.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @dougiefischer, and on Periscope, where promoter extraordinaire Tom Loeffler often joins him and Coach Schwartz at the Santa Monica College track on Sunday mornings.

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