Monday, November 12, 2018  |

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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Canelo-GGG 2, Gassiev-Dorticos, RING ratings)

02
Feb

CANELO-GOLOVKIN 2

Hello Doug,

The rematch is finally set and signed for Cinco De Mayo and I couldn’t be more excited. Going into the first Canelo Alvarez v GGG fight I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. My favorite current fighter is Canelo and I’m sold on his skills, but before their initial meeting in September of last year I really wasn’t all that certain that Canelo was going to be able to hang with a true 160 pounder like Gennady Golovkin. We had the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr fight which did show that Canelo’s body was itching to move out of the 154-155 “Canelo-weight” class, however we all knew that Chavez Jr (especially with that particular performance) was really not a true litmus test to answer any of my doubts.

But then the actual fight with Golovkin took place and I was honestly shocked at how well Canelo performed. The way he could at moments stand toe to toe with GGG, the way he was able to use his upper-body movement and his counter-punching to be effective and at times look like the superior fighter was something I hoped for, but if I was honest with myself, I did not truly expect. Canelo also had his chin tested and it proved to be legit. He just simply looked like a guy who’s continuing to improve each time out.

The first fight I felt was maybe a 60/40 matchup in GGGs favor, but now I believe the rematch is a true 50/50 fight (edge to Canelo for me… yes, I’m biased). Both guys have plenty of room for adjustments, like Canelo being more active with his punch output & GGG going to the body. It will be interesting to see who is able to implement any adjustments and I think I’m more excited for this fight because I’m fairly confident that it will be more entertaining than the first scrap and we will have some competent judging (hopefully there’s a KO so we don’t need the judges!). Thanks again! – Andrew, Chula Vista, CA

I’m pretty sure that Golovkin’s plan is to stop Canelo this time, especially if the fight lands back in Vegas (which is likely). Can he KO the redhead? Not without Alvarez’s assistance. (In other words, Canelo would have to fight a stupid fight in order to give GGG the opportunity to cold cock him or break him down.) And since Canelo is no dummy, I see this rematch going the distance.

That’s OK. Like you and most interested observers, I think the return bout has the potential to be a more intense and violent fight than their first contest (which was an entertaining scrap).

I think Golovkin’s key to victory is to start faster and not allow Canelo the luxury of getting the early jump on him as he did the last time. If GGG is able to force Canelo into exchanges earlier he might be able to tire him out quicker, which could sap him of the energy and physical strength to mount a late-rounds rally (or the early fireworks could force him to retreat and box defensively earlier in the bout, which could cost the Mexican star rounds – provided GGG stays on his ass and the judges are keeping it real).

However, Canelo might want to stand his ground a little more in the early going. He might see if he can do more than just earn a little respect from GGG; he might try to chin check the middleweight juggernaut, which would be very exciting and potentially dramatic. Anyway, I think Canelo’s key to victory is to establish his jab early and keep it consistent throughout the fight, while staying off the ropes as much as he can.

Can he do that? Yeah, I can see that happening. Like you, I viewed the first fight as 60-40 in favor of GGG and I view the rematch as a 50-50 pick-‘em bout. (And this is coming from a guy who’s been accused being biased in favor of Golovkin, which is fair – I do wear a lot of GGG merch.)

My favorite current fighter is Canelo and I’m sold on his skills, but before their initial meeting in September of last year I really wasn’t all that certain that Canelo was going to be able to hang with a true 160 pounder like Gennady Golovkin. You weren’t alone. Many were convinced that he couldn’t.

We had the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr fight which did show that Canelo’s body was itching to move out of the 154-155 “Canelo-weight” class, however we all knew that Chavez Jr (especially with that particular performance) was really not a true litmus test to answer any of my doubts. True. The best thing about that fight was that it was an opportunity for Canelo to prove to himself (against a relatively safe opponent) that heavier was better. Believe it or not, prior to Canelo’s fights with Chavez Jr. and GGG, there was a legion of old-guard members of the Latino boxing press/industry that thought the Mexican would lose his hand speed and reflexes if he weighed in heavier than 155 pounds.

But then the actual fight with Golovkin took place and I was honestly shocked at how well Canelo performed. I’m not trying to sound like a smug know-it-all, but I wasn’t surprised at all.

The way he could at moments stand toe to toe with GGG, the way he was able to use his upper-body movement and his counter-punching to be effective and at times look like the superior fighter was something I hoped for, but if I was honest with myself, I did not truly expect. One of the things that Canelo has in common with GGG is that he’s serious about this sport and he’s an attentive and enthusiastic student when he’s in camp. He also learns something from each fight, and I saw slight but steady improvements to every facet of his game in every bout that he had after the disappointing performance vs. Floyd Mayweather in 2013. Bottom line, at this juncture in his career, Canelo is a complete fighter in his athletic prime.

Canelo also had his chin tested and it proved to be legit. Indeed. Another reason we can expect the sequel to go the full 12.

 

CRUISERWEIGHT SHOOTOUT

Hey Doug, just wanted to write in about the upcoming Gassiev vs Dorticos showdown.

Obviously with their styles and KO ratios, we’re expecting a good fight. Both guys disposed of their opponents in devastating fashion in the first round of the tournament, and I expect someone to get violently separated from consciousness in this bout too.

Dorticos has the reach advantage and can also stick and move in a way that might give Gassiev some trouble and allow the Cuban to set some traps, but Gassiev has also proven to be a great body puncher, and his hands are very heavy. He probably has the edge in experience despite his tender age, but that won’t amount to much if Dorticos pops him on the chin or temple with a straight right.

Anyways, I view this as a toss-up fight and to quote the great Ken Norton, this will probably boil down to “guts and power.” I for one can’t wait. – Jack

If you’re a true hardcore boxing fan, you’re making room in your Saturday schedule to watch this cruiserweight unification (IBF/WBA) showdown live (even if you have to search for a stream of it in the middle of the afternoon).

Photo by World Boxing Super Series

Beyond the fact that both cruiserweights possess world-class power, it’s a fascinating style matchup. Dorticos is a busy and rangy boxer-puncher who knows how to use his reach and can stick and move when he needs to. I like his poise under fire. He stays cool and waits for the right time to fire back, and when he does, he lets both hands go with confidence.

Gassiev is a steadily improving pressure fighter/technician who is craftier than he’s given credit for. He had underrated footwork and he does excellent work on the inside.

However, Gassiev is still learning how to cut the ring off. I can see where Dorticos could give him trouble with lateral movement and punching on the fly. And Gassiev has those short T-Rex arms, so he could have difficulty with the Cuban’s long reach.

Having said that, Gassiev has a more sophisticated attack than Dmitry Kudrayashov or Youri Kalenga – Dorticios’ two best opponents. If Kalenga got to the Cuban (and he did before being stopped in Round 10), Gassiev will – and the Russian is stronger with more power and better punching technique.   

Bottom line, both cruiserweights could be vulnerable. Neither is as devastating as their last opponent made them look. Kudryashov, the weak link in the WBSS cruiser tournament, is a basic slugger that Dorticos took full advantage of. Wlodarczyk was shopworn and skittish by the time Gassiev got to him.

We’ll find out what these 200-pound standout really have to offer tomorrow when they share the ring.

 

RING RATINGS UPDATE

Doug,

I enjoyed reading about the latest ratings update and the thoughts of the editorial panel that lead to the decisions that are made.

I would applaud the movements (or stripping) in the heavyweight division and the thinking behind them. Tyson Fury almost certainly deserved to hold The Ring belt after his cerebral dethroning of long-term reigning champ Dr Steelhammer. I do not think that many would argue with that. His long-term problems however have been well publicized and I would like to think that he would accept the panel’s decision as well. He is good enough to have a crack at regaining that title in the future (hopefully in a bout with the winner of a Joshua-Wilder tilt) and I hope that this is something that will motivate him going forwards. I also fully agree that the Joshua-Parker fight is not worthy of the ring title. AJ or the Bronze Bomber should wear that belt by the end of the year though.

What are your thoughts on producing some ratings in a couple of other categories for me – namely in terms of trainers and promoters. As a British fight fan I think that Eddie Hearn has done wonders for the sport in our country – particularly in promoting high quality cards with significant national exposure that have allowed many fighter to gain household name recognition in the UK. He keeps his fighters busy and gets them world title shots in a timely fashion. I for one would have no problems with him being rated number one in the promoter category.

Give your opinion on at least a top five in those two categories and some of the reasons why a promoter or trainer could be considered “world-class’.

Keep up the good work. Your mail-bag remains a must-read for any serious fight fan. – Ryan, Ipswich, UK

Thanks for the kind words, Ryan.

Regarding a top five for promoters and trainers, the thing is, there really isn’t a true top five in either category. There are easily 30 promotional companies and 30 trainers worldwide that are essentially equal in terms of their knowledge of the sport and their ability to develop top-class boxers. What separates the promoters and trainers that everyone recognizes and talks about from all the other industry insiders and hard-working coaches is the talent that they are affiliated with. Those who are fortunate enough to hook up with world-class-to-elite-level boxing talent will shine brighter than the others. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are better than the others.

But I will add that sometimes it seems like the right talent finds a home with the right fit of promoter or trainer and their partnership works better than it likely would have had the boxer wound up with different (but equally world-class) companies and coaches. For example, I think Gennady Golovkin and Abel Sanchez and Tom Loeffler combined to make the perfect team.

I enjoyed reading about the latest ratings update and the thoughts of the editorial panel that lead to the decisions that are made. I’m glad you liked the new format. Look for that style of Ratings Update every Tuesday from now on. The goal is transparency. I want fans to get a closer look at the rankings process and hopefully an understanding that these decisions are not easily or unilaterally made. One of the things I like about the current Ratings Panel group is that most of them – from veterans like Anson Wainwright, Martin Mulcahey and Tom Gray to new members, such as Adam Abramowitz, Rian Scalia and Ericka Montoya – are on social media with healthy followings. And most of them, including Mike Coppinger and Ryan Songalia, are willing to engage with fans who have questions or differences of opinions. (Some are even willing to humor the a__hole Twitter trolls.)

I would applaud the movements (or stripping) in the heavyweight division and the thinking behind them. Thank you. People are either going to agree or disagree. One things I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t satisfy everyone. And no matter what you do, no matter how reasonable or necessary it may be, SOMEBODY, somewhere is going to hate what you did. For every five fans that say we did the right thing by stripping Tyson Fury of THE RING title, there’s one or two that are pissed off at us.

Tyson Fury almost certainly deserved to hold The Ring belt after his cerebral dethroning of long-term reigning champ Dr Steelhammer. I do not think that many would argue with that. His long-term problems however have been well publicized and I would like to think that he would accept the panel’s decision as well. Me too. But I totally understand if he’s hurt or mad about it.

He is good enough to have a crack at regaining that title in the future (hopefully in a bout with the winner of a Joshua-Wilder tilt) and I hope that this is something that will motivate him going forwards. Me too. However, we both know that it’s going to take him some time, and perhaps more than two comeback/tune-up bouts, to get back to his championship form. That’s why it wasn’t fair to allow him to continue holding THE RING championship when the other heavyweights in THE RING’s top five (Wilder-Ortiz and Joshua-Parker) were facing each other.

I also fully agree that the Joshua-Parker fight is not worthy of the ring title. Yeah, but I can understand why the boxers and their promoters (and a fair number of fans) believe that it is worthy (or that it should have at least been considered – which it was, and it will be reviewed again after the Wilder-Ortiz fight). THE RING’s Nos. 1 and 3 heavyweights are undefeated and three major world titles are on the line on March 31. (Heck, I wouldn’t blame Deontay Wilder, our No. 2 heavyweight, for wanting the now vacant title to be on the line when he faces Luis Ortiz. The Cuban is our No. 5 contender but were he to fight No. 4-rated Alexander Povetkin or Parker, more than a few fans and media members would pick him to win.)

AJ or the Bronze Bomber should wear that belt by the end of the year though. If the stars are aligned and boxing’s power brokers do the right thing, but Ortiz and Parker have something to say about that.

 

DREAM FIGHT DÉJÀ VU

Hi Dougie,

Again, thanks for your mailbags and great analysis.

Three things:

  1. Spence vs Crawford

Pretty much every boxing sharp and analysis go toward Crawford in this match-up. Everyone agrees that Spence is strong, but they still favor Bud. I always read: he can change stance, he’s mean-spirited, he can do it all. Fine. But I can’t seem him win. First off, it’s like he’s in another league because everyone favors him against either Spence or Thurman without even a fight at WW.

So yes, he unified at 140 and has a good resume but:

  1. his level of competition is not that much better than Spence’s. (No Hall of Famer on his list, that’s my point).
  2. he couldn’t stop a guy like Postol or Burns at LW and JLW.
  3. he got hurt against Gamboa (before stopping him in great fashion).

My point is, how a guy coming from 135 and 140, hurt in the past by a 135 pounder, having never fought at 147 can be favored by almost everyone against a huge 147 pressure-body puncher fighter who punches like a MW (maybe more).

And would Crawford have KOed Brook according to you? The Victor Postol Crawford?

I personally just see Spence too strong and big and even if Bud is a heavy dude (I saw his pics around 170 something) I even think he would get stopped. Also, physically (maybe cause he started at a lighter weight) I see him so much smaller than a Spence or a Brook. Even his head looks small.

  1. Hurd vs Lara

Lara struggles with pressure and dirty fighter. Hurd is huge for a JMW, huge. He has a crazy chin and will. He’ll move forward for 12 rounds. He’ll eat every Lara’s punches and will keep pressing. He’ll hit from everywhere, every angle. He’s a lot taller, bigger, heavier and dirty than Lara.

I see the really talented but boring “old” Cuban southpaw getting crushed after 8 rounds. Ala Angulo but without the crazy swelling. I think he outboxes Hurd and gives him Trouble like Trout (who was impressive during the Hurd fight) and then I see the physicality and ruthlessness of SWIFT number 2 too much for him. Hurd by late stoppage.

I know you favor Lara. Do you think he survives 12 rounds of pressure?

  1. Canelo vs GGG and a feeling of Deja Vu

Life is funny. Sometimes you feel things. Kovalev won the first Ward fight. Yet he lost. Pretty much every solid publication, hardcore fans and analyst gave Kov the nod. In the second fight, the foreign fighter who barely speaks English was doing well. I even think Lederman had the scores even before what happened. I won’t discuss it again but those low blows… Yes, he took a huge right hand. But we didn’t give the unified champ the benefit of the doubt. Got stopped while sitting on the ropes wondering what was happening to his balls.

Was he probably gonna lose? I believe so. We could see something was off.

But we can’t know for sure.

At the end of the day, Ward is unbeaten. 2-0 against Kov. Retired undefeated. The other one got his aura destroyed, lost his titles and now every young hungry Lion at LHW is after him.

History will remember Ward at the top when the truth is: he lost one, and the second one is controversial, shouldn’t have been stopped or should have maybe even considered a NC.

Now, GGG vs Canelo. Pretty close. GGG the foreigner won, clearly. Round 7? lol. The female judge? It has to be corruption, nobody can misunderstand boxing as much.

Results? A draw. And now, ala Ward, pretty much everyone feels that if GGG doesn’t get the KO, he loses.

Results: Canelo 1 victory, 1 draw. GGG overhyped. Just a solid MW of the last decade. Crazy.

Now, after seeing a “Prime Peaking Starfighter Cashcow”, Canelo, losing against the “Aging Past-Prime Hey Max GGG from Kazakstan”, do you think if they fought peak vs peak Canelo would stand a chance?

Golovkin looked softer, less sharp and a bit slower. What about a 2013/14/15 version of him? Best. – Diego

Golovkin was in his athletic prime, in my opinion, in 2013 and 2014. I thought he hit his peak as a fighter in 2015. Would the version of Canelo he fought in 2017 be able to hand with that version of GGG? Maybe.

GGG in prime athletic form against Daniel Geale in 2014.

Yeah, GGG would be coming at him harder than he did last year, but that aggression could also lead to him getting countered with more flush power shots from the quick and heavy handed redhead. Keep in mind that the version of Canelo we see now is more complete and savvy than any of those middleweights Golovkin faced from 2013 to 2015 (which isn’t to say that they were all fringe contenders and second-tier guys; some were quite good and some were very dangerous at the time).

I thought Golovkin beat Canelo in 2017, so obviously I’d favor a younger version to beat the Mexican star, but it might be a different fight if he’s in hard pressure/body attack mode all the time, and I don’t think it would be a one-sided affair even if Canelo was eventually stopped.

Regarding your foreboding feelings about the rematch, all I can say is that the world is watching the officials very closely (especially if it lands in Vegas) so they better get it right.

Spence vs Crawford…Pretty much every boxing sharp and analysis go toward Crawford in this match-up. That’s not true. I know a lot of astute boxing minds that favor Spence. Personally, I think everyone is jumping the gun by obsessing over this potential 147-pound matchup. There’s no way it happens this year and it might not go down in 2019. I mean, we can still bring it up and say who we favor and why, but there’s really no need to go into deep, hardcore analysis as though it were happening in a few weeks.

Everyone agrees that Spence is strong, but they still favor Bud. I always read: he can change stance, he’s mean-spirited, he can do it all. Fine. But I can’t see him win. First off, it’s like he’s in another league because everyone favors him against either Spence or Thurman without even a fight at WW. Well, yeah, like I said. Fans are getting ahead of themselves (and the sport) by geeking out on a welterweight version of Crawford they haven’t even seen yet.

So yes, he unified at 140 and has a good resume but:

  1. his level of competition is not that much better than Spence’s. (No Hall of Famer on his list, that’s my point). True.
  2. he couldn’t stop a guy like Postol or Burns at LW and JLW. True, but he dominated them.
  3. he got hurt against Gamboa (before stopping him in great fashion). True, but so what.

My point is, how a guy coming from 135 and 140, hurt in the past by a 135 pounder, having never fought at 147 can be favored by almost everyone against a huge 147 pressure-body puncher fighter who punches like a MW (maybe more). Same reason so many fans and media favor Spence over Thurman and every other established welterweight: He passes their eye test. He looks like the goods and he’s delivered in the ring so far.

And would Crawford have KOed Brook according to you? Maybe.

I personally just see Spence too strong and big and even if Bud is a heavy dude (I saw his pics around 170 something) I even think he would get stopped. Also, physically (maybe cause he started at a lighter weight) I see him so much smaller than a Spence or a Brook. Even his head looks small. Hey man, it ain’t the size of the head, it’s the size of the brain inside it, and Crawford’s smart. You’re being kind of dense by thinking the only way he can beat Spence is to try to overpower the naturally bigger man. Maybe Crawford would look to outbox him.

Hurd vs Lara… Lara struggles with pressure and dirty fighter. Hurd is huge for a JMW, huge. He has a crazy chin and will. True, which is why I’m looking forward to this matchup (a rarity for a Lara fight).

He’ll move forward for 12 rounds. He’ll eat every one of Lara’s punches and will keep pressing. He’ll hit from everywhere, every angle. He’s a lot taller, bigger, heavier and dirty than Lara. I know Hurd is a giant pressure fighter, but you make him sound like a human windmill, and he’s really not a volume puncher in the mold of, say, an Antonio Margarito. He does eventually break down his opponents, but he’s never had to deal with the kind of lateral movement and counterpunching that he will encounter vs. Lara. It’s going to be an interesting style mesh.

I see the really talented but boring “old” Cuban southpaw getting crushed after 8 rounds. From your lips to God’s ears, my friend.

Ala Angulo but without the crazy swelling. OK, but just remember that Lara got up from two knockdowns and nailed Angulo enough to cause that grotesque swelling.

I know you favor Lara. Do you think he survives 12 rounds of pressure? Obviously, but I could be wrong. It’s not like I’m betting any money on Lara.

 

UNDEFEATED OR UNCHALLENGED

Hi Dougie

I have just looked at your heavyweight rankings. The 11 boxers listed only have 4 losses between them, the top 4 are all undefeated. Just goes to show how bad the matchmaking has been up until now.

Thankfully that is about to change. I know the belts have had lives of their own because of the politics involved. Has it ever been this bad before?

Do you think that that could ever be a super series for the big men or is there just too much money involved? Regards. – Michael from Denmark

I think there’s so much potential money to be made with a bona-fide super attraction like Anthony Joshua and bombastic personalities like Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, that we’re pretty much guaranteed that all the major titles (and, eventually, THE RING and lineal championships) will be unified before the end of 2019. The Joshua-Parker fight will unify three of the four sanctioning organization belts, so we’re well on our way.  

I have just looked at your heavyweight rankings. The 11 boxers listed only have 4 losses between them, the top 4 are all undefeated. Actually, there’s one loss among the top four because Alexander Povetkin is ranked No. 4, but I get your point.

Just goes to show how bad the matchmaking has been up until now. That’s one way to look at it.

Thankfully that is about to change. Fingers crossed. At least the month of March looks good.

I know the belts have had lives of their own because of the politics involved. Has it ever been this bad before? Of course. It was like this in the early-to-mid-1980s before Mike Tyson unified the division; and it was like this in the late ‘90s before Evander Holyfield beat Tyson and Michael Moorer and then finally faced Lennox Lewis twice in 1999. And it was this was in the early-to-mid 2000s before Wladimir Klitschko came of age and unified all the belts but the WBC title that his older brother once held. Who will be the new undisputed heavyweight king? Stay tuned.

 

 

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

 

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