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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Groves-Eubank, Garcia-Rios, Alexander-Ortiz)

Groves walks Chris Eubank Jr. on to the jab. Photo by WBSS
19
Feb

GROVES-EUBANK THOUGHTS

Hey Doug, just wanted to throw in my two cents on the big fight in Manchester.

While it was at times intriguing and there were some good exchanges down the stretch, this was oftentimes quite an ugly fight, and didn’t quite live up to my expectations personally.

While I felt going into the fight that George Groves had the better skills/savvy and that Eubank was the greater natural talent, I didn’t expect the skill differential to be so wide. Groves was sniping Eubank with counters and snapping his head back with the jab, while Eubank was swinging at air a lot of the time and looked completely out of his depth in the center of the ring. He did very little to set up his offence with his jab and couldn’t really get off straight shots. His only success seemed to come from bum rushing Groves to the ropes and then using his natural hand speed and power to flail away at Groves (which at times worked for him) and his incredible chin bailed him out more than once as well.



Groves on the other hand was made to look quite good, and I was impressed with his sharp jab and his little step back counters, as well as some of his bob and weave defense off the ropes. The one thing I was surprised by was that George was getting caught by leaping lead hooks from Eubank and was also backing to the ropes in a straight line when Eubank bum rushed him, which made this fight a lot more difficult then it could’ve been. Had Groves been able to circle away from the charges better. (I think Groves knows this too, he said something in the post-fight interview to the effect of “he was only successful when I made mistakes I shouldn’t have.”

Overall, I think it is safe to say that Eubank’s boxing skills have been overrated, while his heart and determination were probably underrated. This is the second time he has been soundly outboxed in the first half of a fight, only to claw his way back into competitiveness by making it a bar fight, using his durability and strength and also showing a lot of heart by amping up the pressure after getting countered and hurt, rather than accepting defeat and coasting.

Last thing, I thought Eubank gave a very dignified post fight interview. He didn’t try to make excuses and he gave credit to George. I personally would’ve been a bit salty due to all of Groves rabbit punches but Eubank the younger took the high road. Fair play to him. – Jack

I think Eubank Jr. has character – after and during his fights. I know that he has a legion of haters (due, in part, to his polarizing father) that don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. And while I totally agree that he’s overrated in terms of his boxing ability and his athletic prowess, I think that his chin, physical strength and fighting spirit still make him a threat at middleweight and super middleweight. He can still win a major world title if he works on his fundamentals.

While it was at times intriguing and there were some good exchanges down the stretch, this was oftentimes quite an ugly fight, and didn’t quite live up to my expectations personally. I thought the bout was compelling throughout. It wasn’t a fight-of-the-year candidate, but it was entertaining despite the many ugly spots when Eubank mounted his sloppy bum rushes only to be expertly tied up by Groves. I’m not a fan of holding or grappling, but it was up to Eubank to overcome those tactics, and he was helpless. But Groves did a lot more than jab and hold. He was laser-accurate with this right hands, which kept Eubank honest for much of the fight.

While I felt going into the fight that George Groves had the better skills/savvy and that Eubank was the greater natural talent, I didn’t expect the skill differential to be so wide. I think we all should have expected that. Eubank didn’t start boxing until his was 18. He had 26 amateur bouts. He was not a national amateur champ like Groves, who already won the British super middleweight title (and had defeated James DeGale and Paul Smith) by the time Eubank made his pro debut.

Groves was sniping Eubank with counters and snapping his head back with the jab, while Eubank was swinging at air a lot of the time and looked completely out of his depth in the center of the ring. Groves controlled distance and tempo in the center of the ring and he neutralized Eubank with defense, holding and counterpunching whenever he was bulled to the ropes. That’s basically the story of the fight.

He did very little to set up his offence with his jab and couldn’t really get off straight shots. Eubank needs to work on his jab, but even if he worked it more he would have had trouble with Groves’ longer and more educated left stick. He couldn’t get off with straight shots because Groves stayed out of range and moved on him.

His only success seemed to come from bum rushing Groves to the ropes and then using his natural hand speed and power to flail away at Groves (which at times worked for him) and his incredible chin bailed him out more than once as well. Junior can take a shot. I thought he had some success whenever he took risks, and he was also able to land the left hook here and there.

Groves on the other hand was made to look quite good and I was impressed with his sharp jab and his little step back counters, as well as some of his bob and weave defense off the ropes. I don’t think Groves was “made to look good,” I think he IS good, very good. Groves made Eubank look limited (perhaps more so than he actually is). If Groves wasn’t as ring savvy as he’s become, a beast like Eubank would have given him a beating.

I think it is safe to say that Eubank’s boxing skills have been overrated, while his heart and determination were probably underrated. I agree.

This is the second time he has been soundly outboxed in the first half of a fight, only to claw his way back into competitiveness by making it a bar fight, using his durability and strength and also showing a lot of heart by amping up the pressure after getting countered and hurt, rather than accepting defeat and coasting. In other words, Eubank is limited but gutsy and entertaining. I’m OK with that.

 

WHAT’S UP WITH HBO?

HI Dougie,

I hope you enjoyed the weekend’s fight cards as much as I did, truly a boxing junkie’s delight. To keep it short – other than Shawn Porter proving to the world that he is a punk, The Ghost needing to work on his math skills, all I can say is Ugas, Ugas, Ugas! Very impressive. My point in writing is I watched entertaining matches on ESPN, Fox, and Showtime. What is happening at HBO? They used to be on top. I know they have Sor Rungvisai’s and Kovalov’s fights coming up, and GGG-Canelo II on PPV, but they are lagging in 4th place as it comes to entertaining boxing networks. Like most of us I’m really looking forward to Showtime’s heavyweights. What gives? – Ken Kozberg, Oakham, MA

I can’t say, Ken. I think HBO’s Feb. 24 and March 3 shows will give us more than just the returns of action heroes Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Sergey Kovalev – those shows will also feature Bivol vs. Barrera, Cuadras vs. Arroyo and Nietes vs. Reveco, which are all quality world-class matchups.

But even if it’s true that HBO is the fourth best network that showcases boxing in the U.S., so what? You’ve got other networks – which you say has superior boxing programming – to watch. Why not just enjoy the various boxing cards that are coming up on HBO (SuperFly2 and Kovalev-Mikhalkin), Showtime (Wilder-Ortiz and Joshua-Parker) and ESPN (Valdez-Quigg and Ramirez-Imam)?

By the way, I like Ugas. I don’t think he’d be able to do much against Errol Spence, but I’m not mad at him for calling out the avoided IBF titleholder (somebody’s gotta, right?). He’s on a quality run since dropping an eight-round decision to Amir Imam 2014. I’d like to see how he’d do against a former titleholder like Jessie Vargas or Lamont  Peterson, or maybe a fellow streaking fringe contender like Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

 

SWIFT CAN BEAT BUD

Hey there Dougie,

I will keep this kinda short because I know a lot of readers will think I am either crazy or DKSAB but I could see Danny Garcia beating Terence Crawford. I know Bam Bam is nowhere near the same level or style as Bud but Danny has the timing, power, and insane chin to win in that match-up. I would not make him a favorite but if Yuriorkis Gamboa can buzz Crawford then I know damn well that Danny could. I am not even a big fan of Garcia but he is really good at winning and his chin is world class.

I would love to see that fight.

I think Shawn Porter would outmuscle him and Spence would crack that granite chin but DSG could beat Devon Alexander, Keith Thurman in the rematch, and I could see him get a close win against Bud in a really good fight. What do you think?

I think these would be good MM’s:

DSG v Bradley

DSG v Marquez

DSG v Pacquiao

Thanks. – Matt on Merritt Island

I’ll go with Swift by controversial decision over Desert Storm, Marquez by split decision (perhaps disputed) and Pacquiao (and I assume you mean the 2009-2010 version) by late stoppage.

I don’t agree that Garcia could beat Crawford but I don’t think you’re crazy or stupid for believing that he can. As battle-tested and talented as Crawford is, he’s forged his reputation at 135 and 140 pounds, where he had a decided weight advantage (he often rehydrated to the junior middleweight limit, and even above 154, by fight time) to go along with his sublime ring generalship. We haven’t seen Crawford at 147 pounds yet. We’ve seen Garcia at welterweight. He’s no world-beater, but we know that Swift, who’s fought above 140 since 2015, can handle himself at 147.

We also know that Garcia has been in with several top contenders and former/current world titleholders that brought a variety of styles for him to deal with (and learn from). I know he’s faced his share of faded veterans (Morales, Malignaggi, Guerrero, Campbell and now Rios), but Thurman, Khan and Matthysse were at the top of the 140/147-pound division when Garcia faced them. And Holt, Herrera, Judah and Peterson were still difficult and dangerous when he fought them.

As much as fans love to hate Garcia (and I can understand some of that), the young man has paid his dues and he’s not going to be an easy night for anyone.

I think Shawn Porter would outmuscle him and Spence would crack that granite chin but DSG could beat Devon Alexander, Keith Thurman in the rematch, and I could see him get a close win against Bud in a really good fight. What do you think? I agree that Porter and Spence would be too strong and aggressive for Garcia to handle. I also agree that he can outpoint Alexander. I think Thurman would once again narrowly outpoint him. And I believe that Crawford would also outpoint him, but a comfortable margin in a pretty good fight. However, I reserve the right to change my mind after Bud’s welterweight debut in April (but I don’t think I will).

 

OVERRATED EUBANK, OUTSTANDING GROVES, OUTRAGEOUS NAZ

Hi Doug,

I don’t like jumping the “he’s been exposed” bandwagon when a hyped fighter has a bad loss but let’s have it straight here; Eubank Jr was made to look very amateurish against George Groves. I think Jr was hurt early on which made him cautious about implementing his usual swarming tactics on the inside which in turn played into Groves’ hands who was able to keep him at range with his excellent jab and hurtful right while easily avoiding Jrs wild swings. Even when Jr was able to get on the inside he would smother his own work or miss wildly.

I admit I picked Jr to win before the fight and I thought he’d win in style. I know you and many others favoured Jr to win as well so be honest have we all been influenced by a combination of hype from Jr and his farther and some clever matchmaking? I think it’s obvious now that while Jr looks a million dollars against come forward plodders like Abraham and Yildirim, when he fights anyone with fundamentals and who can move and jab (like Groves and Saunders) he just looks like a one dimensional fighter with no plan B.

It’s not all about Jr though, we have to give Groves credit who got his tactics spot on and executed them almost perfectly. I think he’s a guy who’s matured both in and out of the ring; His stamina seems to have improved and he doesn’t make as many mistakes. He’s clearly learned from his losses and I think he’s as good as he’s ever been. At the start of this tournament I had Callum Smith as the favourite but I’m now leaning towards Groves due to what I’ve seen recently.

Finally, I don’t know if you’ve seen this but Prince Naz made a rare TV appearance as a pundit on the British broadcast of the fight and promptly caused a bit of a storm! It seems he’s lost none of his ability to be outspoken and outrageous (and hilarious)! Just wow, we need to see more of the Prince on TV!

Cheers. – Mark from the UK.

Hamed keeps it very real. Despite looking like DJ Khaled these days, The Prince remains a vibrant on-camera talent. I agreed with most of what he said about Eubank, but I also agreed with some of what Duke McKenzie had to say.  

Should Eubank Jr. ever be mentioned in the same breath as Lennox Lewis (or Naseem Hamed, or Eubank Sr.)? No. But that doesn’t mean he should hang up the gloves after his second pro loss, especially when he lost to an excellent, battled-tested boxer like Groves. I think Eubank owes it to himself to go back to the gym and learn from this experience. That’s what Groves had to do – more than once – and look where he is now. The men that beat Groves – Carl Froch and Badou Jack – had to bounce back from humbling losses.  

I admit I picked Jr to win before the fight and I thought he’d win in style. I know you and many others favoured Jr to win as well so be honest have we all been influenced by a combination of hype from Jr and his farther and some clever matchmaking? I did pick Eubank to win by late stoppage, but I did not believe for one minute that he would have his way with Groves. And I never counted the defending WBA titleholder out.

I really viewed it as an even matchup but I went with Eubank because I thought he would eventually be able to pressure Groves enough to weaken and break the more versatile boxer down the stretch. And, hey, as outclassed as he was over 11 rounds, I would not have been totally shocked if he had dropped or even stopped Groves with his last ditch effort in the final round. I think the reason most fans and media picked Eubank was because we viewed Groves as somewhat fragile. It seems like something on his body – win or lose – always gets injured or broken. But even if that’s true we should have known that he had grit before he proved it once again against Eubank.

I think it’s obvious now that while Jr looks a million dollars against come forward plodders like Abraham and Yildirim, when he fights anyone with fundamentals and who can move and jab (like Groves and Saunders) he just looks like a one dimensional fighter with no plan B. World class jabbers/stick-and-movers will probably always give Eubank fits (they give every boxing style but the hardest of pressure fighters fits) but that doesn’t mean he can’t improve the way he fights them.

It’s not all about Jr though, we have to give Groves credit who got his tactics spot on and executed them almost perfectly. Yes, let’s give Groves all the credit (and save a little for his trainer Shane McGuigan). He deserves it.

I think he’s a guy who’s matured both in and out of the ring. His stamina seems to have improved and he doesn’t make as many mistakes. He’s clearly learned from his losses and I think he’s as good as he’s ever been. At the start of this tournament I had Callum Smith as the favourite but I’m now leaning towards Groves due to what I’ve seen recently. Smith still has to get by Braehmer. And Groves has to heal up from his shoulder injury before we can really talk about that matchup (but I hope it happens).

 

LOADED BOXING WEEKEND

Hello Doug,

We just had a loaded weekend of boxing with some entertaining action. To begin with Friday’s Top Rank card; now that was a good world title fight! Ray Beltran-Paulus Moses put on a hell of show. I thought Beltran was the fighter with more skill and pop to his punches but as the fight went on and Beltran tired, Moses’ supreme shape came into play and his consistent work-rate seemed to even the fight out. Both guys showed such toughness and some granite chins that gave us 12 good action packed rounds. I believe the judges got the decision right and Beltran squeaked out the victory for a well earned world title.

Groves-Eubank was ugly. There were moments of entertaining boxing and the atmosphere was off the charts but there was just no fluidity in that ring. You would get some action and the two would throw some huge hayemakers (that more often than not missed) but then they’d just smother each other into a clinch. All that being said, of course Groves deserves credit for clearly outboxing Eubank Jr and making him miss all night while landing the cleaner more accurate punches. There was just an obvious difference in class between the two fighters and I’d have to admit that I probably won’t be clamoring to see Eubank back in the ring anytime soon after yesterday’s performance.

Ortiz-Alexander I believe delivered, especially considering the amount of recent inactivity plus (let’s be honest)both guys being well past their prime. There was some good back and forth action and Ortiz fought through a pretty bad swollen eye, but Alexander seemed to be the guy with more weapons and I think he clearly won that fight. I saw that fight as something like 8-4 in favor of Alexander. I don’t want to see a rematch, I think Alexander deserves to move forward and Ortiz needs to fight the loser of showtimes main event. Yes, maybe I’m sick and twisted for it, but I’d still be pumped for and Ortiz-Rios showdown!

Garcia-Rios. Garcia was clearly the younger fresher fighter with much more pop behind his punches and Rios is clearly shop worn (not that he was much quicker or more heavy handed before). However Rios was able to push Danny and because he was at times successfully pressuring Danny, it managed to incite some crazy Angel Garcia rants in the corner between rounds which everyone watching at my house seemed to really enjoy. What a vicious one punch knockdown! Bayless was right to stop the fight after that flush right hand.

But my main takeaway from this fight, quite honestly, is who doesn’t want a piece of Danny Garcia after that performance? Did that showing really instill fear into any of those top guys @147 on the PBC side of the street? It sure as hell didn’t seem like it the way Shawn Porter jumped in the ring to challenge Danny or the way Keith Thurman was mouthing and gesturing with his hands “easy money” to the Showtime cameras after the fight and I couldn’t disagree. If Danny performs like that even against someone like Shawn Porter who is in their prime and we know bombards his opponents with pressure and is young, strong and athletic (everything Rios wasn’t) Danny would be in a fight for his life. I don’t believe that version of Garcia can get a victory against Spence or Thurman either. Though I must say that post-fight interview performance by Garcia did get the better of Porter.

Thanks again! Superfly 2 – so excited. – Andrew, Chula Vista, CA

Yeah, bring on SuperFly2. You’re not going to see any trash talking (beyond a few good-natured barbs from Carlos Caudras) or pre- or post-bout posturing between Sor Rungvisai and Estrada or Cuadras and Arroyo or Nietes and Reveco, but they’re going to bring it during the fights.

Regarding Garcia not instilling fear in any of the other welterweights, I would hope that they’d be willing to fight him even if blasted Rios out of the ring in the opening round. Apart from Spence and Porter (and even Shawn seems reluctant to utter Spence’s name), the PBC welterweights seem way too cautious. (They would probably say they’re just being “businessmen”… as they waste their prime years.)   

I felt embarrassed for Porter and his father during their silly post-fight crashing stunt. I’m not against post-fight antics and tirades when it’s natural human impulse and it involves the guys who just finished fighting. But jumping into the ring, interrupting an interview in progress and behaving like a pro-wrestling heel… that’s not who the Porters are. They’re smart, civil, dignified people. They shouldn’t have to lower themselves to that s__t in order to attract attention and get the fights that they deserve. I wish Porter had a real promoter.

Ray Beltran-Paulus Moses put on a hell of show. Agreed. I think it was the most competitive and entertaining fight that was televised over the weekend.

I thought Beltran was the fighter with more skill and pop to his punches but as the fight went on and Beltran tired, Moses’ supreme shape came into play and his consistent work-rate seemed to even the fight out. I agree. And the 39-year-old Namibian’s straight punches did damage. Beltran’s face looked like a bloody old catcher’s mitt by the end of the fight. I want to see Moses back on TV against other top lightweights.

Both guys showed such toughness and some granite chins that gave us 12 good action packed rounds. I believe the judges got the decision right and Beltran squeaked out the victory for a well earned world title. I didn’t do my own scorecard (it was one of those fun Friday fights that I just wanted to watch and enjoy) but I thought Burt Clements and Don Trella’s 117-111 tallies were too wide in favor of Beltran (who I’m obviously happy for).

Groves-Eubank was ugly. I didn’t think it was that bad.

There were moments of entertaining boxing and the atmosphere was off the charts but there was just no fluidity in that ring. You know, if you’re REALLY into fluidity you should check out some of the Olympic figure skating that’s still going on.

All that being said, of course Groves deserves credit for clearly outboxing Eubank Jr and making him miss all night while landing the cleaner more accurate punches. That’s the Sweet Science, baby! Bald-headed gingers from London can practice it too!

There was just an obvious difference in class between the two fighters and I’d have to admit that I probably won’t be clamoring to see Eubank back in the ring anytime soon after yesterday’s performance. I’d be into Eubank vs. David Benavidez or Caleb Truax or Gilberto Ramirez or James DeGale or either Dirrell brother or David Lemieux.

Ortiz-Alexander I believe delivered, especially considering the amount of recent inactivity plus (let’s be honest) both guys being well past their prime. I wasn’t really into this fight, but I was impressed with Alexander’s speed, reflexes, timing and accuracy. And I was impressed with Ortiz’s willingness to press Alexander (and his body work) during most of the fight.

There was some good back and forth action and Ortiz fought through a pretty bad swollen eye, but Alexander seemed to be the guy with more weapons and I think he clearly won that fight. So did I.

I don’t want to see a rematch, I think Alexander deserves to move forward and Ortiz needs to fight the loser of Showtime’s main event. Yes, maybe I’m sick and twisted for it, but I’d still be pumped for and Ortiz-Rios showdown! You’re a sick puppy. I’m a blood-thirsty ghoul and even I’d be squeamish about that matchup. But it will probably happen. I’ll pray for both lugheads. Maybe Alexander can fight Lamont Peterson next. (It’s fun playing matchmaker, isn’t it?)

Garcia-Rios. Garcia was clearly the younger fresher fighter with much more pop behind his punches and Rios is clearly shop worn (not that he was much quicker or more heavy handed before). Agree 100%.

However, Rios was able to push Danny and because he was at times successfully pressuring Danny, it managed to incite some crazy Angel Garcia rants in the corner between rounds which everyone watching at my house seemed to really enjoy. I enjoyed it.

What a vicious one punch knockdown! Bayless was right to stop the fight after that flush right hand. Indeed. Bayless gave Rios the opportunity to prove that he was on solid footing and the battle-worn slugger clearly was not. The knockdown was spectacular but I did not enjoy watching Rios go down like that.

 

ALEXANDER VS. GARCIA

Doug –

How would Alexander fare against Garcia? – Kevin Key, Duluth, MN

I think Alexander’s speed, activity and movement would give Garcia a lot of trouble early on (and I’m sure Kevin Cunningham would give him a good game plan to follow), but I think Swift would gradually acclimate to Devon’s style and begin to time and land powerful flush counter shots that enable him to take over the bout. I think Garcia would hurt Alexander at some point in the late rounds and win a decision.

 

SLOPPY BUT NOT BORING

Hi Doug,

I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Some quick thoughts and questions:

Groves-Eubank was intense but incredibly sloppy certainly not an example of the sweet science. What are your thoughts?

Garcia-Rios, I thought they each followed the game plan they needed to. However, Rios does not have power at welterweight and looked slow. Garcia though he has had a nice career I think if he lets Rio stalk him like that God help him if he fights Shawn Porter. I also think he still gets beat by Pac. What were your impressions of Garcia especially given he was fighting someone who is not close to top ten.

Alexander-Ortiz I watched two rounds and turned back on the Olympics.

My conclusion from Saturday – it’s great to have that amount of boxing on non-ppv but not exactly a stellar day of skills. All the best. – Aaron in Miami

I thought Groves, Alexander, Garcia and David Benavidez all exhibited solid-to-world-class boxing skills.

Groves-Eubank was intense but incredibly sloppy certainly not an example of the sweet science. What are your thoughts? I didn’t think it sucked.

Garcia-Rios, I thought they each followed the game plan they needed to. However, Rios does not have power at welterweight and looked slow. Like he was trying to fight under water.

Garcia though he has had a nice career I think if he lets Rio stalk him like that God help him if he fights Shawn Porter. I’m sure Angel Garcia is aware of this, which is why we won’t see that fight.

I also think he still gets beat by Pac. I’m not so sure about that. At this stage of Manny’s career, I think Garcia can clip him.

What were your impressions of Garcia especially given he was fighting someone who is not close to top ten. I think his legs, reflexes, speed and timing are there. This was really just a very high-profile (and high-paid) tune-up. But he’s obviously got flaws. Rios had moments against Garcia, just as Robert Guerrero did. He’s not a world-beater at 147 pounds, but he is in the mix.

Alexander-Ortiz I watched two rounds and turned back on the Olympics. I wish I would have done that.

 

 

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

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