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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Valdez-Quigg, Garcia-Lipinets, Canelo Alvarez)

Mikey Williams/Top Rank
12
Mar

VALDEZ VS. QUIGG: STUBHUB DÉJÀ VU

Hi Doug. It’s been a while.

Protect yourself at all times. That’s the cardinal rule Óscar Valdez and Scott Quigg could not care less about!

While watching the fight I felt a deja-vu. It was Orlando Salido-Francisco Vargas all over again. We do have a strong fight of the year candidate already. What a damn good fight this was. It’s not common a boxing match is so grueling you need to concentrate to remember you are not committing a sin by watching it. That’s what I feel when I see two guys shortening their lives – or their primes – the way Valdéz and Quigg did on Saturday.

We already knew the Brit was a tough nut to crack. Although I saw Oscarito winning by 4 rounds, in my humble opinion the best shots were thrown by Quigg. It really is a shame the guy came in over weight. On fight night, it seemed they were fighting at different weight classes. I actually told a friend of mine, who is very close to Óscar, that they should considered canceling the fight. I kept remembering what happened to Chico Corrales in the Castillo rematch, who took the fight despite Castillo blowing the weight and received a beating. However, I think that, unless the contract really kills you – ala Chávez Jr vs Canelo – if you miss the weight, being overweight like Quigg is not a condition fighters are REALLY scared of.

Considering that, it’s amazing what Óscar achieved. The little guy has a pair of balls made of steel and the heart of a lion. When I saw him lying on the canvas in Tucson, I suspected he might not have a good chin. Now I’m not doubtful anymore. I’m sure his ability to take a punch is just freaking fine. He ate a number of shots straight from hell. But what makes me feel proud of the guy is fighting with a broken jaw. I know it’s been done before, but to me, it’s really special when a boxer abandons himself to the point of risking his life in order to win a fight. That’s what Valdéz did and that’s something to be respected and admired.

He rightfully won the fight based on his volume punching and accuracy. Not only his heart and power is just fine. It was evident the guy trains like the world class athlete he is. Actually, both guys’ conditioning was supreme. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to watch a 12-round show like the one we all enjoyed.

I’ve said it before and I say it now: let’s appreciate the Mexican while his prime lasts. The guy is MUST-see TV. This is the type of fighter whose prime will not last much unless he starts paying attention to defense. – Carlos, from Hermosillo, México

I agree with all of your points, Carlos. You’re preaching to a member of the Savage Science Society. I knew Valdez-Quigg would deliver, but due to the adversity that Valdez had to box and fight through, it exceeded my expectations and lived up to StubHub Center lore. It was a scrap worthy of the outdoor venue.

Photo by Mikey Williams-TOP RANK

Valdez is as valiant as prize fighters come but his last three bouts (totaling 36 hard rounds – with eight particularly grueling rounds with Quigg due to the condition of his jaw) have likely taken a toll. He’s 27 and at his peak, but I’m not sure how much longer his prime will last. I wouldn’t be shocked if he began to show clear signs of physical erosion before he turns 30. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, provided Valdez knows when to hang up the gloves. It’s usually healthier to have an abbreviated pro boxing career and Valdez seems to want to make the most of his. I really hope his jaw heals 100%. He’s an entertaining fighter and all class outside of the ring. He’s good for the featherweight division and the sport.

While watching the fight I felt a deja-vu. It was Orlando Salido-Francisco Vargas all over again. Valdez-Quigg didn’t quite have the sustained action of Vargas-Salido but it was definitely StubHub worthy. And for the record, I thought it was closer than the official scorecards. I agreed with Bernardo Osuna’s tally of 116-112.

We do have a strong fight of the year candidate already. We’re not yet three months into 2018 but this the probably the fourth fight of the year candidate, according to hardcore fans like yourself. I think there are many more to come.

Graphic by @Shane_Fury

It’s not common a boxing match is so grueling you need to concentrate to remember you are not committing a sin by watching it. Agreed. As good as the action was, it became a bit difficult to watch once it was clear that Valdez was fighting with a broken jaw (and kudos to the always observant Osuna for recognizing it by the middle of the bout) and after Quigg’s nose was rearranged to resemble one of those aliens from Avatar.

That’s what I feel when I see two guys shortening their lives – or their primes – the way Valdéz and Quigg did on Saturday. Let’s hope it’s the latter, Carlos. And if they’re shortening their athletic primes as you and I believe, let’s hope that they get the big fights they deserve as soon as possible. For Valdez, that means all-Mexican Southern California showdowns with Leo Santa Cruz and/or Abner Mares. For Quigg, that’s a rematch with Carl Frampton and an IBF title shot at the Lee Selby-Josh Warrington winner (provided he can make 126 pounds and follow the U.S. sanctioning organization’s second-day weigh-in regulation).

We already knew the Brit was a tough nut to crack. I witnessed him fight more than half a fight with broken jaw in Manchester, just like Valdez did on Saturday.

Although I saw Oscarito winning by 4 rounds, in my humble opinion the best shots were thrown by Quigg. The Englishman found a home for those right crosses, didn’t he? I thought Quigg also worked the body well, but Valdez outworked him with his stiff jabs, outmaneuvered him for much of the fight, and also landed his share of powerful hooks, crosses and lefts to the body.

It really is a shame the guy came in over weight. I know there’s a legion of jaded boxing fans and writers that are convinced Quigg did it on purpose, but he’s never done anything like that before and seems to be a decent human being so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m not saying what he did was OK, and I think he was wrong for refusing the same-day weigh-in, but I don’t think he purposely missed weight to gain an edge. (And all the cynical f__kers out there can kiss my half-breed ass if that opinion pisses them off.)

On fight night, it seemed they were fighting at different weight classes. That’s because they were.

 

MIKEY IS NO JOKE

I know I’m late but Mike Garcia is NO JOKE. I never appreciated his skill level as much as I did in this fight. I know some people will say this guy was tailor-made for him but I can’t say that. I agree this guy was coming to take Mikey’s head off and Garcia took some excellent shots. But most importantly his skill level, the way he was on point 3 minutes a round and looking to counter with deadly precision at any moment, was a thing of beauty.

I look forward to watching Mikey fight, however I don’t see anyone at 135 who can compete with him. Thank you. – Jason C. Brown

I think Garcia would be favored to beat anyone at lightweight, including Vasyl Lomachneko if the 2017 Fighter of the Year earns a 135-pound title this year. However, despite what Garcia says on social media and during post-fight interviews, here’s the facts: he’s had ONE fight at lightweight, against Dejan Zlaticanin more than a year ago. Garcia has been offered lightweight title unification bouts against Jorge Linares and Robert Easter Jr., and he decided to, ahem, “go in another direction.”

He says he was chasing “history” by going after a fourth title in a fourth weight class, but he may have gotten more than he expected from Lipinets, who let him know that winning a major belt at junior welterweight wasn’t going to be as easy as it was at 126, 130 and 135 pounds. No disrespect to Garcia’s past opponents, but let’s keep it real. D-Zlat is a decent fighter, but the first world titleholder from Montenegro wasn’t the second coming of Sugar Shane Mosley or Jose Luis Castillo.

Photo / @ShotimeBoxing

Having said that, I must also state that Mikey is one HELL of a fighter. And Lipinets is a card carrying badass, because he put it on Garcia. That was not an easy fight for the pound-for-pound rated Southern Californian. But, as you noted, even when countering off the back foot, Garcia is dangerous. He never loses his focus and his opponents can’t make any mistakes without paying dearly for them.

In terms of skill, technique, ring generalship and competitive spirit, Mikey is about as good as it gets. The only two active fighters I’d rate ahead of him in those categories are Lomachenko and Terence Crawford. However, despite being a four-division beltholder, his resume reads a bit thin in comparison to his fellow pound-for-pound players. I hope he drops back down to lightweight and takes on Easter and the winner of Linares-Lomachenko (if that fight actually happens in May).

 

WOW

Hey Dougie,

Last week I wrote in and said Valdez-Quigg had FOTY potential and, needless to say they didn’t disappoint!

This bout had so many shifts in momentum, beginnings with Scott Quigg failing to make weight. Walking into the ring as a featherweight with a 7-pound weight advantage seems unfair and I don’t know if it was me, but Quigg seemed to walk through some hard shots that normally puts an opponent on the floor. Oscar having a broken jaw shows he is one tough dude, I hope he tightens up his defense, he seems to bring his hands back too low and invites s counter. Luckily for him, he pounded Scott’s body early and I think that was a big difference in the fight.

If I had my choice I would like to see Valdez-Frampton next.

Vences-DeLeon was a solid bout and I hope we can see these two again. I hadn’t heard of either of them. Are they both legit prospects that you expect to contend?

Mikey Garcia did what he was supposed to in a weight class that I felt is too big for him. His lightweight opponents get stopped by those same shots. Bring on Linares or Loma!

Canelo was one of my favorites until this PED violation. There is no way a professional athlete accidentally eats tainted beef after numerous athletes tested positive from reportedly eating the same Mexican beef. I respectfully disagree with your comments that he deserves a due process before you make up your mind. I do agree that everybody deserves due process, however you know as well as I do that a cash cow like Canelo doesn’t get treated like any other boxer in the sport. The sanctioning bodies in boxing rarely follow the rules or do right for anyone but themselves. That’s why, unfortunately, I believe Canelo walks from this completely unscathed, other than his reputation. Perhaps that’s enough of a penalty?

Thank you making Mondays and Fridays better days! Sincerely. – Rahn

You are most welcome, Rahn.

Regarding Canelo, it’s entirely your right as a fan to jump off his bandwagon and consider him to be a dirty cheater for the rest of his career (or until the day he dies if you happen to outlive him), if it makes you feel better. And you’re more than welcome to disagree with me. You might be right and I might be wrong. But I think even experienced millionaire pros make stupid mistakes. I see it all the time in this sport. Canelo and his team should have known better than to eat certain meats in Mexico, just like Team GGG should have protested Adalaide Byrd before she got the opportunity to ruin the first fight with Canelo, and just like Top Rank should have known better than to reserve an outdoor venue for a major show in the month of March. You may think I’m naïve to give Canelo the benefit of the doubt while his investigation plays out but, A) EVERYONE deserves fair treatment during a judicial process, and B) I think it’s naïve to assume that he moves on from this scandal unscathed. Everything he ever does in boxing from now on will be viewed through a PED prism. Whenever he flexes at a weigh-in, fans will say he’s juiced. Whenever he scores a knockout, fans will say he’s juiced. If he beats GGG on May 5 there will be a HUGE segment of the boxing world that will refuse to give him any credit for it. He literally can’t win from now on.

Walking into the ring as a featherweight with a 7-pound weight advantage seems unfair and I don’t know if it was me, but Quigg seemed to walk through some hard shots that normally puts an opponent on the floor. The extra weight probably did help Quigg withstand Valdez’s best shots, but then again, Valdez isn’t exactly Prince Naseem Hamed when it comes to featherweight punching power, and Quigg, who often rehydrated close to 140 pounds even when he was still fighting at 122 pounds, has always shown solid whiskers.

If I had my choice I would like to see Valdez-Frampton next. I would be into that matchup.

Vences-DeLeon was a solid bout and I hope we can see these two again. Me too. I envision both guys one day taking on Golden Boy’s top 130-pound talent, such as WBA beltholder Alberto Machado, hot prospects Ryan Garcia and Lamont Roach Jr. and fringe contenders Carlos Morales and Charles Huerta.

I hadn’t heard of either of them. You gotta pay closer attention to the game, brotha. The new blood is where it’s at.

Are they both legit prospects that you expect to contend? Yes indeed.

Mikey Garcia did what he was supposed to in a weight class that I felt is too big for him. Agreed, but I have to admit that Lipinets was much better than I thought he was.

His lightweight opponents get stopped by those same shots. True.

Bring on Linares or Loma! Yes, bring it on. However, if Linares-Loma doesn’t get made for May 12 and Garcia is offered Linares once again and, for whatever reason, he against decides to “go in another direction,” I’m going to give up on this matchup. I’m tired of this version of the never-ending story. I’m going to just bang the drums for Garcia to fight a quality PBC and/or Showtime fighter, such as Regis Prograis or Easter Jr.

 

TWO GREAT FIGHTS, TWO CENTS ON CANELO

Hey Doug, hope you enjoyed the fights Saturday, I know I did.

Valdez vs Quigg was the fight I was most anticipating, and it delivered the action we expected. I actually placed a bet on Quigg as he was a big underdog in the odds department, and I figured Valdez would give him the fight he wanted. In some ways he did, battling toe to toe, but Valdez’s blistering hand speed and mobility proved to be a little too much. I thought both fighters performed great though, almost every round was close and Quigg showed a lot of tenacity, as well as some old school defensive techniques (reminded me a little of the Old Mongoose with the bobbing, cross arms, and shoulder roll.) Both men also showed heart, Valdez taking a bit of punishment on the ropes and getting wobbled a few times, and Quigg fighting through a nasty nose break.

Garcia vs Lipnets also turned out to be quite a cracking fight. I think Lipnets really stepped up his game in this fight and looked noticeably more focused and determined. It also looked like he broke Garcia’s nose early with a power jab, which I’m sure gave him more confidence and impacted Garcia’s vision. Mikey did a good job of keeping a poker face though and he delivered another classic performance.

I think if I ran a boxing gym, I’d tell all the young guys just starting out that if they were going to watch and try to emulate the technique of one fighter today, it should be Mikey. He’s just so classic and textbook without seeming at all rote or wooden. I also like that he’s letting his hands go a little more these days. I guess he doesn’t have much choice at 140, he’s fighting bigger guys now and has to make up for the power deficiency with greater volume. I’m looking forward to his next fight, wouldn’t mind seeing him get it on with Robert Easter jr at lightweight.

Last thing: I feel that over the years Canelo has gotten a lot more hate then is fair or warranted, and although I’ve never been a huge fan of his, I’ve always enjoyed watching him fight. That being said, I think this Clenbuterol incident is a real disgrace. I just don’t understand why he would eat meat in Mexico when he and his team knew they were “rolling the Clenbuterol dice” every time he ate some. When Vargas tested positive two years ago I gave him the benefit of the doubt because I myself wasn’t aware of the issue of contaminated meat in Mexico. But at this point, it’s just common knowledge and, what’s more, Canelo more than any other boxer can afford to train wherever he wants and eat whatever he needs to eat. It just stretches credibility to me that Canelo’s so dedicated to his craft and his training, but then he’d just flippantly eat high risk food that would jeopardize everything.

I know it’s plausible that this is simply it–he took a dumb risk/wasn’t fully informed–but I think it’s more likely that he was simply cheating and got caught. Why would he risk his legacy and do this? The same could be asked of a lot of past cheaters (Lance Armstrong comes to mind.) I think it’s because legacy simply means winning to them, and they are just sure they can beat the system and get away with it. I don’t know how these guys think though, god knows I’m no elite athlete. Anyways, that’s just my two cents. – Jack

Your two cents seems to be in line with a lot of other fans and members of the boxing media, Jack. But as someone who has visited several of Canelo’s camps in recent years, and has watched him train going back to 2011, I can tell you that he’s never had a huge team around him that included conditioning or nutritional specialists that would be thinking about everything he eats and drinks. His “crew” consists of Eddy and Chepo Reynoso, the other fighters Eddy currently trains (and, in the past, the former titleholders that Don Chepo once managed), and a very nice guy from Golden Boy named Raul. That’s pretty much it, man. I know that’s hard to believe for the modern fan because most multi-millionaire sports stars of this era employ giant teams and entourages (that include sports medicine experts and legal reps like Mr. Armstrong – who is FAR more sophisticated and ambitious than Canelo and the Reynosos – had under his thumb), but it’s the truth. However, even though Team Canelo is a pop-and-son operation, it doesn’t excuse their ignorance in this matter. GGG is correct when he says they should have known better. And now they are paying the consequences for not being more careful.

I just don’t understand why he would eat meat in Mexico when he and his team knew they were “rolling the Clenbuterol dice” every time he ate some. Maybe Canelo wasn’t thinking about clenbuterol when he was eating at his mother’s house or with other relatives or old friends.  

When Vargas tested positive two years ago I gave him the benefit of the doubt because I myself wasn’t aware of the issue of contaminated meat in Mexico. But at this point, it’s just common knowledge and, what’s more, Canelo more than any other boxer can afford to train wherever he wants and eat whatever he needs to eat. Just because he’s got the money and wherewithal to do all of that doesn’t mean he’s got the awareness or common sense to plan like that.

It just stretches credibility to me that Canelo’s so dedicated to his craft and his training, but then he’d just flippantly eat high risk food that would jeopardize everything. Why do you assume that he “flippantly” went out of his way to eat “high-risk” food? Maybe he just f___ed up. This might be hard for some to understand but a lot of fighters just let go in-between fight camps. They’re dedicated as Spartans in camp but after fight – especially a major showdown against a fellow top fight – they want to relax and enjoy life, which included indulging in the types of foods he normally would avoid when in training.

Valdez vs Quigg was the fight I was most anticipating, and it delivered the action we expected. That was also the fight I wanted most to see and I agree that it did not disappoint.

I actually placed a bet on Quigg as he was a big underdog in the odds department, and I figured Valdez would give him the fight he wanted. I don’t blame you. I thought Quigg would get the better of Valdez but still lose a controversial decision.

In some ways he did, battling toe to toe, but Valdez’s blistering hand speed and mobility proved to be a little too much. I think it came down to Valdez’s jab, lateral movement and left to the body. Quigg couldn’t match Valdez’s jab, or apply hard ring-cutting pressure, and the body shots kept him honest.

I thought both fighters performed great though, almost every round was close and Quigg showed a lot of tenacity, as well as some old school defensive techniques (reminded me a little of the Old Mongoose with the bobbing, cross arms, and shoulder roll.) It was an old-school scrap in terms of the commitment both men put forth, but neither exhibited anywhere near the level of craft Moore and top fighters of his era regularly exhibited.

Both men also showed heart, Valdez taking a bit of punishment on the ropes and getting wobbled a few times, and Quigg fighting through a nasty nose break. They earned their pay and the fans and network got their money worth.

Garcia vs Lipnets also turned out to be quite a cracking fight. Yes, it was. I was much better than I expected.

I think Lipnets really stepped up his game in this fight and looked noticeably more focused and determined. He was able to compete with an elite-level boxer-technician-counter-puncher. That ain’t easy.

It also looked like he broke Garcia’s nose early with a power jab, which I’m sure gave him more confidence and impacted Garcia’s vision. Mikey did a good job of keeping a poker face though and he delivered another classic performance. Garcia might be a bit of a head case when it comes to managing his own career, but in the ring he’s a pro’s pro.

 

ALL-ACTION WEEKEND

Hi Doug,

Lots of action this weekend. I will be brief and just hit some high points (or I’ll try).

First of all, Jack Reiss, who I consider one of the better refs in boxing let Ronny Rios take way too much punishment in his bout with Azat Hovhannisyan Friday on ESPN. I was not familiar with Azat but he (and Freddie Roach) had a plan and executed it very well. Rios had no answer for it and I know that he was the hometown guy but that fight should have been stopped a couple of rounds earlier when Rios was taking a beating just standing there. I hope he didn’t suffer too much lasting damage.

I had not seen Regis Prograis before. I saw the prefight highlights and background on him but I knew Julius Indongo and what he had done. The size difference in the prefight faceoff was a little startling. Regis looked down not meeting Indongo eye to eye and (to me) not looking confident. For almost all of the first round Prograis couldn’t get past Indongo’s reach and was taking shots. It didn’t look good. Suddenly, Prograis began to connect and just like that it was over.

I was  impressed and listening to him after the fight…this is a guy I can’t wait to see again. Considering the talent at 140 there are many intriguing options for him.

Mikey Garcia is always a pleasure to watch. The way he controls distance and angles and puts punches together is something to see. He had a good win against a strong opponent in Sergey Lipinets who made him work all the way for the win. Mikey says he wants to go back to 135 and unify and then back to 140 and eventually 147. I realize that there are lots of fights between now and 147 but do you think Mikey can still compete with the best at welterweight? – David, Nashville

Based on what I saw against Lipinets, I seriously doubt that Garcia can compete with the likes of Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford (even though Bud has yet to make his 147-pound debut). I’m thinking that even a raw dude like Jeff Horn would give Mikey trouble with his size, ruggedness, awkwardness and edge in physical strength. The only notable welterweights I can see Garcia beating are the old ones, Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse, and those fights wouldn’t be easy.

I think Garcia is at his best at 135 pounds.

Jack Reiss, who I consider one of the better refs in boxing let Ronny Rios take way too much punishment in his bout with Azat Hovhannisyan Friday on ESPN. I agree. That fight could have been stopped in Round 5. It was an entertaining shootout until Rios was wobbled, but he wasn’t able to recover because Azat would not allow him to.

Azat Hovhannisyan lands a right uppercut to Ronny Rios en route to stopping the former 122-pound title challenger in Round 6 of their ESPN-televised main event on March 9. Photo / Tom Hogan-Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Promotions

I was not familiar with Azat but he (and Freddie Roach) had a plan and executed it very well. Yes, they did. Hovhannisyan is an underrated boxer with good technique, speed and power; plus an awkward style. Roach deserves a lot of credit for devising a good game plan and working the corner very well, but Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Robert Diaz also deserves credit for believing in Azat and making the Armenian’s last six bouts. Diaz’s vision for Hovhannisyan is coming true, “Crazy A” is becoming a legit contender at 122 pounds.

Rios had no answer for it and I know that he was the hometown guy but that fight should have been stopped a couple of rounds earlier when Rios was taking a beating just standing there. I hope he didn’t suffer too much lasting damage. I don’t think he did, physically speaking, but suffering a defeat like that so soon after falling short in a world title shot has to be psychologically devastating. If Rios no longer feels the fire in his belly after this latest setback, I think he should retire.

I had not seen Regis Prograis before. What? Really!? Why don’t you watch ShoBox more often? Regis can box and fight.

For almost all of the first round Prograis couldn’t get past Indongo’s reach and was taking shots. Hmm… that’s not how I viewed the opening round. I thought Prograis was taking his time as he stalked and gathered Indongo’s measure, and I thought he looked good doing so. His form reminded me of old-time fighters from the 1930s and ‘40s. He knows how to protect himself as he closes in on an opponent and he doesn’t waste punches or pity pat.

It didn’t look good. Suddenly, Prograis began to connect and just like that it was over. I thought he set up his power shots to Indongo’s head beautifully. I was surprised that he took the Namibian out so early in the bout, but not shocked.

I was impressed and listening to him after the fight… this is a guy I can’t wait to see again. I don’t think you’re alone with that thought.

Considering the talent at 140 there are many intriguing options for him. Mikey Garcia, Kiryl Relikh, the winners of Jose Ramirez-Amir Imam and Terry  Flanagan-Mo Hoooker, plus up-and-coming badasses like Josh Taylor, Jack Catterall, Ivan Baranchyk and Alex Saucedo… yeah, I think there are many quality matchups out there for Prograis.

 

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

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