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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Linares-Lomachenko, more Canelo-clenbuterol debate)

16
Mar

LINARES-LOMACHENKO

Hey Doug,

This year is turning out to be even better than last year! With GGG-Canelo 2, Joshua-Parker, Usyk-Gassiev and now Linares-Loma already scheduled for the first half of the year, we’re already getting a year to remember. We have plenty of contenders for fight of the year already and the first quarter of the year hasn’t even ended! Awesome!

Now, Linares-Loma is going to be a very interesting fight. I’ve never been the biggest Jorge Linares fan but appreciate his talent and the danger he brings to the table against a guy like Vasyl Lomachenko. I think his fine boxing should trouble and make Loma think before going in to start his combinations. Linares’ jab and textbook boxing plus the added power from a heavier guy will keep Vasyl on his toes and won’t be as comfortable as he was against the small Guillermo Rigondeaux.



Do I think he can pull it off? Absolutely, but it’s going to take a lot more than we think for him to do it. My early prediction is that size and power plus skills and boxing ability will be enough for Linares to pull off the upset. What do you think? – Juan Valverde

As good as Linares is – and the 32-year-old veteran is battle tested and immensely talented – if the Venezuelan were to beat Lomachenko it would send shockwaves through the sport. That’s how high the boxing world is on the wizardly southpaw from Ukraine.

And as much as I love Linares, I favor THE RING/BWAA’s 2017 Fighter of the Year to outpoint the globe-trotting three-division beltholder. However, I agree with you that it’s a very interesting matchup (and I think it’s safer for him than his other “Dream Fight” against Mikey Garcia). When you factor Linares’ hand speed, lateral movement and slight reach advantage with the fact that Lomachenko is coming up in weight and does not possess one-punch KO power (even at 126 pounds), it’s not hard to envision a potentially frustrating night for the pound-for-pound rated boxer. Linares is going to show Lomachenko moves and ring generalship that recent opponents – such as Rocky Martinez, Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa and Miguel Marriaga – simply did not possess, and he’s got the size and activity that Rigondeaux lacked.

Of course, Linares, who appears to be slowing down in recent fight, has struggled with southpaws in the past and Lomachenko is by far the most skilled and talented boxer he’s faced, so both have their work cut out for them on May 12.

Regardless of what happens, boxing fans should be pleased (like you) that the sport is delivering this fight. It’s a co-promotion between rival companies, it’s on the largest TV/media platform available to boxing, it’s being scheduled so as not to counter-program another televised boxing show, and most importantly, it’s a quality matchup. I’m not a big proponent of division hopping when a dominant fighter has not cleaned out his current weight class, but when the opponent in the higher (or lower) division is a world-class veteran like Linares, I’m all for it. And it’s great that Linares finally gets to test his skill and ability against a pound-for-pound rated boxer.

Next to Usyk-Gassiev and Canelo-Golovkin, Linares-Lomachenko is the scheduled fight I want to see the most.   

 

2018 IS KILLING IT

Dear Mr Fischer,

This year may prove to be better than last. We already have, by any reasonable reckoning, three or four fight of the year contenders (my pick is still Gassiev-Dorticos, but I won’t argue with Sor Rungvisai-Estrada or Valdez-Quigg). We also have a ridiculous amount of exceptional matchups on the way.

I want to write to thank and extol Vasyl Lomachenko and Jorge Linares, Top Rank and Golden Boy, ESPN and HBO. Linares-Lomachenko is an exceptional matchup and a gift to the fans and the sport. That it’s on ESPN is just gravy.

I also want to write to talk about the building excitement in the light heavyweight division. I’m more than willing to wait for 2019 to watch Bivol take on Kovalev, but the fact that either or both of them could face a serious challenge in the meanwhile is awesome. I’d love to watch Marcus Browne fight Kovalev, but I think he’d be better served taking his mandatory position against Beterbiev. That’s also a fight that I think is more compelling and competitive (similar to Bivol-Barrera, except without a clear favorite in my eyes). I think Beterbiev has shown to be better than Browne, but he’s also been inactive, and the man from Staten Island is on the rise. Do you have a preferred match for Browne between those two? I don’t think fans would lose with either.

Also, do you think we’ll get to see Diaz against Russell Jr? That matchup would be pretty great as well, even with Russell’s inactivity. The fact that the WBC mandated it certainly makes it more likely, but PBC fighters have been known to wriggle out of enticing mandatory challenges in the past.

Finally, the elephant in the room (and the enormous pile of its s***) is the fight I think is now the most likely to go off without a hitch: Alvarez-Golovkin. With the legal issues surrounding additional testing, I simply can’t envision a scenario where the NAC actually orders Canelo to submit a hair sample or tests the stereoisomers in his B samples. Either of those could prove his innocence, but they’re also inexact sciences with no precedent in the sport.

The real rub of it is that Golden Boy and Canelo could volunteer for the tests through VADA (or any independent VADA-certified lab) regardless of what the commission determines and orders, just to clear his name. But they won’t, because the NAC will only order tests that Canelo is certain to pass (provided he doesn’t take more clenbuterol or another PED), like additional urine analyses.

I’m upset about the realities of the sport, but still excited for the fight. I now have serious doubts that Canelo has fought without some type of anabolic help for a while now, and Golovkin beat him up for eight or nine rounds of their first fight. I’ll still shell out on Cinco de Mayo, and I’ll pull hard for GGG and a cleaner sport. I’m just exceedingly glad that so many other fights will be on before and after to keep me from smelling all that elephant crap.

I hope you and yours are well and I send all the best. Keep up the good work, and don’t let all the hate (especially with regards to Canelo’s inability to keep his body clear of PEDs) get you down. Very respectfully. – John

Thanks for sharing your many thoughts, John.

I’m definitely on a high from everything the sport has delivered in recent weeks and I’m up for what’s on deck for the next 12 weeks. No amount hate is going to get me down. And Canelo’s positive drug test is his problem, not mine or anyone else’s. I can’t control how fans now perceive him and I have no desire to do so. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, just as I am entitled to mine. If some fans (or members of the media) don’t like that I’m not accusing Canelo foul play (just yet), that’s their problem and they are more than welcome to stay away from my columns and social media.

Finally, the elephant in the room (and the enormous pile of its s***) is the fight I think is now the most likely to go off without a hitch: Alvarez-Golovkin. Hey, if GGG is OK with going through with the fight than so am I.

With the legal issues surrounding additional testing, I simply can’t envision a scenario where the NAC actually orders Canelo to submit a hair sample or tests the stereoisomers in his B samples. I can’t either. They don’t have a history of taking a hard stance with superstar boxers and they generally lean toward the more connected standouts in the sport. However, with the eyes of the world on them for this particular situation, I would hope that they want to conduct the most professional and fair investigation possible.

Either of those could prove his innocence, but they’re also inexact sciences with no precedent in the sport. Huh? If the second part of you sentence is true, how can the first part be?

I want to write to thank and extol Vasyl Lomachenko and Jorge Linares, Top Rank and Golden Boy, ESPN and HBO. Linares-Lomachenko is an exceptional matchup and a gift to the fans and the sport. Wow, look at you! A gracious, satiated boxing fan. I didn’t know you people existed anymore.

That it’s on ESPN is just gravy. I agree.

I also want to write to talk about the building excitement in the light heavyweight division. I’m more than willing to wait for 2019 to watch Bivol take on Kovalev, but the fact that either or both of them could face a serious challenge in the meanwhile is awesome. We could see both Russian standouts in quality fights in June (and if we do, you can thank Main Events and HBO).

I’d love to watch Marcus Browne fight Kovalev, but I think he’d be better served taking his mandatory position against Beterbiev. I’m not so sure about that. Kovalev is the more experienced, ring savvy and the heavier handed of the two, but Beterbiev is closer to his prime, more preserved, more physical, and potentially more durable than Krusher. Beterbiev could make for a long, grinding night for Browne. There is no weak link in the 175-pound division. If Browne wants a belt, he’s going to have to beat a badass.

Do you have a preferred match for Browne between those two? I don’t think fans would lose with either. I agree, but I think Kovalev-Browne will make for a more entertaining and dramatic fight (I can envision both hitting the canvas) so I’d rather see that matchup.

Also, do you think we’ll get to see Diaz against Russell Jr? Yes, I do. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

That matchup would be pretty great as well, even with Russell’s inactivity. Agreed. He’s got a level of athleticism and technique that Jo Jo hasn’t seen yet, but the Southern Californian is very talented and he’s been developed well. I think he’s ready to challenge for a major world title.

The fact that the WBC mandated it certainly makes it more likely, but PBC fighters have been known to wriggle out of enticing mandatory challenges in the pastTrue. I know Russell has other 126-pound options within the PBC/Showtime universe, but I’d be very disappointed ini him if he did not fulfill this mandatory.

 

IS GGG NERVOUS?

Hi Dougie,

As always, thanks for the Monday and Friday mailbags. I look forward to them, and they never disappoint.

I’ve watched some of Triple G’s interviews since Canelo tested positive for clenbuterol, and to me it seems like GGG really does not want the fight anymore. Do you get this impression? I’d love to see GGG KO Canelo, but honestly he seems a bit scared to me. I assume I am probably wrong.

My other question is how do you think some of the smaller heavyweight champs of yesteryear who could probably have made Cruiserweight…Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, Smokin Joe Frazier…would have done against the best Cruisers in history like Holyfield, Qawi, Haye and Usyk?

Thanks again for all your excellent work! – Karl

I think the best cruiserweights of all time would have competed well against the smaller (185-210 pounds) heavyweight champs in the hall of fame. However, with the exception of Evander Holyfield (who proved to be a great heavyweight), I don’t see any of the cruiserweight standouts beating the heavyweight legends that you mentioned.

I’ve watched some of Triple G’s interviews since Canelo tested positive for clenbuterol, and to me it seems like GGG really does not want the fight anymore. Do you get this impression? Not at all. Golovkin just doesn’t want to talk about this subject. He hates the media and public’s fixation on controversy and he can’t stand the non-stop promotion that is part of these big events. He’s in good spirits when he’s just training up at The Summit gym in Big Bear Lake, California, and he’s motivated to kick ass in the rematch, but when he has to sit down and do interview after interview about the same subject, he gets irritated (and bored). And it’s not just the clenbuterol subject. Golovkin gets sick of talking about Canelo in general. He wants to focus on himself and his camp. It irks him when members of the media and fans ask for his thoughts on every aspect of Canelo’s life. He just doesn’t give a s__t.

I’d love to see GGG KO Canelo, but honestly he seems a bit scared to me. You are projecting your own feelings onto Golovkin. Don’t do that. That s__t pisses him off, too. (Don’t let that smile and broken-English charm fool you, Karl. GGG is as fearless and hardcore as the middleweight greats of the past, and he can be a surly MF if you get on his nerves.)

I assume I am probably wrong. You’re wrong, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t have to fight his ass off on May 5.

 

CANELO’S INVESTIGATION

Hi Dougie,

Can you give us an update on the Canelo investigation? That is if there is one actually taking place. Usually when an athlete tests positive for steroids the burden of proof is on the athlete–guilty until proven innocent. Boxing is so corrupt so who knows how it will work in this situation.

I know you have already exonerated Canelo and said you think he is innocent. However, if you can be objective for a moment what evidence would you want from Canelo to prove it was tainted meat? Hoping to hear from you. – Aaron in Miami

First of all, Aaron, I don’t appreciate your tone. You’re coming off as a major d__k and I have no problem letting you know that. Second, I have not “exonerated” Canelo or said that I think he’s innocent. I think his explanation for the banned substance has some merit and I believe that it should be investigated. And I will withhold judgement until we have more details on his case. Right now, we have very little, and it’s clear that Team Canelo won’t go public with their side of the story until the NAC has completed their investigation and made a ruling on whether the fight should continue or if some kind of fine or punishment is in order.

However, if you can be objective for a moment what evidence would you want from Canelo to prove it was tainted meat? Aren’t I usually objective, Aaron? Wow, such a nasty tone from you. I really had no idea you were such little pr__k. Anyway, it’s real simple – and just as sports nutrition guru and anti-doping expert Victor Conte has said in about 50 different interviews for various news organizations including THE RING – the evidence I would want from Canelo would be anything that supports his claim of eating tainted meat, so that includes WHERE he may have ingested it, proof that the meat from that location (or multiple establishments) contains clenbuterol, proof that he ate there, etc.

 

CANELO’S SMALL TEAM?

What does the number of people involved in Canelo’s camp have to do with using a steroid? Tell me there’s a connection.

By the way his trainers are experienced in the meat business. What you are saying is the 5 or 6 people around Saul Alverez are the reason he ate tainted beef, because they weren’t informed, aren’t paying attention to the “old” news that beef in Mexico is juiced. Maybe everyone just forgot. So it’s ok, give the kid a break.

What was your response to Ortiz’s Losaritin excuse or, one of my favorites of all time, Eric “El Terrible” Morales?

Come on Doug innocent until proven guilty is noble, but he tested dirty.

He’s guilty of using. How it got there doesn’t change the fact. His motive to use is his lack of stamina. This excuse would not prevent a parolee from being sent back to the joint. What you’re saying is ignorance is a legit defense. No, it don’t work that way. There are rules and, consequences.

Wilder pulled out of his fight with Povetkin, then sued him and won. Povetkin was suspended too. But he’s a filthy Russian, no disrespect intended, but that’s ok, and everyone rejoiced over it.

The Nevada commission needs to follow the rules they set or, disband.

If the shoe were on the other foot it is my belief Canelo would cancel the bout, and sue G into oblivion. What would you be writing, and what do you picture Canelo’s crew would say, and do if the tables were turned and G had tested positive?

I am really interested in your honest opinion. – Joseph

I don’t think you are, Joseph. My guess is that you will not listen to or accept anything I say short of “Canelo’s a dirty PED user who has cheated his entire career and Golden Boy Promotions and the Nevada Athletic Commission are in on it!”

I don’t know you but if one were to judge you solely by this email, you’d come off as a narrow-minded extremist. I hope that’s not the case. (But if Twitter has taught me anything, it’s that there are A LOT of opinionated and proudly ill-informed fans prone to overreaction out there.)

What does the number of people involved in Canelo’s camp have to do with using a steroid? Nothing. I brought up the size of Canelo’s team in a previous mailbag because there’s a common assumption that because he’s famous and rich, he’s surrounded by a huge team. And accompanying this assumption is the assumption that included in this huge team are health specialists and nutritional gurus that either monitor and prepare everything that goes in his mouth or are assisting him in cheating and beating the system.

I’d read that assumption numerous places, heard it spoken by fans and even media members for many days, and of course read it in emails to my mailbag column, so – as someone who has seen Canelo in camp and is familiar with this team – I just wanted to let people know that Team Alvarez is as small and tight-knit as Team GGG. It doesn’t mean he gets a pass for ingesting tainted meat or that he’s somehow incapable of cheating. It’s just a fact that I shared because I’d seen and heard so many assumptions to the contrary. I also know that at least half of the fans reading this will choose not to believe it.

By the way his trainers are experienced in the meat business. Yes, I know. And in your view that means Canelo is guilty as sin. Congratulations Sherlock. You cracked the case wide open. Look, just because Chepo Reynoso operated a butcher shop years ago, it doesn’t mean he developed “beef omniscience” or some sort of hyper-awareness that tells him what’s been fed to all the cattle in Mexico and where any tainted meat is sold.  

What you are saying is the 5 or 6 people around Saul Alverez are the reason he ate tainted beef, because they weren’t informed, aren’t paying attention to the “old” news that beef in Mexico is juiced. I’m not saying they weren’t informed. I’m saying they’re not a sophisticated entourage that follows Canelo everywhere he goes and monitors everything he eats and drinks between training camps. It doesn’t excuse Canelo for ingesting clenbuterol, but if he accidentally ate tainted beef, that’s not the same thing as cheating or willingly taking performance-enhancing drugs. That’s my view, anyway. The Nevada Athletic Commission may see things differently depending on the evidence they review.

Maybe everyone just forgot. So it’s ok, give the kid a break. Nobody is saying “Let’s give Canelo a break.” Those who are rational are saying “Let’s see what happens with the NAC investigation and then hear what Canelo has to say about his situation.” If you feel that’s the same thing as letting him off the hook without enforcing the rules, that’s your right as a fan, and you’re not alone in that opinion. If it really bothers you as much as your email makes it seem, my advice to you is to boycott Canelo-Golovkin 2 and all future Golden Boy shows and sporting events that take place in Nevada. (Is that extreme enough for you?)

What was your response to Ortiz’s Losaritin excuse or, one of my favorites of all time, Eric “El Terrible” Morales? I really didn’t give a crap, Joseph. With Ortiz, I was fine with the bout being cancelled (or postponed) and I was OK with the WBC conducting their investigation and making their ruling on his situation. (And if you weren’t so clouded with Canelo hate, you’d be rational enough to do a simple Google search to find what I had to say about Ortiz in previous mailbag columns.) Part of why I was fine with the WBC investigating Ortiz is that I knew he had a reason for failing his VADA test and the reason I knew that was because I looked into the details beyond the immediate reaction of fans and Team Wilder and the initial wave of damning news reports. I listened to both sides of the argument, recognized that both made valid points, and was content to leave it up to one of the governing bodies. Regarding Morales, his case was in 2012, and the main story with his situation had less to do with what was found in his system and more to do with the f__ked up way it was handled by the testing agency and the commission. Morales was a shell of a shell for that rematch with Danny Garcia and the only thing fans emailed me about after the fight was how sad it was to see him get KTFO.

Come on Doug innocent until proven guilty is noble, but he tested dirty. Yes, he did, for a stringent (VADA) test that he volunteered to take and there are protocols and regulations that follow a positive test in his situation. In this case, it involves a commission investigation. That’s what is happening now.  “Innocent until proven guilty” is not just some “noble” concept to me. It’s a basic human right, a pillar of the U.S. constitution, and the foundation of the American criminal justice system.

He’s guilty of using. How it got there doesn’t change the fact. Good grief, you’re an extremist. 

His motive to use is his lack of stamina. Okay, calm down Columbo.

This excuse would not prevent a parolee from being sent back to the joint. What you’re saying is ignorance is a legit defense. No, it don’t work that way. Oh, good God, now you’re Perry f__king Mason!

Anybody old enough to remember Night Court?

There are rules and, consequences. Yes, there are, you wanna-be Dan Fielding, and I suggest you LEARN what those rules and consequences are before you go on your next witch hunt.

Wilder pulled out of his fight with Povetkin, then sued him and won. Yeah, that happened. And if Golovkin wants to do that, he’s free to do so.

Povetkin was suspended too. Yes, and he was eventually taken off that suspension. But every case is unique, and Povetkin’s case isn’t Canelo’s. The Russian was popped twice for banned substances and both times occurred mere days before scheduled WBC-sanctioned bouts.

But he’s a filthy Russian, no disrespect intended, but that’s ok, and everyone rejoiced over it. That’s not true. Some people were suspicious of him, just as you are with Canelo, and that’s their right; but others took a closer look at his case and gave him the benefit of the doubt (more than once), which is their right.

The Nevada commission needs to follow the rules they set or, disband. That’s your answer to what you see as a problem with the commission? Disbandment? Not changing the rules or leadership, but total disbandment? Let’s just toss everything out. Let’s quit. Let’s just say f__k it. You know, Joseph, I’m not a fan of the current NAC, but I’m even less a fan of your brand of extremism.

If the shoe were on the other foot it is my belief Canelo would cancel the bout, and sue G into oblivion. You might be right, you might not be. Nobody is stopping Golovkin from doing that right now.

What would you be writing, and what do you picture Canelo’s crew would say, and do if the tables were turned and G had tested positive? You want me to give you an entire “What If?” scenario? Joseph, you’re f__king kook. You’re an extremist kook. God Bless you. If you think for one second that I wouldn’t give Golovkin the benefit of the doubt and await his due process before passing judgement (if the shoe was on the other foot), then your head is so far up your ass it ain’t ever coming out.

 

RISING SONS AND LIFETIME BANS

Hey Doug,

How’ve you been? It’s been a while since I’ve written in but something caught my eye and I thought I’d ask your opinion. First let me say that I read your Rising Sons article and it was great. Probably my favorite from the May 2018 issue of THE RING magazine. In the last year I’ve become a big fan of Japanese boxing and that article gave me a bunch of info on who to watch.

So I read that Luis Nery was handed a lifetime ban from boxing in Japan due to missing weight in his rematch with Yamanaka. I felt really bad for Yamanaka, a very dignified, long standing champion, who had a really rough go of it in his fights with Nery. After the first fight, the positive PED test for Nery was deeply troubling, and missing weight for the second fight was very unprofessional and honestly pretty embarrassing for Nery. But that being said, even knowing that at the smaller weight classes a few pounds can make a big difference, have you ever heard of someone being given a lifetime ban for missing weight?

I’m not a fan of Nery due to his actions post the first fight, and leading up to the second, but it seems a bit extreme to punish him like this. How much do you think the ban is because of the weight, and how much do think it is because of what he did to Yamanaka? Do you think there’s a chance that this punishment has anything to do with Japanese boxing having some wounded pride after one of their premier champions was wrecked twice under dubious circumstances?

On a more positive note, I’m very excited for the Inoue-McDonnell fight. I’m backing the Monster, but McDonnell is no joke. How do you see that fight going? Inoue’s team has stated that he might go as high as 126. Seeing as he started at 108, do you think he could really get up that high and still be effective?

Best to you and your family. – Graham, Bangkok

Thanks for the kind words, Graham. (Believe me, they are very welcome after dealing with jerk-jobs like Joseph.)

I am also excited about the Jamie McDonnell-Nayoya Inoue fight. That’s a quality matchup and an impressive move considering it will be Inoue’s 118-pound debut. I favor The Monster by unanimous decision in a good fight. I won’t be shocked if he manages to stop McDonnell, who I agree is no joke.

I absolutely believe that we will one day see Inoue fighting (at the world-class level) at featherweight. He walks around at 135 pounds and he’s not one to over-indulge and get fat between fights. It doesn’t matter that he turned pro at junior flyweight and won his first major title at 108 pounds. That was when he was between the ages of 18-21. He’s still growing, and it’s smart of him to move up in weight before he hits the wall from making an unnatural weight.

Have you ever heard of someone being given a lifetime ban for missing weight? No, not that I can recall without comprehensive research. But I think in Nery’s case the Japanese Boxing Commission’s ethics committee factored in the positive PED test that was made public AFTER the young Mexican contender brutalized Yamanaka in the first fight.

I’m not a fan of Nery due to his actions post the first fight, and leading up to the second, but it seems a bit extreme to punish him like this. How much do you think the ban is because of the weight, and how much do think it is because of what he did to Yamanaka? It’s about 50-50. I know that a significant portion of the Japanese public and sports media was against the rematch taking place, so when Nery failed to make weight by so many pounds for the rematch and the fight took place anyway, they were very upset. When Nery demolished poor Yamanaka and then seemed unrepentant during post-fight interviews, they were outraged. So, the JBC reacted to that outrage.

Do you think there’s a chance that this punishment has anything to do with Japanese boxing having some wounded pride after one of their premier champions was wrecked twice under dubious circumstances? Of course. Boxing’s all about pride.

Hiroto Kyoguchi with the IBF 105-pound title. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

I read your Rising Sons article and it was great. Probably my favorite from the May 2018 issue of THE RING magazine. Thank you. That’s a feature that Anson Wainwright and I have wanted to appear in the pages of THE RING for many years. I’m proud that it finally saw print and that it was published when Japan could boast so many young, world-class boxers.

In the last year I’ve become a big fan of Japanese boxing and that article gave me a bunch of info on who to watch. That was its purpose. You already know about Inoue, but keep your eye on Daigo Higa, Kosei Tanaka, Ken Shiro and my personal favorite, Hiroto Kyoguchi. They are all entertaining, as well as potential world-beaters in their respective weight classes.

 

 

 

 

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

 

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