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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Broner-Vargas, Khan-Lo Greco, Frampton-Donaire, Tete-Narvaez)

Photo by Amanda Westcott / Showtime
20
Apr

SATURDAY’S FIGHTS

Hey Doug, there seems to be a number of notable fights scattered across the globe tomorrow, I’d like to just get into a few of them:

Khan vs Lo Greco: this should be a good little confidence booster for Khan after getting slept by Canelo and then having two years off to recover and rust. The Canelo KO was so scary, I remember saying to my friends at the bar where we watched it that he should never get in the ring again if he manages to make a full recovery. Well, here we are. Khan is a much braver man than I, although it could be argued that there’s a fine line between such bravery and delusion. Don’t get me wrong, I expect him to style on Lo Greco, even if we only get 70% of the Khan that fought Canelo. However, if Lo Greco is a stepping stone to a fight with a serious welterweight or jr. middleweight, I think we’ll likely see Khan KO’d one more time, and it could be very nasty.

Davis vs Cuellar: this is a pretty intriguing fight. Davis is heavily favored by the bookies but I’ve seen Cuellar fight twice and he’s no slouch. Davis looked like a star in the making against Pedraza and Walsh but his last performance gave me a bit of pause–it seems like he may be succumbing to some of the distractions that come with fame and money in your early twenties. If he comes in under prepared, I think Cuellar might give him a real wake up call.



Broner vs Vargas: this fight is also quite interesting, partly because we’ve only seen Broner lose to Maidana, Porter, and Garcia, and most people don’t rate Jessie Vargas quite as highly as those three. That being said, I think Vargas is right in his prime right now, and feel quite confident saying he’s better then Paulie and Granados were when they fought Broner. That’s another interesting facet to this fight: despite them both being 28, Broner seems like an old fighter where as Vargas is at the peak of his powers. He lost competitive decisions to two great fighters in Bradley and Pac, crushed Sadam Ali, and most recently dominated his latest tune-up opponent. Meanwhile Broner is coming off a very close fight with Granados, and then a painful and embarrassing thumping from Garcia. I think at least part of Broner’s struggles as of late can be attributed to slightly diminished reflexes. He’s never really liked leading and has thus had to wait for openings to counter to get his offence going. I think part of the problem is that as his opponents have gotten better they’ve been giving him less openings, but also the openings that do present themselves are passing him by a split second before he can react. And you just can’t win a 12-round fight against a good boxer throwing less than 400 punches. For all these reasons, I think Vargas is going to win this fight, despite the short notice. It’ll probably be an 8-4 type of win, rather than the surgical shutout beat-down Garcia put on him last outing, but I expect it to be quite a clear win for Jessie Vargas.

Lastly, I know you’ve been tired of this topic for awhile now so I’ll keep it brief. I enjoyed GGG and Sanchez’s little promo jab at Canelo that came out recently. Frankly, it feels even more warranted now in light of Canelo not showing up for his hearing in person, and not attempting to put together any kind of evidence or witnesses to make any sort of defense. On top of that, he had the nerve to accuse GGG of being “scared” despite he, Canelo, being the one to pull out of the fight. (And being walked down in the first fight too.) GGG has every right to be as angry and fed up as he is. – Jack E.

GGG’s anger and Canelo’s arrogance is going to turn their rematch – if it happens – into a bona-fide grudge match that polarizes hardcore fans, and thus, a far more successful pay-per-view event than their first go-around. Two million PPV buys would not surprise me. Hate and animosity sells.

But for the time being, Golovkin can finally focus on May 5 and an opponent that Twitter Fanagers will probably bitch and moan about right up until fight night. Not that any of that will matter to GGG’s Southern California fans. StubHub Center will likely be sold out and Golovkin-Martirosyan will probably produce a record gate. And, my guess is that HBO ratings will be strong.

Regarding Canelo’s no-show at the April 18 NAC hearing, he was probably informed of the verdict in advance and figured “Why bother?” Regarding his evidence and witnesses, all of that had been submitted by his legal team during the course of the NAC’s investigation.

Amir Khan throws a glass of Water at Phil Lo Greco at a Matchroom Boxing press conference in Liverpool, announcing their fight at the Echo Arena, on April 21 2018.
Photo credit: Mark Robinson

Khan vs Lo Greco: this should be a good little confidence booster for Khan after getting slept by Canelo and then having two years off to recover and rust. I think inactivity is the biggest factor in this matchup. How long will it take Khan to shake off nearly two years worth of ring rust? And will LoGreco, who has also been inactive in recent years (only one bout in 2016 and 2017), allow Khan to get warmed up? I expect Khan to outbox LoGreco en route to a clear but competitive decision. I won’t be shocked if LoGreco has some strong moments and manages to buzz or wobble Khan. His only losses are to an elite talent (Spence), a rugged top-five welterweight veteran (Porter) and a dangerous fringe contender (Ellegele). Is Khan still an elite talent? Can we consider him top five at any weight? Is he even still dangerous? Those are the questions LoGreco is supposed to help answer.

However, if Lo Greco is a stepping stone to a fight with a serious welterweight or jr. middleweight, I think we’ll likely see Khan KO’d one more time, and it could be very nasty. Maybe. Maybe not. I can see Khan – whose busy speed-demon style is often kryptonite for boxers – outpoint Sadam Ali (provided the WBO titleholder defends against Liam Smith on May 12) and the current semi-retired version of Keith Thurman, especially if he gels well with new trainer Joe Goossen.

Davis vs Cuellar: this is a pretty intriguing fight. I agree. You have an impetuous, young boxer-puncher vs. a battle-tested pressure fighter. That sounds like a good style matchup to me. Cuellar is a hardnosed southpaw. Abner Mares handled him, but Mares is former elite-level veteran who had Cuellar’s old trainer (Robert Garcia) in his corner. Davis doesn’t have Mares’ pro experience or corner expertise. However, the Baltimore native, who has been more active than Cuelalr, had a good camp for this fight and he’s got an excellent amateur background boosting his athletic talent. If “Tank” can stay focused on a good game plan, I think he can outpoint the Argentine. If not, he’s gonna be in a world of s__t.

Broner vs Vargas: this fight is also quite interesting, partly because we’ve only seen Broner lose to Maidana, Porter, and Garcia, and most people don’t rate Jessie Vargas quite as highly as those three. I think Vargas is a more polished boxer than Maidana and Porter, and he’s every bit as proud and brave. Vargas isn’t the pound-for-pound level technician that Garcia is, but he’s taller and rangier than the three-division beltholder.

I think this is a good fight, and I lean toward Vargas for the same reasons you favor the Las Vegas resident. It mostly comes down to activity for me. Broner fights in spurts. That was OK when he was fighting at 130 and 135, but at the heavier weights he’s learned that he has problems with busier fighters that he can’t hurt or bully. If his opponents are stronger and/or harder punchers, he gets beat. And against an elite boxer (Garcia) he simply got outclassed. I think Vargas is an underrated boxer, and he’s got an aggressive style, the foundation of which is a busy jab that sets up a mean right cross (just ask Ali or Bradley about it). Like you, I think Vargas can win a competitive decision.  

 

MAILBAG FODDER

Yo Dougie!

Another amazing week in boxing news! I am sure you will get plenty of questions/comments from those who are okay with the last-minute replacement (Martirosyan) due to the circumstances and those with absolute hate, poison, and vitriol from that cherry picker Golovkin. So, I will move on.

Excellent fights this weekend (it does not get old saying that). Frampton will be too busy for Donaire, who poses for long stretches. Frampton does need to be defensively aware the entire bout though.

Charlo-Centeno. Charlo deserves to be the favorite, but he better not try to sleepwalk through this bout.

Tete-Narvaez. Let’s see what Tete does when his fighter doesn’t go away after the first punch.  I think Narvaez might be ready to who the young dog how it is done.

MM: Danny Jacobs (vs GGG) vs young Glen Johnson (Bhop), Tito vs Clenelo at 160

Enjoy your weekend. – D in Bama

I gotta go with Jacobs by competitive but clear decision and Trinidad by late KO in a very competitive and entertaining fight.

Excellent fights this weekend (it does not get old saying that). No, it never does. Shame on me for allowing Canelo/Golovkin/drama-obsessed fans on Twitter distract me from anticipating Saturday’s many quality matchups during the week.

Frampton will be too busy for Donaire, who poses for long stretches. Frampton does need to be defensively aware the entire bout though. Agreed. Despite his age, wear and tear, and the fact that he started at flyweight, Donaire can still strike like lighting with his left hand. Donaire does pose periodically and it will be up to Frampton to use his legs and timing to get in, score with combos and get out – until he can wear down the veteran (and maybe a future hall of famer). I favor Frampy, but the version that fought Horacio Garcia shows up tomorrow, he’s f__ked.

Centeno and Charlo pose and preen at the final presser for their middleweight fight. Photo / Janer Bigio-Mayweather Promotions

Charlo-Centeno. Charlo deserves to be the favorite, but he better not try to sleepwalk through this bout. Agree 100%. You snooze, you lose versus Centeno, the soft-spoken, affable and deceptively explosive thin man. However, as fiery as Charlo can be outside the ring (and on social media – none of which I’m complaining about, mind you; I think he and his twin brother should have their own podcast), he’s THAT focused inside of it. I think he’ll take care of business and keep building momentum toward a showdown with either GGG or Jacobs.

Tete-Narvaez. Let’s see what Tete does when his fighter doesn’t go away after the first punch. Tete boxes his narrow ass off when he doesn’t check his opponent’s chin early.

I think Narvaez might be ready to show the young dog how it is done. Tete is 30. I wouldn’t call him a “young dog.” But he’s definitely a lot fresher than the 42-year-old Argentine veteran. As battle-tested and ring savvy as Narvaez is, I think there’s too much wear and tear on him and the South African is all wrong for him in terms of style and stature. I like Tete big in this matchup.

 

CANELO’S NOT BEING TESTED?

Hi Doug,

From all the news I am reading, I am getting an impression that Canelo will not be tested during his suspension, at least, until the fight is announced. Is it so?

I was hoping to see guaranteed clean Canelo in September.

Also, do you give Vanes any chance to beat GGG? He is a decent fighter, durable and technically sound, and he can punch. Thanks for your great mail bags! – Dmitry

I think Vanes can give Golovkin some trouble with his speed and lateral movement but given his inactivity and lack of experience against world-class middleweights, it’s hard to view the May 5 bout as anything more than a tune-up for GGG or a gross mismatch. But keep in mind that Martirosyan’s only losses are competitive decisions to Erislandy Lara, Demetrious Andrade and Jermell Charlo — three 154-pound standouts that GGG’s legion of detractors claim have “the stuff” to beat the unified middleweight titleholder.

From all the news I am reading, I am getting an impression that Canelo will not be tested during his suspension, at least, until the fight is announced. Is it so? No, according to the NAC’s settlement with Canelo, he will have to submit three scheduled tests in the 21 days leading into his next fight (if it takes place in Nevada). And if his next fight is the rematch with Golovkin, he will have to undergo VADA testing as well.

 

THE RETURN OF THE KING

Hi Dougie,

Hope you and the family are well.

The return of King Khan on Sat in the UK.

What do you reckon?

On paper it’s a no brainer, but after two years out I’m hoping it goes enough rounds to tell us a few things:

1)      Does Khan still have it?

2)      Is he still really that fast? Some of the combinations against Canelo and Alexzander were just a blur.

3)      How has the change of trainer affected things?

Le Greco looks like he’ll bring it and has certainly livened up the promotion. From what I’ve seen of him, Khan should edge him on all fronts. What chance do you give him?

Where does this put Khan in the Welterweight mix? Well the first comparison is Spence Vs Le Greco, Khan as accommodating Le Greco in terms of weight and given him a full training camp. If he can look good against him, we have a yard stick to compare too.

Is this being followed in the US?

Looking ahead, where should Khan go? Surly the money is a stadium showdown with Brook in the UK. That’s still a big fight over here. However as it most likely will be held at a catch weight, and as both fighters are from different weight divisions it doesn’t help either get closer to a world title in their respective weight classes.

If he decides to climb the Welterweight ladder instead, and Brook the Light Middleweight ladder, do you think that makes a Brook flight less likely?

Other fights this weekend.

Really looking forward to the Frampton Vs Donaire. It’s a shame it will clash with the Khan fight, but will be catching up straight after. I know Donaire has had up’s and downs, but I see this as a hard fight for both. I think Frampton will pull away in later rounds and get a points win.

Gonna be a long night! We also got Broner Vs Vargas, Charlo Vs Centeno and Davis Vs Cuellar in the early hours.

What are your thoughts on these?

Do you really think Floyd will put his boy in with Lomachenko if he gets though Sat night?

Keep up the good work and enjoy the busy weekend. – Tabraze, London, UK

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tabraze, as always.

I’ll start with The King’s return.

What do you reckon? I reckon LoGreco is a solid comeback opponent for a 13-year veteran who has been away for nearly two years and was knocked out cold in his last bout.

On paper it’s a no brainer, but after two years out I’m hoping it goes enough rounds to tell us a few things:

1)      Does Khan still have it? We really won’t know until he gets hits squarely upon his jaw – IF he gets nailed flush, that is.

2)      Is he still really that fast? Some of the combinations against Canelo and Alexander were just a blur. Bruh, them fast hands are real. Khan was gifted with that special brand of quickness that even fellow speed merchants (from Paulie Malignaggi to Zab Judah to Devon Alexander) are in awe of.

3)      How has the change of trainer affected things?

Le Greco looks like he’ll bring it and has certainly livened up the promotion. From what I’ve seen of him, Khan should edge him on all fronts. What chance do you give him? I give him a shot, a slight one, but I don’t think an upset is out of the realm of possibility given the circumstances. If you recall, most fans and boxing pundits were calling for Khan to retire after was cold-cocked by Canelo.

Where does this put Khan in the Welterweight mix? It puts him right back in it if he looks good. Khan is an established name in both the U.S. and the U.K., so promoters and networks love him, and he’s vulnerable, so the titleholders are less concerned about rolling the dice against him.

Is this being followed in the US? Not really. Over here everyone is in a frenzy over Canelo’s suspension and Golovkin facing Martirosyan (and there’s a fair amount of discontent among fans and boxing insiders aimed at the decisions that have been made).

Looking ahead, where should Khan go? Wherever the most money is, homie.

Surly the money is a stadium showdown with Brook in the UK. That’s still a big fight over here. You’re probably right about that.

However as it most likely will be held at a catch weight, and as both fighters are from different weight divisions it doesn’t help either get closer to a world title in their respective weight classes. True, and Brook still looks dangerous. I think fighting over 147 pounds was a good move for the Special One.

If he decides to climb the Welterweight ladder instead, and Brook the Light Middleweight ladder, do you think that makes a Brook fight less likely? I think the Brook fight will always be there for Khan. If I were advising Khan (and if I were certain that he was still sharp at 147 pounds), I’d have him go after the Pacquiao-Matthysse winner. That’s a big fight and it would net him a very good purse. If he won, he’d hold the WBA’s “regular” belt, which could help him land a showdown with Keith Thurman, who seems like a part-time boxer these days. If Khan were to beat Thurman (which is possible given One Time’s recent stick-and-move form), he’d hold both the WBC and WBA welterweight titles and a LOT of leverage in the boxing world.

Really looking forward to the Frampton Vs Donaire. Me too. Props to Showtime for streaming it on their Facebook page.

I know Donaire has had up’s and downs, but I see this as a hard fight for both. I think Frampton will pull away in later rounds and get a points win. That sounds about right.

Gonna be a long night! We also got Broner Vs Vargas, Charlo Vs Centeno and Davis Vs Cuellar in the early hours. Yes indeed. Once again, props to Showtime for putting together another excellent triple header. The U.S. subscription cable network has had an excellent 2018 so far.

What are your thoughts on these? I think all three are quality matchups. I’m most looking forward to Broner-Vargas because I know Broner’s had a good camp and his back is against the wall, and I also expect Vargas to be extremely motivated and determined. However, I think the fight of the night (in the U.S.) will be Davis-Cuellar.

Do you really think Floyd will put his boy in with Lomachenko if he gets though Sat night? Only if the young man continues to piss him off.

 

TETE VS. NARVAEZ

Hi Doug,

Saturday night we will get to see the most avoided man in the bantamweight division, if not in the whole of boxing, in action and I can’t wait. Our man, Zolani “Last Born” Tete, has become must watch television.

He has actively sought big fights, but Ryan Burnett won’t go near him and even Naoya Inoue has opted to challenge Jamie McDonnell for the little regarded WBA “regular” title rather than make his bantamweight debut against Tete. I guess it didn’t help that Tete responded to the duck and diving by defending his title with a new speed record for world title fights.

So now he is getting his mandatory out of the way and on paper, at least, Omar Narvaez looks like a very serious challenge.

The consensus over here seems to be that at 38 years old, Narvaez has little left and that Tete will do an Inoue on him. Since the Tete loss, Narvaez has won five straight and looking at those performances, even keeping in mind that he wasn’t fighting world beaters, I think he is far from shot. He still moves very well and seems to have his legs under him. Not in his prime, sure, but neither is he over the hill. He only lost to the absolute elite fighters and if you have a combined 27 successful world title defenses, you must know how to fight. The champion would be well advised not to take his mandatory challenger lightly. Do you think Narvaez is a walk in the park?

Tete, unlike Narvaez, has the ability to take his opponents out with one shot should the opportunity present itself. I don’t think that Tete needs to be wary of his power or am I wrong? Also, Narvaez can be timed jumping in, especially with uppercuts and we have seen what Tete can do with that punch. Just ask Paul Butler.

Narvaez has only one way to win: fight his usual style, stay away, make Tete chase him and take over in the second half with a higher work rate. Tete just has to do what he usually does and stay patient.

How the fight turns out depends more on Narvaez than Tete. He can fight to survive like he did against Donaire, stink the house out and go the distance or he can try to win. Against Donaire he had a world title in a lower division to fall back on but here there is no plan B for his career.

I suspect that Narvaez underestimated the inexperienced Inoue which made him more aggressive but I don’t think he will make that mistake against Tete. I think he will be cautious and do some running in the first few rounds but at some point he will have to take a chance and then I expect Tete to do his thing.

How do you see things panning out?

I am going for Zolani Tete to end things suddenly after an uneventful couple of rounds, somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds.

Hopefully then somebody with a name or a belt will man up to face him. Do you think that Inoue will fight him after McDonnell? I think that could be big in the UK or Japan. Or does he have to wait for Srisaket Sor Runvisai, Estrada or Caudras to move up?

Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

Thanks for sharing your enthusiastic thoughts on South Africa’s top talent at the moment. I’m glad Tete is staying active in the U.K. as he raises his profile worldwide. The globe-trotting two-division titleholder has certainly paid his dues.

I definitely think Inoue will eventually face Tete. I don’t know if he’ll do so immediately after the McDonnell fight (and I don’t think it’s a good idea to overlook the British veteran), but I believe it will happen before The Monster outgrows the 118-pound division. 

I don’t see Srisaket Sor Runvisai, Estrada or Caudras moving up any time soon. There’s too much action to be had at 115 pounds.

Our man, Zolani “Last Born” Tete, has become must watch television. Not here in the U.S., unfortunately. It would take an Inoue showdown to get him on one of our networks.

He has actively sought big fights, but Ryan Burnett won’t go near him and even Naoya Inoue has opted to challenge Jamie McDonnell for the little regarded WBA “regular” title rather than make his bantamweight debut against Tete. I wouldn’t say Burnett and Inoue are ducking Tete just yet. Are you sure that promotional/network politics (Burnett being with Eddie Hearn and Tete being with Frank Warren) doesn’t have more to do with Burnett not challenging the South African than any sort of fear on the Englishman’s part? And as for Inoue, he’s JUST stepped up from 115. You can’t tell me that McDonnell is a “soft touch” for one’s bantamweight debut.

So now he is getting his mandatory out of the way and on paper, at least, Omar Narvaez looks like a very serious challenge. It does? Hasn’t Narvaez seen better days, Droeks?

The consensus over here seems to be that at 38 years old, Narvaez has little left and that Tete will do an Inoue on him. The consensus ain’t wrong. The Argentine is 42 (with 52 pro bouts under his belt, not to mention a long amateur career).

He still moves very well and seems to have his legs under him. Not in his prime, sure, but neither is he over the hill. He only lost to the absolute elite fighters and if you have a combined 27 successful world title defenses, you must know how to fight. No doubt, but at some point being “battle tested” becomes being “battle worn.”

The champion would be well advised not to take his mandatory challenger lightly. Do you think Narvaez is a walk in the park? No, but I don’t give the older man much of a shot. I think the best Narvaez can do against Tete is stink out the joint the way he did with Donaire.

 

SIX MONTHS

Mr. Brett Okamoto made the first four pages of the NAC adjudication agreement public via Twitter.

Apparently, Canelo Alvarez only has to announce his next fight in Las Vegas three weeks in advance of the contest and submit negative blood and urine tests 21, 15, and 3 days prior to the fight to comply with the agreement. This is less rigorous testing than Alvarez already undertakes with VADA. There is no increased scrutiny and nothing to ensure that Canelo doesn’t immediately start another clenbuterol cycle tomorrow.

This has no teeth and no repercussions other than the (all-too-brief) suspension. It’s ludicrous and looks worse than no suspension at all would have. What do you think are the odds of any future opponents getting early testing in their contracts with Canelo? What do you believe is the likelihood that Canelo takes a page out of Mayweather’s book and begins to delay the announcement of his fights to almost immediately prior so that he can dictate when his drug testing starts?

I’m looking forward to reading your opinion, I have a great deal of respect for your views. Peace. – John

I had three immediate thoughts after the NAC dropped the mandatory one-year PED suspension to six months for Canelo: 1) the investigators of the case conveyed a sincere belief to the commissioners that the Mexican star did indeed accidentally ingest clenbuterol via tainted beef (from Lance Pugmire’s article on the April 18 hearing verdict: “Commissioner Morgan was told by an investigator in the Alvarez case that his discipline was connected to his first offense and did not find that Alvarez took the banned substance intentionally.”), 2) they took into consideration that this was the first time, after 52 professional bouts, that he failed a drug test, and 3) they still want to be in the Canelo Alvarez business (like pretty much everyone else in boxing).

This is less rigorous testing than Alvarez already undertakes with VADA. True, but if his next bout is the rematch with Golovkin, there will be VADA testing.

There is no increased scrutiny and nothing to ensure that Canelo doesn’t immediately start another clenbuterol cycle tomorrow. No increased scrutiny? At least half of the boxing world thinks he’s a cheater and the rest of the world knows that he failed a PED test prior to the original rematch date with GGG. Canelo’s got more suspect eyes on him than any other boxer in the history of the sport. The boxing world is not going to treat him like Alexander Povetkin or Luis Ortiz and shrug off a second positive test for any banned substance. It’s two strikes and you’re out for Canelo. If he tests positive for ANYTHING that’s banned by WADA between now and his next fight, the pressure for the NAC to ban him for at least two years (if not indefinitely) will be unheard of.

This has no teeth and no repercussions other than the (all-too-brief) suspension. Well, that’s one way to look at it. But the truth of the matter is that his reputation took a monster hit. He’s got more detractors now than ever.

It’s ludicrous and looks worse than no suspension at all would have. Maybe, but he, Golden Boy, HBO, Team GGG, the MGM Grand and a lot of other entities would have made a lot more money this year had there been no suspension.

What do you think are the odds of any future opponents getting early testing in their contracts with Canelo? I’m sure some will ask for longer testing periods (more than eight weeks out from the fight date) but most of his opponents will just be happy with getting a shot at his scalp. Apart from GGG, Billy Joe Saunders and maybe Daniel Jacobs, I don’t know how many middleweights carry enough clout/negotiating leverage to demand VADA testing (much less extended testing periods).

What do you believe is the likelihood that Canelo takes a page out of Mayweather’s book and begins to delay the announcement of his fights to almost immediately prior so that he can dictate when his drug testing starts? I think that would be a huge red flag, and I don’t expect most of the boxing industry to ignore it the way they did with Mayweather. I don’t think that’s at all likely.

 

 

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

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