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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Linares-Lomachenko, Mikey Garcia, WBSS, Ali-Shavers)

Lomachenko, Linares, the WBA title and THE RING belt (over the defending champ's shoulder). Photo / Top Rank
11
May

LIGHTWEIGHT IS HOT

Hi Dougie,

Jorge Linares-Vasyl Lomachenko is promising, so much skills and athletics involved. Linares is a tremendous combo of talent and weakness, his chin and skin vulnerabilities in particular. Luckily, Lomachenko is not some terrific puncher and I expect that Linares will bring out the best from the Ukrainian. Loma by clear UD or late TKO in a difficult fight.

On the other side, Mikey Garcia recently gave us more proof that he is brother in soul to Andre Ward: great skills, tendency to waste his own prime and diva persona. “I want to unify 135-pound division… no I want take on the 140-pound division… Errol Spence, I’m coming for you… no, finally, I’ll move back to 135…” Make a choice! Junior welterweight is full of young talents like Prograis, Taylor and Ramirez, so Garcia would be a great addition. If he really chooses 135, he can make some legacy statement.

I think that Garcia and Robert “I don’t care to use my physical advantages to box outside” Easter (who reminds me more of P-Will that Thomas Hearns) will to make a very exciting and competitive fight until Mikey gradually takes over and KOs Easter in brutal fashion.

I hope we get a final confrontation between the two winners of this fights. – Antoine Aubin

Don’t worry so much about the future, Antoine. We’ve got an elite lightweight championship matchup tomorrow night (on a big network platform), and we might get a quality lightweight title unification bout between unbeaten boxers later this year.

If Garcia-Easter happens, I can envision your prediction coming to fruition, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Easter took Mikey the distance.

Let’s just focus on Linares-Lomachenko for now. It’s worthy of our attention and I think it’s been tragically overlooked for several weeks.

Jorge Linares-Vasyl Lomachenko is promising, so much skills and athletics involved. I like the matchup because it brings together two fast, offense-minded boxers with great footwork. Loma is the more offensively creative and defensively adept of the two, but Linares is more natural at lightweight and he has more professional experience. I like that Loma is challenging for his third world title in a third weight class in only his 12th pro fight, and I’m glad that Linares finally has the opportunity to exhibit his skill and ring generalship against a pound-for-pound level boxer.

Linares is a tremendous combo of talent and weakness, his chin and skin vulnerabilities in particular. That combination often produces entertaining or dramatic fights, which makes the Venezuelan a compelling boxer.

Luckily, Lomachenko is not some terrific puncher and I expect that Linares will bring out the best from the Ukrainian. I agree. I don’t know if Loma has the power to drop or seriously hurt Linares, so he’s going to have to outbox or outhustle and/or outmaneuver the defending champ, which won’t be easy because the champ won’t stand in front of him or come straight to him like many of his previous opponents.

Loma by clear UD or late TKO in a difficult fight. I think the fight goes the distance and I think it will be competitive. I’ll go with Loma by close decision.

On the other side, Mikey Garcia recently gave us more proof that he is brother in soul to Andre Ward: great skills, tendency to waste his own prime and diva persona. Perhaps, but at least Garcia’s fights are entertaining. I enjoyed the 12-round scrap with Sergey Lipinets.

“I want to unify 135-pound division… no I want take on the 140-pound division… Errol Spence, I’m coming for you… no, finally, I’ll move back to 135…” Make a choice! I know he’s smart, serious guy but he does come off as a little flaky/wishy-washy.

Junior welterweight is full of young talents like Prograis, Taylor and Ramirez, so Garcia would be a great addition. No doubt, but given how much trouble Lipinets gave him, I think he and his team had second thoughts about sticking around at 140 pounds. He seems to carry more authority on his punches at lightweight.

If he really chooses 135, he can make some legacy statement. Only if he fights the right fights, Antoine. But Easter is a good start.

 

LOMA VS LINARES

Hey Dougie,

Hope all is well. I’m so excited for this weekend no matter the results or how the fight turns out to be, we will see two true elite fighters go at it; and who can complain about that… JK many….

I’ll be there to witness it live will you be there? Hoping to catch you either at Jimmy’s or at the fight…

Going with Loma on this one but my gut tells me it not going to be an easy fight as the previous fights. A note to the boxing world, if Loma loses this weekend, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t the truth. Don’t diminish the guy for taking on a challenge your favorite fighters are probably too afraid to take in their divisions. Can we still give props to him for taking on this challenge and actually risking to see if he he’s that great so we can continue to hopefully getting these fights?

Lastly, also excited for WBSS at 118 pounds. So far, we have 3 champs plus maybe Inoue. Awesome!!!! Hope we get Rey as well. What’s the word on what other division is going to be included?

Whoever is still down on boxing: Go suck it! Boxing is getting close to having more Undisputed Champs than ever. Many are actually trying take over their divisions. And we’re only half way through the year. And there’s many prospects to be excited about. So just chill TFO and let it all play out. – Omar, Paterson, N.J.

You know they’re not going to do that, Omar. You know they’re going to bitch and moan and complain while playing “Fanager” and “Armchair Eddie Futch” and pretending to know everything about the sport. And it’s all good. If that’s what they want to do for several hours a day that’s their business. If they fail to recognize a good matchup or overlook various prospects or underdogs, that’s on them (and maybe it means they aren’t into boxing as much as they claim). And it’s definitely their problem if they feel the need to s__t on boxers that challenge themselves, such as Lomachenko and Linares.

I’m so excited for this weekend no matter the results or how the fight turns out to be, we will see two true elite fighters go at it; and who can complain about that… JK many. Yep, those f__kers are sick and they can’t be helped. But you have the right attitude and I feel the same way about tomorrow’s ESPN-televised main event at Madison Square Garden.

I’ll be there to witness it live will you be there? Yes, I will be there.

Hoping to catch you either at Jimmy’s or at the fight… Don’t be a stranger if you see me, Omar. I’ll probably swing by Jimmy’s a few hours after the fight (I was there last night and had a great time).

Going with Loma on this one but my gut tells me it not going to be an easy fight as the previous fights. I think your gut is correct.

A note to the boxing world, if Loma loses this weekend, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t the truth. Agreed. He can lose to Linares and still be the man at 130 pounds.

Don’t diminish the guy for taking on a challenge your favorite fighters are probably too afraid to take in their divisions. You know they will. And you know that the type of fans that worship risk-averse boxers are the same sad suckers that will rip a fearless fighter for daring to be great. Maybe they’re pissed at the risk-takers for making their faves look like wusses.

Can we still give props to him for taking on this challenge and actually risking to see if he he’s that great so we can continue to hopefully getting these fights? Some (the real fans) can. Many cannot.

Rey Vargas and Ronny Rios in action. Photo / @HBOBoxing

Lastly, also excited for WBSS at 118 pounds. So far, we have 3 champs plus maybe Inoue. Awesome!!!! Hope we get Rey as well. Rey? Are you talking about Rey Vargas? He’s a 122-pound titleholder who (at nearly 6-feet tall) is pushing it at junior featherweight. I can’t imagine the unbeaten Mexican (who defends his WBC belt against tough Azat Hovhannisyan tomorrow night on HBO) boiling that string-bean frame down to 118 pounds. But with Zolani Tete, Ryan Burnett and Emmanuel Rodriguez already signed up, they don’t need Vargas. If the WBSS can get the Inoue-McDonnell winner, plus an American standout like Rau’shee Warren, a veteran like Juan Carlos Payano and a young gun or two like Jason Moloney and Reymart Gaballo, they can put on a tournament that can be every bit as special as they had with the cruiserweights.

What’s the word on what other division is going to be included? Junior welterweight, and THE RING’s No. 1-rated 140 pounder Regis Prograis has already signed up, along with No. 3-rated Kiryl Relikh and unbeaten prospect Ryan Martin. Scottish uber-talent Josh Taylor might be on board if he beats Viktor Postol next month. Read this story.

 

QUESTIONS

Hey Doug,

Quick mythical match up, Doctor Strange vs Mr. Mxyptlk?

Great job with the last two issues. Canelo has not been stripped of the Ring title even though the rules state he must be stripped and you yourself declared Alvarez would be stripped. Also, Oscar claimed canelo would take daily testing last month. Since then he’s not been tested once. Do you have any information on this?

Do you think Andre Ward plans on fighting the winner of the WBSS? – Sean from Washington

I don’t see that happening. The man says he’s retired and that’s a very dangerous matchup for him (regardless who wins it) that won’t likely net him the kind of money he demands to get back in the ring. Tony Bellew is probably the only fighter that can entice Ward out of retirement.

Quick mythical match up, Doctor Strange vs Mr. Mxyptlk? Hmmm… you’re a nerd. It’s all good. I’m nerdier. Double M’s other-dimensional reality warping powers probably trumps the good doctor’s mystical might, but the hunch here is the Strange is smart enough to trick Mister Mxyzptlk into saying his name backwards.

Great job with the last two issues. Thank you.

Canelo has not been stripped of the Ring title even though the rules state he must be stripped and you yourself declared Alvarez would be stripped. I did indeed declare that because that’s what I assumed would happen (or would be allowed to happen as they case may be), but I was wrong.

Also, Oscar claimed Canelo would take daily testing last month. Since then he’s not been tested once. Do you have any information on this? I do not.

 

CONFUSED

Hi Doug,

I pray you and the readers of this mailbag families are doing well. I was shocked to see the Loma vs Linares fight on the cover of Ring magazine. Mikey Garcia vs Loma I could see on the cover but not this fight.

I see people like you and other experts like Breadman are excited about the Loma vs Linares fight and I don’t get it. It kind of reminds me of the enthusiasm people had for the Parker vs Joshua fight that I didn’t share.

Reason being I see a blowout in the making. Loma has beaten 3 fighters Russell, Rigo and Walters who I think are superior to Linares. Granted I’ve only seen 3 fights of Linares, Crolla 2, the young Brit who I though won and the Anthony Demarco fight. What am I missing?

I really respect you and Breadman’s opinion and what performances against what fighters make you think this is a competitive matchup. I would like to know these fights so I can watch them on YouTube because I don’t see anything that makes me think Linares has a chance. You’re the expert and I’m just a fan so I’ll guess we’ll see. I hope I’m wrong and it turns out to be a great fight and I really respect your opinion but I just don’t see it.

The fight that is flying under the radar that I want to see is Jack vs Stevenson. Jack like Jacobs suffered an early career lost that I think is still being held against him but he has rebounded nicely. Stevenson is getting long in the tooth and I’m wondering is this the night that father time catches up with him. This is the fight that intrigues me because I feel it is a very competitive matchup.

God Bless and take care. – Blood and Guts from Philly

I think Stevenson-Jack is an excellent light heavyweight matchup that hopefully gets the attention it deserves next week. Like you, I envision a competitive fight and I think Jack’s strong will and sound fundamentals will overcome Stevenson’s speed and power. However, earlier this evening while talking boxing with a group of boxing aficionados at dinner, a few folks I respect – including Steve Kim – expressed the feeling that Jack was going to get blown out.

Their opinion didn’t shock or bother me at all. It’s boxing. Anything damn thing can happen in that ring. I don’t feel the need to look up a dozen of Jack’s and Stevenson’s fights to analyze their styles and look for flaws. It’s not like I’m betting on the fight. I’m more than content to see what happens on May 19.

I was shocked to see the Loma vs Linares fight on the cover of Ring magazine. Hey! Cut us some slack, homie. The cover to the June 2018 issue of THE RING was supposed to feature a famous redhead from Mexico and hardnosed champ from Kazakhstan but, you know, s__t happens! So, we had less than one week to come up with a new cover (and about 20 pages of content). And we did it! I think Linares-Lomachenko is a quality late substitute.

Mikey Garcia vs Loma I could see on the cover but not this fight. If it ever looks like those two MIGHT fight actually fight each other, there’s a good chance that they’ll wind up on a RING cover together.

I see people like you and other experts like Breadman are excited about the Loma vs Linares fight and I don’t get it. That’s OK. You don’t have to like or understand anything that any so-called expert is into, especially a boxing match. This s__t ain’t that serious, B&G.

It kind of reminds me of the enthusiasm people had for the Parker vs Joshua fight that I didn’t share. Well, you were right not to be enthused about that matchup, but you might not be right about tomorrow’s lightweight championship.

Reason being I see a blowout in the making. I will s__t a brick at ringside if Loma blows out Linares.

Loma has beaten 3 fighters Russell, Rigo and Walters who I think are superior to Linares. First, I disagree that Russell and Walters are “superior” to Linares. Second, those three fighters are at their best at junior featherweight or featherweight; Linares has gradually matured into a full-fledged lightweight over the years. He’s been fighting over 130 pounds for eight years.

Granted I’ve only seen 3 fights of Linares, Crolla 2, the young Brit who I though won and the Anthony Demarco fight. What am I missing? Well, Linares has 47 pro fights, so if I wanted to be a smart ass, I’d tell you that you’re missing 44 bouts.

I really respect you and Breadman’s opinion and what performances against what fighters make you think this is a competitive matchup. I can’t speak for the Breadman, but it’s not a single performance or a handful of fights that causes me to view this as a competitive matchup – it’s Linares’ boxing style, the cumulative  experience of nearly 50 pro bouts over 15 years, and the fact that he’s 32 years old and still close to his athletic prime that keeps me from writing him off. It’s also the fact that I know he’s more motivated and dialed in for this fight than he has been for anyone in several years.  

I would like to know these fights so I can watch them on YouTube because I don’t see anything that makes me think Linares has a chance. And there’s nothing wrong with that opinion. I don’t agree with it, but that doesn’t mean you’re incorrect. We’ll find out tomorrow. You don’t need to watch Linares’ old fights on YouTube unless you really want to. And if you really want to, just go to Jorge’s BoxRec page, randomly pick out a bunch of names and have at it.

You’re the expert and I’m just a fan so I’ll guess we’ll see. Hey man, my guess is as good as yours. If I REALLY knew what the hell was going to happen in that prize ring, I’d be betting on these fights instead of covering them.

 

FIRST FIGHT MEMORY

Hi Doug,

I hope all is well with you.

I was wondering if you remember a watching a fight when you were young that got you into boxing?

I remember watching the Barry McGuigan-Pedroza fight on the telly with my old man in 1985. I was eight and can still recall how exciting it was and how much skill and guts the wee man from Clones showed to beat Panamanian champ.

After that I was hooked.

Love the mailbag, keep up the good work Dougie. Cheers. – Gray, Bristol, U.K.

Thanks for the kind words, Gray.

For me it was Muhammad Ali, but it wasn’t just a fight that got me hooked, it was an interview he did with Howard Cosell that I happened to catch on TV, which captivated me and led me to watching the bout (with my dad when I was a year younger than you were when you watched McGuigan-Pedroza with your father).

The fighter that Ali was joking about with Cosell was Earnie Shavers, and his 1977 fight with the massive-punching contender was the first pro boxing match that I can recall watching (or having any interest in). I knew who Ali was (the reigning heavyweight champ was already in history books at my school due to his political stances and controversial first title reign) but I knew nothing about boxing, let alone Shavers. My dad knew about Shavers and told me that Ali was old and might get knocked out the ponderous but powerful challenger. My dad’s friends shared this opinion, which bothered me but also made me want to see the fight even more, so I made sure to look up the date and network in TV Guide and scheduled the viewing.

I honestly don’t recall much about the fight, but I was nervous and excited during the early rounds (I do remember that I was repeatedly startled by my dad’s loud reaction to every punch that Shaver’s landed). Once Ali made it into the middle rounds, I relaxed a bit and figured he’d take care of business. I can’t recall if I watched it all the way through (15 rounds was a long time for a seven year old.) Anyway, Ali was “my guy” from that point on, and it wasn’t long after the Shavers before I discovered Sugar Ray Leonard, who blew my mind with his prime athleticism and passionate ring persona (and introduced me to the rest of the boxing world). By the time Leonard fought Davey Boy Green in early 1980, he had become my new guy.

 

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

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