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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Linares-Lomachenko, Jaime Munguia, Devin Haney)

Photo by Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos / Golden Boy Promotions
14
May

LOMA-LINARES

Sup Doug,

What did you think of that scintillating affair between two elite, badass 135 lbers? I thought the fight displayed everything boxing should be: Skill, technique, strategy, ferocity, momentum swings, and perpetual drama.

Later brutha. – Regi Woodard

Going into Saturday’s lightweight championship I expected to witness to a competitive showdown between two gifted, offense-minded master boxers with big hearts – and Lomachenko and Linares delivered.

Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

In fact, the fight exceeded my expectations. I had envisioned Linares taking Lomachenko the distance and losing on points in a close fight. I didn’t expect to see Linares to drop Lomachenko in the middle of the fight, or for the defending champ to catch up on the scorecards by Round 9, and I didn’t foresee the naturally smaller man to rally hard for a late-rounds body shot stoppage. Linares-Lomachenko was definitely boxing at its best.

That was a matchup and fight worthy of the legendary venue it took place in, and it produced an electric atmosphere. I was honored to witness the fight live because it ranks up there with the other unforgettable Madison Square Garden nights I’ve experienced going back 18 years (Lewis-Grant, Trinidad-Joppy, Hopkins-Trinidad, Cotto-Judah, Cotto-Mosley and Golovkin-Lemieux).

 

QUICK LINE OF SUPPORT & APPRECIATION

Hi Doug,

Just wanted to write in and say great handling of the whole Canelo issue. Initially I was annoyed when he wasn’t stripped straight away but in reflection I think you did the right thing and your article was spot on. I think it highlights to all of us readers/supporters of the very difficult position you have been in lately.

Hopefully now everyone can see the situation as it is and look forward to the rematch. Besides if he wins the rematch he deserves to be Ring Champion and if he loses, he loses the title anyway.

Quick MM: Froch v Kovalev (you determine weight)

Many thanks. – Steffan, UK

Damn, you just had to be named Steffan.

Regarding THE RING not following its own rules, the rather long-winded intro I penned for last week’s overdue Ratings Update was all I could do given the circumstances and the position that I (and the Editorial Board) have been in for the past month. It has been stressful, but I truly appreciate the supportive words some fans have offered since the announcement, and I especially value the understanding words and support that I received from my colleagues at Friday’s Boxing Writers Assoc. of America awards dinner. It means a lot.

I only hope that we can construct a better PED policy and protocol from this.

I’ll go with Kovalev by close but unanimous decision at 175 pounds.      

 

RING POLICY

Dear Dougie,

I have been following the magazine and your career for 9 years. I am deeply disappointed in you and the magazine. The Ring Title is not valid as lineal championship in the eyes of true fans now. I will cancel my subscription and follow the magazine from social media.

Wish you the best in your career. Best regards. – RB

I’m sorry you feel that way, RB, but I understand your position. Just keep in mind that I’m the editor of THE RING, not the owner of the magazine. I put my heart and soul into this gig but I don’t pay the bills on the publication. With any form of news/entertainment media – from newspapers to magazines to networks – there’s an editorial/artistic side and there’s a business side. In an ideal world there’s a separation of church and state, but I think you’re old enough to know that we don’t live in an ideal world.

Again, I respect your opinion and decision.

 

THE WEEKEND ROCKED

Doug hey,

That was a damned satisfying weekend of boxing. Seems like Linares v Loma was about like what most people expected, with the late rounds TKO. But what a great fight and huge props to Linares even in losing. I’m wondering what a rematch might look like — Lomachenko having sussed it out and going onto win even more convincingly (yes a TKO is already gold standard in “convincing”, but I really thought Linares had a shot at it there) or, Linares having worked out what he needed to do and doing more of it to close the gap. Last thought on Lomachenko for now, everybody seems to be going on about him maxing out the size and weight class; well, he’s bigger than Manny Pacquiao…

And three other really good fights: Rey Vargas is the goods, that was a great tilt and the scorecards didn’t do it justice either, I thought Hovhannisyan was more in there than he got credit for (reminds me of Robert Easter Jr.’s fight with Denis Shafikov in that way). Still, Vargas clearly won a tough brawl, and based on his last three fights I think he’s The Man at 122. With his size and engine he might get far at Featherweight too…  Santa Cruz/Vargas anyone?

Just to prove it was a weekend of wonder Hughie Fury just put himself straight up on into the heavyweight scene in his scrap with Sam Sexton. Hughie was actually throwing some genuinely spiteful, and accurate punches, along with his usual unabated slick movement. He picked up the British title and if he carries on from where he was in round four of that fight I think he’s close to the top five heavyweights (sigh, but, still! It’s good).

And last but not least Munguia. I confess to never really rating Sadam Ali at 154, while knowing next to nothing about Munguia (so I kinda assumed he was picked to lose — so good on Ali for bold matchmaking). Ali seems like a quality guy, and that was a good beating he put on Cotto, but I never could picture him getting far at 154. I think Liam Smith was going to be a tall order for him, though that would be a good fight. Be it as it may, I’ll definitely be looking out for Munguia from here on. The kid is accurate, organized, and aggressive. Who does he fight next?

I look forward to your thoughts on all this, thanks as always. – Alec

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on pretty much all of the world-class action this past weekend, Alec.

Photo by Matt Heasley – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

You assumed Jaime Munguia – THE RING’s 2017 Prospect of the Year – was picked to lose? Come on, man! Haven’t you read or heard Steve Kim raving about the new Tijuana Tornado for the last two weeks? You should have read Anson Wainwright’s New Faces on Munguia from last December, just before the 21-year-old phenom fought Paul Valenzuela Jr. on the Salido-Roman undercard in Las Vegas – a performance (second-round KO) that sold me on the young gun. More than a few insiders viewed Munguia as a more dangerous opponent for Ali (who was valiant in crushing defeat) than Liam Smith.

I have no idea who Munguia fights next (maybe Smith), but I know he’s got his sights set on an eventual showdown with Canelo for Mexican supremacy and you can sign me up for that showdown. I’d love to see him in a unification match against Jarrett Hurd and/or Jermell Charlo, and one day (soon) I think Dominican welterweight prospect Carlos Adames, who looked giant but raw in the co-feature to Lianres-Lomachenko, will grow into the junior middleweight division and make for a fun challenger for Munguia.

Seems like Linares v Loma was about like what most people expected, with the late rounds TKO. But what a great fight and huge props to Linares even in losing. I think it turned out to be a lot more competitive than what most fans expected. (And, hopefully, those who thought Linares would quit or get blown out have gained at least a little bit of respect for the three-division titleholder.)

I’m wondering what a rematch might look like — Lomachenko having sussed it out and going onto win even more convincingly (yes a TKO is already gold standard in “convincing”, but I really thought Linares had a shot at it there) or, Linares having worked out what he needed to do and doing more of it to close the gap. I would favor Lomachenko by decision in another competitive fight, but you never know…

Last thought on Lomachenko for now, everybody seems to be going on about him maxing out the size and weight class; well, he’s bigger than Manny Pacquiao… Yep, but Loma’s older than Pac was when he was fighting at 130 pounds, and he’s isn’t as explosive/powerful as the Filipino icon was.

Rey Vargas is the goods, that was a great tilt and the scorecards didn’t do it justice either, I thought Hovhannisyan was more in there than he got credit for (reminds me of Robert Easter Jr.’s fight with Denis Shafikov in that way). “Crazy A” ain’t no joke. Props to Vargas for getting through 12 rounds with that rough and tumble little hardass.

Photo by Matt Heasley – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Still, Vargas clearly won a tough brawl, and based on his last three fights I think he’s The Man at 122. I agree with you, but I think many fans (and certainly more than a few members of the Ring Ratings Panel) place Isaac Dogboe in that position and would pick the newly crowned Ghanaian beltholder to beat the Mexican stringbean.

With his size and engine he might get far at Featherweight too… Santa Cruz/Vargas anyone? I think Vargas can hang at 126 pounds, but I’d rather see Santa Cruz take on the Russell-Diaz winner or engage in a rubbermatch against Carl Frampton (that is, if the three-division beltholder defeats Abner Mares in their rematch).

Just to prove it was a weekend of wonder, Hughie Fury just put himself straight up on into the heavyweight scene in his scrap with Sam Sexton. Nice to see Hughie win without stinking it out.

He picked up the British title and if he carries on from where he was in round four of that fight I think he’s close to the top five heavyweights. Although I thought he arguably outpointed Joseph Parker, I don’t consider Hughie to be a top-five heavyweight. He might be ready to crack the top 10.

 

BIG DRAMA AT MSG

Dear Mr. Fischer,

Instead of walking away from the sport I was live at the MSG tonight and I have to admit: It’s not only GGG who serves big drama shows. What I have seen from both Lomachenko and Linares was big drama at its best. After round 5, I thought Lomachenko could play around with Linares but couldn’t knock him out. How wrong I was. First the knockdown of Loma and then the KO of Linares. What a drama. But I’m happy it ended with a KO because with those judges today otherwise you never know. – Matthias

The official judges weren’t far off, Matthias. Most of the writers sitting around me on press row had the fight even (85-85) after nine rounds (or five rounds to four for Loma with a 10-8 round going to Linares).

But I agree with you, by Round 5 it looked like Lomachenko, who won Rounds 2-4 on my card, had taken firm control of the fight with his brilliant brand of elusive and offensively creative pressure. Linares had a very stressed out look by the end of the fifth. I was thinking he was going to do a lot of suffering over the second half of the bout. And then in

Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Round 6 Linares landed that beautiful straight right and not only dropped Loma for the first time in the Ukrainian’s pro career but gave himself an instant psychological second wind. Although the next three rounds were close and could have gone to Lomachenko, I scored Rounds 7 and 9 for Linares. The combo he put on Loma in Round 9 was SWEET. And then Loma did what the special fighters do in that situation – he took it to another level. He didn’t start Round 10 like an elite boxer, he came out of his corner like a card carrying badass on a mission. 

 

LUCKMANCHENKO’S GIFT KO

Hey Dougie,

Is there ANY validity to the skepticism surrounding the conclusion of Loma vs Linares?

Follow up: is a rematch needed? – M-Gonz Jr.

I think the matchup was competitive and special enough to be worthy of a rematch, but not right away.

As for the knockout, it happened rather abruptly (and many of us ringside missed the body shot that did in poor Jorge) but once we all saw the slow-mo replays there was no doubt that it was a legit stoppage.

 

HIGH-PACED MASTER BOXING MATCHUPS

Hey Doug,

Man what a fight! Loma vs Linares was an amazing display of skill by both men. Each made adjustments and I think both were operating at their best. There were so many fake ass fans talking out their ass about how this wasn’t a good match up and how Linares is garbage and will get blown out (I could not believe I had arguments with people on this site and others about why it would be … boxing fans are pathetically cynical a lot of the time).

Instead he showed his skill level and will level to be right up there with the best in the sport. This fight exceeded the high expectations I had for it, and both men are elevated in my mind. I had Linares up by a point at the stoppage, and felt he had the momentum going into the championship rounds, but man, Loma switched on another gear in the 10th and took him out right when he needed too. These are the nights that make me love boxing man, that was beautiful stuff.

What are some other examples of high paced brilliant technical matches between two masters you can think of from times past? Leonard vs Hearns comes to mind.

Where do you think Loma should go from here? I think with his aggressive attack style he’s going to have significantly more trouble at 135 than 130. He did just beat the cream of the crop in that division of course, and while I think it was mainly Linares’ skill that kept Loma at bay for much of the match, he was also clearly troubled by the size. Not sure he’d survive against the heavy hitting master boxer Mikey Garcia, but I’d sure as hell like to see him try.

Great fight! Great night! – Joel in MTL

Agree 100%, Joel.

Where should Loma go from here? I think he should try to unify the 135-pound division. I think Bob Arum is planning to deliver WBO beltholder Ray Beltran to his Ukrainian star on Aug. 25 (tentatively scheduled for The Forum in my hood of Inglewood), maybe a month after the Garcia-Easter unification bout is supposed to take place (which may also be in the L.A. area). Those unification bouts set the table for an undisputed championship showdown between the winners – either in December of this year or by spring of 2019. That’s the course I’d like to see.

Loma vs Linares was an amazing display of skill by both men. I agree. Both exhibited footwork and technique.

Each made adjustments and I think both were operating at their best. There were so many fake ass fans talking out their ass about how this wasn’t a good match up and how Linares is garbage and will get blown out. I know. I honestly feel a little sorry for these guys.

(I could not believe I had arguments with people on this site and others about why it would be … boxing fans are pathetically cynical a lot of the time). Yes indeed.

Instead he showed his skill level and will level to be right up there with the best in the sport. I agree. Anyone who considers Lomachenko to be the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the sport must view Linares as an elite boxer.

This fight exceeded the high expectations I had for it, and both men are elevated in my mind. Same.

I had Linares up by a point at the stoppage, and felt he had the momentum going into the championship rounds, but man, Loma switched on another gear in the 10th and took him out right when he needed too. Linares is a stud but Loma is the man.

These are the nights that make me love boxing man, that was beautiful stuff. There was a great vibe shared by all that were at the Garden and it lasted all night.

What are some other examples of high paced brilliant technical matches between two masters you can think of from times past? Leonard vs Hearns comes to mind. Yeah, the first showdown between those two hall of famers is a classic example of what you’re talking about. So are the first two bouts between James Toney and Mike McCallum. One such “speed chess” match between brilliant technical boxers that I had the honor of covering is the Marco Antonio Barrera-Juan Manuel Marquez 130-pound title bout in 2007. You MUST check that one out if you haven’t seen it.

 

DANCING IN THE SHADOWS

Whassup Fischer,

Long time reader, first time writer.

This weekend we’ve seen two great examples of mind blowing foot work. First up, I thought Devin Haney looked quite spectacular for an untested 19 year old. His lateral movement and grasp of the half spaces that make the difference between good and great were impressive. Do you see him as a future great?

He executed every action he wanted to, rare at this stage of a fighter’s career. Then we have Loma v Linares. I had the pleasure of a very enjoyable viewpoint at the Mecca of Boxing and I can honestly say I’ve never seen movement like Hi-Tech’s. He slips and shuffles, weaves and pivots all at once. How meaningful was his father’s decision to make him train as a dancer early in his development? I’ve never seen footwork like it! Keep up the good work! – Dan, an Englishman in New York

Thanks for finally sharing your thoughts with the mailbag column, Dan.

I definitely believe that Lomachenko’s early dancing instruction/mastery serves as the foundation for his uncanny balance/agility/footwork/movement in the ring. (I made this same comment in an article that ran in THE RING in 2016 – Loma’s first cover.)

I thought Devin Haney looked quite spectacular for an untested 19 year old. Haney’s the real deal, one of best prospects in boxing. For a teenager to dominate an experienced pro like Mason Menard (now 33-2) in only his 19th bout proves how special he is. I think I met him in Las Vegas when he was still an amateur. He was with the Porters (Shawn and Ken) and they told me to keep an eye on him. They were right.

The way Haney controls distance and tempo/pace is impressive. He’s a ring general who can stick and move or power pot shot on the fly. I will keep a much closer eye on him (as most of us will) going forward.

Do you see him as a future great? No, it’s way too early to believe anything like that, but he’s clearly got the ability and potential to be a top contender.

 

LOMACHENKO IS THE REAL DEAL

Hi Doug,

What a fight between Linares and Lomachenko! I was very impressed with both men. There were plenty of close rounds and I thought it was still up for grabs going into the championship rounds. After the first 6 rounds I thought Lomachenko had taken control if the fight and then boom! A nice punch knocks Loma down and everything changes. I thought Vasily was legitimately hurt by that punch and hid it pretty well. His whole approach changed as he knew Linares could hurt him. As soon as he got back together he slowly started to go back to his gameplan until he finally came and hit Jorge with that perfect body punch that nobody saw coming.

That’s what happens when you fight the elite, you’ll find yourself in tough spots that will show us what you’re made of. Hi Tech showed us he has plenty of more tricks than we thought he had. He also showed some weaknesses that we hadn’t seen before. He can get a little careless, overconfident and cocky in the ring and that’s what led to the knockdown. A Mikey Garcia punch would’ve been the end, so in other words, I’m sure he learned that he can’t just stand and do this with just everybody specially at that higher weight class.

I still think GGG is the top fighter in the game with Loma a close second (I consider Canelo and Jacobs better fighters than anybody Vasily has beat).  He certainly made a good argument for himself this weekend for that top stop for whoever cares about this.  I think the obvious match is against Mikey Garcia (who I still favor over Vasily, specially after this fight as I consider Mikey a superior fighter to Linares in many ways). Who do you pick in that match?

Jaime Munguia proved to be the goods with that KO of Ali. He seems to have that eraser which can’t be taught. One question though, do you think Jaime is that good or Ali not as great as advertised? I’m just glad Tijuana has a new champion that looks good!

Thanks Doug. Hope you have a great week. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Juan.

I think Munguia is that good, and at his age time is on his side. He will continue to improve with more instruction (from Robert Alcazar, who will hopefully get Munguia to work his jab more) and world-class experience.

That’s what happens when you fight the elite, you’ll find yourself in tough spots that will show us what you’re made of. Agreed. Lomachenko needed to be tested the way only an experienced, top-notch boxer like Linares could. It forced him to raise his game and show us just how fierce he can be.

Hi Tech showed us he has plenty of more tricks than we thought he had. Along with a lot of heart.

He also showed some weaknesses that we hadn’t seen before. He can get a little careless, overconfident and cocky in the ring and that’s what led to the knockdown. Yup, Linares served him a strong does of reality, which will serve Loma well going forward. I don’t think Loma will allow himself to get overconfident like that against a top lightweight again.

A Mikey Garcia punch would’ve been the end, so in other words, I’m sure he learned that he can’t just stand and do this with just everybody specially at that higher weight class. True. And if Loma ever fights Garcia you can best believe that he’ll be more elusive than ever.

I still think GGG is the top fighter in the game with Loma a close second (I consider Canelo and Jacobs better fighters than anybody Vasily has beat). I think Linares is up there with Canelo and Jacobs, but I agree that Golovkin is still No. 1 P4P because of his long title reign (the longest among active fighters), the fact that he’s got three major belts and is approaching B-Hop’s middleweight title defense record.

He certainly made a good argument for himself this weekend for that top stop for whoever cares about this. A lot of fans and media view Loma as No. 1 and I won’t argue too much with them (or with anyone who thinks Bud’s the P4P king).

I think the obvious match is against Mikey Garcia (who I still favor over Vasily, specially after this fight as I consider Mikey a superior fighter to Linares in many ways). Who do you pick in that match? I slightly favor Loma. I think his speed and lateral movement will trouble Mikey. And I think Garcia will have a harder time landing the sweet shot than Linares did vs. Loma. He’s not as fast or rangy as Linares, and he doesn’t have the Venezuelan’s footwork.

 

DANCING WITH THE BARYSHNIKOV OF BOXING

Hey Doug,

You are doing an awesome job as always with the mailbags, website in general and the magazine. Keep it up man!

I have been a close follower and admirer of Lomachenko’s special skills since he turned pro. As I did with Floyd, I was able to see far in advance the subtle things that made him outstanding and a future all-time great. One thing they neglected to mention during the telecast is that in addition to becoming the fastest boxer in history to win titles in three divisions (he was also the fastest to win a world title in a second division in addition to tying the record for the fastest to win a world title period) he has in my mind ALREADY secured a Hall of Fame resume! To achieve that after only 12 pro fights in INSANE and unheard of! We are looking at an extremely special fighter.

I thought of an idea in the past couple weeks that I believe would expose him to a mass audience here in the states and something that he would be a natural for. The idea is for him to appear on Dancing with the Stars. With his dancing background, improving English and charm I can see him doing extremely well on the show and probably even winning the damn thing! A lot of the pro dancers on the show are from Eastern Europe as well so it just makes so much sense across the board to me. I am surprised his management team hasn’t already thought of the idea. Maybe someone in his circle will read this and pass it on. What do you think of that idea? – Darrell L., Los Angeles, CA

I love it. That’s a great idea. And I’ll be happy to pass it along to Egis Klimas (if he hasn’t already considered it). I can envision Lomachenko (and his amateur/pro teammate Oleksandr Usyk) kicking major ass on that show. I can also imagine him charming a casual fan (or non-boxing fan) audience.

I also agree that Lomachenko – with his legendary amateur boxing career combined with what he’s achieved so far as a pro – may already be worthy of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, which is mind boggling considering he’s only got 12 pro bouts under his belt.

 

 

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