Tuesday, August 21, 2018  |

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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Stevenson-Jack, Russell-Diaz, Lomachenko, Canelo)

Both Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack have talked the talk leading into their 175-pound showdown. Many fans expect them to walk the walk in the ring. Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime
18
May

STEVENSON-JACK/RUSSELL-DIAZ

Hey Doug, hope all’s well.

This weekend sees one of my guilty pleasure fighters in action. For years, I’ve watched Adonis Stevenson feast on undeserving challengers and he has always looked sensational in dispatching of them. Which is why I am excited that he is now finally fighting a top contender and someone worthy of fighting for the belt. How do you see this one going?

I favour Superman in this matchup but, in my eyes at least, this is very close to being an even contest. Will the fact that Adonis is 40 present any issues for him? Will he be suitably prepared for someone like Badou Jack given his level of recent competition? I love Jack the Ripper as a fighter as well but Adonis’ straight left is like Deontay Wilder’s right as one of the single best punches in boxing. I can’t wait for this one! Where would a Stevenson win put him in your light-heavyweight estimations?

The second part of the showtime double header also sees one of the most frustrating fighters around in action as Gary Russell Jr puts in his once a year appearance. Man, I wish this guy would fight more, he’s another a guy I love seeing in action. I really don’t know what goes on in his and his camp’s mind. I favour him by close but convincing decision, but this is another excellent match up. There are always questions about how inactivity will affect Russell Jr in his fights but he always answers them convincingly. JoJo Diaz is on a different level to Oscar Escandon and Patrick Hyland though, and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the fastest hands in boxing. Good to see 2018 rolling along with more quality fights.

Couple mms before signing off:

Lomachenko vs Duran at 135

Loma vs Crawford at 140 if that were to somehow happen

Jaime Munguia vs Canelo at 154

All the best for you and your family. – Hatau in Sheffield

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Hatau.

Mythical matchups: I’ll go with Duran by late KO, Crawford by competitive-but-clear decision, and Canelo by hard-fought decision.

Photo by Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press via-AP)

For years, I’ve watched Adonis Stevenson feast on undeserving challengers and he has always looked sensational in dispatching of them. I would describe they way he’s looked as “explosive” and “formidable,” but not “sensational” because he did what he was supposed to do against that level of opposition.

Which is why I am excited that he is now finally fighting a top contender and someone worthy of fighting for the belt. It’s about damn time.

How do you see this one going? I really have no idea. I can see Stevenson blasting Jack out in the early rounds. I can envision Jack gritting through an early storm, taking over the middle rounds and grinding Stevenson down to a late stoppage or decision victory. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Stevenson is able to stick and move his way to a decision. Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked if Jack caught Stevenson early. (A lot of wise guys I know expect Jack to get blasted early because he was stopped in one round by Derek Edwards, but Stevenson was halted in two rounds by Darrell Boone.) But if I have to make a pick, I’m going to go with the tenacious technician who has challenged himself for the past three years. Jack’s last five opponents have been legit top-10 contenders (and either former, current or future world titleholders). Jack by decision or late stoppage.

I favour Superman in this matchup but, in my eyes at least, this is very close to being an even contest. That’s how I see it, but I know a lot of smart boxing folks that view Stevenson as a solid favorite.

Will the fact that Adonis is 40 present any issues for him? I don’t think so. He’s a gifted athlete who didn’t turn pro until his was 28 and he only has 30 bouts under his belt; plus he hasn’t been in many grueling fights.

DeGale (left) under fire from Badou Jack. Photo by Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment

Will he be suitably prepared for someone like Badou Jack given his level of recent competition? Good question. I think his speed and power will make him dangerous early in the bout, but if the fight gets into the middle-to-late rounds it will get very interesting. Stevenson has only gone the distance five times; Jack is used to grinding out tough 12-round bouts.

I love Jack the Ripper as a fighter as well but Adonis’ straight left is like Deontay Wilder’s right as one of the single best punches in boxing. True, it’s a bona-fide smasher. But I have to believe that Jack (and his trainer Lou Del Valle – a former light heavyweight titleholder who happens to be a southpaw like Adonis) will be prepared for Superman’s left.

I can’t wait for this one! S__t, man, you’ve got me more excited about the matchup than I already was.

Where would a Stevenson win put him in your light-heavyweight estimations? If he wins in decisive and impressive fashion, I think he goes to No. 1, just ahead of Sergey Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol.

The second part of the Showtime double header also sees one of the most frustrating fighters around in action as Gary Russell Jr puts in his once a year appearance. I think Russell is a tremendous talent but I consider him to be semi-retired, which is why I favor Diaz in this crossroads title fight.

Man, I wish this guy would fight more, he’s another a guy I love seeing in action. I really don’t know what goes on in his and his camp’s mind. I don’t think he’s passionate about boxing. It’s just a job to him (it’s the family business), and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ll usually favor a hungry fighter over a complacent one as long as their talent, skill and experience is comparable – and Diaz is a fine young boxer.

I favour him by close but convincing decision, but this is another excellent match up. It is indeed. Looking forward to it as much as the Stevenson-Jack fight.

There are always questions about how inactivity will affect Russell Jr in his fights but he always answers them convincingly. Yeah, against a certain level of fighter and a certain style.

JoJo Diaz is on a different level to Oscar Escandon and Patrick Hyland though, and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the fastest hands in boxing. Very carefully, I hope, at least until he’s able to get to Russell’s body.

 

IT WAS GREAT TO BE WRONG

Hi Doug,

I pray you and your family are doing well and all the readers and their families are doing well. The first 5 rounds it was looking like another ho hum Loma beat down but Linares woke him up and from Rounds 6 to 10 a mini war broke out. It was great entertainment and Linares didn’t just cave in and submit and that is what made the fight great. Loma is special.

I also enjoyed watching Sadam Ali’s fight. He showed a lot of heart and kept trying to fight a guy who looked 3 weight classes heavier than him. All in all, a great night of boxing. I’m glad I listened to you. You’re the expert and I’m the fan for a reason.

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

Linares nails Lomachenko with a right. Photo / Hoganphotos

Hey man, don’t take my word for anything. I don’t know anything more about what’s going to happen between those ropes than any other longtime fan. My call on Linares-Loma not being another one-sided blowout for the wizardly Ukrainian star was solely based on my respect for the defending champ – it wasn’t due to any specific technical insights on how the two boxing styles would play out.

I was also impressed with the heart and resolve that Ali exhibited against Munguia. I’m even more impressed with the positive attitude he’s shown since the crushing defeat. Perhaps a move back down to welterweight is in order. Munguia – who might go on to be something very special – is not the only monster in the 154-pound division.

 

BLOWING UP U.S. BOXING

Doug, how are you? Long time, no write. I hope you and family are well.

1. I’d be interested in your take on this article from Bloomberg (link below) about UK-based Perform/Matchroom USA looking to disrupt the U.S. boxing scene. It’s a bummer to not be able to watch live boxing on HBO NOW and hopefully new entrants such as these shake things up. Like after last Saturday’s fights, I have to be careful on the internet and I can’t even check out the mailbag in order to try to catch the fights on HBO NOW 2-3 days late without knowing the outcome. For me, anything to increase competition for better viewing options and to disrupt the, as I see it, status quo oligopoly is a good thing.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-10/american-boxing-faces-a-1-billion-hostile-takeover

2. I was all set to buy tickets to see the Mikey Garcia/Robert Easter fight this summer at Staples Center. But then I heard Lomachenko may fight in LA in August. I can’t make a personal economic case to see both fights so I’m leaning toward the Lomachenko fight. I think Garcia is an amazing fighter, but I think the excitement Loma brings to the game is off the charts. If you had to pick only one of these fights to see, which would you pick and why?

MM:  Gerry Cooney vs. the Tyson Fury who beat Klitschko.

All the best to you and yours Doug.

Andy. – Chula Vista, CA

I’ll go with Fury by close but unanimous decision in a frustrating fight for Cooney, who came up during an era of smaller-and-more-aggressive heavyweights.

Regarding which Southern California summer lightweight title bout to attend, I don’t think you can go wrong with either show. Garcia-Easter is a quality title unification matchup, which could be very entertaining. However, if you haven’t experienced watching Lomachenko live yet, you owe it to yourself go to his next fight (which might be against WBO beltholder Ray Beltran). He’s a once-in-a-generation boxing talent. If you want me to choose for you, I lean toward Loma, but only because I suspect that most of his major fights going forward will take place at Madison Square Garden.

Regarding the reported eight-year, billion-dollar deal/partnership between Matchroom USA and Perform Group, I will reserve making any predictions or analyses on their “American boxing take-over” plans through the DAZN streaming platform until they announce more details (such as who will be fighting on the initial shows, especially among the 16 cards planned to take place in the U.S. over the next year, and how much they will charge per month or year for the streaming service).

Bottom line, their success depends on who they can sign, the caliber of fights they make, if they can or are willing to work with other promoters, and how affordable/accessible DAZN is to the American boxing fan. Let’s see what they do and watch what happens.

If Eddie Hearn signs top talent, makes good fights and presents those bouts on a quality streaming service, this partnership will be a welcome addition to the U.S. boxing scene.

However, keep in mind that for every fan like you, who wants to be able to stream every live fight that takes place on a network (or other platform, and I assume you’re more than happy to pay for it), there’s another fan who is sick and tired of having to shell out more money for another service to watch boxing on top of their cable/PPV bills. Case in point…

 

ESPN+

What’s up Doug?

I haven’t mailed in a long time but just wanted to drop a quick line on ESPN+. Last year, ESPN hyped up how they would be providing free boxing content. Most of us were excited – although honestly, I prefer the ad-free coverage and quality productions of the premium channels.

Now, the Khan and Crawford fights are only available on their subscription service ESPN+. ESPN pulled the old bait and switch. I already pay for HBO, SHO and fork out heavy cash for multiple PPVs every year. Now they want us to pay for another service? I will keep it PG for your audience – but F that. Got to draw the line somewhere.

Pissed. – Omar (Miami)

I understand your frustration, Omar. But the reality is that it takes a lot of money to make the big fights and the networks (and promoters) are struggling to remain profitable (and relevant) in an insanely crowded modern sports/entertainment market. They gotta come up with new revenue sources just to stay alive.

But I don’t blame you one bit for drawing a line in the sand. Some of my peers who are diehard followers of numerous sports (such as Steve Kim) find ESPN+ to be good deal at just $4.99/month, but others, who aren’t as into college games and sports documentaries (and don’t like to watch ANYTHING on their phones) see no value in the new app/subscription service. I love ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, but I don’t follow any pro sport outside of boxing, so I’m not sure how often I will access ESPN+. However, I will subscribe to it because it’s my job to cover boxing, so I need to be able to watch all the major fights (plus, I can expense the cost or make it a tax write-off).

 

PERSPECTIVE ON LOMA

Hey Doug,

Big fan of the mailbag and your writing in general.

Recently read this article on the BBC Sport web page – https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/boxing/44131754.

Just wanted to know your thoughts on this? Personally I feel a bit of perspective has been lost on Loma following his win over Linares, especially regarding his impact on the sport to the non-boxing community. I’m a huge admirer of his (who isn’t? He’s almost the perfect combination of aggression and skill) but to compare him with the likes of Woods in that no one has achieved such status surely belittles the impact of Pacquiao, De la Hoya and Mayweather – the three boxers who I would say had wordwide celebrity status akin to Woods in golf.

Loma’s star is rising, no doubt about it, but the reality is I don’t think he’ll have as big an impact on the sport as Woods did with golf and I don’t think he has to. I feel it’s just another example of people getting lost in the hype and hyperbole when we should just appreciate the incredible talent we have in front of us.

Thanks, and good night. – Rosco, Aberdeen

The two British pundits are clearly enamored with Lomachenko, as many fans and boxing media are. It’s not that big of a deal to me. I expect UK broadcasters to be a littler higher on Loma based on the Linares victory than the average American boxing aficionado because they likely have more respect for the Venezuelan veteran (given his gutsy 10th-round stoppage of Kevin Mitchell and his brilliant back-to-back decisions over Anthony Crolla, which took place in England).

However, I don’t think they were comparing Lomachenko to the likes of De La Hoya, Mayweather and Pacquiao. (Although Mike Costello pointed out that Loma had won world titles in three weight classes in 12 pro bouts, a feat that De La Hoya achieved with 22 pro bouts. I would point out to Costello that The Golden Boy turned pro at age 19 and did not have the prolonged elite international experience – not to mention six World Series of Boxing semi-pro bouts under his belt – that the more-mature Lomachenko had before going pro.)

It’s obvious that Loma hasn’t yet achieved their level of crossover fame (and Costello mentioned that this is an area where he can improve, and suggested that he continue to learn English and strive to speak it as well as the Klitschko brothers did).

I think Costello and Bunce were just saying that Lomachenko is the best boxer on the planet right now (an opinion shared by many) and that he is as ahead of the curve in boxing style/skill as Woods was in golf and Bjorn Bjorg was in tennis. And they pose the question of the 30-year-old Ukrainian being the best pro athlete in the world. (I can’t chime in on this opinion/question because I don’t watch any other sport.)

 

HOPE ALL IS AS GOOD AS IT CAN BE

Dougie,

Hope you don’t mind my efforts to really make an issue of this. It saddens me to see what happened and for me personally The Ring always stood for independence in a sport full of corrupt sanctioning bodies. I like using The Ring as my go to for rankings and for news stories, yet looking forward it is concerning not knowing the level of Golden Boy interventions in the future on news content and ranking decisions.

I think you did well to clarify the position and keep your integrity intact, while remaining respectful to Stefan and the magazine’s owners.

Ultimately, for Golden Boy the commercial upside of having Canelo as Ring champion for future fight negotiations is of greater value than the downside of losing any credibility of The Ring.

Anyway, that is pretty much the end of my awareness campaign for now. Here’s to a good year of Boxing ahead. Best. – John

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, John. The Canelo/RING title situation has been a stressful one for me and the other two editors of the magazine (Tom Gray and Brian Harty). It’s an unfortunate chapter in the publication’s history (not the first and probably not the last) that we’d like to put behind us and we hope the situation works itself out in the ring. We understand any disillusionment keeping Canelo THE RING middleweight champ and in the P4P rankings despite his suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission has caused among fans and longtime readers of the magazine.

All I can say about Golden Boy’s “interventions in the future on news content and ranking decisions” is that if that happens, I’ll let you know.

 

CANELO ENROLLS IN YEAR-ROUND VADA TESTING

Hello Doug,

I’ve been vocal about the Canelo situation on TNR and some posts here in the comments section of the mailbag. I wanted to wait before I wrote to you about my final (I hope) take on this.

I initially said that I didn’t believe his meat contamination excuse. Reasons were I knew people who’ve been telling me for years that this is a good mulligan that a lot of Mexican boxers were taking and being advised to take. The second reason was that every positive test I’ve ever seen has never ever been admitted to.  Everybody blames it on something else. Also, I’ve learned to understand that athletes are human beings and make mistakes (like lie to their fans), even so called heroes like Lance Armstrong have lied to their fans for years.

Now that Canelo had his hair tested (and came out clean) and the latest news that he actually enrolled in the 365/24/7 VADA program I can say that my opinion has shifted towards believing him that he at least was actually positive because of meat contamination instead of PED use. Why my change of opinion you ask? Well because I have no choice! He did what was asked and passed. That’s it.

I am no expert in PEDs, I go by what I read from Gabe Montoya, Thomas Hauser, Michael Montero, Steve Kim and you of course. I’ve also listened to plenty of Victor Conte interviews. That’s all I know. I can’t judge anybody based on if I like him or not. Without a test or proof I can’t just believe someone because he says so. But Canelo actually went and did a hair test to prove that at least for the last 6 months he was clean. Now he says he’ll do year-round tests to prove that at least going forward every win will be clean.

That’s all I need to believe him. It’s not based on favoritism, or liking him or not (you know I’m not the biggest fan of his personality and the way he carries himself outside the ring) or him being mexican like me (I am a big GGG fan and will root for him over my hometown native Jaime Munguia if they ever face each other). It’s all based on what more informed and knowledgeable people said was needed to prove it.

The point is that I’ve learned from the past that I can’t idolize and believe everything that comes out of a single human being’s mouth that I’ve never met or known personally. I’ve learned the hard way as many of my favorites have disappointed me in the past, that includes James Toney, Mike Tyson, Erik Morales and even JC Chavez. I need facts and that’s it.

The best thing out of this is that he’s now enrolled and being the biggest star in the sport, at least this side of the pond, will give a very good example to follow for younger generations.

Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Juan.

I think Canelo’s enrollment into VADA’s year-round testing program is the one good thing that has come out of the Clenbuterol scandal that dominated so much of the boxing world’s attention since beginning of March. It sets a standard that I hope other stars and standouts of the sport seek to emulate.

It will be interesting to see if the boxing insiders that have publicly trashed Canelo’s name and reputation for the past two months will A) give him any credit for this decision, and B) put pressure on other world-class boxers to enroll in year-round PED testing programs (preferably VADA – the anti-doping agency that actually lets us know what’s in these athlete’s systems). My guess is that they won’t do either.

Anyone who never liked Canelo to begin with probably hates his guts now. They’ll suspect him of PED use and despise him for as long as he’s in boxing. They don’t give a rat’s ass about any hair test or year-round testing program. And they have a right to believe that just like you have a right to believe that he’s an honest competitor who has never purposely used PEDs.

 

LOMA VS. MIKEY

Hello Doug,

Loma-Linares gave us a great fight. The fact that the scorecards were so close made it better. I believe Loma can’t fight above 135 pounds. The weight difference was obvious.

I believe Mikey beats Lomachenko. I however don’t agree with all the twitter warriors making it seem like Loma is weak because he got dropped and had a tough fight.

A number of persons think Gervonta Davis beats him if they were to fight now. I think Tank is bigger than him, but not by much. He has crazy power. His punch selection is beautiful. But Loma is on another level skillwise & mentally. Would love to see that fight very soon. Who do you think wins?

Mythical Matchup:

Floyd vs Tommy Hearns at 147

Floyd vs W. Benitez at 147

Floyd vs Duran at 140

SRR vs SRL at 147

BHop vs GGG at 160

Tofunmi from Nigeria 

Mythical matchups: Hearns by late TKO, Benitez by close but clear decision, Duran by late KO, Robinson by close decision in a great fight, and Hopkins by close decision.

I believe Mikey beats Lomachenko. Despite the difficulty he had with Linares at times, I still favor Loma over Garcia. I know Garcia has the power to really hurt the naturally smaller man, but he’s also got heavier feet and shorter arms than Linares. I think he’ll be bothered more with Loma’s speed and movement than Linares was.

I however don’t agree with all the twitter warriors making it seem like Loma is weak because he got dropped and had a tough fight. “Twitter Warriors” suck.

A number of persons think Gervonta Davis beats him if they were to fight now. Well, it takes all kinds….

I think Tank is bigger than him, but not by much. He has crazy power. His punch selection is beautiful. Davis has good power. I agree that his punch selection is very nice. I look forward to further progression and hope he stays with Kevin Cunningham.

But Loma is on another level skillwise & mentally. He definitely is at the present time.

Would love to see that fight very soon. I can wait. Time is on Tank’s side. Why rush him into anything he’s not ready for?

Who do you think wins? Lomachenko. If the fight took place this year, I think it would look like a 135-pound version of Joe Calzaghe’s domination of Jeff Lacy (only it would end in a late stoppage).

 

 

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