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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Errol Spence, Lewis Ritson and Josh Kelly, Joe Joyce)

IBF welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. Photo by Amanda Westcott/Showtime
18
Jun

YOUR THOUGHTS ON ERROL SPENCE

He’s soft spoken, respectful, charming, and articulate. Without question, Errol Spence could and should be the next superstar in the sport of boxing, a household name like Tyson, Leonard, and Pacquiao, but he needs to fight more! What are your thoughts on my observations?

Dougie, you’ve been around the sport a long time and you’re privileged to understand the different perspectives of the fans, boxers and companies that are involved. If you could offer advice to his promoter, what would it be?

MMs
Errol Spence vs Juan Manuel Márquez (147)
Conan the Barbarian vs Gladiator (the Russel Crowe version)

Cheers. – Dennis, El Centro, CA

Gotta go with Spence by brutal late stoppage and Conan by bloody, gruesome kill (probably via a sword-impaling-rock-to-the-head combination).

I couldn’t offer advice to Spence’s promoter, because he doesn’t really have one. He’s got an advisor (Al Haymon), which comes with network and industry connections, as well as very good paydays. However, most fighters need more than that to crossover from boxing to mainstream consciousness.

So, if I could offer Spence advice, it would be to hook up with a real promotional company that would be dedicated to putting on AT LEAST three Spence-headlined shows a year against the right opponents in the right locations, hopefully on the broadest possible platforms.

Photo by Stacey Verbeek-SHOWTIME

He’s soft spoken, respectful, charming, and articulate. Yeah, which is great if he’s dating your daughter, but unfortunately, those delightful qualities do not usually garner attention from the average sports fan. Spence is going to have to do his talking with his fists. The good news is that he makes a lot of noise with his fists. He just needs to do it more often against the best possible opposition.

Without question, Errol Spence could and should be the next superstar in the sport of boxing, a household name like Tyson, Leonard, and Pacquiao, but he needs to fight more! He doesn’t have the prime Mike Tyson’s fascinating mix of street-inspired malevolence and boxing-historian geekiness, or Sugar Ray’s Madison-Avenue charisma, or even Manny’s impish charm. Personality is very important to the marketing of athletes involved in individual/dual sports like golf, boxing, tennis, cycling, skiing, figure skating, etc.

Given Spence’s very laid-back personality (which I like and appreciate), I think he’s going to have to take a page from Gennady Golovkin’s book and put in back-to-back years of defending his title three-to-four times a year (as GGG did from 2013-2015) in order to have even the remotest chance of being as popular that iconic trio you mentioned. If he can get a unification bout with the winner of the upcoming Danny Garcia-Shawn Porter fight, or the seemingly semi-retired Keith Thurman, all the better, but just as important will be WHERE he fights. He needs to build a dedicated fanbase, as GGG gradually did by fighting in New York City and Los Angeles. Spence can do it in the Dallas area, and maybe one of the other major cities in Texas (can you imagine the fan interest if the PBC packaged the Charlo twins with Spence, who shares a trainer with Jermell, in Houston?)

What are your thoughts on my observations? I agree with you. “The Truth” has to be more active. The sooner he starts regularly selling out major arenas and doing strong TV ratings, the sooner the boxing world will be treated to the Dream Showdown against Terence Crawford.

 

THE TWO ‘M’ WORDS BOXING FANS HATE

Hey Doug,

After watching Spence dispatch Ocampo so quick it bugs me to no end how these alphabetized boxing commissions can come up with opponents that are entitled to fight champions.

Being a boxing fan for more than 40 years the two words I literally hate to hear come out of any promoter or commissions mouth is “mandatory” and “marinate.” Bob Arum loves to use the word marinate for example when speaking of a fight with Crawford and Spence. Do we have to wait until each is 34 or more for them to fight each other? What happened to the possibility of them fighting next and have the probability of a trilogy between the two? I think that any boxing purist knows that this is absolutely the next big showdown and one that we want to see them do more than once.

Please tell me when this idea of fighting a senseless mandatory defense was started? I’m sure Spence really did not want this fight but what more could he do? Although I tuned in I had no more interest than watching this mismatch then I had organizing my sock drawer. I’m basically sick of the power that promoters like Arum have over all of us boxing fans. Why can’t someone invent a boxing commission that overrules all the others and have one champion only (maybe the Ring Magazine champion) that everyone will abide by?

Why aren’t the Charlos been given the opportunity to fight on the main card at all of their fights? They are certainly deserving of them. They bring action in all their fights. They also want the big fights. Why in the world isn’t GGG and Jermall happening? I know. Its money. Who would you rather see Golovkin fight next?

Shame on these commissions and promoters. It’s what is wrong with the sport and why its losing the fanfare over the last 20 years. Any other purist would agree.

Mythical Matchup: Hagler vs. McClellan. Now that’s what I call a mandatory.

Keep up the great work on the sweet science mailbag as well as on the track. – Armand from Philly

Thanks, Armand. I need to step it up on the track, maybe go two or three times a week now that it’s summer.

Gotta go with the Marvelous One over the G-Man by late stoppage in a brutal encounter.

While boxing commissions sometimes hurt the sport with certain decisions they make (such as appointing awful officials to referee and judge high-profile fights), I think your complaint is directed to the sanctioning organizations, such as the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO. They are the world-title bodies that determine the mandatory challengers for their belts.

Please tell me when this idea of fighting a senseless mandatory defense was started? Well, they’re not supposed to be senseless. The concept of mandatory challengers came out of the 1

CIRCA 1950: Archie Moore trains for a fight. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)

960s, coinciding with the birth of sanctioning organizations, to avoid situations when worthy title challengers were either avoided for several years (as Archie Moore was as a middleweight and light heavyweight throughout the 1940s) or flat-out denied a shot at the one world championship (as Moore’s mostly African-American contemporaries, such as Charley Burley, Holman Williams and Lloyd Marshall were in the 1930s and ‘40s). Mandatory challenges are a good thing when the No. 1 contender has truly earned his shot at the title, but the problem with today’s “mandatories” is that the ratings committees of the alphabet bodies often rank fighters based on their promotional/managerial/network affiliations rather than their body of work.

I’m sure Spence really did not want this fight but what more could he do? He had no choice. He had to fight the IBF’s very undeserving No. 3-ranked welterweight, Carlos Ocampo, or risk getting stripped of that title (and we all know the New Jersey-based outfit will not hesitate to yank their belt). It was the same situation that GGG was faced with when he had to defend against the IBF’s then-No. 3-rated middleweight, Dominic Wade, a couple years ago. Wade, whose best win was an iffy decision over a shopworn Sam Soliman, and Ocampo, whose most notable win is against Jorge Paez Jr., are prospects, not contenders. THE RING did not rank either man. But at least Spence and GGG drew big crowds to their public executions.

Although I tuned in I had no more interest than watching this mismatch then I had organizing my sock drawer. I hear ya. I only watched with mild interest.

I’m basically sick of the power that promoters like Arum have over all of us boxing fans. Don’t blame Arum or any other promoter, blame the sanctioning bodies. They need to improve their ratings criteria.

Why can’t someone invent a boxing commission that overrules all the others and have one champion only (maybe the Ring Magazine champion) that everyone will abide by? I don’t know, man, I think there’s too many fighters, weight classes and countries involved in boxing for there to be one commission in charge of it all. I don’t mind the alphabet bodies as long as they rank real, deserving contenders and allow for unification bouts that ultimately crown undisputed champions (as we will get with the WBSS cruiserweight final). I know some promoters and managers would hate it if those who held THE RING titles were recognized by the boxing world as the real champs, but after the way the IBF treated Golovkin, I wouldn’t be shocked if some of the bigger names of the sport coveted our belt (which doesn’t come with sanctioning fees) in order to escape the meaningless mandatories.

Why aren’t the Charlos been given the opportunity to fight on the main card at all of their fights? That’s a question the twins need to be asking their adviser (Haymon) and that adviser’s network partner (Showtime). If they don’t get a satisfactory answer soon, it might be time for them to look for a real promoter.

They are certainly deserving of them. I agree.

They bring action in all their fights. I agree.

They also want the big fights. It certainly seems as though they do.

Why in the world isn’t GGG and Jermall happening? Jermall is an example of a deserving mandatory challenger (at least in the court of popular opinion). He’s the WBC’s “interim champ,” which means he’s in line to face the winner of the Golovkin-Canelo rematch.

Who would you rather see Golovkin fight next? I’m happy with the Canelo rematch. Beyond the big grudge match, I think Charlo is the guy I want to see GGG test himself against next. After Charlo, I’d say Billy Joe Saunders, and after the WBO beltholder, (for selfish reasons) I’d want to see Golovkin take on the WBA JV beltholder Ryoto Murata (just because I want an excuse to return to Tokyo for a major boxing event).

 

KELLY AND RITSON

Hi Doug,

What do you make of the two British prospects, Josh Kelly and Lewis Ritson?

I’ve seen Ritson live twice and thought he was superb. He applies relentless pressure, cuts the ring off well and attacks both the head and body with a powerful variety of punches. He also has a stiff and effective jab that not only sets up his attacks but hurt his opponents and displays decent lateral movement.

Kelly has some interesting qualities. Good punch variety and reflexes that make him elusive, but I’m not sure if he could be good enough to make a step up against the likes of Spence and Crawford anytime soon.

Let me know your thoughts. Kind regards. – Anish Parekh

There’s no reason to wonder how Kelly would fare against the pound-for-pound rated likes of Crawford and Spence. He’s 24 years old and he’s only got six pro bouts under his belt. Give him at least 18-24 months of further pro development before you start beating the drums for him to face the legit contenders of the deep and formidable 147-pound division.

Josh Kelly

For now, The Pretty Boy is a pretty good prospect with a fluid athletic boxing style highlighted by the punch variety and reflexes that you mentioned. Kelly’s also got excellent hand-eye coordination and head- and upper-body movement. Add to those attributes good balance, fluid footwork and accurate combinations/counterpunching, plus a flashy/cocky ring persona, and you’re talking about a potential star. He just needs more quality rounds to grow from.

Same deal with Ritson, who has a more direct and devastating style than Kelly. What’s not to like about Ritson’s search-and-destroy mentality? The main think Ritson needs to work on is his defense. He could use some of the head/upper-body movement that Kelly employs so well.

 

JOE JOYCE

Hey Dougie Greetings from Croatia (my first holiday in 6 years),

Please explain Joe Joyce to me. I know his amateur pedigree and I also know he’s only 5 fights in as a pro, but I watched his commonwealth title win against Lenroy Thomas and he looked dreadful. He looked nothing like his pedigree suggests, he looked clumsy, flat footed and overly reliant on power punches. Do you actually consider him a top prospect or is he just better suited to the amateurs?

P.S kudos on the whole Canelo thing, over in the U.K. we’re not overly interested but I still read your mailbag every Monday and Friday and have done so for the last 3 years since I randomly discovered it and I admired your integrity throughout the whole thing. Oh and just to put it in perspective for everyone who thinks boxing is the Antichrist for corrupt sports google Sepp Blatter. The man was the most high-profile corrupt figure in world sports and it took years to finally get rid of him. Take care mate. – Pete, Sussex, U.K.

Thanks for the kind words, Pete. I hope you’re enjoying your vacation.

Joe Joyce

I don’t consider Joyce to be a top prospect, even though the heavyweight division isn’t a very deep weight class. At age 32, he’s too old to be prospect. And he’s far from being a legit contender. Right now, I consider him to be a typical “Heavyweight Project,” not unlike the former football players that find their way to boxing or giants from the martial arts world like that 7-foot dude from China, Taishan Dong. (Remember him? He’s been missing since 2015.)

Joyce can be moved quicker than Dong due to his amateur boxing experience and better athleticism, but it will still take a long time for him to transition to the pro style, just as it took several years and numerous fights for Olympic medalists George Foreman and Deontay Wilder to develop into legit contenders. However, does Joyce have the time for that to happen given his advanced age?

We’ll find out. But for now, I agree that he looks rather ponderous in the ring, and I have no clue about his “intangibles” as he hasn’t gone past two rounds since his pro debut and his last opponent (Ivica Bacurin) provided ZERO resistance.  

 

THE GEORDIE GOLOVKIN

Hello Dougie,

Hope you are well. Last time I emailed you was before the AJ-Klitschko bout and since then I have enrolled on an MA Sports Journalism course and secured work as a journalist and I would like to thank you, as your work is one of the reasons I decided to start journalism! So thanks!

I was ringside for Lewis Ritson vs Paul Hyland Jr. last night and the atmosphere was truly electric, 8000 people packed into the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, to watch a guy who was applying for factory work a year ago.

He finished Hyland Jr. within a round who was 18-0 coming into the fight.

Did you get a chance to watch him? He is the most exciting fighter in Britain right now and really could be our next big star; the ‘Geordie Golovkin’ label (Geordies are people from Newcastle) doesn’t look too ridiculous now! He has just won the British title outright with three defences and in a total of four rounds! Never been done before!

His jab and closing off the ring really do remind me of the Kazakh warrior.

British boxing really is special right now. – Thomas, Newcastle.

No doubt about it, Thomas, and it looks like you have a hometown hero to follow closely as he works his way into the world ratings (he just cracked THE RING’s lightweight rankings).

Lewis Ritson

I missed watching Ritson-Hyland live but it took all of 3 minutes to watch a replay of the fight on YouTube. I wasn’t going to overlook Ritson. Two British fans alerted me to his presence on the UK scene and world-class potential while having drinks at Jimmy’s Corner just a day or two before the Linares-Lomachenko fight in New York City. Their scouting report on Ritson, who they referred to as the “Geordie Margarito” (I guess he’s moving up the boxing food chain with his nickname promotion), was spot on.

I watched his fight against Scott Cardle and thought he was too easy to hit, but he seemed to shore up his defense in the Hyland fight, so hopefully he’s improving in that regard. Offensively speaking, Ritson’s the man (or should I say “Sandman”?). he cuts the ring off well, as you noted, and he’s accurate and economical with his power shots. I love his pressure with purpose and his body attack. If he ever makes his way to the U.S., I hope he enters the ring to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”

 

THE DYNAMIC DUO

Hi Doug,

Two UK prospects, Lewis Ritson and Josh Kelly, performed this weekend in Newcastle in the north of England. Both put in good performances in their own way, I’m interested in your thoughts on these two up-and-comers.

Ritson destroyed another opponent within a round. His exciting brand of hard-punching pressure is great to watch. He displayed a very strong jab (he really steps in with it), ring cutting ability, and knockout power. Of course, his level of opposition will need to step up eventually – it will be interesting to see how he fares against an opponent with good enough feet to stay away and box him behind a long jab – but given how he has destroyed his domestic level opponents, how far do you think he can go?

Josh Kelly is unorthodox, athletic, slick and fast, and fun to watch as a result. I have to say his style of holding is hands low gets me worried, I wonder how well that will serve him at the higher levels. He only has 6 fights under his belt, so there is time for him to develop. Having said that, he is another Adam Booth fighter who is on the fast track so there may not be as much time as one would normally expect. What are your thoughts on Kelly at world level in the future?

Thanks. – Jon L, London

I’m glad to see the enthusiasm that British fans have for these two entertaining up-and-comers. It’s also good to see that most of you are not getting overexcited about them, recognizing that both have flaws and room for improvement. Just remember that a loss isn’t the end of a boxer’s career; and often times it makes them better.

I consider Kelly to be a hot prospect at welterweight and nothing more for the time being. I’ve seen all of his pro bouts and will continue to watch with interest. He will likely be the subject of a New Faces in an upcoming issue of THE RING.

I consider Ritson to be lower-top 10 contender or a fringe contender at lightweight. I agree that he still has to prove himself beyond the domestic level, but his last four opponents have been solid competitors and he’s not only stopped them all (blowing out his last three), but he’s gradually improved his technique along the way.

I think both men are must-see TV and I hope I get the chance to cover them (or call the action to their fights) live one day.

 

THE CANELO DECISION

Hey Dougie,

Regarding the Canelo decision The Ring had to make, you guys did a great job. I always had the same faith in you as I’ve had since your MaxBoxing days.

Just wanted you to know there are many more Dougie/Ring supporters than there will ever be detractors. It’s important we sane, rational and introspective (as you wrote it in the mailbag) individuals support each other in moments like this.

Be well, Dougie. – Dan Grabowski

Thank you very much, Dan. Those words mean a lot to me and to the entire RING Magazine staff.

 

 

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

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