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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Saucedo-Zappavigna, Joshua-Wilder, heavyweight could-have-beens)

Alex Saucedo (right) vs. Lenny Zappaigna
02
Jul

BRUTAL SLUGFEST IN OKLAHOMA

Hey Doug,

I just wanted to comment on the Alex Saucedo / Lenny Zappavigna war. It was exciting to say the least and fights like this are one of the reasons that boxing is so compelling but the ref and both fighters’ corners are at fault for terrible judgement. I only watched the fight once, so my comments are how I felt as it transpired. After Zappavigna was dropped in Round 3 he came back and was thrashing hometown guy Saucedo badly in the 4th. If that fight had been in “anytown USA” and the fighters were unknown journeymen I feel it would have been stopped in the 4th and Zappavigna declared the TKO winner. The ref just stood there while Saucedo took a frightful beating and did nothing….and so the fight went on.

In the other corner, that Zappavigna’s cornermen let him come out for the 7th considering what his face and eyes looked like was almost criminal. It should have been stopped right then. I respect both men for the heart and determination they showed but Zappavigna should call it a day and Saucedo surely suffered damage that will shorten his career. I have been a boxing fan for decades, but it was chilling to see Zappavigna after the fight. It is definitely a fight of the year candidate and Round 4 the round of the year. I know those guys are hurting this morning. I just hope they are both OK. I would be interested in your take. – David / Nashville



I don’t think Saucedo will have a long shelf life, given his warrior’s heart and mentality, plus his athletic and technical limitations, but he can become a legit regional attraction and a popular TV fighter during prime (which is now). His mettle was tested to the extreme vs. Lenny Z, so I’ll never count him out against any 140 pounder, but I think I slightly favor WBO beltholder Maurice Hooker in their imminent mandatory showdown.

I felt the same thing you did watching Zappavigna’s face rapidly become an “Elephant Man”-like misshapen lump of torn and swollen tissue that seemingly poured blood. And I agree that the fight did not need to go into Round 7 given the condition of his face, his obviously limited vision and inability to defend himself. Having said that, it’s not like he wasn’t nailing Saucedo in return.

Bottom line, fighters’ corners, referees and ringside doctors need to act in a more preventive manner when confronted with brutal slugfests and gruesome blood-lettings; but, I hate to say it, you and I are getting “soft” in our old age. Professional boxing is a violent sport. Always had been, always will be. The fighters know what they are getting into.

After Zappavigna was dropped in Round 3 he came back and was thrashing hometown guy Saucedo badly in the 4th. That was an amazing, thrilling turn around, and spectacles like that are among the main reasons I place boxing above all other professional sports.

If that fight had been in “anytown USA” and the fighters were unknown journeymen I feel it would have been stopped in the 4th and Zappavigna declared the TKO winner. Maybe. Maybe not, David. It depends on the town and the officials. I watch and call my share of club shows here in Southern California and – this year alone – I’ve seen several instances where a club fighter took a beating close to or just as bad as Saucedo took against Zappa in Round 4 of their fight.

 

SURPRISED ANTHONY JOSHUA FAN

Morning Dougie,

Longtime reader, and big fan of your work. I am very excited with the state of boxing at the moment given all the WBSS tournaments and the new-found attitude of boxers wanting to fight the best.

However. I am writing in as I am really surprised with your reaction to the Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder situation. I say this because after everything that I have seen from Team Wilder, there has been no evidence to suggest that they have seriously attempted to make this fight. No contracts. No responses. Nothing.

This coupled with each other’s resume, if Hearn was obsessed with milking the Joshua money train there would be no way in hell he would have taken on Wladimir Klitschko so early in his career, and no way he would unify as soon as he did. Compare that to Wilder who has had 40 fights with only 2 credible opponents and will now look to fight Dom Breazeale who is just awful while Joshua will fight Alex Povetkin, a genuine threat to his belts!

Additionally, Joshua has Tyson Fury, that is the only fight that is marinating while Fury gets his fitness back. None of the above equates to Joshua dodging Wilder but all to the contrary.

I just don’t want Joshua getting an unfair reputation from this scenario and don’t think he deserves it given his and Hearns’ history of work. Love ya. – Ells

Thanks for being a longtime reader, Ells, and for writing in with your questions and opinions. 

I’ve never said that Joshua is “dodging” Wilder. If it seems like I insinuated that in the Friday mailbag, that was unintentional.

I don’t think either fighter is looking to put off the big showdown. I do think that there has been a lot of posturing from promoter/management of both heavyweights, and I do think that Hearn is just fine with staging the fight next year – and I think that’s the right call from a business standpoint. It’s a much bigger fight – and far more lucrative PPV in the U.S. – in 2019. I’m not mad at Hearn or pointing any fingers at him for realizing this fact. I think he’s smart.

I also agree that Joshua has challenged himself more in his 21 pro bouts than Wilder has in his 40. I don’t think either side is “scared” of the other – so-called fans that claim this are goof balls – but I do believe that Hearn knows that he’s got more leverage than Team Wilder and he’s not going to be rushed or jerked around by them (which is fair).

I could be wrong, but I believe that Wilder wants this fight to happen sooner than Joshua does (for reasons that I listed out in Friday’s mailbag). I’m not convinced that Wilder’s reps, which include Al Haymon and Shelly Finkel, want it immediately as they claim. And, as I stated in Friday’s mailbag, I’m pretty sure that Hearn is just fine with letting this matchup “marinate.”

I am writing in as I am really surprised with your reaction to the Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder situation. Why? Did you just assume that I was “Team AJ” and believed EVERYTHING that Hearn claims and NOTHING that Finkel claims? Like I’ve stated before, I don’t have a horse in this race. If Joshua-Wilder would have happened this September, October or November, I would have been stoked. If it happens next year, I’ll be just as stoked, and I’ll do my best to be ringside for what is sure to be a modern classic.

I say this because after everything that I have seen from Team Wilder, there has been no evidence to suggest that they have seriously attempted to make this fight. No contracts. No responses. Nothing. OK. I agree, but how much “evidence” can Hearn provide that he was serious about getting the fight done for this year?

This coupled with each other’s resume, if Hearn was obsessed with milking the Joshua money train there would be no way in hell he would have taken on Wladimir Klitschko so early in his career, and no way he would unify as soon as he did. I don’t think Hearn is trying to “milk” the “Joshua money train” (although the “milking” of boxing attractions is pretty much what keeps major promoters in business while making their star fighters filthy rich), I just think he’s fine with staging Joshua-Wilder next year when it will be a bigger event. That’s not milking, that’s marinating, which is also a big part of major promotion.

Compare that to Wilder who has had 40 fights with only 2 credible opponents, and will now look to fight Dom Breazeale who is just awful while Joshua will fight Alex Povetkin, a genuine threat to his belts! I agree that Povetkin is a threat. I don’t agree that Breazeale is “awful.” He’s not a top contender, but he can be dangerous if Wilder is not focused; regardless, Wilder has to fight Breazeale because the Southern Californian is the WBC mandatory.

 

BOXING AND COMIC BOOKS

I read Sean Gill’s letter this past Friday with great interest because like him & yourself all three of those things shaped who I was as a kid. I began reading comic books as a five-year-old but didn’t begin to seriously collect them until I was about ten. With my favorite character being everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spider-man. This being in the 70’s, with the help of my parents I was able to build near complete runs of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, FANTASTIC FOUR, THE AVENGERS, UNCANNY X-MEN, SWAMP THING & many of the other most popular titles of that era. With the Neal Adams stint on BATMAN & GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW being among my favorites of the era.

Comics & monster movies/horror films continued to be what identified me until I became a boxing fan at 14. In a roundabout way, it was the Ali-Lyle fight in May of 1975 that piqued my interest in the sport. Being a comic book nerd & a “Monster kid” I’d never had any interest in sports whatsoever but that night I just happened to be at a friend’s house waiting for his mother to take us to see a double feature of THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF & SSSSSS. While waiting for showtime to approach we sat in his living room where his father was watching the Ali-Lyle telecast on ABC. Initially, I had no interest in it but once Howard Cosell began interviewing both men & they showed clips from the fighter’s previous bouts I became transfixed. Now, history tells me that Victor Galindez stopped Ray Elson in the sixth round of an undercard bout that night but I have no recollection of that. I just remember my disappointment when just before the main event was about to begin it was time for us to go to the theater. I enjoyed the films but I vividly recall sitting there wondering what was going on in the fight as I watched them.

So, I made up my mind to watch the next time that Ali defended his title on network TV. Which didn’t occur until February of 1976 when he took on “The Lion of Flanders” himself in Jean Pierre Coopman. Making that bout the first boxing match that I ever watched. Not the most auspicious debut as a fan but I enjoyed what I saw enough to be sure to tune into Ali’s next fight in April vs Jimmy Young. And, on the undercard that night I saw the fighter who would become my favorite, Ken Norton. I can’t say for sure what it was that made me such a fan that night as his fifth-round butchering of former contender Ron Stander wasn’t all that exciting but from that point on I had a favorite fighter.

Now, for the first few months of my boxing fandom, I just followed the heavyweights. But, that changed quickly when I happened to tune into Ray Leonard’s pro debut vs Luis “The Bull” Vega. After which, I became an all-around boxing fanatic. So much so that it was no longer enough to simply watch the fights when they were on television. I wanted to know all about the sport’s history so I began checking out all of the books on the subject from my local library. And, being a voracious reader with an interest in what was going on elsewhere in the boxing world other than what I could see on TV I began to buy & collect all the boxing magazines. With my very first issue being the September 1976 issue of The Ring.

I wasn’t happy just getting the new issues though as I began haunting all the local used bookstores & buying up their back issues as well as ordering them from the publishers themselves. Which has led to my having a boxing magazine collection nearly as large as my comic book collection.

What are your origins as a comic book fan/collector?

What about as a boxing fan?

Did you also collect old boxing magazines as well?

And, did you ever make any forays into the ring yourself?

Myself? I became so obsessed with the game that I had to know what it was to compete myself. So, I found a local boxing gym the day after my 17th birthday & began fighting as an amateur a couple of months later. I went on to have a 22-5 record in the Simon Pure ranks before turning pro several years later. Though I had a limited pro career ( http://boxrec.com/en/boxer/653070 ) I was enough of a durable, walk-in-banger to get the opportunity to spar with fighters like Hector Camacho, Livingstone Bramble, Simon Brown, Matthew & Davey Hilton during the ’80 & ’90s. Which, though often a painful way in which to make a living, I loved every minute of.

I could go on all day about boxing, comics & The Ring, my friend but I’ll keep this down to the length of a regular issue as opposed to a Giant Sized Annual. LOL.

Peace. – Jim Allcorn, Niagara Falls, NY

Hey Jim, thanks for sharing the origin details to your two passions. Your gateways to comic collecting and boxing are somewhat parallel to mine, only you started earlier than me (and obviously took your boxing passion way further than I did by competing as an amateur and engaging in some pro fights).

I’ve touched on this subject a few times in previous mailbags, so I won’t bore readers by rehashing those stories, but if you want to hear most of the details listen to this recent interview conducted by pop culture enthusiast and radio/podcast veteran John Sinuntres for his Word Balloon podcast. John, a lifelong boxing fan who covered the sport for 16 years, has one of the oldest and best comic book-related podcasts out there, so, we had a lot to talk about – more than two hours-worth of conversation. Enjoy!

What are your origins as a comic book fan/collector? I started paying attention to comics when I was in kindergarten and first grade. The schools I went to had “time out” and nap-time areas and lofts that included boxes of assorted comic books. The Flash and Batman stood out to me. Soon I was noticing the “Hey kids, comics!” racks at the local supermarket, and I’d buy (or beg my mom or dad to buy) any book that had a badass cover (usually The Avengers or something supernatural, like Ghost Rider or Deadman). I was also into monster movies and magazines, so I snatched up Marvel’s Godzilla comics whenever I found them and loved reading them on the school bus when I was in third/fourth grades. I started collecting in the early 1980s and you can learn more about that by listening to the Word Balloon podcast.

What about as a boxing fan? I had a fascination with martial arts for as long as I can remember, probably starting with Bruce Lee, but Muhammad Ali introduced me to the boxing world with the build-up to his 1977 title defense against Earnie Shavers. A year or two after watching that fight, I discovered Sugar Ray Leonard, who helped me appreciate the sport beyond the heavyweight division and its biggest star.

Did you also collect old boxing magazines as well? Yes Sir, I’ve got almost as many boxing mags as comic books (which drives my wife crazy). The first boxing mags I bought were issues of THE RING in the early 1980s. I still have them.

And, did you ever make any forays into the ring yourself? Only in sparring during the mid-to-late 1990s (not because I really wanted to, but because my trainer, a former welterweight slugger named Kevin Morgan, insisted on it) and a few exhibition bouts. The last exhibition I took part in was a charity event organized by Garcia Boxing (the mom-and-pop management/trainer team of Kathy and Max from Salinas, Calif., not the well-known Garcias of Oxnard and Riverside) in 2010 in beautiful Monterrey, Calif. I got to headline the ballroom dinner show against former 130-pound title challenger Eloy Perez, but the real thrill was sharing a dressing room with Riddick Bowe and the late Tommy Morrison, who also boxed on the card, and hearing those two former heavyweight champs talk about the good ole days.

 

HEAVYWEIGHTS THAT NEVER REACHED THEIR POTENTIAL

Hi Doug,

I think Renaldo Snipes could have been really great with the right manager and trainer to guide him. I personally thought he was beating Larry Holmes and the fight was stopped prematurely – Snipes was in no trouble at all. He had Holmes seriously hurt earlier in the fight!  Holmes got several ‘gifts’ in his career (Tim Witherspoon, Bonecrusher Smith who he thumbed repeatedly, etc).

Secondly, I had been trying to remember a fighter’s name for ages and I found it. It is Phillip Brown from Lake Charles, LA. Many people who were involved with him in boxing felt that he had the talent to become heavyweight champion if his weakness for drugs and women hadn’t destroyed him. I heard that for several of his last fights they had to go and find him when he left training camp. When they found him he was in no condition to fight. So, I guess the fees that managers and trainers charge are worth it if you have good ones. – Mike

Yes indeed, Mike. I think Snipes had a lot of potential and probably could have gotten more out of it with better management and training. He was very marketable (good looking guy with loads of confidence and an entertaining style) and he had physical tools (brute strength, durability, good stamina and crunching power in his right hand). But I don’t think he was ready to challenge a great boxer like Holmes (38-0 at the time and still in his athletic prime) when he did. Snipes was more prospect than contender, and I don’t think he ever recovered (psychologically) from that disappointing loss. Holmes ruined two very good New York-area heavyweight hopefuls (in Snipes and Gerry Cooney). Snipes’ management didn’t help him by putting him in with difficult opposition in back-to-back following the Holmes loss. He won some and he lost some (notably to young up-and-comers Tim Witherspoon and Tyrell Biggs), but he never regained enough momentum to earn another title shot.

I’m less familiar with Brown, but I remember watching him fight during his journeyman years, most notably against Riddick Bowe on the USA Network’s Tuesday Night Fights series. Brown was a physical specimen, tall and rangy, with a good jab and decent lateral movement; but the version that I saw lacked confidence. There simply was no will to win within him. He was often in survival mode in the televised bout that I saw of him.

I’ll say this much for Snipes, he always seemed to give it his all, even late in his career when he was being served up as a “name opponent.”

I think Renaldo Snipes could have been really great with the right manager and trainer to guide him. I think he could have been really good, not “really great.” He faced a great fighter named Larry Holmes, had his moment in Round 7, but simply didn’t have enough to finish the defending champ or enough to protect himself from an accumulation of punishment. Holmes is one of the top five heavyweights of all time. There’s no shame in losing to a prime version of the Easton Assassin.

I personally thought he was beating Larry Holmes and the fight was stopped prematurely – Snipes was in no trouble at all. We’re going to have to agree to disagree on those opinions, Mike. Holmes consistently put hands on the gutsy “Mr. Snipes” and was ahead on all three official scorecards at the time of the 11th-round stoppage. Holmes never had Snipes off his feet but I think the challenger had had enough by the time the ref ended the contest.

He had Holmes seriously hurt earlier in the fight! Yes, he did. He dropped the future hall of famer, had the champ hurt, but Holmes recovered midway through the round and put it on Snipes. I thought he put it on Snipes in most of the rounds, although credit to the New Yorker, who remained determined and defiant throughout, and never stopped trying to win.

Holmes got several ‘Gifts’ in his career (Tim Witherspoon, Bonecrusher Smith who he thumbed repeatedly, etc). Practically every boxer enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame received a gift or two (or three) at some point during their careers.

 

 

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

 

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