Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Usyk vs. the lt. heavies, Munguia’s future, boxer of the decade)
CRUISERWEIGHT KING VS. LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHALLENGERS
Long time listener, first time caller (throwback giggles!).
I’ve been intrigued by all the chatter immediately after Usyk did the job against Gassiev. It all seems to relate to Usyk fighting Bellew. The reason I’m intrigued is because nobody has mentioned the potential for a fight with Kovalev, Beterbiev or Bivol.
Out of all the fighters that might test Usyk on his (long anticipated) journey up to heavyweight; surely Kovalev would be the fight to test him? I honestly can’t see Bellew lasting 5 against Usyk.
Then we have Beterbiev who smashed out Tavoris Cloud in epic fashion, and Dmitry Bivol, who I believe still has much to offer and is a very dangerous counterpuncher (to the level that might shake Usyk’s boots!).
Would be interested in your thoughts.
Mythical matchup time!
Ricky Hatton vs Tony Canzoneri (at lightweight. Call an ambulance.)
Srisaket vs Tapia (I think that would be brutal but can see Tapia taking it later rounds)
Lee Selby vs Salvador Sanchez (would just love to be there!)
Much love. – John
Thanks for finally calling…, I mean, writing in, John.
I gotta go with Canzoneri, Tapia and Sanchez, all by decision.
Regarding Kovalev, Beterbiev or Bivol challenging Usyk, I’m not convinced those light heavyweight titleholders would do any better than Bellew might against the cruiserweight champ. We know Bellew, a former cruiserweight beltholder, can effectively fight at 200-215 pounds. And the Scouser is more clever in the ring than he’s given credit for. We’ve never seen Kovalev, Beterbiev and Bivol fight above 175 pounds.
I think Usyk’s lateral movement would give Kovalev and Beterbiev fits. Kovalev’s piston-like jab might help him out a little, but the sheer volume of Usyk’s offense (and the creativity of his combinations) might be too much for the aging Krusher. Honestly, I think Beterbiev would be just as impudent as Gassiev was against Usyk, only without Murat’s natural edge in size and strength, I can see the former Russian amateur standout getting stopped late. Bivol’s footwork/athleticism and power-punch accuracy might enable him to put hands on Usyk, but he may not have the size to keep the Ukrainian southpaw off of him. When I’ve spoken about Bivol fighting in other divisions with his management team, they’ve always suggested that he would go DOWN in weight (to 168 pounds), not up to cruiserweight.
PRIDE IN A RESPECTFUL SPORT
I hope you are having a good summer so far. We are having an extraordinary hot, dry one here in England.
I wanted to reflect on the pride I felt in being a boxing fan last weekend. The sportsmanship and respect showed by Usyk, Gassiev, Munguia and Smith was really refreshing and they did themselves and the sport proud with their courage and skill in the ring. OK, Gassiev was completely outclassed by Usyk, better he hung in there bravely and didn’t look for an easy way out.
In keeping with the sporting theme, did you see the photo that Nonito Donaire posted on his Twitter feed? A picture of himself out for dinner with Ryan Burnett (after Burnett had picked him as an opponent for the WBSS) with their respective partners.
Respect to Burnett for picking the Filipino Flash as his first opponent. Donaire may no longer be in his prime, but he showed against Frampton recently that he is still strong and powerful and a match for anyone. Burnett and his team must be hoping that moving back to 118lbs will weaken him.
Have a great weekend. – Jeremy, UK
I think Team Burnett understands that despite his age (and the fact that he’s been competing at heavier weights), Donaire represents as much of a threat as anyone else in tournament due to his experience and natural talent. They would be foolish to overlook him, and they’re not fools. They clearly respect him, as he respects all of his opponents (Nonito has always been this way), which is why they were able to have dinner before starting their camps.
Usyk, Gassiev, Munguia and Smith are a pleasant reminder that boxing is still a gentleman’s sport.
First time writer who really enjoys reading the letters from all The Ring fans over the world.
I just wanted to touch on the Munguia v Smith fight over the weekend and get your opinion how high Jamie Munguia can go in Boxing? Firstly, I thought it was a real enjoyable fight and credit to Liam Smith, I thought he put up a good fight and I have always felt he is the best of the Smith clan and a little underrated.
Munguia is a bit of a beast though. Yeah sure he is a young, fresh 21 year old, but I couldn’t see him keeping that pace up for 12 rounds. His fitness and work rate throughout this fight was very impressive. I think he took one round off whole fight around round 8/9 where he threw fewer punches.
Whilst I have enjoyed the savage nature of his last two performances, I find his style a little obvious and route one. He lacks the sweet science I enjoy watching in a boxer, but no doubt he will be a threat and difficult fight for many of the top boys in the division. Surely, Super Middleweight is where we will see him long term? He almost seems like a bit of a weight bully in this division.
Whilst he clearly has a bright career ahead of him, I just feel he will come up short against some of the classier fighters in this division. I think Hurd and Charlo are both too advanced for Munguia currently, they also won’t be giving stacks of weight/size away should they meet, but I don’t see them going down this route with him at 21 years old.
I think there is a great fight out there which will also educate Munguia immensely and that is versus Erislandy Lara. I know Lara is not everyone’s cup of tea, personally I love watching his skills and I think Munguia would learn so much from going in against someone like Lara. Trouble is it may be too risky as Lara could make him look to raw and take that belt away from him. I think Lara would get the better of him on points.
It’s going to be interesting to see how they map out Munguia’s career over the next 12-18 months. Cheers. – Martyn Weston
I think Munguia’s brain trust needs to get him more quality rounds like he got with Smith, but they need to get him to work on his technique, defense and pacing. I know they’ll keep him busy over the next year, and I don’t think we’ll see him take on any of the PBC 154-pound standouts, which is a good thing because (as you and many others have already stated) he’s not ready for them.
But time is on his side. All he needs to do right now and for the next one-to-two years is LEARN HIS CRAFT while his promoter (Fernando Beltran of Zanfer), with the help of some business partners (HBO and Golden Boy), builds his brand and fan base.
He might have to hook up with a threat in his next fight if he winds up in the co-feature spot to Canelo-Golovkin 2, but beyond that grand opportunity, I would only put him in with 154-pounds gatekeepers (Yoshihiro Kamegai, Tyrone Brunson, Willie Nelson) before upgrading to WBO/fringe contenders (Takeshi Inoue, Patrick Teixeira) and finally legit contenders (Michel Soro, Brian Castano).
Late 2019/early 2020, that’s when I’d try to turn him lose against fellow junior middleweight beltholders or middleweight contenders.
How high can Munguia go in boxing? I think he can become an bona-fide attraction if he and his handlers do things the right way.
Whilst I have enjoyed the savage nature of his last two performances, I find his style a little obvious and route one. So far, we’ve seen him physically impose himself (or try to in the case of Smith) on his opponents. I think he can do more than just rely on his size and power, but it remains to be seen against a world-class foe.
He lacks the sweet science I enjoy watching in a boxer, but no doubt he will be a threat and difficult fight for many of the top boys in the division. Yes, even now as a still-green prospect with a belt, Munguia would be a hard night’s work for even the elite 154 pounders.
Surely, Super Middleweight is where we will see him long term? Eventually, maybe when he’s in his mid-to-late 20s, but his next division will undoubtedly be middleweight, where huge-money showdowns with Canelo, GGG, Jermall Charlo and Danny Jacobs await him.
He almost seems like a bit of a weight bully in this division. That’s exactly what he is, same as the No. 1 man in the division, Jarrett Hurd.
What’s up Dougie! I have been following your mailbag for quite a while now (since maxboxing) and I always enjoy your input and perspective.
I am surprised there has not been more attention to the kid who passed out at the weigh-in a few weeks ago trying to cut weight. I think it was Danny O’Connor. If he was that dehydrated and drained what would have happened if he had actually made it to the ring?
I understand fighters drop a lot of weight prior to fights but is there any regulation or oversight there, or is it up to the specific teams. Seems like at some point it would become dangerous to the health of a fighter and there should be some sort of independent oversight.
Also, I have personally enjoyed the influx of fighters from eastern Europe/Russia recently (GGG, Krusher, Loma, etc., there are a few more). The style is different but they all seem to be tough as nails and seem willing to take big fights. It seems to me that outside of America the top guys seem to face each other a little more often.
Do you think that is a fair assessment?
Also, do you think that this will cause some of the fighters that are milking titles to take more risk and fight better fights?
Just curious of your thoughts. Keep up the good work! – Jason
Thanks for the kind words and for all the years that you’ve followed the mailbag column, Jason.
I think you make a fair observation of the elite boxers from Eastern Europe (and Central Asia). The standouts from those countries (most of which used to be part of the Soviet Union) usually had extensive amateur backgrounds along with really tough upbringings and they are very hungry/motivated to prove themselves if they are fortunate enough to make it to America.
Loma, Usyk, Bivol, Beterbiev, Derevyanchenko and Lipinets are already top dogs in their divisions (and P4P for the first two) after just 12-15 pro bouts.
There are world-class boxers from every country that would rather take the easy route than constantly risk their necks (and livelihoods) against the best fighters of their respective divisions, but there are also true competitors from every boxing-rich corner of the earth (the USA, UK, Mexico, Cuba, Canada, Japan, South America, South Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Thailand, etc.) that have faced the best and want to continue doing so if the sport’s twisted politics allow them to.
I am surprised there has not been more attention to the kid who passed out at the weigh-in a few weeks ago trying to cut weight. I don’t think that news was swept under the rug or ignored in any way. The media covered it and fans talked about it.
I think it was Danny O’Connor. If he was that dehydrated and drained what would have happened if he had actually made it to the ring? Nothing good. He either would have been listless the entire fight, if it went rounds, like James Toney vs. Roy Jones Jr. or Diego Corrales vs. Floyd Mayweather; or he would have been blown out early like Jaime McDonnel was recently against Naoya Inoue. Worst case scenario, O’Connor could have suffered a serious brain injury as many severely weight-draining fighters have in the past.
I understand fighters drop a lot of weight prior to fights but is there any regulation or oversight there, or is it up to the specific teams. It’s the responsibility of the fighters and their teams (training and managerial), but there are commission and sanctioning body rules that are meant to help regulate abnormal weight loss/gain. Unfortunately, these rules vary depending on the commission/jurisdiction and sanctioning body. Some limit how much weight a fighter can lose if he/she misses weight, others limit how much weight they can put on after the weight-in, and so on. Some authorities, the Japan Boxing Commission comes to mind, are looking to crack down on this issue.
BOXER OF THE DECADE
It’s a little early for this, but who do you think will win boxer of the decade?
Valero vs The Prince
Rigo vs Pacquiao @122
Rigo vs Ledwaba @122
GGG vs SRL
Have a good day, Doug! – Ray
Valero vs The Prince – Valero by up-from-the-canvas mid-rounds KO in a wild shootout
Rigo vs Pacquiao @122 – Rigo by close UD
Rigo vs Ledwaba @122 – Rigo by UD
GGG vs SRL – Leonard by close (maybe controversial) decision
Boxer of the Decade? I haven’t thought about it, but I guess we are getting toward the back-end of the 2010s.
In terms of pure business, Floyd Mayweather has to be the lead choice (especially if he’s able to engage in one more pop-culture-phenom-event to add to the billion-dollar sparring session with Pacquiao and the history’s highest-profile staged fight against McGregor).
Other FOTD front-runners include: Gennady Golovkin (if he beats Canelo in the rematch and has one or two more significant title defenses – Charlo, Saunders-Andrade winner, Murata), Vasiliy Lomachenko, Terence Crawford (if he can get a showdown with Errol Spence Jr. – and win), the winner of Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder (or whoever comes out on top of a Joshua-Wilder series, if they fight more than once), Aleksandr Usyk (if he has a few more significant cruiserweight victories and makes a successful jump to heavyweight) and Naoya Inoue (if he wins the WBSS bantamweight tournament and is able to win at title or two in a higher weight class).
Honorable mention: Canelo, Andre Ward, and Mikey Garcia (provided there’s not slip up tomorrow night).
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer