Thursday, December 01, 2022  |

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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Big Baby, Mikey Garcia, Usyk & Bud, Wilfred Benitez)

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA
18
Nov

BIG PROPS TO BIG BABY

Hi Doug,

Hope you saw the Jarrell Miller-Bogdan Dinu fight. I cannot believe the negative comments made by some on Miller’s performance! Did they want Dinu put in the hospital? Miller did GREAT body work. I think he has very good power – Imagine a 300-pound man hitting you to the body the way he hit Dinu!

I think Tyson Fury might outsmart Miller and beat him on points. I think AJ would lose. Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz would be great fights and could go either way! I can’t wait to see Miller fight one of these guys! They can’t duck him forever if he keeps winning. What is your opinion on these upcoming/possible fights:



Fury vs Wilder.

Whyte vs Chisora.

Fury vs Ortiz.

Miller vs Ortiz.

Ortiz vs Joshua.

Wilder vs Ortiz II.

GGG vs Canelo III.

Keep us the good work – Love your column. – Mike

I’ll go with (for now) Wilder over Fury by late (maybe come-from-behind) stoppage, Whyte over Chisora by close decision, Fury over Ortiz by competitive unanimous decision, Miller over Ortiz by split (maybe controversial) decision, Joshua over Ortiz by late stoppage, Wilder over Ortiz by mid-rounds KO, and Canelo over Golovkin by majority (probably controversial once again) decision.

Hope you saw the Jarrell Miller-Bogdan Dinu fight. I was traveling with family over the weekend but the beauty of this streaming era we’ve entered is that I can tune in to any fight whenever I’m grounded and settled. I got off an airplane and accessed ESPN+ on my phone while waiting for luggage at baggage claim and the moment I selected the Hooker-Saucedo event the two unbeaten junior welterweights were being introduced in the ring (how’s that for great timing!). The following night, after driving several hours from Ohio to Michigan, the moment we were settled in our hotel room, I accessed DAZN and was able to catch the Rios-Alvarez, Hernandez-Morales, Shields-Rankin and Miller-Dinu fights live. (I missed Rosado-Arias, but I’ll catch it on demand when I’ve got some time this week.)

Bogdan Dinu got off to a good start, but it was just a matter of time until Jarrell Miller caught up to him. Photo by Ed Mullholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

I cannot believe the negative comments made by some on Miller’s performance! I thought Miller looked pretty good, he was relaxed and patient as he walked the mobile boxer down, and it didn’t take him long to break the unbeaten Romanian down and take him out. However, I don’t know much about Dinu, so it’s hard to put Miller’s victory/performance in perspective. Most fans will just shrug and figure Big Baby did what he was supposed to do, and I can’t fault them too much for doing that.

Did they want Dinu put in the hospital? No, I think the negativity was aimed at Miller’s career path and not so much at his performance on Saturday. They hear him call out the top dogs and boast that he’s the man in the division, but then they see him feast on faded vets like Tomasz Adamek and unknown/unheralded guys like Dinu. Fans want to see him earn his shot at Anthony Joshua by taking on and defeating a legitimate top-10 contender. To his credit, he did mention facing the winner of the Whyte-Chisora rematch during his post-fight interview on Saturday. That’s a step in the right direction.

Miller did GREAT body work. I was impressed with the snap on his body shots and with the fluidity of his head punches.

I think he has very good power – Imagine a 300-pound man hitting you to the body the way he hit Dinu! I’d rather imagine him trying to pound the body of Joshua, Fury and Wilder.

I think Tyson Fury might outsmart Miller and beat him on points. I think you might be right.

I think AJ would lose. I think you might be wrong. I see Joshua outworking Miller.

Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz would be great fights and could go either way! I agree.

I can’t wait to see Miller fight one of these guys! They can’t duck him forever if he keeps winning. I don’t think they are ducking Miller.

 

MIKEY SHOOTING FOR GREATNESS

Hello Doug,

I wanted to touch on the Mikey Garcia vs Errol Spence fight. I see everywhere, especially certain journalists exaggerating how the size disparity makes this fight a mismatch. Look, every time we get a mismatch we complain, every time we get someone daring to be great, we’re also complaining.

Yes, size is an issue and it will be the main problem Mikey’s going to face when he fights the unproven Spence, yet if he pulls it out, he’ll do what the old timers did all the time when they jumped in weight. This is an original-8-divisions jump in weight championship fight. In the olden days if you wanted to win a title in a second division you essentially needed to jump two of today’s “junior” or “super” weight classes to achieve this. Henry Armstrong went from feather all the way to middle (even though he didn’t win that one) and won three titles and held them at the same time. Hank is considered by many to be only second to Ray Robinson as the best ever. I admire Mikey trying to achieve what seems to be impossible. This is the only way to prove true greatness, try to do what nobody thinks you can do.

Guys like Loma, Usyk, GGG, all these boxers I love mostly win fights they’re supposed to win. I don’t remember the last time they weren’t favored in a fight. Mayweather, Pacquiao, Joshua, even Canelo nowadays seem to only choose fights they are favored. Why don’t we criticize them?

I remember a fight that most people haven’t mentioned, Hagler-Duran. This fight featured one of the top middleweights of all time vs a past his prime, yet still good, hall of fame lightweight and even though Duran didn’t win, he proved how great he was by giving the bigger stronger man all he could handle for 15 rounds. We’re not talking an unproven middle, we’re talking one of the best.

I applaud Mikey for trying to do what most boxers avoid, fight a bigger, stronger man and daring to be great. If he does win, everybody will crown him or we’ll here the cynics say that Spence was overrated. For me, I’ll be watching and do expect a good fight. I’m sure Mikey sees something here and I really hope he proves everybody wrong. Thanks, Doug. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Juan.

I don’t think Garcia is being ripped for taking this fight (at least not by most fans and media). I think the cynics are attacking or dismissing the matchup because it isn’t what most demanded. Hardcore fans want to see elite fighters challenge themselves, but they also want the results of those challenges to MEAN something within the sport. Most fans view Garcia as a top lightweight, potentially the best 135 pounder if he can prove it by beating Vasiliy Lomachenko. The Lomachenko-Garcia matchup holds more weight with boxing purists than Spence-Garcia because the winner would be the

Only a showdown between Crawford and Spence will prove who’s the best welterweight.

undisputed lightweight champ (and arguably the pound-for-pound king). Most fans view Spence as the No. 1 welterweight, but, like you, many also see him as somewhat unproven. So they want him to prove he’s “The Truth,” as his nickname claims, by facing and defeating the other top welterweights, which include Terence Crawford and the come-backing Keith Thurman. To the eyes of the purist, Loma-Garcia and Spence-Crawford make more sense and are more significant matchups than Spence-Garcia.

They don’t like Spence-Garcia because there’s no real upside for Spence apart from the money and the exposure he’ll get from the promotion. Beating Garcia won’t prove a damn thing, other than he’s a big, strong, technically sound welterweight badass – and we already know that. If Garcia upsets Spence, as you correctly noted, there will no shortage of knuckleheads that do more sh__ing on Spence than giving Mikey his props.  

It’s not fair – and trust me, the hardcore heads and so-called purists piss me off on a regular basis via Twitter – but that’s the boxing universe we currently reside in.  

I see everywhere, especially certain journalists exaggerating how the size disparity makes this fight a mismatch. Well, to be fair to them, it IS a mismatch in terms of size. However, as you know, there’s more to boxing than size. Intelligence, skill, experience and spirit also come into play (perhaps more so than any other sport).

Look, every time we get a mismatch we complain, every time we get someone daring to be great, we’re also complaining. Boxing fans are the ultimate complainers within a generation of complainers.

Yes, size is an issue and it will be the main problem Mikey’s going to face when he fights the unproven Spence, yet if he pulls it out, he’ll do what the old timers did all the time when they jumped in weight. You’re not wrong, and he should earn the same respect and admiration the older timers did.

This is an original-8-divisions jump in weight championship fight. In the olden days if you wanted to win a title in a second division you essentially needed to jump two of today’s “junior” or “super” weight classes to achieve this. True, but you don’t have go all the way back to the Golden Age for examples of this. Shane Mosley did it when he went from lightweight to welterweight to unseat Oscar De La Hoya

Jones (left) against John Ruiz from 2003. Photo by Sky Sports Boxing

in 2000, Roy Jones did it when he jumped from light heavyweight to heavyweight to snatch a belt from John Ruiz in 2003, and Bernard Hopkins did it when he leapfrogged the 168-pound division in going from middleweight to light heavyweight to take the 175-pound crown from Antonio Tarver in 2006.

Henry Armstrong went from feather all the way to middle (even though he didn’t win that one) and won three titles and held them at the same time. Actually, Armstrong went from featherweight to welterweight, then dropped down to lightweight (for his third world title), before popping back up to welterweight (where he made a record 19 title defenses). He challenged Ceferino Garcia for a version of the middleweight title during his welterweight reign.

Hank is considered by many to be only second to Ray Robinson as the best ever. Yeah, No. 2 all-time is either Armstrong or Willie Pep in my opinion.

I admire Mikey trying to achieve what seems to be impossible. This is the only way to prove true greatness, try to do what nobody thinks you can do. You’ve got a valid point. The greatest and most memorable upsets in boxing history occurred when the underdog was not only supposed to lose, but was supposed to be totally destroyed in the ring – Ali over Foreman, Leonard over Hagler, Duran over Barkley; I’ll even toss in the 43-year-old B-Hop over Pavlik.

Guys like Loma, Usyk, GGG, all these boxers I love mostly win fights they’re supposed to win. I don’t remember the last time they weren’t favored in a fight. They’ve been the odds favorites since they’ve been on the world scene (which didn’t take long for Loma). In their (and the odds makers) defense, they’re pretty darn good.

Mayweather, Pacquiao, Joshua, even Canelo nowadays seem to only choose fights they are favored. Why don’t we criticize them? They’ve all got their share of critics.

 

USYK AND CRAWFORD IN THE P4P

Hi Doug!

I always enjoy your mailbags! You hear from me once a month with questions – hope I’m not too annoying with them 🙂

So, after Usyk’s dazzling KO win I wrote on social media that for me Usyk is now P4P #2 and Crawford very close 3rd and I got an angry backlash with some of fans stating Usyk isn’t even in top 5. Now I know you are with The Ring and you guys have him No. 5 but putting hand on your heart do you feel Usyk is an equal talent to Crawford? Or Crawford is higher just his skills and applications are a bit too subtle for inexperienced fans?

And what were those scorecards at the stoppage time? Bellew up on 2 of the 3 cards? I was shocked since I had Usyk 5-2 after 7 rounds. Again, big thank you for all your creative output! – HB

Thanks for sharing your questions, HB (you’re not too annoying).

I had Usyk up 4-3 after seven rounds. I saw a close fight through six, which told me that there was the possibility for Bellew to be ahead on the scorecards given the location of the match (Manchester, England). That’s one of the reasons Usyk is the consensus choice for Fighter of the Year. He won and defended his cruiserweight titles on the road, where a competitive fight could be taken from him if it reached the final bell. In a neutral setting, I think Usyk would have won the Mairis Briedis fight by unanimous tallies of 116-112. But in Briedis’ hometown of Riga, Latvia, he had to settle for official scores of 114-114 and 115-113 (twice).

So, after Usyk’s dazzling KO win I wrote on social media that for me Usyk is now P4P #2 and Crawford very close 3rd and I got an angry backlash with some of fans stating Usyk isn’t even in top 5. An angry backlash on social media? NOOOOOOOO! Say it so!

Now I know you are with The Ring and you guys have him No. 5 but putting hand on your heart do you feel Usyk is an equal talent to Crawford? Firstly, I should note that Usyk climbed one spot, from No. 5 to No. 4, following the Bellew stoppage. Now to answer your question, yes, I do view them as equal talents (and equal athletes). But I believe Crawford deserves to be where he currently resides in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings, and I’m fine with having Usyk at No. 4 (though I certainly wouldn’t bother to argue with anyone who believes he deserves to be ranked higher).

Or Crawford is higher just his skills and applications are a bit too subtle for inexperienced fans? Crawford’s skillset might be too subtle for some observers to notice but I think most fans, even newbies to the sport, recognize his ring smarts, versatility and calculated mean streak. Everybody’s got their own pound-for-pond criteria, but for me, Crawford is closer to No. 1 than Usyk because he’s been at the world-class/elite level longer than the undisputed cruiserweight champ. Crawford earned The Ring lightweight championship in 2014 (the same year he traveled to Scotland, where he outclassed Ricky Burns for his first world title, and defended that belt against then-

Terence Crawford shows off his belt collection. Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank

undefeated Yuriorkis Gamboa). He earned undisputed champion status at junior welterweight last year. He won his third title in a third weight class this year. Usyk won his first world title in 2016, but he didn’t really arrive on the elite boxing scene until this year. And, believe it or not, there were still a significant number of fans and media that weren’t sure how good he was in 2016 and 2017. Seriously, the jury was still out on Usyk. Most of those same folks won’t admit it now (although I could prove some of the fan skepticism by searching through some of my old mailbag columns), but that’s the truth. So, my point is that Usyk still has to pay some dues before getting into that dynamic due space currently occupied by his little buddy Loma and Bud.

 

WILFRED BENITEZ

Hello Dougie. How is the family?

I will keep my questions short & I hope they get answered.

I have seen clips of Wilfred Benitez & read lots of articles about him. SRL was amazed & I quote “No one, I mean no one, can make me miss punches like that.”

I am quite high on him from the articles I have read but I want an objective opinion.

If he was more focused, what would have been his ceiling? Could we have had the 5 Kings instead of 4?

Winning your first title at 17 years 180 days against a HOF fighter has to be incredibly special.

Secondly, do you think Usyk will win a title at heavyweight? He’s special, that is obvious. But I don’t see him beating any of Fury/Wilder/Joshua. I actually don’t see any heavyweight beating any of those 3. I think Usyk has come in at the wrong time. Those guys are too big. I think he has HOF talents, but may not get in because he won’t win a title at heavyweight. If I were him, I would do an Hagler, probably end up being the best cruiserweight ever which will get him in the HOF. Or am I too pessimistic about his chances? – Tofunmi

I think it’s too early to be pessimistic or optimistic on Usyk’s chances of winning a heavyweight world title. We have to see him fight a modern-sized heavyweight contender before we can really get a handle on his abilities above the 200-pound limit. For sure, he’s got his work cut out for him versus the likes of Joshua, Wilder and Fury, but it’s also safe to say that those big men have not faced many (if any) opponents with Usyk’s blend of skill, athleticism and intelligence.

If (Benitez) was more focused, what would have been his ceiling? Well, he’s hall of famer as it is, and many boxing insiders and historians believe that he’s one of the best natural talents ever, so it’s not stretch to believe that he could have been an all-time great. As it is, he’s got the scalp of an ATG, Roberto Duran, on his resume. He beat Hands of Stone at junior middleweight, where I believe he had his best run. From late 1980 through 1982, Benitez compiled a 6-1 record that included a one-punch WBC title-winning KO of Maurice Hope and the 15-round unanimous decision over Duran (the loss was a 15-round MD to Hearns). “The Bible of Boxing,” as he was called, also has victories against HOFers Antonio Cervantes and Carlos Palomino, and top-10 contenders, such as Randy Shields, Bruce Curry and Pete Ranzany. So, he’s a bona-fide hall of famer even with his infamous inconsistency.

Could we have had the 5 Kings instead of 4? Yes, it’s possible. I don’t know if a more-focused Benitez would have beaten Leonard or Thomas Hearns, or if he was savvy and tough enough to challenge Marvin Hagler at middleweight, but a version of Benitez that was more dedicated to the sport definitely could have had longer title reigns, as well as a longer prime, which would have led to more exposure and recognition among the mainstream sports media and casual fans.  

 

 

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

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