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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Wilder-Fury, Dmitry Bivol, Michael Hunter, Warrington-Frampton)

26
Nov

HOW GOOD IS BIVOL?

Hi Doug,

Hope you the family and the team are well.

I thought Jean Pascal, although a veteran now, was a solid test for Dmitry Bivol and the experience Pascal brings would make this an interesting fight.

Bivol is the real deal! He’s got one-punch knockout power and looks like he’s also developing into a very intelligent fighter also.

Short and sweet this week.

How far will he go?

Will he eventually make the move to cruiserweight and how would he do?

Bivol Vs Kovalev?

Bivol Vs Ward?

Keep up the solid work. – Tabraze, London, U.K.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions, Tabraze. The fam, the team and I are all good. I’ll respond to your opinions and answer your questions in order:

I thought Jean Pascal, although a veteran now, was a solid test for Dmitry Bivol and the experience Pascal brings would make this an interesting fight. You were correct. I thought Pascal provided good professional resistance over 12 rounds. Bivol

Photo: Twitter @HBOboxing

and his team (as well as the boxing world) are able to see clearly where he is strong (his jab, straight right, footwork and control of distance) and where he needs improvement (leverage on his shots, combination and body punching, pressure fighting). I think Bivol’s last three bouts (against Sullivan Barrera, Isaac Chilemba and Pascal) have given him the king of quality experience against a variety of pro styles that will serve him well in future showdowns against elite competition. Barrera brought a big, strong, technically sound and orthodox boxing style. Chilemba presented the classic cagey spoiler style. And Pascal gave his usual spirited effort along with his experienced awkward/unorthodox style. These have been fights for Bivol, who is just 15 bouts into his pro career, to grow on.

Bivol is the real deal! Well, we don’t know yet. He’s definitely a top-five light heavyweight, which is saying something given how deep and competitive the 175-pound division is. But only time will tell if he can establish himself as the No. 1 light heavyweight or the undisputed champ.

He’s got one-punch knockout power and looks like he’s also developing into a very intelligent fighter also. It doesn’t look like he’s got the one-hitter-quitter against world-class (or even formally world-class) veterans. He’s not sitting on his punches enough to get maximum leverage and he’s not turning them over enough to get the kind of snap a true power-hitter should possess. Bivol looked a bit amateurish in his style to me. He’s got a great amateur coach guiding him in the pro ranks but I think it would be good for his team to bring in an experienced pro trainer to help Bivol develop a more professional boxing style.

How far will he go? He’ll at least advance enough to earn a unification bout. How he does against a fellow world titleholder will give us a good idea of how good his truly is and how high his ceiling might be.

Will he eventually make the move to cruiserweight and how would he do? I don’t he’ll got to the 200-pound division, and if he did, I think he’d lose to the top cruiserweights. Bivol is “small” enough to make 168 pounds.

Bivol Vs Kovalev? Bivol by close decision in a tough fight that featured both guys getting dropped.

Bivol Vs Ward? Ward by close decision in a competitive, tactical fight.

 

FURY NOT FURIOUS WITH JOSHUA

It seems Tyson Fury has dropped the anger toward Anthony Joshua and is showing some humility even if he said both he and Deontay Wilder would beat him. He made some points that rang true:

  1. that Wilder is tall and rangy with dynamite in his fist so catching and countering won’t work so. I think he has a point in that even through gloves those punches are going to have an effect.
  2. He will be able to outbox Joshua with relative ease. If he doesn’t get tagged that is!

It struck me that we still know relatively little about all three. Regards. – Rob

We know enough. All three are unbeaten claimants to the heavyweight championship. All three own significant victories over formidable opponents (Fury’s got Klitschko on his resume, Wilder’s collected Ortiz’s scalp in their wild slugfest, and Joshua’s earned respect with his epic battle with Klitschko, plus owns wins against Alexander Povetkin, Joseph Parker and Dillian Whyte).

Fury, the lineal champ, is a mercurial switch-hitting stick-and-move giant. Wilder, the explosively athletic WBC beltholder, is the confident puncher with an awkward style. And A.J., the unified titleholder with the coolest head of the three kings, is the power-boxing technician who can close the show when need be.

I don’t believe Joshua is as beatable as Fury thinks he is, but I look forward to the winner of Saturday’s big showdown in L.A. attempting to prove the Gypsy King’s theory.

 

MONACO FIGHT NIGHT

Doug howdy,

Michael Hunter is a badass and a warrior – in an ugly fight on a dull card, he was great. David and Goliath. Also, interesting to see, as one has pretty much all the same questions about him as we do Usyk (to whom he lost clearly, but in a good, close fight).

I feel like most of the talk re: the big fights left this year is done and I just look forward to seeing them go down. One fight that’s been a little off the radar, over here anyway, is Carl Frampton vs Josh Warrington for Warrington’s title. Props to him for taking on Frampton in his first defense. I like both fighters; there’s maybe some questions about what Frampton has left in the tank, but I’m guessing his craft/adjustments + power will be tough on Warrington. I’ve seen less of him but he seems to have fewer gears and Frampton is the guy who can make you pay for coming forward. How do you see this going?

And Lebedev should retire. That was desperately dreary and if he couldn’t take Wilson of the “White Light” to a darker place given the night they both had it bodes poorly for him in the cruiserweight sharktank. There was a saving grace: the Monaco ring girls were a cut above, raised the spirits greatly in-between the (one round after another after another) rounds.

Missed the mailbag Friday, I hope you had a great and long weekend! Thanks as always for doing the mailbag. – Alec

Thanks for the kind words, Alec. I had a long and busy week and weekend due to holiday travel with the family and having to put the February 2019 issue of The Ring to bed, but all of that comes with the territory. (Sorry the Friday mailbag was a casualty of my Thanksgiving food coma.)

Anyway, I’m back! And I won’t argue with your opinion Lebedev (or the ring girls in Monaco). The Russian veteran is an old 39. He’s had a long career and a lot of hard fights. The 11 rounds he went with Guillermo Jones in 2013, and the facial damage he incurred against the Panamanian, would have ruined most guys but Lebedev put together a nice two-year run before dropping a split-decision to young Murat Gassiev, which was probably his last hurrah.

Michael Hunter is a badass and a warrior – in an ugly fight on a dull card, he was great. David and Goliath. Hunter is doing well as a small heavyweight. The U.S. Olympian has scored stoppages in his last three bouts weighing between 213-218. I like him, he’s got heart (like his old man). I think he needs some more professional polish, as he looked sloppy at times while loading up with single power shots against the lumbering Ustinov, who had the athleticism and grace of an elephant seal. Hopefully, Hunter keeps learning under the instruction of former champ Hasim Rahman. I wish I could be more excited about the Ustinov victory, but damn, that giant Russian was awful. He couldn’t even put a snap on his jab. Regardless, I look forward to seeing Hunter mix it up with fringe level heavyweights stateside.

Also, interesting to see, as one has pretty much all the same questions about him as we do Usyk (to whom he lost clearly, but in a good, close fight). I didn’t think that fight with Usyk was close. It was competitive in spots but I agreed with the official 117-110 scorecards (and found Round 12 hard to watch due to the punishment Usyk put on Hunter). If Hunter can the level of success he’s having above 200 pounds, I think Usyk can hold his own with at least lower-top-10 heavyweight contenders.

One fight that’s been a little off the radar, over here anyway, is Carl Frampton vs Josh Warrington for Warrington’s title. I’m looking forward to that fight.

Props to him for taking on Frampton in his first defense. Warrington is fearless.

I like both fighters; there’s maybe some questions about what Frampton has left in the tank, but I’m guessing his craft/adjustments + power will be tough on Warrington. I view Frampton as the more experienced and versatile boxer, but I also recognize that Warrington is in his athletic prime and just now coming into his own.

I’ve seen less of him but he seems to have fewer gears and Frampton is the guy who can make you pay for coming forward. How do you see this going? Firstly, I expect an INSANELY hyped atmosphere in Manchester. I was there for Frampton-Quigg and couldn’t believe how the Belfast fans took over the arena. But I know Warrington’s fans from Leeds are just as loyal (and vocal), so I think it’s going to be deafening in Manchester Arena. I see Frampton withstanding a spirited assault from Warrington, using his legs and boxing acumen just enough to win the majority of rounds in a good scrap.

 

WEEKDAY FIGHTS

Hi Dougie,Great job with the magazine in your new role, I look forward to each edition. I was listening to an interview with Stephen Espinoza and he mentioned that March only has a few good weekends for boxing due to the NCAA tournament. This got me wondering, what ever happened to weekday boxing? With all of the fights being telecast and networks/streaming services demanding more, do you see weekday fight nights possibly making a comeback? Makes sense to me. Thanks a ton! – Chris, Newburgh, NY

It makes sense to me, too, Chris, and thank you for the kind words about the magazine and my editorship (I’ve been blessed with top-notch editorial/creative/publishing colleagues). 

Weekday night fights used to be common place in previous decades. Even when I first began to cover the sport in the greater L.A. area in mid-1990s, Dr. Jerry Buss’s Forum Boxing used to promote Monday night fights at the Great Western Forum at least once a month. These days, it’s mostly club shows that are put on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, like Tom Loeffler’s Hollywood Fight Night shows. 

But as you noted, with all of the boxing dates that have already been scheduled in 2019 thanks to the new network and streaming platform deals, it’s a good idea for the promoters and the network executives to consider staging some of their prime-time world-class shows on weekdays during certain months of the year. Seriously, if most of the major shows are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, we’re going to have frustrating among of overlapping boxing programming for the foreseeable future. 

Check it out: ESPN’s seven-year deal with Top Rank calls for a whopping 54 live boxing events a year, which includes 18 cards on ESPN and 12 on the ESPN+ streaming app. Fox’s four-year deal with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions includes 10 prime-time fight cards a year along with 12 FS1 shows. DAZN’s five-year partnership with Golden Boy Promotions includes 10 shows a year (in addition to Canelo Alvarez’s next 11 bouts). DAZN, as you know, is also partnered with Eddie Hearn, who’s supposed to put on 16 U.S.-based Matchroom events per year (along with 16 U.K. shows). And Showtime, the remaining subscription cable network in the game, does at least 12 Championship Boxing shows a year, and will continue to do with its three-year extension with the PBC.

That’s A LOT of major boxing per year. The promoters and their network/platform partners need to figure out a way to spread that programming out.

 

SUSPICION THAT FURY CAN WIN

I’m cheering for Wilder and have not liked Fury’s style in or out of the ring… but the closer the fight gets the more I’m beginning to believe Fury will win. Wilder’s knockouts and power are mesmerizing but everything in-between seems to have holes. Something Max Kellerman said I believe about Bernard Hopkins a long time ago on Friday Night Fights has stuck with me. Great offense can look great against mediocre opponents but great defense needs great offense to show what it can do. It was his explanation as to why so many of us had underrated Hopkins for so long.  I don’t think either man is great… although I hold out hope that they could be. But I do think that Fury has more wrinkles in his game. I believe he’s been under these lights before where Wilder looked tense at the start of his lone high-profile fight. Nothing Fury does has the visceral impact of a Wilder KO but he does so many more things.

I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think I am. Anyways; I was about to do a what if with the current crop of heavyweights and those of the previous generations. Then I thought about what a class act Lennox Lewis has been about saying he had his time and now it is theirs. Wish all champs could be as great in retirement as he is. Cheers. – Jesse

Lewis is indeed a classy individual.

Neither Fury nor Wilder possess Lewis’s class in or out of the ring, but they are vibrant personalities with boundless confidence and divergent styles in the ring. Thus, their matchup is a fascinating one, even though it might turn out to be an ugly, awkward fight. I think the more awkward and less eventful it is, the better off Fury will be. If he’s able to take command early and frustrate Wilder by the middle rounds, it will be interesting to see if Wilder can set a trap or keep at it until he connects with one of his signature bombs. I think he can do it, but I don’t know that he can. I wouldn’t bet the house on Wilder. He’s never shared the ring with a man like Fury. But I’m going to stay with my pick of Wilder (probably by late stoppage) because I know that he’s a competitor and seems like one who rises to the occasion.

I’ll also be interested to see if Fury can hurt Wilder. My hunch is that if a man his size lands a flush shot, even if it’s an arm punch, he can do damage. If Fury can stun or wobble Wilder early it would instantly change the complexion of the matchup and we would suddenly be treated to the exciting showdown we’ve been wishing for (against our better judgement).

 

HOW FAR CAN FURY GO?

Hi Dougie. Hope this message finds you well.

Just a quick question before the madness of the Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury match-up completely dominates your newsfeed. I’ve been impressed with the sound-bites coming from both boxers training camps and it would appear that we have a real heavyweight battle to look forward to. I’ve wrote in before in support of Tyson Fury who just never fails to make me smile with his antics (yah big dosser, yah big bum… and so on). Fury, physically, looks sharp and deserves his props for once more going into the backyard of a feared champion. Of course, we won’t know if it will be a version of him that defeated Klitschko, or a version of him from his past 2 fights that actually shows up on fight night. However, if Fury were to pull off a convincing win against Wilder that would now be the 2nd time he has achieved such a feat in dethroning a champion on their home turf. If Fury were to go on and face AJ for a unification battle would his achievements be deemed worthy enough for a future HOF nomination? I know some fight fans may find that suggestion laughable at this stage but to cite an example, Oleksander Usyk has justifiably received kudos for winning his titles on foreign soil, albeit he has become unified champion.

Mythical match-ups

David Haye v Usyk at 200lbs

Matthew Saad Muhammad v Andre Ward at LHW

Always a pleasure, Dougie. – Raymond, Tranent, Scotland

I’ll go with The Feel and MSM by close decision or late stoppage.

If Fury clearly beats Wilder, I think the case can be made (and likely will be made by some fans and pundits) for him to supplant Anthony Joshua as the No. 1 heavyweight. However, they would need to fight in order to determine who’s the REAL champion

If Fury were to do that, I think he accomplishes enough to be in the hall-of-fame conversation. He likely gets on the ballot. I don’t know if he gets in on the strength of just Klitschko, Wilder and Joshua. Maybe, but my hunch is that he’d need to do more: defend his undisputed title a number of times, engage in rematches with Wilder and Joshua, be in entertaining fights. Also, Wilder and Joshua would need to continue racking up accomplishments after losing to Fury. Right now, Klitschko is the only future hall of famer on Fury’s resume. Wilder and Joshua aren’t near there. But if Fury beats them and at least one of them goes on to rack up a hall-of-fame worthy career, then I think the Gypsy King will make it to Canastota, but those are A LOT of IFs.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on IG and Twitter at @dougiefischer and watch Periscope on Sundays with the SMC track crew.

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