Friday, March 22, 2019  |

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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Alvarez-Kovalev 2, Teofimo Lopez, WBSS drama)

Photo / Stacey Verbeek
01
Feb

ALVAREZ-KOVALEV 2, TANK VS. HUGO

First off, I’m excited for Eleider Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev 2. I thought the first fight was an underrated scrap of 2018, and the rematch is interesting. Kovalev looked settled into control in the first fight, got cracked with a big right, showed heart trying to survive, but was just too hurt to continue.

What’s interesting is Kovalev is still both the more skilled fighter and the harder puncher, but Alvarez is fresher, determined, and no slouch skillswise either. The key seems to be that Alvarez at this point is just more durable than Kovalev, and since the Krusher likes to sling his hands kind of low, a diminished chin combined with his aggressive style makes him quite vulnerable to a hard counterpunch. Alvarez’s quicker paws don’t help Sergey’s cause much either.

I think Kovalev can win this fight if he boxes a bit safer, and maybe the great Buddy McGirt can help him seal his defense a bit better. But I think in all likelihood this fight will have a similar arc to the first with Kovalev being the boss early, only to get caught somewhere in the mid rounds and eventually crushed. I’ll be rooting for Alvarez to bring the pain in this one.

Looking ahead to next week, what do you think of Hugo Ruiz filling in for Abner Mares against Tank Davis on short notice? I realize he’s going way up against it, but I really respect Ruiz as a veteran fighter and I’m wondering if he can make this interesting? He’s got quick hands and good countering instincts, but he’s also been stopped a few times and Tank has big power. If the Tank that showed up for the Floyd-Conor undercard shows up though, I think Hugo could win.  – Jack E.

No disrespect to Ruiz, but I doubt it. The best he can do against any version of Davis is be “pesky.” But against an in-shape and motivated version of Davis, I envision the 32-year-old veteran – who’s been stopped twice (in 122-pound title bouts) and went life-and-death against Jorge Arce’s little brother in a bantamweight bout back in 2011 – getting worked over and KTFO.

But I’m not s__ting on Ruiz as a replacement. We’re less than two weeks out from fight night, and given the fractured nature of the business, I believe it would have been very difficult to negotiate a deal in time for a legit 130-pound opponent to step in. I think Steve Kim said as much on Twitter, but it bears repeating, a hardnosed gatekeeper like Rene Alvarado or an unbeaten fringe contender like Andy Vences would have been the perfect fill-ins for Mares against Davis on Feb. 9. Hungry fighters like those two would have likely jumped at the opportunity to fight for a major world title in the main event of a Showtime-televised card. However, Alvarado is signed to Golden Boy Promotions, Vences is with Top Rank, and those two major promoters have partnerships with other networks/platforms.

It is what it is, and this era has gotta be tough for matchmakers. The bottom line is that there probably weren’t many opponents better than Ruiz that were willing AND available to step up to the plate on late notice. Maybe Andres Gutierrez, who was outpointed by Mares in 2017, would have been a more solid choice. He’s younger than Ruiz (25), bigger (been at 130 pounds since 2014) and he’s never been stopped. But who knows if he could have been ready to make 130 pounds or willing to face a beast like Tank on less than two weeks’ notice?

I’m excited for Eleider Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev 2. I thought the first fight was an underrated scrap of 2018, and the rematch is interesting. I agree. In my view, the outcome of the rematch either solidifies Alvarez’s position as the top 175-pounder in the sport, or it cements Kovalev as one of the most accomplished light heavyweight titleholders of the 2010s. And the style matchup is good. It could be an intense, tit-for-tat boxing match from start to finish, or a bona-fide shootout. We’ll see.

Kovalev looked settled into control in the first fight, got cracked with a big right, showed heart trying to survive, but was just too hurt to continue. I don’t think either fighter seized control of the bout before its abrupt ending. Alvarez had the advantage in the early rounds with his quicker jab, but Kovalev came on strong with some heavy right hands and two-punch combos by the middle rounds. I agree that Kovalev tried his best to continue after being hurt, but his body just couldn’t recover from the first knockdown produced by that right-hand bomb to the ear.

What’s interesting is Kovalev is still both the more skilled fighter and the harder puncher, but Alvarez is fresher, determined, and no slouch skillswise either. The Colombian is also clearly the bigger of the two.

The key seems to be that Alvarez at this point is just more durable than Kovalev, and since the Krusher likes to sling his hands kind of low, a diminished chin combined with his aggressive style makes him quite vulnerable to a hard counterpunch. You don’t have to be Eddie Futch to realize that.

Alvarez’s quicker paws don’t help Sergey’s cause much either. I think the fight comes down to hand speed, which is why I favor Alvarez by decision.

I think Kovalev can win this fight if he boxes a bit safer, and maybe the great Buddy McGirt can help him seal his defense a bit better. The recent hall-of-fame inductee will at least get Krusher to jab more and jab smarter.

 

WBSS, THE TAKEOVER, COMMEY

What’s up Dougie,

As always hope life is treating well, and that the family is well. I am a bit confused about the WBSS situation I read on multiple sites including ESPN that Ivan Baranchyk has withdrawn from the tourney. But Ring mag has reported his fight with Taylor is on for MAY 18. So, which one is it? Please say the fight is on. I know the tournament was in risk of falling apart but I really hope it continues to run smoothly not only for this year but for a long time. It really has been great and I hope more people tune in to give it the support it needs to keep going.

Now onto my favorite prospect/contender lol. As you may already know from my previous mailbags I am all in on the Takeover Train. So, my question about Teofimo Lopez’s upcoming fight is will Diego Magdaleno be a better step up fight for him? I don’t see it as that because of the layoff for Diego. You had mentioned you wanna see him vs a fighter like Beltran. I honestly don’t want to see that. I like Beltran but I don’t want to see Beltran end his career like that. I may be be crazy or too high on the kid but I think he would end his career. But they have to fight the fight for us to know. But what will this fight tell you about him? And if he completely dominates Diego is that a surprise?

A few years back I watch this short documentary about the hotbed of boxers in Ghana. Richard Commey was in it and ever since I been a fan of his and rooting for him to become a world champion. I might have been biased but I think he got the short end of a few decisions. I still consider him undefeated but those were really close fights so I won’t argue. But I’m excited for his fight and will be pulling for him all the way I think this is his chance to become a world champion.

Let’s see how each fight goes but I hope this leads to a matchup of Commey Vs Lopez. Unfortunately, I will ride with Lopez and hope that leads to a fight with Loma. Yes, I know I’m crazy. I said it before but I do think he’s ahead of the game. I felt this way early on about Felix Verdejo lmfao, boy was I wrong. And on another note, another match up I really want to see is Verdejo vs Lopez. If you ever get to see Bob please throw that his way. – Omar, Paterson, NJ

The closest I’ll probably get to Arum is listening to him on Steve Kim and Mario Lopez’s 3 Knockdown Rule podcast, but that’s OK. I have a feeling you’ll get your Lopez vs. Verdejo showdown sooner rather than later. It’s a natural matchup for Top Rank, and one that makes more sense this year than pushing Lopez into a title bout with a veteran as hardnosed and heavy handed as Commey. (You can forget about Lopez challenging

Commedy takes it to Robert Easter during their hotly contested 12-round IBF lightweight title bout. Photo / Jim Fenwick-Team Commeyloooooooooong time. They know how to develop talent.)

Lomachenko this year. I know the young man would literally leap at the opportunity, but he’s not ready. The good folks at Top Rank will know when he’s ready for a title shot and when he’s ready to take on the Pound-for-Pound King. They’ve been doing this for a long time.)

Commey is a different story. He’s looking sharp under the guidance of Andre Rozier and as you noted, he’s arguably undefeated – I agree that his split-decision losses to Robert Easter and Denis Shafikov easily could have gone his way – and he’s a seasoned road warrior. If he beats Isa Chaniev for the vacant IBF title, he’s the one who will get the shot at Lomachenko in an April unification bout.

I am a bit confused about the WBSS situation I read on multiple sites including ESPN that Ivan Baranchyk has withdrawn from the tourney. That’s the latest news on the WBSS drama.

The article on the Baranchyk-Taylor bout being scheduled for May 18 that appeared on RingTV.com early (and is still posted) was from a WBSS press release. It was probably wishful thinking on the part of the struggling organization, but perhaps they can still salvage the attractive semifinal. If not, they’re going to have to bring in a substitute for Taylor, or give the Scottish star a “bye” to the finals. Regardless, as much as I wanted to see how Baranchyk would fare vs. Taylor, the showdown I really want to see is Taylor vs. Regis Prograis. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the WBSS can hold it together long enough to make it happen before the fall. (On a brighter note, it looks like the WBSS bantamweight semfinal between Naoya Inoue and Emmanuel Rodriguez is close to landing a date and place in April. Again, fingers crossed….)

I am all in on the Takeover Train. I guess it’s you, Steve and Mario driving that train. Hoot! Hoot!

So, my question about Teofimo Lopez’s upcoming fight is will Diego Magdaleno be a better step up fight for him? Is it a “better” step-up bout than his last fight (vs. Mason Menard)? Yeah, a little bit. Magdaleno’s a little more polished and technical, and he’s got a better foundation than Menard, but that doesn’t mean the Las Veags southpaw will fare any better than Menard did or last much longer with The Ring’s 2018 Prospect of the Year.

Lopez and Magdaleno. Photo / Stacey Verbeek

I don’t see it as that because of the layoff for Diego. It’s not so much about Magdaleno’s layoff – because he fought twice in 2018 – it really comes down to whether he has the power to get Lopez’s respect. I don’t think he does. Like I said, Magdaleno’s a good technician. He can move well, and he’s got more pro experience (a nice 31-2 record), but the lack of power and physical strength will cost him against an explosive, athletic young gun like Teofimo.

You had mentioned you wanna see him vs a fighter like Beltran. Yeah, I think he’s about ready for the likes of Raymundo.

I honestly don’t want to see that. I like Beltran but I don’t want to see Beltran end his career like that. I understand. But fighting is how Beltran earns a living, and I don’t think there are any other decent paydays out there for him.

I may be crazy or too high on the kid but I think he would end his career. I don’t think that’s a crazy prediction.

But they have to fight the fight for us to know. True, and I think they will.

But what will this fight tell you about him? Not much. It’s just Lopez remaining active against solid-but-unranked veteran lightweight. Maybe it will show us how he handles an experienced southpaw, but my guess is that Diego’s stance won’t give him too many problems.

And if he completely dominates Diego is that a surprise? Not at all.

 

REPEAT OR REVENGE

Hi there Doug.

Rematches are almost always interesting and I can’t wait for Eleider Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev to do it again.

How much truth are there to the stories about Kovalev relating to ill-discipline and taking off too much weight before his fights? He does seem to fade down the stretch in his last fights, so there might be something to it.

Another thing that I have noticed about Kovalev is that he does seem to get caught with the same thing over and over again: the straight right hand over the left hand carried low, after a few rounds have run their course. It happened against Pascal in their first fight, it happened against Ward and then again against Alvarez. Whatever he changes on Saturday, he’ll need to close that gap. If you are going to carry the left low, then be sure to keep the right up to catch incoming shots and stay busy with the jab.

If Kovalev wants to be a champion again, he needs to do what he did last time without getting cracked with the right hand again. If he can maintain a steady output for 12 rounds while staying away from the right by keeping his guard higher and stepping to his right, I can see him winning on points or busting Alvarez up for a late stoppage.

Alvarez’s big weakness is that he isn’t busy enough and often lets his work rate fall away, making fights closer than they should be. He needs to jab more, go to the body of Kovalev where the Russian clearly doesn’t like it and look for the opening for that right hand, while guarding against over confidence.

I think Kovalev has the skill set to make adjustments and win this fight but it is his mental fortitude that I am worried about. I have the feeling that he is a front runner who gets discouraged and loses momentum when the fight is taken away from him, sort of like a Mike Tyson. Do you think he is one of those bully types who has a personality change after he gets a beating?

A fighter winning by knockout usually wins the rematch in the same way, only quicker. There have been notable exceptions, one of the most famous ones being Joe Louis against Max Schmeling but my gut tells me that Kovalev is not the Brown Bomber.

I am picking Alvarez to find Kovalev’s chin again somewhere around the sixth round and hang on to his belt in an entertaining scrap.

Would like to hear your thoughts.

Mythical matchups:

Brian Mitchell vs Julio Cesar Chavez & Wilfredo Gomez at 130.

Nikolai Valuev vs Abe Simon

Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

I’ll go with Chavez by late stoppage in a great fight and Gomez by close, maybe controversial decision; and I’ll take Simon over the Russian giant via decision in a rather ugly and ponderous match. Good ones, Droeks!

Regarding your analysis and prediction for the Alvarez-Kovalev rematch, there’s not much I can add to it, or argue with. Most fans, pundits and media view Alvarez as a solid favorite based on a combination of Alvarez’s performance in the first bout and Kovalev’s history/career trajectory.

Right or wrong, fair or not, most boxing observers view Kovalev as mentally fragile following the back-to-back losses to Ward. Perhaps the controversial nature of those fights, plus the stress on his training situation and personal life between the promotions, did a number on him. Or maybe he’s just always been a bully. Or maybe we’re all trying too hard to pretend that we have degrees in psychology.  

Anyway, you’re one of the few pundits I know of who are giving Kovalev a shot at winning, provided he boxes the right fight (even though your official prediction is that he gets stopped by the middle of the rematch). Martin Mulcahey has gone on record picking Kovalev to win by close decision. 

Sergey Kovalev pops Igor Mikhalkin with a jab. Photo / @HBOBoxing

He also believes that Kovalev’s key to victory is to keep a distance boxing match by keeping Alvarez on the receiving end of a long jab. It makes sense, and if he turns out to be correct, he’ll be a genius for a whole week. (And we all know how much fun that is!) I think Kovalev will try to do what Marty hopes he can (and what I’m guessing Buddy McGirt has instructed him to do) and I think these tactics will produce an intense chess match that goes 12 rounds, but I think Alvarez has a very good – and quicker – jab that he will employ and I think the Colombian will have more moments in the fight than the former champ.

How much truth are there to the stories about Kovalev relating to ill-discipline and taking off too much weight before his fights? There’s some truth to it, especially before his losses. I think Kovalev even admitted to (or at least eluded to) “burning the candle on both ends” before and after his title defense against Isaac Chilemba in Russia. I should note that although Alvarez isn’t known for being a party animal between fights, he is a BIG light heavyweight who walks around at 210 or more between fights, so dramatic weight loss could be a factor for the defending beltholder.

I have the feeling that he is a front runner who gets discouraged and loses momentum when the fight is

Is this an “old” fighter? Photo / Stacey Verbeek

taken away from him, sort of like a Mike Tyson. Well, I don’t want to give him a simple label like “front-runner,” but I’ve never seen Kovalev come-from-behind to win a hard fight, like Tyson. Did you consider Tyson to be a “front-runner”?

Do you think he is one of those bully types who has a personality change after he gets a beating? I don’t know. Maybe he’s just getting old, and maybe his mid-30s is a lot “older” than Alvarez’s mid-30s.

 

BOXING’S FRACTURED BUT IT’S STILL GOOD

Hey Dougie,

It’s been a while since I wrote to you, I hope you and the family are well. Just wanted to get your opinion on a few things.

1- People bitching about the divide in boxing, yes it is a problem that some fights may not materialize because of the politics currently going on in our universe, but there are always good fights to be made. One example, is people complaining that LOMA is not fighting Garcia, the WBA just ordered a purse bid for Loma vs Crolla and I think that’s a great fight. Crolla is not a world beater but he’s solid and he’s bigger so I am excited for that fight. Another one is Joshua not fighting Wilder, but we are almost definitely getting Wilder-Fury II and Joshua will build his brand against Big Baby, making the eventual fight huge and it will bring in a ton of new fans, win-win-win in my book (also the fight between the Wilder-Fury winner and Joshua is too big for politics to get in the way). GGG will sign with DAZN (probably) and that brings him right back into the Middleweight mix, and sets up rematches galore and fights with up and comers like Mungia. A lot to be happy about you cynical f__ks, lighten up lol.

The only division where I agree with the cynicism is Welterweight, but Crawford is still fighting solid dudes (Khan is going to be a fun fight while it lasts), Spence will force Garcia back down, and who knows an undisputed fight on both Showtime and ESPN+ between Crawford and the winner of an eventual Thurman-Spence fight could materialize and be amazing for boxing as well. Thoughts on all these situations?

2- WBSS on its last legs? I heard Baranchyk is out because of the money issues, which is pretty horrific, I think the WBSS has been nothing but good for boxing and this mismanagement will just kill a fun tournament that finally has the fans it deserves. What do you think will happen, can they finish season II at least?

3-  MMs

In shape One Time vs Tommy Hearns

Big Baby vs Baby Face

Hagler vs Canelo in a 15 rounder

Thanks for the mailbags Dougie, reading them turned me into a hardcore fan and I can’t imagine my Mondays and Fridays without them. Cheers. – Abed

Thanks for the very the kind words for this column, Abed.

I’ll start with your Mythical Matchups:

In shape One Time vs Tommy Hearns – Seriously? Bro, Hearns turns One Time into DONE Time (in NO TIME)!

Big Baby vs Baby Face – Miller by close (perhaps unpopular, because we know who’s gonna put the butts in the seats) decision in a pretty good heavyweight scrap.

Hagler vs Canelo in a 15 rounder – The Marvelous One by championship rounds (13-15) stoppage in a tremendous fight. 

People bitching about the divide in boxing, yes it is a problem that some fights may not materialize because of the politics currently going on in our universe, but there are always good fights to be made. I agree. Tomorrow night’s ESPN main event is a prime example and there are choice matchups on the Feb. 9 DAZN and Showtime cards. I think April is going to be a stacked month, and of course, Canelo-Jacobs is an excellent middleweight matchup. But, still, you know darn well it’s fun to moan and complain about everything that doesn’t go right in boxing on social media and in comment sections. Being a whiny miserable bitch is an integral part of being a modern sports fan.

people complaining that LOMA is not fighting Garcia, the WBA just ordered a purse bid for Loma vs Crolla and I think that’s a great fight. Crolla is not a world beater but he’s solid and he’s bigger so I am excited for that fight. I’m not that excited about that fight. I think Crolla is tailor-made for a boxing wizard like Loma. If Jorge Linares outclassed Crolla, what do you think the Pound-for-Pound King will do to the likable Manchester native? Based on styles (and size), I think Luke Campbell would give Loma a much tougher fight.

Another one is Joshua not fighting Wilder, but we are almost definitely getting Wilder-Fury II and Joshua will build his brand against Big Baby, making the eventual fight huge and it will bring in a ton of new fans, win-win-win in my book (also the fight between the Wilder-Fury winner and Joshua is too big for politics to get in the way). I agree, although I’m getting sick of all the boxing industry/business back-and-forth between Team Joshua and Team Everybody Else. Just make the f__king fights, already! Anyway, Wilder-Fury2 is the most welcome rematch to be made in 2019 and Joshua-Miller (if it happens) is a perfect U.S. debut fight for AJ, especially if it takes place in the NYC area, which it will.

GGG will sign with DAZN (probably) and that brings him right back into the Middleweight mix, and sets up rematches galore and fights with up and comers like Mungia. Maybe. Let’s not count our chicks before they are hatched. Wherever Golovkin goes, he’ll be most welcome, and fans will watch regardless of who he fights (no matter what they claim).

A lot to be happy about you cynical f__ks, lighten up lol. Never happen, bro. They LOVE being miserable.

The only division where I agree with the cynicism is Welterweight, but Crawford is still fighting solid dudes (Khan is going to be a fun fight while it lasts), Spence will force Garcia back down, and who knows an undisputed fight on both Showtime and ESPN+ between Crawford and the winner of an eventual Thurman-Spence fight could materialize and be amazing for boxing as well. I don’t see Showtime/Haymon and ESPN/Arum working together to co-promote a Crawford vs. Spence or Thurman PPV unless Bud, Errol and Keith can elevate themselves to Mayweather-Pacquiao-level stardom. If that eventually happens (and I doubt it) it won’t happen anytime soon.

WBSS on its last legs? I hope not. The bantamweight and cruiserweight tourneys seem intact, though delayed, but the junior welter side looks to be in jeopardy. I think it can survive (though wounded) without Baranchyk, but if it loses Regis Prograis, the WBSS may as well dissolve it.

I heard Baranchyk is out because of the money issues, which is pretty horrific, I think the WBSS has been nothing but good for boxing and this mismanagement will just kill a fun tournament that finally has the fans it deserves. Baranchyk’s management is responsible for his wellbeing, not that of the WBSS or boxing fans.

What do you think will happen, can they finish season II at least? I have no idea, but I’m rooting for them to get it together.

 

THE RING, DAZN, EUROPEAN BOXING

Hi Dougie

Greetings from Germany. First up props to your forecast that the Munguia-Inoue fight will be an interesting brawl.

Sometimes it was a slugfest but it definitely was fun to watch and I had the feeling that Munguia was in big problems in the 10th round. If he wants to fight the Big Guns he better work hard at his defensive flaws or he won’t survive the first 3 Rounds against the likes of GGG and Canelo.

I am a longtime Ring magazine reader (dating back to the ‘90s) and always envied you guys because it was difficult to watch all the interesting fights here in Germany but now with DAZN it’s a dream come true.

Last week I watched the Pacquiao and the Andrade events and last weekend I could watch the Thurman and the Munguia-Inoue fight.

All events with the full undercard and with the relive option, I couldn`t be more excited.

Speaking of the old times, I wonder how much you could watch from the German boxers like Graciano Roccigiani or Henry Maske. The first fight between Maske and Rocky was a classic and unfortunately a scam, but a great fight nevertheless.

Also, I enjoyed the times of Chris Eubank Senior and Nigel Benn.

So, my Mythical Matchups with a European Flavor are:

Calzaghe-Rocchigiani

Maske-Eubank

Hopkins-Michalczewski

Thanks. – Andy

I will go with Calzaghe, Maske and Hopkins by close decision in hotly contested bout that are legitimately difficult to score.

Thanks for sharing and for the kind words, Andy. Please write again soon.

Props to your forecast that the Munguia-Inoue fight will be an interesting brawl. Mexico vs. Japan seldom disappoints in the prize ring.

Sometimes it was a slugfest but it definitely was fun to watch and I had the feeling that Munguia was in big problems in the 10th round. Me too, but I was impressed with his resilience, poise and stamina, as well as his jab, combos and body attack. Inoue made for a good gut check, and I think he passed.

If he wants to fight the Big Guns he better work hard at his defensive flaws or he won’t survive the first 3 Rounds against the likes of GGG and Canelo. You’re probably right, but there’s no rush to make those fights. He’s just 22 believe it or not.

Speaking of the old times, I wonder how much you could watch from the German boxers like Graciano Roccigiani or Henry Maske. I was aware of the world titleholders based in Germany thanks to The Ring and other boxing publications, but I had a hard time watching their fights. I had to order VHS tapes (usually from the classified ads in the boxing magazines) in order to watch just one or two of their fights. I didn’t watch much Maske because his style was too technical for me at the time, but I had a few of his fights and a bunch of Dariusz Michalczewski’s title defenses. I’d always wondered why they didn’t fight (promotional/network allegiances, what else?) and what would have happened if they had.

Also, I enjoyed the times of Chris Eubank Senior and Nigel Benn. I was a Benn fan and I was fascinated by Eubank. I was able to watch some of Benn’s early middleweight bouts (including his WBO title win again Iran Barkley) on network television, but I followed much of their super middleweight reigns on Showtime. I didn’t have Showtime in the early-to-mid 90s, so I had to drive to a cousin’s apartment in Gardena, California to watch Benn and Eubank, and he thought I was nuts to go out of my way to watch tape-delay fights involving two “funny talking” British brothas.

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