Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Canelo-Jacobs, Shakur Stevenson, Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, P4P No. 1, road warriors)
WEEKEND ACTION, USYK’S INJURY
Some pretty good fights on tap this weekend. What’s the one you’re looking forward to most? Hurd brings the action every time out, so he’s always appointment viewing in my book. Very nice matchup for the DMV area & J-Rock is definitely a live dog.
Mannnnn that Usyk news was a kick in the nuts. Was really lookin forward to seeing him make the plunge into HW. Funny to see guys like Whyte & Wilder actively dismiss his chances. Seems like AJ is the only HW out there who gives an honest take on Usyk and the problems he could pose.
Any early thoughts on Fazliddin Gaibnazarov? He’s got a damn respectable amateur pedigree and is in a nice step-up fight–what do you think of him in terms of his ceiling? Do you think his style translates well to the pro ranks?
If they fought next, who would you pick to win between Oscar Valdez & Shakur Stevenson? Call me crazy, but I think Stevenson would rack up the rounds and win a decision handily. Valdez has gotten by by out-toughing dudes, but I think he’s ripe for the taking if he doesn’t add new layers under the Reynosos. – DJ
I would consider Stevenson a live dog vs. Valdez if they fought this year but unless I see some serious slippage from Oscar in his next fight, I’d favor the battle-tested WBO featherweight beltholder to retain his title by decision or late stoppage. I think it’s fine if fans and ESPN’s commentators (and the fighter himself) wish to hype Stevenson up to the point where they claim he’s ready for all the top featherweights right now, but I hope his management is smarter than that and allow for the young man (still only 21 with just 11 pro bouts) to continue to develop his pro skills while gaining the kind of experience that will enable him to hold onto a world title once he wins it. I don’t think his time is in 2019, and I think Andre Ward understands this. Despite being a 2004 Olympic gold medalist with obvious talent and skill, he and trainer Virgil Hunter refused to be rushed into fights with world-class opposition. It him almost five years until he was ready for a world title. If it took Dre more than four years to be ready, why do fans (and pundits) expect Stevenson to be ready in less than three years? Do the featherweight titleholders look THAT weak?
Some pretty good fights on tap this weekend. What’s the one you’re looking forward to most? It’s a toss up between Hurd-Williams and Berchelt-Vargas. I love how both defending titleholders fight and I think the underdog challengers are going to acquit themselves better than many expect. I’m looking forward to tonight’s ShoBox offering with Thompson Boxing/Banner Promotions prospects Ruben Villa and Michael Dutchover in the co-featured bouts. (It’s very satisfying to witness under-the-radar prospects developed on the California club show circuit – mainly the Double Tree Hotel in Ontario – advance to a national spotlight. Much respect to Thompson Boxing for doing this time and time again during their 20 years in the biz.)
Hurd brings the action every time out, so he’s always appointment viewing in my book. I haven’t seen him in a boring fight yet.
Very nice matchup for the DMV area & J-Rock is definitely a live dog. I agree. As much as I like Hurd and enjoy watching him fight, I think the growing bandwagoners that are clamoring for him to be on pound-for-pound lists might have to hold that thought until after Saturday.
Mannnnn that Usyk news was a kick in the nuts. Oh, come on, it wasn’t THAT bad. It’s not like we’re lacking action this month. We’ve got quality main events on FOX and ESPN (in other words, entertaining fights on very large TV platforms in the U.S., which is always healthy for the sport) tomorrow night, and next Saturday we’ve got two excellent World Boxing Super Six semi-finals (Inoue-Rodriguez and Baranchyk-Taylor) on DAZN (in the U.S.). Don’t be greedy!
Was really lookin forward to seeing him make the plunge into HW. Well, we all will have to be a little bit patient. You want him to be 100% for his heavyweight pro debut, don’t you? A healthy Usyk is worth the wait.
Funny to see guys like Whyte & Wilder actively dismiss his chances. I say just they’re being haters, and they’re probably threatened by him.
Seems like AJ is the only HW out there who gives an honest take on Usyk and the problems he could pose. See, that’s why he’s the No. 1 heavyweight in the world. Joshua keeps it 100.
Any early thoughts on Fazliddin Gaibnazarov? Yeah, there’s no freakin’ way I’m gonna write this Ubek’s entire name every time he fights or whenever one of you super-geeks brings him up in a mailbag email, and I’m not even going to attempt to pronounce it, so what jerky Americanized nickname should I give him? Fazzy? Gabi? F-Liddy? G-Naz? (I’m partial to Fazzy. If he improves his footwork to about 25% of the twinkle toes of his old amateur foe Vassiliy Lomachenko, we can all start calling him Jazzy Fazzy.)
He’s got a damn respectable amateur pedigree and is in a nice step-up fight – what do you think of him in terms of his ceiling? Hard to tell. Despite his advanced age (27) and elite amateur background (two-time Olympian and 2016 Games gold medalist), he’s still only got seven professional bouts and has yet to fully develop a pro style. I’ve met him and seen him train at Egis Klimas’ gym in Oxnard, so I know he works hard and has potential, but time is running out and I still don’t see a complete pro game from him.
Do you think his style translates well to the pro ranks? I’ll be honest. I saw him fight live (his fourth-round stoppage of Jesus Silveira) on the Linares-Lomachenko undercard in NYC last May, and I wasn’t blown away by his ability or performance. He’s an aggressive southpaw (which I like) and he’s obviously very confident and comfortable in the ring, but he pot shots with lead power punches too much for my taste. I think he needs to develop a consistent jab and settle down more when he’s in range. I need to see cleaner technique with more leverage on his shots, as well as more combinations, before I become a believer.
CANELO VS. JACOBS
I hope this email finds you and your family in good health. I watched the Canelo-Jacobs matchup with much anticipation and I have to say the fight did not disappoint. Sure, it wasn’t the barn burner Oscar and Eddie promised us, but it was a high stakes chess match that saw the better fighter win with ease.
I saw Canelo box beautifully and show the best defense we’ve seen from him so far. I personally think he gave Jacobs way too much respect and could have done more if he chose to. Jacobs seemed lost for the first few rounds and I think he was shocked to realize he did not have the hand speed advantage he thought he did.
My overall assessment of the matchup is simple. Canelo is a much more complete fighter than Jacobs and I had Canelo winning 8 out of 12 rounds. Canelo is a true student of the sport and it shows with every outing. I don’t see anyone at 160 lbs. dethroning Canelo any time soon.
Lastly, for the people that complained about a boring fight (Golovkin) need to realize boxing is more than two guys bashing each other until the other falls. If you can’t appreciate the fight that occurred on Saturday night, I recommend you stick to mma and bare-knuckle fighting. – Zeus from Texas
Aw, come on Mighty Zeus, I know the Greek deities can be petty, but why you gotta toss your thunderbolts at MMA and BKB? I don’t even follow MMA, but I know that to be world-class in that sport you have to be every bit as dedicated to craft as a world-class boxer is, plus you have to master multiple combat disciplines/techniques. You can’t tell me they don’t have skill. And BKB is just boxing without gloves. If they wanna brawl, they’ll brawl; if they wanna box, they’ll box. You don’t gotta tear down one combat sport to prop up another.
And you don’t need to get huffy with fans that wanted more from an elite, pound-for-pound-level boxer and one of the best and most talented middleweights on the planet (who were earning a combined $40-50 million) when they shared the ring for the biggest boxing event this year so far. Golovkin is just giving two rivals s__t. He’s shared the ring with them. He knows how good they are, but he’s better than them in his mind and he probably doesn’t like them that much (that’s certainly the case for Canelo). That’s fair in this sport. Just like it was fair when the fans inside the T-Mobile arena booed GGG as soon as his sunglasses-at-night mug was displayed on the jumbotron monitors. That’s their right. It’s also the right of GGG and some fans to boo Canelo-Jacobs (and more than a few in the Las Vegas arena did that during the final round of the fight).
I hope this email finds you and your family in good health. We’re good, Zeus, thanks for asking.
I watched the Canelo-Jacobs matchup with much anticipation and I have to say the fight did not disappoint. I’m glad to hear that there are fans who tuned in live and enjoyed the experience.
Sure, it wasn’t the barn burner Oscar and Eddie promised us, but it was a high stakes chess match that saw the better fighter win with ease. And that fighter was definitely Canelo.
I saw Canelo box beautifully and show the best defense we’ve seen from him so far. I agree. When was the last time we saw Jacobs miss with that many punches – in every round!?
I personally think he gave Jacobs way too much respect and could have done more if he chose to. I think BOTH men gave too much respect and could have done more. That’s why I was so frustrated with the fight! But hey, it happens in boxing, even with great fighters. Back in 1983, Roberto Duran’s challenge to Marvin Hagler was supposed to produce some Sweet Savagery, not Sweet Science. Duran was already a living legend and he’d brutalized Pipino Cuevas and Davey Moore earlier that year, while Hagler, who had made seven defenses of the undisputed middleweight title – all by knockout, was at the peak of his technical destructive prowess. So, what happened when they shared the ring that November in Las Vegas? They delivered a 15-round boxing match. 10 years later two future greats – Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins – gave each other too much respect in their rather uneventful first encounter. It happens.
Jacobs seemed lost for the first few rounds and I think he was shocked to realize he did not have the hand speed advantage he thought he did. I don’t think Canelo’s hand speed shocked him, I think the Mexican star’s sublime head- and upper-body movement threw him off.
My overall assessment of the matchup is simple. Canelo is a much more complete fighter than Jacobs and I had Canelo winning 8 out of 12 rounds. I can’t argue with your score or your assessment (although I don’t think Canelo is THAT much more complete than Jacobs; I just think he had the more effective style and game plan on May 4.)
Canelo is a true student of the sport and it shows with every outing. I don’t see anyone at 160 lbs. dethroning Canelo any time soon. I don’t either, but I don’t think GGG or Demetrius Andrade will be walks in the park.
POUND FOR POUND NO. 1
Haven’t written to you for a long time, hope you are doing great!
Lot of people (i.e. Mexican fans and Golden Boy officials) kept saying in case of Canelo’s victory he should be crowned as P4P king. Well, he beat Jacobs convincingly but no way P4P #1 for me. Canelo does everything right: great defense, strategy, great boxing mind and overall great results but is he even half as special as Loma? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Couple of MM:
Pretty Boy Floyd vs Loma in SFW and in LW
Chico Corrales vs Loma also in SFW and LW
Castillo vs Loma in LW
Wishing you and your family all the best and thank you again for the great work! – HB
Thanks for the kind words, HB.
I’ll go with Mayweather by close decision (maybe controversial at lightweight), Loma by clear decision over Chico at 130 and 135, and Loma by very close (maybe controversial) decision over Castillo at 135.
Is Canelo “even half as special” as Loma? Yeah, I’d say he’s at least half, but no, he’s not equal to the Ukrainian ring wizard in terms of natural ability, the uncanny and dynamic blending of offense and defense, and unique boxing style. However, in terms of body of work, Canelo’s got the clear edge. The Guadalajara native has faced four future hall of fames before the age of 28: Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and GGG. Where’s the HOFers on Loma’s pro resume? Canelo has also faced several top contenders at 154 and 160 pounds, including Erislandy Lara, Jacobs and Austin Trout. Having said that, he clearly lost to Mayweather and more than a few fans thought he lost to Golovkin and Lara (some even think the Trout fight could have been a draw), so that holds him back in the pound-for-pound debate. Modern fans want the P4P King to be technically flawless and dominant, which is why most go with either Loma or Terence Crawford as the No. 1 among elites.
Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass who’s No. 1. I think there are six or seven elite boxers who have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the sport with their accomplishments and ring prowess, and that group includes Loma, Bud, Canelo, Usyk, Inoue, Spence and GGG. I’m just glad there are that many pound-for-pound players (along with Mikey and newly crowned Ring junior bantamweight champ Juan Estrada). All I want is for them to be in good fights against worthy opposition.
WHAT MAKES A CHAMPION GREAT?
Hope you are well and saying your prayers at night.
I hope I make the mailbag in spite of my somewhat ‘repetitive’ topic, but I think it’s relevant given the aftermath of Jacobs v Canelo and Canelo’s future as well as other fighter’s.
To clarify, I know that applying criteria to a fighter’s career is subjective, but that’s as close as we can get, so in your last mailbag you mentioned: ‘We’re just leaving the “Money” Mayweather era (2007-2015; 2017 if you count the McGregor “fight”), a period when the pound-for-pound king and top earner embraced a low-risk-high-reward philosophy and seemed to take pride in making uneventful fights, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if some of today’s top dogs are unapologetic about taking part in high-profile duds.’
(To be fair I plucked that quote out of your first reply to your last mailbag and you hadn’t finished making your point, but I don’t think the rest was relevant to mine).
Once upon a time, a fighter was judged on whether he ‘travelled’ or not. Mayweather never fought outside of the states, Canelo has hardly even fought outside of the Southern U.S and Mexico, yet Anthony Joshua travelled over here to face what was supposedly the best American HW contender on offer when he could also conceivably stayed at home in the U.K. and make lots of money defending his belts with his hometown advantage, just like Mayweather’s protegé – Canelo.
Do you think travelling has a bearing when it comes time to decide on whether a fighter is a first ballot HOF’?
Secondly, I would very much like your opinion on unification fights. We all hear the same scripted trite from almost every newly crowned belt holder – ‘I want to unify’, I’m here to get all the belts and prove I’m the best.’
How long (and of course as you once said context is very important so, each case might be judged differently) before a belt holder or how many fights do you think is hypothetically allowed before criticism is warranted or deserved? (a good example might be Adonis Stevenson who was heavily criticised for not taking unification bouts (or at least until the end of his career) 50-50 match ups? – Kio
I don’t think fighters should necessarily be in a rush to unify titles, especially if they are young and still developing/learning. David Lemieux is a good example. He won the vacant IBF title by outpointing Hassan Ndam and then immediately faced GGG in a unification bout about three months later. Lemieux (who was 25 at the time) wasn’t ready for Golovkin and was dominated. He’s never fully regained his career momentum and most hardcore fans don’t even give him credit for facing GGG when the Kazakh was at his peak. The Aleksandr Usyks of the boxing world are VERY rare.
I think Danny Roman and TJ Doheny did it right. (Both traveled to Japan to win their 122-pound world titles, by the way.) Roman got in three defenses in a one-year span and then took on the dangerous Irishman, who had made one defense of his title earlier in the year. The result was a hell of a fight that raised the stature of both fighters. Roman is angling to further unify 122-pound belts against undefeated WBC titleholder Rey Vargas.
Danny is doing it right. I think there can be a grace period of a year or two, but if a beltholder is talking that unification talk, he or she (Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor didn’t waste any time going after all the belts in their divisions) need to walk the walk (or shut the f__k up).
Once upon a time, a fighter was judged on whether he ‘travelled’ or not. Mayweather never fought outside of the states, Canelo has hardly even fought outside of the Southern U.S and Mexico, yet Anthony Joshua travelled over here to face what was supposedly the best American HW contender on offer when he could also conceivably stayed at home in the U.K. and make lots of money defending his belts with his hometown advantage, just like Mayweather’s protegé – Canelo. Dude, Alvarez was born in Mexico. He lives there. So, obviously he’s TRAVELED outside of his country. Joshua, the 2012 Olympic champ, is making his U.S. debut as a 29-year-old unified titleholder at age 29. Canelo made his U.S. debut (vs. Larry Mosley, a decorated U.S. amateur standout, in October 2008) as an 18-year-old. Who do you really think deserves more credit? Yeah, AJ can make a lot of money fighting in the U.K., but the most money he can make with a single fight is vs. Deontay Wilder in the U.S. That’s why he’s fighting in NYC on June 1. He’s gotta introduce himself to the American public with the hopes that a showdown with Wilder can be made later this year or sometime in 2020. If that fight every happens, you best believe it will land in Las Vegas because that’s where the most money can be made, which why Canelo, and Mayweather before him, fought there often. Nobody outbids Vegas.
Do you think travelling has a bearing when it comes time to decide on whether a fighter is a first ballot HOF’? Yes and no. I think being a world traveler is part of the popularity and folklore of the greatest boxers of all time, such as Muhammad Ali (who ventured out of the U.S. 14 times – 15 if you count Puerto Rico – 11 different countries and four continents) and Sugar Ray Robinson (who toured Europe in 1950 and ’51, fighting in several cities in France, England, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium). And I think the willingness to leave the comfortable confines of home to take on foreign opposition on their turf speaks to strong character, which is obviously something that hall-of-fame voters consider when making their selections. However, there are more than a few well-deserving American hall of famers who did not travel outside the good ole U.S. of A. during their pro careers, such as Billy Conn, Tony Zale, Rocky Graziano, Jake LaMotta and Michael Spinks, and nobody can deny their enshrinement.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.