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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Hurd-Williams, Berchelt, Navarette, R.I.P Harold Lederman & Bert Cooper)

Julian Williams cracks huge odds and media favorite Jarrett Hurd with a right hand.
13
May

REST IN PARADISE

Hi Dougie –

I hope that all is well on your end. First, I want to say I really like Jarrett Hurd because I think he’s very entertaining and will face anyone. However, I’m happy for Julian Williams because he showed that a knockout loss doesn’t define you. I was particularly impressed with how he used angles while infighting & that sneaky Tito Trinidad shoulder push off as well.

Emanuel Navarette seems like he’s the truth in that division after seeing him again. I think Isaac Dogboe is still a good, tough fighter but he’s a little small and talks of moving up may hinder him more IMO but best wishes to him.

As far as Miguel Berchelt, he did what was expected. I hope Francisco Vargas takes a long recovery and some light touches if he continues on. What do you make of potential Berchelt opponents?

Berchelt v Gervonta

Berchelt v Farmer

Berchelt v Ito (if he wins)

Berchelt v Loma (135)

I also wanted to send a big ‘Rest in Paradise’ to Harold Lederman & Bert Cooper. Mr. Lederman was one of the most familiar boxing voices I’ve ever known yet rarely ever see. I truly enjoyed his mid-rounds scoring and analysis. As for Mr. Cooper, I loved that ‘90s boxing era & his fights with Holyfield & Moorer were must-see TV. I offer condolences to their families & friends.

Thanks, as always. – Jamaal, Louisiana

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the mailbag column, Jamaal.

Lederman’s affable personality, periodic scores and judge’s insight was just as integral to HBO Boxing’s great broadcast booth as Larry Merchant’s analysis and Jim Lampley’s dramatic blow-by-blow call. There’s a reason all three are enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. I’m guessing you never met Harold. In fact, I’m certain you didn’t because if you had, you’d have shared a wonderful little story about meeting him and chatting boxing. Harold was like that with all boxing fans. I know it sounds like hyperbole when all of these boxing media and industry folks proclaim on social media that “nobody loved boxing as much as Lederman,” but it’s absolutely true; and he loved his fellow fans, too. He will be sorely missed.

So will Cooper, and all of the risk-it-all-balls-to-the-wall gatekeepers like him, who seem to be a dying breed in the sport. At least we’ve got his fights to watch over and over again. The shootouts with Evander Holyfield and Michael Moorer were definitely must-see TV. And you can add his 12-round battle of attrition with Ray Mercer to that list (Cooper lost the decision but broke the Merciless One’s jaw).

Also, be sure to check out Cooper’s victories. He had his share of notable wins and upsets during his wayward journey from prospect to contender to gatekeeper, including a very entertaining, narrow 12-round decision over then-undefeated (10-0) Henry Tillman (the 1984 Olympic gold medalist at 201 pounds) for the NABF cruiserweight title, 

and stoppage of then-unbeaten Canadian prospect Willie DeWitt (the 1984 Olympic silver medalist at 201 pounds, and heavyweight fringe contender Joe Hipp (whom he stopped one month prior to challenging Holyfield on a week’s notice).

He also stopped Orlin Norris for the NABF heavyweight title (but I couldn’t find a YouTube video of this fight). His KOs of not-so-great-white-hypes Cecil CoffeeRocky Pepeli, and Richie Melito are also fun YouTube watches.

I want to say I really like Jarrett Hurd because I think he’s very entertaining and will face anyone. Those are two good reasons to like a prize fighter. I’m a Hurd fan, too.

I’m happy for Julian Williams because he showed that a knockout loss doesn’t define you. Most of the boxers enshrined in the hall of fame have shown us this, but goof-ball fans will continue to write-off any boxer that gets overwhelmed during a fight or caught with a good shot.

I was particularly impressed with how he used angles while infighting & that sneaky Tito Trinidad shoulder push off as well. J-Rock boxed and FOUGHT a brilliant game plan. He was by far the more technically proficient of the two junior middleweights, as well as the more accurate puncher (I have no idea how some observers missed this). Much props are due to Williams and his trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards.

Emanuel Navarrete sends Isaac Dogboe to canvas. Photo by Mikey Williams-TOP RANK

Emanuel Navarette seems like he’s the truth in that division after seeing him again. Navarette is a hell of a fighter, but let’s not make the same mistake with him that we did with Dogboe and proclaim him to be “the truth” at 122 pounds after two title fights. Navarette has proven to be a better junior featherweight than Dogboe, who had proven to be the better of Jessie Magdaleno and one no-hoper from Japan. That’s it. Dogboe was still largely unproven as the WBO titleholder prior to facing Navarette, and so is the 24-year-old from Mexico City. Let’s see if Navarette can do more than beat on Dogboe’s ass. Let’s see if he can make multiple title defenses vs. a variety of styles, like WBC strapholder Rey Vargas. Let’s see if he can unify belts, like WBA-IBF titleholder Danny Roman.

I think Isaac Dogboe is still a good, tough fighter but he’s a little small and talks of moving up may hinder him more IMO but best wishes to him. God Bless him. There aren’t any soft touches at 126.

As far as Miguel Berchelt, he did what was expected. Yes, he did. “El Alacran” is the best junior lightweight in the world in my opinion.

Miguel Berchelt lands an uppercut against Francisco Vargas during their rematch in Tucson, Arizona. Photo by Mikey Williams-TOP RANK

I hope Francisco Vargas takes a long recovery and some light touches if he continues on. Yeah, but no matter what he does (apart from somehow downloading Pernell Whitaker’s defensive genius directly into his brain), that tender facial tissue is going to hamper his progress.

What do you make of potential Berchelt opponents?

Berchelt v Gervonta – Classic shootout and a toss-up. Whoever lands the first flush bomb to the whiskers will probably win. However, both 130-pound titleholders are underrated boxers. I give Berchelt the slight edge in this matchup.

Berchelt v Farmer – Nice boxer-puncher vs. ring-savvy boxer matchup. Both beltholders are battle tested and both have guts. I favor Berchelt due to his smart aggression, greater activity and edge in power.

Berchelt v Ito (if he wins) – Yeah, bro, don’t count Jamel Herring out. But if Ito defends his WBO belt this month, his showdown with Berchelt could produce a fight-of-the-year candidate due to his pressure/volume-punching style. That style is usually undone (in brutal fashion) by a world-class boxer-puncher like Berchelt.

Berchelt v Loma (135) – Interesting matchup for Lomachenko, who I’d favor to outbox the Mexican (along with pretty much the entire boxing world). Berchelt’s longer reach, heavy hands and lateral movement would make the fight interesting, at least for a few rounds, and his nationality would help pack the arena if the fight landed in Las Vegas, California or Texas. But Loma has to be considered a huge favorite.

 

HURD-WILLIAMS, FEELINGS & THE REMATCH

Dear Dougie,

Hope you’re doing well.

Hurd-Williams. Impressed, you almost called it.

I’m disappointed because Hurd is my guy. The humble hard-working kind with no push behind with the best resume at 154 of the last years.

Great victory for J-Rock, great for him, beautiful story, deserved and great boxing. Composure, inside game, heart, strength, combinations and game plan.

Honestly, I envisioned a Hurd victory (although I had a bad gut feeling). Then a victory over Charlo or Harrison would have cemented him as the best 154 pounder of the last decade (come on, stopping Trout who was all but shot that night, Lara and Harrison? Then J-Rock and Charlo? Who did better and more dominantly recently? P4P worthy).

I know you’re Bread’s friend and I know you were never high on Hurd (so I’m alone in this opinion but hear me out).

On the rematch: 

-I feel like J-Rock pulled the performance of his life. For many reasons/factors. He peaked that night. Never looked that good and he had the perfect game plan and Rocky story. He was on.

-Hurd never took off. Whether it’s the weight, the pressure or anything else (the KD, the crowd, something).

-Williams’ strategy and corner were way better. Hurd’s corner didn’t actually help, that was bad on every aspect.

Now, I know the saying, the more technical dude will always win the rematch blabla.

But in this particular case, because of the room for improvement, because of his style, I believe that out of 10 times a hot Hurd would beat Williams more than he’d lose.

I feel like with the proper game plan, starting earlier with less pressure, a few technical corrections (less head hunting, shorter/sharper punches inside), and being on, he can win.

Basically, I don’t see what Williams (being who he is) can do better than what he did.

I see so many things Hurd (that I’ve been following for 3 years now) can do better.

For a pressure fighter using grit, chin and cardio, being a little off physically play a lot since it affects directly what you’re using.

I think with the adjustments he will win the rematch. I hope he gets it and I hope he gets help in his corner. They’re good and brought him here but they’re not Garcia/Roach/Hunter type of trainers. With all his tools, and still improving, ala Canelo, they should have corrected a few obvious flaws and added things to his game.

Again, beautiful performance from J-Rock and both were very classy.

Sad for Hurd if he doesn’t get the rematch and sad because fans are already re-writing the story: “I told you he had no skills, just a big guy who stopped a shot Trout and Lara was competitive and Harrison was chinny, blah, blah”.

Maybe we get this crazy scenario with Charlo and Hurd both getting redemption and making their fight even bigger and more interesting and we get Williams-Harrison. Cheers and take care. – Diego G.

There’s the possibility for a compelling 154-pound title round robin with those four PBC players. I sincerely hope that this is a goal of Al Haymon, Showtime and the FOX network. It needs to happen this year and in 2020.

Don’t be sad for Hurd. He helped make for a very entertaining junior middleweight championship bout, and he put up a hell of a fight, as he always does. He was simply outclassed by Williams, who fought the fight of his career, so far.

Williams was overpowered by Jermall Charlo. He came back. He improved. Hurd can come back from this setback. He seems like a very bright and determined individual, so the loss will probably make him a better fighter/boxer.

Hurd-Williams. Impressed, you almost called it. Almost. Props to the few hardcore heads who picked Williams to win outright, like L.A. comedian Darrell La Montre, who had been telling me with 100% confidence for months that J-Rock would score “The Ring Magazine Upset of the Year” on May 11.

I’m disappointed because Hurd is my guy. The humble hard-working kind with no push behind with the best resume at 154 of the last years. Hurd was willing to pay the cost to be the boss. He called out Lara as soon as he won a world title. You gotta respect that.

Great victory for J-Rock, great for him, beautiful story, deserved and great boxing. Composure, inside game, heart, strength, combinations and game plan. Williams was the total package against Hurd.

Honestly, I envisioned a Hurd victory (although I had a bad gut feeling). Don’t you hate those gut feelings? You just wanna root for you guy and this nagging little voice in the back of you head or from deep within your belly is telling you “I think our champ is gonna lose tonight.”

Then a victory over Charlo or Harrison would have cemented him as the best 154 pounder of the last decade (come on, stopping Trout who was all but shot that night, Lara and Harrison? Then J-Rock and Charlo? Who did better and more dominantly recently? P4P worthy). IF Hurd had defeated Williams AND the winner of the Harrison-Charlo rematch, he would have been in the pound-for-pound conversation, but those are two big “ifs.” (And, as you’re probably aware, I slightly favored Charlo to beat Hurd if they met last year.)

I know you’re Bread’s friend and I know you were never high on Hurd (so I’m alone in this opinion but hear me out). That’s not true. I was (and still am) as high on Hurd as anyone. I love hard-headed, volume-punching pressure fighters. (Come on, man, I STILL like Antonio Margarito.) I just wanted fans and some media to pump the breaks on the pound-for-pound talk. People get crazy with the mythical rankings.

On the rematch: 

-I feel like J-Rock pulled the performance of his life. For many reasons/factors. He peaked that night. Never looked that good and he had the perfect game plan and Rocky story. He was on. I agree that Williams had the perfect game plan and fought the fight of his career, so far, but you shouldn’t assume (if you are) that his performance against Hurd was a “one-off.” It could be the start of a very special title reign. We’ll see.

-Hurd never took off. Whether it’s the weight, the pressure or anything else (the KD, the crowd, something). Hurd’s struggle to boil his large frame down to 154 pounds may have had something to do with his somewhat flat performance, but I think the main “something” that prevented him from “taking off” was Julian Williams.

-Williams’ strategy and corner were way better. Hurd’s corner didn’t actually help, that was bad on every aspect. Agreed.

Now, I know the saying, the more technical dude will always win the rematch blabla. That’s not always true, but it usually is.

Photo by Stephanie Trapp-Trappfotos

But in this particular case, because of the room for improvement, because of his style, I believe that out of 10 times a hot Hurd would beat Williams more than he’d lose. I don’t know about that, man, you must be talking about A LOT of improvement in Hurd and you must have saw a close fight in their first bout. I didn’t. While the fight was competitive throughout, I saw a CLEAR winner of the majority of rounds and scored it 118-109 for Williams. Hurd’s going to have to really up his game to overcome J-Rock’s technical superiority (as well as the Philly native’s blooming confidence).

I feel like with the proper game plan, starting earlier with less pressure, a few technical corrections (less head hunting, shorter/sharper punches inside), and being on, he can win. Yeah, but easier written in an email for the mailbag than done in the ring, Diego.

Basically, I don’t see what Williams (being who he is) can do better than what he did. Maybe he doesn’t need to do anything better in terms of his technique, strategy and effort. Maybe the experience and confidence he’s gained and earned from their first fight will be enough to give him the edge in the rematch.

I see so many things Hurd (that I’ve been following for 3 years now) can do better. You’re not alone.

 

AN ACTION WEEKEND AND SOME SAD GOODBYES

Hi Doug,

It was a great weekend for boxing fans. So much good action to be seen but I will just focus on one fight here. After the disappointment (for me) of last week’s Alvarez-Jacobs bout we were treated to the Jarrett Hurd/Julian Williams thriller.

Going in, I had not seen Williams before and having seen Hurd before, I knew he started slow but came on to win later. From the outset though, this fight looked different. Williams boxed a disciplined fight throwing smooth (but hard) combinations and landing cleanly to Hurd’s head, dropping him early.

Hurd seemed to have no answer for the shots coming his way. Make no mistake, Hurd fought back hard throwing big shots but they did not seem to faze Williams who would not be denied. Hurd was winding up his shots like a major league pitcher so Williams saw the shots coming.

I’m not sure if Hurd took Williams for granted, or it was a combination of being outclassed by a better fighter and it was an off night for him. All I do know is that Williams deserved the win and I can’t wait to see the rematch. Hats off to both men for their effort Saturday night.

Finally, two boxing luminaries left the planet this week. I saw “Smokin'” Bert Cooper fight many times. His fights were almost always thrillers… either you went or he went. I saw him dismantle Wille deWitt in two and his battles with Ray Mercer, Michael Moorer and Evander Holyfield are classics. He never quite got to the top but if he was fighting, I was there in front of the TV…..and we lost boxing judge and hall of famer Harold Lederman, one of those voices of boxing that has been around forever. He was a combination of boxing expert and all around nice guy. He clearly loved our sport and by everything I have ever read the sport and its participants loved him. I would love to have met him and sat down and talked boxing. It’s sad we won’t hear his thoughts and commentary anymore. – David, Nashville

In one of his final public appearances, Lederman speaks at the 2018 BWAA award dinner after being honored as a beloved fixture of the boxing industry. Photo by Matt Heasley

It really is sad, David. At least we’ll hear Lederman’s voice on the decades of HBO boxing broadcasts, and we have all of those memorable slugfests that Cooper provided (especially his body of work in the 1980s and ‘90s). Lederman was the best person in the world to talk boxing with. He was a certified boxing historian with his personal and judging experience, but he also kept up with the current players, and even loved to attend club shows. And his input set HBO’s boxing broadcasts apart from all the others. 

Cooper could have been a very good boxer-puncher with his stiff (but underused) jab, old-school cross-arm defense and underrated ring savvy, but he was at his best as a seek-and-destroy stalker who broke down his opponents with a killer body attack and sneaky bombs from either hand. With more discipline for training (and avoiding drugs), he could have at least been a cruiserweight world titleholder.

I had not seen Williams before and having seen Hurd before, I knew he started slow but came on to win later. From the outset though, this fight looked different. Williams boxed a disciplined fight throwing smooth (but hard) combinations and landing cleanly to Hurd’s head, dropping him early. It was a wise (and gutsy) move for Williams to meet Hurd in the center of the ring and initiate inside exchanges (sort of like Canelo did with GGG in their rematch, to take the game away from the pressure fighter).

Hurd seemed to have no answer for the shots coming his way. Maybe he assumed that Williams would wilt under his onslaught over the second half of the fight like everyone else had.

Make no mistake, Hurd fought back hard throwing big shots but they did not seem to faze Williams who would not be denied. I thought Williams did a good job of blocking or slipping a lot of Hurd’s punches. (And I think Hurd got credit for punches that did not land.)

Hurd was winding up his shots like a major league pitcher so Williams saw the shots coming. He saw EVERYTHING.

I’m not sure if Hurd took Williams for granted, or it was a combination of being outclassed by a better fighter and it was an off night for him. I think it’s the latter. Hurd doesn’t seem like the type to overlook an opponent, especially a legit contender like J-Rock.

All I do know is that Williams deserved the win and I can’t wait to see the rematch. I’m into the rematch if Hurd can make 154 and be 100% healthy. If not, I think he needs to move up to 160 pounds where he could take on the Jermall Charlo-Brandon Adams winner or Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

 

THAT PHILLY S__T!

I am not at all going to say that Hurd is not real, he proved it in the past and proved it in the ring. But WILLIAMS, first of all he is from Philly, my hometown, but even if he is not, the skills he displayed last night were a thing of brutal beauty. It reminded me of a BHOP/James Toney.

It looked almost like he had BHOP in his training camp (not saying he did) but the way he fought was a BHOP style fight. He looked like BHOP when he trained with Mackey Shilstone against Tarver when he was really springy, lots of elasticity and snap and energy when he kept his knees bent to get spring into the punches. Williams was right there for ass, dipping and swinging, he would NOT be denied on this night. Hurd showed a GREAT chin, because he took an ass beating.

No disrespect to Hurd, but much props to Williams, not sure if he will get up like this again, but he certainly would not be denied, if he can show up like this consistently, he can put forth a BHOP kind of career, took early loss and came back better than ever. Thank you. – Jason C. Brown

I don’t think we’ll ever see another title-run or pro career as extended as B-Hop’s, but I think J-Rock has the potential to establish himself as the No. 1 junior middleweight and I think he can be more entertaining (on average) that Hopkins was. Time will tell if he can hold on to his world titles. Even if he has Hurd’s number, Jermell Charlo and Tony Harrison present their own stylistic challenges.  

I am not at all going to say that Hurd is not real, he proved it in the past and proved it in the ring. Hurd’s the real deal, just as Williams is.

But WILLIAMS, first of all he is from Philly, my hometown, but even if he is not, the skills he displayed last night were a thing of brutal beauty. I think J-Rock’s performance was on par with Juan Francisco Estrada’s recent Ring/WBC 115-pound title win in terms of the near-perfect blend of skill, strategy, grit and stamina.

It reminded me of a BHOP/James Toney. Bro, that’s HIGH praise.

It looked almost like he had BHOP in his training camp (not saying he did) but the way he fought was a BHOP style fight. Yes, it was a technical domination that included a lot of gritty trench warfare.

He looked like BHOP when he trained with Mackey Shilstone against Tarver when he was really springy, lots of elasticity and snap and energy when he kept his knees bent to get spring into the punches. I can see that. I can also see a comparison to Hopkins’ master class against Felix Trinidad, because Williams was the decided underdog against a seemingly invincible stalker who had broken down his previous foes. However, the Philly fighter assumed control from the beginning of the fight and held it to the end with a disciplined fight plan.

Williams was right there for ass, dipping and swinging, he would NOT be denied on this night. Hurd showed a GREAT chin, because he took an ass beating. He did. And there’s only so many ass beatings a fighter can take before there are diminishing returns with his next bouts. Hopefully, Hurd hasn’t hit that wall yet, but when you take into consideration the flush shots he willingly ate against Harrison, Trout, Lara, and even Jason Welborn prior to the Williams fight, you have to wonder how long his prime will last.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.

 

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