Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Pacquiao-Thurman, Kovalev and the light heavyweights, Naoya Inoue)
PACQUIAO-THURMAN, NEW PROSPECT
Hope all is well & you have a chance to kick back over the holiday weekend! Nothing super compelling this weekend, so just a couple questions about the upcoming Pac/Thurman PPV that just became official.
Does it seem to you like Keith Thurman might have 1 foot out the door? He was dropping some weird quotes during the press tour this week. He outright dismissed the prospect of fighting again in 2019 & he’s talking about how he wants to get into the broadcast booth in the near future. He’s an intelligent guy, so I’m not surprised that he has his next moves mapped out, but it just feels like bad PR to be saying that stuff while he’s active. I’m hoping we see a sharp version of Manny & and think he’s fully capable of eking out a decision over the part-time champion. Who do you favor and what’s your confidence level? Does it feel 50-50, 60-40, or how do you see it playing out?
Nice bit of news to see Robeisy Ramirez got signed! Given his age & pedigree, do you think Top Rank tries to fast track him as much as possible outta the gate? He’s athletic as hell & was fun to watch during the Olympics. Dare I say we might actually end up with a TV-friendly Cuban fighter?!?
Random fight: who would you pick if Regis & Mikey Garcia were to fight next? – DJ
I’d view it as a pick-‘em fight but slightly favor Garcia given his decided edge in experience (and slightly sharper technique, although Prograis’ natural fighting style would likely serve him well). I think it would be an entertaining fight, hotly contested from start to finish, and probably bloody and brutal.
Regarding Ramirez, there’s no doubt in my mind that Top Rank will fast track him all the way to a world title. They know he’s got the kind of vast elite-level amateur experience (which includes victories against two current pro standouts – Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Shakur Stevenson – in the finals of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games) that should help for a rapid developmental stage in the pro ranks. After just 11 pro bouts each, Nyambayar and Stevenson are already Ring-ranked featherweights (Nos. 8 and 10). Ramirez can conceivably achieve contender status in his first year as a pro. And with his fluid, athletic southpaw style, he likely garner a fair amount of industry hype as he’s showcased on ESPN. (He’s got some work that needs to be done, though. He’s not the cleanest technician and I don’t like he often covers up when he’s in close to his opponents, but he’s got guts, a good body attack and great footwork. If he’s got a good pro trainer and he willing to learn, he’ll polish up quick.)
My guess is that by the time Top Rank helps guide Stevenson to a world title, they’ll have Ramirez ready to challenge his former amateur rival.
Hope all is well & you have a chance to kick back over the holiday weekend! I wish, but we’re working feverishly to finish the August edition of The Ring Magazine. Still, I’m gonna try to make time to finally see Avengers: Endgame. (Who am I kidding? I’ll wind up taking my 11-year-old daughter to Detective Pikachu.)
Nothing super compelling this weekend, so just a couple questions about the upcoming Pac/Thurman PPV that just became official. You’re not hyped for the Masayuki Ito-Jamel Herring WBO 130-pound title bout on ESPN? I am!
Does it seem to you like Keith Thurman might have 1 foot out the door? Yeah, it’s seemed like that for the past year and half. But now that he’s scheduled to fight a future first-ballot hall of famer, I can take him a little more seriously than when he was on an extended vacation in Asia.
He was dropping some weird quotes during the press tour this week. He does that when he’s not on a press tour. Keith is just a little weird – on or off the record. We’re all going just going to have to get used to that. Personally, I like that about him.
He outright dismissed the prospect of fighting again in 2019 & he’s talking about how he wants to get into the broadcast booth in the near future. Thurman and Gary Russell Jr. are prime examples of how being a talented player in the Al Haymon/PBC stable of fighters is both a blessing and a curse. Keith, in particular, is the poster child of failed PBC time-buy takeover that was attempted on NBC, CBS, ESPN and Spike a few years ago. He headlined the PBC’s first primetime NBC show in March 2015 (against Robert Guerrero), then faced Luis Collazo on its inaugural ESPN time buy, and then took on both Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia on primetime CBS. Millions of viewers watched him fight and unify two major welterweight titles during this year-and-a-half span, and yet, his stature in the sport – even after his January comeback against Josesito Lopez on FOX – is almost non-existent, which is baffling given his talent and accomplishments. But I can’t blame it all on the PBC. Thurman’s style has become less fan friendly in recent years and he sounded more like a manager than a fighter in most of the interviews he did during his hiatus from the sport.
He’s an intelligent guy, so I’m not surprised that he has his next moves mapped out, but it just feels like bad PR to be saying that stuff while he’s active. I don’t think the modern fighter (it’s not just Keith) has any concept of PR, but it’s good that they’re thinking about life after boxing while they’re still in athletic primes (I just wish they did more with their prime years).
I’m hoping we see a sharp version of Manny & and think he’s fully capable of eking out a decision over the part-time champion. You’re not alone in that opinion.
Who do you favor and what’s your confidence level? I’m riding with Thurman on this one. I’m not terribly confident in that pick. Pacquiao is 40, but he’s a B-Hop-level oldman badass. Thurman should be at his athletic peak, but he’s been so inactive his development has seriously stagnated (and he’s never been a complete fighter). There are plenty of technical/defensive flaws for Pacquiao to take advantage of. I know the PacMonster of 10 years ago would have exploited the hell out of Thurman’s shortcomings, but I’m not sure the past-prime Senator version of Manny can do it.
Does it feel 50-50, 60-40, or how do you see it playing out? Yeah, it’s probably 55-45 in favor of the younger man. I see Thurman winning a close, probably controversial, split decision.
WHAT IF MANNY BEATS KEITH?
If Manny Pacquiao defeats Keith Thurman on July 20, does he have a legitimate claim as the top welterweight in the world? It would be best quality win in the division since Shawn Porter defeated Danny Garcia last fall.
While we’re on the subject, what are some of your favorite late-career runs in boxing history? Thanks. – Matt
No. 1 has to be Erik Morales’ late-career run in the junior lightweight-to-junior welter weight classes, which included two 130-pound title victories (over tough-guys Jesus Chavez and Famoso Hernandez), a close decision loss to arch-rival Marco Antonio Barrera, an upset over Manny Pacquiao, a bold stand against Marcos Maidana and an 11th-round stoppage of Pablo Cesar Cano to earn a fourth title in a fourth weight class. I was always a Barrera fan, so I naturally hated on El Terrible during his prime years, but that salty Tijuana bastard won me over the Barrera rubbermatch, the Pacquiao trilogy and that near-victory against Chino. I was ringside for all of those fights and I was honored to be there. Morales left most of us with great memories.
Of course, Bernard Hopkins’ record-breaking run at light heavyweight – which included three title reigns and victories over Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Kelly Pavlik, Jean Pascal, a then-unbeaten (24-0) Tavoris Cloud, and a competitive loss to Joe Calzaghe – was special to witness and cover.
If Manny Pacquiao defeats Keith Thurman on July 20, does he have a legitimate claim as the top welterweight in the world? Hmmmm. Maybe. He’s currently The Ring’s No. 5-rated welterweight behind Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, Thurman and Shawn Porter. If he defeats our No. 3 (Keith), I imagine there will be members of the Ratings Panel who argue that he deserves to be No. 1.
I think the way he beats Thurman (if he can do it) will be a big factor. If both look like s__t, I doubt anyone will advocate for a jump all the way to the top spot, but if he turns back the clock and flashes that PacMan form, style and flash against Thurman, well… maybe there’s a real case for him being No. 1. Spence’s best victories are Mikey Garcia (who belongs at lightweight), Kell Brook (who was damaged goods and likely weight drained) and Lamont Peterson (who was shopworn). Crawford only has three welterweight bouts under his belt: Jeff Horn (who many thought Pacquaio beat, myself included), unrated Jose Benavidez, and Amir Khan (the less said the better). Right now, Thurman as the best recent resume at 147 pounds but his inactivity has caused him to drop in the ratings. If Pacquiao can add Keith’s pony-tailed scalp to his recent collection, which includes Tim Bradley, Jessie Vargas, Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner, he (and his legion of fans) can certainly argue that his welterweight resume is tops.
It would be best quality win in the division since Shawn Porter defeated Danny Garcia last fall. Agree 100%
Let me start off by saying that your content is by far the closest thing to unbiased (because we all have our bias) information out there. I’ve been a daily reader for a while now (1st time writing in) and respect your opinion a great deal. Please keep doing what you do.
I wanted to get your insight on whether or not you think Sergey Kovalev has a good shot at coming up on top at 175 pounds. Where would you rank him in history, then (if he unified one or 2 belts) and right now? I definitely think he got robbed the first fight with Andre Ward. The way he came back with Elieder Alvarez was also amazing after everyone was counting him out. I am a big Krusher fan and I too had my doubts going into the rematch, and more now with this deep division.
I do feel his IQ and that jab more than anything will give every one of the beltholders problems. His right is still alive but I don’t think he’s going to be relying on it too much. In my opinion I think his jab will be too problematic for Beterbiev which I feel is his best shot at unifying. I favored him over Gvozdyk up until the Stevenson match, now I think he might be too much for Kovalev. I feel Bivol is the better, well-rounded light heavyweight of all 4 champs. However, I feel if Smith was able to hurt him, I think Kovalev has a shot considering he can set his shots up and box. But I also don’t think Bivol would get lazy in there as he did when he got hit by Smith.
Best wishes to you and your family! – Carlos from L.A.
Thanks for the kind words, Carlos, and thanks for finally penning an email for the mailbag.
I think the current 175-pound beltholders are evenly matched. Any one of them can beat the other on a good night, in my opinion.
I agree that, at age 36 (and with the wear and tear of almost 10 years as a pro on his body, Kovalev will rely more on his jab, experience and ring IQ than his power punches in his future matchups. The Ring ranks Oleksandr Gvozdyk No. 1 at light heavy (followed by Kovalev and Bivol), but I think Krusher is the best 175 pounder in the game right now. So, obviously, if he can unify titles against one of the other major beltholders he will have solidified his place at the top of the division in my view. And I also agree that Beterbiev is his best shot at doing that because his fellow Russian (and former amateur rival) has a crude come-forward style than he can exploit. Gvozdyk is a good boxer and counterpuncher from mid-range and a distance, while Bivol’s youthful athleticism, footwork and lateral movement could prove troublesome for the older veteran.
SHOWTIME AND WBSS
Last Saturday we had the two sides of Boxing.
On one side the Showtime Event where I got Mendez up by at least 2 Rounds and after that we had Gary Russell fight another overwhelmed opponent.
Time to move up, Gary, in the last fight I spent more time watching the walk-in than watching a real fight.
I am glad that I get Showtime along with my DAZN app because the matchmaking at Showtime is terrible. Roberto Diaz does a way better job for Golden Boy Promotions.
Good thing that I watched the WBSS beforehand because that was another night to remember. I was expecting the Monster to win by knockout but damn does he steamroll over his competition at 118. This guy is something special and if he does that to Donaire I am in full fever mode too.
I wonder if we could have a chance to see him fight against Rungvisai if Srisaket moves up. Do you think it is possible or would the Monster be to busy moving up?
Baranchyk vs Taylor was another cracker and props to Baranchyk for giving Taylor still the heat after he nearly getting kocked out earlier, that was a masterpiece from Taylor.
Greetings. – Andy
I agree that Baranchyk-Taylor was a tremendous fight and that the Scotsman boxed a masterclass vs. the brute strong and powerful Russian. Taylor will have to summon an even better performance to beat Progrias. (Have I mentioned that The Ring’s vacant junior welterweight title will be awarded to the winner of their World Boxing Super Series 140-pound final?) Bless the WBSS.
Time to move up, Gary, in the last fight I spent more time watching the walk-in than watching a real fight. Like I Tweeted the night of the fight (and to the chagrin of a few deranged fans), if Russell’s next fight isn’t a unification bout against Leo Santa Cruz, there’s no reason for him to stick around at 126 pounds.
I am glad that I get Showtime along with my DAZN app because the matchmaking at Showtime is terrible. Roberto Diaz does a way better job for Golden Boy Promotions. Diaz does indeed to a great job of matchmaking (especially with GBP’s Thursday Night Fights series), but I just think Showtime had a bad night on May 18. The subscription cable network had an excellent 2018, however they have to share their PBC talent with the FOX network now, and there’s more pressure to do PPV events with the top talent.
Good thing that I watched the WBSS beforehand because that was another night to remember. I was expecting the Monster to win by knockout but damn does he steamroll over his competition at 118. So far, Inoue has lived up to his nickname, and he’s done so against top-five-rated bantamweights who had never been stopped in the pro ranks.
This guy is something special and if he does that to Donaire I am in full fever mode too. I’ve officially got Inoue Fever right freakin’ now!
I wonder if we could have a chance to see him fight against Rungvisai if Srisaket moves up. Do you think it is possible or would the Monster be too busy moving up? I think there’s a very good chance that Inoue will be at 122 pounds by the time the Thai veteran is ready to venture into the bantamweight division. If Sor Rungvisai winds up fighting an Inoue some day, I think it will be Takuma.
IS INOUE THE BEST?
Wow, just wow. How impressive is Naoya Inoue? This little 118 pounder is probably the most exciting boxer in the world today. He also might be the best. The way he’s dispatched his opponents and considering the quality of those he faced might be the most impressive of any fighter today. His speed-power combination is unparalleled and there seems to be no one out there who can match him. The first round of his fight against Rodriguez was very entertaining and I could see a complicated fight for The Monster. I even thought he showed some cracks in his armor and a little bit of recklesness. But man, that second round blitz, specifically the second knockdown with that body punch was astonishing.
What do you think? Am I wrong to think he’s the best? I love Crawford, Spence and GGG but this kid, man, he just won my boxing heart. For as much as I like Nonito, I don’t think he can survive more than 4 to 5 rounds against this beast.
Thanks Doug! – Juan Valverde, San Diego
I’ll be saying a little prayer for Nonito prior to his fight with Inoue, which I hope lands in the Los Angeles area.
Are you wrong to think Inoue is the best in the fight game right now? I wouldn’t argue with you. He’s definitely the best puncher (as The Ring declared him last year for our State of the Game issue that made Japanese boxing history by featuring him on the cover), and he’s certainly the most dynamic of the elite boxers. And no other fighter produces the explosive excitement he does, except for Deontay Wilder (but Inoue is doing it against better opposition in my opinion).
He’s got a very strong body of work for a 26 year old pro with 18 bouts, but I don’t think his resume trumps the ledgers of Loma or Canelo, and I don’t think he’s had a title reign (yet) that’s been as dominant as Crawford and Golovkin were during their recent reigns. But he’s right there with those magnificent fighters (which includes Oleksandr Usyk).