Dougie’s Monday mailbag (GGG’s return, failed amateur stars, potential hall of famers)
THE RETURN OF GGG, FAILED AMATEURS
What’s up Doug? Hope you’re well.
I’ll keep it shorter than usual. My emails tend to turn to essays?
Fair play to Steve Rolls. He came and tried to win… Gennady Golovkin looked sharp, threw more punches and combos, and finally started body punching again, which I feel really started to freeze Rolls in rounds 2 and 3. People can’t expect one camp with Johnathon Banks to turn him into a different fighter. I agree with a lot of what Banks says. He wants to make the most of his boxing, not punching, also his new S&C coach had him in great shape it could be a good partnership… What’s your assessment Doug?
Random side question who are the most successful amateurs you can recall who couldn’t translate to the pros? Mine would be Ievgyn Khytrov, Egor Mekhontsev (where is he?) and Carlos Ivan Velasquez. Also, what ever happened Eloy Perez after the Broner fight?
All the best, Doug. Thanks for the content. – David, Dublin
You are most welcome, David.
Perez’s personal life had begun to spiral out of control before his lone title shot against Adrian Broner. He tested positive for cocaine after that fight and retired after he was dropped by his management/training team. I think he considered making a return to the ring a few times in the years following that loss in early 2012 but he never pulled the trigger. Mike Tyson would say he’s currently residing in “Bolivian.” Wherever he is, I hope he’s happy and healthy.
There are too many successful amateurs who couldn’t make a successful transition to the professional ranks to mention, David. The pros aren’t for everybody. Some amateur stars lack the discipline needed to make it as a pro (local standouts Marshall Martinez, Frankie Gomez and Francisco Bojado come to mind) and some lack the physical durability to transition (another Los Angeles-area native, Pepe Reilly, a 1992 U.S. Olympian who is now a Freddy Roach understudy, comes to mind). I think Velasquez falls in the second category. He hasn’t fought since suffering a 10th-round stoppage to Javier Fortuna in 2015. I was ringside for a fight he was handily winning against Rico Ramos at Fantasy Springs Casino in 2013. Ramos cold cocked him with one punch in the 10th and final round. You would’ve thought Ramos was Sugar Ray Robinson the way he laid out poor Carlos.
The other guys you brought up, Mekhontsev and Khytrov, are a different story. I think both were/are dedicated and durable pro athletes, however, I believe they were “victims” of the vibrant and successful Eastern European amateur system. Put simply, they were burned out by the time they turned pro. Mekhontsev, who won gold at the European, World and Olympic tournaments for Russia from 2008 to 2012, had 350 amateur bouts. He turned pro at 30. Think about that. The dude had already had an 18-to-20 year boxing career as an amateur, the last four years at the elite level (he beat Aleksandr Usyk on his way to the 2009 World Amateur Championships 201-pound title). Mekhontsev probably hit his athletic peak around 2010-2012. And it was probably a mistake for him to turn pro at light heavyweight with his tall and rangy frame. Cruiserweight may have made more sense. Anyway, he was signed to Top Rank, but they probably cut him loose after he struggled in back-to-back eight-rounders in 2016 and 2017. He hasn’t fought since 2017.
Khytrov recently took part in the new Contender series and was defeated by the show’s eventual winner, Brandon Adams, in a five-round bout. Khytrov, a 2011 World Amateur Champion from Ukraine, reportedly had 500 amateur bouts. FIVE-FREAKIN’-HUNDRED! My guess is that homeboy probably peaked around 2010-2012, like Mekhontsev. He turned pro in 2013 and is still active (though he hasn’t fought in 2019 yet).
These two remind me of an American light flyweight amateur standout named Eric Griffin, a World Amateur Champ who beat the best of the U.S. (including the great Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson), Russia and Cuba from 1988 to 1992. However, he was 24 or 25 years old (“old” for a 108 pounder) when he turned pro. His best days were in the amateurs.
Anyway, on to an amateur star who turned out to be a pretty darn good professional, Gennadiy Gennadyevich Golovkin. I
thought he looked good against Rolls. I wasn’t expecting to see any drastic changes (he’s only had one camp with Banks and it was an abbreviated one at that) and I didn’t have high expectations for his athletic/technical sharpness early in the fight. I knew
there was eight months of ring rust that he had to shed. So, I didn’t even bother Tweeting during the first two rounds. I figured he’d look a little stiff, maybe a little bit slow and methodical, as he warmed up. I knew Rolls would touch him a few times, and to the Canadian’s credit he didn’t just show up for the paycheck, he was in there trying to work a game plan and trying to win. Although I scored the first three rounds to Golovkin, I thought he was trying a bit too hard to hurt Rolls with his body attack and head shots, and thus neglecting his best punch: the jab. But GGG knows best. He took advantage of Rolls’ high guard by going to the body, and while his hands aren’t the fastest, the timing and placement of his head shots remains elite. He found a home for that brutally unorthodox arcing-overhand hook to the forehead in Round 4, which drove Rolls to the ropes, where GGG finished matters in Big Drama fashion.
All and all, it was a good comeback fight for GGG and I agree that his new trainer and conditioning coach are a good fit for him now that he’s in his mid-to-late 30s. I was impressed by Golovkin’s high punch output.
CANELO-GGG 3 – AT SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT?
Would the third Canelo fight being any different at 168? – Kevin Key, Duluth, MN
I think Canelo would have more of an advantage at the heavier weight, which is ironic because his refusal to fight above a 155-pound catchweight was one of the main reasons their showdown did not take place in 2016 when the WBC mandated it (and hardcore fans demanded it). I thought Canelo looked very sharp, with his speed and reflexes, in his two fights above 160 pounds – the shutout decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2017 and three-round drubbing of Rocky Fielding in December. Golovkin’s only fight above 160 was Saturday’s fourth-round stoppage of Steve Rolls. I thought GGG, who weighed-in at 163 pounds, looked solid in a fight he was supposed to win, but I noticed that his hand speed was average at best. I’d favor Canelo by close-but-clear decision (read: non-controversial to everybody but the Canelo haters) if they fought at super middleweight.
ANDY RUIZ ‘MERXICAN’ CHAMP! ORALE!
On the BAG E-mails – I just almost coughed up all my coffee and a little bit got in my nasal cavity when you said: “OK. Stop. Just stop it. Aren’t some of you fans getting at least a LITTLE BIT embarrassed by bringing up this stuff? Good Lord. I’m embarrassed for you!”
LOL, man a couple of these UK Joshua fans are going all X-Files on the Ruiz WIN! I agree with all that you said. I can’t wait for the rematch and I definitely think that Joshua will come ready to beat Andy but that might backfire on Joshua again. I will favor THE NEW MEXICAN HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMP AGAIN! Yes, he is a underdog again… but that’s how we like it. VIVA LA RAZA!
(P.S., WOW the last couple of days on all the e-mails on this sight the word “CONCUSSED” has been used A LOT! LOL. Is this boxing or checkers… wishes do come TRUE! LOL. SHOTS of TEQUILA FOR ALL! I miss the Dynamic DUO! Arrato vato) – ALchicano
Thank you for the kind (maybe inebriated) words, ALchicano. If you really miss the Dynamic Duo (I assume you’re talking about me and Steve Kim), be sure to listen to this week’s episode of the 3 Knockdown Rule podcast where I will be an in-studio guest to talk boxing with K9 and Mario Lopez. I think we’re going to talk about Joshua-Ruiz (which they covered last week, but they’ll rewind the subject since I was there for the big upset), as well as GGG return, Oscar Valdez’s title defense, and Fury-Schwarz.
It’s great to see the excitement and enthusiasm Ruiz’s upset has generated within boxing and also outside of the sport. I’ve noticed a lot of talk about Andy from casual fans in different spots around the greater L.A. area. I think upsets are good for boxing. They humble the big shots and odds favorites and remind them that they can’t count anyone out in this sport. They also introduce new players to the scene. Prior to the June 1 upset, all we heard about the heavyweight division were complaints about the lack of big fights at heavyweight (or they were taking sides – Team AJ or Team Wilder – in the debate about who was at fault for the undisputed championship bout NOT happening). Now everybody’s got Ruiz Fever! We can talk about the rematch and how Ruiz matches up with the other heavyweight standouts.
INTERNATIONAL BOXING HALL OF FAME
Greetings from the UK! As Hall of Fame weekend has just passed us by it reminded me of my visit a few years ago after visiting NYC to watch Loma light up the Garden.
So rather than continue the discussion about AJ being the reincarnation of Bruno or Lewis, I thought I’d ask the question about active boxers who’s resumes would currently warrant induction.
Now the bar has (in my opinion and I won’t mention names out of respect) been lowered in recent years (understandably so) but to get in there is still the pinnacle for any fighter.
Here’s my list of current fighters whose record (as of now not what their future may or may not hold) would be good enough for induction:
Usyk – already cleaned out Cruiserweight in less than 20 fights.
Canelo – controversial fights with GGG aside, he’s fought a who’s who of different styles and is has brought so much into his arsenal since the Mayweather loss (and I’ll admit to being a GGG fanboy, but his resume doesn’t match Canelo’s)
GGG – Beat Jacobs, life and death with Canelo twice and his KO streak of decent (not exceptional) fighters was insane (more of a how he did it rather than what he did career)
Pacquiao – an actual great (and that term is reserved for those of the ilk of Ali, SRR and SRL). One of the best resumes of all time.
Loma – not just who but how! Like Ali he’s brought in a new style to boxing. Wiped out Gary Russell, Rigo, Walters and Linares who were/are top fighters.
Donaire – had a great start, many thought he was finished and now he’s back near the top.
I’d also like your views on Carl Froch. To me, he fought a murderers row and went on a great run beating everyone bar Ward (who is one of the best fighters P4P in the post SRL era) and should be a first ballot HOF. One of the greatest nights I had was his fight with George Groves at Wembley. Opened the door for AJ selling it out.
Thanks for reading the ramble, interested if you agree/disagree. – James
I don’t know if Froch will get voted into the IBHOF the first time he gets on the ballot (remember, the majority of voters are American boxing writers), but I think he accomplished more than enough to get on the ballot and he’ll get my vote (just like his countrymen Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Sr. get a checkmark from Yours Truly every year). Froch fought eight consecutive opponents who were either future, former or current world titleholders. He faced 10 in all, facing Mikkel Kessler and George Groves twice. Plus, he faced a future hall of famer in Ward. I think he’ll eventually get in.
They should let Pacquiao in now. He was a lock for the IBHOF 10 years ago. He did enough to merit induction before he even stepped up to welterweight thanks mainly to his round robin with the Mexican trio of Barrera, Morales and Marquez (first two bouts). Donaire deserves it too. The Flash has faced the best fighters of five weight classes (from flyweight to featherweight), including 15 world titleholders, in an 18-year career that’s still going strong. Some of his victims, including Jorge Arce, Vic Darchinyan and Fernando Montiel, are borderline hall of famers. The Filipinos are in like Flynn, my man.
Canelo and Golovkin would get in, as well, in my opinion. Canelo’s shared the ring with three future HOFers in Mayweather, Mosley and Cotto; as well as his chief rival GGG, who’s got the stats – length of title reign, title defenses, KO streak – as well as the Mexican star on his ledger. Popularity counts a lot, as I’m sure you know, and those two middleweight stars have high Q Scores.
I think Loma would also be inducted despite only having 14 pro bouts due to his amateur accomplishments. (And anyone who doesn’t think the IBHOF considers amateur backgrounds doesn’t know who Lazlo Papp is. Now that I think of it, that’s probably 90% of the readers of this column. Papp was a Hungarian amateur star who won three consecutive Olympic gold medals but never fought for a world title as a pro, although he retired unbeaten. He was inducted in 2001. Google him.) So, Loma’s got the ATG amateur record and credentials, plus pro world titles in three weight classes (the first one won in his third pro bout) and some good names on his ledger: fellow amateur legend Rigondeaux, Linares, Gary Russell Jr. Even the gutsy loss to Orlando Salido in his second pro bout enhances his resume.
The only guy I see maybe not getting in based on his current record is my man Usyk. Don’t get me wrong. I think he’s awesome. I’m a huge fan of The Feel, but just because he had a great YEAR (2018) doesn’t mean he’s had a great career. Yes, he cleaned out the cruiserweight division and he’s the undisputed champ at 200 pounds, and he’s well on his way to building hall-of-fame worthy credentials, but right now the most respected names on his record are Marco Huck and Tony Bellew, both of whom were decidedly past their primes when he faced them. Gassiev and Briedis were unbeaten and dangerous, but neither could be considered world-beaters or “elite.” Right now there are no future HOFers on his record and while he’s dominated the division for three years, he hasn’t put forth HOF-type title reign/defense stats (like Wlad Klitschko at heavyweight or Hopkins and GGG at middleweight).
But like I said, he’s well on his way.
Just wanted to thank you for publishing my email in your mailbag, and for the great answer. I genuinely wanted to hear your thoughts on it and love your summary; AJ had a bad night and Ruiz had a great night. It’s where I think I’ll end up. And respect to you for being balanced – not easy in the age of the internet comments section! Best wishes. – Adam
Thanks for the Thanks, Adam.
It’s always refreshing to connect with fans who respect balance. Having said that, let’s take a peep at the comments below this column and see how much criticism and hate I’ve elicited with my opinions on GGG, Canelo, Loma and Usyk. LOL.