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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz gripe, Vergil Ortiz and The Ring archive)

Ruiz clips Joshua with a neuron-scrambling hook. Photo by Matthew Heasley
16
Aug

ANTHONY JOSHUA’S HEAD, THE FOUR KINGS

Dougie,

Anthony Joshua has always been good at saying the ‘right stuff’ in interviews in regards to sounding respectful (by and large), sponsor-pleasing, and generally positive in a way that convinces you his head is in the right place and there’s a training and management plan that’s being well met. Even before his loss though it started to seem a bit contrived and somehow didn’t quite ring true. Like going through the motions. Fine he gets asked the same questions a lot and you can’t be original and dynamic each time, but still. Since the loss, I hate to say but he’s looked to me quite mentally fragile and the positive stuff he’s coming out with now seems even more contrived, and also mixed with a shadow of self doubt.

I can’t help but feel he’s in for another drubbing, in a way that his career could truly go off the rails. Would LOVE to be wrong on this though and I hope he can turn it around.

What do you reckon – have you picked up on it the same way at all?

Watching a documentary the other day on the Four Kings – just amazing – and wondered re MMs against some of my personal favourites (apols if you’ve already done these):

  • Hearns/Calzaghe at SMW
  • Leonard/Pacman at Welter
  • Hagler/Benn at middleweight
  • Duran/Lomachenko at lightweight

All the best. – Rob, UK

Hearns by close, maybe majority or split decision (super middleweight wasn’t one of his better divisions and Calzaghe’s style and athleticism would have troubled him but my hunch is that the Hitman’s elite jab wouldn’t been the difference in a high-speed chess match).

Leonard by mid-to-late stoppage (we’d get fireworks early, but Sugar Ray was too big, too fast, too smart and equally courageous – he’d clip the Filipino Icon at some point and if it wasn’t a one-hitter-quitter… well, nobody in my lifetime was a better finisher than Leonard).

Hagler by mid-to-late stoppage (Benn lived up to his Dark Destroyer moniker, but The Marvelous One had the rare chin that could stand up to Benn’s best bombs, and the British star was lacking a bit in technique and stamina during his middleweight days, while Hagler was an indefatigable technician).

Duran by late stoppage (Loma would be difficult and competitive for most of the fight, but Hands of Stone would make the Ukrainian ring wizard miss a lot more than he’s used to and he’d take a gradual beating that would take its toll by the championship rounds).

Even before his loss though it started to seem a bit contrived and somehow didn’t quite ring true. Like going through the motions. Fine he gets asked the same questions a lot and you can’t be original and dynamic each time, but still. I don’t know why that would be a surprise to you. Joshua had the eyes and hopes of an entire nation on him during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, he was a household name before his pro debut, and The Ring’s 2014 Prospect of Year advanced from “up and comer” to contender to titleholder to star to mega-attraction in the span of two-and-half years. There’s a lot of pressure, expectations and obligations that come with the rare meteoric rise in stature, fame and wealth like that AJ experienced. Most of us would bug the f__k out from it.

Since the loss, I hate to say but he’s looked to me quite mentally fragile and the positive stuff he’s coming out with now seems even more contrived, and also mixed with a shadow of self doubt. Well, of course he’s dealing with self doubt! He got beatdown and bewildered by a late-sub and 12-to-1 underdog. Every fighter in the hall of fame that suffered a devastating loss at the peak of his career had to grapple with self doubt before he stepped back into the ring, especially if he was going into an immediate rematch with the man who kicked his ass.

 

OLD RING MAGAZINES

After looking at Cynthia Conte’s tweet with press photos of the aborted 91 Holyfield Tyson fight I wish you guys could archive The Ring library. Knowing that you’re a comic book guy, something similar to Marvel Unlimited digital comics app. I can catch up on Spider-Man comics from the 70’s that I don’t have. – Kinonomics

That’s a capital idea and one that is currently in the works. It’s a monumental undertaking given that the magazine dates back to the early 1920s, but once the digitization process is complete fans like you will have nearly 100 years of boxing history available at their fingertips.

 

CLASSIC DON KING CARDS

Hi Doug,

Happy Thursday. I was not really a hard-core boxing fan until late 2000 when I watched Hopkins/Echols 2.

That means that I missed the ‘90s Don King cards. I was looking at some of those events and, honestly, I would pay $250 for a PPV like those were they to occur today. Those events had at times 5-7 main-event-quality fights on a single night.

Question is – do you think that could happen again? Thank you. – Bill from Toronto

Middleweight KO artists Julian Jackson (left) and Gerald McClellan were featured on several Don King undercards before their shootout.

I think some promotional companies are trying to emulate King’s pay-per-view glory years – Matchroom USA and Golden Boy come to mind – but while they’ve had some stacked cards this year (and in previous years) they just don’t have enough world-class-to-elite-talent (supporting two legit superstar headliners in Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez) as King did in the 1990s. Felix Trinidad, Terry Norris, Azumah Nelson, Michael Nunn, Julian Jackson, Gerald McClellan, Simon Brown, Ricardo Lopez, Frankie Randall, Tim Austin, John David Jackson, Tony Tucker, Oliver McCall, Maurice Blocker and Oba Carr, among many other standouts, were part of the “King-dom” during that decade.

These days, King’s fellow Cleveland native Al Haymon, the brains behind the Premier Boxing Champions organizations/TV series, is the only power broker with a talent roster that comes close to DK’s 1990s stable. However, it doesn’t seem like the PBC is into stacking quality bouts on its cards (even when they are PPV events).

So, I guess my answer to your question is NO, at least for the time being.

 

VERGIL ORTIZ, EX-AMATEUR STARS GETTING BEAT IN THE PROS

Hey Doug, just wanted to write you about two of last week’s fights.

1) I saw Robeisy Ramirez fight live on TV twice during the Rio Olympics and I remember the first time watching him (I think it was the semi final) thinking “this guy is going to win the Val Barker trophy.” He just really stood out to me as a mega talent. Well he went on to beat Shakur Stevenson for another gold medal but I don’t think he won the Val Barker. Anyways, I wasn’t even aware he had defected and turned pro but when I saw the headline that he lost his pro debut I went back and watched the fight. This was really a shocking upset and I find it odd that it didn’t get more mainstream boxing attention; this was real Rocky type stuff, the highly decorated and arrogant fighter underestimating the blue collar unheralded scrapper. Adan Gonzalez and his friends and family should be very proud. It was a good little fight and Adan won it fair and square. He capitalized on a defensive mistake made by Ramirez and didn’t let him off the hook. All four rounds were close (though the knockdown is an automatic 10-8 of course) so I could see how one judge could just edge it for Ramirez, but personally I think Adan deserved at least one of those last three rounds (and thus won the fight.) He didn’t have the prettiest “form” but I thought he was highly effective and looked to be much better than his record indicated. He was constantly moving, pivoting, throwing punches in bunches, and answering back.

As for Ramirez, he had a couple flashes of brilliance with some lightning quick slip ‘n’ counters, but he also looked really incomplete and didn’t show any sign of urgency after getting downed in the first round of a close four round fight. The way he got hit while pulling back in a straight line with his hands down was a little embarrassing (as Tim Bradley kept pointing out.) It also seemed weird that he couldn’t really hurt Adan, who looked a lot smaller than Ramirez.

I’ve heard people compare this fight to Salido beating Loma, but I think that comparison is totally superficial. All due respect to Adan but he ain’t no Salido and never will be. I understand the comparison is just to highlight how an amateur star with seemingly more natural talent can still get worked over by a hardened veteran who’s picked up an array of tricks as he’s come up through the pro ranks, but this was obviously not the case with Adan. He had only 9 pro fights and was a club fighter going up against a double Olympic gold medalist with an alleged 400 plus amateur fights.

A couple of questions for you Doug: is this the upset of the year? Can you think of a bigger upset between an ex amateur star turned pro vs an unheralded blue caller pro? What do you think are the hardest parts of transitioning to the pro game for an elite amateur boxer aside from the extra rounds and lighter gloves?

2) Vergil Ortiz continues to exceed expectations as his competition steps up. Finishing Orozco and Herrera in back to back fights at his age is seriously impressive. He also seems to be a really mature and grounded guy, which is what you look for in a young prospect. This guy seems destined for multiple world titles. How long do you think before his first title shot and who would you like to see him matched up with next? Do you think he and Teofimo Lopez are destined for a clash somewhere down the road? – Jack E.

Fifteen-to-20 years ago I’d have told you that practically guaranteed that two rising young stars like Ortiz and Lopez would meet at least once while they were still in their athletic primes, but things done changed. Network/platform affiliations, promotional beefs and greediness generally keeps top talent apart these days and many fighters seem OK with the situation.

However, I will add that both Ortiz and Lopez seem like throw-back fighters in their willingness to challenge themselves. They are as competitive as they are precocious, and they don’t seem as caught up with the business side of the sport as other standouts. So maybe we’ll get lucky and see them share the ring some day.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy their climbs to their first title shots. Lopez’s shot is coming in his next bout. I think Ortiz’s shot will come a year from now.

Who would I like to see him fight next? A fellow young gun like Jaron Ennis or Josh Kelly, or a mature spoiler like Jamal James or Ray Robinson would make for a very interesting and risky next step in Ortiz’s career. I don’t think Golden Boy will deliver that kind of matchup next, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they put him in with Sadam Ali or Eddie Gomez before the end of the year, which would be fine by me.

Adan Gonzales pulled off upset by beating two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Adan Gonzales pulled off an upset in beating two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

A couple of questions for you Doug: is this the upset of the year? Gonzalez over Ramirez? Nah. Upset of the Year frontrunner is still Andy Ruiz over Anthony Joshua in my opinion. I know Ramirez was a two-time gold medalist from the vaunted Cuban team, but the way I see it he was unproven in the pro ranks and I’m not automatically enamored with Olympians (even gold medalists) or Cuban boxers. Zou Shiming was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and while the Chinese star did win a flyweight world title, he wasn’t that good. And for every Yuriorkis Gamboa, Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux, there are 10 former amateur standouts from Cuba that didn’t pan out in the pro ranks.

Can you think of a bigger upset between an ex amateur star turned pro vs an unheralded blue caller pro? Good question. Gonzalez spoiling Ramirez’s pro debut is gonna be hard to top, but it’s not unheard of for former amateur standouts to get upset early in their pro development. Less than a month before Ramirez-Gonzalez, Alberto Melian, a two-time Olympian from Argentina (who owns an amateur victory over Robeisy Ramirez), was outworked and outpointed by Mexican club fighter Leonardo Baez (15-2) in his sixth pro bout.

We’ll see if Ramirez and Melian will learn from their recent setbacks. Some former amateur stars that suffer early career losses bounce back (as 2008 Olympian and Pan-Am/world amateur champion McWilliams Arroyo did after losing to Takashi Okada in his fourth pro bout) and some don’t (like 1992 Olympian Pepe Reilly who lost his fifth bout and never found his form in the pro ranks).

What do you think are the hardest parts of transitioning to the pro game for an elite amateur boxer aside from the extra rounds and lighter gloves? I’m not a trainer or a fighter but I think learning proper defense (head- and upper-body movement, slipping, parrying punches, etc.) and offensive technique (inside fighting, getting maximum leverage on punches) are the two main challenges of the professional transition. Both Ramirez and Melian stood straight up and only blocked punches with a high guard (when they weren’t doing so with their faces), no slipping, and both “winged” their shots – in other words, they threw a lot of wide, loopy punches.

 

DISAPPOINTED IN ANDY RUIZ

Hello Doug,

Ever since Andy Ruiz Jr. beat Anthony Joshua for the heavyweight title, I’ve been following The Destroyer on social media and waiting for the rematch to be announced. A few thoughts on this. First, Andy Ruiz Jr. told his mom that they weren’t going to suffer any more, that was one of the moments that made people fall in love with Andy, including me. Well, the first thing he does is goes and buys a Rolls Royce and second, he then goes out and buys a mansion.

Ok, all of that is good and all, but to me, if you really never want to struggle, you would stick to a normal lifestyle before you actually defend your title against the guy you beat and secure a few more fights that will pay you enough money to maintain property like that. Then we get the typical entourage talking in Andy’s ear, I can almost hear it: “Andy you’re better, ask for more money, they want to screw you, you’re worth more”. If I’m not mistaken, Andy’s dad said in an interview that his son deserved 50 million for the rematch. Well yes, he deserves whatever he thinks, but fact is they signed a contract that already included terms for the rematch! You have to honor that deal! These guys gave you the opportunity of a lifetime and now, with the first sign of money, you become greedy and all that charm, grace and humility goes down the drain!

Very disappointing behavior by Ruiz’s side. Now, of course, I don’t know all the terms, haven’t read the actual contract and am basing all this ranting on interviews and information I’ve seen on the internet. But logic tells me, Eddie Hearn protected his fighter with logical rematch clauses and terms. Can you elaborate on this Doug? I just hate how promotional companies, egos, greed and money, block fights from happening. I’m not going to say that Al Haymon is doing this to try to make Wilder-Ruiz (didn’t they just cancel the Wilder-Ortiz rematch?), but …well I think I already said it. I just hope they just do the fight, and move on. Ruiz has the potential of being a superstar and I really think he can win the rematch. I favor him, specially if they do it immediately.  Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Many fans, media and boxing insiders also favor Ruiz in the immediate rematch, but if Ruiz’s posturing delays the fight (more than it already has been), it won’t help his chances. I don’t blame Team Ruiz for wanting more money (even though he’ll be paid a career high for the return bout) or for not wanting to fight in Saudi Arabia, but the reality of the situation is that his shot at Joshua was a stroke of luck (a combination of Jarrell Miller being a dumbass and Eddie Hearn wanting a solid opponent for AJ’s U.S. debut) and he wasn’t in a position to haggle over deal points of the rematch clause. He had to accept the contract (which was more than fair) that Hearn offered him. Now, that the first fight is over and the rematch clause enacted does he have to honor it? Not really. He can tell Hearn and Joshua to f__k themselves. But he’ll get sued and he’ll likely be stripped of his three world titles (although you never know with the sanctioning bodies, they might look to do some business with Haymon). Just one editor’s opinion: the boxing business is money motivated and ego driven. If Ruiz can get some extra money by dragging his feet with this rematch, good for him. If the PBC can find an alternative site that offers as much money or more than Saudi Arabia, well, more power to them and I’d be all for that (because I’m not gonna travel to the middle east). However, if neither side budges by the end of this month, I think it would behoove Ruiz to go along with Hearn’s deal and switch his focus 100% to his training camp and preparing for a more motivated version of Joshua. I think Ruiz will need a 10-week camp to be at his best.

Andy Ruiz Jr. told his mom that they weren’t going to suffer any more, that was one of the moments that made people fall in love with Andy, including me. Well, the first thing he does is goes and buys a Rolls Royce and second, he then goes out and buys a mansion. I have no idea if he paid for the new car or not, but my hunch is that it was a gift, either from the dealership, Haymon or somebody else connected with Ruiz’s management. The mansion is another story.

Ok, all of that is good and all, but to me, if you really never want to struggle, you would stick to a normal lifestyle before you actually defend your title against the guy you beat and secure a few more fights that will pay you enough money to maintain property like that. Of course, you’re going to think like that. You’re a boring-ass school teacher, Juan! LOL. Andy’s a f__king fighter. Some are as rational as you, or even more so, but most are impetuous by nature. They don’t think about tomorrow. S__t, most pro athletes are like that.

Then we get the typical entourage talking in Andy’s ear, I can almost hear it: “Andy you’re better, ask for more money, they want to screw you, you’re worth more”. Hey, that’s just boxing, bro. It’s always been like that and it always will be.

 

 

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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