Dougie’s Monday mailbag (junior featherweights, Saudi Arabia, the Canelo Saga)
LAST MAN STANDING AT 122
Doug hi,Hope it’s all going your way here in the late summer. A quick one for you: Emanuel Navarrete, Danny Roman, Rey Vargas. Let’s throw TJ Doheny into the mix for a wild card (on a different night he might’ve taken Roman) … last man standing? Or, in the eliminator Doheny fights Vargas, & Navarrete fights Roman. Then the winners & losers square off: Who you got? …any chance we get to see any of this action in the next six months? Cheers! – Alec
I think there’s a decent chance we’ll see Roman vs. Vargas in the next six months, if the 122-pound titleholders get past their next opponents, which won’t be easy.
Roman (27-2-1, 10 KOs), the unified WBA/IBF beltholder and Ring Magazine’s No. 1-rated junior featherweight, is set to take on the WBA’s No. 2-ranked Murodjon Akhmadaliev on Sept. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Akhmadaliev (6-0, 5 KOs) isn’t experienced in the pro ranks but the scrappy southpaw from Uzbekistan was an elite amateur who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games. He’s also trained by the Diaz brothers (Joel and Antonio) in the crazy hot Indio/Coachella desert area of Southern California, so you better believe he’s going to be well prepared for his first title shot.
Vargas (32-0, 22 KOs), the WBC beltholder and Ring Magazine’s No. 2-rated junior featherweight, has to deal with his mandatory challenger Guillermo Rigondeaux next but a date for the showdown with the Cuban master has yet to be set. The awkward but gutsy Mexican stringbean retained his title against Tomoki Kameda last month, so he may not be ready to get back in the ring until October or November. However, if Vargas puts his freakish height, long reach and lateral movement to good use against the fading-but-still-dangerous Rigo, he could conceivably outmaneuver and outpoint the amateur legend. And Roman might have too much pro experience for Akhmadaliev. I can see him taking the Uzbek into deep waters and drowning him. If The Ring’s Nos. 1- and 2-rated junior feathers retain their belts, the unification bout (which would include the vacant Ring title) could be made in the first quarter of 2020. Both Roman and Vargas are co-promoted by companies that do business on DAZN (Matchroom USA and Golden Boy), and both fighters have been talking up the potential matchup in recent months.
Or, in the eliminator Doheny fights Vargas, & Navarrete fights Roman. Then the winners & losers square off: Who you got? I’ll go with Vargas by close (maybe unpopular) unanimous decision in a frustrating fight for both Doheny and the fans, and Roman by come-from-behind late stoppage in a Fight-of-the-Year candidate. And I’ll ride with Baby Faced Assassin from Inglewood, California in the winners final. I know he’d probably be the odds and media underdog in that matchup, but I think he knows how to fight tall, rangy opponents and he’d get to Vargas enough to edge the Mexico City native on points, maybe by majority or split nod. I’ll go with Navarrete by late stoppage (due to facial cuts/swelling) in a savage, bloody Fight-of-the-Year candidate in the losers final.
WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO LOSE (BESIDES LOSING)?
Hi Dougie –
My best to your and all The Ring faithful.
I’m very much enjoying your work on the Thursday Night Fights and The Ring Report – those are fun broadcasts.
With so much of boxing being cloistered into promotional silos these days, I’d very much enjoy a primer on the contractual implications of making cross-promotion fights.
Beyond the obvious consequences of a fighter losing his match, and of a promoter having to share profits… what are the major implications of having (and losing) a cross-promotional fight that are so avoided? Is it that the winning fighter/promoter would control so-much-the-more the terms of a rematch? Can you help us “follow the money” on this issue?
Do you have any ideas for a “grand solution” to the problem (if it is indeed a problem, and solvable)?
Thanks for everything. Catch ya’ Thursday on the TV.
From the fighting city of San Diego… – Brock
Thanks for the kind words, Brock. I think you’re gonna enjoy this week’s Thursday Night Fights, which is topped by a boxer-vs.-slugger matchup featuring undefeated young junior welterweight prospects: Luis Feliciano (the boxer, 12-0, 8 KOs) and Genaro Gamez (the slugger, 9-0, 6 KOs). It also features one of my favorite up-and-comers, Blair “The Flair” Cobb, who’s in with fellow unbeaten Steve Villalobos (both welterweights sport 11-0-1 records). Whoooo!
Regarding “the contractual implications of making cross-promotion fights” and “following the money” on the issue, there’s no primer or road to follow. The money IS the issue. Networks and streaming platforms (and the companies or corporate giants behind them) want exclusive relationships with the most popular fighters who bring in the most money (such as Canelo Alvarez, Anthony Johsua and Gennady Golovkin) or the well-known and respect ultra-skilled or exciting talents that have the potential to be stars or maybe superstars if guided right (such as Deontay Wilder, Errol Spence, Terence Crawford and Vassiliy Lomachenko). These company pay the promoters and the fighters A LOT of money to bring in the dedicated fan bases of the superstars or the prestige of having the heavyweight champ or the pound-for-pound king fighting on their network or platform.
You’re not going to see Canelo, GGG or AJ fight off of DAZN in the U.S. You’re not going to see Wilder or Spence fight off of FOX or Showtime. (Although, it should be noted that if Wilder beats Luis Ortiz again, he’s agreed to face Tyson Fury in a rematch that would be co-promoted/produced by ESPN and FOX.)
And you’re not going to see Lomachenko or Crawford fight off of ESPN/ESPN+ in the U.S. any time soon.
The other fighters who are part of the vast promotional stables of Top Rank, Golden Boy, Matchroom and the PBC are a different story. If the money’s good enough and there’s a significant prize on the line, you might see certain guys cross the street. We’ve
already seen a few times in the last nine months. Maurice Hooker, who fights on DAZN, crossed the street to face Alex Saucedo on ESPN last November. Andy Ruiz, a PBC player, stepped in to face Joshua on DAZN in June. And, most recently, Jose Ramirez, who fights on ESPN, crossed the street to DAZN for his unification showdown with Hooker. Will we see more of this in the coming months? I think so, but not often. Only when the fighter who “crosses the street” receives a career-high payday or a once-in-a-career opportunity (for instance Sergey Kovalev gets by Anthony Yarde this Saturday, he’s in line for Canelo later this year; and if the Russian loses, maybe Jermall Charlo or Caleb Plant take the challenge).
Beyond the obvious consequences of a fighter losing his match, and of a promoter having to share profits… what are the major implications of having (and losing) a cross-promotional fight that are so avoided? Promoters don’t want to piss off their network/platform partners. The media companies cough up and commit to hundreds of millions of dollars that are doled out over multi-year deals. They’re not parting with that kind of money to see the top talent of their promotional partners get beat “across the street” in significant fights that build up the competition’s talent roster/future programming schedule. If a promoter gets the top boxing talent for a network or platform beat in matchups that help create stars for competing networks/platforms, do you think the network/platform that had deals with the losing talent is going to want to stay in boxing or re-up with the promoter once their deal expires?
THE CANELO SAGA
I hope you and yours are well?
Anyway, I’ll get straight to it. As I’m sure you’re aware, there are quite a few rumours circulating that not all is well within GBP, specifically surrounding Canelo and RyGuy. Apparently, both fighters are very upset with Oscar and his behaviour and both are apparently considering legal action (Kevin Iole said this on the SI pod with Chris Mannix and in one of his columns). I just wanted to get your take on all of this as it’s a rumour that doesn’t seem to be going away and GB are being oddly quiet on the entire situation.
Secondly – Vergil Ortiz, I’m sold. I can only see him getting better and better. I like anything about him. His punch selection, his ability to listen, his body punching, he’s big at the weight etc etc but mainly he’s just fan friendly. Gets in the ring and brings it and furthermore he seems like a top-quality bloke outside of the ring. Dedicated to his craft and it’s obvious to me that all he wants to do is box, train, box, train and then box some more. I know Tony O isn’t elite but he’s fringe world class/solid contender and gave Ortiz a real fight but it just shows the class Ortiz has to get Tony O out of there for the first time inside the distance.
Thirdly – A fight that’s just been announced Gvozdyk vs Beterbiev. Who you got in that race? I favour Gvozdyk. Both are big punchers but I feel like he’s got the slightly better chin and Beterbiev is not difficult to find with punches. Gvozdyk by KO round 6.
Finally – AJ vs Ruiz Jr 2. It’s in Saudi Arabia, Lots of people (rightly so) are up in arms about it because of Saudi’s less than stellar human rights record amongst other things, but my question is, when Muhammad Ali and George Foreman went to Zaire was there the same public outcry that there has been for this fight? Yes, it’s morally wrong but when has boxing ever put morals first? It’s all about the Benjamins right?
Anyway, that’s all I have for now. Protect yourself at all times and keep ‘em up. – Randall
Will do, Randall.
Good point about Foreman-Ali being held in a country that was run by a ruthless dictator at the time. Was there a public outcry? Yeah, there was some, and more than a few sports journalists refused to cover it (or weren’t sent by their publication/network/media company) because of what was going on in Zaire at the time. However, America wasn’t as globally aware or politically correct then as it is now – in fact, the event title, “Rumble in the Jungle” probably wouldn’t fly today; and Don King’s unofficial title/poster line: “From the Slave Ship to the Championship” definitely wouldn’t be tolerated – so I’m guessing in 1974 the story of the event rose above the controversy. The Ali-Frazier rubbermatch, the famous “Thrilla In Manila,” was held in a country headed up by president (Ferdinand Marcos) who ruled like a dictator. Both Bob Arum and Don King did business in Apartheid-era South Africa when Gerrie Coetzee was a heavyweight player. They sent African-American heavyweight contenders (John Tate, Mike Weaver and Greg Page) to South Africa to fight Coetzee between 1979-1984. Why did they do this (especially King, who had joined the Artists and Athletes Against Apartheid collective in 1982) do this? And why did Tate, Weaver and Page agree to fight there? Because the money was too damn good to pass up. Same deal with Eddie Hearn and Saudi Arabia.
As I’m sure you’re aware, there are quite a few rumours circulating that not all is well within GBP, specifically surrounding Canelo and RyGuy. “RyGuy”? LOL. I hope you made up that nickname and didn’t get it from Garcia, who is fighting on Sept. 14 (vs. solid foe Avery Sparrow) in the main supporting bout to Munguia-Allotey in Carson, California.
Apparently, both fighters are very upset with Oscar and his behaviour and both are apparently considering legal action (Kevin Iole said this on the SI pod with Chris Mannix and in one of his columns). Iole and everyone else needs to calm down. This is part of the business. Fighters, especially superstars and popular prospects, get upset sometimes and sometimes – actually, oftentimes – they vent their anger toward their promoter. Everyone blames the promoter. Always have, always will. So, Canelo’s mad that DAZN is pushing GGG on him. So what? I understand where both sides are coming from. So, Canelo is pissed that he had to move off of the Sept. 14 date. I get that. That weekend is a big deal in Mexico. It means a lot to his fans and to major sponsors and networks there. Canelo is angry about getting stripped by the IBF. I would be too. He won the damn strap in May! I understand all of his frustration, but I don’t think all of it necessarily needs to be directed to GBP (and I don’t know that all of it is). They’re doing the best they can during a tense situation. The problem is that every would-be opponent of Canelo from now on is going to want to be paid five times more than their career-high purse. And they know they’ve got leverage because they know that DAZN is only signing off on a few other “B-sides,” which drags out negotiations. I’m sure there has been some venting, some threats, and some shouting matches in meetings or on conference calls, but I don’t think we’ll see any legal action on either side. I think GBP, Team Canelo and DAZN will put their heads together and move forward. All it means for us is that Canelo isn’t going to fight until November. It’s not the end of the world. If Kovalev wins on Saturday, he might get the assignment. I’m good with that. Aren’t you?
Vergil Ortiz, I’m sold. Me too.
I can only see him getting better and better. Scary thought for his future opposition.
I like anything about him. His punch selection, his ability to listen, his body punching, he’s big at the weight etc etc but mainly he’s just fan friendly. That’s what it’s all about.
A fight that’s just been announced Gvozdyk vs Beterbiev. Who you got in that race? I favour Gvozdyk. So do I. I’ve never been that high on Beterbiev, although I’ve come around as a fan. I do enjoy watching the Russian bruiser fight. However, although Beterbiev had the more accomplished amateur background, I view the Ukrainian Nail as the better all-around technician.
Both are big punchers but I feel like he’s got the slightly better chin and Beterbiev is not difficult to find with punches. That’s true, but I wouldn’t consider Beterbiev to be “chinny,” yeah, he’s been dropped, but he gets up and takes care of business. I think Gvozdyk’s best bet is to box carefully him early, look to get some respect in the middle rounds, and then try to take it to him down the stretch. Maybe he can get a late stoppage, but I favor him via decision in a good, competitive fight.
Gvozdyk by KO round 6. I’d be very surprised if he took Beterbiev out that soon.
AN UNUSUAL QUESTION
Huge fan of yours (even tho you always pick against my idol Hagler lol ) I have a unusual question. We have the greatest boxing magazine, bar none, in The Ring. Why doesn’t the Ring Magazine make The Cage “The Bible of MMA” magazine? I love both sports and would love to see ODLH consider it.
MM: Hagler vs Joe Calzaghe at middleweight
MM Hagler vs SRR
MM Hagler vs Jake LaMotta
Cheers Doug and keep up the great work and killing it on Twitter! – Clint from British Columbia
Thanks Clint. I’ll go with Hagler by late stoppage vs. a weight-drained Calzaghe, Robinson by close but unanimous decision in a very good fight, and I see the Marvelous One and the Raging Bull battling it out to a legitimate draw (another good scrap with underrated ring craft throughout).
If Oscar wanted to publish an MMA magazine, I wouldn’t be against that idea, but I don’t think I’d be the right guy to head up that project. I just don’t follow MMA closely enough (and I never have). I do recognize that there is a lot of crossover appeal (at least a lot more than there was 10-15 years ago), which is why we dedicate four pages to MMA in The Ring with Gareth A Davies’ “Enter The Octagon” column.
However, for every fan who likes boxing and MMA, there are five hardcore boxing fans who have zero tolerance for “ultimate fighting.”