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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Kovalev-Yarde, Krusher vs. Canelo, the Super Flyweights)

Sergey Kovalev still has his doubters despite turning back the spirited challenge of Anthony Yarde with an 11th-round KO. Photo by Valery-Sharifulin / TASS / Getty Images
26
Aug

DEATH BY A THOUSAND JABS

Hey Dougie,

Just wanted to give my input in this weekend’s fights.

Kovalev vs Yarde: “Old Lion vs Young Lion”

Kovalev has an excellent left stick and threw that thing with authority for 11 grueling rounds, ultimately getting the stoppage by snapping Yarde’s head back with that sledgehammer jab. He showed a ton a heart and grit in surviving that 8th round where he was basically out on his feet. He is not the “Krusher” he once was, but at 36 that is to be expected. Buddy McGirt has transformed the old puncher into a more disciplined boxer a la Arutro Gatti.

He should capitalize on this victory and take the mega payday vs Canelo. I favor Canelo and all the other major players at light heavy to stop Kovalev. Eddie and Chepo are right to ask for this fight. If and when it happens, Canelo will stop Kovalev.

Props to Yarde in a valiant effort where he fell short. Ultimately his inexperience and conditioning did him in. He came within 1 or 2 punches of stopping Krusher. He needs to work on his conditioning and defense. He has the Mayweather shoulder roll but zero head movement. The experience will serve him well and this loss shouldn’t diminish his stock.

Gallito vs Beamon:

Fun fight designed to showcase Estrada’s talent in his homecoming fight. Beamon came to fight and hit the p4p champ with hard bombs throughout the fight. Made for a few nervous moments for me and all Estrada fans in attendance. Ultimately, Gallito took care of business and dispatched his overmatched but courageous opponent.

Estrada looked a little rusty and his body didn’t look as conditioned as it did 4 months ago when he went to war with SSR. Let hope politics don’t get in the way and Gallito gets a chance to unify the division.

Keep up the great work! A joy to read the mailbag twice a week. Thanks – Otilio

Thanks for the kind words on this column and thanks for sharing your thoughts, Otilio.

El Gallo, the Ring Magazine and WBC 115-pound champ.

Both Juan Francisco Estrada, The Ring Magazine/WBC 115-pound champ, and Kal Yafai, the WBA beltholder, are promoted by Matchroom USA, so I think we’ll see a unification showdown between the two. I also believe WBO titleholder Kazuto Ioka, who has a good relationship with Tom Loeffler (now doing business with Eddie Hearn through GGG Promotions), could be in the unification mix at some point next year. And, of course, we can’t forget about the former champ, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who is also signed with Hearn’s company. He’ll definitely get another crack at Estrada, or against whoever winds up holding the WBC strap, in 2020. The junior bantamweight division is the deepest in boxing in my opinion and it’s going to heat up very soon (with most of the action being broadcast on DAZN in the U.S.).

Fun fight designed to showcase Estrada’s talent in his homecoming fight. Yeah, that was the proverbial “gimme” fight. Dewayne Beamon was game and defiant but very much out of his depth against the 29-year-old veteran, who happens to be No. 8 in The Ring’s Pound-for-Pound rankings.

Beamon came to fight and hit the p4p champ with hard bombs throughout the fight. Gallo’s the junior bantamweight champ, not the P4P champ, not yet anyway… maybe if he’s able to unify his division and then make some noise at 118 pounds…

Made for a few nervous moments for me and all Estrada fans in attendance. I didn’t think Estrada was ever hurt or in any serious trouble. From where I was sitting (my living room) he appeared in complete control from start to finish, although Beamon made it interesting (with his talent and his nasty attitude).

Ultimately, Gallito took care of business and dispatched his overmatched but courageous opponent. Beamon has guts. I’d like to see him come back and test an unbeaten up-and-comer like Jeyvier Cintron or an old warhorse like my beloved Chocolatito.

Kovalev has an excellent left stick and threw that thing with authority for 11 grueling rounds, ultimately getting the stoppage by snapping Yarde’s head back with that sledgehammer jab. I think Kovalev’s jab is among the best in boxing, top five for sure.

He showed a ton a heart and grit in surviving that 8th round where he was basically out on his feet. He was hurt and in trouble at the end of that round, but he didn’t look totally out of it to me. I thought he had his wits about him as he returned to his corner, and he seemed to recover quickly to resume control of Round 9, so that tells me he wasn’t as out of it as much of the boxing world believed he was in the previous round.

He is not the “Krusher” he once was, but at 36 that is to be expected. Buddy McGirt has transformed the old puncher into a more disciplined boxer a la Arutro Gatti. Good analogy. I think Krusher is a better and more disciplined boxer than Thunder ever was, but I doubt the Russian will ever be voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (thanks to a ridiculous U.S. media bias… unless he can beat a certain redheaded Mexican that everyone assumes he will lose to if they fight).

He should capitalize on this victory and take the mega payday vs Canelo. Well, duh!

Photo by Valery Sharifulin-TASS via Getty-Images

I favor Canelo and all the other major players at light heavy to stop Kovalev. Really? The man reversed a devastating KO loss by totally outclassing Eleider Alvarez in one of the most disciplined boxing clinics of 2019 and then he stops a powerful, undefeated athletic specimen in Anthony Yarde, and he STILL can’t get any respect from fans? Not only do you think he loses to everybody, you think he gets stopped!? Come on, man! He’s live against Canelo and any of the other 175-pound beltholders. Who have Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol defeated to make you think that they can handle Kovalev’s blend of skill, experience and power? Fringe contenders like Callum Johnson and Joe Smith had moments against those ballyhooed beltholders. Gvozdyk is battle tested, no doubt about that, but The Nail is a hot and cold performer. If he has a poor night vs. Kovalev, I say the Russian outboxes the Ukrainian.

Eddie and Chepo are right to ask for this fight. If and when it happens, Canelo will stop Kovalev. From your lips to God’s ears, homie. I just hope you and the rest of the boxing world gives Canelo his due credit for beating a top-three light heavyweight. (Editor’s Note: I know most of you will still hate on him.)

Props to Yarde in a valiant effort where he fell short. Ultimately his inexperience and conditioning did him in. He was also soundly outboxed and outclassed. It wasn’t all about his inexperience and conditioning. It was also a matter of skill. Kovalev was the more skillful and effective boxer.

He came within 1 or 2 punches of stopping Krusher. Maybe. Maybe not. He couldn’t get Kovalev off his feet. Bottom line, he couldn’t make the most of his moment in Round 8 because he’d had the wits and wind jabbed out of him in the previous seven rounds. Credit Kovalev for that.

He needs to work on his conditioning and defense. Um, yeah, we don’t need to channel the spirits of Ray Arcel and Eddie Futch to see that.

He has the Mayweather shoulder roll but zero head movement. He needs to leave that move alone or hire James Toney or Floyd Mayweather Sr. to teach him how to do it correctly.

The experience will serve him well and this loss shouldn’t diminish his stock. It will definitely make him a better fighter.

 

GOOD WIN FOR KOVALEV, GOOD LOSS FOR YARDE

What a great fight Kovalev-Yarde turned out to be. As most predicted, the Russian was victorious, but I also think Yarde proved a lot of doubters wrong who said the odds were way too close and that the Brit would get blown out. In the end, he did take a whole lot of damage, but he also had Kovalev going in that 8th round and looked to be one or two punches away from ending it.

Buddy McGirt was rightly concerned for his fighter. In the end though, Kovalev’s experience carried the day; as you predicted Dougie, the left stick was the big difference. Yarde was getting his head snapped back and his body stabbed by it throughout the fight, and it was somewhat fitting that the last punch to put him down was a jab that beat his left hook. Yarde was obviously exhausted and didn’t have much left in the tank after battering Kovalev in the 8th. Getting hit constantly with the jab played a big part in his gassing I’m sure, along with a lack of experience in this kind of fight.

Although he didn’t win many rounds, (none big besides the 8th) I thought this was a valiant effort from a guy who wanted to really challenge himself.  Yes, he could have used a couple more higher-level fights before taking on someone of Kovalev’s caliber but heck, he almost pulled it off anyway. We knew Yarde had power and athleticism; now we also know he has a good chin and a big heart. I think if he had someone like Buddy McGirt training him he could become a champion in a few years. Definitely not a guy to write off.

As for Kovalev, this was a good win for him, but questions about his durability remain. I think it’s fair to say that he’s a glass canon. He’s an underrated outside boxer with an elite jab and big power but if you can take that power and get inside on him, he’s quite vulnerable to the head and body.

Personally, I think if they meet in the fall Canelo will brutally KO him. Canelo has the defensive ability and iron chin to deal with Kovalev’s power, but the same can’t be said for Kovalev. I’m not against the fight, but I feel quite certain about the outcome. Even if it’s a true 175-pound fight (no catch-weight or rehydration stuff) Kovalev just slings his hands too low and it’s very easy to envision Canelo blasting him through the chin with an explosive counter, or folding him in half with body shots (preferably above the cup of course.) – Jack E.

Can Canelo emulate Roy Jones Jr. and Thomas Hearns? The explosive American middleweight titleholders won multiple 175-pound belts.

Canelo is an elite boxer, one of the best, pound for pound, as well as the best middleweight (or at worst, the second best behind GGG) in the game – but he hasn’t proven to be the second coming of Dick Tiger or Thomas Hearns or Roy Jones Jr. or any of history’s other middleweight stars that won world titles at light heavyweight. It’s fine to favor Canelo in the potential matchup with Kovalev, but let’s not go crazy and act like he’s going to casually walk through the Russian veteran. Canelo can crack, but he doesn’t have one-punch KO power at middleweight. What makes you think he’s going to have it at light heavyweight? Canelo can definitely take a punch – at middleweight. He’s never been hit by a world-class light heavyweight with power.   

As most predicted, the Russian was victorious, but I also think Yarde proved a lot of doubters wrong who said the odds were way too close and that the Brit would get blown out. I saw more doubts about Kovalev than Yarde on my Twitter TL. More than few fans, media and boxing insiders were ordering the Upset Special in Mother Russia.

In the end, he did take a whole lot of damage, but he also had Kovalev going in that 8th round and looked to be one or two punches away from ending it. I’ll say it again, it was pretty clear to me that Yarde lacked the extra “punch or two” that he needed in order to knock Kovalev on his ass, let alone close the show. The reason for that lack of power or volume was the punishment Kovalev systematically heaped on him during the previous seven rounds. Yarde needed to get respect and score first blood from the get-go in this fight in order to have a realistic chance at beating Kovalev and he wasn’t able to do it.

Buddy McGirt was rightly concerned for his fighter. True, any good trainer would be, but I also think he was trying motivate Kovalev between the eighth and ninth.

In the end though, Kovalev’s experience carried the day; as you predicted Dougie, the left stick was the big difference. I didn’t need to conjure the ghosts of Angelo Dundee and Emanuel Steward to know that. But, once more, I want to say that it was more than a good jab and championship experience that turned back Yarde’s spirited challenge – it was SKILL.

Although he didn’t win many rounds, (none big besides the 8th) I thought this was a valiant effort from a guy who wanted to really challenge himself.  Yes, credit to Yarde for believing in himself. He’s come a long way in a relatively short period and his journey in boxing is far from done.

Yes, he could have used a couple more higher-level fights before taking on someone of Kovalev’s caliber but heck, he almost pulled it off anyway. He definitely needed more seasoning before challenging for his world title, and I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say he almost won the fight. He had one really good moment in one round of the fight.

We knew Yarde had power and athleticism; now we also know he has a good chin and a big heart. True. He’s gonna be a handful for all but the very best light heavyweights.

I think if he had someone like Buddy McGirt training him he could become a champion in a few years. Definitely not a guy to write off. Most fighters mature and improve after a loss, Yarde seems to have a good head on his broad shoulders so I don’t see any reason why he’d be any different. He could be ready for another title shot in 18 months.

As for Kovalev, this was a good win for him, but questions about his durability remain. I think it’s fair to say that he’s a glass canon. I don’t think it’s fair to say that at all. If he was as “frail,” mentally and/or physically, as fans and HBO/ESPN commentators continually make him out to be Andre Ward would have stopped him in their first bout and wouldn’t have needed low blows to break him down in the rematch. He would have been KTFO by Eleider Alvarez in their rematch if he was a “glass cannon.” Yarde would have taken him out in four or five rounds if he was as “vulnerable” as WAY too many fans and pundits view him.

He’s an underrated outside boxer with an elite jab and big power but if you can take that power and get inside on him, he’s quite vulnerable to the head and body. Easier said than done.

 

RETURN OF THE KRUSHER

Hello Doug,

I was very impressed by Sergey Kovalev in his dramatic KO win over the tough but inexperienced Yarde. I had Kovalev up 7 rounds to 3 by the time the fight ended, and I thought he was very close on going down in the 8th.  I’m surprised Buddy McGirt threatened Sergey that he was going to stop the fight if he had another round like that. I don’t think he was on the verge of getting stopped, but more ready to go down, he wasn’t completely out on his feet, he was answering back. That being said, he did come back the next round to show us how good he is and how much experience plays a role at this point of his career. Yarde was obviously too green for him, he showed he has talent and that maybe one day he’ll win a championship, but at this point he needs to realize that you can’t go from High School Baseball to Tom Glavine in one at bat.

I do see why Canelo wants Kovalev. When Yarde went to the body, Sergey looked different, he is certainly not comfortable when he gets hit there. The thing Canelo and his team may not be thinking is that Ward, Yarde and Alvarez are three big dudes who can hit at that weight class, Canelo is yet to prove that he belongs there and much like Yarde, going straight to the best might be a mistake. Now, I’m not saying he doesn’t have a chance to win, as a matter of fact I think he’s a live dog, but still favor Kovalev because of his size and power. Of course, a lot of people will say it’s pretty easy to analyze this fight, if Canelo carries some sort of power and connects to the body, he will win, if not, he will lose. I think it’s a little more complicated than that. Much like you said last time, Canelo is a little bit more than just a body puncher. He’s overall a better fighter than Kovalev and has a very good inside game, which as you said, Kovalev lacks. I think it’s a very interesting matchup, much better (again, as you said) than Spence-Garcia for the reasons you pointed out last week.

Canelo is a big dude for his height, and I think he’ll carry the weight pretty well. I also think he’s very slippery, enough to survive all 12 rounds vs The Krusher. I’m still thinking Kovalev can pull it off, I think his jab is very good, my only concern is his speed. It will depend on timing imho, if he manages to get that right, he will win. What do you think? BTW that preliminary fight was also pretty good! I enjoyed the card and thought Ward, Osuna and Bradley did an excellent job commentating.

Look forward to next week’s broadcast.  Thanks Doug and have a wonderful week. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Thanks for checking in, Juan.

Apart from the over-analysis of Kovalev’s technique and the usual psychoanalysis we get from American commentators whenever he fights, I thought ESPN’s studio broadcast booth was excellent. Bernardo Osuna is a very talented and underrated host/blow-by-blow commentator. I think he always brings out the best in his co-commentators and makes the broadcast fun.  

The Makabu-Papin cruiserweight fight was pretty good. I was pleased to see Illunga win a close decision in Russia. He’s still a player at 200 pounds.

I do see why Canelo wants Kovalev. When Yarde went to the body, Sergey looked different, he is certainly not comfortable when he gets hit there. Hey, NOBODY likes it to the body. Is Kovalev a little more susceptible to punches to his midsection than other world-class operators? Yeah, he probably is, but I think a lot of fans are going to be shocked s__tless, as my mother likes to say, when Canelo taps Kovalev to the body the Russian doesn’t evaporate into a big puff of smoke.

The thing Canelo and his team may not be thinking is that Ward, Yarde and Alvarez are three big dudes who can hit at that weight class, Canelo is yet to prove that he belongs there and much like Yarde, going straight to the best might be a mistake. Good point about the size of Ward, Yarde and Eleider. They’re 6-feet tall with longer reach (especially the Colombian, who’s got a 76-inch wingspan) than Canelo, who is 5-foot-8. I’m not sure if they hit that much harder than Canelo but I do know that the Mexican star’s power is untested against world-class light heavyweights. Having said that, I think Canelo’s got better head-and-upper-body movement than all three (yes, including Ward, even though he can do no wrong).

Now, I’m not saying he doesn’t have a chance to win, as a matter of fact I think he’s a live dog, but still favor Kovalev because of his size and power. Dude, you might be the ONLY boxing fan on the planet who favors Kovalev in this matchup. Good for you!

Of course, a lot of people will say it’s pretty easy to analyze this fight, if Canelo carries some sort of power and connects to the body, he will win, if not, he will lose. I think it’s a little more complicated than that. I’m glad you do, because the folks who think all Canelo has to do to win is walk up and touch Kovalev’s body are simpletons.

Much like you said last time, Canelo is a little bit more than just a body puncher. He’s overall a better fighter than Kovalev and has a very good inside game, which as you said, Kovalev lacks. I think Kovalev can do SOME things on the inside. He’s got an uppercut. He knows how to hold now. But, yeah, his bread and butter is to box from a distance. Canelo’s going to have to neutralize that world-class jab to have a decent shot at breaking the 36-year-old down. Think about it: Was he able to take away Golovkin’s jab?

I think it’s a very interesting matchup, much better (again, as you said) than Spence-Garcia for the reasons you pointed out last week. Glad you agree with me, Juan. It’s me and you against the boxing world. LOL.

Canelo is a big dude for his height, and I think he’ll carry the weight pretty well. I think he should come in the same weight he was for Rocky Fielding – 167 and change. There’s no need for him to bulk up to 175. The extra muscles will hold Canelo back (as it did with Yarde vs. Kovalev and his first fight with GGG).

I also think he’s very slippery, enough to survive all 12 rounds vs The Krusher. Agreed.

I’m still thinking Kovalev can pull it off, I think his jab is very good, my only concern is his speed. Bro, that jab is elite. But yeah, Krusher’s speed appears average. Canelo’s quick hands was an advantage against GGG. It will be vs. Kovalev, too, but the WBO light heavyweight titleholder’s height and reach advantages might detract a little bit from Canelo’s edge in speed.

It will depend on timing imho, if he manages to get that right, he will win. What do you think? Two words: Buddy McGirt. You gotta figure the recent hall-of-fame inductee will study Canelo’s style/habits and come up with best gameplan for Kovalev to follow. I’m sure that timing/anticipating (when to punch) will play a part in their keys to victory.

 

 

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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