Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Canelo & Kovalev, heavyweight knockdowns, Douglas-Tyson II what if)
CLEAN OUT YOUR DIVISIONS FIRST!
Tribute to Canelo Alvarez if he jumps 2 weight classes to fight Sergey Kovalev (only if he don’t abuse his power to impose a f__king catchweight) but I’m not so interested.
I prefer when champions firstly clean their division, then move on. Canelo has Andrade, Charlo and GGG 3. Krusher has Bivol, the Gvozdyk/Beterbiev winner and the rest of Top Rank’s pool with Ramirez and Hart. He can still beat these last 2 and maybe a sometime too cautious and economical Bivol. Not sure that Kovalev can endure Beterbiev’s power during 12 rounds at this point in his career. Gvozdyk is an enigma, he is as good as he needs to be according to his opponent and I pick him to take a decision against the veteran. – Antoine Aubin
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Antoine. While I share your preference for unified champions cleaning out their weight classes before they go division hopping, I understand why Canelo and Kovalev would choose to face each other rather than their divisional peers.
Kovalev presents a challenge from a future hall of famer not named Golovkin. I know a lot fans want to see Canelo-GGG 3 (myself included), and there’s a legion of hardcore heads who feel that he owes Golovkin the third match because they don’t believe he’s proven to be the better middleweight, but from Alvarez’s perspective he’s been there and done that. He doesn’t like Golovkin, he doesn’t want to go through the same old promotion for the third year in a row, and he desires a change of pace. I think he’s earned the right to seek out a different challenge.
Canelo presents Kovalev with another opportunity to knock off a superstar/pound-for-pound rated boxer and make the biggest payday of his career. He had a shot against an elite boxer in Andre Ward, but he got jobbed in the first fight, and he never made much money with either fight because neither he nor Dre are big names like Canelo. They didn’t combine to make for successful PPV events. Canelo-Kovalev won’t be a PPV event, but it will be treated like one by DAZN and the promoters and Kovalev will reap PPV-level money, the kind of payout he’s never receive against the other 175-pound beltholders. The Russian veteran is getting long in the tooth. He doesn’t know how many battles are left in his 36-year-old body. Who can blame him for rolling the dice against a 5-foot-8 middleweight, who isn’t a monster puncher at 160 pounds and has trouble defending against a good jab? It’s a winnable fight in his mind! (And I don’t blame him for thinking that.) And from his perspective, who the f__k are the other light heavyweight beltholders? He’s been in with Ward (twice), Bernard Hopkins, Jean Pascal (twice) and Eleider Alvarez (twice).
Canelo has Andrade, Charlo and GGG 3. Golovkin will be there for him in 2020 (provided he gets past Derevyanchenko next month). Andrade and Charlo? Who have they beat? What have they done at 160 pounds? Why are some fans acting like they’re Marvin Hagler in the late 1970s? Why don’t they fight each other? The winner of Andrade-Charlo will make a much better case to be deserving of a shot at the Ring Magazine/lineal middleweight champ than “the guy who stunk it out against two unknown dudes and then beat Maciej Sulecki” or “the guy who got a gift against Matt Korobov then outpointed Brandon Adams and is scheduled to fight Denis Hogan next.”
Krusher has Bivol, the Gvozdyk/Beterbiev winner and the rest of Top Rank’s pool with Ramirez and Hart. Ramirez and Hart have done absolutely nothing to earn a shot at any 175-pound title. I like Bivol – a lot – but who’s best name on his ledger? Faded vets like Pascal and Isaac Chilemba? Sully Barrera? Joe Smith Jr.? Bivol was still a prospect prior to 2018. I know HBO was hyping him up to be a pound-for-pound-level talent at one time, but he’s still a work in progress. Let’s not pretend he’s a world-beater. And what do you expect Kovalev to do? Pass up an opportunity of a lifetime against Canelo so he can wait to face the Gvozdyk-Beterbiev winner in a bout that will earn him a fraction of the money?
I say these other guys need to fight each other. The winner of a Gvozdyk-Beterbiev takes on Bivol and the winner of that showdown will have three belts and a much higher stature in the sport than they currently command. That unified light heavyweight titleholder would have some juice in demanding a showdown with the Kovalev-Canelo winner.
HEAVYWEIGHTS, KNOCKDOWNS AND KNOCKOUTS
Dear Mr. Fischer,
Just reading the print version of the Ring Magazine September edition (it arrives in Germany weeks after the release in the USA and I still prefer the print version over the online issue) and the article about the upset and the rematch AJ vs. Ruiz.
An interesting question crossed my mind: Is it possible to be a world-class heavyweight without going down at least once in your career? I started with the research back to the Joe Louis reign and I only identified one fighter who never went down: Vitali Klitschko (although he has 2 KO losses on his record). Even Rocky Marciano went down twice (4th round vs. Jersey Joe Walcott and 2nd round against Archie Moore). Everybody else was KOed at least once. Here is my list (in brackets the losses by KO):
Ezzard Charles (7)
Archie Moore (7)
Rocky Marciano (0 but 2 knockdowns)
Floyd Patterson (5)
Ingmar Johannson (2)
Sonny Liston (3)
Muhammad Ali (1)
Joe Frazier (3)
George Foreman (1)
Ken Norton (4)
Leon Spinks (7)
Larry Holmes (1 post prime Holmes vs a prime Mike Tyson; no other knockdowns – don’t talk about the count vs. Butterbean)
Mike Tyson (5)
Evander Holyfield (2)
Lennox Lewis (2)
Vitali Klitschko (0)
Vladimir Klitschko (4)
Tyson Fury (1 knockdown vs. Neven Pajkić, 2 knockdowns vs. Wilder)
Deontay Wilder (so far 0)
Did I miss someone?
In other words: Fighting as a heavyweight you better be prepared of going down and have a strong mindset to fight on. Otherwise: Better stop fighting. AJ has shown against Wladimir that he can deal with adversity. Can he return to that strength? – Matthias, Germany
Of course, he can! The greatest heavyweights of all time – from Jack Johnson to Jack Dempsey to Joe Louis to Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis – suffered knockdowns and KO losses. It’s just part of the game, especially at heavyweight. Who knows? The loss to Ruiz might make AJ a better heavyweight, just as Wladimir Klitschko’s KO losses forced him to improve, rededicate himself to the sport and evolve his style.
Even some of the notable heavyweights that you mentioned suffered more knockdowns than you are aware of.
Wilder was dropped in his 13th pro bout against Harold Sconiers (video of this fight was pulled from YouTube and is very hard to come by, but I covered the small Golden Boy card at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. that it was on – Eloy Perez vs. Dominic Salcido was the main event – in 2010 and witnessed it along with other local scribes).
Fury was dropped flat on his back by former cruiserweight champ Steve Cunningham in the second round of their 2013 bout.
Holyfield wasn’t just stopped twice during his ATG career, he suffered a few knockdowns (a third-round technical knockdown vs. Bert Cooper in 1991, in the 11th round of his epic first battle with Riddick Bowe in 1992, in the 11th round of his rematch with John Ruiz in 2001, and in the ninth round vs. James Toney in 2003).
Holmes was knocked down by Kevin Isaac in his seventh pro bout and was also dropped in the seventh round of his title defenses against Earnie Shavers and Renaldo Snipes.
(Shavers nailed him hard and had him shook in their 1979 rematch. It’s a famous heavyweight championship knockdown because Holmes survived and stopped Shaves in Round 11.)
(Holmes also suffered three knockdowns in his KO loss to Tyson.)
Foreman was dropped by Ron Lyle and Jimmy Young (and also dropped for the count in his stoppage loss to Ali).
Frazier was dropped twice in two bouts vs. Oscar Bonavena (and also suffered eight knockdowns in two KO losses to Foreman).
Ali was dropped in his fights with Sonny Banks (Round 1), infamously vs. Henry Cooper (Round 4 of their first bout) and famously in the 15th round of his ATG first showdown with Frazier.
Tyson was down in all of his KO losses except for the Kevin McBride fight (in which a knockdown from sheer exhaustion was ruled a slip).
Patterson and Moore had too many knockdowns to mention but you get the picture.
Doug, what happened to Urbano Antillon? What a fighter he is/was!
Thanks. – Gabe
Antillon is retired. He was pretty much done with boxing after his 2011 loss to Brandon Rios. He had one final fight in 2013 and called it a career. And it was a solid pro career. He never won a world title, but he twice challenged for major 135-pound belts and his 12-round battle with Humberto Soto (for the WBC strap in December 2010) is about as good as it gets – a classic pressure fighter vs. boxer-puncher mashup. Check it out:
If you can find his 10th pro bout vs. Ivan Valle you will be treated to a dramatic, hard-fought 10-round decision victory. (Too bad there isn’t more footage of his sparring sessions – with the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Joel Casamayor and Edwin Valero – on YouTube; those gym wars had more action than many fight of the year candidates.)
WHAT IF? TYSON VS. DOUGLAS 2
Hey Doug, hope all is well.
I was watching a Tyson Fury interview somewhere in which he stated that Ruiz is going to lose to Joshua in the rematch because he has gone full blown Buster Douglas mode after his upset win against Tyson. Fury said that Ruiz is traveling everywhere and meeting everyone but not training. We know what happened to Buster when he faced Holyfield. Riddick Bowe had a similar situation against Holyfield. Touring the world, not training properly and was beaten in the rematch. (I’m sure Fan Man didn’t help either). Do you think Tyson would have beaten Douglas in an immediate rematch and if so, how would that have change the heavyweight scene at that time? Thanks for all you do. – D.W. from Boston, Ma
Interesting hypothetical, D.W. Uatu, AKA The Watcher, would be proud.
Versus Holyfield, Douglas clearly lost the edge he had going into the Tyson bout (and he will tell you that a series of lawsuits between his management and Don King, which resulted in numerous depositions and court appearances, had a lot to do with his lack of focus and loss of desire) but who’s to say that would have been the case if there was an immediate rematch with Iron Mike? Perhaps he always would have trained his ass off for Tyson, in part due to the New Yorker’s celebrity status and fierce ring reputation but also to prove that the first victory was no fluke. Remember, back in 1990, Holyfield was still viewed by most of the public and the boxing world as a puffed-up cruiserweight. Very few insiders took him seriously as a heavyweight threat. This may have been in a factor in Buster’s weak preparation.
However, I doubt he would have overlooked Tyson, even though he schooled him in the first bout. And, don’t forget, he was pissed as hell that King and two of the sanctioning organizations (the WBC and WBA) tried to steal his monumental upset victory from him by claiming that he should have been stopped in the eighth round when Tyson dropped him (for a long count by the referee). That’s what one (or two) of his lawsuits was all about. It’s just a hunch, but I think Douglas would have had fire in his belly for a Tyson rematch. For Holyfield he just had pizza in his belly.
Also consider the mental state of Tyson at this time: He was not in a good place going into the Douglas fight – still in an emotional tailspin from the death of co-manager Jimmy Jacobs (in 1988) and his divorce with Robins Givens (in 1989, following a tumultuous marriage) – and he was in an arguably worse place immediately after the loss without the right team around him to get him into physical and spiritual condition to conquer his conqueror. Aaron Snowell and Jay Bright were more cheerleaders than trainers. He needed an experienced coach who knew him well and understood how to push his buttons as Kevin Rooney did. And King (who had pushed out manager Bill Cayton) had become as much an adviser to Tyson as he was promoter, but Tyson never really trusted Don (for good reason). Douglas did not love boxing, but he was skilled and talented and he had a good team around him. I lean toward the Ohioan in an immediate rematch, probably by close decision (in a fight that really wasn’t that close).
Having said all that, the version of Tyson that twice beat Razor Rudduck in 1991 had a very good shot at knocking out even the best version of Douglas. So maybe a slightly delayed rematch would have suited Tyson better (but don’t forget that Holyfield was chomping at the bit to get a crack at Mike, who had agreed to face the Real Deal before the upset to Douglas).