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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Spence-Porter, Canelo-Kovalev, Nigel Benn)

27
Sep

FOX PPV, CANELO-KOVALEV

Hey Doug, just wanted to write in my thoughts on some of the matchups for the PPV card Saturday.

Benavidez vs Dirrell: this is an interesting crossroads type fight, one I expect David will win. He may struggle a bit early with Dirrell’s boxing (as he did with Gavril) but I just envision him over powering Dirrell at some point and hurting him with those fast and powerful combinations. David’s so young too that I expect him to look better with each fight as he continues to learn and gain experience. Who knows, maybe Dirrell will surprise us but I’m cheering for Benavidez; he’s just so damn fun to watch. His first fight with Gavril and his demigod finishing sequence of Porky were so exciting.

Spence vs Porter: I’ve been in the camp of people who have nothing but superlatives for Spence since the first time I watched him fight (it was either Van Heerden or that stocky guy Khan later starched in a round.) But what really made me a believer was his somewhat come from behind victory over Kell Brook. I thought he showed incredible poise and resilience in that fight, going to Kell’s back yard, not having everything go his way early, but sticking to his gameplan and hanging tough till he broke the Brit down. His body attack is truly a thing of beauty and his jab is very underrated. In my opinion, Spence shares similarities to GGG. He’s such a badass that people sometimes sleep on his pure boxing ability, something he occasionally reminds people he has in spades. (Much like GGG.)

As for Porter, you have to respect him. He’s really challenged himself and has faced almost all of the top welterweights. Personally, I don’t like his style but I admire his old school “take on all comers” attitude, and his work ethic. I don’t think he’s going to win this fight but I think he’ll make it more competitive than some expect. His swarming “football” style hustle and his great chin make him no easy night for anyone in my opinion. You don’t have super close fights with Brook, Thurman, Garcia and Ugas and then just get blown out.

Lastly I’d like to clarify my opinion on Canelo vs Kovalev. I know you feel both guys get too much hate (I’m not a fan of either of them personally but respect their skills and always tune in for their fights) and that people are pre-emptively predicting Canelo will kill him as a way of dismissing both at once. I should say that although I think Canelo will KO Kovalev that doesn’t mean it won’t be an impressive win, or that he won’t have to overcome some adversity first (Sergey’s jab won’t be easy to get past no matter how slick your head movement.) I just don’t think Kovalev will be able to eat more than a few big right hands on the button from Canelo. This has more to do with Canelo’s speed and precision than his raw power. I didn’t mean to sound dismissive; this is the theater of the unexpected after all, but I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is. I’m very much looking forward to the fight too, despite the fact I’m a somewhat salty GGG fan lol.

Hope you enjoy the PPV Saturday. I assume you’ll be going live? – Jack E.

You assume correctly, Jack. I’m looking forward to much of the card.

Photo by Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/ Golden Boy

I’m also looking forward to Canelo vs. Kovalev, I also favor the redhead (like pretty much everybody else), but I also think it’s a very dangerous fight and the odds/media/fan favorite will have to put on one of the best performances of his career to get the “W.” Canelo is the quicker, more-complete fighter and the more versatile boxer. However, I just don’t see him as a light-heavyweight puncher. I don’t think he can get rid of Kovalev by landing “a few big right hands on the button” and even if Canelo did possess world-class 175-pound power I don’t think the Russian veteran will be easily dismissed. But we’ll see, and we’ll have plenty of time to analyze this matchup.

Benavidez vs Dirrell: this is an interesting crossroads type fight, one I expect David will win. Me too, but I am (like you) curious to see how much Dirrell’s speed, mobility and experience will trouble the young gun (who, in my opinion, is on par with Ring champ Callum Smith in terms of being the most physical threat in the 168-pound division).

He may struggle a bit early with Dirrell’s boxing (as he did with Gavril) but I just envision him over powering Dirrell at some point and hurting him with those fast and powerful combinations. It is downright SCARY the way Benavidez puts his punches together when he goes for the kill. Honestly, I wouldn’t blame any super middleweight (or the management of that super middleweight) for swerving away from Benavidez. He seems like the kind of ring force that can ruin a career with one beatdown.

David’s so young too that I expect him to look better with each fight as he continues to learn and gain experience. Tomorrow night’s title fight should be a growth experience for him. I don’t expect Dirrell to go quietly.

Spence vs Porter: I’ve been in the camp of people who have nothing but superlatives for Spence since the first time I watched him fight (it was either Van Heerden or that stocky guy Khan later starched in a round.) That would be Phil LoGreco, who took Shawn Porter the 10-round distance in 2013. He lasted three vs. Spence in 2015.

But what really made me a believer was his somewhat come from behind victory over Kell Brook. The British standout remains the only legit top-five/top-10 welterweight that Spence has fought. Porter will be the second.  

His body attack is truly a thing of beauty and his jab is very underrated. Really? I think it’s one of his best punches, maybe his best.

In my opinion, Spence shares similarities to GGG. He’s such a badass that people sometimes sleep on his pure boxing ability, something he occasionally reminds people he has in spades. (Much like GGG.) I agree. I also think he’s similar to Golovkin in that he’s been avoided by most of the top welterweights just as GGG was avoided by most of the top middleweights during his prime (2011-2015).

As for Porter, you have to respect him. Yes, indeed. Since 2013, he’s faced at least six Ring-rated welterweights (including then-undefeated Keith Thurman and Brook, Danny Garcia, Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi), as well as several fringe contenders (such as Adrien Broner and Julio Diaz).

Personally, I don’t like his style but I admire his old school “take on all comers” attitude, and his work ethic. Ditto. I also like his personality. He’s a very warm and genuinely positive human being outside of the ring.

I don’t think he’s going to win this fight but I think he’ll make it more competitive than some expect. Ditto. I think he might test Spence’s whiskers if he’s able to get in close.

You don’t have super close fights with Brook, Thurman, Garcia and Ugas and then just get blown out. True, but those fights expose how a world-class boxer can neutralize Porter’s “football” aggression and either outpoint him or give him fits. I think Spence can do a lot more than give Porter fits.

 

SPENCE NO. 6 POUND FOR POUND?

Hi Dougie,

I can’t understand how can you have Errol Spence at no. 6 P4P, ahead of GGG and Estrada.

I know he passes the eye test but his resume is not as good as GGG or Estrada or Kovalev or Pacquiao. I know they are past their best, but they are High Class.

And it’s not like they fight fringe fighters. GGG going at Derevyanchenko, Kovalev scheduled to fight Alvarez and beat one recently also, along with young lion in Yarde. Pacquiao overcomes Thurman and Estrada beat Rungvisai. These are some quality names there.

Anyway, Canelo Alvarez challenging Krusher is a badass move but I don’t think he can pull it off. I don’t understand people who place lil ginger as the favorite. Canelo is to me a great fighter but one with at least three decisions he should not have gotten. But if he manages to beat Kovalev – wow, I’ll be impressed. On the record I must say that I would favor GGG against Kovalev but not Canelo (strange no?)

MM:

Joe Smith Jr. Vs Anthony Yarde

Thanks. – Luke

That’s not a Mythical Matchup, that’s a clash of light heavyweight fringe contenders that could happen. I don’t have a strong favorite in that matchup, but I know it would be entertaining. I think I might lean slightly toward Smith due to his solid chin and experience.

Bold call picking Kovalev to upset Canelo. Many fans agree with you that Canelo should have three losses on his record that aren’t there thanks to favorable judging (I only think there should one extra loss on his ledger, the first bout with GGG), but that’s why many are picking him to beat Kovalev. They don’t think the Russian can get a fair shake with the judges, and I can’t fault them for that kind of negative thinking. Kovalev has been screwed before in Vegas.  

I can’t understand how can you have Errol Spence at no. 6 P4P, ahead of GGG and Estrada. Hey, I don’t have Spence ahead of Golovkin and Estrada, The Ring’s Ratings Panel has him rated where he is in the magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings.

I know he passes the eye test but his resume is not as good as GGG or Estrada or Kovalev or Pacquiao. True, but he’s been more dominant in his weight class than the others, and that obviously means a lot to the ratings committees of The Ring and ESPN.com (which ranks him No. 5 in their pound-for-pound top 10). The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board has Spence at No. 9 (between Pacquiao and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai), and I agree with their ranking. Golovkin, Estrada, Kovalev and Pacquiao have all suffered losses in recent years. Kovalev is only two bouts removed from being knocked out. Estrada’s loss (to SSR) was very close and competitive. GGG’s and Pac’s loss were controversial. Still, Spence has never come close to losing. His only competitive fight was vs. Brook. What can I say? Fans and media want their elite boxers to seem invincible. And “The Truth” looks invincible, so far.

I know they are past their best, but they are High Class. Yes, indeed, they are. Personally, I have GGG and JFE ahead of Spence.

And it’s not like they fight fringe fighters. GGG going at Derevyanchenko, Kovalev scheduled to fight Alvarez and beat one recently also, along with young lion in Yarde. Pacquiao overcomes Thurman and Estrada beat Rungvisai. These are some quality names there. True. But Shawn Porter is also a quality name. Maybe Spence’s performance against his fellow titleholder will shine more light on where we should place him in the mythical rankings.

 

SPENCE-PORTER

Hello Doug,

Hope everything’s well for you and your family. I happen to be attending Saturday’s fight and am pretty excited to see Errol Spence for the first time against a very good opponent in Shawn Porter. Earlier this year I managed to go to MSG for the first time and watch Terrance Crawford win against Amir Khan, and I’m very pumped to see Errol live and see how they stack up (it’s always different seeing fighters live). I think Spence should win this fight, but it’s no gimme. Porter is one of those fighters you can never count out. He’s rough, big, and very strong and I think that with his style it will make it ugly for Spence. I think it’s going to be his toughest fight to date and will tell us a lot of who he is.

Let’s be honest, up until today, we have to go by the eye test with Spence. His fight with Brook has that GGG fight in the background as a fight that kinda broke Kell for him. Mikey Garcia was also a blown up lightweight that had no business in the ring as a Welterweight (yes, many of us thought it was going to be closer but reality is reality). So, even though he’s done what he’s needed to do, this is probably his first fight against a prime welterweight that’s considered a live dog. I think Errol’s strengths will probably be a little too much for Shawn to overcome, but he will make it interesting. Haven’t seen you in a while too, maybe I’ll run in to you, do you guys hangout before the fights in any particular place like the good old days (remember The Rouge at the MGM?). Or maybe after? Let me know.

I also wanted to touch on a topic that keeps me intrigued, and that’s the Kovalev-Canelo fight. I’ve been reading, listening and watching a lot of opinions on this fight and one thing that everybody keeps saying and I kind of don’t agree is the fact that the blueprint to beat the Krusher is going to the body. How? When? How did this become the blueprint?  As far as I know, he has NEVER been beaten to the body by anybody.   His fights against Andre Ward featured SOG going to the body and closing the gap in the first one, but he didn’t win in most eyes, he also didn’t exactly make him quit or KO’d him with these shots. In the rematch, at least to anybody that has 20-20 eyesight, those body shots were lower than most hobbits. Those were very low blows; even the punch that wobbled Kovalev came after he complained of two low blows that the referee let go (I just saw that fight again and they were definitely low).

Again, I think people are overrating the whole body shots thing. I think Sergei like any other fighter doesn’t like it to the body. It’s normal, NOBODY likes it to the body, but I don’t think it’s the blueprint to beat him. As far as I know, even if you count Ward’s victory in the rematch as the result of legit body shots, nobody has replicated this to make it a blueprint. Am I wrong? Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde, San Diego

Ward attacks Kovalev body (and protective cup). Photo by HBO Boxing

You’re not wrong, Juan, but the guy who pushed this narrative as an HBO commentator and continues to do so on ESPN (which broadcast Kovalev’s last two bouts) CAN DO NO WRONG in the eyes of his colleagues and most boxing media and fans, so you can expect to see and hear it regurgitated on social media, YouTube, podcasts and talking-head TV commentary over and over again until Nov. 2.

For the record, I think those who believe Kovalev is going to evaporate after a few body shots are goof balls.

I happen to be attending Saturday’s fight and am pretty excited to see Errol Spence for the first time against a very good opponent in Shawn Porter. I think we’re gonna be treated to a memorable welterweight title unification bout.

Earlier this year I managed to go to MSG for the first time and watch Terrance Crawford win against Amir Khan, and I’m very pumped to see Errol live and see how they stack up (it’s always different seeing fighters live). You’re definitely going to get a better main event in Los Angeles.

I think Spence should win this fight, but it’s no gimme. Porter is one of those fighters you can never count out. He’s rough, big, and very strong and I think that with his style it will make it ugly for Spence. The uglier the better for Porter, I think.

I think it’s going to be his toughest fight to date and will tell us a lot of who he is. Man, I hope you’re right.

Let’s be honest, up until today, we have to go by the eye test with Spence. His fight with Brook has that GGG fight in the background as a fight that kinda broke Kell for him. Brook was damaged goods, but he still had enough left to give Spence a proper fight and take him into deep waters. So, Spence has been tested to an extent. We know he’s not a front runner. We know he’s got character (it takes guts to travel to the hometown of a defending champ). The question is: Can Porter push Spence harder than Brook did?

Mikey Garcia was also a blown up lightweight that had no business in the ring as a Welterweight (yes, many of us thought it was going to be closer but reality is reality). Agreed.

So, even though he’s done what he’s needed to do, this is probably his first fight against a prime welterweight that’s considered a live dog. I considered Brook a live dog, but I hear what you’re saying, and I think most agree with you, even though very few are picking Porter to pull the upset.

I think Errol’s strengths will probably be a little too much for Shawn to overcome, but he will make it interesting. Haven’t seen you in a while too, maybe I’ll run in to you, do you guys hangout before the fights in any particular place like the good old days (remember The Rouge at the MGM?). I don’t think I’ll be hanging out anywhere before the fight, but I’ll probably get food and a few drinks with other media folks after the show somewhere at LA LIVE (probably the Yard House).

 

MONSTER FIGHT

Hi Dougie,

Hope you the family and team are all well.

Describing it as a monster fight this weekend just doesn’t cover it!

It’s one of those where it’s hard to imagine how it could disappoint. Hence mates are coming round at 2am (UK) to watch the fight.

Now fight day is upon us, how you calling it?

Smart money is on Spence. Can Showtime pull off a win? I mean it is an absolute given for Spence as many are suggesting? I don’t think it is. IMHO I think Porter is an absolute nightmare to fight, and very hard to prepare for.

What does Spence need to do. Well the Kell Brook fight might be somewhat of a blue print, even though it was a few years ago. However that was a very very close fight and Kell took a beating on the way to pulling off a win. Someone as slick as Bud has the footwork and is quick enough to box Porter and keep him at range I feel. Can Spence also do that? You could argue Spence is bigger and therefore go with fighting fire with fire and take on Porter on the inside. However Porter is very strong and has a good engine. That might backfire.

For Showtime, he’s got to bite down hard and just get stuck in. Rough him up and never stake a step back. He’s in with a quality operator and I’m sure he knows it. Spence has got height and reach on him, but that’s normally the case so no big surprise for him. Will there be a big weight difference come fight night? Porter did start out at Middleweight. Can’t see Spence being able to use a weight advantage in the fight anyways i.e. smothering or leaning on Porter.

Like most of the boxing world, I see it as Spence win by UD, in a hard hard fight, concluding in the stock for both fighters rising.

I like both guys and would equally lover to see the Welterweight apple cart upset by a Porter win.

How likely is the winner to get a crack at Bud considering promotional stables etc? Is a Pacquiao fight for the winner more likely?

Couple of bits of news I saw today:

Is Nigel Benn at 55 really making a comeback against Sakio Bika who’s 40????? Hype to promote his sons boxing career? Just seems nuts however is Eubank Sr back in the gym just in case lol.

Joe Joyce Vs Marko Huck for the European Heavyweight title. I know Huck hasn’t done much at HW, but I actually think that’s a decent fight. Considering Joyce’s age and that he wants to be fast tracked, how would you plot his way to the top 5 assuming he wins? And can he hang with the top 5 at HW.

MM:

Canelo Vs Prime Sergio Martinez at MW

GGG Vs Prime Sergio Martinez at MW

Iron Man Vs Batman

Keep up the good work and enjoy the weekend. – Tabraze, London, UK

Thanks, Tabraze. I gotta go with Canelo (by close, maybe controversial decision), Golovkin (by late TKO in a very good fight), and Batman as long as he has time to plan and prepare a battle plan (Stark and his advanced technology would triumph in a spontaneous scrap).

I agree that Joyce-Huck is a decent fight. Huck is battle worn but he’s a card carrying badass and he might have one more spirited scrap in him. If Joyce wins, I wouldn’t rush him to the top-five of the heavyweight division. He’s not ready yet and probably won’t be for another year or two. I’d have him face some guys like Gerald Washington and David Price, and then a tough guy like Otto Wallin, before having him take on legit contenders.

I don’t think Benn is coming back to hype his son’s career. He can do that without getting back into the ring. I think he’s bored, he’s got the itch to compete (which should come as no surprise given the warrior spirit he fought with during his prime), and he truly believes that he can pull it off because he feels so good being drug-free and emotionally/spiritually grounded. He’d probably still be a “Dark Destroyer” against a fighter his age, but I’m concerned about this matchup with Sakio Bika, who’s “only” 40, very physical and aggressive, and known for his iron chin (he’s never been stopped – despite having shared the ring with power-hitters like Adonis Stevenson and Jaidon Codrington). It’s a dangerous fight, but I guess Benn wouldn’t have it any other way (and his fellow 80s/90s-era standouts – arch-rival Chris Eubank Sr., Steve Collins and Roy Jones Jr. – reportedly aren’t interested or are pricing themselves out of the match).

It’s one of those where it’s hard to imagine how it could disappoint. Hence mates are coming round at 2am (UK) to watch the fight. Man, you British fans are real ones.

Now fight day is upon us, how you calling it? Spence by decision.

Smart money is on Spence. Can Showtime pull off a win? It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Porter’s got to find a way to get to Spence’s chin without getting punished too much in return. If he can rock Spence early and then execute a very physical and awkward fight plan, he might be able to wear the Texan down.

I mean it is an absolute given for Spence as many are suggesting? I don’t think it is. IMHO I think Porter is an absolute nightmare to fight, and very hard to prepare for. Well, that’s usually the case, but I think Ugas boxed well against him, and Danny Garcia to a lesser extent.

What does Spence need to do? Keep Porter at the end of his jab.

Someone as slick as Bud has the footwork and is quick enough to box Porter and keep him at range I feel. Can Spence also do that? I think so, but he won’t be as slick and mobile as Crawford probably would be. Spence prefers to walk his opponents down.

You could argue Spence is bigger and therefore go with fighting fire with fire and take on Porter on the inside. However Porter is very strong and has a good engine. That might backfire. We’ll see. But if Spence is able to wear Porter down to a stoppage he will make a huge statement.

For Showtime, he’s got to bite down hard and just get stuck in. Rough him up and never stake a step back. In other words, he’s gotta go back to the Porter of old.

Will there be a big weight difference come fight night? Porter did start out at Middleweight. His pro debut was at super middleweight, but welterweight is clearly his best weight. I think Spence could comfortably fight at junior middleweight. And I think both main eventers will enter the ring much heavier than the 147-pound welterweight limit. The weigh-in begins at 11 a.m. today. That gives both men A LOT of time to re-hydrate.

Can’t see Spence being able to use a weight advantage in the fight anyways i.e. smothering or leaning on Porter. I can.

How likely is the winner to get a crack at Bud considering promotional stables, etc.? I don’t see the winner facing Crawford in the next 18 months.

Is a Pacquiao fight for the winner more likely? Absolutely, and if not Pac, then Danny Garcia or Ugas. (And at some point the winner of Lipinets-Abduqaxorov will be the IBF mandatory.)

 

 

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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