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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Usyk at heavyweight, Warrington and the featherweights, Patrick Day)

Aleksandr Usyk finally made his heavyweight debut against late-sub Chazz Witherspoon. Photo / Matchroom
14
Oct

SHORT AND SWEET: USYK’S FUTURE

Sup Dougie?

Short and sweet:

Who’s your picks for Usyk vs:

Wilder

Fury

Ruiz Jr.

Joshua

I know a lot of questions of Usyk’s punch resistance will need to be answered.

I can see Usyk’s footwork and speed giving Wilder having a lot of issues. However, Usyk would have to keep a serious work rate and that leaves him open to a right hand.

Fury is any heavyweight’s nightmare.

I think his best chance would be against Joshua who I think he could pressure into a tough fight down the stretch.

Take care. – Tyler

I think it’s too soon to wonder how Usyk would do against the heavyweight top four. He’s only stepped his toe into the glamor division with the stoppage of Chazz Witherspoon. You wanna know what Saturday’s main event in Chicago was all about? Two things:

  1. Shaking off the ring rust of almost one year of inactivity
  2. Testing a new U.S. market for the Ukrainian star

(Mission accomplished)

Perhaps Usyk’s next bout at heavyweight will be about establishing him as a legitimate contender. I think there’s a good possibility of Usyk’s management/promotional team matchup him up against Alexander Povetkin (currently The Ring’s No. 7-rated heavyweight) or Joseph Parker (No. 8). A clean victory against either former titleholder will earn him true heavyweight contender status and also let us know if he’s a real threat in his new weight class.

Short and sweet:

Who’s your picks for Usyk vs:

(If he were to face the Top Four in his next bout…)

Wilder – Bronze Bomber by mid-to-late rounds KO

Fury – Gypsy King by close but unanimous decision

Ruiz Jr. – Usyk by close but unanimous decision

Joshua – AJ by majority (and perhaps controversial) decision

 

KO?

Doug –

Who in The Ring heavyweight top 10 could Usky stop at this point? – Kevin Key, DULUTH, MN

Nobody.

 

WARRINGTON AND BEYOND

Hi Dougie,

Many thanks for posting my mail last week. I haven’t had to do much as a song request played before so it was a nice surprise.

I’ve been treated to another of my favourite fighters (following GGG) being in action this weekend as Josh Warrington went out in front of his barmy hometown fans again.

I had been worried that lack of motivation might have been a problem but Josh blasted a respectable yet lower level opponent out in under two rounds. There’s not much more to say about the fight than that, but what is interesting are the possible match ups for Josh and the other movers & shakers in the division and surrounding weight classes.

Santa Cruz and Valdez have bailed up a weight, but Josh could chase them, and I guess he’d be fine at 130. He could also fight for vacant titles or unification where he is. Achieving either of the above would put him in my p4p top ten.

Some fanciful thinkers have dreamed about an Inoue v Loma match up and whilst I can’t see that happening, I’d love to see Josh (smack in the middle) in with either of them. Could Inoue plump up to 126?

There are so many elite fighters around those divisions that great fights should be flowing for the next couple of years.

Given that we’ve been treated to two FOTY contenders @welter & @middleweight in recent weeks, not to mention the bubbling heavyweight division (Usyk looks comfortable) we should all be very happy with the health of the sport at the moment. Yes, it has its frustrations sometimes, but highpoint is never far away.

I’m sure you’re enjoying it as much as I am. – Chris, Shropshire, UK

Of course, I am, Chris. I was ringside for Spence-Porter (and thank God, Errol’s car-crash-related injuries weren’t life threatening) and in good company while watching Golovkin-Derevyanchenko, so I thoroughly enjoyed both fights (without much worry about the official scorecards or any social-media contrived “controversies” that seem to follow all closely contested bouts these days). Now I look forward to Gvozdyk vs. Beterbiev and Prograis vs. Taylor – two legitimate 50-50, “pick-‘em” fights at the world-class level on back-to-back weekends, and after that we get a bona-fide boxing event with Canelo vs. Kovalev, followed by the return of The Monster in one of the most significant prize fights ever to take place in Japan. It doesn’t get much better than this.

I had been worried that lack of motivation might have been a problem but Josh blasted a respectable yet lower level opponent out in under two rounds. No sense in a world-class operator playing with his food. (Besides, Warrington needs to get his KO ratio up.) And, at least Josh is keeping busy, which is more than we can say for fellow beltholder Gary Russell Jr., who will have fought once-per-year for the fifth consecutive year if he doesn’t get another bout in by the close of 2019.

There’s not much more to say about the fight than that, but what is interesting are the possible match ups for Josh and the other movers & shakers in the division and surrounding weight classes. I think 126-pound division is about to get an infusion of new players with the winners (and possibly the losers) of the upcoming Shakur Stevenson-Joet Gonzalez and Xu Can-Manny Robles III title bouts, as well as the continuing development of up-and-comers, such as “King Tug” Tugstogt Nyambayar and Ruben Villa IV. Warrington’s comin’-atcha style mixes well with all the featherweight Young Guns.

Josh Warrington. Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Santa Cruz and Valdez have bailed up a weight, but Josh could chase them, and I guess he’d be fine at 130. I think so. He seems to be a big featherweight. By the way, I wouldn’t be shocked if Gary Russell Jr. followed fellow LSC to 130 pounds, or if Carl Frampton followed Valdez to junior lightweight. If that happens, it means four of The Ring’s top five featherweights will have moved up in weight, leaving Warrington as the top dog of the 126-pound division. https://www.ringtv.com/ratings/?weightclass=283

He could also fight for vacant titles or unification where he is. I think that’s the best move for Warrington.

Some fanciful thinkers have dreamed about an Inoue v Loma match up and whilst I can’t see that happening, I’d love to see Josh (smack in the middle) in with either of them. Could Inoue plump up to 126? Yes, I believe the Japanese star will finish out his stellar career at featherweight.

There are so many elite fighters around those divisions that great fights should be flowing for the next couple of years. Yes Sir! I’m so pleased we’re getting Stevenson-Gonzalez this month – that’s a potential multi-bout rivalry – and prospects like Robles and Villa are quickly climbing the ranks. “King Tug” and undefeated Filipino prospect Jhack Tepora are rapidly climbing the WBO featherweight ratings to earn a shot at your favorite fighter.  Those will be good fights if we get ‘em.

(By the way, I think it’s absolutely RIDICULOUS that we haven’t already been treated to Santa Cruz vs. Russell, but maybe that will happen one day in a heavier weight class.)

 

ANOTHER FALLEN BOXER

Hello Dougie,

Unfortunately Charles Conwell lived up to his moniker and it really ended up being bad news for Patrick Day. Sad to see another fallen fighter this year. Patrick was a decent fighter and was making the young prospect work hard to get the win and was not in there like a tomato can waiting to be knocked over. What can boxing do to make the sport safer without taking away what the fans seem to love the most, which is back and forth hard punching action along with devastating knockouts?

Would some sort of open scoring help end fights sooner, possibly saving a fighter form life threatening damage who is clearly losing and has no chance of catching up on the scorecards or doesn’t have a punchers chance?

If there was open scoring maybe a corner or ref would be more likely to stop a fight that was already a forgone conclusion. One problem that these journeymen, stepping stones, and gate keepers have is that even though they are usually not expected to win, they know that if they prove they can take a punch, give their opponent a tough fight, and go the distance, it will open the door to them for more fights/paydays.

These fighters’ corners are also aware of this and since they get paid to work the corner it’s also a bonus to them for their fighters to put on a good performance and not lay down or quit even if the fighter is clearly losing. Maybe if fighters and their corners didn’t have to be worried about getting another fight just because they quit or the corner stopped the fight, then maybe we would see corners throw in the towel more often when their fighter is clearly losing.

In New York they will call time before a round starts to have the doctor check on a fighter who was knocked down or even possibly hurt in the round before.

Even though I’ve heard fans boo when this happens and people make comments about this practice saying it allows a hurt fighter more time to recover, I think it’s a practice that should be implemented in all jurisdictions and this could be one step closer to making boxing a little safer.

Patrick Day fought hard throughout the fight and all the way up to the last round, and while his effort would have been applauded and bolstered his chances of getting another decent fight and payday, he now will instead be fighting for his life.

Here’s to hoping Patrick Day recovers and that something changes to give fighters a better chance at life beyond boxing. Thank you. – Boxing Nerd

Let’s pray and hope that Day pulls through. As of this writing, however, he is still in a coma and in critical condition, according to an update penned by Michael Woods late Sunday night.

As tragic as the situation is – and it’s compounded by word from everyone who has ever met Day that the young man is an absolute prince of a human being – we’ll probably never know if it could have been avoided.

I didn’t see the fight, so I can’t comment on whether it was brutally one-sided or if it went on too long. Perhaps the fight could have been stopped after the first knockdown in Round 8, and maybe Day would have walked out of the ring without any lingering effects. Maybe he’d have been spared serious neural damage because he seemed clear headed and OK to continue from what I’ve seen of the replays (and as Woods points out at the end of his update). Of course, that would have made the stoppage controversial.

He took some hard shots in Round 10 and the back of his head slammed the canvas when he went down following two hard right hands to the ear and a compact hook on the button. It’s very possible that most of the damage occurred during that sequence, but it’s also possible that the damage had already been done. There’s a possibility that Day entered the fight with a neural condition and was unaware of it. That’s often – but not always – the case with ring fatalities.

Jimmy Doyle falls to the canvas in Round 8 of his 1947 welterweight title bout against Sugar Ray Robinson. Photo from Ring archive

The infamous ring death of Jimmy Doyle at the powerful hands of a prime welterweight champion version of Sugar Ray Robinson in 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio (the first professional boxer fatality in a world title bout) was preceded by a chilling KO loss to middleweight puncher Artie Levine the previous year, also in Cleveland. (Doyle suffered a serious concussion in the Levine match and was carried out of the ring on a stretcher. Doctors back in the young contender’s native L.A. advised him to retire from boxing and his friends noticed slurred speech and a droopy eyelid. At the very least, Doyle needed a long rest after that brutal KO, but he instead fought five times leading into his fateful bout against Robinson.) Another well-documented welterweight title fatality (the first televised ring death), Benny Paret’s rubber-match stoppage to rival Emile Griffith, was preceded by several grueling back-to-back fights (in which the Cuban slugger went toe-to-toe with Gaspar Ortega, Griffith in the two welterweight title bouts they split, and middleweight punisher Gene Fullmer, who scored a brutal 10th-round KO).

My good friend “Coach” Dave Schwartz was ringside for Alejandro Lavorante’s stoppage loss to journeyman John Riggins in September 1962 at the Olympic Auditorium in L.A., a bout that took the Argentine heavyweight’s life. He says the damage that Lavorante likely died from was incurred against Archie Moore, who stopped the gatekeeper in March of ’62 at the L.A. Sports Arena. Coach was at that fight too, and said Lavorante was carried out of the ring on a stretcher. But Lavorante was back in the ring, against young Cassius Clay, in July of ’62 (also at the Sports Arena), who KO’d him in five rounds.

Recently, Hugo Santillan died of head trauma after a 10-round draw against Eduardo Abreu in his native Argentina, but one month prior to that fatal fight, Santillan was brutalized for 10 rounds against heavier Artem Harutyunyan in Germany.

The Argentina boxing commission should not have allowed Santillan to fight that soon after a punishing bout (and shame on his handlers, which include his father). The California commission of the early 1960s should have been more careful with Lavorante following his brutal KO to Moore. The Ohio commission should have looked out more for young Doyle’s welfare, knowing how badly hurt he was against Levine.

Carlos Adames lands a right hand to Patrick Day. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

I don’t know if I can cast that kind of blame and shame on the Illinois commission or on Day’s corner. He was coming off a loss, a 10-round decision to heavy handed Carlos Adames in June, but he never appeared to be seriously hurt during that fight, which was competitive. However, it should be noted that after acquitting himself well for the first five rounds of the bout, Day took some hard right hands from Adames over the second half. Still, he didn’t appear to absorb the kind of beating that merited extra medial attention or an extended layoff.

I should also note that, while I didn’t watch Conwell-Day live (and a replay is currently unavailable on DAZN or YouTube), I followed the bout on my Twitter timeline, and did not notice any serious concern from fans and members of the media watching the fight. Most noted that he was “outgunned” but still “in the fight” right up until the final round.

On my TL, there was far more concern and outrage for a UFC bout between Thomas Gifford and Mike Davis (in a bout that Gifford was reportedly taking a horrific beating). The referee in that undercard bout was heavily criticized for not halting the bout before poor Gifford was KO’d face down on the bloody canvas. I didn’t see anything like that during or after the Conwell-Day fight.

Patrick was a decent fighter and was making the young prospect work hard to get the win and was not in there like a tomato can waiting to be knocked over. What can boxing do to make the sport safer without taking away what the fans seem to love the most, which is back and forth hard punching action along with devastating knockouts? I don’t want to sound callous or flippant, but other than encouraging boxers to take “dives” before the going gets rough, I don’t think there is anything we can do. Hard punching, KOs and concussions go hand and hand. It is what it is.

Would some sort of open scoring help end fights sooner, possibly saving a fighter from life threatening damage who is clearly losing and has no chance of catching up on the scorecards or doesn’t have a punchers chance? I doubt it. The corners know when they’re losing a fight or hopelessly behind on the scorecards, just like the fans do. It’s just not within boxing culture to give up when you’re down on points. These corners are not going to keep their fighters on the stool just because they can’t win a decision and the official scores are made public before the end of the bout. And it would be hard for the referee to justify such a stoppage unless the fighter down on the announced scorecards was taking a beating.

If there was open scoring maybe a corner or ref would be more likely to stop a fight that was already a forgone conclusion. I’ve seen open scoring before, and it does not have this kind of effect on a one-sided fight.

One problem that these journeymen, stepping stones, and gate keepers have is that even though they are usually not expected to win, they know that if they prove they can take a punch, give their opponent a tough fight, and go the distance, it will open the door to them for more fights/paydays. Yes, this is true, but Patrick Day is not a journeyman/stepping-stone/gatekeeper. He’s a talented former amateur standout who was considered a prospect at one time and he had recently earned “fringe contender” status prior to the Adames fight by winning a string of bouts against solid opposition (in fact, I saw that more than a few boxing pundits had picked him to beat Conwell). Day is a good athlete with decent skills and technique and, from what I can gather from reports of what occurred on Saturday, he was trying his best to win the fight against Conwell. He wasn’t in there to pad the record of an unbeaten prospect, or to give the up-and-comer “professional resistance” or “quality rounds.” He was trying his best to win against an equally determined opponent. To prevail in these situations, one must push himself (or herself) beyond their physical limits, and unfortunately, in combat sports, that mindset and drive can lead to serious, even life-threatening injuries.

These fighters’ corners are also aware of this and since they get paid to work the corner it’s also a bonus to them for their fighters to put on a good performance and not lay down or quit even if the fighter is clearly losing. Look, good corners know when to save their fighter from himself or herself, like Tommy Brooks did with Chazz Witherspoon in Saturday’s main event. But good corners, sadly, are rare. That’s why the referees and ringside doctors are so important, and they need to know what they are looking at. However, sometimes it’s obvious when a fight should be stopped, sometimes it isn’t.

Maybe if fighters and their corners didn’t have to be worried about getting another fight just because they quit or the corner stopped the fight, then maybe we would see corners throw in the towel more often when their fighter is clearly losing. For that to happen there has to be change in the mentalities of the fans and the fighters. It’s not going to happen by changing any rules.

In New York they will call time before a round starts to have the doctor check on a fighter who was knocked down or even possibly hurt in the round before. Yeah, this can be helpful in stopping a fight that needs to end, but in the case of Day, the knockdown that likely caused the serious damage occurred in the final round.

Even though I’ve heard fans boo when this happens and people make comments about this practice saying it allows a hurt fighter more time to recover, I think it’s a practice that should be implemented in all jurisdictions and this could be one step closer to making boxing a little safer. I think referees and ringside doctors need to know exactly what to look for in terms of concussions, the corners need to be honest about the condition of their fighters after tough fights and going into competitive bouts, and the boxers need to be honest with themselves and not shy away from speaking up if they aren’t feeling right during camp or during a fight.

 

USYK, WARRINGTON, MYTHICAL MATCHUPS

Hi Dougie,

I hope you are well.

After successive weekends of some really well matched top of the bill clashes, this weekend was a bit one sided with Usyk and Warrington both winning with relative ease. While Usyk’s performance against the too heavy, too old and too inactive Chazz Witherspoon didn’t give us a great clue as to how he might fare against the division’s elite, it was good to see him finally make his heavyweight debut.

Although probably not much heavier than his cruiserweight days, Usyk still showed what a class fighter he is in the ring and was obviously in a different league to Witherspoon. Credit to Chazz for stepping in at short notice and taking his beating like a man. How far do you “feel” Usyk goes at heavyweight?

The featherweight division seems to be thinning out with both Santa Cruz and Valdez reportedly moving north. I hope Russell Jr is looking for a big fight. Who have you got if Warrington and Russell Jr faced of in a unification match?

Mythical Matchups:

Barry McGuigan vs Carl Frampton

Wladimir Klitschko vs Vitali Klitschko

Jermall Charlo vs Jermell Charlo

Spence Jr vs Don Curry

Really enjoying the 20/20 series by the way! Regards. – Jeremy, UK

Glad you’re liking 20-20 Vision. We’ve got nine more to go and I’m curious to see who former Ring editor Michael Rosenthal selects as the top boxers from the remaining nations.

Your Mythical Matchups:

Barry McGuigan vs Carl Frampton – McGuigan by close but unanimous decision

Wladimir Klitschko vs Vitali Klitschko – Big Bro by late (maybe come-from-behind) stoppage

Jermall Charlo vs Jermell Charlo – Mell by close but unanimous decision

Spence Jr vs Don Curry – Curry by close but unanimous decision

Although probably not much heavier than his cruiserweight days, Usyk still showed what a class fighter he is in the ring and was obviously in a different league to Witherspoon. Chazz looked OK. He’s got a solid boxing foundation and decent timing. He got in a few right hands. Unfortunately, he’s just too slow to deal with Usyk and he was unwilling to fully commit to his offense and try to impose himself physically on the Ukrainian southpaw, who needed a few rounds to warm up. But once Usyk had found his rhythm, he looked about as good as he usually does at cruiserweight. I think he was just about to step it up a notch before Tommy Brooks wisely reeled his fighter in following the seventh round. That could have gotten ugly for Witherspoon.

Credit to Chazz for stepping in at short notice and taking his beating like a man. I think he’s serviceable as a gatekeeper.

How far do you “feel” Usyk goes at heavyweight? I think he can go all the way if he’s moved right. I believe he’s the best cruiserweight every next to Evander Holyfield, who had six heavyweight bouts (and not all against legit contenders) before he dethroned Buster Douglas. I think Usyk could use as many bouts before challenging Deontay Wilder or the Ruiz-Joshua winner.

The featherweight division seems to be thinning out with both Santa Cruz and Valdez reportedly moving north. It’s definitely happening, which I guess is good news for the 130-pound division.

I hope Russell Jr is looking for a big fight. He says he is, but he remains one of the most inactive world titleholders in boxing.

Who have you got if Warrington and Russell Jr faced off in a unification match? That’s a tough one to figure. Russell’s got the edge in speed (although Warrington’s pretty quick) and technique, but the American is not fleet of foot or a neutralizer like Kid Galahad. Russell like to stand his ground and let his blazing fists fly, which could play right into the aggressive, relentless style of Warrington. Russell generally prefers his opponents to come right at him (and has stopped many such aggressors) but Warrington is among the few featherweights that can outwork Gary. It could come down to who can take the better punch. It could come down to where the bout takes place. I think it’s a toss-up but I’ll give the slightest of edge to Warrington based on his activity (or Gary’s inactivity), but damn, I’d gladly buy a ticket to watch this one.

 

20-20 VISION: GREATEST BOXER FROM….

Mr. Fischer,Very interesting column.  I agree with the No. 1 choices so far.  But check out Gustav “Bubi” Scholz for Germany (I would rate him over Beyer, Sturm and Ottke) and Charles Humez for France.

Mexico: Nobody will argue the top spot. But Canelo higher than Barrera?

– Matthias from Germany

I saw somebody in the comment section mention that Ricardo Lopez should have been included in the “Five more from Mexico” and I can’t argue with that. It’s also hard not to recognize Canelo’s achievements, even though his career is still in progress. (By the way, Canelo isn’t “rated” ahead of Barrera in that “Five more,” he just came first because they are listed in alphabetical order.) 

Jake LaMotta (right) knocked out Laurent Dauthuille in the final seconds of Round 15. Photo by THE RING

I checked out the records of Scholz and Humez. Both have impressive records (88-2-6, 46 KOs, for the German former European middleweight and light heavyweight champ; and 94-7-1, 47 KOs, for the French former European middleweight champ). I can’t speak for Michael, but I guess they were left out of the “Five more…” because they didn’t win world titles. Scholz challenged a great champ in Harold Johnson (in 1962), though. Going 15 rounds with Johnson is nothing to scoff at. But I’m more impressed with Humez’s accomplishments. He beat former top-10 contender (and title challenger) Tiberio Mitri twice (a 10-round decision in 1951 and a third-round TKO for the European title in ’54), another former title challenger and contender in Laurent Dauthuille (who owns a decision over Jake LaMotta and was stopped by the Bronx Bull in the final seconds of a title bout he was winning in The Ring’s 1950 Fight of the Year) and Tony Janiro. He also fought Randy Turpin in the UK and traveled to the U.S. where he dropped back-to-back decisions to contenders Ralph Tiger (split nod) and Gene Fullmer.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope with Coach Schwartz every Sunday from SMC track.