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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Prograis-Taylor, negative fans, franchise champs)

Taylor (right) and Prograis are both armed with 140-pound world titles. Photo by Mark Robinson
Fighters Network
25
Oct

SUPER EXCITED FOR SUPER SERIES SHOWDOWN

Hi Dougie,

I hope this message finds you and those dear to you well. Can I begin my message with the deepest condolences to the loved ones of Patrick Day? Even fans like myself who’ve never boxed get affected by such tragic circumstances. I only hope his family can take some comfort from the condolences given by the collective boxing family the world over.

The Super Series final is upon us this coming weekend and my man Josh Taylor is in action against a superb opponent in Regis Prograis. Prograis has been on a charm offensive in the UK the past couple of weeks in the build-up to this match and has won many fans over with his honesty and relaxed manner. What a decent guy he seems.



That said, I hope both fighters display their true abilities to provide one of, if not THE fight of the year candidates. It has the potential to be a memorable one and I can’t help in thinking myself that Taylor has a style that ‘brings it’ every time he fights. So, how do you see this one playing out?

For me, there are some big IFs that come into my analysis, (sprinkled also with a rose tinted view of Taylor’s attributes I will confess) but, If Taylor can take those heavy hands of Prograis then I feel he wins on the scorecards after a hard 12 rounds. I expect Taylor to the busier of the 2 fighters and looking at his last fight, given how he soaked up the punishment that Ivan Baranchyk dished out in their semi final match-up, feel that he is tested enough to come out on top of this fight.

Prograis will set traps to lure Taylor in and it’s in those moments that I think determine whether Taylor gets caught with Prograis’s heavy hands (and potentially KO’d) or alternatively, is smart enough to avoid too many punishing shots and land body and head combinations, stealing rounds as he does so.

Now, given that the Ring championship belt among other things will be up for grabs do you feel that the winner could potentially find themselves added onto the current P4P top 10 list in the aftermath?

On a similar theme with the Ring belt award, I’ve a query for you to perhaps advise upon: I’m aware that in the event of the Super Series final being scored a draw between the 3 ringside judges a 4th judge comes into play and based upon certain rules a winner is arrived at. If such a thing were to happen would the Ring still award the winning fighter the Ring belt given that the fight had been a draw with the 3 ringside judges?

The rest of the fight card is pretty decent with one of my favourite from the past 15 years or so Ricky Burns taking part in a match against Lee Selby. I’m really looking forward to this fight and the thinking is that Selby may be too young and too fast for the old war-horse Burns but I’m not so sure (at least hoping so). Ricky sure knows how to box and is tough as old boots. I hope he has 1 last hurrah in him. The added bonus for me is that I’m travelling down to the o2 arena in London to take my eldest son to his 1st boxing show. I hope he loves it.

Have a Happy Halloween when it comes and let’s hope we are served up a treat this weekend instead of a howler (apologies for the bad puns). Please keep doing what you do with the page. It’s a great forum. – Raymond, Tranent, Scotland

Thank you for the kind words, Raymond, and for your condolences to Patrick Day’s loved ones.

I’m going to spend Halloween in Las Vegas without the kids, which will be a bummer, but at least I’ll be ringside for what I think will be a very special light heavyweight showdown (one week after watching what we all hope will be a very special junior welterweight championship – I’m sure you and your son will have a blast witnessing it live).

Selby (right) and Burns. Photo by Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing

The Burns-Selby fight should deliver. It’s got the look of the quintessential crossroads match with the Welshman in the role as the younger, fresher fighter with more upside and the Scotsman in the role of the fading-but-still-dangerous veteran. My guess is that Selby is at least the slight betting favorite, but I wouldn’t count out the ole Rickster. Selby looked OK in his lightweight debut (vs. the tough Omar Douglas in February) but he’s still largely unproven above 126 pounds, while Burns is as battle-tested as one can be between 135-140 pounds.

The Super Series final is upon us this coming weekend and my man Josh Taylor is in action against a superb opponent in Regis Prograis. I know everybody keeps saying this, but it’s true, at least on paper, Prograis-Taylor is as even a matchup as an elite fight can get. Your man Josh is going to be in the fight of his life, and so is Prograis.

Prograis has been on a charm offensive in the UK the past couple of weeks in the build-up to this match and has won many fans over with his honesty and relaxed manner. What a decent guy he seems. He’s an interesting cat and it’s easy to root for him, especially if you get the opportunity to meet him in person. I’m glad that his team’s plan to finish his training camp in London has paid off. They wanted Regis to get the kind of mass media attention that’s been missing here in the U.S. His co-manager Sam Katkovski was very disappointed at the lack of coverage his fights in Louisiana (vs. Juan Jose Velasco, Terry Flanagan and especially the Kiryl Relikh title bout) received.

That said, I hope both fighters display their true abilities to provide one of, if not THE fight of the year candidates. It has the potential to be a memorable one and I can’t help in thinking myself that Taylor has a style that ‘brings it’ every time he fights. So, how do you see this one playing out? I really have no idea, which is one of the main reasons I’m so fascinated with this matchup. I think Taylor has the footwork and jab to box well from the outside, but Prograis has a way of walking opponents down and pulling them into his kind of fight. I think it’s going to get very interesting over the second half. The championship rounds could be special.

For me, there are some big IFs that come into my analysis, (sprinkled also with a rose tinted view of Taylor’s attributes I will confess) but, If Taylor can take those heavy hands of Prograis then I feel he wins on the scorecards after a hard 12 rounds. That’s a big “IF,” Raymond. Prograis is relentless in his attack to the body and head, it’s gotta take a toll after six or seven rounds. Taylor’s either gonna need to play it safe (which really isn’t in his nature) or earn his respect by putting a hurt on Prograis, which means he’ll have to mix it up in the danger zone (at least periodically). It’s risky business, but I can envision Taylor winning a legitimate decision.

Taylor tees off on Baranchyk. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

I expect Taylor to the busier of the 2 fighters and looking at his last fight, given how he soaked up the punishment that Ivan Baranchyk dished out in their semi final match-up, feel that he is tested enough to come out on top of this fight. Interestingly, Prograis points to the Baranchyk fight as “Exhibit A” on why he’ll win. He says if Baranchyk could put hands on Taylor, he’ll “really tear him up.” But you’re right about Taylor rising to the occasion when the level of his competition is stepped up. He did vs. Baranchyk. We’ll see if he can do it against a better junior welterweight.

Prograis will set traps to lure Taylor in and it’s in those moments that I think determine whether Taylor gets caught with Prograis’s heavy hands (and potentially KO’d) or alternatively, is smart enough to avoid too many punishing shots and land body and head combinations, stealing rounds as he does so. It’s gonna be tough for Taylor, because as well as he can box, you can tell that he’s not one to shy away from a fight. I’m sure Prograis is banking on that chip that Taylor carries on his shoulder.

Now, given that the Ring championship belt among other things will be up for grabs do you feel that the winner could potentially find themselves added onto the current P4P top 10 list in the aftermath? ABSOLUTELY. Just like Artur Beterbiev’s title-unification victory allowed him to crack the mythical rankings, I think the Prograis-Taylor winner (which is between the top two junior welterweights, each of whom have more significant victories to their credit going into their showdown than Beterbiev had going into the Gvozdyk fight) could land as high as No. 7.

On a similar theme with the Ring belt award, I’ve a query for you to perhaps advise upon: I’m aware that in the event of the Super Series final being scored a draw between the 3 ringside judges a 4th judge comes into play and based upon certain rules a winner is arrived at. If such a thing were to happen would the Ring still award the winning fighter the Ring belt given that the fight had been a draw with the 3 ringside judges? Hmmm… I hadn’t thought about that. If the fourth-judge verdict is recognized as an official victory (meaning it goes on his record as a win, not a draw), the winner will be awarded The Ring Magazine 140-pound title. If not, it will remain vacant.

PULLING FOR THE TARTAN TORNADO

Hi Dougie,

Long time reader, first time writing in.

Like most of us here I’m buzzing for Taylor vs Prograis. I’m hoping my boy Josh can pull it off. I’ve grown up supporting all the Scottish boxers through my life, starting with Scott Harrison in the early 00’s. It feels like Taylor is a level up from them all though and has the potential to go down as an all-time Scottish great. My Granda was always telling me tales of Ken Buchanan and I think Taylor could be my Buchanan. Is he that good or am I getting carried away?

Looking forward to Burns v Selby, an interesting match-up but I have to favour the slick boxing of Selby on this occasion.

MM:

Taylor vs Hatton

Taylor vs Khan

Keep up the great work. Cheers. – Tom

For the time being, I’ll go with both prime Hatton and Khan via close decision over Taylor (who is still probably a year or two away from his peak – it’s hard to believe we’re talking about a boxer who turned pro in mid-2015), but I reserve the right change my opinion depending on what happens tomorrow and with future fights. Taylor could prove to be a very special fighter.

Like most of us here I’m buzzing for Taylor vs Prograis. If you’re not buzzing for Taylor-Prograis you’re not a boxing fan.

I’m hoping my boy Josh can pull it off. I’ve grown up supporting all the Scottish boxers through my life, starting with Scott Harrison in the early

00’s. Man, Harrison was one surly badass bastard but he was a legit featherweight.

A peak version of Roberto Duran (left) does battle with Ken Buchanan. Photo: THE RING Archive

It feels like Taylor is a level up from them all though and has the potential to go down as an all-time Scottish great. He’s done a lot in just four years and 15 pro bouts. If he continues on the path he’s on (win, lose or draw vs. Prograis) he might join the greats of Scotland.

My Granda was always telling me tales of Ken Buchanan and I think Taylor could be my Buchanan. Is he that good or am I getting carried away? He’s got all the tools to be special, he just needs the right rivals as Buchanan had. We’ll find out if Prograis turns out to be his Ismael Laguna or his Roberto Duran.

 

 

NEGATIVE BOXING FANS

Dougie, love the mailbag. I always enjoy and respect your perspective on the state of the fight game.

I really enjoyed Beterbiev vs Gvozdyk, but something occurred in the aftermath of the fight, and it’s something that has become very common. As I was scrolling through Twitter, boxing fans were chiming in with their usual idiocy, Gvozdyk was exposed, Beterbiev doesn’t deserve credit because he beat a bum, Ward would beat both in the same night, etc. This negativity is constant, and it happens after every great fight.

My question is, why are boxing fans so negative, do they think by complaining it makes them sound more discerning and insightful? Why can’t boxing fans just enjoy a good fight without the negativity and complaining?

Seriously Dougie, I don’t have the answer and I’d like your perspective on this one. Thanks. – Jacob in Clovis, CA.

I don’t have any answers to the overwhelming negativity we witness from boxing fans on Twitter, Youtube and other forms of social media either, Jacob. But I knew it was coming before the social media age really kicked in, back when hardcore fans mostly expressed themselves on message boards (or via emails to the mailbag). Following the first Pacquiao-Marquez fight (May

Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao I ended in a split-draw that should have been celebrated, but some fans couldn’t handle not getting a winner.

2004) at least one-third of the feedback I got from that sensation fight was focused on one of the judge’s first-round score. It was from Pacquiao fans who were mad because if judge Burt Clements scored the opening round (which featured three knockdowns scored by the Filipino hero) 10-7 instead of 10-8, he wouldn’t have ended up with a 113-113 tally, but instead a one point victory for the PacMan, who would have then won the fight via split decision. I caught a lot of heat because I defended Clements score, but also because I told them they were missing the glory of what had been a tremendous fight. Same thing happened one year later (May 2005) when Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo tangled for the first time. The two lightweight bulls produced glorious gladiator-style brutality, but again, around one-third of the fans that emailed me their feedback following the dramatic conclusion to the unification fight chose focus on Corrales spitting out his mouthpiece after each knockdown in the epic 10th rounds. They thought it gave him an unfair advantage over Castillo, who many of those same sourpusses thought wasn’t given a chance to respond to adversity as Chico was. I caught their wrath too, because I told them they were nuts for worrying about who won and who lost – they’d just witnessed an all-time great fight! – and because I defended referee Tony Weeks’ actions (he was right to stop it when he did, Castillo was defenseless).

On one hand, I get it. They’re fans. Hardcore fans. SuperFans. They’re crazy for their fighter (in this case Manny and JLC) and they can’t stand to see their idol lose (or even be held to a draw). But on the other hand, I feel that if two fighters give their all and deliver an incredible, dramatic sports spectacle, then damn it, REAL fans will be able to appreciate it without nitpicking or creating extra controversy.

Anyway, things have gotten worse with social media. I think part of the reason is that fans that take to Twitter do so to express their opinions, which is cool, but many are influenced by the general sports talking heads they see on traditional (corporate) forms of media, which tend to be loud, over-the-top blowhards, and many just like to get into arguments. They’re more fans of the crazy type of interaction social media can provide than they are of boxing. I also think that some fans take their cues from the boxing industry, which has become more fractured and hostile, as well as a lot bitchier and whinier than it was in previous decades (and that’s saying something). Oftentimes the negativity spewed on social media is just a thinly veiled agenda-inspired attack from one “boxing tribe” against another. Human beings are prone to taking sides and going to war, and this tendency goes far beyond boxing or sports, as you know.

At the top of this response I said I didn’t have any answers for the negativity. Actually, I do. Just don’t partake in it. When you share your thoughts on social media, share the good stuff and don’t allow anyone to pull down into their spit bucket.

 

FRANCHISE CHAMPS

Hey Doug,

I just read that Lomachenko has been named the WBC franchise champ at 135. This is of course following the WBC doing the same for Canelo at 160. I still have no idea what this means. What exactly is a franchise champion? Can you please shed some light on the subject?

Now that Loma has been upgraded, Devin Haney has been made the full champ. Do other boxers and members of the media recognize that title as legitimate seeing as he didn’t even have to fight for a vacant belt at the very least? Best to you and the family. – Graham, Bangkok

Thanks for sharing your questions, Graham.

The celebrated WBC Cinco De Mayo (don’t act like you don’t want one of these beauties)

I was surprised to see the amount of angst, outrage and condemnation following the WBC’s announcement that they had “elevated” Vasiliy Lomachenko to Franchise Champion status (thus “upgrading” Devin Haney to “full champion” status). For the most part, hardcore fans have tolerated Diamond and Silver belts, Youth titles, Champion in Recess and Emeritus Championship belts. Oh, and I can’t leave out the Cinco De Mayo and Mayan belts. Now, they’re gonna lose their collective s__t over a Franchise Champion? What’s the deal, snowflakes, does it sound too corporate?  

I’m not gonna freak out over any of this. Canelo and Loma are Ring champs. That’s all that matters to me as long as they seek out competitive fights. The Ring awards three types of belts: World, Pound for Pound and Fighter of the Year. That’s it.

What exactly is a franchise champion? Can you please shed some light on the subject? From what I understand it’s a “special status” awarded to very accomplished, elite-level boxers (such as Canelo and Loma, both of whom have competed in multiple weight classes, unified major titles and currently occupy the top five of most pound-for-pound rankings), and it basically absolves them of having to make mandatory defenses. It’s also a convenient way to avoid pressuring stars (or their promoters/broadcast partners) into defending their WBC belts against interim titleholders/mandatory challengers that may be affiliated with rival promoters/platforms.

Now that Loma has been upgraded, Devin Haney has been made the full champ. Do other boxers and members of the media recognize that title as legitimate seeing as he didn’t even have to fight for a vacant belt at the very least? It seems like most of the boxing world and media recognize the former WBC interim titleholders that were “upgraded” to full champ status, Jermall Charlo at middleweight and now Haney at lightweight. However, I have a hard time doing that. It’s not their fault, but they seem like WBA “regular” champs, if you know what I mean. I’m going to continue to recognize Canelo and Loma as champs, maybe not the WBC champs, but the Ring Magazine WORLD champs of their divisions. They’ve paid the cost to be the boss in my view. Ask yourself this: who are the best middleweights that Canelo has faced vs. the best that Charlo has faced? Who are the best lightweights that Loma has faced vs. the best that Haney has faced? Has Haney, who is still 20 years old, faced a lightweight ranked by The Ring or ESPN.com or the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board yet? Has Charlo faced a legit middleweight contender yet?

 

THE RING LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE

Hey Dougie,

First time writer to the mailbag. Thanks for taking the time to provide some very insightful commentary and give us fans a platform to discuss the latest news in boxing. Keep it up, it’s much appreciated!

In regards to the Beterbiev/Gvozdyk fight, why wasn’t this matchup for the vacant Ring Light Heavyweight Championship?

Also, what do you see as the most likely next steps for each guy? Given that Beterbiev owns an IBF title, he’ll probably need to fight their mandatory by next week before he gets stripped. – Evan in New Orleans

Thanks for the kind words about the mailbag, Evan, and thanks for finally sharing with us.

If Beterbiev’s IBF mandatory challenger were promoted by Lou DiBella and managed or advised by Chris Connolly he probably would’ve been stripped BEFORE the Gvozdyk fight, but thankfully Meng Fanlong (a Chinese Olympian who competed in the 2012 Games) is not, so Beterbiev can rest easy until early 2020.

Meng (16-0, 10 KOs), a rangy southpaw, is a capable pro but he’s not in Beterbiev’s class. After taking care of the IBF mandatory, we can expect to see Beterbiev try to further unify the 175-pound division, probably by going after WBA beltholder Dmitry Bivol.

Artur Beterbiev’s stature in boxing advanced considerably following his title-unification victory over Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Photo by Mikey Williams-TOP RANK

Gvozdyk will probably take a rest before coming back against a mid-level opponent and then taking aim at a top-10 light heavyweight. I think The Nail has plenty of fight left in him.

The vacant Ring Magazine 175-pound title was not on the line for the Beterbiev-Gvozdyk fight because Beterbiev was The Ring’s No. 4-rated light heavyweight going into the unification fight (Gvozdyk was No. 1). Now Beterbiev is No. 1, which means if he can get a crack at the Canelo-Kovalev winner or Bivol, the Ring championship could be on the line in either matchup.

 

 

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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