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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Taylor-Prograis, Canelo-Kovalev)

Taylor at war with Regis Prograis. Photo by Damon Gonzalez / LatinBox
28
Oct

TAYLOR-PROGRAIS, STEVENSON, CANELO-KOVALEV

Hi Dougie,

Hope you’ve been well. Gonna get right to it because your inbox is probably jammed from this weekend and the string of terrific fights we’ve been having!

First, Taylor-Prograis was awesome! I thought it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 115-113 for EITHER fighter. So, a MD for Josh is okay by me, he was more physical and used his strength and size to dictate the fight. The crowd definitely helped Josh and IMHO, the scoring. Props to Prograis for being so gracious in defeat, it’s easy to like both guys. Would love to see a rematch in the Houston area.



Shakur Stevenson may be a once in a generation talent. Can you remember a fight with so much backstory drama? We got combined boxing with a soap opera. Shakur was on another level from Joet, who simply had no answers for that speed and beautiful footwork!

While it may not happen because of politics, would love to see him vs Warrington, Russell and Santa Cruz over the next year or two. I won’t bring up Loma, yet, because that’s a number of fights from now, but if Shakur stays on this track, it’s a fight that Arum can easily make and exciting to think about!

Please let’s not lose sight of the run of recent fights: Spence-Porter, Beterbiev-Gvozdyk, Derevyenchenk-GGG, Taylor-Prograis and how when the best fight the best we have great fights!

Can’t wait for Canelo-Kovalev! I think Canelo beats a good LHW who is well past his prime. If Canelo wants to be considered an ATG, as well as shed the prima donna label, he needs to get in with Charlo, Bivol and/or Beterbiev. I don’t see this happening but it would quiet his critics and cement his place in boxing history.

What a schedule for the rest of the year!! The fights I am most eager to see are Ortiz-Wilder, The Monster-Donaire, Crawford- Kavaliauskas and Ruiz-Joshua. Any upsets brewing there?

Thank you for your insights and opinion – it always makes Mondays and Fridays better! – Rahn

Thank you for the kind words on the mailbag. The beauty of boxing is that there’s ALWAYS an upset brewing somewhere, sometime; it happens in our sport more frequently than any other. I think the heavyweight matchups have the most upset potential among the upcoming fights you mentioned. Joshua is still a slight odds favorite going into his rematch with Ruiz and we all know that Jolly Andy may simply have the British Adonis’s number; and Ortiz had the ability to outclass and maybe stop Wilder late IF he boxes a disciplined fight.

Photo by Stephen Pond / Getty Images

Taylor-Prograis was awesome! I Tweeted this immediately after the fight, but I’m happy to repeat it here in the mailbag: Saturday’s junior welterweight championship reminded me of the 2007 showdown between Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez because we were treated to two complete boxer-puncher-technicians with fierce fighting spirits going at it. And like the WBC 130-pound title bout, Prograis-Taylor zipped by, as if the rounds were only 1-minute long. It was hotly contested elite-level boxing and fighting from start to finish.

I thought it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 115-113 for EITHER fighter. So, a MD for Josh is okay by me, he was more physical and used his strength and size to dictate the fight. I thought the early rounds and late rounds were toss-ups, but Taylor took firm command of the fight in the middle rounds (in my opinion) and those rounds clinched the fight for him on my scorecard. I think he may have surprised Prograis with his physical strength, durability and his ability to not only exchange with him on the inside but occasionally push him back.

The crowd definitely helped Josh and IMHO, the scoring. I think Taylor would have fought just as hard and just as smart anywhere else in the world.

Props to Prograis for being so gracious in defeat, it’s easy to like both guys. They are both class acts and we’re lucky to have elite-level boxers with Prograis’s and Taylor’s personality and warrior mentality.

Would love to see a rematch in the Houston area. Prograis will need to rebound strongly in order to have the bargaining leverage to bring Taylor over to his adopted hometown, but he’s the kind of fighter to go out and do just that.

Shakur Stevenson may be a once in a generation talent. Time will tell, but he had the look of a worthy world titleholder while outclassing Joet Gonzalez.

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Can you remember a fight with so much backstory drama? No, and I thought the entire scenario was ridiculous. I just didn’t give s__t. But obviously Joet and his father were beside themselves with emotion, and to be Frank, I think the pressure and magnitude of the fight, along with the family drama was too much for them. Stevenson was the more professional of the two fighters because he could control his emotions, and his blend of speed, technique and footwork/lateral movement effectively handcuffed Gonzalez in every round but the seventh.

We got combined boxing with a soap opera. I’ll just take the boxing, thank you. I had no interest in watching clips of Joet’s dad weep while Mark Kriegel did his Oprah Winfrey-meets-Sigmund Freud routine. All that did was make me realize that the Gonzalez’s were out of their depth, emotionally and professionally.

Shakur was on another level from Joet, who simply had no answers for that speed and beautiful footwork! Gonzalez was outclassed. End. Of. Story.

While it may not happen because of politics, would love to see him vs Warrington, Russell and Santa Cruz over the next year or two. Politics would not prevent Stevenson vs. Warrington, so let’s beat the drums for that one. I didn’t think Stevenson was ready prior to the Gonzalez fight. I see that he is now.

I won’t bring up Loma, yet, because that’s a number of fights from now, but if Shakur stays on this track, it’s a fight that Arum can easily make and exciting to think about! Sure, why not? They could meet at 130 pounds.

Please let’s not lose sight of the run of recent fights: Spence-Porter, Beterbiev-Gvozdyk, Derevyenchenk-GGG, Taylor-Prograis and how when the best fight the best we have great fights! It’s a simple recipe that almost always delivers delicious action and drama.

Can’t wait for Canelo-Kovalev! Well, it’s here. It seems like the fight was announced last week. The final quarter of 2019 is moving fast, but that’s what boxing is like when we’re treated to back-to-back-to-back quality matchups.

I think Canelo beats a good LHW who is well past his prime. I don’t think Kovalev is so far past his prime that he can’t give the Mexican superstar a hard fight.

If Canelo wants to be considered an ATG, as well as shed the prima donna label, he needs to get in with Charlo, Bivol and/or Beterbiev. Beating Charlo and Bivol is not going to get Canelo any closer to ATG status. He’s already got MUCH better fighters on his resume. Beating Beterbiev… well, that’s another story. That would be very impressive.

I don’t see this happening but it would quiet his critics and cement his place in boxing history. If Canelo can’t quiet his critics or get credit for going 24 quality rounds with Gennadiy Golovkin, outpointing Danny Jacobs and beating Kovalev (if he’s able to topple the three-time light heavyweight titleholder on Saturday) it’s never going to happen, but his place in boxing history is already secure.

 

GREAT FIGHTS

Hello Dougie,

As always, thank you for doing such a great job with your mailbags twice each week. It’s clear that many people appreciate them and freak out whenever a regularly scheduled one does not appear for one reason or another. Even the chronic whiners and tantrum-throwers read them religiously.

I can’t remember the last time we boxing fans have been so blessed with so many great fights week after week. The Taylor-Prograis fight was another hotly contested battle of skill and will. Great job by both warriors.

I am really looking forward to Kovalev-Canelo and hope that Kovalev gets the win, although I am expecting him to get screwed in some manner. If Buddy McGirt has brought Kovalev back to using the boxing skills he learned as an amateur great, I am hoping that we see a reappearance of the crotch feint as well. A correctly time crotch feint would [email protected] Clenelo.

We can also look forward to Donaire-Inoue in the very near future. I would love to see that be another fight of the year candidate, but I have a feeling the Monster could blast the veteran out early.

MM:

The Duran that beat Sugar Ray Leonard vs. the Manny that beat Cotto and Hatton

Thanks again, and best to you and your family. – Karl

I gotta go with 1980 welterweight version of Duran over the 2009 junior welter/welterweight incarnation of Pacquiao – via late-rounds stoppage (perhaps a cold KO) in a hotly contested, bloody (for Pacquiao), wildly entertaining fight.

I can also (like most fans and media) envision Inoue stopping Donaire early, but I also think the Filipino Flash will be dangerous at the start of the fight.

As always, thank you for doing such a great job with your mailbags twice each week. Thank you. I stay up to get them done for Mondays and Fridays (usually completing them around 3:00 a.m. – last night was really difficult because I was mentally tired from the 4-hour-plus live stream I did for 360 Promotions’ “Hollywood Fight Nights” show), so, it’s good to know the column’s got appreciative readers like you.

It’s clear that many people appreciate them and freak out whenever a regularly scheduled one does not appear for one reason or another. Yeah, I try not to skip any weeks during the year but it happens (usually when I’m on family vacation/holiday); I’ll try to get a suitable substitute for those days going forward.

Even the chronic whiners and tantrum-throwers read them religiously. God Bless those nut cakes.

I can’t remember the last time we boxing fans have been so blessed with so many great fights week after week. It will continue this Saturday and carry on through December. Count on it.

The Taylor-Prograis fight was another hotly contested battle of skill and will. Great job by both warriors. That fight was boxing at its best because both junior welterweights are complete fighters with world-class chins, and both exhibited every facet of the Sweet Science in each round.

I am really looking forward to Kovalev-Canelo and hope that Kovalev gets the win, although I am expecting him to get screwed in some manner. Jaded, eh? I can’t blame you given the Las Vegas histories of both Kovalev and Canelo. Just keep in mind that what Canelo is attempting (being a reigning middleweight champ to win a major light heavyweight title) has never been done, and even a dynamic, super-talented middleweight/super middleweight like Roy Jones Jr. lost a step when he moved to the 175-pound division. As explosive as he was at 160 and 168, he couldn’t knockout the light heavyweight titleholders he faced (and two of them were natural middleweights – an old Mike McCallum and Reggie Johnson – like he was; he couldn’t even drop the natural 175 pounder, Lou Del Valle, who was able to score a knockdown).

If Buddy McGirt has brought Kovalev back to using the boxing skills he learned as an amateur great, I am hoping that we see a reappearance of the crotch feint as well. Kovalev wasn’t an “amateur great,” but I think McGirt has Kovalev boxing about as well as he can at this stage of his career, which might be enough to give Canelo a run for him money.

A correctly time crotch feint would [email protected] Clenelo. No, it won’t.

 

PROGRAIS-TAYLOR & 15-ROUND BOUTS

Hey Dougie,

First time writer here. Just wanna give you a shout out for your opinions and analysis on all things in the current landscape of boxing, as well as giving us newer guys who aren’t too versed in the history of the sport some proper background too, keep up the great work!

What was your breakdown, Doug, of the Taylor vs Prograis fight overall? Personally, I think we just witnessed two bona fide world class fighters over any division just get it on in a fight which will undoubtedly be one of the fights of the year. Possibly there are other fights which provided more brutality or more ebbs and flows but with the magnitude of what was at stake I think it must play a huge factor in being a FotY candidate.

Personally, speaking even though I was routing for Taylor all the way I had it 114-114 even at the end. This fight was a 50/50 before hand and proved to be the case by the end of the 12. Taylor’s way of augmenting the range really stood out the most to me, also Taylor’s hooks being a really prominent punch throughout the fight. Prograis for me started with so much swagger and self confidence, looking dangerous when taking it to the body of Taylor. However by the mid rounds up until the championship rounds, he really seemed to let Taylor bully him in my eyes. (Possibly due to the pace, which is understandable.) Before coming on strong in the closing rounds.

Another main point I want to make is this, the reintroduction of the 15 rounder. I do feel that if this was a 15 round fight, in the end Prograis might have had the edge. (His power I feel in the 12th was starting to take its toll on Taylor most noticeably). Looking back on recent history such as GGG/Canelo II and even Fury/Wilder, can you imagine the difference that extra 3 rounds would have made to the outcome of those fights? Is it not out the realms of possibility for 15 rounds to make a reappearance? Even possibly in the fights with the highest magnitude? (Such as for Ring title status or unification bouts.) Or am I just being a bloodthirsty ghoul for entertaining the idea?

Anyway, what a year this has been for the sport and even more still to follow! Let’s just hope we don’t get another stinker of a decision in Vegas come 2nd November! Keep the terrific work up with the mailbag and showing your tremendous passion for the sport! Coming from a slightly inebriated, happy Scot wishing you all the best – Martin, Glasgow

Thanks for the kind words, Martin, and thank you for finally sharing your thoughts with the mailbag. It’s the readers’ column/forum as much as it’s mine.

The first thing I hope for (pray for) going into a boxing match these days is that both fighters come out of it relatively unscathed and healthy; the second thing I hope for is that there’s no controversy or funny business with the referee’s officiating or official scorecards. That was my biggest concern going into the Prograis-Taylor fight. Thankfully, Taylor won the bout clear enough for most (but certainly not all) to accept the official decision. And Prograis’s class immediately after the bout helped, I think.

I think we just witnessed two bona fide world class fighters over any division just get it on in a fight which will undoubtedly be one of the fights of the year. It makes my top five Fight of the Year candidates.

Personally, speaking even though I was rooting for Taylor all the way I had it 114-114 even at the end. I can understand and appreciate that scorecard. I had eight rounds to four (116-112) in favor of Taylor, but there were three rounds that I scored for the Scotsman (1,2 and 7) that I believe could have easily gone to Prograis. So, if I flip those rounds, I’ve got Prograis winning it 115-113. A draw would have been more than fair (but also disappointing).

This fight was a 50/50 before hand and proved to be the case by the end of the 12. I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite with any confidence going into it, and although I think Taylor won the fight, I have no problem anyone viewing it as a draw or even Prograis the winner by narrow margin.

Taylor’s way of augmenting the range really stood out the most to me, also Taylor’s hooks being a really prominent punch throughout the fight. Taylor’s one of those rare southpaws with a good hook and his ability to fight and box effectively at different ranges served him well vs. Prograis and will probably server him well vs. Jose Ramirez if that total-unification fight can be made.

Prograis for me started with so much swagger and self confidence, looking dangerous when taking it to the body of Taylor. Both men attacked the body and both took those shots (and punches to their hips and arms) very well.

Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

However by the mid rounds up until the championship rounds, he really seemed to let Taylor bully him in my eyes. I don’t think Prograis “let Taylor do anything; Taylor simply imposed his will in a very physical manner in spots throughout the fight. I think those aggressive tactics caught him by a surprise a few times.

Another main point I want to make is this, the reintroduction of the 15 rounder. I do feel that if this was a 15 round fight, in the end Prograis might have had the edge. We’ll never know for sure, but Taylor’s right eye was in much worse shape than Prograis’ right-eye swelling. He definitely would have been at a disadvantage.

Looking back on recent history such as GGG/Canelo II and even Fury/Wilder, can you imagine the difference that extra 3 rounds would have made to the outcome of those fights? I can imagine, but imagination is all it is. There’s no doubt that those three extra rounds (the “real championship distance” as former West Coast boxing scribe and publicist John Beyrooty used to tell me) make a huge difference in the outcome of hotly contested fights. The course of boxing history changes if certain 15-round bouts were scheduled for the 12-round distance: Louis would have lost to Conn, LaMotta would have lost to Dauthuille, Marciano would have lost to Walcott, Maxim would have lost to Robinson, Leonard would have lost to Hearns, and so on.

Is it not out the realms of possibility for 15 rounds to make a reappearance? Even possibly in the fights with the highest magnitude? (Such as for Ring title status or unification bouts.) Given the number of serious brain injuries and ring fatalities the sport has experienced over the past year, I think the notion of returning even the biggest, most significant championship bouts to the 15-round limit would be a very hard sell.

Or am I just being a bloodthirsty ghoul for entertaining the idea? Maybe you’re just being nostalgic. Nothing wrong with that.

 

THE MATRIX VS. THE TARTAN TORNADO

Hi Dougie,

Loma v Taylor @ 140, who wins? – Steven, London

As awesome as Vasiliy Lomachenko is, I think Taylor is just too big (and talented) for him to deal with. If Luke Campbell can give Loma a difficult night at 135 (where I think the Ukrainian has hit his limit), Taylor can give him hell and beat him on points at 140.

 

UK PRIDE, ROY JONES JR.

Hey Dougie,

Hope you’re doing well!

I’m a proud Englishman but Josh Taylor is my man. This kid has got some fight in him – people said don’t stand in the pocket with Prograis but he fought fire with more fire. He imposed his own power and showed what a great set of whiskers he has… big credit to Prograis too who has got some whiskers of his own but I feel Taylor just about outworked him overall and kind of bullied the bully. Despite this, I still scored it very close (7-5) as Prograis had his share of success and momentum seemed to swing a few times during the fight- I wouldn’t have cried foul if it was a draw to be fair but a majority decision sounds about right. Anyway all boxing fans were winners; what’s not to like about watching 2 hard b*stards in their prime trying to chop the other down with body and head power shots for 12 rounds?

So off the back of that Dougie, how do you see the Ramirez bout playing out?

On a different note, I started watching boxing avidly during Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzhage’s prime. Seeing Calzaghe school Lacy in that cauldron of an atmosphere was the turning point for me and I fell in love with boxing from that point on. I often watch YouTube videos of fighters from before that era and someone who I missed out on in his prime years was Roy Jones Jr. I’ve now watched a load of his fights and he looks other-worldly. I’ve never seen that kind of athleticism, speed and power before. At his peak at super middleweight, I’m struggling to see how anyone else’s peak version beats him, including my man Joe. With your better knowledge of boxing history, is there anyone who you would pick in a head to head over him?

Thanks Doug; big respect for the work you do! – Rob from Chester

Thanks for the kind words, Rob.

Regarding Roy Jones Jr.’s peak at 168 pounds, your eyes are not deceiving you – his athleticism and talent level were indeed “otherworldly.” I think Jones is the greatest super middleweight ever, with Calzaghe a close second. I wouldn’t pick any 168 pounder who has fought since the inception of the super middleweight division (early 1980s) over Jones in a mythical matchup. However, I would pick some all-time greats that came around WAY before the super middleweight division to beat Jones in 168-pound mythical matchups, three that immediately come to mind are Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore and Bob Foster.

Charles and Moore fought at middleweight early in their careers (and were even ranked by Ring Magazine at 160 pounds for a few years). In 1942, weighing between 160-166, Charles (arguably the greatest light heavyweight ever despite never winning the 175-pound title) twice beat hall-of-famers Charley Burley and Joey Maxim, and he knocked out Jose Basora (a strong middleweight contender that had outpointed Jake LaMotta and would go on to hold Sugar Ray Robinson to a draw). In 1945, Moore scored stoppages of hall of famers Lloyd Marshall and Holman Williams, as well as Ring-rated middleweights Nate Bolden and Cocoa Kid, weighing between 162-169.

Foster weighed as light as 171 and 172 for some of this light heavyweight title defenses. Under modern rules with previous day weigh-ins, my guess is that the explosive thin man could boil his rangy frame down to 168 pounds and then rehydrate to a very dangerous 180-188 (the weights he carried when he took on top heavyweights of the 1960s and ’70, including Ali and Frazier).

These ATGs were big, very well-schooled, and POWERFUL. I think they could definitely hang with the peak super middleweight version of RJJ and maybe take him out but the modern-era phenom would earned their respect.

I’m a proud Englishman but Josh Taylor is my man. You’re gonna have to share the Scotsman with the rest of us, Rob.

This kid has got some fight in him – people said don’t stand in the pocket with Prograis but he fought fire with more fire. That gutsy move turned out to be a very smart tactic.

He imposed his own power and showed what a great set of whiskers he has… big credit to Prograis too who has got some whiskers of his own but I feel Taylor just about outworked him overall and kind of bullied the bully. I wouldn’t categorize either man as a “bully” as that term is typically attached to fighters who can dish it out but not take it. And neither Taylor nor Prograis is the type to wilt under any sort of heat.

Despite this, I still scored it very close (7-5) as Prograis had his share of success and momentum seemed to swing a few times during the fight – I wouldn’t have cried foul if it was a draw to be fair but a majority decision sounds about right. I think the right man won and both fighters were elevated by their performance. If we’re lucky we’ll see a rematch at some point.

Anyway all boxing fans were winners; what’s not to like about watching 2 hard b*stards in their prime trying to chop the other down with body and head power shots for 12 rounds? It was boxing bliss.

So off the back of that Dougie, how do you see the Ramirez bout playing out? It’s another true 50-50, pick-‘em fight (and a can’t-miss scorcher), but I’ll give Taylor the slight edge due to his southpaw style (I can’t get the fits that Jose Zepda gave Ramirez out of my mind), mobility and overall versatility. I think Taylor would narrowly outpoint the Californian.

 

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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