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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Canelo-Kovalev, Inoue-Donaire, Oubaali-Inoue)

Canelo Alvarez (right) vs. Sergey Kovalev. Photo credit: Steve Marcus/Getty Images
04
Nov

CANELO-KOVALEV

Hi Doug,

I’ve always been a Canelo doubter, but he keeps proving me wrong. While I recognized that Kovalev was a few years past his prime, I still thought his size, range and power would be enough to beat Canelo. I wish Kovalev would have taken some chances offensively (as my friend commented, it felt like he followed his fight plan to a fault), but credit to Canelo for being patient and closing the show in sudden, spectacular fashion. Do you think this was his most impressive performance?

Canelo mentioned after the fight that he’d consider going down to 165 or 160. Boiling down to 160 at this point seems impossible, or at least a recipe for disaster. I keep thinking of Antonio Tarver starching RJJ and Andre Ward dismantling Chad Dawson. Are there examples of fighters, especially in the past 20 years, who were able to move down in weight and have success this far into their career? Thanks. – Warren



At age 36, Nonito Donaire once again holds a major world bantamweight title. (Photo by Jeff Holmes – Getty Images)

Um, hello? The underdog in the big fight this week is doing it NOW! Nonito Donaire, who has arguably accomplished as much as Canelo, earned his shot at Ring Magazine bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue by dropping down to 118 pounds last year (and entering the World Boxing Super Series tournament) after having fought at junior featherweight and featherweight for more than six years.

However, Donaire’s case is very rare, and the 36-year-old veteran’s re-entry into the bantamweight world rankings may not end well, but I’ve got nothing but respect for him and what’s he’s done in boxing to get to this point (what some are calling the most significant all-Asian boxing showdown ever).

And I have the same respect for Canelo, regardless of which direction he’ll take after his most recent triumph. I agree with the great Larry Merchant, who suggests that he settle in at super middleweight. It’s a more natural weight for him at this stage of his career, there are stern challenges from his fellow 168-pound titleholders, and it’s a middle ground where top middleweights can move up to fight him and some light heavyweights (such as Dmitry Bivol) might be able to drop down to challenge him. (Of course, if he does that, the Legion Of Canelo Haters will then call the 168-pound division the new “Caneloweight” and crap on every fight he has there. Those are some disgruntled bastards.)

Anyway, let’s not forget that Canelo is 29. He’s still in his athletic prime, so he might be able to get back down to 160 pounds without debilitating himself, but I agree that move would be a bit of a gamble.

I’ve always been a Canelo doubter, but he keeps proving me wrong. At some point, I think it should be OK for folks like you to afford him at least a grudging respect.

Kovalev sneaks a jab to Canelo’s neck. Photo by Steve Marcus / Getty Images

While I recognized that Kovalev was a few years past his prime, I still thought his size, range and power would be enough to beat Canelo. The Russian veteran did well with his size and range, but the power was missing.

I wish Kovalev would have taken some chances offensively (as my friend commented, it felt like he followed his fight plan to a fault), but credit to Canelo for being patient and closing the show in sudden, spectacular fashion. Kovalev needed to walk Canelo down behind his jab and measure the shorter man with head and body shots if and when he could get the odds favorite against the ropes. Boxing like an amateur won the majority of rounds on a lot of unofficial scorecards, but it wasn’t going to get the job done in reality.

Do you think this was his most impressive performance? It’s in his top five (I think it’s his best KO), but I’m still more impressed with his performance in the Golovkin rematch (even though I thought he only managed to hold GGG to a draw).

 

LEGACIES

What’s up Doug, hope you’re well,

What did you make of the weekend’s fights and what’s next for both? How would Canelo fair against Beterbiev and Bivol? Also, what about Ryan Garcia’s performance?

Can’t help but sound like a hater but my god that was a good business decision. Kovalev looked like a man who needs a long layoff. That no doubt impacted the fight… it falls in line with my assumptions of him (Canelo) that he does want to be great but when the circumstances suit him. Is that fair? Erik Morales came out the other day and said he’s not a great because all his best wins are at the end of other people’s careers, at catchweights, etc. whereas him, Barrera and Marquez all fought the best in their primes. What’s your take?

Oh, and Max Kellerman apologized for his statement on Gvozdyk the other week… good on him. All the best. – David, Dublin

Kellerman is a classy and quality bloke.

Regarding Canelo’s “greatness,” I think it depends on one’s criteria. Obviously, he doesn’t cut the mustard with El Terrible, and that comes as no surprise to me. Morales was fierce and fearless even by world-beater standards. He and James Toney are cut from the same bloody cloth. If they stepped into a time machine and traveled back to the early 1920s, they’d have Harry Greb’s respect.

But if you’re a modern fan who views Floyd Mayweather Jr. as “TBE,” or even among the top 20-30 greatest boxers that ever liven, well, yeah, I think you should view Canelo as a “great fighter,” or at least someone who is on his way to greatness. Because if you’re going to discount every Alvarez victory that was conducted at a catchweight (or with a post-weigh-in stipulation) or against a boxer who was “at the end of his career,” you gotta hold others to that same standard, and if you do that “Mr. TBE” the only post-lightweight victory you can give him credit for is… what? Ricky Hatton? Do you see where I’m coming from?

What did you make of the weekend’s fights and what’s next for both? I enjoyed most of Saturday’s card in Las Vegas, but I was perplexed and annoyed with the delayed main event, and I found much of the Canelo-Kovalev fight to be uneventful. It sort of reminded me of the Danny Jacobs fight but this one had a climatic ending, which salvaged the event for me.

What’s next? I think Kovalev will take well-deserved break from the sport, and I think Canelo will return next May. I can see him sharing the ring with either Gennadiy Golovkin, Jermall Charlo or Jaime Munguia at 160 pounds, Callum Smith at 168 pounds, or Dmitry Bivol at 175

How would Canelo fair against Beterbiev and Bivol? I think Beterbiev would be a handful and maybe too strong down the stretch of a sensational fight, and I think Bivol would be too elusive/mobile for the elite-boxing but economical and flat-footed Mexican star, but I wouldn’t count Canelo out in either matchup.

Also, what about Ryan Garcia’s performance? I think he lived up to his “Flash” nickname and delivered the perfect “statement” performance that promoters (and the public) want to see from a young fight at his state of development when in with a fringe contender-level opponent like Romero Duno.

 

CANELO ALVAREZ, NUMERO UNO

Hi Doug,
Canelo is the best fighter in the world. I had him #1 P4P before last night’s fight and struggle to see why more people don’t put him above Crawford and Lomachenko. His resume is insane, yeah you can pick it apart like any fighter’s but the names he has beaten and the time he has been at the elite level are remarkable.

My question is though, since he turned pro at 15 and has had almost 60 fights, how much longer do you think he can stay at this level, because he seems to be getting better even though he’s already had a long career.

Also do you think he stays at light heavy, goes to super middle or maybe even drops back all the way to 160?

MMs – Middle vs Light Heavy:

GGG vs Tommy Loughran
Dmitry Pirog vs Adonis Stevenson
Canelo vs Billy Conn
Hagler vs Bob Fitzsimmons

Thanks. – Conrad, Sheffield

Interesting mythical matchups, Conrad. I’ll go with Loughran on points, Stevenson by late KO, Conn on points (if fought under the rules of his era – same-day weigh-in, 15-round championship distance – and in a neutral site; if fought under modern rules and in Las Vegas, who knows? Maybe Canelo wins), and Hagler on points.

Canelo is the best fighter in the world. I had him #1 P4P before last night’s fight and struggle to see why more people don’t put him above Crawford and Lomachenko. That’s a debate that is currently in-progress among the Ring Ratings Panel. (It seems like every week we’re going back and forth about the “mythical rankings,” and we’ll likely do so again this week.) I’ve said this before on numerous platforms, but I’ll gladly repeat it for mailbag readers: I don’t think we can go wrong with anybody in the consensus Pound-for-Pound Fab Four (Loma, Bud, Canelo, and The Monster) being in the No. 1 spot.

My question is though, since he turned pro at 15 and has had almost 60 fights, how much longer do you think he can stay at this level, because he seems to be getting better even though he’s already had a long career. He’s already feeling the wear-and-tear of a long career. One of the reasons he doesn’t apply hard-and-fast pressure or cut the ring off as effectively as some can is because he’s had problems with his knees (he’s already had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and he sometimes wears knee braces in his fights). I think he can maintain his current form (and maybe even improve) for another two years before he hits a wall. Like most prize fighters, he’ll likely start to experience diminishing returns after 35.

Also do you think he stays at light heavy, goes to super middle or maybe even drops back all the way to 160? I think he’ll go to wherever the most lucrative bout awaits (probably middleweight) or to where he views an interesting challenge (which could be 168 for Ring Magazine champ Callum Smith, or even 175 for Bivol).

 

INOUE BROS. VS. DONARIE AND OUBAALI

Hi Doug,

I guess a lot of people like to talk about Canelo vs Kovalev but let’s not forget we have another WBSS Final on Thursday.

First things first, why the heck did they chose a Thursday for a big fight like this? Is this a traditional fighting day in Asia?

I’d like to talk about the Co-Main Event. Takuma Inoue gets his first shot at a real world title and he has a dangerous opponent in Nordine Oubaali.

Takuma’s mother said she is to 80% worried about Takuma and only 20% about Naoya, and this being a boxing family, she knows why.

How do you see this fight unfolding? I watched the last fight from Oubaali and I was very impressed, he is a really good Technician who has some pop in his fists. For me he is the favorite to retain his belt.

I am also worried that Takuma hasn’t had a fight this year and having some ring rust against a dangerous fighter like this, is not good.

Why didn’t Takuma fight this year was he injured?

After that we have the Main Event with the rising Superstar Naoya Inoue vs the Future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire.

I like both but I guess this could end like the last fights from The Monster. I say it’s going to be a mid-rounds KO for Inoue.

Some people think Donaire has a chance because he is the more experienced fighter, but I think they underestimate the Boxing IQ from Naoya. He is always prepared for anything that happens in the ring and get’s a good masterplan from his Dad.

I watched the Docu Series “About Monster” on youtube, it was very interesting. Did you see it?

Search for this “【井上尚弥】BEYOND MONSTER #1 会見 /Naoya Inoue”. Have good week. – Andy

This looks like a cool, multi-part series on Inoue and his march to the WBSS final. I hadn’t noticed BEYOND MONSTER on YouTube until you brought it up, Andy, but I’ll check it out.

Newly crowned Ring bantamweight champ Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Like most observers, I’ve gotta go with he chalk in Thursday’s showdown, but I’m hoping that Donaire can test Inoue in ways we haven’t seen him tested as a pro, and I’m mainly talking about his chin and his ability to cut the ring off on a mobile opponent (one that can “punch on the fly” as the old-timers used to say).

But I figure Inoue’s power-jab and straight shots to the body will gradually wear Donaire down to a technical stoppage.

I agree with you, younger brother, Takamu, has the stiffer challenge vs. Oubaali, who is a tough and physical, but also technically sound defending titleholder.

Why the heck did they choose a Thursday for a big fight like this? Is this a traditional fighting day in Asia? No, but in Japan, boxing is often broadcast on terrestrial commercial television and the promoters will stage the fights when it suits the networks’ programming schedules. So, maybe Thursday is what worked best for Inoue’s usual network partner, Fuji TV.

Takuma Inoue gets his first shot at a real world title and he has a dangerous opponent in Nordine Oubaali. Takuma’s mother said she is to 80% worried about Takuma and only 20% about Naoya, and this being a boxing family, she knows why. Yeah, Takuma doesn’t possess “Monster” power. However, the younger Inoue brother has fast and feet and he’s been developed well in his first 13 pro bouts, facing many experienced opponents that have taken him the 10- and 12-round distance many times.

How do you see this fight unfolding? I can see Takuma outpointing Oubaali (he’s the fresher of the two bantamweights as the WBC beltholder is 33 years old and had a long amateur career), but the Moroccan-Frenchman is so damn strong and well-conditioned I can also envision him wearing the Japanese prodigy down to a late stoppage (or a points victory).  

I am also worried that Takuma hasn’t had a fight this year and having some ring rust against a dangerous fighter like this, is not good. Good point, and I agree, but knowing how his father-trainer, Shingo, rolls, I’m confident that The Ring’s 2015 Prospect of the Year will be in the best condition of his pro career and prepared for what Oubaali brings.

Why didn’t Takuma fight this year, was he injured? He’s suffered serious hand injuries in previous years, but I think it just took a while to secure this WBC mandatory challenge and land the WBSS final in Japan.

WHY MAKE US WAIT?

Dear Doug,

I got home last night at 9, Eastern time, and turned on DAZN. For the next three and a half hours I was treated to some excellent fights (Garcia particularly spectacular) separated by endless amounts of padding. At 12:30, with the main event promised but nowhere in sight, I gave up and went to sleep. It’s now 8 in the morning and I still don’t know who won the fight. I’m planning to practice restraint until I have time to watch it on demand this evening.

Do you have any idea why this event was so poorly managed? Was it just so the venue could sell more beer? If I want to watch people talking about boxing I’ll watch a podcast. DAZN keeps sending me questionnaires asking about things like my level of interest in watching cricket matches (zero) but they haven’t asked me if I need half an hour or more to recover from the excitement of watching a fight (no).

And last weekend, during the entire broadcast from England, the commentators’ voices were mixed so low they were almost completely inaudible. Doesn’t a big bucks operation like this bother to have an audio engineer?

At $100 a year, DAZN’s fight broadcasts are a considerable bargain, but not if they’re so difficult to watch. Best. – Leslie Gerber, Woodstock NY

If I’m not mistaken, DAZN used the Sky Sports feed of last week’s WBSS 140-pound final in London. It wasn’t a DAZN production. So, technically speaking, the audio issues were Sky’s, not the streaming platform’s.

The 90-minute delay between Saturday’s co-main event (Garcia-Duno) and the main event (Canelo-Kovalev) was an executive decision (made by DAZN) to allow the UFC 244 main event to finish first in order to get the maximum amount of American combat sports fans to tune-in to the light heavyweight title bout.

It wasn’t fair to East Coast boxing fans, but I understand why they did it. MMA is not my cup of tea and I don’t follow the sport at all, but even I know who Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal are. They have obvious charisma, star power and crossover appeal, just like Canelo does, so their clash was formidable competition for DAZN’s Nov. 2 main event. So, DAZN figured, why fight it? Hey fans, enjoy both shows. I’ll say this, while it was weird for me to witness inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena as a longtime boxing scribe, I noted that most of the crowd was into the UFC main event.

 

BOXING ACCELERATES ITS OWN DEATH

Hi Doug,

As a serious boxing fan I come to you for counseling. As any obsessed boxing fan of the last 40 years you learn to live with the dysfunction for the moments of greatness (Beterbiev a couple of weeks ago). This time I have been pushed too far. Here are my comments and questions your responses would be appreciated.

  1. Was this boxing’s total capitulation to UFC as the leader of combat sports? That was disgusting for fans and fighters. I can not imagine Floyd, Sugar Ray, Manny, Tyson etc. being made to wait 3 hours in their dressing room while a UFC fight finished on a rival network. I am hardcore and looked forward all week to watching. I live in Miami so at 12:30 am I packed it in and went to sleep and watched the fight this morning. Total insult to the fighters. If they do that to Canelo their meal ticket and top draw in the sport–I have no words.
  2. As a boxing fan I am used to being lied to, it comes with the territory. Let’s review the lies around this fight: a) it was going to be a competitive fight (see 3 below) b) at one point DAZN said the ring walk would be at 12:20. I thought that sucks and is strange but I will wait. Then I basically endured 3 hrs of low end analysts from total nobodys and interviews with Robert Horry—WTF? Thankfully I then decided to go to bed as I read the fight did not start till 1:30 am est. I am lucky I did not pay for this crap and use my cousins subscription. How dare DAZN outright lie to their viewers and keep them waiting. BTW, DAZN production is DACRAP.
  3. The fight was boring as well. Though no scribes sold this on the basis of Kovalev wold win the fact people said it would be competitive is a joke, Kovalev is completely toast. Did he even throw a power shot? He was fighting way to soon after the Yarde  fight and at this stage of his career is not much competition either way. Canelo is a hall of famer but painting this as a monumental accomplishment would be more lies. No different that when he beat Rocky Fielding. Another cheery picking bs money grab by him, his team and Kovalev’s team. He could have KO’d him in the first round no idea what the was waiting for. I would like to see him fight Beterbiev and watch him get KO’d by that monster. My wife and kids came down stairs for breakfast and saw a few rounds. Their observations were one guy is sorta of punching and the other guy is covering his face. That says a lot about how casual—–  fans feel–see below
  4. There is no way boxing ever grows beyond the die-hards. Most of the fights are boring and noncompetitive, the production is crap and you can not make people stay-up to 2 am in the morning. No mainstream casual fan would ever watch and die-hard i am totally alienated.

Aaron feeling very bitter in Miami

I don’t know what to tell ya, Aaron. Saturday was not a good evening for hardcore boxing fans (especially those living on your side of the coast and those who can’t stand Canelo). It was a rushed and cold promotion from the get-go (exacerbated by Canelo’s issues with Golden Boy and Kovalev’s lack of a dedicated fans base) and it didn’t warm up during fight week because it took place in Las Vegas and it wasn’t Cinco De Mayo or Mexican Independence Day weekend. (And I don’t want to sound like a sour old f__k and add to your gripes, but the boxing media wasn’t treated well along press row on fight night. There was a row of commission officials sat in front of us, along with an entire section of VIPs, and then we were rudely rushed out of the arena not more than 30 minutes after the main event. But hey, it is what it is. We all still did our jobs as best we could.)

Photo by Stephen Pond / Getty Images

Having said that, your bitterness and alienation comes off more like “bitchiness” to me. You’re gonna complain about ONE poor night of boxing (when a reigning middleweight champ knocked off a legit light heavyweight beltholder) after the sport has ALMOST literally delivered FOUR back-to-back Fight-of-the-Year candidates in a row with Spence-Porter, Golovkin-Derevyanchenko, Beterbiev-Gvozdyk and Taylor-Prograis? Just because an MMA event caused a 90-minute delay? That’s some mopey ass crybaby s__t, Aaron. Get over it. We got The Monster’s return this week and he’s fighting a future hall of famer. We got Wilder-Ortiz II and Ruiz-Joshua II coming up. Slap yourself hard across the face a few times and stop being a depressed f__ker.

Was this boxing’s total capitulation to UFC as the leader of combat sports? No, it was DAZN’s acknowledgement that Masvidal-Diaz moved the proverbial needle and that they – a one-year-old streaming service (in the U.S.) still growing its subs and establishing its brand – are not big enough to clash head-to-head with ESPN when the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” is broadcasting a UFC main event with that kind of star power. Why the hell do some hardcore boxing fans STILL have a chip on their shoulder regarding MMA? Let it go!

That was disgusting for fans and fighters. I wasn’t personally offended and neither were many others.

I can not imagine Floyd, Sugar Ray, Manny, Tyson etc. being made to wait 3 hours in their dressing room while a UFC fight finished on a rival network. Oh, come on! I keep reading this argument/comparison on Twitter and it’s just silly. For starters, the UFC didn’t exist when Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson were in their primes. And the MMA organization was still establishing itself when Mayweather and Pacquiao were at their peaks. For crying out loud, man, the UFC didn’t debut in California until 2006! And it would be another ten years until MMA was legalized in New York! It’s 2019, and guess what? The UFC has a multiyear, near-billion-dollar deal with ESPN/ESPN+. They are a force to be reckoned with. Deal with it.

I am hardcore and looked forward all week to watching. I live in Miami so at 12:30 am I packed it in and went to sleep and watched the fight this morning. I don’t blame you for packing it in. I might have done the same had I not been working the fight here on the West Coast.

Total insult to the fighters. If they do that to Canelo their meal ticket and top draw in the sport–I have no words. Actually, Aaron, you do have words. This mailbag rant of yours is more than 500 words long.

As a boxing fan I am used to being lied to, it comes with the territory. Let’s review the lies around this fight: a) it was going to be a competitive fight (see 3 below)… Um, according to the DAZN commentators, much of press row and seemingly 90% of Boxing Twitter, it WAS a competitive fight. Immediately after the fight everybody and his momma was telling me that it was either even going into Round 10 or Kovalev was ahead by a few rounds.

…at one point DAZN said the ring walk would be at 12:20. I thought that sucks and is strange but I will wait. Then I basically endured 3 hrs of low end analysts from total nobodys and interviews with Robert Horry—WTF? Thankfully, I missed all of that filler being inside the arena.

The fight was boring as well. No argument there. I thought Kovalev was too careful and Canelo was too economical during the first eight rounds of the bout.

Though no scribes sold this on the basis of Kovalev wold win the fact people said it would be competitive is a joke, Kovalev is completely toast. Fighters who are “completely toast” do not outpoint Eleider Alvarez (a giant, undefeated and avoided contender), knockout Anthony Yarde (a fresh, strong, confident and athletic prospect), and go 10 competitive rounds with Canelo (a consensus top-three pound-for-pound player).

Did he even throw a power shot? Yes, he did, but not often enough, and he didn’t land enough to deter Canelo at all.

He was fighting way to soon after the Yarde fight and at this stage of his career is not much competition either way. OK, Eddie Futch, thank you for that expert analysis.

Canelo is a hall of famer but painting this as a monumental accomplishment would be more lies. It’s a significant victory and it puts him in the company of some current hall of famers and a few all-time greats. Name the three other former junior middleweight champs that beat a light heavyweight titleholder.

No different that when he beat Rocky Fielding. Another cheery picking bs money grab by him, his team and Kovalev’s team. Now you’re just talking some dumb s__t. I expect more from you. (And I’m going to ask you to spell check next time. If you’re going to talk this much dumb s__t, I’m not going to waste my time editing your typos and misspellings. That goes for all you disgruntled cretins!)

He could have KO’d him in the first round no idea what the was waiting for. Now I’m thinking you never did go to sleep. I’m thinking you’ve been up since Saturday, tweaking on some trailer-park grade meth while you rage about MMA and Canelo.

I would like to see him fight Beterbiev and watch him get KO’d by that monster. And if that fight does happen, and Canelo beats the other Russian, I’m gonna worry about you taking your own life. So, I hope that fight doesn’t happen. You’re a depressed, angry f__k (at the moment, anyway), Aaron, but I like you.

 

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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