Dougie’s Monday mailbag (boxers you love to hate, Inoue vs. Nery, Crawford & Taylor’s P4P rankings)
Was up late watching classic fights and, randomly, I ended up watching Naz vs Kelley, Trinidad vs Mayorga, and Cotto vs Margarito II (I was there for both of these live) in that order. Midway through the last fight I realized I was watching some of the greatest boxing heels of my generation. So…. Who are your favorite boxers that as a fan you love to hate?
Erik Morales v Tank Davis at 130
Tommy Hearns vs Sergio Martinez at 154/60
Keep up the good work. – Alan
Thank you, Alan.
Interesting mythical matchups. I’ll go with El Terrible by competitive but clear UD (after experiencing wobbly moments early in the fight) and The Hitman by mid-round KO (at 154) and competitive but clear UD (at 160).
Interesting question about boxing “heels” (you’ve got an interesting boxing mind, dude). I recognized the “heel” genius of both Naseem Hamed and Ricardo Mayorga – two natural showmen that could have earned respect as pro wrestlers if they were 70 pounds heavier – and witnessed with morbid fascination Antonio Margarito’s transformation from hardnosed grinder to “evil incarnate” thanks to the hardcore boxing community’s and sports media’s faux outrage and condemnation following “Wrapgate,” however I liked each man on a person-to-person level, and enjoyed watching them fight. So, I can’t say that any of those three were “boxers that I loved to hate.”
Hector Camacho Sr. is a boxer I admired while in his prime but grew tired of once his “Macho Man” persona outshined his ring accomplishments by the late 1980s/early ‘90s. He started to irk me when, by the end of the ‘80s, he was making a big deal out of
his unbeaten record (36-0 at the close of the decade) and disparaging potential rivals (Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor) in interviews that I read in my favorite boxing magazines. I was kind of glad when Greg Haugen upset him in 1991, but I can’t say that I ever “hated” him. There was always something about his cheeky personality that amused me, even though his fights were becoming increasingly uneventful as the ‘90s progressed. (I didn’t even bother watching his PPV showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez, I knew that was going to be an ugly, extended beatdown.) But I admired his ability to last the distance with in-their-prime elite badasses like Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya in the middle-to-late parts of the decade.
Camacho made good money getting beat up by De La Hoya in a PPV main event (1997), and I think Floyd Mayweather Jr. took a page from his book by developing the “Money” persona for his showdown with the now-past prime Golden Boy ten years later, but the savvy Michigan native took it to the next level by being far more dedicated to the sport. Still, as much as Money and his clueless fans got on my nerves, I can’t say that he was a boxer “I loved to hate,” because I didn’t love watching him fight by the time he entered the welterweight division. (I was an avid fan of his during his years as a junior lightweight and lightweight.) I became disillusioned with Floyd during his 140-pound pitstop and couldn’t stand him during his 147-pound run.
Mike Tyson had a strong “bad boy” image during the 1990s, and he certainly had his “haters” and detractors among the mainstream media and fandom throughout that decade, but while I was often critical of the troubled Brooklynite (which brought on the ugly wrath of his nutty fans) I never hated him. He was clearly in a lot of emotional pain, so I mostly felt sorry for him.
Maybe the closest boxer I can say that I “loved to hate” was British enigma Chris Eubank Sr. I was fascinated with his cocky and dramatic personality/persona, entertained by his elaborate ring entrances and quirky interviews, and I occasionally enjoyed watching him fight (when he was in tough vs. Nigel Benn, Graciano Rocchigiani, and a few others). However, I was often bored with his many super middleweight title defenses (which the Showtime network would broadcast on tape delay in the U.S., and I thought he was lucky to retain that WBO 168-pound belt against some rather ordinary challengers, such as Ray Close).
He had a uniquely unorthodox boxing style to say the least; he could exhibit raw athleticism and explosive skill or just stink out round after round with backpedaling and bizarre posing. But his talent was undeniable, and he had a tremendous heart and chin. I was drawn to him but often repelled at the same time, so I guess you could say I “loved to hate” Eubank Sr., who claimed to be “Simply the Best” (and always confidently strutted to the ring to that song by Tina Turner). But, still, “hate” seems too strong a word.
INOUE VS. NERY
Hi, Dougie. First time writing to the mailbag from Brazil. Congrats for the good work.
I’m still amazed by the Inoue-Donaire showdown. Just think Nonito secured once and for all his place in Canastota, while Inoue showed to have incredible heart, desire, and the tools to overcome a very difficult situation.
But, despite his monstrous punching power and his good set of skills, I have a feeling he wouldn’t win if he faces Luis Nery. The Mexican guy has a hard chin, good fundamentals, more experience. Sometimes, he looks like a beast. I saw you and other (almost everyone) saying Inoue would beat Nery via late stoppage, and I just want to ask you why.
Prime Rigo vs Loma at featherweight
Arguello vs Mayweather at super light
Monzón vs GGG
Thanks. – Andre
I’ll go with Loma by competitive but clear UD, Mayweather by close, maybe majority/split decision, and Monzon by close but clear UD (especially if fought over 15 rounds). Thanks for finally sharing your thoughts with the mailbag community, Andre.
Regarding a potential Inoue-Nery showdown, it would be an epic fight. Inoue is The Ring Magazine/IBF-WBA unified champion, but Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) is a former Ring/WBC titleholder who is currently The Ring’s No. 1-rated bantamweight. The Tijuana native is a powerhouse at 118 pounds. He’s a relentless, two-fisted southpaw boxer-puncher. There’s no doubt that he’d test Inoue, perhaps as much as Donaire did, but the hunch here is that the Japanese star’s clear edge in punching technique would enable him to clip the forward-charging Nery on his way inside.
As punishing as Nery is, he tends to swing wide with most of his punches, sometimes over-committing to his offense, which I (and many others) believe would leave him open for Inoue’s sharp-shooting. Straight punches generally beat arcing shots when the boxers have equal speed/athleticism (and Inoue looks to be a little bit quicker than Pantera).
CRAWFORD’S P4P PLACEMENT
You have to help me understand Terence Crawford. Let me preface this by saying, I am not a hater. Not at all. I think he’s one of the best boxers in the game today. But, I cannot understand why he’s still ranked at the top of the P4P list. I’m not a person that gets riled up by these types of lists, but as someone who jumped onto the Crawford bandwagon after the Gamboa fight I have to say I just don’t get it. Again, there’s no denying his skillset, but who has he fought? I understand these things are not always under a fighter’s control and all you can do is beat the guy in front of you, but does he have a signature win? It’s been 5 years and I’ve been begging the boxing gods to give this guy a challenge. I want to see it, not because I think he’ll be “exposed” but because I want him to take his place boxing elite.
Canelo may have escaped with a controversial victory against GGG and yeah maybe Krusher was a little over the hill but I can’t say Bud has fought anyone comparable. Maybe he’s content letting Arum make whatever fights are available but at a certain point doesn’t he need to push for a real challenge? – BR in Oxnard
Of course, Crawford needs a challenge in order to keep hold of his lofty status at the top of most pound-for-pound rankings. He hasn’t had one since moving to the welterweight division last June. That’s why he’s recently been surpassed by both Canelo Alvarez and Naoya Inoue in the mythical ratings. Crawford’s last two bouts have come against unrated welterweight title challengers – Jose Benavidez Jr. and Amir Khan. Alvarez’s last two bouts have been a middleweight title unification showdown vs. Danny Jacobs (The Ring’s No. 2-rated 160 pounder at the time) and light heavyweight title challenge to Kovalev (The Ring’s No. 2-rated 175 pounder at the time). Inoue’s last two bouts were bantamweight title unification bouts against Emmanuel Rodriguez and Nonito Donaire (both The Ring’s No. 3-rated 118 pounders at the time), which earned him The Ring Magazine championship and the WBSS Muhammad Ali trophy.
However, just because Crawford is currently at the mercy of boxing’s divisive business practices doesn’t mean he hasn’t earned his “elite boxer” status. He’s won world titles in three divisions en route to a 35-0 record. He’s the first boxer to win all four major sanctioning organization titles (WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO) at 140 pounds. And he’s a complete boxer-puncher who has dominated all of his opposition. That’s why fans and media rate him so highly.
Again, there’s no denying his skillset, but who has he fought? Come on, man. Are you really going to pretend that Yuriorkis Gamboa is the only name on his resume worth mentioning? He earned The Ring’s championship belts at 135 and 140 pounds because he climbed to the top of both rankings and took on the best or second best fighters (Ray Beltran and Viktor Postol) in those respective divisions.
I understand these things are not always under a fighter’s control and all you can do is beat the guy in front of you, but does he have a signature win? Take your pick: Gamboa, Postal, Beltran, Ricky Burns, Julius Indongo, Jeff Horn. If those names aren’t good enough, you’ll just have to wait until Al Haymon and the PBC are willing to allow one of their top welterweights to cross the street, or for the top junior welterweights (Josh Taylor, Jose Ramirez and Regis Prograis) to step up in weight.
It’s been 5 years and I’ve been begging the boxing gods to give this guy a challenge. Gamboa, Postol and Indongo were all supposed to be challenges for Crawford.
I want to see it, not because I think he’ll be “exposed” but because I want him to take his place boxing elite. Most of us think he’s already there.
Evening Dougie (evening where I live),
Two questions would love to make the mail bag.
- Saw in recent Ring Rankings article that Josh Taylor was denied a top ten P4P ranking – I really enjoy the articles showing discussions about Ring Rankings and I’d love to know why he’s not ranked (understand that this is mythical but I find it hard to be objective – personally have him ranked 8th)
- Julian Williams has said he will not fight anyone without 3 months VADA testing. I admire this but is he at risk of being stripped if his mandatory refuses this? We’ve seen sanctioning bodies be quick to strip (IBF in particular – see Canelo, GGG etc., etc.) for very little reason. I’d hate to see a great champion with such admiral morals lose what he’s worked for.
Thanks for taking the time to read, the mail bag has given me a greater appreciation for the sweet science…it makes Monday and Friday much more enjoyable. – Euan, Dunfermline, Scotland
Thanks for sharing your questions with us, Euan.
Regarding Williams’ understandable PED-testing demands, I don’t believe it will be a problem because I don’t see anybody in the 154-pound division with enough star power and clout to blow it off. You know what I’m sayin’? Who’s going to pull rank on the newly crowned dual beltholder? (The PPV-level Divas who once occupied the division, Mayweather, Cotto and Canelo, are long gone.)
The IBF’s highest ranked contender is Carlos Adames and there’s no way the 25-year-old Dominican would deny himself a shot at two world titles by refusing a three-month testing window. And if a more prominent junior middleweight, such as former titleholders Jarret Hurd and Jermell Charlo, or fellow beltholders (Tony Harrison and Jaime Munguia) refused an extra month of testing they would INSTANTLY find themselves under the harshest of scrutiny from both fans and media. They don’t want that. And if they do, most fans will just consider that a “duck,” an embarrassing way of avoiding a fight with J-Rock.
Saw in recent Ring Rankings article that Josh Taylor was denied a top ten P4P ranking – I really enjoy the articles showing discussions about Ring Rankings and I’d love to know why he’s not ranked (understand that this is mythical but I find it hard to be objective – personally have him ranked 8th). Yeah, Taylor makes my personal mythical ratings (either No. 9 or 10) and he certainly had my vote to crack The Ring’s official pound-for-pound rankings, along with fellow editors Tom Gray and Brian Harty, but the majority of the Ratings Panel denied him for a variety of reasons (none of which I agreed with).
I didn’t have time to post a Ring Ratings Update article between the Taylor-Prograis and Canelo-Kovalev fights because I was too busy putting the January 2020 edition of the magazine to bed and dealing with all the Las Vegas fight-week events and such, but since we’re coming off a light boxing weekend and thus have relatively short Monday mailbag, I’ll post some of the Editorial Board/Ratings Panel’s pound-for-pound debate following the Tartan Tornado’s terrific WBSS 140-pound final winning performance starting with his fellow Scotsman, Tom Gray, who covered the event:
“In 16 fights, Josh Taylor has won a world title, unified world titles, picked up the vacant Ring championship at 140 pounds and took the Muhammad Ali trophy,” said the proud Scotsman who would have pushed equally hard for Prograis’ pound-for-pound inclusion had the American won.
“As I said in a Tweet midweek, his last four opponents had a combined record of 94-1 (the only loss was Viktor Postol’s to Terence Crawford) coming in.
“Taylor has been rated by The Ring at junior welterweight since July 2017 when he outclassed Ohara Davies. He has gone from strength to strength and just defeated a world champion, who was probably in the 11-15 range pound-for-pound. While the bout was extremely competitive, I didn’t encounter a single fan or media member that thought Prograis won, so the best way to describe that victory is close but clear.
“Taylor is the first Scotsman to win a Ring championship in 49 years, he’s the first Scotsman to unify world titles in 48 years and, in my opinion, he should be the first Scotsman to enter the pound-for-pound top 10 since the list was created in 1989. But I’m not waxing lyrical because Taylor is my countryman. I fought hard for Beterbiev and the closest I’ve been to Russia is Rocky IV. Geography doesn’t mean a thing here. Taylor’s quality is what’s paramount and that is undeniable.
“I can see Taylor as high as No. 7, but he MUST enter the ratings the way I see it. Apologies, I love the guy, but Pacquiao has had his kicks. It’s time for the new blood.”
Panelist Tris Dixon, who pushed for Beterbiev’s pound-for-pound rankings, respectfully disagreed.
“Nice argument, Tom, but it’s a no from me for P4P,” Dixon said. “Beterbiev is in a similar position but the Gvozdyk win is better and Pacquiao over Thurman is also better.
“I see what you’re saying on the whole, but Taylor is just outside for me, probably along with the likes of Wilder and Fury. Terrific fight and certainly not offended if he goes in but I wouldn’t put him top 10 based on Prograis and Postol, Barnchyk and Martin.
“Now, get your Braveheart make up on, pick up your sword and unleash hell in my direction!”
Gray did just that.
“Around the top level, it’s always going to be a matter of inches on this debate. The talk at the post-fight presser by some members of the media was Taylor’s inclusion was a no-brainer.
“While I agree that Beterbiev’s win was of a similar ilk to Taylor’s, I view the Scot as having the better resume at this point and his ability is obvious. I accept your opinion on Taylor’s past four wins, but what are Beterbiev’s top four? Are they better?
“Pacquiao, as I said at the time, pulled off a remarkable victory for a 40-year-old, but Thurman was looking below par. He’d been injured and was pretty inactive. I picked him to beat an older Pac but did so with trepidation for those reasons. Prograis entered the Taylor fight as an unbeaten bad ass, in his prime, with the world at his feet and he was pre-fight favorite. I’d suggest with confidence that he was viewed by the majority of fans and media as a better fighter than Gvozdyk and Thurman BEFORE he lost last night.
“PS I wouldn’t put Deontay Wilder in the same sentence as Josh Taylor in a pound-for-pound debate. FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Panelist Adam Abramowitz chose the legendary Filipino fighter over the emerging Scottish star.
“I would keep Pacquiao at 10,” Abramowitz said. “Great performance from Taylor. He’s on the cusp.”
Panelist Anson Wainwright agreed with Dixon and Abramowitz.
“I wouldn’t have Taylor in (the pound-for-pound ratings) just yet, either,” he said. “(Taylor-Prograis was an) excellent fight and Taylor’s done so well. However, for me I still want him to fight (Jose) Ramirez; that fight will decide the undisputed champ. Taylor may well be our next guy in but think he still needs to do a bit more. The guy to drop out would be Pacquiao and I view Pacquiao’s win over Thurman as better than anything Taylor has done coupled with his outstanding career.”
Gray didn’t accept Wainwright’s reasoning and took a few swings at the mercurial nature of the pound-for-pound criteria.
“I’m down a few rounds here, but I’m being forced to channel my inner Benny Lynch determination:
“I don’t think being undisputed champion should suddenly be a prerequisite for pound-for-pound inclusion. If it is then we need to tear our current list to pieces.
“Taylor beat THE RING’s No. 1 at 140, the guy WE thought was the best – not a faded ex-champ or champ, but a fellow world titleholder in his prime, who was there on merit. That’s everything boxing should be. Taylor will open as a big favorite to beat Ramirez. He just defeated the guy everyone viewed as his strongest rival, Ramirez included.
“My issue with pound-for-pound sometimes is consistency. Some guys need a really good win and some flare and they walk in (Spence when he won a world title). Other guys need to resurrect all-time greats for opponents before they get a sniff of the list (Sor Rungvisai had to whack out Gonzalez twice and Estrada before he made it in).
“Pacquiao beating Thurman was a glorious moment, but I still think nostalgia is the reason he made it back on to the pound-for-pound ladder. His great triumphs from the past are almost impossible to ignore and I get that, but my issue remains the same as before: Do I believe a 40-year-old Pacquiao is one of the 10 best fighters in the world regardless of weight class? No! Taylor, right now, has a stronger claim than the 2019 version of Pacquiao. Disconcerting? Maybe, but that can’t be helped.
“I know you can fight, but it’s our wits that make us men!”