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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Crawford’s curse, Commey-Lopez, Deontay Wilder, Andy Ruiz)

13
Dec

CRAWFORD AND TOP RANK

Dear Dougie,

It seems most boxing fans can agree Terence Crawford is among the top welterweights and pound for pound fighters in the world. However, his prime is being wasted—Kavaliauskas, Benavidez and Khan—three lame fights. Crawford seems to have the heart of a warrior and a desire to build a legacy. Why is he still with Top Rank? I believe he resigned with Top Rank last year. Why would he do that when he could have been a free agent in 2020? Has he not pressured Bob Arum to meet Al Haymon half way or two thirds of the way? The other top 5 welterweights are all at PBC. Seems to be such a shame for him.

I like Richard Commey to beat Teofimo Lopez simply based on the fact I feel they are about even in terms of talent and Comey is the less distracted fighter outside the ring. What are your thoughts?

Can you indulge me as a Rigo fan and tell me a little bit about his opponent Solis and why Rigo is going down one weight class? Finally, how in the world is JCC Jr. fighting Jacobs? Between the refusal to take a drug test, the fact he is completely washed up, it seems shameful.

What other fights are you looking forward to before year end? Happy Holidays. – Aaron in Miami

I’m looking forward to tonight’s Golden Boy show on DAZN. It’s headlined by Prospect of the Year frontrunner Vergil Ortiz Jr., who’s taking on a savvy veteran in Brad Solomon (28-1), and features some of my favorite up-and-comers on the undercard, including Bektemir “Bek Bully” Melikuziev (in with hardnosed gatekeeper Vaughn Alexander), Luis Feliciano, Serhii “El Flaco” Bohachuk and Alexis Rocha, among others. 

Particular fights I’m looking forward to before the end of 2019 include the Tony Harrison-Jermell Charlo rematch next Saturday, Ryota Murata-Steven Butler, Kazuto Ioka-Jeyvier Cintron and Tank Davis’s lightweight debut vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa. 

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at the weigh-in for his PPV showdown with Canelo. Photo by Tom Hogan – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

How is Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fighting Daniel Jacobs (and making darn good money doing so)? He’s got a famous last name and a forgiving fanbase that comes with it. Trust me, that name still holds weight in certain parts of the country. Even though we all knew he’d be weigh-drained and uninterested vs. Canelo, their 2017 Cinco De Mayo showdown was a successful (1 million buys) PPV and a better Las Vegas fight-week party environment than Alvarez’s high-profile showdowns with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Gennadiy Golovkin. 

Who is Liborio Solis? He’s 37-year-old Venezuelan veteran who was a top-tier junior bantamweight (in 2012-2013), a dangerous bantamweight contender in 2016 when he gave Shinsuke Yamanaka a tough title challenge and was robbed against Jamie McDonnell (both “Yama” and “J-Mac” were Ring’s No. 1 at the time), and is now well past his prime.

Why is Guillermo Rigondeaux moving down to the 118-pound division? I have no idea. He always said he was a small 122 pounder. Maybe he’s angling for a rematch with Nonito Donaire. Who knows? I wish he’d dipped down to bantamweight – where he could have challenged fellow-elite boxers Anselmo Moreno (2013-2014) or Yamanaka (2014-2016) – shortly after undressing the Filipino Flash rather than call out reluctant junior featherweight standouts and settle for second- and third-tier fighters, such as Hisashi Amagasa, Drian Francisco and James Dickens.

It seems most boxing fans can agree Terence Crawford is among the top welterweights and pound for pound fighters in the world. Bud is my choice as the best 147 pounder, and I won’t argue with anyone who views him as the pound-for-pound king.

However, his prime is being wasted—Kavaliauskas, Benavidez and Khan—three lame fights. I agree 100%., although I watched the Benavidez fight with interest and will gladly witness Bud’s brilliance tomorrow night against the Mean Machine. (I didn’t watch the Khan fight with much interest because I like him a lot and don’t care to see him get hurt in the ring anymore.)

Crawford seems to have the heart of a warrior and a desire to build a legacy. I agree, but due to the fractured nature of the boxing business, he might have to take a page from the books of Marvin Hagler and Bernard Hopkins and stick around long enough for the stars of the lighter divisions (such as Jose Ramirez, Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis, and maybe even Teofimo and Devin Haney one day) to step up to challenge him. Come to think of it, Crawford reminds me of Hagler and B-Hop.

Why is he still with Top Rank? I believe he resigned with Top Rank last year. Why would he do that when he could have been a free agent in 2020? Oh, I dunno, maybe they presented him with the best/most lucrative offer (along with a top broadcast/streaming platform to perform on).

Has he not pressured Bob Arum to meet Al Haymon half way or two thirds of the way? I’m sure he has, but it’s a two-way street. His potential rival over in the PBC league have to do the same thing with Al.

Commey (left) belts Ray Beltran. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank

I like Richard Commey to beat Teofimo Lopez simply based on the fact I feel they are about even in terms of talent and Comey is the less distracted fighter outside the ring. What are your thoughts? I think it’s the best matchup of the weekend and I can’t wait to watch it. Commey is very dangerous. The defending IBF beltholder is well-traveled, battle-tested, skilled, powerful and still at or near his prime at age 32. I think he’s going to test Lopez’s chin like no other pro opponent has. However, the Ghanaian looked “beatable” vs. a shopworn (some would say “faded” and maybe weight-drained) version of Ray Beltran in June. Maybe it was just first-title-defense jitters. Maybe it was Beltran’s ring savvy and heart. But I favor the young man to win via competitive decision. He’s got the talent, skill, athleticism and unique/unorthodox style to pull it off.

 

MEDICINAL RUIZ

Mr. Douglass,

Thanks for staying on the grind, day in and day out. You keep me entertained and enlightened. I’ve been reading your content while subsequently and inadvertently tracking your professional progression. It’s probable that you have picked up some good work ethic and work values by tracking greatness, yourself…

Watching the fight in the early afternoon, sober as a gopher (I’m usually 6 beers in by the main event), I think that I picked up a commentator mention Andy’s medicinal consumption of cannabis. If that is true, this may be a good opportunity for the younger folks to learn from someone’s mistake. Abusing the green-medicine will lower your energy and give you the munchies which is suicide in the hurt-business. I can just imagine Andy getting stoned, exhaling his ambition with his “yesca,” deprioritizing basic exercising, running a train on a couple of plates of tacos and finishing the day off with beers and a nap.

I know that there are rare exceptions, i.e, the Diaz Brothers.

Not trying to kick the man when he’s down, just would like to highlight to the youngsters out there the importance of staying focused along with the dangers of success. I’ve heard multiple Greats in various disciplines say that “it’s easier to obtain it and much harder to keep it” …and to that, I must agree… – Alex Sanchez

Thanks for the very kind words, Alex. I appreciate every boxing fan who reads what I write and has followed my journey covering this sport.

I’ve haven’t met a current or former world titleholder who didn’t say that it’s easier to become a champion than it is to STAY one. Ruiz knows that now and we’ll see how he bounces back from this setback. The last time he lost a title bout (to Joseph Parker in December 2016) he disappeared for more than a year.

Watching the fight in the early afternoon, sober as a gopher (I’m usually 6 beers in by the main event), I think that I picked up a commentator mention Andy’s medicinal consumption of cannabis. I missed that mention (and, for the record, I was also sober).

If that is true, this may be a good opportunity for the younger folks to learn from someone’s mistake. OK, but are the “younger folks” paying attention to boxing and someone like Ruiz? And do they even bother with marijuana? Don’t they prefer the prescription ADHD medication that their parents force them to take?

Abusing the green-medicine will lower your energy and give you the munchies which is suicide in the hurt-business. Oh, come on. Why ya gotta blame Andy’s sloth on the green stuff, Alex?

I can just imagine Andy getting stoned, exhaling his ambition with his “yesca,” deprioritizing basic exercising, running a train on a couple of plates of tacos and finishing the day off with beers and a nap. My God, that sounds like the PERFECT day (and this is coming from somebody who hasn’t touched marijuana since the summer of 1998… or was it 1997?… I can’t remember… OK, now you can blame the green stuff).

I know that there are rare exceptions, i.e, the Diaz Brothers. Former IBF lightweight titleholder Greg Haugen liked him some doobie and it didn’t seem to hamper his (underrated) ability in the ring (although testing positive for it after handing Hector Camacho his first loss in 1991 briefly caused the Nevada State Athletic Commission to change the victory to a “No Contest” – just long enough for the Macho Man to be billed as “unbeaten” going into his big 1992 showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez).

 

COMMEY-LOPEZ, TERENCE CRAYWEATHER

Hey Dougie

First things first great job commentating that OC card. Couldn’t make it to that one, work got in the way, but I will be making it to the Charlo v. Harrison fight. I hope Harrison can pull it off again, but I doubt it. I thought Charlo won the first time.

I’m really excited for the Teofimo fight, not so much for Crawford. I think he’s really Mayweathering his career. Had a great 135-140 and fighting mismatch opponents at welter. I know a lot of ppl don’t agree with that opinion but man I want to see him with the top guys.

Enough with the negativity, what’s your pick on Teofimo v. Commey, JoJo Diaz v. Tevin Farmer (I know it’s a little far away). I’ll ask about Charlo v. Harrison next week.

Take care of yourself Dougie. – Joey, Pomona

Will do, Joey. Thanks for the kind words on my commentary for the final Thursday Night Fights show of 2019. I’ve had a blast working with The Coach (Jonathan Coachman), Beto Duran and the good folks that produce the series. I hope we can all do it again next year.

I’m going with Lopez by close but unanimous decision and Diaz by close, maybe split nod on January 30.

I will be making it to the Charlo v. Harrison fight. I hope Harrison can pull it off again, but I doubt it. I thought Charlo won the first time. I dunno, man, Charlo struggles with stick-and-move boxers and it really does seem like Harrison is (as he puts it) “living rent free” in Jermell’s head.

I’m really excited for the Teofimo fight, not so much for Crawford. I’m looking forward to Lopez’s fight and to Crawford’s performance.

I think he’s really Mayweathering his career. A lot of boxers, media and fans consider that to be a GOOD thing.

Had a great 135-140 and fighting mismatch opponents at welter. That may be true, but keep in mind that Mayweather’s two welterweight title runs, beginning with the Zab Judah fight in 2006 (which wasn’t a mismatch), were all pay-per-view bouts. Bud can only dream of fighting the likes of Judah, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, and, of course, Manny Pacquiao in big PPV bouts.

I know a lot of ppl don’t agree with that opinion but man I want to see him with the top guys. Well, they agree with that.

 

WILDER’S RESUME

Hi Doug,

Not written in a bit and have been mulling over this for a few weeks. It’s been interesting to see the shift in the way people are talking about Deontay Wilder after recent fights. I’ve never been a great fan of Anthony Joshua but I can’t see how Wilder can be considered better/having done more in the sport. Wilder’s resume is pretty woeful. He’s been going on about his 10 defences but who have they really been against? Luis Ortiz was a seriously over-rated boogieman. We saw him fight in the UK against an out of shape Dave Allen and then again in Monaco and he was pretty poor both times. His best wins were Malik Scott in that Monaco show and Bryant Jennings. Other than that Wilder picked Fury because he thought he was finished and would have been able to claim “lineal status”. I’m not suggesting Wilder is scared but more he’s been woefully managed. Having 10 defences and making no attempt to unify isn’t very impressive, especially with how thin his resume is. That resume just doesn’t compare to AJ’s who has fought multiple Ring-rated opposition (including Ruiz II). AJ has fought 4 of the current top 10 and was scheduled to face Kubrat Pulev had Pulev not pulled out and I’m confident AJ will face (and beat) Pulev next year. Wilder has beaten one top 10 Ring ranked opponent. Fury has faced one and not beaten any (although I felt he beat Wilder).

This isn’t to say that AJ beats either, but just based on resume the other two have a lot to do. Particularly Wilder, whose best win is against an aging Ortiz (twice). I just think we need to put Wilder’s over-inflated resume into some sort of context. Wilder talks a good talk about legacy, but from the outside his isn’t impressive. – AS, London

Some boxing fans have trouble with context (and thus struggle with perspective and critical thinking), others have agendas, and some just like to troll on social media and in comment sections. It’s all good. You can’t let it bother you too much.

Wilder struts off after sending Dominic Breazeale to HELL.

It’s been interesting to see the shift in the way people are talking about Deontay Wilder after recent fights. Hey, I get it. Wilder scored the top two KO-of-the-Year stoppages in the same year that Joshua was stopped and bewildered by a huge underdog. The American heavyweight is unbeaten, bombastic outside of the ring, and explosive inside of it. Pure punchers like Wilder have a mystique that often clouds reason (and a lot of fans aren’t that rational to begin with). That’s OK. If they want to laud him as the best heavyweight in the game right now, let them. They have an argument. If they want to call him one of the best heavyweights of all time, let them. They just don’t know any better. If they want to say he’s the greatest puncher of all time, that’s cool too. There’s no way to prove or disprove that opinion.

I’ve never been a great fan of Anthony Joshua but I can’t see how Wilder can be considered better/having done more in the sport. That’s because he hasn’t done more in the sport (amateur or professional) than AJ. Whether he’s “better” is just a matter of opinion. They have to share the ring for us to find out for sure.

Wilder’s resume is pretty woeful. I can’t call it “woeful” because it includes Tyson Fury and Luis Ortiz, but it’s not much better than John Ruiz or Nikolay Valuev’s WBA title runs.

He’s been going on about his 10 defences but who have they really been against? Fury, Ortiz and a bunch of fringe contenders and no-hopers.

Luis Ortiz was a seriously over-rated boogieman. I agree, although it’s clear that the Cuban southpaw is a solid technician with good size and power.

We saw him fight in the UK against an out of shape Dave Allen and then again in Monaco and he was pretty poor both times. He tends to fight down to his level of opposition.

His best wins were Malik Scott in that Monaco show and Bryant Jennings. That fight against Scott was dreadful.

Other than that Wilder picked Fury because he thought he was finished and would have been able to claim “lineal status”. I don’t know if Team Wilder were after “lineal champ” status, but they definitely thought they were catching Fury at the right time (two bouts following his, ahem, sabbatical from boxing, before he had shed all of his fat and before he could prove that he was back to being a legit contender).

I’m not suggesting Wilder is scared but more he’s been woefully managed. Another way to look it at it is that he was a very raw boxing talent that needed a lot of time to develop, which required a degree of “protection,” and his handlers did a good job getting him to the WBC title and then several quality rounds against solid bodies but nobody that had any chance of upsetting him (until last year).

Having 10 defences and making no attempt to unify isn’t very impressive, especially with how thin his resume is. I’m sure Shelly Finkel and Al Haymon would disagree with you.

That resume just doesn’t compare to AJ’s who has fought multiple Ring-rated opposition (including Ruiz II). I agree. Joshua remains the most accomplished of the active heavyweight standouts. It’s truly impressive what he’s done in just six years as a pro.

AJ has fought 4 of the current top 10 and was scheduled to face Kubrat Pulev had Pulev not pulled out and I’m confident AJ will face (and beat) Pulev next year. So am I.

Wilder has beaten one top 10 Ring ranked opponent. Fury has faced one and not beaten any (although I felt he beat Wilder). So did I. It should also be noted that Fury defeated The Ring’s champion, Wladimir Klitschko, who happened to also be a unified beltholder. That counts for something.

 

LOPEZ FAMILY SOAP OPERA

What’s up Dougie,

It’s been a while since I had the chance to write in or even keep up with boxing as much as I used to. Life has been keeping me busy. But I’ll be watching the upcoming matchup live at the Mecca and when you’re a huge boxing fan like me at some point two fighters you root for will have to face each other. That is the case with Teofimo vs Commey. I have been following Commey since his US debut. The guy has heart and is humble and is looking to inspire a whole nation. Who can hate on a guy like that? In my eyes he was a world champion since his first title fight and is still undefeated. But he’s facing another fighter that as you know is a fighter I am a big fan of. So I’m torn in this fight but I have to go with Teofimo. I only hope to see a good fight and that whoever loses keeps their head high and learn from it and moves forward. Commey is a seasoned veteran now, his has shown he can hang in with the best so this will be a huge test for Teofimo to prove he belongs as well. I wanted this for Teofimo. I hope he rises to the moment. What’s your take on this match up?

I have to admit I don’t like the soap opera happening around Lopez camp. If this is happening early on what will happen later on as he gets bigger? His dad seem as if he wants the spotlight for himself and won’t let his son become his own man. It will be interesting to see how the two will continue as Teofimo grow older will his father give him that freedom and space, unfortunately I don’t think he will and will be the cost of his down fall. I don’t like how in every interview you see his dad has to speak over him. I know Danny and Angel maintained a good relationship but in this case I feel most of Teomifo father’s antics gets under his skins. What’s your take on this father/son duo partnership. Do you see it lasting? Hope you and the family are all well. – Omar Paterson

I have no idea if the Lopez father-and-son training relationship will stand the test of time. I’m not that close to Team Lopez, but I’ve met the father and I like him and I can tell that they are very, very close. However, you don’t have to be professional psychologist (or Mark Kriegel) to tell that Teofimo’s family takes an extreme toll on his emotions and mental wellbeing. If he’s defeated by Commey tomorrow night, I wouldn’t be shocked if he made some drastic changes (including separating from his father).

I have been following Commey since his US debut. The guy has heart and is humble and is looking to inspire a whole nation. Who can hate on a guy like that? A__holes.

In my eyes he was a world champion since his first title fight and is still undefeated. You can make that argument.

Lopez tees off on Masayoshi Nakatani. Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank

I’m torn in this fight but I have to go with Teofimo. I’m with you. We’re going with the chalk (I think) but our hunch, along with the odds makers’, is that Lopez is the more naturally talented boxer/athlete and Commey hasn’t seen a style like the Honduran-American’s.

I only hope to see a good fight and that whoever loses keeps their head high and learn from it and moves forward. That’s the way it should be. We know Commey can do that because he’s had to do it, twice. We’ll see how well that character serves him vs. Lopez.

Commey is a seasoned veteran now, his has shown he can hang in with the best so this will be a huge test for Teofimo to prove he belongs as well. This is why it’s the most anticipated fight of the weekend.

I wanted this for Teofimo. I hope he rises to the moment. What’s your take on this match up? Lopez has never faced anyone as half as good as Commey but I think the veteran will bring out his best.

 

EXPECTATIONS

Hi Doug,

I pray you and your family are doing well and that the readers of your mailbags and their families are doing well. I am surprised by the reaction to Canelo’s win over Kovalev and Thurman’s loss to PacMan and the recent criticism of Joshua. I’m realizing that fan’s evaluate things by what they expect. Most fans including myself expected Pac Man to dust off Thurman with ease and when Thurman put up a much better fight then expected he was given praise even though he lost. Most fans expected Canelo to beat Kovalev and I didn’t. So they weren’t impressed by his performance while I was because I expected Kovalev to beat Canelo decisively. So we see fights through the prism of our expectations. I lost all interest in Joshua and Ruiz once I learned Ruiz came in over 280pds. Didn’t even bother to watch and I’m shocked that people expected Joshua to fight Ruiz instead of boxing him. Joshua is more Mayweather than George Foreman so I can’t believe people thought that he was going to be in seek and destroy mode. I think the first fight raised the level of expectations but after the weigh in those expectations should have changed.

It is time for the Money Team to stop babysitting Gevonta Davis. He has two legitimate potential good fights with Farmer and Russell. Russell is part of the PBC and has been calling him out. So what is the problem? Terrance Crawford needs to stop crying he resigned with Arum knowing the PBC had all of his potential challengers. He should have taken a page from Bernard Hopkins when he signed with Don King and then went out and beat all of the top middleweights who Don had in his stable.

Boxing politics suck. All politics suck. God bless and take care. – Blood and Guts from Philly

Amen to that, B&G.

We can’t expect any of today’s fighters to emulate The Immortal B-Hop. He’s the last of the great fighters. (By the way, I haven’t heard Crawford cry about anything.)

TMT doesn’t view what they’re going with Davis as “babysitting.” They have a long-range plan to make him a crossover star (and it’s actually pretty good – I’ve got Michael Montero penning a piece for the magazine on their blueprint for Tank following the Gamboa fight). You should know that with Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the figurehead of that organization they’re not going to be in a rush to match Tank with any top-tier fighters until he’s in that PPV realm (and that’s their prerogative).

Farmer is scheduled to face JoJo Diaz in January, so he’s busy defending his IBF 130-pound belt for the time being, and Russell is still the WBC featherweight titleholder (and still fighting once a year). With Tank now campaigning at 135 pounds, GRJ and Tevin are going to have to make their intentions of moving up in weight very loud and clear (as Leo Santa Cruz has recently).

I am surprised by the reaction to Canelo’s win over Kovalev and Thurman’s loss to PacMan and the recent criticism of Joshua. I’m not. There’s a lot of nutcakes among hardcore boxing fans.

I’m realizing that fan’s evaluate things by what they expect. I wish they wouldn’t because too many have a ridiculously narrow view of the sport and most matchups.

Most fans including myself expected Pac Man to dust off Thurman with ease and when Thurman put up a much better fight then expected he was given praise even though he lost. My man Thurmy was SO CLOSE to proving me RIGHT! Damn him for getting dropped in the opening round and hurt to the body late in the fight. He sucks! (Just kidding. Manny proved to be a great fighter and Thurman showed a lot of class and character during and immediately after that fight.)

Most fans expected Canelo to beat Kovalev and I didn’t. So they weren’t impressed by his performance while I was because I expected Kovalev to beat Canelo decisively. I don’t think it matters what a lot of fans expect to happen with Canelo. Many have made up their minds to never be satisfied by his performances or give him any credit (even if they thought his opponent would crush or embarrass him and he proves them wrong). He’s the Big Red Cheese (apologies to Captain Marvel’s villain rivals) of boxing and thus the Ginger They Love to Hate.

I lost all interest in Joshua and Ruiz once I learned Ruiz came in over 280pds. So, I guess you didn’t subscribe to the theory that Andy hid weights in his clothes and was just playing mind games with AJ. You’re a sharp cat.

Didn’t even bother to watch and I’m shocked that people expected Joshua to fight Ruiz instead of boxing him. That was just wishful thinking by folks that wanted to see AJ get KTFO.

Joshua is more Mayweather than George Foreman so I can’t believe people thought that he was going to be in seek and destroy mode. If he was close to Floyd in the ring, Andy wouldn’t have clipped him in the first fight. If he was close to Big George in the ring, he’d have bounced Ruiz around the ring like an over-inflated beach ball on June 1.

I think the first fight raised the level of expectations but after the weigh in those expectations should have changed. Hey, everybody had Andy Ruiz Fever. Nothing wrong with that. (I just wish they’d admit that instead of being #salty toward Joshua.)

 

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