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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Crawford-Mean Machine, Teofimo Lopez, Bud’s top 10 potential opponents)

Terence_Crawford took some big shots early on from Egidijus Kavaliauskas but gradually broke the Mean Machine down.
16
Dec

TERENCE CRAWFORD – THE MAN

Dougie,

That’s what a champ looks like. Bud never seemed out of control. He wasn’t disrespectful but he was clear. You trained hard, you are a worthy challenger, you came to win but I’m the man. When he decided it was time for Mean Machine to go he got him out of there. Reminded me of the Lennox Lewis-Shannon Briggs fight. Lennox respected the man’s effort, patted him on the butt for it then got rid of him when play time was over. Bud showed me why I had such a problem with Anthony Joshua who did none of that.

What’s the story with Errol Spence? Want to see that fight with Bud. I know Keith Thurman has injuries. I wouldn’t waste Bud’s time with the old man circuit (Pacman, Floyd). We know Floyd only faced one prime killer in his career and he was having weight problems at the time and wasn’t nearly the fighter Bud is (Chico). Who’s really out there? – Mike Howza

There’s Shawn Porter, who I thought battled the pound-for-pound rated Spence on even terms for 12 rounds in September. That’s a real fight for Crawford, who isn’t Floyd Mayweather in terms of the future hall of famer’s noted unwillingness to face beasts (once at 147 pounds) and close the show, but he also lacks Money’s defensive slickness, so he’d be there for Porter’s awkward haymakers. And the Ohioan is every bit as experienced/battle tested (more so, in fact, at welterweight) as the Nebraskan. Count me in if that Top Rank-PBC co-promotion can be worked out.

What’s the story with Spence? Isn’t it obvious? He’s healing up. And it’s going to take some time. He’s not in a mood or place to be out in public because of facial lacerations, restricted mobility and legal issues over his DUI. We may not see him at a boxing event until after the holidays, and we may not see him in the ring until the second half of 2020. When he returns, we can’t expect him to share the ring with a top-rated fighter, so we may not see Spence vs. an elite fighter until 2021. Of course, boxing fans and media being the way they are, I’m certain that everyone will obsess over Spence and pontificate on his next move and potential all next year.

Kavaliauskas put heavy hands on Crawford in Rounds 2, 3 and 4. Photo by Mikey Williams for Top Rank

That’s what a champ looks like. Bud never seemed out of control. Yeah, but he didn’t seem IN control in the first four rounds. I think the welterweights were vying for control on even ground early the bout because, as Tim Bradley noted (and Andre Ward concurred, so you know it was the truth), Kavaliauskas’ “patience” threw Crawford off his game. I don’t think Bud was expecting omebody nicknamed “Mean Machine” to lay back, work a smart jab and counter punch. I thought Kavaliauskas looked just as much in control as Bud through the first three rounds. I thought he got the better of the exchanges in Round 3 (and I believe he should’ve been credited with a knockdown in that round) and went tit-for-tat with the elite American in Round 4.   

He wasn’t disrespectful but he was clear. You trained hard, you are a worthy challenger, you came to win but I’m the man. When he decided it was time for Mean Machine to go he got him out of there. It was an impressive finish to an entertaining fight, but let’s not go crazy and add Bud to the pantheon of all-time greats based on this welterweight title defense against the WBO’s mandatory challenger. Crawford did what he was supposed to do against a huge underdog who was lucky get a draw in his previous fight.

Reminded me of the Lennox Lewis-Shannon Briggs fight. Lennox respected the man’s effort, patted him on the butt for it then got rid of him when play time was over. Again, that was a fun heavyweight shootout, I remember it well, but Lewis did what he was supposed to do vs. Briggs, who was lucky to have received a majority decision vs. a 48-year-old George Foreman in his previous bout.

Bud showed me why I had such a problem with Anthony Joshua who did none of that. Geez, #SaltySeason continues! Enough with the AJ spite, folks! Joshua was facing a man who had demolished and humiliated him six months earlier. That’s a much different situation from what Crawford had in front of him on Saturday.

 

CRAWFORD’S POTENTIAL OPPONENTS

Hey Dougie,

Was at the Garden this Saturday for the fights, and it was a hell of a card. Lopez obviously stole the show with his KO, and I can’t wait for Loma/Lopez (LoLo!).

With that said, Crawford’s fight was very entertaining, and I think most of us were pretty surprised that it proved the more competitive bout. So with that said … what do you see happening next with Crawford?

This was one of his better fights against an opponent who proved game and skilled, so now the obvious question is how he performs against the cream of the crop. How much credence do you lend to these Crawford/Porter rumors? Except for Pac, Porter has fought all the major welterweight players in the PBC stable at this point, so if he wants a quick route to another title shot, this does make a lot of sense.

I imagine everyone else in PBC will remain on that welterweight merry-go-round for the time being, so if Crawford is gonna fight anyone worthwhile from the PBC anytime soon, Porter does seem like the likeliest candidate.

Barring that, I’d like to see him fight one of the studs at junior welterweight. I’d imagine Ramirez and Taylor will lock horns before either of them moves up, but perhaps a match-up with Regis Prograis could be made? I would even tune in for a Kell Brook match up, but he’s damaged goods at this point. I can’t really think of another direction for Crawford to go … thoughts? Best. – Doug

I have no desire to see Kell Brook get his face broken again. Let’s leave that guy alone.

I agree that Porter is probably the most willing of the PBC’s top welterweights to “cross the street” for a shot at Crawford. And he tops my list of Crawford’s potential marquee opponents (outside of the PBC Welterweight Elite). My top 10 goes like this:

1. Porter – The most rugged and ring savvy of Bud’s potential rivals.

2. Josh Taylor or Jose Ramirez (or the winner of their showdown should it happen first) – Taylor is the best 140 pounder. Ramirez just resigned with Top Rank, so he’s the best matchup that can be made “in-house.” The Taylor-Ramirez winner would be the current undisputed junior welterweight champ vs. the former undisputed 140-pound boss. That would be exciting.

3. Regis Prograis – Rougarou reminds me of Crawford more than any other active boxer. There’s no way that showdown wouldn’t produce a Fight of the Year candidate.

4. Adrien Broner – Don’t laugh for scoff. Broner may have lost enough on the PBC side for Al to allow him to cross the street and the Cincinnati native still moves the needle. He’s tough, experienced, accomplished and could actually make for a strong PPV B-side. (In fact, Broner’s side would argue, correctly, that he’s actually the PPV A-side in the matchup, even though Bud would be the odds and media favorite.)

5. Yordenis Ugas – Another PBC standout but not one of the stars that Haymon has promised to deliver to Fox. The Cuban contender presents too much risk for too little reward for the big shots on that side of the street, so why not ship him over to ESPN/Top Rank and hope for an upset? It’s not inconceivable, and Ugas would be a worthy challenger.

6. Ivan Baranchyk – If the former IBF 140-pound beltholder can get another comeback win or two under his belt, he could make for a fun title defense for Crawford. Baranchyk is probably just as strong as Mean Machine but even more awkward with a little more power and he would likely be more aggressive.

7. Patrick Teixeira – The rangy, cagey Brazilan southpaw just won the interim WBO 154-pound title with a gusty, bloody effort vs. Carlos Adames (and it will become the full title once Jaime Munguia officially vacates the belt to campaign at middleweight). The WBO will automatically install one of their champions as a No. 1 contender if he or she wants to challenge for the title in the weight class above them, so Bud could go for a fourth world title in a fourth weight class vs. Teixeira.

8. Vergil Ortiz Jr. – Yes, I know he’s still a prospect. I’m not saying this fight should happen next or anytime in 2020. But who knows? Maybe by 2021. Ortiz is as precocious as he is powerful.

9. Jaron Ennis – See Vergil Ortiz Jr. Same deal.

10. Maurice Hooker – I know the former 140-pound beltholder is very cool with Crawford and the two have sparred and trained together, but hey, the Texan has eight kids to take care of and an extremely rangy frame (nearly 6-feet tall with an 80-inch wingspan) that seems better suited for welterweight than junior welter.

 

CRAWFORD, LOPEZ, RING RANKINGS

Hi Dougie,

We had enjoyable action at the weekend courtesy of Top Rank, probably the most interesting card that Bob has produced for a while.

Richard Commey vs Teofimo Lopez didn’t turn into the classic match many of us had hoped, due to Lopez producing a sensational performance. I was impressed with the way he was fighting even before he exploded the shot that transported the defending champion to Queer Street! I’m really pumped about seeing Lopez in the future as he is a major talent. How do you feel he would fare in matchups against fellow lightweight contenders, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia? For me, lightweight is potentially the most scintillating class in boxing right now.

Terrence Crawford showed his stuff again and looked brilliant at times. How much do you think his quality of opposition is hurting his future, profile and even development right now? I thought Crawford was neglecting his defence at times and got hit with more punches than necessary against (another) opponent that he knew was no real threat to him.

On another note, I was interested in the Ring’s updated rankings. I was surprised not to see Michael Hunter gate crash the heavyweight top 10 after being a little unlucky not to get the nod after his excellent clash with Povetkin. I’m also a little surprised to see Luis Ortiz still remaining in the top 5; he has just suffered his second stoppage defeat against the same fighter and has not got a really credible win at world level for more than four years.

Like many others, I feel that Josh Taylor is being sadly overlooked in the mythical P4P ratings. The Ring’s own top ten 140lb list shows that, as well as being an undefeated unified champion, Taylor has wins over 3 of the top 4 ranked contenders. I’m not sure anyone else can boast that!

Finally, I am curious as to The Ring’s position of ranking the same fighter in different weight classes. I see that after a couple of years and several meaningful bouts at 168, Chris Eubank Jr is now ranked at Middleweight after his recent win there – but has been dropped from the 168 rankings. Conversely, Canelo is currently ranked at Middle, Super Middle and Light Heavy. I have no argument with the fact that Canelo has proved himself world class at all of these weights, but is there a different rule for him than others?

Regards. – Jeremy, UK

Thanks for sharing your many thoughts and questions, Jeremy. I’ll try to get to all of them.

Canelo has earned quite a collection of world titles in various weight classes. Photo by Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

Alvarez is simultaneously ranked in three weight classes because he holds world titles at 160 pounds (where he’s The Ring champ), 168 (even though we don’t recognize the secondary WBA belt he holds) and 175 (WBO), and we have no idea which division he will chose to fight in next. Most fighters announce that they are leaving one division to campaign in a new one before they move up in weight (or down on those rare occasions). Eubank Jr. did that after defeating James DeGale in February. He said he would pursue a world title at middleweight. When he resurfaced this month against Matt Korobov, it was at middleweight and the WBA’s interim 160-pound title was on the line. One never knows what’s going to happen in boxing, but chances are very good that Eubank’s next fight(s) will be at middleweight. Canelo’s next bout could be at middleweight (where his rival Gennadiy Golovkin and potential nemesis Demetrius Andrade reside), super middleweight (where WBO beltholder Billy Joe Saunders currently calls home – and rumor has it this matchup is in the works) or light heavyweight (where fellow beltholders Artur Beterbiev and Dimitry Bivol beckon).

I’m in full agreement that The Ring junior welterweight champ Josh Taylor deserves to be in the magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings. He’s one of the most battle-tested and accomplished champs in boxing and he’s achieved it all within 16 pro bouts and 4½ years. The Scotsman is truly impressive and I – along with fellow Ring editors Tom Gray and Brian Harty – pushed for him to at least crack the P4P rankings, but the Ratings Panel saw Manny Pacquiao in that No. 10 spot and would not allow a newbie to knock an aging all-time great from that perch. Sucks for Taylor, I know, but I think he’s the type to continue to take on the best and it’s only a matter of time before he forces his way into our mythical rankings.

Michael Hunter should be No. 9 in our rankings. That’s where the Ratings Panel wanted him after the Povetkin draw. His not being there is simply an oversight on the part of the editors. He’ll be added soon (in fact, I think the heavyweight top 10 has been updated). Tell Hunter he’s a Ring-rated contender if you follow him on social media. Regarding Luis Ortiz, what can I say? It’s gonna take a lot for him to drop. Nobody on the Panel will admit to it but I think it’s what I call the “Cuban Mystique.” Guillermo Rigondeaux is STILL in the junior featherweight top 5. It doesn’t matter that he went life and death with an unrated fighter in his last bout, or that he hasn’t defeated a Ring-rated contender since 2013. (Maybe Josh Taylor should start telling the boxing media that his grandfather was from Cuba.)

Commey, who had never been stopped, was quickly overwhelmed by Lopez. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Richard Commey vs Teofimo Lopez didn’t turn into the classic match many of us had hoped, due to Lopez producing a sensational performance. That was a statement. If you had forgotten about Lopez or were caught up in the family soap opera (that ESPN loves to play up) or you still viewed him as an untested prospect, Teofio reminded you (or proved to you) that he’s an ultra-talent with world-beater potential. It’s not so much that he won, it was the WAY he won.

I was impressed with the way he was fighting even before he exploded the shot that transported the defending champion to Queer Street! Are we still allowed to use that term in boxing? Serious question.

I’m really pumped about seeing Lopez in the future as he is a major talent. If you’re not excited about Lopez, you’ve probably suffered a minor stroke and you’re unaware of it.

How do you feel he would fare in matchups against fellow lightweight contenders, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia? I’d consider him a slight favorite. He’s more aggressive/explosive than Haney and a more complete boxer (at least right now) than Garcia.

For me, lightweight is potentially the most scintillating class in boxing right now. Agreed, but I’m not sure how long Lopez and Haney will be at 135 pounds. I think both will make their 140-pound debuts in 2020. Robert Easter Jr. already got his feet wet at junior welterweight and will likely stay there. I think Ryan can remain at lightweight through 2020 but given his height and frame he’ll probably grow into a solid junior welterweight by the end of 2021. Still, the division welcomes Gervonta Davis later this month and pound-for-pound player Vasiliy Lomachenko holds The Ring Magazine, WBO and WBA 135-pound titles, so it will remain hot for a while.

Terrence Crawford showed his stuff again and looked brilliant at times. How much do you think his quality of opposition is hurting his future, profile and even development right now? I don’t think it’s hurting his development or his fan appeal (at least according to my Twitter timeline, which was on fire with approval immediately after he broke down the Mean Machine), but it is beginning to jeopardize his pound-for-pound placement (he’s currently No. 4 in the mythical rankings of The Ring and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board) and it will hurt his future if the situation doesn’t change. Bud is in his prime RIGHT NOW. He may begin to experience diminishing returns after 2020.

I thought Crawford was neglecting his defence at times and got hit with more punches than necessary against (another) opponent that he knew was no real threat to him. Yup, that was pretty much the case. Not all that different from when Golovkin fought Willie Monroe Jr., Kell Brook, Vanes Martirosyan and Steve Rolls (only some factions of Boxing Twitter didn’t rip Crawford as hard as they did GGG).

 

ONE QUICK QUESTION

Hello, Dougie.
If Terrance Crawford were to retire today, would he have your vote for the hall of fame? Thanks. – Dennis, El Centro, CA

He’s accomplished enough to get on the International Boxing Hall of Fame ballot but as of right now I’d consider him a borderline candidate. He wouldn’t get my vote on the first go-around. I think Crawford still needs a defining fight (or two) vs. legend or a fellow elite boxer in his prime (who also has hall-of-fame potential). That’s what the legacies of two of Bud’s biggest fans over at the Worldwide Leader of Sports have.

Tim Bradley has Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, which helped get him on the ballot and will likely get him inducted one day. Andre Ward has Carl Froch (and to a lesser extent Sergey Kovalev and Mikkel Kessler) on his resume. And we all know that Mr. Can’t Do Wrong will be a first-ballot inductee.

 

THE TEOFIMO EXPRESS HAS ARRIVED

Hey Dougie,Wow, what a way to win a championship! It reminded me of Tito Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya destroying Maurice Blocker and Rafael Ruelas in their first true championship tests, with an exclamation point!

That punch landed like a bomb and Commey never recovered.  Now there’s a good reason to think Lopez has a chance against Lomachenko. I hope they do make the fight as I think this next year to year and a half window will feature them both near their best or at their best. I would let Lopez make a defense of his title first though, he’s still young and maybe needs a fight or two to get a little bit more experienced.

Crawford looked vulnerable and may have opened himself up to a potential matchup with one of the PBC’s guys. I do think Crawford thought he was going to make easy work of Mean Machine (I honestly can’t spell his name) and never expected him to have that good of a plan. He had him studied and timed him really well. He got caught and should’ve lost a point for a clear knockdown.

Do you think he looked vulnerable enough for the Haymon clan to finally start looking at him? I think a Shawn Porter fight would be intriguing. Porter is really tough and big and can make it a tough fight for anyone. How do you see Crawford against the best welterweights? I still favor him over Spence (if he’s healthy), believe it or not. I think styles make fights.

Very good fights overall on ESPN last night. Good end to this magnificent year. Thanks Doug, hope you have a nice holiday! – Juan Valverde

Yo, 2019 ain’t over yet, JV! We still got Danny Jacobs-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (don’t even front and try to act like you’re not rooting for Junior) this Friday, the Tony Harrison-Jermell Charlo rematch on Saturday and the return of Tank Davis after X-mas.

Crawford struggled a little bit vs. a legit (albeit lower top-10) welterweight contender. No big deal. I still view him as the best and most well-rounded/versatile welterweight in the game (and I’d favor him to beat the other elite 147 pounders). Others disagree and view Spence as the No. 1-rated welterweight (including the ratings panels of Ring Magazine and the Transnational Boxing Rankings, which also has Senator Pacquiao ahead of Bud). However, while I’m sure the PBC agrees with Ring and TBRB, I doubt anybody over there suddenly views Crawford as a mark just because Egidijus Kavaliauskas clocked him a few times (and was maybe robbed of a knockdown). The PBC knows Bud is a major f__king badass and would be 100% dialed in for one of their top welterweight dogs, so I don’t think they’re going to be eager to send anybody across the street to ESPN. I hope I’m wrong about this and the two sides can do business in the welterweight division (as they are with their heavyweight stars in February). Like you (and thousands of other boxing fans) I’d love to see Crawford vs. Porter.

Wow, what a way to win a championship! It reminded me of Tito Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya destroying Maurice Blocker and Rafael Ruelas in their first true championship tests, with an exclamation point! That’s incredibly high praise for young master Lopez. If he can accomplish HALF of what Tito and The Golden Boy accomplished during their hall-of-fame careers he’ll be a superstar in this standout-starved era.

That punch landed like a bomb and Commey never recovered. I thought the Ghanaian veteran got up too quick (didn’t take a breath to gather his wits and his legs were definitely not under him) and Lopez, to his credit, did not allow him to recover.

Now there’s a good reason to think Lopez has a chance against Lomachenko. He’s a threat to any lightweight and I think it’s more than a puncher’s threat, but I still favor the reigning Ring champ in that excellent matchup.

I hope they do make the fight as I think this next year to year and a half window will feature them both near their best or at their best. I believe the plan is to stage the lightweight title unification bout as soon as possible in 2020.

I would let Lopez make a defense of his title first though, he’s still young and maybe needs a fight or two to get a little bit more experienced. You might be right, but Team Lopez believes he’s ready NOW, plus they’re not sure how long he can safely make 135 pounds. (Also, I seriously doubt Lopez would be up for fighting anyone other than Loma or one of the young guns from the “other sides of the streets” (Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, Tank), which ain’t gonna happen. The biggest name in the IBF’s top-10 is Lee Selby. ‘Nuff said.)

Crawford looked vulnerable and may have opened himself up to a potential matchup with one of the PBC’s guys. From your lips to God’s (and Al Hayon’s) ears.

I do think Crawford thought he was going to make easy work of Mean Machine (I honestly can’t spell his name) and never expected him to have that good of a plan. Same here. I was never that impressed with the Mean Machine (last name spelled K-A-V-A-L-I-A-U-S-K-A-S), but he showed patience, control and good counter-punching ability in the early going with Crawford. Then again, we should all know by now that Bud is a slow starter. It’s not impossible to put hands on him during the early rounds. Lasting the distance is not so easy. (And the last three opponents to go the championship distance with Crawford – Burns, Beltran and Postol – were totally outclassed.)

Shout out to Omaha, Nebraskaaaaaaaa!

 

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