Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Fighter of the Decade, 2020 Q1 matchups, Canelo criticism)
FIGHTER OF THE DECADE
Long time since I’ve written, but I still cruise the mailbag on the side.
I’m getting excited to see the Fighter of the Decade be awarded. Canelo Alvarez has my vote. Although I’m not a fan of his, I can’t deny what he has achieved.
Wlad Klitschko must also be up for consideration, as is Chocolatito or maybe even Loma. They’d be my top picks, although names like Pacquaio, Mayweather and Ward will be mentioned.
What’s your thoughts and pick for the award. – Jeff, Australia (living in Cambodia)
Given the #salty reaction from the small legion of dedicated Canelo detractors following his selection as 2019 Fighter of the Year (by The Ring, ESPN, CBS Sports, The National, and several other sports media outlets and boxing writers), I honestly believe that his winning Fighter of the Decade would drive some of these already fragile fanatics completely insane.
So for their sake, I hope Canelo doesn’t get it, but there’s a strong case than can be made for him, as you noted, and he is on the Boxing Writers Assoc. of America’s FOTD (Joe Louis) Award ballot along with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko and Andre Ward.
I think the vote will ultimately come down to Mayweather and Alvarez and Floyd will win it because he’s got that 2013 MD victory over the Mexican star. And fair play to him, he’s also got decisions over Pacquiao (2015), Shane Mosley (2010) and Miguel Cotto (2012). I have no problem with Mayweather winning FOTD. The only thing holding Mayweather back is that he basically stopped participating in real boxing matches after 2015, the halfway point of the decade. Meanwhile, Canelo has defeated Cotto, Gennadiy Golvkin, Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev since 2015, winning several middleweight titles (including The Ring 160-pound championship) and a major 175-pound belt.
However, my personal pick is Roman Gonzalez. He fought more from 2010 to 2019 than the BWAA’s candidates – 26 times, compiling a 24-2 record with 20 knockouts. He began the decade as The Ring’s No. 1-rated strawweight and reigning WBA beltholder and he would win major world titles at junior flyweight, flyweights (where he earned The Ring championship) and junior bantamweight. He kicked ass against former, current and future titleholders and more than a dozen legit contenders over four weight classes, defeating likes of Juan Francisco Estrada (108 pounds, 2012 – a two-division champ and current P4P player), Brian Viloria (112, 2015 – a U.S. Olympian, two-division titleholder, former unified flyweight beltholder and borderline HOFer), Akira Yaegashi (112, 2014 – a three-division beltholder and former Ring champ), Carlos Cuadras (115, 2016 – an undefeated, 35-0-1, titleholder at the top of his division) and Edgar Sosa (112, 2015 – a long-reigning former 108-pound titleholder who owns victories over Viloria, Giovanni Segura and Archie Solis). I thought Chocolatito deserved the decision in his epic first encounter with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, but regardless of the controversial verdict, their 12-round war was 2017 Fight of the Year candidate (it should have been picked over award-winner Joshua-Klitschko) and doesn’t detract from the Nicaraguan’s legacy at all in my view.
What can I say? He’s STILL the King in my eyes and he’s gonna prove it to all you non-believers next month against Kal Yafai.
2020 Q1 MATCHUPS
Happy New Years to you & the fam. Look forward to seeing the continued evolution of The Ring & another decade of mailbags.
Aside from the big joint PPV, we have some quietly strong 1st quarter matchups coming up with some compelling storylines. Do you have any early predictions or which way are you leaning in these fights?
Roman/Akhmadaliev (2019 breakout candidate Roman vs the promising & rugged amateur)
Farmer/Diaz (semi-grudge match getting settled)
Colbert/Corrales (good step-up fight that will give us an idea of Colbert’s potential)
GRJ/Tug (Gary poking his head out for his annual appearance vs arguably his biggest test since 2014)
Usyk/Chisora (isn’t this basically signed? This is gonna be a great barometer for Usyk’s style @ HW)
Which of these matchups gets you most fired up? Any other ones we’re overlooking?
Was curious on your thoughts about Subriel Mathias. Does he have the potential to be a dark horse @140? That guy looks huge for the weight & he goes in there to put the hurt on dudes.
Thanks again for the entertainment every Mon & Fri throughout the years. – DJ
Thanks for the kind words, DJ. The mailbag column has been going strong for almost 20 years. It’s a minor miracle it’s lasted this long, and it certainly wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for fans/readers like you.
(Come to think of it, this month marks my 20th year of being a full-time boxing writer/editor. I might have to do something special in terms of new columns on this fine website to commemorate the occasion. Stay tuned.)
Regarding Mathias, he’s a legit junior welterweight contender and formidable in terms of his size and physical strength, but I think he would be outclassed by the top three of the 140-pound division (Ring champ Josh Taylor, unified beltholder Jose Ramirez and former titleholder Regis Prograis). However, those would be good, competitive fights. My only question is where the unbeaten Puerto Rican head and heart at following Maxim Dadashev’s death. Most boxers are never the same after a ring fatality.
Roman/Akhmadaliev (2019 breakout candidate Roman vs the promising & rugged amateur) – Danny Roman, The Ring’s No. 1-rated junior featherweight (and WBA/IBF titleholder), vs. Murodjon Akhmadaliev is hands down the best matchup that you mentioned. I’m most fired up by this bout. Roman is always in good fights and the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist from Uzbekistan will push the tough and experienced Southern Californian to the limit. “MJ” is more than “rugged,” the southpaw is mad talented with excellent balance, footwork and timing. I like his fluid combos and body attack. However, MJ also has a very bold in-and-our aggressive boxing style where he keeps his hands low. He can be timed by an experienced badass like Roman, who’s also got a killer body attack. I favor Roman by close decision in a scorcher.
Farmer/Diaz (semi-grudge match getting settled) – Good matchup of ring-savvy boxers. I like that both junior lightweights have kept busy schedules and will enter the bout with a lot of confidence. We’ll find out how much JoJo learned from his loss to Gary Russel Jr. in this 50-50 showdown. He’s going to have to invest in a strong body attack over the first half of the bout and keep his focus (and pressure) throughout the bout if he wants to earn a decision against the slick and mobile Philly fighter. Farmer won’t melt under the heat. He’s got heart, too. However, I lean slightly toward Diaz on points.
Colbert/Corrales (good step-up fight that will give us an idea of Colbert’s potential) – Agreed. I love this crossroads bout. Jezreel should be a handful for any prospect, especially a 23 year old with just 13 pro bouts (who’s never fought past eight rounds). The Panamanian is awkward, athletic and experienced. The former champ could overwhelm a still-green fighter down the stretch of a 12 rounder, but I think the American up-and-comer prove to be special and earn a decision (or maybe a late TKO).
GRJ/Tug (Gary poking his head out for his annual appearance vs arguably his biggest test since 2014). – I think Russell should be OK as long as he’s 100% focused and not frustrated and distracted over not getting the marquee bouts vs. his fellow PBC standouts Leo Santa Cruz and Tank Davis. But Tug is no joke. If GRJ has begun to slip at all, the Mongolian badass will expose it. Nyambayar is battle tested despite only having 11 pro bouts. But I’m gonna go with the defending WBC beltholder by hard-fought decision. I won’t be surprised if King Tug had GRJ in trouble in spots but I think the experienced and ultra-talented Washington, DC native has the hear and savvy to survive rocky moments and answer back.
Usyk/Chisora (isn’t this basically signed? This is gonna be a great barometer for Usyk’s style @ HW) – This bout has been talked about (mostly by Eddie Hearn) but it’s not a done deal. If it happens, it’s a legit test for Usyk. Derek is the most reliable gatekeeper of the heavyweight division. I think the former cruiserweight champ is the real deal at heavyweight, which doesn’t mean I think he’d whup the Elite Three (Fury, Wilder and AJ), but I believe he’s got the skill and athleticism to contain, outclass and outpoint Del Boy.
To be honest, I’d rather see Usyk vs. legit top-five contender Dillian Whyte. But I’ll gladly take Usyk-Chisora if we get it.
WILDER-FURY 2 UNDERCARD, DAZN
What up Dougie.
I saw Arum mentioned that Top Rank would do one fight on the undercard and PBC will do one as well. Who do you think and who do you want to see on the ppv undercard? Hopefully both fights are interesting and or good matchups.
Sounds like were getting the Mayweather-Pacquiao ppv model. Hopefully the price isn’t $100 like MayPac was. Since DAZN and ESPN+ have come out, I feel like I’m getting ripped off if I purchase a ppv… even if it was a good card.
Speaking of DAZN, they really surprised me in 2019. Between all three “groups” I thought they had the best year by a big margin. Hopefully it continues. Have you heard anything on how they are doing? I’d really hate to see them fold in a couple years, but here in the U.S. unless you’re into boxing or Belator I don’t think sports fans really give it any attention. Thanks. – Ryan, Shaolin, NY
DAZN certainly has its work cut out for it in a very crowded (and splintered) market but the streaming platform went from non-existent to a must-have app for hardcore fight fans in a little more than one year, thanks in part to signing the three biggest attractions in boxing (Canelo, Anthony Joshua and Gennadiy Golovkin) but mostly due to hosting some of the best fights of 2019 (title unification showdowns – Roman-Doheny, Ramirez-Hooker, Taylor-Prograis and Inoue-Donaire) as well as the Upset of the Year (Joshua-Ruiz I).
I think DAZN will remain a major player in U.S. boxing, and continue to grow, at least through 2021 and I believe their young talent – led by Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney and Vergil Ortiz Jr. – will carry them.
I saw Arum mentioned that Top Rank would do one fight on the undercard and PBC will do one as well. Who do you think and who do you want to see on the ppv undercard? Hopefully both fights are interesting and or good matchups. I don’t think it will matter. People – both hardcore and causal fans – are ordering this PPV for the main event. Period. In a perfect world, we’d get Terence Crawford in the co-featured bout in order to fan the flames of an eventual showdown with one of the PBC’s top welterweights (and to add some star power to the show), but he just fought and his contractual purse minimum is too much for an undercard bout (even a PPV co-main). So, I hope we get David Benavidez in action with the PBC’s PPV undercard bout, and Artur Beterbiev from the Top Rank side (hey, the WBC/IBF light heavyweight titleholder says he doesn’t want to fight in China; so why not bring him to Vegas?)
LOMA-LOPEZ, CANELO IS NOT P4P NO. 1
I would like to say a little about the up coming Lopez vs Lomenchenko bout. I think Arum is doing his best to ensure Loma gets a big win to keep him in the P4P running with hopes of a large money PPV in the future. This sport has levels and Loma will circle Lopez , move in and out pot shotting Lopez with soft punches and seeing how Lopez reacts to feints , Slowly Loma will start landing those soft shots with force. Lopez will get frustrated , he will start trying to land bombs. He might look good for a round or so, then Lomachenko will just start landing too much. Lopez will have the reff step in to save him around the 8th if his dad doesn’t throw the towel ( Does’t seem to happen when Dads are in the corner and especialy if the guy has serious power)
Oh and I know this wont get in the Mag, But Canelo as #1 P4P guy is just silly. Your own Magazine Scored Trout 114-113 over Canelo on its live scoring. I had Lara by a couple rounds, The Vast majority had GGG the first fight and even in the 2nd the media scores were like 34-3 and one of em was a PBC writer if I remember. A few did call a draw, and I scored it a draw one time out of 6 times I watched and scored round by round. He also lost to a what 37 yr old guy who lets face it was at his best at 130 lbs, I know its Floyd Mayweather but still. He is truely a five loss boxers that before Trout you needed an AARP card have four losses or be a 140lb guy. I know you seemed to have always looked favorably on Alverez’s abilties but this does not a P4P King make.
Thank You. – Julian Johnson (Boxing Nerd Extraordinaire) Esq, (who has bad spelling)
You sound rather biased against The Ring’s current pound-for-pound king, JJ (and maybe a bit #salty). I was ringside for Canelo-Trout and I scored it 116-111 for Alvarez. (I have no idea where you got The Ring scoring the bout 114-113 for Trout, unless it was former writer Lem Satterfield’s tally after doing his live round-by-round updates. We love Lem, but he had some head-scratching scores with those Round-by-Rounds from time to time.)
I was ringside for Canelo-Lara and I scored it 115-113 for the Mexican star. I thought the fight was a closely contested clash of styles, and it could have gone either way by 1 or 2 points, but the aggressor and the fighter who landed the harder shots (mostly to the body) was Canelo.
Here’s something you’re glossing over: All these fighters you say he lost to were either elite champions or top contenders. Trout was undefeated, arguably the top-rated junior middleweight after outpointing Miguel Cotto. Mayweather and Golovkin are Olympic gold medalists and future hall of famers. Lara was a world amateur champion (as was GGG). He was at the top of the 154-pound division (as he remains to this day). Floyd and Gennadiy were both No. 1 in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings when Canelo fought them. Guess what? When you face the best boxer on the planet, you might lose, you might be held to a draw (that everyone thinks you lost), you might get outclassed (especially when you just turned 23 and only recently stepped up to world-class opposition), you might outworked. It’s OK as long as you keep progressing and improving, which is what Alvarez has done. I really don’t understand why that pisses off so many hardcore heads.
I don’t get all the “you probably won’t print this” or “this won’t make the mailbag or the magazine because I’m gonna s__t on Canelo” taunts I get. And I don’t certainly don’t appreciate the “you’re a Canelo fanboy” label some have tried to brand me. Those goons just can’t stomach respect where it’s due, and most aren’t even paying attention.
I’ve never been a huge Canelo booster. I rode with Team GGG from the moment Canelo won The Ring/WBC/lineal middleweight titles from Miguel Cotto and set off the countdown to their eventual showdown. I picked Golovkin to win both fights, I thought he won their first bout (like most – but not all – observers did), and I scored the rematch a draw. I definitely respect Canelo’s boxing ability. Only fans blinded by #salt have failed to notice his year-to-year improvement, or the fact that no elite boxers (apart from GGG in their first match) have the balls to stay in the pocket with him. Canelo has fought Golovkin (twice), Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev in his last five bouts – the GGG rematch was NOT a bad decision, he clearly outpointed DJ and the Kovalev stoppage was not only historic but a KO of the Year candidate. That IS pound-for-pound level opposition and accomplishments. If he isn’t YOUR No. 1, that’s fine. But if he isn’t in your top five, I think you’ve got an agenda. If you have a huge problem with him being No. 1, I think you’ve got an agenda (and you’re probably just #salty). The majority of ratings panelists from both The Ring and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board have Canelo at No. 1 P4P for a reason. These boxing writers are not Canelo cheerleaders, they’re just giving him his due credit for his obvious skills, the quality of his opposition and his various achievements.
If you think Vasiliy Lomachenko (our current No. 2) should be No. 1, that’s fine. I certainly won’t argue that choice. But bringing up Canelo’s loss to Mayweather is as silly as Loma haters bringing up his loss to Orlando Salido. The Ukrainian wizard is a much better and more experienced pro fighter now than he was in 2014 and he deserves recognition and credit for that improvement. Same with Canelo, who has clearly evolved since 2013 and 2014.
If you think The Monster (our current No. 3) is the P4P Man, that’s also cool. I won’t argue with you at all. But detracting from Canelo for struggling with veteran fighters or for fighting opponents that are older than him is as dumb as dissing Inoue for going life and death with a 10-years-older Nonito Donaire. Sometimes the “old guys” are the top fighters in one’s division. (And by the way, Canelo turned pro when he was 15. He won his first world title when he was 20. EVERYBODY with his level of pro experience and accomplishments is gonna be older than him.) Mayweather fought his share of opponents in their mid-30s (De La Hoya, Carlos Baldomir, Sharmba Mitchell, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley was near 40). You can give him s__t for the Mitchell fight, but we can’t blame him for fighting the others. Baldomir was the WBC/Ring champ at the time. De La Hoya was the biggest star in the sport. JMM and Mosley were future hall of famers. Floyd would have been foolish not to fight them. Was De La Hoya picking on “old guys” when he fought Julio Cesar Chavez (twice), Pernell Whitaker or Bernard Hopkins? No, he wasn’t. JCC was No. 1 at 140 pounds and a Mexican superstar. Sweet Pea was the welterweight champ and the P4P King when Oscar challenged him. B-hop was the middleweight champ when De La Hoya challenged him and if the Philly legend wasn’t No. 1 P4P at the time, he was close to the top spot. Chad Dawson wasn’t “picking on” old heads in their 40s when he fought Antonio Tarver, Glen Johnson and B-Hop (all twice). He was taking on the best of the 175-pound division at the time. It is what it is, and I can go on an on, but I won’t because I can tell that this debate – let’s call it the Canelo Divide – is going to continue with certain fans for a long time.
It’s #Salty Season.
I would like to say a little about the up coming Lopez vs Lomenchenko bout. Knock yourself out, Champ.
I think Arum is doing his best to ensure Loma gets a big win to keep him in the P4P running with hopes of a large money PPV in the future. I don’t think Arum has a horse in that race. He promotes both fighters and both have tremendous star potential. Top Rank comes out ahead no matter who win the fight, which is happening because Loma wants to unify the major 135-pound titles and because Team Lopez is supremely confident that their man can beat the pound-for-pound player. Lopez wants the fight now. Arum isn’t going to hold him off if both fighters are game. He needs marketable fights for Loma and Lopez moves the needle, plus the young gun looked sensational winning his first world title vs. Richard Commey.
This sport has levels and Loma will circle Lopez , move in and out pot shotting Lopez with soft punches and seeing how Lopez reacts to feints , Slowly Loma will start landing those soft shots with force. Lopez will get frustrated , he will start trying to land bombs. He might look good for a round or so, then Lomachenko will just start landing too much. Lopez will have the reff step in to save him around the 8th if his dad doesn’t throw the towel. You seem to have it all figured out. We’ll see. I favor Loma, but I don’t think it will be as simple and “easy” as you describe it.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.