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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (Jaime Munguia, Joe Smith Jr., Claressa Shields)

Jaime Munguia's jab was a key weapon against very tough and game Gary O'Sullivan. Photo by Tom Hogan
13
Jan

GOOD FIGHT WEEKEND

Hi Doug,

My first time chiming in for the new year. Lots of action this weekend so I will just comment on a few. On Friday Claressa Shields fought for the WBO junior middleweight title. I have followed her thru the Olympics and the pros. I admire and respect what she has accomplished and I hope she continues to improve and win but I was underwhelmed with her performance Friday night. She won but I just wasn’t that excited about it and I would in no way rank her as the GWOAT boxer. (Just who that might be is another debate). For me the best fight of the night was Alicia Napolean-Espinosa and Elin Cederroos….now THAT was a fight. One knockdown, both fighters bleeding and a total punch fest. They both left it all in the ring…and the judges got the decision right for Cederoos. I see a good future opponent for Shields.

On Saturday night we had Joe Smith and Jesse Hart at light heavyweight. The fight had all of the ingredients for a good rumble with some bad blood between the fighters but when the fight was joined it wasn’t quite what I expected. I had not seen Hart before but from his record I really anticipated more from him. He seemed to have nothing to offer except to back up and throw the occasional counter. As for Smith…yeah, he won but I think we might have already seen the best of him. His spectacular wins over Hopkins and Fonfara thrust him into the spotlight but on Saturday he looked nothing like that guy as he just walked in winging right hands never setting his big shot up with a hard jab. I think the fight could have been much easier for him if he had. I like Joe but I give him no chance against Beterbiev, Bivol or Gvozdyk.

Just my take.

Finally…I live in a pro football and hockey town (with a lot of college sports thrown in). We rarely get a big time boxing event here. On February 15 local guy Caleb Plant will be defending his IBF super middleweight title at Bridgestone Arena. It will be carried live on Fox but I have scored ringside seats. Can’t wait.

Any chance you will make it to Music City for this one? – David, Nashville

Not for that fight, David (Happy New Year, by the way), but you can count on my being ringside for whenever Plant takes on fellow titleholder David Benavidez in one of the best 168-pound style clashes that can be made.

On Friday Claressa Shields fought for the WBO junior middleweight title. She’s racking up those titles fast, ain’t she? I’m biased, of course, but I think The Ring title is the shining star of her belt collection. I was stoked to see that she let Shakur Stevenson carry it during her ring walk.

I admire and respect what she has accomplished, and I hope she continues to improve and win but I was underwhelmed with her performance Friday night. It was rather monotonous, but I think the quality of her opposition had everything to do with that. Habazin was game but she just didn’t have anything to threaten Shields with. I figure part of the strategy of her dropping down to 154 pounds (beyond marketing) was to position her for a high-profile showdown with undisputed welterweight champ Cecilia Braekhus, but I don’t think we’ll see her in good scrap until she goes back up to 168 pounds where the women can handle her physical strength better.

Undisputed female middleweight champion Claressa Shields. Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp/Trappfotos

Undisputed female middleweight champion Claressa Shields. Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp/Trappfotos

She won but I just wasn’t that excited about it and I would in no way rank her as the GWOAT boxer. (Just who that might be is another debate). She’s the undisputed/Ring Magazine middleweight champ, a three-division beltholder, and either the best active female boxer, pound for pound, or in the top three or four of the women’s mythical rankings. That’s impressive for someone with 10 pro bouts. We can all debate whether she’s the “GWOAT” at or near the end of her career.

For me the best fight of the night was Alicia Napolean-Espinosa and Elin Cederroos….now THAT was a fight. One knockdown, both fighters bleeding and a total punch fest. That was a very good scrap. It zipped by. (I know there’s a groundswell of anti-2-minute round sentiment among segments of hardcore fandom, but I like the fast past of competitive women’s bouts.)

They both left it all in the ring…and the judges got the decision right for Cederoos. I see a good future opponent for Shields. I’d like to see a rematch and Shields eventually fight BOTH super middleweights.

On Saturday night we had Joe Smith and Jesse Hart at light heavyweight. The fight had all of the ingredients for a good rumble with

some bad blood between the fighters but when the fight was joined it

wasn’t quite what I expected. One guy showed up ready to fight, the other, well… he had a hard time dealing with that (at least to the eyes of everyone but judge James Kinney).

Joe Smith W 10 Jesse Hart (Photo by Mikey William-Top Rank)

I had not seen Hart before but from his record I really anticipated more from him. He’s not a complete fighter or a slick boxer or the most naturally gifted, but he’s got heart (no pun intended) and solid pro experience. He’s usually the aggressor, but against this dialed-in version of Smith, who applied harder pressure than I’ve ever seen from him, Hart was instantly forced into retreat mode. The Philly native quickly lost his mojo and was not able to get back during the fight. Smith’s power, pressure, physical strength and underrated punch selection was just too much for Hart to deal with.

As for Smith…yeah, he won but I think we might have already seen the best of him. I don’t know about that. The version of Smith I saw vs. Hart was an improvement (in form and focus) from previous bouts. Who’s to say he can’t continue to improve?

His spectacular wins over Hopkins and Fonfara thrust him into the spotlight but on Saturday he looked nothing like that guy as he just walked in winging right hands never setting his big shot up with a hard jab. I thought it was good for him to go rounds and rely on more than just his one-punch power. He exhibited good stamina and I thought he threw more than just a “winging right hand.”

I like Joe but I give him no chance against Beterbiev, Bivol or Gvozdyk. Just my take. Well, Bivol already outpointed Joe (in his previous bout last March), and yeah, Beterbiev and The Nail would be big favorites to beat the Long Islander, but I wouldn’t totally count him out in either matchup. We have no idea where Gvozdyk’s psyche and spirit is after the Stevenson tragedy and Beterbiev beatdown. And while Beterbiev is now viewed as the juggernaut of the 175-pound division, he’s right there to be hit and Smith can crack hard enough to hurt the Russian tank.

 

MUNGUIA IS IMPROVING

Hey Doug,

I watched the Munguia fight last night and came away somewhat impressed by what Erik Morales’ been able to accomplish polishing the young brawler. Even though I still think he’s a work in progress, the good news is that he’s very young and if managed carefully and let him fully develop, he can be a very good champion for the sport, especially for the Mexican fans that need that middle of the pack fan friendly guy to root for. Canelo should be that guy but he’s way too polarizing to fit that place left by the Marquez, Barrera’s, Morales of the past.

Some of the improvements that I saw included head and body movement, bending, changing it up in speed and variation to his shots.  Those jabs to the body and hooks were spot ok Terrible and he was pulling them off great. Yes, he had O’Sullivan in front of him, not GGG, but still, Spike is a good contender and a good way to experiment with these new moves to get him ready for the big boys.

What do you think of his performance? Did you see what I saw? Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde

I saw improvements – mainly his jab and the speed variation, which I liked – but not as much as you and a few others, including Steve Kim, evidently observed judging by your glowing Tweets during and immediately after the fight. The head and upper-body movement was there but he still looked a bit ponderous and vulnerable (to be hit, not hurt, the kid’s got a solid chin). He doesn’t have the most nimble feet I’ve seen in the middleweight division. But, hey, it’s not that big of deal. The young man comes to fight. He’s got an engine and his offense is getting “wiser” under the watch of El Terrible (and Fernando Fernandez).  

It was an entertaining fight and solid performance. Period. I’m not sure if it makes Munguia a bona-fide middleweight contender, even lower top-10 (I think The Ring’s current No. 10, Liam Williams, looks a little better than the TJ native), but it doesn’t matter. Munguia has a name, a decent following and an action style so he’ll get the big names in the 160-pound division. 

I’m not sure if Munguia can win a major title at 160 pounds but I’ll enjoy watching him try, and facing fellow aggressive contenders (such as Ryota Murata and Tureano Johnson).

 

MUNGUIA AND THE MIDDLEWEIGHTS

Hi Doug,

I hope you had a good start into 2020.

Yesterday, I watched the DAZN Fight Night with Jaime Munguia’s Middleweight Debut. It was a fun Fight to watch and you could see glimpses of Jaime improving, he worked good with the Jab and showed his Power again.

But he still has ways to go, he still gets hit too often and this could get costly at this crowded and strong Weight class.

If he would fight a big hitter like Derev I fear he could get knocked out.

I also see Charlo ahead of him and I assume his best shot at a Belt would be that Canelo drops his WBA belt and let Jaime fight for it.

A Fight against Boo Boo Andrade could be interesting as Andrade is a good technician but lacks the Power of other Middleweights. I could see him get overwhelmed by Munguia, what do you think?

I am glad that we finally have a Date for the WBSS Cruiserweight Final.

Did Breidis forfeit his Belt so he could stay in the Tournament or how did that work out?

I hope we get News about Series 3 in the WBSS soon. Did you hear anything about a timetable? Greeting. – Andy

All I’ve heard is that there will be a Season 3 for the WBSS, which is great news, and an announcement is coming “soon” (probably before the March 21 cruiserweight final in Riga).

Maris Briedis did indeed abdicate his WBO title in order to proceed directly with the WBBS final vs. IBF beltholder Yunier Dorticos, so their showdown won’t be a title unification bout BUT the vacant Ring Magazine cruiserweight championship will be on the line, so there’s that.

I watched the DAZN Fight Night with Jaime Munguia’s Middleweight Debut. It was a fun Fight to watch and you could see glimpses of Jaime improving, he worked good with the Jab and showed his Power again. He chopped down a gritty and game middleweight veteran. Despite O’Sullivan’s one-round KO loss to David Lemieux (who probably weighed 180 pounds on fight night), the mustachioed Irishman is not an easy night out, even for an aggressive, heavy handed fighter like Munguia.

But he still has ways to go, he still gets hit too often and this could get costly at this crowded and strong Weight class. He’s definitely more Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. than he is Canelo, but hey, Junior’s made a nice living in this hard sport. So can Mungy.

Gennadiy Golovkin and Sergiy Derevyanchenko went to war in a 12-round test of manhood. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

If he would fight a big hitter like Derev I fear he could get knocked out. I see Derevyanchenko outboxing/outclassing Munguia, not beating him down to a stoppage. I could be wrong, but I think the Mexican’s chin can take whatever the Ukrainian contender can dish out. And keep in mind that Derev is no spring chicken. Everyone talks about the punishment that he dished out on GGG but Golovkin did a number on him too. That fight may have taken something out of SD. If so, that would benefit the much younger, fresher Munguia if they fought.

I also see Charlo ahead of him and I assume his best shot at a Belt would be that Canelo drops his WBA belt and let Jaime fight for it. I would definitely favor Jermall over Mungy, but damn, that would be a sweet event in Houston (or any major city in Texas). I doubt Canelo would drop his WBA title for Munguia, but if he did, the WBA would make its “regular” beltholder, Murata, the full champion and I think the Japanese star is even money vs. Munguia.

A Fight against Boo Boo Andrade could be interesting as Andrade is a good technician but lacks the Power of other Middleweights. I could see him get overwhelmed by Munguia, what do you think? I don’t see it happening unless Munguia can land a punch to the jaw or temple that wobbles Andrade for an extended period (and the WBO beltholder seems to have reliable whiskers) or a body shot that takes his wind and legs for a round. My pick would be Boo Boo by unanimous decision. I think he would outjab and outmaneuver the 23 year old.

 

BEST REFEREE NON-STOPPAGES

Hey Doug,

I have an interesting question/topic for you that I don’t know if you have ever had broached here in your awesome mailbag. Since we are just a little over a month away from the highly anticipated rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, it’s an especially timely one given the circumstances of their first encounter. Jack Reiss did an amazing job officiating that fight and NOT waiving the fight off in the 12th round after Wilder dropped Fury and instead electing to give the Gypsy King a count. Evidenced by what ensued subsequent to Fury rising just in the nick of time, Reiss’ decision in retrospect proved to be a great one. I’m sure Wilder wasn’t thrilled with it and would have loved to have gotten the W via TKO instead of settling for a gift draw lol. This has to go down as one of the greatest non stoppages in modern history, which begs the question — what are some of the best non stoppages you can recall in modern history or even of all-time since you are a boxing historian. The other one that immediately comes to mind is Steve Smoger’s non stoppage of the first of two middleweight championship fights between Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik. In the 2nd round Taylor hurt Pavlik badly from a punch behind the ear which dropped him and Pavlik subsequently did a dance around the ring, doing his best Fred Astaire impersonation. When one considers what ensued later in the fight subsequent to that non stoppage, it was even better than the non stoppage by Reiss. So, what are some of the other great non stoppages that you can recall? Keep up the amazing work!

Mythical Matchups:

Salvador Sanchez vs Vasyl Lomachenko at 126

Mayweather vs Lomachenko at 130

Michael Spinks vs Bob Foster at 175

Deontay Wilder vs Earnie Shavers

Deontay Wilder vs Wlad and Vitali Klitschko

Gene Tunney vs Bill Conn at 175

Marciano vs Frazier

Darrell from the Valley in Cali

Hey, Darrell! Good question. I’ll get to the MMs first:

Salvador Sanchez vs Vasyl Lomachenko at 126Sanchez by close decision over 15 rounds (maybe controversial decision if it’s a 12 rounder)

Mayweather vs Lomachenko at 130Mayweather by close, maybe split decision, perhaps decided by a knockdown scored by Floyd, courtesy of a well-timed straight right.

Michael Spinks vs Bob Foster at 175Jinx by split decision, his awkwardness and mobility frustrates the Explosive Thin Man, while his power keeps Foster honest

Deontay Wilder vs Earnie ShaversWilder by mid-rounds KO

Deontay Wilder vs Wlad and Vitali KlitschkoIt’s a toss-up with Wladdy, but I’ll go with Baby Bro by mid-round KO; and Big Bro by late TKO

Gene Tunney vs Bill Conn at 175Tunney by close decision

Marciano vs FrazierSmokin’ Joe by up-from-the-canvas late stoppage (due to cuts and facial swelling/lacerations)

Now to your question, the best non-stoppage that I can think of (without doing some research) is the first round of the classic split-draw between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao, The Ring featherweight champ, dropped Marquez, the IBF and WBA titleholder, THREE TIMES within the opening three minutes of the fight. He may have broken the Mexican technician’s nose with the second knockdown. After the third knockdown, which deposited Marquez into the ropes, he laid flat on his back and covered his face with his gloves (an action that would indicate to some refs that he had had enough). However, veteran referee Joe Cortez was more fair than firm with JMM, and gave the unified bletholder the benefit of the doubt.

The courageous manner in which Marquez clawed his way back into the fight with guts, guile and skill proved that Cortez made the right call, but more than a few referees would have waved it off immediately after the third knockdown in Round 1. Had that happened the boxing world would likely never have witnessed one of the greatest rivalries and multi-fight series of the modern era because there really wouldn’t have been a need for a return bout had the PacMan blown Marquez out in one round. Marquez wasn’t a popular fighter at the time (even among Mexican fans – I know some of you younger readers will find this hard to believe, but take my word for it, I covered JMM going back to his Forum Boxing days during the ’90s). He didn’t have a fan base that would’ve cried “foul” (thanks to a late punch landed by Pac while JMM was tangled in the ropes after the third knockdown) or claim that their man could have continued.

Imagine not getting that sensational rematch (one of the top 20 fights I’ve ever covered live) or the breathtaking, mind-numbing one-hitter-quitter in the climax of their epic fourth encounter?

Hands down in my mind, best “non-stoppage” (of the modern era at least) occurred during the opening round of Pacquiao-Marquez I.

 

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