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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (mythical WBSS tournament, fights to watch during coronavirus lockdown)

Roy Jones (left) and Bernard Hopkins fought for the IBF 160-pound title vacated by James Toney in 1993. In 1992, all three future hall of famers were in Ring's middleweight top 10. Photo / THE RING Archive
16
Mar

WBSS AND THE CORONAVIRUS

Hi Doug,

I guess it’s a difficult time for you because there is nothing to report about, so I thought let’s help him with filling up the mailbag.

First question is about the World Boxing Super Series final next week. You got any news if it’s still happening?



I fear it is not going to happen because the Infections in Latvia got up from 3 to 26 in the last few days.

And that will be my first question, if the fight is on, when is the usual time a boxer travels to another country for a fight?

Does Dorticos fly to Latvia a week before the fight or does he stay there for a few weeks for training?

Next question would be like the Mythical Matchups but let’s say we make a mythical WBSS tournament.

Which World Boxing Super Series would you like to have happened in the old days? Stay safe and have a good week. Greetings. – Andy

Boxing columnist and Ring/TBRB Ratings Panelist Adam Abramowitz recently tweeted The Ring’s middleweight rankings from April 1992 (initially mistakenly tweeted as from April 1993), which was as follows: 

  1. Julian Jackson
  2. James Toney
  3. Reggie Johnson
  4. Roy Jones
  5. Mike McCallum
  6. Sumbu Kalambay
  7. Gerald McClellan
  8. Lamar Parks
  9. Bernard Hopkins
  10. Thomas Tate

Julian Jackson was Ring Magazine’s No. 1 middleweight contender in April 1992.

How awesome is that group of 160 pounders? Please give me the top eight – with B-Hop and Ice-T as alternates – in a single-elimination tournament! It’s got it all: bona-fide KO artists (Hawk and G-Man), master technicians (Lights Out and Body Snatcher), slick stylists (Johnson and Kalambay), and athletic boxer-punchers (RJ and Kid Fire). Jones, who clearly had the most natural talent, has to be a slight favorite, but at this point in his career (still a year away from winning his first world title vs. Hopkins) was he ready for the bone-crunching power of Jackson or amateur rival McClellan? Was he ready for the defensive-offensive prowess of Toney, or the sick-and-move game of a Kalambay or Johnson? I know Jones eventually beat Toney in ’94, McCallum in ‘96 and Johnson in ’99, but he was more mature by then and those bouts were at heavier weights. What happens vs. a middleweight version of Toney that isn’t weight drained, or a still-close-to-prime version of McCallum that isn’t 40 years old, or a lighter (160 as opposed to 175 pounds), nimbler version of Johnson?  

I guess it’s a difficult time for you because there is nothing to report about, so I thought let’s help him with filling up the mailbag. Thank you for helping me out in my time of need. (Seriously, you’re very thoughtful. I wrote that with only 30% sarcasm.)

First question is about the World Boxing Super Series final next week. You got any news if it’s still happening? It’s still on, but it won’t happen on March 21 as originally scheduled. It was moved (at the behest of the Latvian government due to coronavirus-related safety concerns) to May 16. It feels like this particular WBSS final has been put off at least three times due to various factors. I’ll be glad when Briedis and Dorticos are finally in the ring, and I have a hunch that their Ring Magazine championship showdown will be worth the wait.

I fear it is not going to happen because the infections in Latvia got up from 3 to 26 in the last few days. No event is going to be set in stone with this pandemic, but the plan is to move it back to May, and hopefully by then the spread of the virus will have been contained enough to allow for large gatherings.

And that will be my first question, if the fight is on, when is the usual time a boxer travels to another country for a fight? Old timers say 14 days in advance to be sure that the fighter gets acclimated to a particular climate/environment. Some fighters set up the final part of their training camps in or near the town of a travel fight, which is smart, but most complete their training camps at home and travel six or seven days out from fight night.

Does Dorticos fly to Latvia a week before the fight or does he stay there for a few weeks for training? Only the KO Doctor can answer that question.

 

LEGENDARY FIGHTS FOR VIRUS TIME

Hi Dougie,

What’s up buddy?

Long time reader, first time writer, great admirer of your vast boxing knowledge and your witty comments.

I consider myself a hardcore fan of contemporary professional boxing but have definitely missed some legendary fights of the last 2-3 decades.

Now I’m stuck at home for the next couple of weeks due to a forced home office mode that coronavirus brought about and I think to myself it would be definitely a right moment to make up for the lost time and get up to date with some legendary fights every respected boxing fan should have watched.

What would be your TOP 20 to watch during this sad coronavirus time?

Keep up this great mailbag work and stay healthy! Warm regards. – Bartek, Amsterdam

Good question, Bartek. Right off the bat, allow me to suggest Roberto Duran’s last hurrah against Iran Barkley. (That fight was in 1989, so I hope that isn’t going back too far for you. I notice you mentioned fights of the last three decades, which would go back to the 1990s. Whatever, I won’t mention any fight older than this gem.)

Barkley-Duran is a modern classic. Photo / The Ring archive

The Ring’s ’89 Fight of the Year was a significant upset (the 37-year-old veteran lifting the WBC middleweight title from a prime “Blade” Barkley, the man who KO’d the man who had obliterated Duran in ’84), a masterclass from a truly great-but-past-prime fighter and a monumental crossroads struggle. Duran displayed brilliant ring generalship and guts, while Barkley arguably put forth the performance of his career (and won the fight on one of the official scorecards). I never tire of watching this fight!

Other Ring Magazine Fight of the Year showdowns from the ’90s and 2000s that I never tire of watching include Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor I (breathtaking/heartbreaking elite-level action and drama), Evander Holyfield-Riddick Bowe I (if you watch this epic rumble and then watch Ruiz-Joshua II or Wilder-Fury I or II, you’ll be disgusted with today’s heavyweights), Michael Carbajal-Chiquita Gonzalez I (the knockout in this 108-pound title unification shootout STILL gives me goosebumps), Jorge Castro-John David Jackson (it aint’ over ‘till it’s over), Arturo Gatti-Gabriel Ruelas (definition of a shootout), Erik Morales-Marco Antonio Barrera I (the first great fight I covered from press row – 20 years went by fast), Micky Ward-Emanuel Burton/Augustus (fringe contenders on basic cable can make for awesome fights), Ward-Gatti I (Steve Kim and I were in Vegas for Kostya Tszyu-Ben Tackie, a bigger and more lively crowd gathered at Mandalay Bay’s sportsbook bar to watch HBO’s tape-delayed broadcast from Connecticut), Barrera-Morales III (all of press row stood and applauded during the final 30 seconds of the final chapter of their modern classic trilogy), Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I (there’s no cheering on press row… unless a fighter pulls some major f__king badass s__t like Chico did that unforgettable night), and Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez III (I was in so much awe of what I witnessed from ringside that night I didn’t know how to being my deadline story… nothing I wrote would do it justice).

Barrera-Marquez. AP Photo/Eric Jamison

Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II wasn’t Fight of the Year (it was beat out by Vazquez-Marquez III in 2008), but damn it’s worth watching if you haven’t seen it. So is James Toney-Mike McCallum I and Marquez-Barrera (two hotly contested, high-speed chess matches between master technicians with BALLS). Oh, and Felix Trinidad-Fernando Vargas wasn’t Fight of the Year, but goodness it was epic (2000 was a very good year).

Some one-sided masterclass performances worth checking out, include Roy Jones-Toney, Floyd Mayweather-Diego Corrales, Barrera-Naseem Hamed and Bernard Hopkins-Felix Trinidad (2001 was also a good year). I think that’s 20. Utilize YouTube to its fullest and enjoy!

 

 

UNDERWHELMING UNDERCARDS

Hi Dougie,

Been reading the mailbag for a couple of years now and love how impartial your views are which is refreshing from some of the other sites, publications, podcasts I read/listen too, so felt obligied to write in for the first time.

One thing I have been noticing over the last few years is the quality of undercards from Eddie Hearn. While I am starting to get annoyed with the amount of PPV events over here, Hearn does provide value for money the majority of the time. Frank Warren on the other hand has always put on the most underwhelming undercards i.e. Warrington v Frampton, yes, the main event was awesome, but the undercard was an absolute snooze fest!! What’s your thoughts, do you think Hearn’s approach will force a re-think from other promoters?

Also, regarding AJ v Pulev do you feel this is a competitive match up? AJ has the age and physical attribute advantages, nice confidence booster for AJ to put the Ruiz June nightmare firmly in the back seat? Thanks. – John

I don’t give Pulev much of a shot to upset Joshua, but given his experience, toughness and new coach (respected veteran Joe Goossen), he’s not somebody that AJ can overlook, and I think the Bulgarian will make it a fight for five or six rounds. But I expect Joshua to bust him up and break him down by Round 7 or 8, and I believe he can score a late stoppage if he presses the issue (which I think he needs to in order to rekindle the excitement and prove to his legion of detractors that Ruiz didn’t turn him into a safety first boxer).

The Daniel Roman-TJ Doheny war was on the Sor Rungvisai-Estrada II undercard. Photo courtesy of DAZN

Regarding Hearn’s undercards, I agree with you 100%. Sir Eddie is out to make a buck like any other promoter but he believes in giving fans VALUE for their money. The most stacked cards that I covered last year (most notably Sor Rungvisai-Estrada II in my hometown of Inglewood and Joshua-Ruiz I in my birthplace of New York City) were Matchroom USA promotions. And the best undercards I watched on TV were usually Hearn shows (or at least co-promotions). He’s started 2020 off right with his Frisco, Texas promotion (headlined by Mikey Garcia-Jessie Vargas, but made an unforgettable evening thanks to the co-feature: Chocolatito’s triumphant return vs. Kal Yafai). I like Hearn’s savvy and attitude, some of which he gets from his old man, but most of which I chalk up to him being young and hungry. The old timers like Warren and Bob Arum are as sharp and shrewd as ever (witness their co-promotional gamble with Tyson Fury), but they’re going to focus more on a few stars that make up the headliners of their biggest shows than on making deep and competitive undercards for every event. They don’t have the time or energy for every fighter on each card and they know that most fans (I’m talking about the casuals) are only interested in the main event.

Will Hearn’s approach force “re-think” from other promoters? Only if the fans (including the casuals) support his shows in force.

 

WHO’S THE NO. 2 LIGHTWEIGHT IN THE WORLD?

Hello Dougie,
I hope you and your family are well during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Two quick questions.

1) The lightweight division must be the hottest weight category in boxing. Loma is the king. Who ranks 2nd – Lopez, Haney, Tank, Campbell, Linares, Easter Jr, Garcia?

2) We’ve got three huge heavyweight fights scheduled (barring any cancellation) with Whyte-Povetkin, Usyk-Chisora and AJ-Pulev. Will you be coming? It would be good to see you on this side of the pond.

Kind regards. – Hasan, Oxfordshire

I haven’t been on your side of the Pond since early 2016 when I was in London for a leg of the Canelo-Amir Khan press tour and Manchester for the Frampton-Quigg showdown. I enjoyed my brief stay and loved the culture of the cities and the atmosphere of the boxing events (despite the bitter cold and drunken crazies at the fight). I’m looking forward to the heavyweight bouts you mentioned but their not big enough events to get me to fly across the Atlantic (especially during a pandemic). If Fury-Joshua were to be miraculously made this year (or next), and it lands in the UK (as opposed to Saudi Arabia), you can expect to see me ringside (or wherever the promoters decide to stick me – but I’ll be there!)

Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko side-by-side after Lopez’s title-winning victory over Richard Commey.

The lightweight division is indeed hot. The Ring champ is a top-three pound-for-pound-rated stud and the lead titleholders/contenders include immensely talented young guns and skilled/seasoned veterans.

Who’s No. 2, just below Lomachenko? According to Ring Magazine, ESPN.com AND the Transnational Boxing Rankigns, it’s the newly crowned IBF titleholder Teofimo Lopez (our No. 1 contender, ESPN’s and TBRB’s No. 2 contender). Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the crossroads clash between the top two lightweights tentatively scheduled for May 30 in NYC can stay on that date.

 

 

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

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