Dougie’s Monday mailbag (‘90s Mythical Matchups, boxing books, PEDs)
With the boxing world (the world in general) shutting down at the moment, can we go back to the ’90s for some MMs? Some of these fights were close to being made, some I believe even signed but fell through for whatever reason.
Also why was Jones DQ’d in his first fight with Griffin, but Bowe wasn’t against Mathis? I remember reading at the time Larry Hazzard wasn’t on very good terms with Jones camp. Thanks mate. – Will
Well, that’s one way to explain the difference in the official verdicts of two high-profile Atlantic City fights that ended with a boxing star hitting an underdog when he was down – claim that the boxing commissioner for New Jersey had it out for one of the “A-sides.”
However, I think it all comes down to the circumstances and the referees’ calls. Both “B-sides,” who were giving the odds favorites difficult fights by outworking/outquicking them on the inside (especially Griffin, who did so with more power, technique and purpose), took a voluntary knee after getting rocked by power shots. Mathis got hit with an immediate right cross from Bowe, who was already right on top of him. There was a little bit of room between Griffin and Jones when he took his knee. There was a “beat” of time before Jones stepped in and landed a right cross AND a left hook (as Griffin was looking at him like “Dude, you just hit me while I was down”) – TWO PUNCHES with a “beat” between them.
Referee Tony Perez ruled that both punches were intentional, and Jones was disqualified. Referee Arthur Mercante (75 years old and very old school – he was probably cool with the sucker-punch hook Jack Dempsey used to beat Jack Sharkey) did not like what he saw from Bowe, who maintained that the punch was unintentional, and told ringside commissioners (including Hazzard) that he thought the late hit was deliberate but would not penalize him because it happened “during the heat of battle.” Like I said, Mercante was old school.
I recall thinking that Bowe, who was clearly frustrated as Jones was vs. Griffin, could have been DQ’d and probably should have been, but I wasn’t mad at him or the official verdict because I could see a scenario in which Bowe thought Mathis was trying to duck or weave under his left when the shorter man took a knee. Mathis had that bobbing/crouching style when he was in close, he’d even attempt a poor-man’s Pernell Whitaker “dipsey-do” while in range of his opponents.
Your 1990s Mythical Matchups (we’re going to be doing A LOT of these during this COVID-19 quarantine time, aren’t we?):
Bowe-Lewis 95 – I favor Big Daddy by mid-rounds KO if the fight were to take place during the first half of 1995 when Lewis was still rebounding from the Oliver McCall stoppage; I favor Lewis if it were to happen over the second half of the year when the 1988 Olympic champ had recaptured his form/confidence (and added wrinkles to his game under Emanuel Steward’s guidance – see his dominant performance vs. Tommy Morrison), probably by late TKO. (I think Bowe likely peaked with his mid-’95 stoppage of Jorge Gonzalez and begun to burn out by late ’95 when he had to get up from a knockdown to stop Holyfield in their rubbermatch. He seemed like a spent bullet vs. Andrew Golota in ’96, and retired after those punishing DQ victories.
Chavez-Tszyu 95 – I’m gonna go with the Mexican icon by close, maybe controversial decision. Chavez was clearly beginning to fade, and definitely burning the candle on both ends, by 1995, but he was still world class and defending his WBC 140-pound title against legit contenders Giovanni Parisi and David Kamau. However, do back and watch that Kamau fight. He definitely got some help from the judges. Tszyu had just won his first world title (the IBF belt) in ’95. He wasn’t the King yet, but he was very confident, deadly accurate and he could crack, unlike Parisi (and definitely harder than Kamau). Chavez would have to dig deep to beat the undefeated Russian-Aussie.
Quartey-Whitaker 97 – Whitaker was well removed from his prime by this year, but he was still the WBC welterweight champ, the pound-for-pound kings and a universally recognized ATG. The underprepared version that overlooked Diobely Hurtado in January 1997 might get outworked and outpointed by a focused Bazooka, but the dialed-in and motivated version that gave a prime Oscar De La Hoya fits in April would outpoint Quartey. I’ve got to assume that Sweet Pea would take the unbeaten (but somewhat stiff and straight-up) Ghanaian world titleholder seriously, so I’m going with Whitaker on points.
Trinidad-Quartey 98 – Great matchup that was indeed close to being made (when Tito and HBO momentarily thought he was free from Don King). I’ve got Trinidad winning a close but unanimous decision in a very good fight on the strength of at least two knockdowns, greater activity, and more accurate (and creative) power-punch combinations. However, Quartey’s jab would trouble him throughout the fight and his physical strength would be a factor in the trenches.
Jones-Benn 95 – Huge fan of the Dark Destroyer, who would have had a slight puncher’s chance in the first round or two, but I don’t think any 168 pounder that has come around since the inception of the super middleweight division in 1984 could beat the version of Jones from November 1994 (when he outpointed James Toney) through ’96. RJJ by brutal mid-round KO.
Mosley-Johnson 98 – Another great matchup (at lightweight, I presume, and I also presume you’re talking about Stevie “Lil Bub Bad” Johnston — last name spelled with a “t”). This would be a hotly contested fight as Shane and Stevie were amateur rivals at 139 pounds. Mosley brought the speed and power, Johnston brought the slickness and southpaw savvy to the matchup. Both were tough as nails, had mad heart and tremendous workrate, but I gotta go with Sugar Shane, who had his best year as a lightweight in 1998. I think Mosley would bang out a close but unanimous decision in a fight that features a lot of trench warfare.
Tyson-Lewis 96 – Iron Mike had a short window to overwhelm Lewis in the early rounds, but I think the 1996 version of Lewis (who only fought once that year, a 10-round gut check vs. Ray Mercer) was mentally ready for a big challenge, while the post-prison version of Tyson was fighting on muscle memory by the time. Lewis by late stoppage.
Jones-Michalczewski 97 – Unpopular opinion but I think Jones lost a step when he moved from super middleweight to light heavyweight, and he was still acclimating to fighting legit 175-pound contenders in 1997 (when he lost via DQ to Montell Griffin, who was really giving it to the HBO star before getting hurt, taking a knee and then getting fouled). Dariusz was at his peak in ’97, when he unified three belts by decisioning Vergil Hill. I think the Germany based Polish Tiger would survive some wobbly moments, inflict some wobbly moments on Jones, put the American uber-talent into a defensive shell against the ropes for long spells, and outwork the odds and media favorite over 12 intense rounds to earn a close maybe split decision.
QUARANTINE FIGHTS… AND BOOKS!
I liked your list of “must-see” boxing from the past few decades; I’d also add Bradley-Provodnikov and the first Morales-Pacquiao fight to the stay-at-home viewing queue. Although having just re-watched Trinidad-Vargas, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t FOTY – it had everything, elite-level action with major swings, fouls, drama…this is an outrage! I had to look it up; what else could have been better than that in 2000?
You weren’t kidding, 2000 was a great year for boxing fans.
What about books, do you have a list of good fighter/trainer/insider biographies? – Jay V.
I don’t have a list of boxing biographies because I just have too many books in my house, and I’ve read more than I can even recall. But I’m happy to give you the titles (and authors) of the most recent boxing books I’ve read (over the past two or three years):
Pound for Pound: A biography of Sugar Ray Robinson by Herb Boyd (with Ray Robinson II), Once There Were Giants: The Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing by Jerry Izenberg, Ali Vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment by Josh Gross, The Hate Game: Benn, Eubank and boxing’s bitterest rivalry by Ben Dirs, and Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing by George Kimball.
I was recently mailed a box of new boxing books (plus one reprint) by Hamilcar
Publications and I can guarantee that you’ll savor each one, but I suggest you start with the first U.S. printing of Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing by Donald McRae (first published, except
for Chapter 15, in Great Britain by Mainstream Publishing Company Ltd in 1996). It’s regarded as one of the best overviews of the business of boxing ever written. Once you’re done with that modern classic, by all means check out Sporting Blood: Tales From the Dark Side of Boxing by Carlos Acevedo (an excerpt of which is in the current issue of The Ring Magazine), Berserk: The Shocking Life and Death of Edwin Valero (which will be excerpted in the next issue of The Ring Magazine) and Slaughter In The Streets: When Boston Became Boxing’s Murder Capital by Don Stradley, The Ghost of Johnny Tapia by Paul Zanon (with Teresa Tapia), Off The Ropes: The Ron Lyle Story by Candace Toft (I can’t wait to sink my teeth into that one), and Jacobs Beach: The Mob, The Garden & The Golden Age of Boxing by Kevin Mitchell. Be warned: These aren’t sunny tales for the light-hearted fanboy that glorify the subjects or the sport. For the most part, these are grim and gritty stories, but they are very well written. Enjoy! (I know I will.)
WILL DAZN SURVIVE?
Hey Dougie –
My best to you and all The Ring and mailbag family.
Will DAZN be the major combat-sports “victim” of the Epidemic?
How can a subscriber, event-oriented streamer survive if events can’t be held?
Any speculation or word on DAZN’s plans, or how combat-sports might be able to proceed in general?
Private planes delivering risk-accepting combatants to no-crowd fights from TV studios in non-locked-down locales? (like NWA wrestling on TBS in the ’80s!). Good Health! – Brock, San Diego
Likewise, Brock. Going the “fanless” TV studio route is one possible solution for not only DAZN, but other networks that have multi-fight, multi-year boxing programming deals with major promoters (ESPN with Top Rank, FOX/Showtime with the PBC). However, even that scenario will take a month or two as fighters need time to train for their fights and many are not in a situation where they can get good work in at a gym. Also, the TV studio only works for preliminary/prospect-level boxers, not the higher-profile fighters – and certainly not the superstars like Canelo and Anthony Joshua – who are used to headlining events held at major arenas where the gate revenue is essential to the financial success of the ventures.
You ask a fair question because combat sports is the primary programming for DAZN in the U.S. Showtime and FOX have movies and shows, while FS1 and ESPN have original programming outside of live sports to fall back on. DAZN has some original programming but not enough to keep hold of the casual fight fan. However, they can retain the hardcores by rescheduling attractive matchups like Regis Prograis vs. Maurice Hooker and by making as many big fights for the late summer and fall seasons as possible.
If they can get Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada to commit to a showdown four or five months from now, I’ll promise not to cancel my subscription (although I pay $100 up front for the entire year, anyway). If they make an official announcement of Canelo-GGG3 (widely reported to be a done deal for September) they’ll keep a lot of diehards and they’ll bring back A LOT of casuals by fight week.
MOSLEY’S UNFAIR VICTORY
Didn’t Mosely get caught for PED’s against De La Holla? I forgot if it was fight 1 or 2. And it should be noted. – ALchicano
“De La Holla”?
You’re thinking of the 2003 rematch, and no Mosley did not “get caught” using PEDs for that controversial decision victory, at least not by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which is why the official verdict in that fight stands. He passed the NSAC drug test (what he was using wasn’t on the NSAC ban list at the time and they weren’t testing for it). However, four years later after Victor Conte’s BALCO lab was busted, Mosley was subpoenaed for the government’s investigation and he testified (before a federal grand jury) that he’d used “the clear” (a designer PED) and “the cream” (a masking agent) prior to the De La Hoya rematch. At the time, Mosley claimed he had no idea he was taking anything banned or illegal, but Conte and his former conditioning coach Darryl Hudson have said that he was a willing participant in a doping program that included THG (a steroid that was undetectable by standard state commission urine tests) and EPO (an endurance-enhancing agent that increases red blood cells).
It’s been noted for years. Mosley was still elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Class of 2020) last year. And, yes, I voted for him.
WHYTE VS. THE WBC
Hope you and your family are safe & well during this pandemic.
My main gripe is about Mauricio Sulaiman and the WBC treatment of Dillian Whyte. Another example of the double standard used against him has come about with the wild accusation about lying in UKAD’s investigation into Tyson Fury’s 2015 failed drug test due to illegal Nandrolone levels.
Mauricio said to Sky Sports in the UK “The WBC does not act on gossip or media postings” yet UKAD never informed the WBC of Dillian Whyte’s Adverse findings in his 2019 drug test with adverse findings and the WBC still suspended Dillian as their mandatory challenger. At the 7th annual Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Gala Mauricio was quotes by the media saying “We don’t know much. We have contacted the British Board of Control and we are in contact with Dillian Whyte’s camp and UKAD. What the WBC did was suspend the recognition of Whyte as Interim champion and mandatory challenger.” But why, when he is only acting on gossip and hearsay? Mauricio then went into to say to SkySports “As far as The WBC is concerned, Fury has passed countless tests in the past two years when he has been fighting under The WBC umbrella” does that mean Dillian Whyte hasn’t passed countless tests in his over 1000 days as WBC number 1 rated heavyweight?
I’m not saying WBC should interfere with Tyson Fury before UKAD conclude investigating but I think its clear they have treated Dillian poorly. I believe I know why but as it’s just my opinion I’ll keep it to myself, I still rate WBC as the best governing body which probably highlights how low the others are if blatant biased is still best of the bunch
Thanks for listening and stay well. – Cass, UK
I think the WBC should have forced his mandatory shot at Deontay Wilder early last year, well before the Oscar Rivas fight, but I wasn’t mad at them for enacting a “provisional suspension” of Whyte’s ranking/interim titleholder status while they investigated UKAD’s “adverse finding.”
Whyte failed a UKAD drug test (traces of an anabolic steroid were found in his A sample) three days before he fought Rivas. UKAD cleared him to fight but did not inform Rivas or the WBC. Team Rivas was not happy with this situation. I’m sure they filed a complaint with the WBC (maybe they threatened a lawsuit), which had to ensure them (and the rest of the world) that they would “look into it.” Don’t blame the WBC for UKAD dragging the process out for months and not releasing the results of the B sample. When UKAD finally cleared Whyte of any wrongdoing, the WBC lifted their ban.
The WBC doesn’t have anything to do with Fury’s current situation with UKAD. Fury failed a UKAD drug test in early 2015, months before he challenged Wladimir Klitschko for every major heavyweight title BUT the WBC belt (why UKAD waited until AFTER he beat Wladdy to release those results is anyone’s guess). Team Fury engaged in a legal battle with UKAD for more than a year, and it included a farmer’s testimony (regarding the ridiculous wild boar meat excuse). This farmer now alleges (to a tabloid paper known for publishing sensationalist stories and not exactly a bastion of journalistic integrity) that he was bribed by Team Fury members to give that testimony. Whatever. Fury was out of the ring for two-years and UKAD settled with him before he returned to the ring in 2018, basically saying he’d served his PED suspension during his inactive, “downward spiral” years.
He’s been part of the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program since he signed to fight Wilder the first time and he’s passed his VADA tests through the rematch. So, of course the WBC isn’t going suspend him or even bother with an investigation. If you want to get mad at an organization, direct the bulk of that anger and frustration to UKAD. They just don’t seem to know how to handle drug testing results, at least where prominent heavyweights are concerned.