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Dougie’s Friday mailbag (fight delays, quick stoppages, and hardcore fan ‘tragedies’)

Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson have both announced they will return to the ring for exhibition bouts, fueling speculation that they will meet in the ring a third time.
27
Mar

BIG FIGHT DELAYS

Dougie,

**Perfunctory message about health and well-being**

On to the questions:



1. Does the delay of any specific postponed fights benefit or detriment certain fighters that you can think of? I‘m thinking Loma-Lopez, Wilder-Fury, etc. Or do you think that, overall, the delay will have only a negligent effect?

2. If Holmes v. Shavers happened today, does it get stopped once Holmes goes down initially? Do you think earlier, more cautious stoppages are better for the sport or do we potentially miss out on great come-back victories?

Brandon Kendall

**Perfunctory acknowledgement of your perfunctory message about health and well-being**

Gary “Once-A-Year” Russell Jr.

Does the delay of any specific postponed fights benefit or detriment certain fighters that you can think of? It’s not going to crimp Gary Russell’s style, or make that much of a difference to most of the world-class boxers contracted to major promotional/network entities (PBC, Top Rank, Golden Boy, Matchroom, Queensberry Promotions, FOX, ESPN, DAZN, SKY, BT Sports, etc.) – those cats are paid very well and used to fighting twice a year – but it will definitely have a detrimental impact on young up-and-comers that need developmental activity and club-level-to-fringe-contender-level boxers that need to fight in order to pay bills (those guys and gals are going to have to get fulltime jobs).

I’m thinking Loma-Lopez, Wilder-Fury, etc. Or do you think that, overall, the delay will have only a negligent effect? Overall, the delay won’t be good for any boxer because they won’t be able to train under normal circumstances. Even those who have private gyms won’t be able to get real work in because they won’t be able to workout with others or bring in sparring partners or additional coaching/camp staff, etc. Regarding the two postponed championship bouts you brought up, I think the delay favors Vasiliy Lomachenko because

Photo by Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Teofimo Lopez is young, impetuous, frustrated (because he wants to take on the lightweight champ YESTERDAY) and GROWING (the longer the showdown is put off, the harder it will be for him to make 135). And I think the delay favors Deontay Wilder in the third go around with Tyson Fury because I believe the former WBC beltholder needs the extra time to get his head straight and to figure out what he needs to do or change within his team/camp in order to make the necessary adjustments to meet the challenge of his nemesis, while the longer Fury remains out of the ring the more chances for him to fall back into self-destructive behavior.

If Holmes v. Shavers happened today, does it get stopped once Holmes goes down initially? It depends on the referee. I think certain veteran officials with a history of giving hurt boxers a fighting chance or allowing fighters to duke it out – such as Jack Reiss, Steve Willis and Arthur Mercante Jr. – would give the defending WBC heavyweight champ the opportunity to try to overcome adversity, while others who, at times, act quickly to stop a fight once somebody was in trouble (even if he was the defending titleholder) – such as Thomas Taylor, Benjy Esteves or Wayne Hedgepeth (who I saw and chatted with recently while shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market) – would have immediately waved it off.

Do you think earlier, more cautious stoppages are better for the sport or do we potentially miss out on great come-back victories? I think both

Larry Holmes (left) works Earnie Shavers over with the jab in their 1979 rematch. Photo from The Ring archive

assertions are true. A quick stoppage will spare a hurt or temporarily discombobulated/defenseless fighter any further punishment, which lowers the potential for serious injuries (or career-shortening/debilitating future brain damage), and allowing a dropped or wobbled fighter the opportunity to fight through the rough spot increases the likelihood of witnessing an exhilarating comeback. In the case of Holmes vs. Shavers II, I think the referee did the right thing by not immediately waving the bout off because Larry had proven his mettle in previous bouts, most notably his WBC-title winning fight against Ken Norton. Anybody who can fight his ass off against a badass like Kenny in the 15th round of a grueling, hotly contested bout should be given the benefit of the doubt EVERY TIME.   

 

“TRAGEDIES”

Hello Doug!

You should do the mailbag more often, to keep us entertained while the world ends! Just kidding.

I remember when we saw on TV JCC’s first loss. It was a group of 30 friends who were absolutely shocked when Chavez visited the canvas. I was in the stands when Chocolatito was knocked out, and the stadium -packed with Nicaraguans – turned into a cemetery. Those are moments I’ll never forget as a hardcore fan.

You have covered a lot of fights. Can you give us your top 5 “tragedies” from a crowd perspective? – Carlos, from Hermosillo, México

OK, I didn’t cover this fight because it took place very early in my boxing writing career, but even though I wasn’t at the MGM Grand when Evander Holyfield defied the odds and stopped Mike Tyson, I KNOW that there were scores of dejected, despondent and disconsolate Iron Mike fans inside the Garden Arena. Tyson fans lived and died with their champion. I watched the fight at a PPV party at my cousin Andre’s place in Compton. Andre was a streetwise O.G. born and raised in L.A., and, of course, he loved Tyson, as all of his homies did. His place was packed, and it was a real high-end party environment with just as many females in attendance as dudes. People dressed up and there was good music, good food, and blunts and booze for everyone, so we were all happy and faded by the time of the main event. Just before the ring walks, Dre passed around a hat filled with 24 little pieces of paper – 12 had “Tyson” printed on them, “Rounds” 1 through 12; the other 12 had “Holyfield” on each, 1-12. If you wanted to take part in the raffle, you put $10 in the hat, and you grabbed a piece of paper. If the fight ended on the round you chose, in favor of the fighter on your piece of paper, you collected all the money in the hat. Those who drew the pieces of paper with “Tyson” and an early round, were feeling pretty good as the fight started. Those who got a piece of paper with Holyfield on it felt like they just tossed ten bucks into the trash. Everybody in the room was a diehard Tyson fan, except for a loudmouth lady who drew the piece of paper with “Holyfield, Round 11” on it and me. I had the good sense to keep my mouth shut, she didn’t, and she got louder and louder (hollering “Holyfield is an O.G.! Holyfield is an O.G.!”) as the Real Deal took Tyson into deep water. When young ref Mitch Halpern saved a drowning Tyson in Round 11, she

“Holyfield’s an O.G.! Holyfield’s an O.G.!”

jumped up and screamed “I told y’all! I told y’all! Gimme my money!” Cousin Dre left the room with tears swelling in his eyes. He punched a hole in the wall of his laundry room (probably breaking his hand in doing so), returned to the living room, and then calmly gave the woman her winnings. However, she kept celebrating a tad too exuberantly, and he finally put his hand in her face, told her to shut up, grab her s__t, and get the f__k out of his house. She did so immediately and without protest, sparring herself a beatdown from the other ladies at the party. Dre was miserable, as was every other dude (except for me). He put the music back on (Backstreet’s “No Diggity”), which instantly sparked all of the women off the couches, into some sensuous dancing, and back into a partying mood, but the guys remained depressed and seated.

When I got back to my apartment there were four or five messages left on my answering machine, all from Tyson fans that I knew in high school and college. All of them wanted to talk about what happened to Tyson and they all spoke with cracked voices. An old friend that I hadn’t seen since high school or spoken to since college called after I’d listened to the messages. He was crying mad. “I hope you’re f__king happy,” he said. “You got your wish, Mike lost, and this is probably it, he’s probably gonna kill himself now. You happy?” I tried my best to talk him down and tell him that losing is part of boxing and that Tyson would be just fine, but he was extremely emotional. “No, he won’t be fine!” he yelled. “You don’t understand a n__ga like Mike! He can’t lose to a n__ga like Holyfield! This is it! It’s over! You got what you wanted! I hope you can sleep at night! I hope you can live with yourself when Mike is gone.” And that was that. He hung up on me, and I never heard from him again. We were among the few hardcore fans at our high school in Springfield, Missouri, so we talked about the sport all the time during my junior and senior years (1987-88) when I got back into boxing. He loved Tyson. I was also fan, but I didn’t view Tyson as unbeatable, which pissed him off. And I couldn’t help but troll him (and other diehard Tyson fans) a bit by repeatedly stating that the old, fat, bald, come-backing George Foreman could beat their hero. He tolerated my boxing blasphemy until Tyson lost to Buster Douglas. When I told him over the phone that I was happy for Douglas (hey, my childhood was spent in Buster’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio), he felt betrayed. And I’m not exaggerating. Tyson was like his religion. He was a macho dude who used to beat people up at parties just for fun, but he cried like a baby when Tyson lost to Douglas and Holyfield. His father died while we were in school and he didn’t shed a tear (at least not around me or our social group), but he was beside himself when Tyson lost.

I covered the other four “tragedies” that immediately came to mind with your interesting question, and the prime example is Felix Trinidad losing for the first time vs. Bernard Hopkins in September 2001 at Madison Square Garden. I’m not embellishing when I tell you that 99.9% of the people (mostly Puerto Ricans) that packed that storied arena KNEW without a doubt that Tito would knock the disrespectful “old man” the f__k out. So, when B-Hop took the Puerto Rican

Hopkins was 35 years old and 13 years into his career before he scored his first truly significant victory vs. Felix Trinidad. Photo credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

superhero to school and forced Papa Trinidad to save his son from further punishment in Round 12, they had their collective hearts ripped out. It’s safe to say that the majority of fans inside the arena, mostly men, had tears in their eyes as the fight was stopped. There were members of press row that openly cried. I saw scores of people crying outside of MSG, and droves of traveling mourners as I walked to my hotel. I saw people crying in the lobby of the hotel. Steve Kim (who was close to Team B-Hop and one of the few members of the press to pick Hopkins) and I took the elevator to our room. As the door opened to our floor, we were greeted by a media member who loved Trinidad, still in tears. “I know, I know,” said the writer/editor, who always referred to Hopkins as “a piece of s__t” during our all-night drinking sessions at Jimmy’s Corner, “go ahead and call me a little bitch, I can’t stop crying.”

The immediate aftermath of Roy Jones Jr.’s second-round stoppage at the hands of nemesis Antonio Tarver in their May 2004 rematch at Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas was a scene of total shock and silence. At least 8,000 RJJ fans (who Kim dubbed “Jonestown” due to their cultish devotion to Roy) remained in their seats 30-to-40 minutes after the KO, either calling friends and family on their cell phones or just sitting, wide eyed and flabbergasted, in utter disbelief.

Kim, on the other hand, was elated. “This is why you gotta be at the fights, to witness history!” he yelled as he grabbed and shook me in my press seat next to his (my first daughter had just been born the previous month so I sat out Marquez-Pacquiao I and Klitschko-Brewster I, but I convinced my wife to allow me to attend this one).

Oscar De La Hoya’s close and controversial UD loss to Shane Mosley in their September 2003 rematch at the MGM Grand in Vegas left his loyal fanbase (snidely referred to as the “Golden Girls” by his equally dedicated detractors) beside themselves with rage and righteous indignation. One of his fans, who managed to get ahold of the mic used for media questions during the post-fight press conference, told Mosley that “men, women and children” were caught up in and “fighting for their lives” in mini-riots throughout the MGM properties that were sparked by the corrupt decision. Mosely, who was beaming with an ear-to-ear grin, cheekily responded: “Really? That’s terrible!”

I thought about giving the fifth place to Anthony Joshua’s diehard English fans that travelled across the pond to New York City last summer to party their asses off inside MSG while their man made his successful U.S. debut against some fat, happy-go-lucky Mexican American, but I’m going to go with Manny Pacquiao’s loyal followers from the Philippines and the U.S. who openly shed tears for the Filipino Icon following his unexpected loss to Erik Morales in their 15-year-old modern classic. This is before Pacquiao ascended to superstardom (following the De La Hoya, Hatton and Cotto stoppages), before he was heavily involved in politics, before he was born again, before his supporters became fanatics, so when he lost to “El Terrible” they were crushed but humble. I have vivid memories of talking to bummed-out-but-hopeful Pac-fans after that fight. They gave Morales his props, wondered out loud if Pacquiao could rebound, but also reserved to support their man no matter what the future brought.

 

GGG VS. THE COBRA

Hey Doug,

Hope everything is going alright for you during the sheltering.

Recently I’ve seen that Carl Froch has been doing his Carl Froch thing of running down other fighters and talking himself up. His most recent target was GGG. I am generally a fan of Froch but this annoyed me. He described GGG as “wet lettuce” and said that if they fought he would “destroy him”. I don’t know why Froch does this. Is it to stay relevant? He could do that by just being a good commentator (which I think he is).

How do you think that fight would play out at 160 and 168? I know The Cobra would be super weight drained at 160 but I thought it only fair to include both weights.

Best to you and the family. Stay safe. – Graham, Bangkok

Froch was on the cover of the September 2014 issue of The Ring.

I think Froch may have become a little bored with “civilian life” and still has the itch to fight. The man is a born warrior, but he made good money at the tail-end of his career, managed his money well and got his big-ole beak of a nose fixed, so there’s many reasons for him to remain retired. However, his fighter’s pride remains along with the urge to mix it up with the best of today’s fighters. He could have fought GGG before he retired but passed on the opportunity, so maybe there are some regrets about that decision. Also, he looks at GGG’s recent form, remembers his own prime form, and sees a sitting duck. It’s not uncommon for retired hall of famer (or future hall of famers) to pontificate on how they would handle active fighters. It doesn’t bug me much. 

Having said that, I think an athletic prime-to-peak-form GGG (2011-2015) would’ve beat up and stopped a weight-drained Froch had they fought at 160 pounds. However, I think Froch would have given Golovkin sheer hell had they met at 168 pounds before the Nottingham man hung up his gloves, but I still would have favored GGG by close decision in a great fight.

 

 

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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