Dougie’s Friday mailbag (The Four Kings, BJS, Wilder, mythical WBSS)
THE BEST OF THE FOUR KINGS
Hope you and your family are well in these hard virus times. Patience and peace to all of us.
I’d like to thank you for making Special Issue on the Four Kings. Nice thing once again to go back to Fantastic Four, who created arguably the best era in boxing, made the greatest rivalry in the era when the best fought the best. And it is still the hot discussion topic who was the greatest or better of the Four. But what’d be your pick if you were to choose by qualities like in the section The Best I Faced:
Regards. – Jose
Hey, Jose, thank you for the well wishes. I appreciate the kind words on our Four Kings Special Edition, which you can preorder now via the Ring Shop. However, don’t thank me for it, thank Tom Gray, who acted as Executive Editor on the magazine. It was his passion project along with Art Director Michael Kronenberg, who did an incredible job on the design. And while I’m giving those two props for their labor of love, I might as well give a shout out to the contributors, including Al Bernstein (who penned the foreword), Ron Borges, Don Stradley, Michael Rosenthal, Brian Harty and Tris Dixon, who all kicked ass, Fab Four style. Gray and I also wrote pieces in the special issue, which included archival material from issues of The Ring that came out before some of those iconic fights (including articles written by former editor Nigel Collins).
I’m really pleased by the reaction the Four Kings Special Edition has received on social media, and I get a kick out of how hardcore fans, both young and old/new and longtime, are STILL debating who won Hagler-Leonard and who is the best of the “Fantastic Four” (as you called them… Excelsior!)
Anyway, I’ll give your Best I Faced categories a try:
Best jab – Thomas Hearns (he proved it vs. Sugar Ray Leonard, especially during their epic first encounter, but also against master boxers Wilfred Benitez and Virgil Hill)
Best defense – Leonard (and it’s mainly due to his legs and incredible reflexes; I think Duran has better defense in close, but SRL was better at avoiding hard shots throughout his prime than the more aggressive Hands of Stone)
Fastest hands – Gotta give it to my man Sugar Ray, although Hearns had a quicker jab, and an in-shape Duran was almost as fast. Leonard could drop combinations faster than any of the four. Seriously, Ray at his best was Black Bruce Lee in boxing gloves. Fists of F__king Fury! It’s not up for debate so don’t @ me!
Best footwork – Again, I’m going with my boyhood idol, Ray. Am I biased? Maybe, but juuuuuuust a little bit. Hey, they all had excellent fundamentals, which included footwork, but which one was a natural at the stick-and-move game? Y’all know the answer.
Best chin – Gotta be Hagler, who survived direct hits from a big, healthy, confident middleweight version of The Hitman. Yeah, Leonard did too at welterweight, but he was constantly moving on Hearns when he wasn’t going for the kill after hurting the Motor City Cobra; and he was sent to the canvas twice when they met as mature super middleweights. Hagler also shook off the best bombs of John Mugabi (when he was past his prime) and Juan Roldan.
Smartest – They were all brilliant in so many ways, but I’m giving Leonard the edge. He was the most versatile in the ring and the savviest outside of the ring. With the exception of the first Duran fight, and maybe the Hearns rematch, he always knew what to do to get the ‘W.’ The thing about Leonard that I loved so much as a boy and a young adult was that, like Muhammad Ali, his ring smarts were backed up by the heart of a warrior.
Strongest – Hagler, of course, he’s the natural middleweight of the bunch and he’s an all-time great 160 pounder. In a pound-for-pound sense, you gotta go with Duran, who’s got to be one of the strongest lightweights of all time.
Best puncher – Hearns, of course. He knocked Duran the f__k out. ’Nuff said!
Boxing skills – I’m going to go with Duran here, even though he had the worst record vs. the other Kings and during the 1980s. He
was a natural lightweight already 12 years and 72 pro bouts into a legendary career when he faced Leonard for the first time (the bout that kicked off the iconic nine-bout round robin between the Four Kings that lasted until the end of the decade), but was still a major player at 147, 154 and 160 pounds. Duran turned pro at 119 pounds and fought as a featherweight/junior lightweight for the first 2½ years of his career. No matter how tough and strong and fierce he was, he had no business beating Leonard at welterweight in 1980. It’s insane that he went 15 COMPETITIVE rounds with the 1983 version of Hagler, and even crazier that he beat Iran Barkley in 1989 as a pudgy, past prime 37-year-old. How did he do it? He had SUBLIME skills.
Best overall – Leonard. They were all special, but Sugar Ray had the ability to beat them all (and, yes, I thought he legitimately outpointed Hagler).
TO PRE-ORDER “THE FOUR KING” SPECIAL ISSUE AT THE RING SHOP: CLICK HERE
BILLY JOE SAUNDERS’ DISGRACEFUL POST
Hope all is well, and you and the family are safe. Well, Billy Joe Saunders has demonstrated more idiotic behaviour to add to a very chequered past, is anyone surprised? The BBBofC has rightly suspended him for the poorest taste in unparralled times (which exaggerates the impact) but I imagine this will only result in a heavy fine and possible 6 months out of British rings but I believe he can still get licenced in the US for a potential Canelo fight?
I have also been thinking that the impact will be very minimal as Wilder “wants a body on his record”, Mayweather actually did beat up his partner (yes he did get a prison sentence but received little or no sanctions from US Boxing boards, correct me if I am wrong). Do you believe there is any danger of this ruling out BJS of the Canelo fight or should an example be made? With the ability to gain licences from other countries while suspended in another maybe this has to fall to promoters or even TV networks (DAZN to rule out BJS).
I’m sure you’re sick of mythical matchups so I only have one. Canelo v Julian Jackson at 160lbs? I go Canelo all day on this one on the basis of having a sound enough defence alongside a cast iron jaw and TKO/KO the Hawk between rounds 9-12.
Thanks. – John
Despite Jackson’s otherworldly power, I agree with your pick of Canelo, and I think the Mexican star could get The Hawk out of there before the late rounds by softening him up with a body attack before clipping him with a counter punch upstairs. The sooner Canelo could zap Jackson the better his chances. Even iron chins got dented by JJ’s massive bombes.
Well, Billy Joe Saunders has demonstrated more idiotic behaviour to add to a very chequered past, is anyone surprised? No, not at all. Can it even be considered news anymore? Saunders is the British Adrien Broner. It’s news if he ISN’T in f__king up.
The BBBofC has rightly suspended him for the poorest taste in unparralled times (which exaggerates the impact) but I imagine this will only result in a heavy fine and possible 6 months out of British rings but I believe he can still get licenced in the US for a potential Canelo fight? Yes, and I have to imagine that he was already licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in anticipation of the Canelo announcement and showdown originally scheduled for May 2.
I have also been thinking that the impact will be very minimal as Wilder “wants a body on his record”, Mayweather actually did beat up his partner (yes he did get a prison sentence but received little or no sanctions from US Boxing boards, correct me if I am wrong). True. Mayweather was allowed to go through with the Miguel Cotto fight before he served time for abusing the now-deceased mother of his children. Hey, NSAC isn’t going to drop the hammer of justice down on the big money makers. Mike Tyson was allowed to re-apply for a license one year after the ear-bite incident (and he got his license for the Frans Botha comeback) and Canelo received a six-month ban with time served after testing positive for a banned substance. So, if Canelo-Saunders can still be made by June, and Las Vegas remains the site, my guess is that it will happen despite BJ’s BS.
Do you believe there is any danger of this ruling out BJS of the Canelo fight or should an example be made? Some, but COVID-19 is a much bigger obstacle than Saunders’ behavior and British license woes. If the ban on public events/gatherings isn’t lifted in major U.S. markets by June, I don’t think DAZN, Golden Boy or Team Canelo will bother with BJ, and will instead focus on a September showdown with the Mexican star’s arch-rival Gennadiy Golovkin. Can you blame them?
With the ability to gain licences from other countries while suspended in another maybe this has to fall to promoters or even TV networks (DAZN to rule out BJS). Keep dreaming for a better world, John. There are beloved boxers who were wife beaters, rapists and murderers that are enshrined the International Boxing Hall of Fame. You can expect to see Gervonta Davis on Showtime, and Sergey Kovalev and BJS on DAZN as soon as they are able to return.
THE BRONZE CONTRADICTER
Thanks for continuing to put out quality content during these crazy times. We really appreciate it! I was rewatching both Wilder vs Fury fights recently and thinking about the things that have come out of Wilder’s mouth subsequent to those fights.
I find it very interesting, telling, and contradictory that Wilder was of the belief that Fury should not have even been given a count after the knockdown in the 12th round of their first fight (which he arose from in time on sturdy legs and fought quite well for the remainder of the round) but rather he should have been declared the winner by TKO, but he (Wilder) should have been allowed to go out on his shield and fight to the death in their second fight!
So basically “stop the fight when it’s my opponent that’s hurt but don’t you dare do so when it’s ME!” I haven’t heard any reporter call him out on this contradiction or anyone else for that matter and am curious to know your thoughts. – Darrell L., Los Angeles, CA
I haven’t really thought about how those statements – one made before the rematch, the other immediately after – form a double standard, Darrell, but you’re right, it is a contradiction.
I can’t speak for other members of the media, but I think the reason I haven’t thought about this is because I was focused on Fury’s sensational victory in the days and weeks after the fight, and somewhat distracted by Wilder’s bizarre claims of having his legs drained by his 45-pound ring entrance costume (and by he and head trainer Jay Deas tossing Mark Breland under the bus with their post-fight comments).
Perhaps, Wilder believes if a fighter gets dropped hard, as Tyson was in Round 12 of their first fight, the fight should be waved off if the fighter lands flat on his back. Other referees would have immediately stopped the bout without a count and Wilder believes the hype about his being the hardest puncher ever. So, if he clips a man with his best punch, I guess he feels the fight should end. Now, obviously it was the right call by referee Jack Reiss, who literally got right on top of Fury to look into his eyes and see if the fallen man was conscious and could respond, to allow the fight to continue once the big man got to his feet. If Fury was as hurt as Wilder asserts, he should have finished Englishman. He had more than two minutes to do so. But Fury was clear enough to not only survive but punch back and even buzz Wilder. (I think Fury realized in that final round that the best way to protect himself vs. Wilder was to take it to him rather than play keep away for 12 rounds.)
Fast forward to the rematch, Wilder was allowed to get up from two knockdowns, but he took a beating in Rounds 5 and 6 and simply wasn’t fighting back or protecting himself in Round 7. Breland did the right thing in throwing in the towel and referee Kenny Bayless is on record stating that he was about to stop it. If a badly hurt or fatigued fighter can’t defend himself the fight needs to be stopped.
FURY VS. LOUIS
Been watching a lot of old fights on YouTube and ESPN. There was a series where Bert Randolph Sugar rated Joe Louis as the Best Heavyweight of All-Time.
Now, I look at Louis and compare him with the behemoth Tyson Fury and I think, wow! Fury might just overwhelm him with his sheer size and physicality, same as he did to da Bronze Bomber.
Prime Gypsy King vs Prime Brown Bomber
Whaddya think? Stay safe & stay well bro. – Gbenga X-adebija, Lagos, Nigeria
I think Louis would KO the aggressive version of Fury. The Brown Bomber was pretty good at chopping down giants. He did so against former champ Primo Carnera, a 6-foot-5½ powerhouse who had an 85-inch wingspan and weighed 260½ when he faced a young Louis in 1935; Abe Simon, a massive 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 contender who had an 82-inch reach and weighed 255 pounds when he got his two shots at then-champ Louis in 1941 and 1942, and Buddy Baer, a 6-foot-6 power puncher with an 84-inch wingspan. Baer also fought Louis twice, weighing 237½ the first time in 1941 and 250 for their 1942 rematch.
Those old-time behemoths were aggressive fighters, which played right into the quick and deadly accurate two-fisted combinations of the Brown Bomber. The opponents that troubled Louis were the shifty movers like Billy Conn and Jersey Joe Walcott. So, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the stick-and-move switch-hitting version of Fury has a chance to outpoint the great Louis in a mythical matchup. The constant lateral movement, plus the reach, height and heavier weight would be a lot for Louis to overcome.
ALL-TIME LIGHTWEIGHT WBSS
I hope you and your family are staying healthy during this difficult time. Thanks for keeping us going with the mailbags and the many fantastic articles in the Ring Magazine. I have another hypothetical question for you.
Following the Pernell Whitaker’s Greatest Hits article, which was awesome, one of the commenters wrote about a WBSS of the greatest lightweights of all time. He mentioned Joe Gans, Benny Leonard, Henry Armstrong, Roberto Duran, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Chavez Sr, and Carlos Ortiz.
If you had to pick your top 8 lightweights of all time for a WBSS style tournament, who would they be, how would they be seeded, and how would the tournament play out in your opinion.
Thanks for entertaining these kinds of questions. Your historical knowledge is impressive and I enjoy seeing your responses to these scenarios.
Stay safe, and thanks again. – Karl
That’s an awesome group of fighters that commenter came up with for his mythical WBSS lightweight tournament, but I would drop Mayweather Jr., who did not have great run at 135 pounds, and also Chavez Sr., who was arguably at his peak at lightweight but had a very brief (albeit quality) championship reign. Come to think of it, as undeniably great as Armstrong is, and despite the fact that 135 pounds was a perfect weight for him (the first eight of his 21 welterweight title bouts were at or below the lightweight limit), he only had two world title bouts in that division (the two he split with fellow ATG Lou Ambers). I think I’ll switch him out for someone too.
So, the three “replacements” I’d bring are Ike Williams, who fought most of his hall-of-fame career at lightweight (winning 127 bouts and testing his mettle vs. the top 135- and 147-pound contenders of the golden era of the 1940s including six fellow HOFers, most of whom he battled multiple times); the woefully overlooked Joe Brown, who had a near-six-year championship reign (1956-’62) and made 11 defense before losing the title to the great Carlos Ortiz; and Shane Mosley, a dynamic powerhouse at 135 who defended the IBF title eight times, all by stoppage, including John-John Molina and Jesse James Leija.
Here’s how I’d seed them:
I think it would be an amazing tournament. All of these men were skilled, confident, tough and battle tested. There would be great fights and a coule upsets. If it goes #1 vs. #8, #2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6 and #4 vs. #5, I’m gonna say Duran, Leonard, Whitaker (upset), and Ortiz (upset) are victorious. If Duran fights Ortiz and Leonard fights Pea (great mythical matchups), I’ll go with Duran vs. Leonard in the final and go with Hands of Stone winning it all with a very close decision in a hotly contested match.
THE ULTIMATE WBSS
Hi Dougie –
I trust you and yours are well during these strange times.
A question for you:
If there was a WBSS tournament in every weight class and the top eight fighters in those classes currently ranked in The Ring’s ratings took part:-
- a) which fights would you look forward to the most?
- b) who do you think would be the overall winners?
This could potentially be a long answer but I thought you might enjoy it! All the best. – Dave, Ruthin, Wales
Ha! I won’t make it a long answer, I’ll just give you the divisions I’d look forward to the most: junior bantamweight (which I think would feature the highest quality fights), welterweight (which would make for the highest-profile event/bouts) and junior flyweight (which I believe would produce the most fireworks and drama).
I would tab Juan Francisco Estrada as the eventual winner at 115 (though I would be rooting for Roman Gonzalez), Terence Crawford as the eventual winner at 147, and Kenshiro Teraji as the little big man at 108 (even though Hiroto “The Dynamite Boy” Kyoguchi would be my sentimental favorite).
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.