Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Mythical Matchups and the Fab Four of the future?)
THE FUTURE FOUR FACES OF BOXING
We’re almost out of this quarantine but still far from having some live events, well at least in California. I can’t wait for that Carlos Molina card in Mexico. It’s not championship level but if they’re matched evenly I can see it being interesting.
I had a quick question: Do you think the new face of boxing can actually be 4 faces instead of one? What I mean is I hear Canelo is the man but when Joshua fights the world is also paying attention to see him get in the ring. With that being said I feel Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, Tank and Teofimo have a strong fan base and support to keep bringing in viewers even after a loss. Ryan has millions of followers, Tank is everywhere in the HipHop scene, Teofimo is the first Honduran champion and with that he has all the central American fan base, and Haney is the American champ.
I didn’t pick Ryan Garcia as a Mexican-American champ because I feel Jose Ramirez takes that moniker.
Jose Ramirez worked in the fields, had fights raising money for the field hands, the guy has an American dream type of life story, and Ryan from what I hear around the web, he’s a little privileged. I don’t see anything wrong with that, it doesn’t take away from his skills.
I was watching old fights and I have to say what did Canelo’s team see in Paul Williams to take that fight? I don’t know if that fight was official, but I remember there were talks about it right before Paul’s accident. Who do you think would’ve won if they had faced each other?
Alright Dougie take care of yourself and if you hear any rumblings about a card coming up please let us know don’t care if it’s club level we’ll tune in. – Joey, Pomona
I know you will, Joey. You’ve got King Carlos’ card in Mexico on May 23, Bob Arum says he’s bringing boxing back to ESPN and ESPN+ in June, Oscar De La Hoya says he wants to put on a show around the Fourth of July holiday, so my guess is that we’ll have some semblance of a resumed boxing schedule by mid-to-late July, definitely by August. The sport will be back before you know it, although the really big events might not happen until late 2020 or in 2021.
Do you think the new face of boxing can actually be 4 faces instead of one? Of course! That was the case in the 1980s – the decade that evolved me from a casual observer for one or two stars to a hardcore nut – with The Four Kings: Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler. It was also the scenario in the 1990s with the loaded heavyweight division (the old guard of Foreman and Holmes, the ’80s holdovers of Tyson and Holyfield, and the new guard of Lewis, Bowe, Mercer, Morrison, Rudduck and McCall) and welterweight stars (‘80s holdover Pernell Whitaker, Puerto Rican star Felix Trinidad, Mexican-American idol Oscar De La Hoya, and Ghanaian warrior Ike Quartey; plus ready and willing Ferocious Fernando Vargas lurking at 154 pounds). The more faces, the better!
What I mean is I hear Canelo is the man but when Joshua fights the world is also paying attention to see him get in the ring. There’s always room for more than one superstar in boxing. We’ve got one from Mexico and one from Merry Old England. If the promoters and network/platforms in the U.S. had their s__t together, we could’ve had an American superstar by now (we just needed the PBC to match their top welterweights sooner and quicker and then pit the last man standing vs. Terence Crawford).
With that being said I feel Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, Tank and Teofimo have a strong fan base and support to keep bringing in viewers even after a loss. I agree that they have a lot of fans now and the potential to earn loyal, career-long supporters (as De La Hoya, Whitaker, Trinidad, Vargas, etc. had) but in order for that to happen they have to get busy once boxing resumes and they have challenge themselves. Lopez has taken the lead on that front by setting up his tentative showdown with lightweight champ Vasiliy Lomachenko. The others need to follow suit. They gotta do more than call out Loma and call each other out on social media and in interviews with YouTubers. They gotta MAKE these fights happen by FORCING the hand of their promoters and network/platform partners. If they engage in a round robin between 135-140 pounds between 2021-2022 they can take over boxing. If they don’t, there are fearless badasses from Eastern Europe/Central Asia (countries once part of the Soviet Union) in a bunch of divisions that will attract attention by staying busy and dominating whoever is put in front of them the way Gennadiy Golovkin and Lomachenko did during the last decade. There are also phenomenal talents from Asia (mainly Japan) that are turning heads like The Monster, and these days these little world beaters are willing to leave their homelands in search of challenges and fame, and the U.S. networks (like ESPN) are more open to showcasing them than ever before. So, the potential Fab Four that you brought up will need to make something happen ASAP if they want the Boxing Zeitgeist of the 2020s.
Ryan has millions of followers, Tank is everywhere in the HipHop scene, Teofimo is the first Honduran champion and with that he has all the central American fan base, and Haney is the American champ. I view them all as American up-and-comers. They all made my recent Honor Roll cover story in Ring Magazine because they have natural talent, extensive amateur backgrounds, strong promotional/network affiliations and, most importantly, the kind of charisma that moves the media/social media needle and puts butts in the seats. Davis and Lopez are further along in terms of the quality of their opposition and career trajectory, but Garcia and Haney have the kind of talent where they could catch up to their peers with one or two fights (Jorge Linares for Ryan and Luke Campbell for Devin).
I didn’t pick Ryan Garcia as a Mexican-American champ because I feel Jose Ramirez takes that moniker. OK, that’s your business.
Jose Ramirez worked in the fields, had fights raising money for the field hands, the guy has an American dream type of life story, and Ryan from what I hear around the web, he’s a little privileged. Ramirez is an admirable citizen, no doubt about it. I think both Ramirez and Garcia have earned their current positions in the sport in their own way. Ramirez, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, was the far-more accomplished amateur boxer and he’s got more of an old-school/blue-collar mentality in how he fights and goes about his career. He’s a joy to watch and had become a regional attraction. Garcia is a modern fighter. He’s acutely aware of his own brand and continues to build it, but it’s not all hype and PR, he’s putting quality work in with Eddy Reynoso and we’re seeing the results in the ring.
I don’t see anything wrong with that, it doesn’t take away from his skills. Agreed.
I was watching old fights and I have to say what did Canelo’s team see in Paul Williams to take that fight? Well, that was back in 2012, and if you recall, Williams was only two bouts removed from being KTFO by Sergio Martinez in their November 2010 rematch. P-Will was lucky to get a majority decision in his only bout of 2011 (vs. Erislandy Lara, who teed off with left hands for 12 rounds) and in his first bout of 2012 he was taken the 12-round distance by Nobuhiro Ishida, a Japanese gatekeeper that Canelo used to promote in Mexico. I’ve been told that Canelo and Ishida used to spar and the Mexican star once knocked in the tough Japanese beanstalk out in one round. So, Williams was clearly on the downslide and Team Canelo thought their guy could clip a tall dude. It’s that’s simple. It was still viewed as a risky fight, which is why it was to be the main event of a Showtime PPV on Mexican Independence Day weekend in Las Vegas. If you recall, Canelo’s opponent for that date changed several times – from Williams (due to the tragic motorcycle accident) to James Kirkland (who pulled a James Kirkland) to Victor Ortiz, who was scratched due to a broken-jaw loss to Josesito Lopez, who got the assignment (although they had to drop the event from a PPV to a regular Showtime broadcast – a pretty good one – because they couldn’t compete with Chavez Jr. vs. Martinez HBO PPV, which was held on the same Saturday in Las Vegas.
I don’t know if that fight was official, but I remember there were talks about it right before Paul’s accident. It was official.
Who do you think would’ve won if they had faced each other? I was picking Canelo by mid-to-late rounds TKO.
MYTHICAL MATCHUPS AND AN ALI ‘WHAT IF?’
Thanks for your great work with the mailbag. If Ali were never drafted, or was able to legally evade the draft, how do you think that may have impacted his boxing legacy, and would boxers like Ernie Terrell, Jimmy Ellis, or even Joe Frazier reached championship status if The Greatest hadn’t left the scene?
Also, what’s your favorite boxing book on Ali? What one, in your opinion, does the best job in capturing him as a person while also doing justice to his boxing career?
I have a few mythical match-ups for you, and most involve women. Like you, I’m not a big women’s boxing aficionado, but Ann Wolfe impressed me, not just as a boxer, but her physical and psychological presence. I found her more intimidating than many boxers I’ve seen fight. How would you rate these match-ups?
- Prime Ali vs. Prime Larry Holmes
- George Foreman (first career) vs. George Foreman (second career)
- Ann Wolfe vs. Laila Ali
- Ann Wolfe vs. Claressa Shields
- Laila Ali vs. Claressa Shields
Bryon McLaughlin (long-time fan of yours, going back close to 20 years)
Thank you for following and reading my stuff for as long as you have, Byron, it means a lot to me.
Your Mythical Matchups:
Prime Ali vs. Prime Larry Holmes – Ali by close, maybe majority (but legit) decision; I think Holmes gives him hell with his rangy left stick, hand speed and size, but Ali’s peak reflexes and legs/lateral movement the difference in a nip-and-tuck jab battle.
George Foreman (first career) vs. George Foreman (second career) – Old George (1990-1991 version) takes Young George into deep water and drowns him, late TKO between Rounds 10-12. Hey, don’t forget, he would know everything his younger self knows and MORE. He would know what to expect and exactly how to prepare.
Ann Wolfe vs. Laila Ali – This won’t please the hardcore hipsters out there but I think Ali would have outpointed Wolfe in a close and entertaining contest, but not the thriller that some foresaw. Ali’s jab is the difference.
Ann Wolfe vs. Claressa Shields – Wolfe drops and bullies Shields but also gets outjabbed and outmaneuvered; Shields by unpopular decision.
Laila Ali vs. Claressa Shields – Ali by close, maybe controversial decision.
If Ali were never drafted, or was able to legally evade the draft, how do you think that may have impacted his boxing legacy, and would boxers like Ernie Terrell, Jimmy Ellis, or even Joe Frazier reached championship status if The Greatest hadn’t left the scene? I think Ali would have gone unbeaten throughout the 1960s had he not been barred from the sport in mid-1967. Ali beat Terrell in early ’67 before his draft troubles (Ernie won the WBA belt that had been stripped from Ali for taking the immediate rematch with Sonny Liston in 1965, but he was never the same after getting dominated and humiliated by Ali). Ellis, who Ali beat in 1971 after losing to Frazier, won the vacant WBA title that had once again been stripped from his famous stablemate in ’67. Ellis won a tournament to grab the belt, outpointing Oscar Bonavena, Jerry Quarry and Floyd Patterson, so he was a legit heavyweight contender during the late 1960s, but he wasn’t a world-beater like his fellow Louisville native. Had Ali been around in the late 1960s, Ellis would not have won a belt.
Frazier is another story. He was a future world-beater, and he reached his peak by 1969 (when he stopped Quarry in The Ring’s Fight of the Year). Had he and Ali fought in 1968 or ’69, I think his style and will-power would have given the champ sheer hell for 15 hotly contested rounds. I think Ali would have earned a close decision, but Frazier would have earned a return bout (and the fight would have been so epic that the public would have demanded it). I wouldn’t put it past Smokin’ Joe to score the mild upset in a 1970 rematch. Anyway, I think Frazier would’ve eventually become the champ even had Ali never left boxing. He either would have beaten Ali in a return bout or won the title after Ali retired or voluntarily stepped away from the sport to pursue entertainment or political endeavors.
Also, what’s your favorite boxing book on Ali? What one, in your opinion, does the best job in capturing him as a person while also doing justice to his boxing career? Hands down, it’s the authorized biography penned by frequent Ring contributor and award-winning author Thomas Hauser, “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times.” I could have finished that book within hours of buying it in 1991 but I purposely paced myself to savor all of the stories and anecdotes from the people who witnessed Ali’s remarkable career up close and those who knew him best.
A brief Question: Who do you think of nowday’s top heavyweights will make for Hall of Fame candidates – Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Alexander Povetkin, Luis Ortiz, Dillian Whyte or someone else?
And a long MMs:
Tyson (of 1988) vs. Frazier (pre-Ali)
Tyson vs. Joe Louis
Holyfield (of early 90s) vs. Lennox Lewis (of second half of 90s)
Pacquiao vs. Naz at lightweight
Pacquiao vs. Duran at welter
Canelo vs. Bernard Hopkins
Roy Jones vs. Michael Spinks, Bob Foster (for light heavyweight supremacy)
Marciano vs. Tyson
Mayweather vs. Chavez
Mayweather vs. Pernell Whitaker
Mayweather vs. De La Hoya (of late 1990s)
Thanks. Stay safe & healthy mate. – Jose
Will do, Jose.
Your Mythical Matchups:
Tyson (of 1988) vs. Frazier (pre-Ali) – Smokin’ Joe by late TKO in a great shootout for about four or five rounds, then Frazier takes over.
Tyson vs. Joe Louis – Another great heavyweight shootout, this one the prime version of Tyson prevails by second or third round stoppage. (The Brown Bomber is a better puncher than Frazier, but unlike Smokin’ Joe, he wouldn’t have pushed Tyson back, which I believe is the key for an aggressive/offensive fighter to beat Iron Mike.)
Holyfield (of early 90s) vs. Lennox Lewis (of second half of 90s) – Real Deal by close decision.
Pacquiao vs. Naz at lightweight – PacMan by mid-to-late stoppage.
Pacquiao vs. Duran at welter – Duran by close but unanimous decision in great fight.
Canelo vs. Bernard Hopkins – B-Hop by close but unanimous decision.
Roy Jones vs. Michael Spinks, Bob Foster (for light heavyweight supremacy) – Spinks by close, maybe majority decision; Foster by mid-rounds KO.
Marciano vs. Tyson – Iron Mike by late-rounds TKO (due to cuts) in a sensational battle that Tyson dominates early but Rocky claws his way back in by the middle rounds.
Mayweather vs. Chavez – Chavez by close but unanimous decision (at lightweight).
Mayweather vs. Pernell Whitaker – Sweet Pea by close but unanimous decision (from 135-147).
Mayweather vs. De La Hoya (of late 1990s) – De La Hoya by close but unanimous decision (at 140 and 147).
WHITAKER-CHAVEZ, FIGHTS TOUGHER THAN SCORECARDS INDICATE
Haven’t written in a while as much of the conversation has been on what if’s, speculation, mythical matchups and historic fights, which I’ve talked about plenty of times. The recent discussion in the comments section in your mailbag prompted me to want to write to you about some things that have crossed my mind.
Not too long ago I rewatched Pernell Whitaker’s “draw” with Julio Cesar Chavez, as most if not everyone of us (except one hardcore myopian friend of mind that is a huge Chavez fan) I thought Sweet Pea was robbed and it was one of the worst decisions ever as he dominated that fight; the thing though, is that since I hadn’t watched the fight since it aired originally I hadn’t seen all the nuance and details that my, so looking at it from my more experienced eyes was a very interesting thing to do. One of the things I noticed, and I mentioned it in the comments more experienced eyes can see today. Even though Whitaker pretty much won 8-9 rounds in dominant fashion, it wasn’t as if Chavez wasn’t doing anything right. I noticed that he did a lot of good things in there but everything he did was countered or adjusted and done a little bit better by Whitaker. A lot of people dismiss Chavez as being outclassed and exposed in this fight, and yes, in a way he did, but I think people misunderstand certain fights and how they play out. Chavez had a good game plan (at least what logic indicated), he even won some of the early rounds. Whitaker started taking control by doing things Chavez didn’t expect him to do. Chavez knew Whitaker was defensive and was going to box, but what he didn’t expect was that he was going to fight back in a very tough way. Whitaker, even though he was considered small, was stronger than Chavez and bullied the more offensive minded fighter in ways that kind of reminded me of how Canelo fought back Golovkin in the rematch. He wouldn’t let him dominate offensively by coming back with his own body shots and strong left hands and hooks, he even pushed him back and made him retreat plenty of times. Chavez would go to the body, use his jab, move his head, be good defensively but eventually Whitaker would figure it out and once again beat him to the punch. This happened every single round, for every adjustment Chavez tried to make, Whitaker had an answer.
The main thing I want to ask is this: What fights that were one sided on the scorecards and that are perceived as dominating performances do you think were more difficult inside the ring for the winning fighter than most of the audience give credit for? I have a few that come to mind, Lewis-Holyfield for example, Lennox has repeatedly said that it was his toughest fight even though he dominated.
Also, now that you’ve been putting all those old Best I’ve Faced articles, I see some fighters mention guys that they beat handily as their best or toughest opponent. Another fight I think of is Mayweather-Marquez. Mayweather said that it was tougher than it looked as Marquez continued to feint and it would reset his own offense keeping him at bay all the time. Interesting considering it looked like a blowout to me, lol. Can you recall any fights like these? And what can you tell us about it?
Thanks and have a good one. – Juan Valverde, Chula Vista, CA
Most observers thought that Erik Morales completely outclassed Carlos Hernandez when they clashed to unify the WBC and IBF 130-pound titles in 2004, two of the official cards read 119-109 for El Terrible and most of press row agreed, but I saw a much closer and HARDER fight and scored it like the third judge that had it 115-113. Watching it again on HBO, I could see that Morales did indeed win at least nine rounds, but “Famoso” made him work and box his ass off in all 12.
We get fights like that all the time in boxing, where one guy clearly wins most of the rounds, but each round is hotly contested. Mayweather-Cotto was like that (although I think it should have been much closer on the official scorecards). Floyd knew he had been in a fight after those 12 rounds, nobody was hollering “Easy work!” after that one. Oscar De La Hoya’s decisions over John-John Molina and Miguel Angel Gonzalez were like that. The Golden Boy won the majority of rounds in both bouts, but you could see that he was frustrated, stressed out and physically extended.
What fights that were one sided on the scorecards and that are perceived as dominating performances do you think were more difficult inside the ring for the winning fighter than most of the audience give credit for? The first time I began to realize/believe that Bernard Hopkins was an elite boxer, his unanimous decision over Antwun Echols in 1999, is one such bout. Hopkins outclassed the fearsome puncher over 12 rounds to retain his IBF middleweight title by scores of 119-109 and 118-110 (twice), but I could tell (even from TV) that the crazy KO artist was causing mad stress every minute of every rounds. Nard couldn’t relax for one second during that fight.
Same deal with Anthony Joshua’s rematch unanimous decision over Andy Ruiz last year. The British star totally outboxed and out-maneuvered the plodding-but-durable puncher over 12 rounds to regain three major heavyweight belts by scores of 119-109 and 118-110 (twice). Joshua CLEARLY dominated that fight, and yet it never looked easy did it? We could all see the tension and stress in his body. He was dealing with psychological demons throughout the fight and was shook and spooked during the brief periodic clinches when Ruiz was able to whack his arms, hips and the back of his head.
Regarding Whitaker-Chavez, I thought Julio won some of the early rounds, maybe two, but by the middle rounds it was clear who was in command. I was not a big fan of the lightweight version of Whitaker, and I was skeptical about his welterweight potential following his decision over Buddy McGirt for the WBC title, but the Chavez fight was the first time I really appreciated his ring craft. Oddly enough, that fight was the first time I really noticed Chavez’s defensive prowess. I wasn’t huge Chavez fan during the late 1980s and going into the Meldrick Taylor showdown I viewed him as just relentless pressure-fighting machine. I hadn’t noticed the nuances to his game. After the Whitaker fight, I noticed it more as he slowed down, and I also went back and watched VHS of his junior lightweight and lightweight prime and noticed his head-and-upper-body movement, blocking and slipping ability, etc.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler and Coach Schwartz on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track or elsewhere.