Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Erik Morales, Manny Pacquiao, weight clauses, Tiger Flowers)
Hey, what’s up Dougie?
Hope you and your family are well and staying safe. I was reading some comments about Pacquiao vs Morales 1, and some fans were saying that Morales was weight drained for the rematch. On one hand, I dismissed their comments as being Pacquiao ‘haters’, but I’m also not naive to think that there wasn’t a weight clause of some sort. But, while Manny may have beaten some opponents in this way, he’s certainly not the only fighter to benefit from this practice. What are some of the notable wins of championship fights, or career defining wins that had weight clauses that fans may not be aware of, or remember. There seems to be a lot of double standards with fans (shocking, I know!), and would be curious to see some sort of list. Thanks for everything you do. Take care. Mike. – Salt Lake City
As far as I can remember, Mike, there was no special weight clause involved in the Morales-Pacquiao rematch. It was at the junior lightweight limit, like the first bout. Morales was probably weight drained, but “El Terrible” was ALWAYS weight drained. He never looked healthy at a weigh-in, even during his early 20s when he was fighting at junior featherweight. He boiled down to make 122 pounds for so long that when he moved up to featherweight (limit of 126 pounds), he still drained himself to make weight and struggled in a lot of bouts that he should have dominated. He finally boxed at a comfortable weight when he moved to
junior lightweight (130 pound limit) but he didn’t have the edge in power at this weight (not that it mattered, he remained a boss due to his underrated skills and, of course, thanks to his indomitable warrior spirit). However, his schedule was so damn hard at 130 pounds (he unified titles vs. Jesus Chavez and Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez, and engaged in his classic rubber match with Marco Antonio Barrera – all hard 12-round bouts – in 2004) that his body had begun to break down even before his first bout with Pacquiao, which he won with a perfect blend of experience, ring savvy and guts. So, yeah, he was struggling to make junior lightweight, but it’s not like Pacquiao demanded that he fight at a catchweight or limit how much weight he could put on following the weigh-in. PacMan, who was fighting above featherweight for the first time when he first fought Morales, didn’t have that kind of clout back then. In fact, he wasn’t even allowed to use his preferred gloves (Reyes) in that first bout thanks to screwy contract terms. Anyway, Morales fought at lightweight following the PacMan win and lost a decision to Zahir Raheem. He looked like crap at lightweight, so the general consensus was that he overlooked Raheem, didn’t train well, and that’s why he was so sluggish. That’s probably true, but it’s also true that he was just plain burnt out. He probably would have struggled to make 140 at this time. He needed a break but there was a lot of money on the line for a rematch with Pacquiao. I think Team Morales floated the idea of doing the rematch at 135 pounds, but Team Pacquiao wasn’t ready to fight at lightweight so soon after jumping up to 130 pounds. Also, there were people on Morales’ side (mainly his promoter) who thought that El Terrible would be sharper at junior lightweight. So, there ya go.
Once Pacquiao blew up following the Oscar De La Hoya victory, he had the clout to demand catchweights, and got them with Miguel Cotto (145 pounds with Cotto’s welterweight title on the line) and Antonio Margarito (150 with the vacant WBC junior middleweight title on the line).
Cotto then became the Catchweight King, starting with his middleweight title challenge to Sergio Martinez (159 pounds, just one pound under the limit). As champ, Cotto had Daniel Geale come in at 157 pounds and Canelo come in at 155 (yes, that was Cotto’s demand, not Alvarez’s, although Canelo didn’t mind it as was fighting at 154-155 pounds anyway; however, I believe that Cotto also instituted a second-day weigh-in and rehydration clause in the contract).
Mayweather met Juan Manuel Marquez, who had never fought above 135 pounds, at a 144-pound catchweight (and then came in at 146), and he fought Canelo at a 152-pound catchweight with the Ring/WBC/WBA junior middleweight titles on the line.
Other famous (or infamous in the case of a certain Mexican red head that some fans love to hate) weight clauses include: De La Hoya vs. Bernard Hopkins (157 pounds for the undisputed middleweight championship; B-Hop’s crazy old ass came in at 156 just to send a message), Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Donny LaLonde (168 pounds, with LaLonde’s WBC light heavyweight title AND the WBC’s inaugural super middleweight belt on the line), and Canelo’s second-day weigh-in for Sergey Kovalev, who he challenged for the WBO light heavyweight title.
Notable weight-clause wins that fans might not be aware of or remember? Hmmmm… Interestingly enough, the two lesser-known or forgotten notable weigh-clause bouts that come to mind ended in controversial draws: Pernell Whitaker-Julio Cesar Chavez and the Leonard-Thomas Hearns rematch.
Whitaker-Chavez was a WBC welterweight title bout that was contested at a 145-pound catchweight, presumably a demand by Team Chavez given that JC Superstar was making his welterweight debut, but not seen as much of an advantage since Sweet Pea was not only just as small as Julio but had recently made his 147-pound debut when he lifted the green belt from Buddy McGirt six months earlier.
Leonard-Hearns II was a WBC/WBO super middleweight unification bout but it was contested at a 164-pound catchweight. This was reportedly insisted by Team Leonard and presumed to favor the smaller man, but Hearns (who weighed in at 162½ pounds to Sugar Ray’s 160) still got the better of his rival and the odds favorite. Leonard’s rubber match with Roberto Duran was also a WBC super middleweight title bout but contested at a 162-pound catchweight (although that wasn’t perceived as an advantage for either legend as both were probably at their best fighting around the 158-160-pound range). My guess is that if the internet, message boards/comment sections, YouTube and social media were around in 1989, Leonard would’ve received a lot of hate. (But not from me. Happy 64th birthday to my boyhood idol!)
PACMAN’S TOP 3
What are your three favourite Pacquiao fights? – Steven
1)Erik Morales I – it’s the most entertaining Pacquiao fight that I covered from press row (which is saying something).
2)Juan Manuel Marquez II – it’s the most hotly contested at an elite-level of boxing that I covered from press row.
3)David Diaz – it’s the most disciplined and complete boxing performance from the Philippines hero that I witnessed from ringside (as one of the international English broadcast commentators).
I wanted to know your opinion on Tiger Flowers. I don’t really know much about him. I know he beat Harry Greb twice but no one seems to mention him on any all time great lists or even ATG middleweights. Why is that? Was it more of him having Greb’s number (like Norton with Ali)? Thanks. – Alex, Montreal
By the time Flowers got a shot at Greb with the middleweight title on the line (he dropped a “newspaper decision” to the Pittsburgh Windmill in a non-title No-Decision bout two years prior to his upset victories), Greb was past his prime and rapidly burning out, so I don’t want to say the African-American standout had the champ’s number, but he was one of the few fighters of this era (the 1920s) who could match Greb’s inhuman pace and punch output. I consider Flowers to be an all-time great. He was like a southpaw version of Greb, a fearless, rugged, indefatigable punching machine. And he was quite popular, even with white boxing fans. Unlike Jack Johnson, the bombastic black heavyweight champ of the previous decade, Flowers was quiet, humble and God-fearing (his fighting moniker was “the Georgia Deacon” but it wasn’t just a nickname). Inside the ring he was all action.
He started boxing late (age 23) and paid his dues as he learned his brutal trade, getting beat up by ranked light heavyweights early in his career, but by the mid-20s he was ready for any middleweight contender that was willing to face him. Controversial decision losses to popular Mike McTigue and the great Mickey Walker (for the middleweight title) made him a sympathetic figure among fans and sports writers. Unlike most prize fighters of that era (black or white) Flowers, who married a college educated black woman, made good money during his career and owned a mansion in Atlanta. Tragically, he died the same way Greb did, while undergoing surgery to remove scar tissue from around his eyes.
Why is Flowers overlooked? Two reasons: 1. He was a very quiet, private individual, not the kind of wild, vibrant sports personality that endures beyond one’s decade or era (the way Jack Dempsey, Johnson, Greb and Walker have – those guys, and fighters like them, have endless stories and folklore attached to their ring accomplishments). 2. There’s very little photographic and film content on Flowers, and you know how modern fans and media are, Alex. If they can’t see it (in hi-def, preferably) it’s not real to them. Don’t ask them to pick up a book.
SWITCH-HITTERS AND BUD
Good morning Mr Fischer,
Questions for the mailbag with my thoughts:
- Who do you think are the five or ten best switch hitters in modern boxing history?
I think Terence Crawford easily makes the top five and probably makes the top three, but I wanted to ask someone with more knowledge. Is Marvelous Marvin Hagler number one with a bullet? I think Mike Tyson, Naseem Hamed, and Manny Pacquiao all switch better than they get credit for, but don’t/didn’t fight out of both stances as consistently (hence the lack of credit).
- Speaking of Bud, I think his record gets discredited much more than it should. Bud fought Gamboa when NOBODY wanted that smoke, and before he (Gamboa) was linked to PEDs. I don’t think Gamboa was clean for that fight. And I think that victory is highly underrated. Crawford also fought Postol right after Postol crushed Matthysse (who had only convincingly lost to Danny Garcia before that). Most importantly, Bud was undisputed at 140 after he held the Ring title at lightweight and cleaned out the top of both divisions.
I think title unification and ESPECIALLY undisputed status in a division is underrated by modern fans. Often, fighters beat the guy at the top of their division and it’s seen as less impressive than fights against bigger draws/names. For example, Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s most impressive victories are probably against Jose Luis Castillo (for the Ring belt both times) and against Diego Corrales (who should have held the IBF and IBA belts at that time). For anyone who accuses Mayweather of cherry-picking opponents, that argument goes out the window for fights like those. All Floyd’s wins in his biggest money fights are less impressive (in my mind) than those three. Also (and unrelated), these fights were before Mayweather’s rather definitive links to PEDs himself.
What do you think? Is Bud’s record underrated? Peace, Dougie. I hope that you and yours stay healthy and safe. – John N.
I’ve seen some fans try to discredit Crawford’s record, but that’s just the way things are now (not just with boxing). Nobody is universally loved and/or respected. It’s hard for me to say that Crawford doesn’t get credit for his accomplishments because he’s on everybody’s pound-for-pound list, usually within the top five, and he’s even No. 1 on some. The only reason he’s not at the top of more mythical rankings is because he’s been unable to secure significant fights since moving to the 147-pound division and punishing Jeff Horn for the WBO title two years ago. Winning the coveted Ring Magazine titles at lightweight and junior welterweight, as well as earning undisputed champion status at 140 pounds – beating the undefeated likes of Gamboa and Postol along the way – is what got Crawford in the pound-for-pound top 10 and pushed him up the mythical rankings. I think if his record was truly underrated (or undervalued), he’d be at the back of the P4P rankings.
Who do you think are the five or ten best switch hitters in modern boxing history? I’m fully aware that some fighters switch from orthodox to southpaw (or vice versa) during their fights but I can honestly say I’ve never given this question any thought. Marvelous Marvin Hagler is the best switch-hitter I’ve seen on TV, and Crawford is the best I’ve seen live.
I don’t think I can rank a top 10 or even a top five. The fighters you mentioned apart from Marvin and Bud – Tyson, Hamed and Pacquiao – were good at it. So were Roy Jones Jr. and Shane Mosley during the 1990s, Junior Witter (and many other Brenden Ingle-trained boxers), Miguel Cotto and Andre Ward (both converted southpaws). In more recent years, Nonito Donaire, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Genniy Golovkin and Danny Jacobs come to mind. But none of the boxers we’ve noted, with the possible exception of Witter, switch with as much seamless regularity as Hagler did and as Crawford does now.
WHAT IF? ALI-NORTON IV
I watched the 3rd Ali-Norton fight and noted that Red Smith scored it 10-5 Norton. My question is that if Norton had got a 4th fight with Ali, who do you think would have won?
Say you could take 5 heavyweights from the 90s back to compete with the best of the 70s. Who would they be? I feel like the first 4 (Bowe, Lewis, Tyson and Holyfield) are obvious. Who would be the 5th? Which fighter from the 90s would have the most success?
I read recently about a 1994 card featuring Hide vs Morrison and Mercer vs Bruno, which was canceled last minute. If it went ahead, who wins those fights? Thanks mate. – Will S.
I think Hide would get up from the canvas or survive some very wobbly moments to spark The Duke in a wild-and-abbreviated shootout and Mercer (if he was properly trained and focused) would grind Bruno down to a late stoppage. The unmotivated version of Mercer, which we frequently saw in 1993 and ’94, would get outpointed by Bruno.
I think Mercer (due to his ferocious tenacity) or Razor Rudduck (due to his intimidating size and power) would make a fine fifth man to join your Fab Four heavyweights of the ’90s in your time machine back to the ’70s. I don’t which team would come out on top in your mythical heavyweight challenge, but the fights would be epic. Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Norton and a young Larry Holmes wouldn’t be intimated, that’s for damn sure. It would be fun to switch out Holmes or Norton for Ron Lyle or Earnie Shavers. I can barely imagine how badass Lyle vs. Mercer would be.
I watched the 3rd Ali-Norton fight and noted that Red Smith scored it 10-5 Norton. As much as I love Ali, Smith got it right.
My question is that if Norton had got a 4th fight with Ali, who do you think would have won? I gotta go with Kenny by clear decision (provided the official judges aren’t enamored with Ali). Norton still had world-class form in 1977, post-rubber match (1976), and had enough left for one last great performance/effort vs. Holmes in 1978. Ali was pretty much a spent bullet post-Thrilla In Manila (1975). He was lucky to get the decision vs. both Jimmy Young and Norton in ’76 and he was just a shell of himself after the punishing third bout with Kenny (although he did earn a close but legit decision over Earnie Shavers in 1977).
Hype jobs. I get the term to a certain extent but it seems that the heavier weights get that term thrown at them most of the time. The only pint sized prima donna I remember getting such stick was Naseem Hamed. I remember watching a documentary about Barrera after the Morales fight and betting a dude at work, I said Barrera was way too hungry and would beat Nas. The dude said no Nas would knock him out just like the rest. Well after the fight he paid up telling me through gritted teeth that Nas was a hype job. Ego maniac yes! Wasted talent yes! Hype job?
I’d like to get your view on the term and its links to casual boxing fandom and the heavier weights it’s so closely linked to.
Last boxer I remember being a hype job was Lucien Bute or was he? Even he sort of redeemed his career! – Robert S.
I don’t see how Bute can be considered a hype job. Was he as accomplished as Naz? No. Hamed is a hall of famer. But the Montreal-based Romanian was a legit super middleweight standout from 2005-2012, he beat several top contenders, won a major world title and defended it nine times. Getting smashed by Carl Froch doesn’t make a fighter a “hype job.”
Why does the hype job term get thrown around at the heavier weights? Probably because those are boxing’s “glamor divisions.”
There’s more attention and money at welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight. Because there’s more money to be made in these popular weight classes, there are more “protected” fighters (at least when they are coming up the ranks).
Management/adviser teams, promoters and networks want to build stars in these weight classes more than they do in the lighter-weight classes (where the standouts usually earn their names by fighting the best of their divisions), and they generally don’t want their “attractions-in-the-makings” to suffer a loss before they reach big-fight status. We especially see this at heavyweight, which has very long history of building up mediocre talents in order to cash out – win or lose – in a big event. THE glamor division was home to the search for the Great White Hope, it was where Joe Louis fought his “Bum-of-the-Month Club,” it inspired such literary, teleplay and film works as The Harder They Fall and Requiem for a Heavyweight, it gave us Jorge Luis Gonzalez and Michael Grant in the 1990s. And I can’t deny that I was a Grant believer in the late ’90s (although I gave him ZERO chance against Lennox Lewis).