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Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (great corner work, Canelo, Chavez and Golovkin)

Hall-of-fame trainer Angelo Dundee did some of his best corner work with Muhammad Ali. (That's Drew 'Bundini' Brown and Dr. Ferdie Pacheco to the right.) Photo: THE RING Archive
12
Jun

LOPEZ-CORIA, GREATEST CORNERS

Hi Doug,

Did you watch Luis Coria vs Adam Lopez? Excellent fight and excellent job from both coaches. You could see the fighters came with game plans, and you could see how the fighters adjusted their game following their corner’s advice. I loved watching both Buddy McGirt and Robert Garcia work.

Both are great boxing minds and both give very specific and technical advice in the corner.



So, the question. What is your top 5 best corner jobs in history? Where you could see how a corner changed the course of the fight.

And another question, who do you like better, ‘technical’ corners that tell a fighter what to do, or ‘motivational’ like Teddy Atlas, who could pump the fighter up when it is needed. Love your mailbags. – Dmitry

Thanks, Dmitry.

While I enjoy witnessing a passionate or fiery corner during any hotly contested prize fight, I’ve always had a little more respect for the “technical” corners that maintain control and keep their fighters’ heads focused on the gameplan or necessary adjustments.

At the end of the day, anybody can be an emotional cheerleader in the corner. The real trainers/teachers/mentors provide instruction and stability between rounds. The late, great Eddie Futch is probably the prime example of the “sagely cool head” in the corner. Futch passed that calm demeanor onto Freddie Roach, who eventually joined his former trainer and mentor in the hall of fame.

One of my personal favorite corner voices belongs to Dean Familton, assistant trainer to young featherweight contender Ruben Villa IV. Check Villa’s ShoBox appearances on YouTube and listen in to Familton’s calm and precise instructions between rounds. It’s a real talent and art form that he picked up from his father, Don Familton, and has perfected.  

Having said that, being a good motivator is part of being an effective trainer in the corner, and some of my all-time favorite trainers were/are both “teacher” and “cheerleader” between rounds: the dearly departed Angelo Dundee and Emanuel Stewart immediately come to mind, and Joe Goossen is among the best active veterans that can bring both fire and ice to a corner.

What is your top 5 best corner jobs in history? Where you could see how a corner changed the course of the fight.

Angelo Dundee working the corner of Sugar Ray Leonard.

I can’t tell you the best corner jobs in history. I’ve haven’t studied the corners of every fight. Nobody has. It’s impossible. Including corner footage and audio during a live boxing broadcast didn’t begin until the 1970s. But I can tell you the best of my lifetime that immediately come to mind and the aforementioned Dundee is featured in three of them: Sonny Liston-Cassius Clay I (when he kept a young, flustered Ali from quitting between rounds when he got liniment in his eye during his heavyweight title challenge), Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns I (which I can sum up with this famous sound bite: “You’re blowin’ it, Son!” but he was brilliant between every round), and Marvin Hagler-Leonard (where he kept Sugar Ray confident-but-not-overconfident, “stickin’ and movin’,” and motivated throughout).

In more recent decades, I appreciated the rapport between Goossen and the late Diego Corrales. I think Joe – who had Joel Casamayor in great form for the first showdown with Chico – was in rare form during the rematch, which was his first bout with Corrales (while Casamayor had gone to Buddy McGirt, who was also excellent between rounds).

Do yourself a favor and check out Casamayor-Corrales II if you’ve never seen this fight. It’s a quality chess match, but the both corners were exemplary. Goossen knew Casamyor like few others and he had the perfect gameplan for Corrales, but he also had a born-puncher/slugger who could be very willful once in the heat of battle. His challenge was keeping Chico dialed in, thinking positive and boxing a disciplined bout for 12 rounds against an opponent who was not only a stylistic nightmare but nasty, dirty fighting dude who got under his new fighter’s skin. Goossen got the job done by constantly reassuring Corrales that he was employing the right tactics, reminding him to apply smart pressure while working the feint-and-jab, and occasionally pointing out technical adjustments to make.   

For the fifth example, I’ll go with a fight from recent years, which also featured McGirt in the losing corner (although I thought Buddy’s guy deserved to have his hand raised) – Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward I. Whether you agree with the official scorecards or not, you’ve got to be impressed with Virgil Hunter’s round-by-round cornerwork. It was the best blend of technical advice, reassurance and motivational speaking I’d seen since Dundee’s work in Leonard-Hearns I.

I’m glad you enjoyed Lopez-Coria. I’m familiar with both young men, so I knew it would be the fight of last night’s Top Rank/ESPN card, but the men who trained them and worked their corners were just as much of that equation as the fighters’ mentalities and styles.

 

WHY THE CANELO HATE?

Hey Dougie,

I was watching Canelo vs Golovkin 2 and you were doing the commentary on this fight. I think you did a good job trying to stay neutral as possible during the fight and just calling the action as it develops. My brother George who follows your mailbag tells me you’re a GGG fan so kudos for being professional.

My brothers and I honestly thought Canelo edged it 7-5.

Boxing fans did not seem happy even the ones that thought Canelo won. It seems as if people want him to beat GGG by knockout, stoppage, or unanimous decision for him to get credit. I must admit that sounded reasonable at first to me but watching the fight again you can see GGG is a great opponent for Canelo.

Do you know if Julio Caesar Chavez ever faced an opponent like Golovkin and if he did, did he win that fight? (I was born in 1990 so I’d really like to know why many regard him so highly. Especially the broadcasters on ESPN A Los Golpes.)

Doesn’t it make more sense for Canelo to fight the best at 168 to enhance his legacy than fighting GGG a third time? Thanks, Dougie! – Jonathan

Well, it depends on who you ask, Jonathan. Most fans agree that Golovkin deserved to win their first bout, and those who thought that GGG won the rematch might believe that Canelo has unfinished business with the Kazakhstan hero. Add to the controversy of the first two bouts the fact that the rematch was a tremendous fight and that both men have huge dedicated fan bases, you can understand why DAZN spent so much money in signing the middleweights to exclusive deals in the hopes of making the third showdown. Put simply, it’s a huge event.

But there are plenty of fans who have seen enough of Canelo-GGG. They don’t care if the two make for a good fight. They figure Golovkin is too far past his prime for the third bout to be significant and they want to see something new. I can’t be mad at them for that, even though I’d have no problem with a third fight.

I’d like to see Canelo go for a top-five 168-pound fighter, such as Ring champ Callum Smith, WBC titleholder David Benavidez or IBF beltholder Caleb Plant. It would be a big deal in my book if he won a Ring title in a third weight class, not to mention genuinely earning four-division titleholder status. (However, I guarantee you that there will be a legion of #salty Boxing Twitter bastards that will pooh-pooh this accomplishment if and when he achieves it.)

But I’m OK with Canelo staying at middleweight provided he can safely make 160 pounds. A title-unification bout against Jermall Charlo would make for a fun boxer-puncher shootout and a Tokyo showdown with Ryota Murata would be slugfest for as long as the Japanese star could holdout. I know the #Salty Society would absolutely piss on these matchups, but who cares? These are the same dopes that can’t give him credit for winning a light heavyweight title.

I was watching Canelo vs Golovkin 2 and you were doing the commentary on this fight. I think you did a good job trying to stay neutral as possible during the fight and just calling the action as it develops. Thank you. I was working with an ace broadcaster (Beto Duran) and a smart former champion (Kevin Kelley), and they definitely enhanced my commentary. I never try to take “the story of the fight” or the promotional build-up or the perceived stylistic matchup past the opening bell. I just try my best to analyze and chronicle what’s unfolding in front of me.

My brother George who follows your mailbag tells me you’re a GGG fan so kudos for being professional. I have immense respect for both fighters.

My brothers and I honestly thought Canelo edged it 7-5. Fair call, as is 7-5 for GGG.

Boxing fans did not seem happy even the ones that thought Canelo won. I honestly think some so-called fans just enjoy being miserable complainers. I also think those of us who can enjoy a good fight often give these troubled souls too much attention.

It seems as if people want him to beat GGG by knockout, stoppage, or unanimous decision for him to get credit. Easier said than done. Both fighters have world-class whiskers. Golovkin isn’t as slick with his upper-body movement as Canelo is, but he’s got underrated defensive craft. He knows how to turn his head with punches and he’s good at blocking and parrying incoming shots.

I must admit that sounded reasonable at first to me but watching the fight again you can see GGG is a great opponent for Canelo. Their styles mesh very well. I thought the rematch (Ring Magazine’s 2018 Fight of the Year) was the best matchup of elite middleweight technicians since Mike McCallum-James Toney I.

Do you know if Julio Cesar Chavez ever faced an opponent like Golovkin and if he did, did he win that fight? (I was born in 1990 so I’d really like to know why many regard him so highly. Especially the broadcasters on ESPN A Los Golpes.) The “Golpes Gang” revere Chavez for good reasons, Jonathan. JC Superstar faced the top contenders and titleholders of three weight classes – junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight – from 1984 to 1993. He carried an amazing record of 87-0 going into his welterweight showdown with Pernell Whitaker in September ’93. It’s safe to say that we’ll never see anybody do that again in boxing.

Did he ever face an opponent like GGG? Not exactly like Golovkin, no. Golovkin is a world amateur champ and Olympic silver medalist who became a long-reigning unified titleholder and put together a record streak of defenses and stoppages. He’s a technical pressure fighter with an elite jab and world-class power. Chavez himself would be the fighter from his era with the style closest to GGG’s.

But Chavez faced a dozen world-class fighters with aspects of GGG’s style and accomplishments, from amateur stars/Olympic medalists (Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Giovanni Parisi), technical boxer-punchers (Mario Martinez, Edwin Rosario, Roger Mayweather), cagey tough guys (Rocky Lockridge, Sammy Fuentes, Juan LaPorte), pressure fighters (Jose Luis Ramirez).

Chavez vs. Rosario

The only fighter that Chavez fought who came close to owning the fearsome “mystique” that GGG had from 2013-2017, is probably Rosario, who had good footwork, underrated ring generalship and serious KO power in his compact left hook and well-timed right hands. When Chavez challenged the Puerto Rican star for the WBA lightweight title in November 1987, Rosario had split bouts with Ramirez (the rematch loss was Ring’s 1984 Fight of the Year), almost outpointed a prime Hector Camacho (and though he lost a split nod, his stature raised following that fight while Macho Man’s fell), and then blasted Livingston Bramble (for the WBA belt immediately after the Camacho fight). Bramble had won the title from Ray Mancini and defended it against “Boom Boom” and top contender Tyrone Crawley. Nobody had come close to stopping Bramble, never mind blowing him out. So, Rosario, who defended the belt against Juan Nazario, had more juice and momentum than the undefeated Chavez, who was stepping up from 130 pounds to lightweight.  

 

HEAVYWEIGHT GOLDEN AGE MYTHICAL MATCHUPS

Hi Doug,

Hope you’re going well.

My thoughts this week were on the Golden Age of the heavies – 1970s, when the heavyweight boxing was at its full glory. The best fought the best, never marinating big fights like in our days. Nevertheless, even in those days there were some amount of fights that failed ever to be made, but everyone wanted  to see, for example Foreman vs. Shavers – just to think what a clash it would be of the two arguably hardest hitters in history! And this prompted me to MMs that never happened in 1970s:

Ken Norton vs. Ron Lyle

Joe Frazier vs. Ken Norton

Jerry Quarry vs. Jimmy Young (prime 1974-77 version)

Jerry Quarry vs. Oscar Bonavena

George Foreman vs. Earnie Shavers

Joe Frazier vs. Jimmy Young

Larry Holmes vs. Jimmy Young

Larry Holmes vs. Ron Lyle

Ron Lyle vs. George Chuvalo

George Foreman vs. Jerry Quarry

Also, interesting to know your opinion on controversial decisions, that took place during that period. How’d you score Jimmy Young-Ken Norton, Ken Norton-Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali-Jimmy Young, Muhammad Ali-Ken Norton 2, 3? Thanks. –  Eric

Norton (left) goes at Ali in their second fight in Los Angeles Photo from The Ring archive

I haven’t scored these fights in years (decades, actually, it was back in college), but I had Norton edging Young by a round or two (due mostly to his body attack), Holmes getting through Norton’s baptism by fire by banking early rounds with his stick-and-move game and arguably stealing the epic 15th round by stunning Kenny in the final seconds (although I scored the final round for Norton), Young clearly outpointing a sluggish Ali, Ali edging Norton in the rematch by a round or two, and Norton clearly outworking Ali and winning anywhere from nine to 11 rounds in their rubbermatch.

Your heavyweight Golden Age Mythical Matchups:

Ken Norton vs. Ron LyleNorton by split decision

Joe Frazier vs. Ken NortonFrazier by mid-rounds stoppage

Jerry Quarry vs. Jimmy Young (prime 1974-77 version)Quarry by close, maybe majority decision

Jerry Quarry vs. Oscar BonavenaQuarry by close, maybe majority decision

George Foreman vs. Earnie ShaversForeman by mid-rounds stoppage

Joe Frazier vs. Jimmy YoungFrazier by late stoppage

Larry Holmes vs. Jimmy YoungHolmes by close decision

Larry Holmes vs. Ron LyleHolmes by close decision or late stoppage

Ron Lyle vs. George ChuvaloLyle by close decision

George Foreman vs. Jerry QuarryForeman by mid-rounds stoppage (probably from cuts)

 

FIGHTER ACTIVITY/CHASING GREATNESS

Dougie,

  1. Why were fighters more active during bygone eras?
  2. What percentage of fighters nowadays are actively trying to chase greatness? By that I mean fighters attempting to genuinely challenge themselves, fighters trying to build their legacy, etc.

Thank you. Love the mailbag. – Brandon from ATL

Thanks for the kind words, Brandon.

1. Up until the 1950s, the only way for fighters to make a good living was to fight often. There wasn’t money from TV or advertisers, closed circuit theaters, or PPV revenue for fighters (or trainers, managers, promoters, or any one in boxing) to rely on. The money came from the tickets sold. The more butts in the seats, the better (and boxing was more popular back then). The more fights, the more money.

2. I’d say any world-class boxer that is looking to unify the titles in his or her division(s). That’s been the case (or is the case) with most of the fighters in the pound-for-pound rankings.

 

FIVE FUTURE FANTASY FIGHTS

Hi Dougie,

Strange times eh?

Obviously there has been a lot of reflecting on past boxing matches considering we have nothing current to keep us going.

Lockdown is easing here in the UK and the return of sport, in a limited capacity, is on the horizon. There are so many fights to be made (not to mention those that were postponed) so I’ve been thinking about the fights I would really want to see regardless of politics etc.

I’ve narrowed it down to five:

Loma v Pacquiao

Heae me out. This was mooted a while back and I believe dismissed by Loma but then Pacman proved he still has it against Thurman. I think Manny makes 135 and this could be an all time classic passing of the guard.

Fury v Joshua

All the marbles. Wembley. Party in the UK.

Canelo v GGG 3

We all know the backstory and all have our opinions. However you look at it the first two were great fights and I’m sure the third would be also. It’s the only real way GGG can put gloss on his career whilst both men could silence critics.

Taylor v Persoon 2

The first was an incredible dust up that proved to many that elite women’s boxing can be every bit as good as men’s. It was overshadowed by the headline act on the night but this would deserve to be front and center of any card.

Inoue v Chocolatito

A pure fantasy superfight. After Gonzalez’s brilliant win over Yafai I’d love to see him headline a mega show and with due respect to Estrada (which would also be a huge fight) etc the nearest big name is The Monster. The weights might be an issue but bigger leaps have been made by lesser men.

What would your fantasy five be?

Best wishes to you and yours. – Chris, Shropshire, UK

Thanks, Chris.

Obviously, the undisputed heavyweight championship is something that I and every other fan (hardcore, casual, general sports, etc.) want to see. But I won’t duplicate your choices. Here are my five:

Deontay Wilder vs. Dillian Whyte – A grudge match that guarantees fun back-and-forth banter and bravado during the pre-fight promotion but is also a potentially explosive heavyweight shootout.

Canelo vs. Jermall Charlo – The coll and confident middleweight champ and pound-for-pound king vs. the brash undefeated beltholder. Experience and ring savvy vs. athleticism and offensive technique. It would have to go down in Texas.

Juan Francisco Estrada-Chocolatito II – It seems like this one is in the works. Gonzalez is already a first-ballot hall of famer, but Juan Francisco can stamp his ticket to Canastota by winning the 115-pound unification bout. Oh, and it must land in the greater Los Angeles area.

Hiroto Kyoguchi vs. Kenshiro Teraji – The Japanese Junior Flyweight Superbowl. Dynamite Boy vs. The Amazing Boy. Fly me to Tokyo or Osaka for this 108-pound championship.

Artur Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol – Technical pressure and power punching vs. athletic stick-and-move. With the retirement of Oleksandr Gvozdyk, this would be The Ring’s Nos. 1 and 2 light heavyweights, thus The Ring 175-pound championship would be on the line (along with IBF, WBC and WBA titles). What’s not to like?

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for all of these to be made in the next six-to-12 months, and I’m guessing that two will actually come to fruition in that time.

 

 

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