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Montero’s Merciless Mailbag

14
Aug

The undisputed Mailbag Champion is still out on vacation with his family, so the vacant interim diamond emeritus titleholder is in the ring and ready to answer your questions. Here we go.

SIR EDDIE’S “FIGHT CAMP” SERIES, FUN SCRAPS, UK PROSPECTS TO WATCH

Hi Doug,

Hope you’ve had a great weekend. I was really stoked about the first Fight Camp card on DAZN. All of the fights were quality. I was pleased to see Jordan Gill back and in-form, and how it shows to not give up on fighter. He’s been through it, but now looks again like he may go far. Tennyson vs Gwynne was a great scrap, though I’m still not entirely sold on Tennyson (a little more power form Gwynne and it would have been a different fight altogether). That was my first introduction to Fabio Wardley, who I’ll definitely be looking out for now. And the best fight of the night was the headliner, Cheeseman vs Eggington, what an old-fashioned ruckus!



I don’t think either of those guys is world class, but they both showed immense heart and grit down the stretch and it was a blast. I saved mention of Dalton Smith for last. Early days I know, but I think there’s a whiff of that early Josh Taylor feel about him. The scene was different than anything I’ve seen before, in a really good way. Doesn’t quite make up for a crowd, but I liked the outdoor setting, and the whole deal. Those that lost left it all in the ring. The winners were gracious, everyone was strictly focused on business; all with the distant London skyline and a sunset and full moon part of the ongoing …it was just way cool.

I’m curious for you take on the action, and whether you think Fight Camp can keep putting on cards like that.

Cheers,

Alec

Glad you enjoyed the “Fight Camp” series premiere, Alec. I personally thought the card was a lot of fun and I appreciated the setting. And as you mentioned, the scenery made for a unique, memorable atmosphere. Eddie Hearn has mentioned in recent interviews like he’d like to keep the series going in some way, shape or form – even after the boxing business returns to normal and fans are allowed back at events.

I’m with in regards to Jordan Gill, he’s still got something. However, his lack of game-changing power will always be a liability in my opinion. I’d like to see him rematch Mario Enrique Tinoco, the Mexican who dropped him three times before handing Gill his only pro defeat last year. In terms of styles and levels, I think Tennyson and Gwynne could fight ten times and they’d all be fun scraps. Same goes for Cheeseman and Eggington. I don’t rate any of those fighters at the world level, but not every fighter can be Terence Crawford or Tyson Fury.

There’s a lot to like about Fabio Wardley; he’s 6’5”, 25 years-old and he packs a punch. Manager Dillian Whyte – who certainly knows a thing or two in regards to packing a big punch –sees something in him. As for junior welterweight prospect Dalton Smith, I like his amateur pedigree. He fought all over the world in the unpaid ranks and competed in the World Series of Boxing as well. That experience should serve him well as he develops his pro career.

 

TONY AYALA AND LAMAR PARKS AGAINST THE ELITE

Hi Dougie,

You have previously spoke highly of Edwin Valero (saying he beats Morales & stops Mayweather at 135, 140). Also, you predicted that Ike Ibeabuchi, would have beaten Holyfield & Lewis.

How do your rate two other boxers whose career was cut short, Tony Ayala and Lamar Parks? How would Ayala have gone against the fab 4 and also Nunn and Mike McCallum? Same question for “Kidfire” against Gerald McClellan, Jones, Hopkins, Toney & Benn.

Always love to see my questions get published in the mailbags. The past Friday however you published a question where I said, that none of “Wilder’s victims” would have troubled Mike Tyson. You mentioned that Fury would have, which I agree with. I just don’t consider Fury to be a Wilder victim.

Thanks mate,

Regards, Will

Good point about Tyson Fury, Will. I don’t think Doug would consider the Gypsy King a Wilder “victim” either. I believe he was just referring to Wilder’s opponents in general and which (if any) of them could give Mike Tyson trouble. I agree with him that Fury would, but that’s about it. Truth is, Fury is the only elite-level heavyweight Wilder has ever faced.

Interesting question about Ayala and Parks. Both of those men had tremendous potential as fighters, but their careers were cut short for very different reasons.

Many fans remember Ayala as a star in the making who sabotaged his career with a rape conviction. What many don’t know, is that he had been abusing drugs and alcohol since his teens. He was molested by a family friend as a child. He had issues with the law, including two previous sexual assault convictions, prior to being sentenced to 35 years for raping his neighbor in 1983. He was a troubled person. How would Ayala have held up mentally and emotionally against the elite? Would he have been able to keep it together against the likes or Duran, Leonard, Hearns and Hagler? I just don’t know. All four of those men dealt with different types of aversity in their lives and careers as well, and they overcame them. I’d have to favor every member of the Fab Four to defeat Ayala. In regards to McCallum and Nunn, I just think they’d be too big for him. That being said, he’d be a tough night at the office for all of them.

Parks wasn’t quite the talent that Ayala was, but he was a top-rated middleweight and was set to face Gerald McClellan for a world title in 1994. Sadly, he tested positive for HIV and was forced to retire before the bout. I believe he would’ve been competitive against the likes of McClellan, Jones, Hopkins and Toney, but would’ve come up short in those bouts. I do however believe he could’ve defeated, possibly even stopped, Nigel Benn. He would’ve matched up well with him in my opinion.

Marquez (left) fought four times against Israel Vazquez (right). Photo: Tom Casino

GREAT FIGHTS THAT FALL UNDER THE RADAR WITH FANS

Hi Dougie,

Hope you and fam are well.

I just re-watched Freitas-Barrios for the first time in ages. What a fight! Could you please recommend some other great fights like this? Obviously, we know about all the classics – Corrales/Castillo, Hagler/Hearns, MAB/Morales trilogy, Gatti/Ward, etc. I was more looking for some great fights that, for whatever reason, fly under the radar when people talk about the classics. Fights like Freitas/Barrios, Tua/Ibeabuchi, etc.

Thank you!

Your friend,

Big Will

You didn’t mention the series between Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez, Will – please tell me that you saw those fights! The first three were outstanding, but I wish the fourth never happened. My favorite was the third bout, it was high drama all the way up until the end. Don’t forget about Bradley-Provodnikov either; I feel like that one doesn’t get talked about enough.

If you’re a fan of the little guys, I highly recommend you check out a few of Ring’s Fight of the Year winners that fly under the radar of most fans. Giovani Segura and Ivan Calderon fought twice at the tail end of the Puerto Rican’s career. Their first bout in 2010 was great. Even better, our 2006 winner between Somsak Sithchatchawal and Mahyar Monshipour. You mentioned the Gatti-Ward trilogy, but did you ever see Gatti’s fights against Gabriel Ruelas (1997) and Ivan Robinson (1998)? Both won Fight of the Year honors from The Ring. And our 1991 winner between Robert Quiroga and Akeem Anifowoshe definitely flies under the radar.

But while some of those bouts fall under the radar with fans, they didn’t with boxing writers. I think your question was pertaining to fights like Fonfara-Cleverly in 2015. Those two threw more than 2,500 punches! Salido- Kokietgym (2014) had seven – yes, seven – knockdowns. Guerrero-Kamegai (2014) was a damn good scrap, as was Akira Yaegashi vs Pornsawan Porpramook in 2011.

 

Jarrell Miller. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

JARRELL MILLER AND UNIFORM DOPING STANARDS IN BOXING

Hi Dougie, I hope you and yours are keeping safe and well.

Since Jarrell Miller’s latest failed test, I’ve been thinking a bit about what boxing can do to combat doping. And it’s not easy, there’s no global governing body to lay down the law to everyone, so any solution is going to rely on the cooperation of everyone involved. Saying that, there are success stories from other sports and I certainly don’t think it’s impossible for boxing to get on top of this plague.

One of your readers wrote in a couple of weeks ago about harsher bans, so I won’t go into detail about that apart from to say that I’m all for it, but it’s absolutely crucial for bans to be recognized globally. It’s completely pointless if someone like Miller can fail simultaneous tests for 3 performance enhancing subjects in New York, but then go and get a license to fight in Vegas, the UK or Japan a month or two later.

One sport that has really got its teeth into the fight against doping and is repairing its tarnished reputation is cycling. Central to this has been the implementation of “athlete biological passports”.

Here’s some in depth info from the UCI for those interested:

https://www.uci.org/inside-uci/clean-sport/anti-doping/the-athlete-biological-passport

The passport is a digital collection of all in and out of competition urine and blood tests the athletes provide. From these results a profile is created and “normal” levels for each athlete established. This is an indirect way of detecting abnormalities, in addition to the blood and urine samples themselves.

Wonderful! I hear you say, but who is going to pay for this?

Well, cycling has managed this by mandating the creating of an independent doping control body (CADF) which is funded by CADF stakeholders, the pro cycling teams, the governing body (the UCI), race organizers and the riders themselves. So, everyone involved pays a share.

In boxing, I guess this would have to be the fighters, the promoters, the sanctioning bodies, the TV broadcasters and if a similar independent doping body was set up, the stakeholders of that body. So, it could be structured so the financial burden isn’t too heavy on any individual party.

Wonderful! I hear you say, but how are you going to get all of these different players to agree and cooperate? Well, you have to start at the top. All 4 sanctioning bodies agree that no fighter can be ranked by those bodies without being on the passport program (which ideally would also come with a mandatory 2 months+ VADA testing). The TV broadcasters (ESPN, DAZN, Showtime, Sky etc.) must the refuse to televise any fight with a fighter not on the program. The big cheese promoters (Haymon, Arum, Hearn, Golden Boy, Warren etc.) have to refuse to promote anyone who doesn’t enroll with the program. I believe that if you can get all these people to agree to their small part of funding such a program, mandating their fighters use it becomes pretty much a given.

And of course, most importantly of all, the Bible of Boxing, Ring Magazine itself, refuses to rank or give coverage of fighters not on the program.

It may sound a bit pie in the sky, but without TV exposure, rankings and top matchmakers, no fighter is ever going to be able to build a profile and make any money. And pretty much all pro fighters aren’t interested in fighting for no money or future prospects, so they would have no choice but to comply.

They could then potentially begin to take things a step further and agree nobody can participate in a world title bout without being on VADA365 for example, but I may be getting a little ahead of myself there.

If this could be implemented the improved reputation of the sport could potentially bring in more advertising money. It would certainly stop more stories like Miller’s.

I’d love to know your thoughts on how viable a system like this is and what it would take to get all the necessary parties to get serious about tackling doping in the sport and set up such a system.

If you’ve got any contacts, I’m willing to begin negotiations of behalf of The Ring Magazine 😉 My corona furlough isn’t going to end any time soon!

All the best,

Graham

Trondheim, Norway

Good stuff Graham. This is a subject that I have written and spoken much about on numerous platforms in recent years.

You may enjoy this piece of mine where I wrote, in detail, what boxing could do better right now: https://www.ringtv.com/article/time-to-wake-up/

You are correct in that when it comes to suspensions for PEDS, they should be uniform and global. I’ve been saying for years that the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) needs to step up and get involved. There should be uniform standards when it comes to doping across all commission and sanctioning bodies.

Many fans underestimate the size and scope of PEDS testing in boxing, it’s a massive undertaking. Boxing is truly a global sport with thousands of participants from every corner of the globe, making sample collection, travel and chain of custody, a very convoluted process. There are 17 divisions in men’s boxing, meaning there are 170 “top ten” rated fighters at any given time. Let’s not forget that there are four major sanctioning bodies, which brings that 170 to 680. If you were to test each ranked fighter in each organization once per week, that’s more than 35,000 samples collected, transported, and processed per year. If you start to do the math here, the numbers get very big, very quickly.

The WBC has the right idea with their “Clean Boxing Program”, but it’s significantly underbudgeted. Until these tests get more affordable, it’s going to be difficult to mandate true, 24/7/365 testing that makes a significant difference.

But the thing I’ve taken away from all my discussions with experts on the subject is uniformity, which goes back to your Jarrell Miller example. The minute he tested positive; he should’ve been suspended pending investigation with every commission on earth. Once the investigation was completed and the results were scientifically confirmed, he should have been out of boxing for 12 months, and allowed to return only if he were willing to pay for VADA testing for a full calendar year. This latest offense with Miller was his third strike. In my opinion, any “three timer” should be banned from the sport, period. But you know as well as I do that some promoter will pick him up in the future. Top Rank was willing to sign him after he shamed the sport in 2019.

Another issue that very few talk about is related to extreme weight gain/loss by fighters today. Most dopers these days are not using PEDS to bulk up, but rather to cut weight. We have the technology right now where fighters could weigh themselves once a week, and digitally send the results to commission officials in the jurisdiction of their residence. Every ranked fighter should stay within a predetermined percentage of their division weight limit year-round, in or out of competition. Maybe it’s 10%, or 12%, I don’t know what the magic number is. That’s where the ABC, the sanctioning groups, commission leaders, testing groups and scientific leaders need to come together and determine the proper thresholds.

But as you stated, this is all “pie in the sky”. For all the fighters out there wanting to prove their clean and demanding their opponents prove it too, there are a dozen of their peers who simply don’t give a shit. Same goes for fight fans and media alike. How can we get people to truly care about this subject matter? That, my friend, is the greatest question of all.

 

Michael Montero can be found on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram via @MonteroOnBoxing. His weekly podcast ‘The Neutral Corner’ can be heard on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio and elsewhere.

 

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