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Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Ramirez-Postol, Tim Tszyu, Nigel Benn)

28
Aug

RAMIREZ-POSTOL, HEAVYWEIGHT PUNCHES

Hi Doug,

Like everybody I thoroughly enjoyed Whyte-Povetkin but what is this “It only takes one punch at heavyweight” that always comes up after knockouts like these? I would rather say, “It only takes one punch from a puncher at any weight.”

My long deceased grandma was a doctor and for obvious reasons didn’t like boxing but in her young days she was there in the stadium when Vic Toweel won the bantamweight title from Manuel Ortiz and she always told me that “It was ok because they’re small so they don’t hit each other so hard.” That always got me going. Surely things are proportional? Yes, heavyweights hit harder but they are bigger and can absorb more or is there something I’m missing? Does punch resistance decrease with less mobility and flexibility as fighters get bigger?



Anyway, looking forward to Jose Ramirez and Viktor Postol which I think is a very interesting matchup between two polar opposite styles.

Ramirez has heavy hands and is a good finisher but to me, he is not quite on that elite level of the other two big names in the division, Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis.

He is not exceptionally quick and fighters that can box on the fly will give him trouble, as Jose Zepeda showed. Zepeda’s tricky movement gave him fits before he eventually closed the gap and squeezed out the win.

This is where Postol comes in. That straight up European style, although mostly not as effective or exciting as the American style, can work very well for some fighters. Wladimir Klitschko was one example and Postol, to a lesser extent, is another. In short, I think Ramirez has a style that suits Postol and he is not as quick or dynamic as Taylor or Crawford.

I think Postol is a difficult opponent for Ramirez and it should be a good test to see how Ramirez stacks up next to the elite fighters in the game such as Crawford and Taylor.

Yes, he can be hurt but when those two sent him to the canvass, they did so by setting traps, making Postol come forward, a position where he seems uncomfortable, sometimes leaning in with his punches. The thing is, I don’t know whether Ramirez can really fight going backwards, hence I do not see him taking Postol out the way he got Hooker out of there. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen that much of Ramirez so am I underestimating the guy?

I think that this fight will play out in two halves with Postol winning the first half but Ramirez is younger and fresher than Matthysse was when Postol fought him and I think that he will eventually get to Postol, perhaps hurting him and scoring a knockdown.

I expect that Ramirez landing the harder blows as the fight goes on will get him over the hump and the judges will reward his aggression, much like they did with Jessica McCaskill over Cecilia Braekhus the other day. Still, Postol is very live in this one.

How do you see the fight? What are the chances of seeing Taylor-Ramirez next year to crown another five belt (Ring included) champion?

Mythical matchups:

Earnie Shavers vs Alexander Povetkin/Dillian Whyte

Josh Taylor vs Meldrick Taylor

Regards. – Droeks Malan, South Africa

I think peak Shavers (1976-77), at his most motivated and in-shape (for the title shot vs. a faded Ali), would catch and stretch Whyte in the late rounds – at some point between Round 9-12 (possibly a come-from-behind stoppage) – but prime Povetkin would likely outpoint the plodding American over 12.

I’ll go with the Scottish Taylor by close, maybe split decision.

How do I see Taylor-Postol? I think it’s a quality matchup, definitely a contrast of styles, as you pointed out, but I guess I don’t rate Postol as highly as you do because I think the Californian will simply outwork him in every rounds en route to a unanimous decision in a competitive bout.

I think chances of seeing Taylor-Ramirez next year are pretty good as long as Ramirez takes care of business tomorrow and Taylor gets by his IBF mandatory (Apinun Khongsong) on Sept. 26.

Ramirez has heavy hands and is a good finisher but to me, he is not quite on that elite level of the other two big names in the division, Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis. I disagree. I don’t think there’s much separating the three. If and when Taylor and Prograis share the ring with Ramirez I think they will be as evenly matched and the action as hotly contested as their bout.

Ramirez vs. Zepeda. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

He is not exceptionally quick and fighters that can box on the fly will give him trouble, as Jose Zepeda showed. Ramirez isn’t a speed demon but he’s not slow or plodding. Just because he’s a pressure fighters doesn’t mean he’s mentally slow or doesn’t have world-class technique/craft. Zepeda’s a tough nut for any 140 pounder.

Zepeda’s tricky movement gave him fits before he eventually closed the gap and squeezed out the win. Zepeda is also physically stronger with more inside game than Postol. It’s not the same style matchup in my opinion.

That straight up European style, although mostly not as effective or exciting as the American style, can work very well for some fighters. We’ll see if Postol’s style causes Ramirez fits. I think Ramirez’s intelligent pressure will gradually break down the 36-year-old Ukrainian. Don’t think that Ramirez will be befuddled by lateral movement. He knows how to cut the ring off and he’s accustomed to Eastern European boxing styles from his extensive amateur career.

The thing is, I don’t know whether Ramirez can really fight going backwards, hence I do not see him taking Postol out the way he got Hooker out of there. I don’t think he’ll have to fight going backwards to be effective vs. Postol. His pressure, creative volume punching and physical strength should be more than enough.

Ramirez (right) cracks Orozco. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank

I’ll admit that I haven’t seen that much of Ramirez so am I underestimating the guy? You should watch his title bouts vs. Amir Imam and Antonio Orozco. I don’t know if you’re underestimating Ramirez – how he does vs. Postol will determine that – but I think you’re undervaluing his style, ring IQ and amateur experience (he was a multi-national champion and he was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic squad).

Regarding heavyweight punching power, you’re correct that it’s all relative, so your late grandma was definitely wrong about little guys not being able to hurt each other (they probably inflict more overall punishment with their higher workrates; plus the damage to their brains can be worse than what occurs with the heavyweights because they have weight limits to make and, sadly, a lot guys dehydrate themselves making weight, which shrinks the brain and causes it to bounce around inside the skull).

But I get why people are extra fascinated by heavyweight one-hitter-quitters. It’s just more dramatic seeing a giant body get iced (especially if it’s from one big punch). And, I guess one could argue that heavyweight boxing is more risky in terms of getting clipped by one good shot, even if that shot comes from a boxer not known for his power. The consistency of the human brain is like jelly no matter what the size of the body, and the skull/cranial thickness in human beings don’t vary that much by body build, so it stands to reason that the big men can do more damage to it with one shot than smaller folks.

 

TIM TSZYU HAS ARRIVED

Hi Dougie,

Just watched the one sided beatdown Tszyu put on Jeff Horn, he is the real thing.

I grew up watching his father, so maybe nostalgia creeps in. But I see him having a very bright future.

How long till he gets a title shot?

As for Horn, I hope he retires. His type don’t make for long careers. I was never a fan and didn’t agree with the decision in the Manny fight (did anyone?)

I always felt the tremendous amount of hate he received was unwarranted though. As was the amount of punishment he’s taken in his last 3 bouts. His trainer has received plenty of criticism over here, for allowing it.

A quick MM

Kostya Tszyu vs De La Hoya at 140.

Thanks mate. Regards. – Will

I generally go with King Kosya vs. any 140 pounder from history, whith the exception of relentless and powerful volume punchers like the great Henry Armstrong and Aaron Pryor, but the Jesus Rivero-trained junior welterweight version of The Golden Boy was a very special boxer. My hunch is that his stiff jab and smooth footwork could keep Tszyu off balance for seven or eight rounds. Then it could get interesting. Young De La Hoya always had that late rounds fade before he’d rally in the final round. It’s a toss up, in my opinion, but I’ll go with Goldie by close, maybe majority decision.

Just watched the one sided beatdown Tszyu put on Jeff Horn, he is the real thing. He’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. I think he’s world class, but beating Jeff Horn at 154 pounds in 2020 doesn’t prove that one is world class. Tszyu still needs to beat a legit junior middleweight contender.

Tim Tszyu

I grew up watching his father, so maybe nostalgia creeps in. How can nostalgia NOT creep in when watching Tim fight? His face is almost exactly like his old man’s, he’s got the same boxing style, identical technique, the same steely focused look in his eyes, the same almost-stoic controlled emotions. The way he systematically broke Horn down was very close to the way his father used to wear out the top 140 pounders of the ’90s and early 2000s.

But I see him having a very bright future. So far, so good. I don’t think he’s ready for the winner of Charlo-Rosario, or even former titleholders, such as Julian Williams, Jarrett Hurd or Tony Harrison, but he seems on his way. I’d love to see him mix it up with fellow young guns like Erickson Lubin, Israil Madrimov or Serhii Bohachuk.

How long till he gets a title shot? It probably won’t take that long if he’s aiming for the WBO belt, currently held by Patrick Teixeira (it’s the one major 154-pound title that isn’t part of the PBC Universe). Tszyu was rated No. 9 by the WBO going into the fight with Horn, who the WBO rated No. 5. You gotta figure the victory will vault Timmy into the top four. Right now the WBO’s top four junior middleweights are: Brian Castano, Liam Smith, Jarrett Hurd and Bakhram Murtazaliev. There’s no easy mark in that bunch, and Teixeira is a handful (as Carlos Adames can attest), but if Tszyu continues to improve I wouldn’t count him out against any of them this time next year.

As for Horn, I hope he retires. His type don’t make for long careers. I was never a fan and didn’t agree with the decision in the Manny fight (did anyone?) Nobody that I know did. That mauling style is not for everybody (kudos to the ref for warning both about the grappling early on during the bout). Horn did his best to impose his roughhouse tactics in close but Tszyu defended well on the inside and also did some damage. I was impressed. I’m also impressed with what Horn has accomplished. He’s been part of some huge events in Australia, shared the ring with two elite fighters, some big names, won and lost in thrilling fashion, came back and lost again. He’s got to be one of the top overachievers in boxing of the last 15-20 years. If Horn does retire he can be proud of his professional journey and the effort he gave.

 

NIGEL BEEN INTERVIEW, SPARRING

Hi Doug,

Great upset this past weekend to reignite everyone’s boxing passion post lockdown (in the UK)

Hope you are well, I am writing in to ask have you already listened to or do you intend to listen to Tris Dixon’s podcast with Nigel Benn? If you haven’t you have to, you will love it (I know you’ve always been a big fan of Benn’s). Its absolute gold, full of cracking anecdotes and brutal honesty, I’d love to get your take on it.

Not to spoil it it too much but one gem is an exchange he has with Doug DeWitt prior to their fight.

Dewitt: “You’re going down”

Benn: “I may go down, but you’re staying down”

Absolutely brilliant and you just know he said it.

Couple of questions arising from it.

He says he never sparred hard in training just purely used sparring to get his distance, he wanted his wars when it counted and feels this is why he has aged well mentally. Have you heard of other boxers taking this approach to save their faculties and pent up aggression for the main event? It makes sense to me, but you regularly hear trainers, fighters, etc. profess nothing beats hard sparring in preparation for a fight. I believe Rob McCracken is a proponent of this. What are your thoughts?

Secondly what do you feel his finest hour was, has to be one of his American triumphs?

Lastly, he touches briefly on a little spat he has had with Carl Froch about better careers, etc., I think it was all over a GB all-time pound for pound list that Froch wasn’t on but Benn was. Who had the better career and who wins?

Has to be at super middle as Froch never made middle as far as I know. I think Froch is too big, too durable and stops him late after weathering some early Benn punishment.

For what it’s worth Benn stated if Groves could put Froch over I (Benn) would have finished him or words to that effect. Plausible.

Keep up the great work as ever. Regards. – Steffan, UK

Benn certainly cracked harder Groves or Jermain Taylor (who also had Froch down), but Froch had inhuman recuperative ability. Keeping him down wasn’t easy. But prime Benn was a relentless beast, the way he kept hammering at his opponents and would go for the kill. It’s a toss-up mythical matchup, as neither man is lacking in heart or character, but Froch’s underrated guile and ring generalship, along with his vaunted durability and stamina, would probably see him through to the final bell and close decision.

I can’t really call who had the better career. Both are hall of fame worthy in my view. Benn continues to get a checkmark on the International Boxing Hall of Fame ballot from Yours Truly, and Froch will too as soon as I spot his name on it.

I haven’t listened to Dixon’s Boxing Life Stories interview of Benn yet, but I subscribe to the podcast and have it cued up in my iPhone. I’ve got to drive to Orange County this morning, so I might listen to it during the commute. I’m definitely looking forward to it. I think Benn is the first British boxer whose career I closely followed.

He says he never sparred hard in training just purely used sparring to get his distance, he wanted his wars when it counted and feels this is why he has aged well mentally. Benn is a lot smarter than he was given credit for during his fighting days.

Bernard Hopkins under the watchful eye of Bouie Fisher.

Have you heard of other boxers taking this approach to save their faculties and pent up aggression for the main event? Yeah, of course, many of the legends of the sport had trainers who prided themselves on not burning fighters out with harsh camps and hard sparring. Two of the greatest middleweights of all time – Carlos Monzon and the man who broke the Argentine’s title defense record, Bernard Hopkins – were brought up by trainers who would not allow too many rounds of sparring and who would halt a sparring match if it got out of hand. Those two great trainers were the late Amilcar Brusa and the late Bouie Fisher. I’m proud to say that I got to know both men a little bit and was able to interview them while they were alive and still at the top of their games as boxing teachers.

It makes sense to me, but you regularly hear trainers, fighters, etc. profess nothing beats hard sparring in preparation for a fight. I believe Rob McCracken is a proponent of this. What are your thoughts? Gym wars are still a part of boxing culture, unfortunately. It’s a point of pride with many gyms – some of them are even famous and iconic like Kronk, Wild Card and Mayweather Boxing Club – around the world. I don’t care at all for boxers – of any level – beating the s__t out of each other just for the hell of it, but I can understand (to an extent) where some professional fighters and trainers are coming from. I’m sure they want to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the hell they’re expecting in the prize ring, but every retired fighter I know of who liked to spar a lot or who used sparring to get into shape (or both) – and it’s a long list that includes several hall of famers – now suffers from neurological disorders (slurred speech/thick tongue, acute headaches, concentration/memory problems, mood swings, depression, PTSD, dementia, etc.). But I think Benn had the right idea about sparring and its purpose.

Benn drops Barkley in a wild one-round middleweight shootout. Photo from The Ring Archive

Secondly what do you feel his finest hour was, has to be one of his American triumphs? My favorite Benn moment (and this is something I’ve shared with the mailbag many times) was his first-round blowout of Iran Barkley in Las Vegas in August 1990. (Holy s__t, THIRTY YEARS AGO THIS MONTH!) His aura (and the energy of the British fans in attendance) was off the charts. I was lucky to have caught that one live on network TV. However, his finest hour is either his dramatic stoppage of Gerald McClellan (which I usually shy away from due to the tragic nature of that bout) or his draw with arch rival Chris Eubank.

 

 

WASTED CAREER?

Morning Dougie,

Hope you enjoyed your week off (please thank Mr Montero for supporting the mailbag).

I read an interview the other day with Marc Ramsey (Eleider Alvarezs’s trainer for those who don’t know) that said he’d noticed Alvarez was starting to decline during the camp for the Kovalev rematch and they agreed after that fight that if he took a second loss, he’d retire.

Seemed a bit harsh at first but it got me thinking about the way Alvarez’s career has gone. He was mandatory for Adonis Stevenson for a long time but seemed very content to take step aside money and fight a lower level of competition. Given his size, athleticism and skills, I feel like he could have been a real handful for Stevenson (or any LHW at the time). If what Ramsey is saying is true, did Alvarez waste his career a bit?

MM – Adonis Stevenson (who fought Bika) vs Eleider Alvarez (who fought Chilemba)

Thanks again. – Euan, Dunfermline, Scotland

Stevenson wielded the proverbial “eraser” with that monstrous left of his, even when he was having a bad night, so he can never be counted out but the version that faced Bika in 2015 would have likely been outpointed by the version of Alvarez that fought the awkward Malawian contender/gatekeeper the same year. To that point, Alvarez, who had outclassed a still-dangerous Edison Miranda and scored stoppages of fringe contenders Ryno Liebenberg and Anatoly Dudchenko in succession, had exhibited a solid chin and exceptionally fast reflexes for such a big light heavyweight.

It’s hard to say if he “wasted” his career by not forcing his WBC mandatory (and he probably would have had to sue somebody to do that). He still had big-event fights in Quebec vs. popular former champs Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal – which he won – and he still lifted the WBO title from a borderline hall of famer in Sergey Kovalev via spectacular stoppage.

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s Periscope every Sunday.

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