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Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (the Tyson-Jones impact, Vinny Paz, Kelly Pavlik vs. today’s middleweights)

Photo by Joe Scarnici / Getty Images for Triller
04
Dec

TYSON WAS ROBBED!

Sorry, Dougie. Couldn’t help it. There has to be forced outage about something in a PPV, right? My question to you isn’t so much about the event (I don’t want to say “fight” because I mean the whole promotion) as it is about what it means in the larger context of the sport. Do you think any of the established promoters out there, (Hearn/Arum/Haymon), will take anything from the fact that the so-far biggest PPV of the “COVID-era” was a bout between two 50+ fighters, sponsored by a weed website featuring hip-hop interludes? I didn’t get the PPV, I personally don’t want to see 50+ fighters and non-boxing “celebrities” risk getting hurt for no good reason, but everyone I know who did get it said it delivered entertainment, and it seems sure we’ll see more of this kind of thing. Considering I’ve gotten plenty of “serious” PPV boxing shows that haven’t delivered, I guess that’s something to think about.

What do you think it means in a post-Mayweather era that the sport has done such a poor job of building interest in the potential new stars that this will potentially be the bigger (not suggesting most significant) boxing cards we see in 2020? While it pales in comparison to the bigger problems the world faces, boxing’s 2020 save for a few highlights (Loma/Lopez, Fury/Wilder) is largely just one giant failure to launch. Is there some bright hope out there that I’m missing? – MT from the OC

There is some hope. There’s always hope, but I’d be lying if I told you that there was “bright hope” right around the corner. Let’s face it, there aren’t that many “superfights” that can be made at the present time (Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua is one of the very few matchups that would garner worldwide attention from the general public; if Canelo Alvarez looks good vs. Callum Smith and Gennadiy Golovkin recaptures his younger form vs. Kamil Szeremeta their third bout might be able to move the needle among casual fans; maybe a round-robin with the lightweight young guns – Teofimo Lopez, Tank Davis, Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney – could generate excitement that goes beyond boxing’s hardcore fans). But the few mega-matches that exist all have limited shelf lives. They need to happen in 2021 or 2022. If they don’t, they’ll lose their luster or likely never take place.

Until the power brokers in the sport start working together, which means figuring out how to share big fights among their various broadcast partners (and until the top boxers in the sport’s glamor divisions DEMAND that their promoters/networks form mutually beneficial alliances to put on the matchups that fans demand), casual fans and the general public will flock to nostalgic boxing events and/or celebrity “freak shows” while largely ignoring the “legitimate” boxing programming.

It is what it is. We can’t be mad at the casuals for getting excited about seniors’ tour exhibitions or yoked-up YouTubers vs. non-combat sports athletes when the boxing industry won’t give us the fights that WE want to see.

Do you think any of the established promoters out there, (Hearn/Arum/Haymon), will take anything from the fact that the so-far biggest PPV of the “COVID-era” was a bout between two 50+ fighters, sponsored by a weed website featuring hip-hop interludes? You would hope it would encourage them build bridges across the various platform “streets” to make the most significant matches possible – the Spence-Garcia winner vs. Crawford, Lopez vs. Davis, Charlo vs. Andrade, etc.) – but it will probably just prompt them to do their own “Battle of the Legends” and celebrity boxing events.

I didn’t get the PPV, I personally don’t want to see 50+ fighters and non-boxing “celebrities” risk getting hurt for no good reason, but everyone I know who did get it said it delivered entertainment, and it seems sure we’ll see more of this kind of thing. Of course! I know Oscar De La Hoya is back in training, and Shane Mosley never stopped working out, are you telling me De La Hoya-Mosley III – even if it’s another eight-round exhibition with two-minutes (which is what it SHOULD be) – wouldn’t generate interest? I think it would be more entertaining than Tyson-Jones was. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t watch a Sugar Ray Leonard-Marvin Hagler “rematch.”

Considering I’ve gotten plenty of “serious” PPV boxing shows that haven’t delivered, I guess that’s something to think about. Entertainment is the name of the game, MT. Think of these bizarre PPV mixes of icon exhibitions, celebrity boxing and rap concerts as movies that are about boxing. A boxing film is not boxing. It’s entertainment delivered as boxing-related stories, which are compelling, and the actors involved – whether its Sly Stallone, Robert De Niro, Hilary Swank, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Michael B. Jordan or whoever – are going to pull in a lot of the general public that doesn’t usually watch boxing.

What do you think it means in a post-Mayweather era that the sport has done such a poor job of building interest in the potential new stars that this will potentially be the bigger (not suggesting most significant) boxing cards we see in 2020? Well, keep in mind that Mike Tyson is one of the most popular boxers in the sport’s long history. Like Muhammad Ali, he’s a worldwide household name. No boxing star developed during this generation can compare to Iron Mike. Hey, Tyson-Jones made money. Good for all involved. So did Fury-Wilder II. (Now, the heavyweights’ guarantees probably impacted the profit margins of that 800,000+ PPV-buy event, which also did a terrific gate of nearly $17 million, but Fury-Wilder II is an example of a co-promotion/cross-platform PPV doing robust business and attracting general sports fan interest.) And there are measures of success that go beyond money. Vasiliy Lomachenko and Lopez didn’t make record paydays for their lightweight championship showdown in October, and it wasn’t a PPV event, but being on primetime ESPN (as well as the ESPN+ app) attracted a combined 4 million live viewers for the event, and ratings like that can launch a talented young champ like Lopez into legit stardom. Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis have large social media followings and appeal among young fans and celebrities that has translated into strong ticket sales in multiple markets. Fury and Joshua are bona-fide stars in the UK (as well known and respected as any top NFL or NBA player is in the U.S.), and both British heavyweights want to fight in America. So, I don’t want to be all doom and gloom in regard to the sport’s ability to create new stars, but I also have to admit that crossover boxing attractions have been few and far between since the 2000s.

While it pales in comparison to the bigger problems the world faces, boxing’s 2020 save for a few highlights (Loma/Lopez, Fury/Wilder) is largely just one giant failure to launch. You can certainly say that, but you shouldn’t do so without mentioning how the pandemic wiped out the spring and summer boxing schedule. Boxing hasn’t rebounded with gusto during the winter months, but it’s not doing too badly considering that we’ve got Spence-Garcia, Joshua-Pulev, Golovkin-Szeremeta, Canelo-Smith, Donaire-Rodriguez, Ioka-Tanaka, and Garcia-Campbell on tap in the next four and half weeks. Let’s keep a positive mind and spirit and see what 2021 brings, hopefully Fury-Joshua along with Tyson-Holyfield III.

 

VINNY PAZIENZA & ERROL SPENCE

Mr. Fischer,

Since everybody is focusing on Spence’s car crash I am wondering why nobody is even mentioning Vinny Pazienza. The Pazmanian Devil broke his neck in a car accident, had to stay in hospital for months and came back for another 24 fights. He beat, for example, Lloyd Honeyghan, Roberto Duran (twice) and Dana Rosenblatt but lost against a prime Roy Jones Jr. – Matthias from Germany

Dougie was a Pazienza fan back when Vinny was banging it out with hated rival Greg Haugen. Photo by THE RING Archive

No shame in that, Matthias. I must admit that I forgot about Pazienza’s 24 bouts that followed his car crash (an amazing 11-year run that included two super middleweight title bouts, which he lost to Jones and Eric Lucas) in all of the curiosity and concern about Errol Spence’s first bout back from his own seemingly career-threatening auto accident. And shame on me because I was an unabashed Pazienza fan going back to his trilogy with Greg Haugen and colorful showdown with Hector Camacho. I bought the pay-per-view events that included his fight with Honeyghan (the show-stealing co-feature to the surprisingly boring Evander Holyfield-Alex Stewart rematch) and his first bout with Rosenblatt (the KO win) and I watched those shows ALONE ‘cause nobody I knew gave a s__t. LOL. Oh, and I really enjoyed the movie on Vinny’s life, “Bleed for This,” even though there were a few historical inaccuracies.

Speaking of which, I should point out a couple of things that you asserted about Paz’s car crash neck injury. It was certainly severe (dislocated vertebra and two fractured vertebrae), but his neck wasn’t “broken” as in severed. And he didn’t spend “months” in the hospital, he was there for 10 days and then spent several months at home in a metal halo.

Hey, it’s still a miracle that Paz was back in the ring 14 months later (vs. Luis Santana). It’s a reminder that boxers are a different breed. Hasim Rahman survived a near-fatal car accident that almost tore his face off before he found boxing (the future heavyweight champ was also shot numerous times during his wild adolescence in Baltimore). Former 130- and 135-pound contender angel Manfredy lost count of the car crashes he was involved in. Both Rahman’s and Manfredy’s faces were marked with more scars from car accidents than prize fights. We could probably come up with a list of 50 prominent boxers that overcame car crash injuries (I recall Miguel Cotto recovering from an early morning-asleep-at-the-wheel accident in Puerto Rico that broke his hand and shoulder early in his pro career) and went on to achieve success in the ring. (Heck, Willie Pep came back from an AIRPLANE accident.)

We’ll see if Spence, who is returning to the ring sooner than Pazienza did following his car crash, can rebound as well as the New Englander did. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Spence is coming back against a two-division titleholder and legit welterweight contender, Danny Garcia. Paz came back against a gatekeeper (although it should be noted that Santana won the WBC 154-pound title via DQ vs. Terry Norris a couple bouts after Vinny outpointed him).  

 

KELLY PAVLIK

What’s good Doug,

I’m watching some YouTube fights and I’ve fallen down a Kelly Pavlik rabbit hole.

MM: Prime Pavlik vs the current cream of middleweight crop. Am I crazy to think, for him, that his worst matchup is against Charlo? Thanks. – Alan

Pavlik takes it to Jermain Taylor. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

No, you’re not crazy, because Charlo’s superior speed and sharp technique would give “The Ghost” trouble, but I don’t agree with you. As formidable as Charlo is, I think his classic stand-up power-boxing style, which relies on straight jabs and rights from the outside, puts him in line for Pavlik’s long-range bombs (especially the right hand), and if memory serves me, the Youngstown, Ohioan was just as good, if not better, than Jermall is from mid-range and on the inside, but I think Pavlik delivered his bombs with more leverage and power. It would be an explosive shootout, maybe something like the first Jermain Taylor fight where Pavlik has to overcome wobbly moments or pick himself up off the canvas, but I think his pressure and combo punching (especially the body shots) would eventually wear down the Houston native to a late stoppage.

I think Canelo Alvarez would present the toughest matchup just due to style. The Ring champ and Mexican star has the defensive skills (mainly deft head- and upper-body movement), counter-punching prowess and physical strength to hang with Pavlik on the inside while making the bigger man miss and pay (especially with body shots), gradually picking him apart. I don’t know if the Mexican star would stop Pavlik (probably not, Pavlik was tough as nails), but I think he’d do enough to outpoint the Buckeye Bomber (shout out to Steve Kim for coining that moniker, which never had a chance to catch on) over 12 competitive and entertaining rounds.  

I think I favor Pavlik to stop or outpoint the rest of the “cream of the middleweight crop” – Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade and Sergiy Derevyanchenko. I’d favor the prime version of Golovkin to take over a savage battle of attrition down the stretch, but the 38-year-old version we have today would have a lot of trouble with Pavlik’s size, jab, strength and body attack. I still think GGG’s jab is elite and punishing, and it would probably cause a lot of facial damage (Kelly was prone to cuts). Still, I think the prime version of Pavlik outworks and legitimately outpoints the current version of GGG.

Martinez vs. Kelly Pavlik (AP Photo/Tim Larsen)

Andrade’s awkward southpaw style could give Pavlik some early trouble but I don’t think the New Englander has the strength or power to keep the ever-stalking power-boxer off of him. Andrade’s not as sharp, elusive, athletic or gutsy as Sergio Martinez. I don’t think he can bust up Pavlik’s face as the Argentine southpaw did and I don’t think he’d be able to deal with Ghost’s power and pressure down the stretch of the fight. Pavlik by decision or late stoppage.

Derevyanchenko has mad heart, but he lacks the jab, size and elusiveness to avoid the blunt-force trauma of Pavlik’s right hand and uppercuts (from either hand). The current version of Sergiy, which has been through the ringer, would be stopped by the middle rounds if matched with the prime Pavlik.

The other middleweight contenders – Ryota Murata, Chris Eubank Jr., Rob Bryant, Liam Williams and Jaime Munguia – would be soundly beaten by Pavlik in my opinion. Only Eubank, thanks the incredible chin he inherited, would have a prayer of lasting the distance. Williams would last longer than fellow Welshman Gary Lockett, who was crushed in three, but he’d be stopped on cuts before the late rounds. Munguia would get KTFO like Jose Luis Zertuche, but the fight would be just as entertaining.

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 or Dougie’s IG Live every Sunday.

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