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Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Canelo-Smith, Gennadiy Golovkin)

The vacant WBC super middleweight title was on the line when Canelo challenged Ring/WBA champ Callum Smith in December. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom
18
Dec

IT GETS BETTER

Hey Doug,

It’s funny how now that Canelo is yet again fighting above 154, this time against Callum Smith at 168, you don’t hear the same whining about the issue of “weight bullying” in the sport. Funny how that works, huh? Reminds me of that anti-bullying slogan, “it gets better.” I guess so, lol.

It finally hit home how stark the size difference is between them this week as they’ve come face to face. Do you think it will play a role in the fight? Perhaps a finish inside the distance is not as foregone a conclusion as the majority of fans seem to think? Thanks. – Jerry



The Canelo-Jacobs weigh-in. Too bad the fight wasn’t as intense.

I don’t agree with fans who think tomorrow night’s super middleweight championship will be a walk in the park for Canelo, and I don’t understand the #salty saps who keep calling him a “weight bully” even though he’s the one who’s been fighting naturally bigger fighters of late. And, yeah, I know that there was a second-day weight clause for his bouts vs. Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev last year, but how much weight do these guys need to put on following Friday’s weigh-in for it to be a “fair” fight vs. the 5-foot-8 Canelo? 15? 20!? 25!?! Jacobs f__ked off the IBF’s mandated Saturday morning weigh-in for his challenge to Gennadiy Golovkin in March 2017. GGG, who was defending the IBF belt, obeyed the rules and weighed-in below 170 the morning of the fight. Jacobs slept in and looked like he put on 20 pounds following the unusually early Friday weigh-in, and the extra weight definitely helped his stamina and physical strength during the fight. Canelo was not going allow himself to get jerked around like GGG, and who can blame him? (Jacobs didn’t make the contracted second-day weigh-in limit for the Canelo bout, anyway, so the “weight-bully” brigade needs to stop crying.) And Kovalev’s a natural light heavyweight! He could easily weigh close to the cruiserweight limit if unchecked. I guess that would be “fair” fight. Whatever. Kovalev had all day to rehydrate following the Saturday weigh-in, as the two didn’t step into the ring until after 10 p.m. PT that night. Whatever. Let’s allow the #salty to be #salty.

Callum Smith has the height and frame of former cruiserweight champ Aleksandr Usyk.

Smith has publicly stated that there is no rehydration clause or second-day weigh-in for tomorrow’s showdown, so that should be good news for everyone who wants the OTHER guy to be the “weight bully” in a Canelo fight. LOL. But seriously, size will obviously come into play with this matchup of Ring Magazine champs.

Smith isn’t just a big, gangly dude who looks like Lurch from the Addams Family, he’s a good athlete with skills. He’s going to bring reflexes, physical strength and power to the ring that big dudes like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Rocky Fielding simply didn’t possess. And I think Smith is going to fight with more confidence than Jacobs and Kovalev – bigger men who have world-class power and technique but were leery of committing to their offense because of Canelo’s quick counterpunching ability.

THE RETURN OF GGG, CANELO-SMITH

Hi Dougie,

I hope you are well.

DAZN kicks off its opening UK gambit this weekend and as a GGG fan I can’t wait to hear the famous bassline of his intro music. Indeed, there are enough fighters of different nationalities, over the two shows, to create a veritable Seven Nation Army.

However, even a GGG fan can’t deny that the real fight this weekend will be taking place in Texas.

Canelo deserves nothing but praise for taking on Smith who has almost every possible physical advantage. Indeed, looking at Smith’s frame compared to Canelo’s the fight that immediately sprang to my mind was Hearns v Duran (calm yourselves Twitterverse).

A lot of tall, slim fighters lack power but both Hearns and Smith could/can bang cleanly with either hand or indeed use a javelin jab at range.

Canelo meanwhile has elite upper body movement that evokes visions of prime Duran, whilst also having stones for hands.

Unlike that fight in 1984 the smaller man is the consensus favourite here, based on his résumé. For what it’s worth I think this is going to be a close, quality fight in which the left stick (hook & jab) will play a big role.

People have also mentioned the short notice Smith had but I feel he’s going to arrive fresh and pumped. Canelo, meanwhile, has now been fighting professionally for half of his adult life and this will be a big test for someone with so many miles on the clock. That experience though…

There are so many variables that make this an intriguing contest and one that perhaps we wouldn’t be getting had Covid not reared its ugly head this year?

MM:

Canelo v Duran (154)

Smith v Hearns (168)

Enjoy the shows & Merry Christmas! – Chris R, UK

OK, before I answer these mythical matchups, I feel the need to state up front that Duran is a better overall fighter than Canelo and Hearns is a WAY better fighter/boxer/talent than Smith. (I mean, this stuff should go without saying given the ledgers/legacies of the two ATGs, but I know how dense and/or adversarial some of the mailbag readers that like to comment below can be.)

Having said that, junior middleweight was not the best weight for Duran, and the same can be said about super middleweight for Hearns. Duran’s best victories at junior middleweight were against the 12-0 Davey Moore (the defending WBA titleholder but a mere novice compared to hands of Stone) and a totally shot Pipino Cuevas. Junior middleweight is where he was upset by Kirkland Laing, outclassed by Wilfredo Benitez and KTFO by The Hitman.

I think Canelo at his best at 154 can narrowly outpoint Duran over 12 very entertaining rounds (and, yeah, maybe it goes down as a controversial decision because one of the judges bends over backwards for the Ginger King).

Thomas Hearns and Michael Olajide trade punches during their 1990 WBO super middleweight title bout. Photo by The Ring Magazine via Getty Images

Hearns wasn’t much of a hitman at super middleweight. He was lucky to get the majority nod over James Kinchen. He was unfortunate not to get the ‘W’ he deserved vs. his nemesis, Ray Leonard, but he was also hanging on for dear life against the smaller man in the 12th and final round. In his one clear victory at 168 pounds, he was unable to put away Michael Olajide (who was stopped in five rounds vs. Iran Barkley – a fun middleweight shootout worth checking out if you’ve never seen it – and halted in eight rounds vs. journeyman Ralph Moncrief in the final bout of his career after losing to Hearns). Granted, Olajide moved his feet more than his hands and that’s not how Smith would box, but The Silk also took his share of Tommy’s power shots whenever he would retreat to the ropes and when he stood his ground in the late rounds. (I should also note that Olajide was a solid middleweight contender who had his moments vs. Hearns in Round 9 after suffering a knockdown and in Round 10.)

I think Hearns would edge Smith in a hotly contested 12-rounder, the Motor City Cobra would tee off on Mundo over the first half of the bout but the Liverpudlian would come on strong down the stretch when Tommy’s veteran legs got a little rubbery (as they did vs. Olajide, who, by the way, was born in Liverpool). I think Hearns’ razor-sharp jab and underrated body attack would be the difference.

Gennadiy Golovkin weighs in for IBF middleweight title defense vs. Kamil Szeremeta. Photo by Melina Pizano/Matchroom.

DAZN kicks off its opening UK gambit this weekend and as a GGG fan I can’t wait to hear the famous bassline of his intro music. Same here, even though I’m not at all interested in this IBF mandatory vs. Kamil Szeremeta. No disrespect meant toward the unbeaten Polish contender (No. 6 in The Ring’s middleweight ratings), but tonight’s main event is about the return of the Big Drama Show unless Szeremeta can MAKE it about him. We’ll see.

I’m curious to see how Golovkin boxes after his third camp with Johnathon Banks. His body looked immaculate during yesterday’s weigh-in. I’ve never seen him so ripped.

Canelo deserves nothing but praise for taking on Smith who has almost every possible physical advantage. Seven inches taller, eight inches more in wingspan, probably 10-15 pounds heavier on fight night, but you’ll still see doo-doo heads on Twitter saying he’s “ducking” certain fighters or “cherry picking.”

Indeed, looking at Smith’s frame compared to Canelo’s the fight that immediately sprang to my mind was Hearns v Duran (calm yourselves Twitterverse). Interesting. The fight that popped into my head was Leonard vs. Donny LaLonde, and I can envision the bout playing out like that 1988 super middleweight battle for 168- and 175-pound belts (if we’re lucky).

A lot of tall, slim fighters lack power but both Hearns and Smith could/can bang cleanly with either hand or indeed use a javelin jab at range. Smith can punch, especially with his right hand, but he doesn’t possess “Hearnesqe” speed, torque and technique that would give his punches one-hitter-quitter power.

Canelo meanwhile has elite upper body movement that evokes visions of prime Duran, whilst also having stones for hands. I imagined a lot of crafty infighting between Duran and Canelo in that 154-pound mythical matchup proposed by the previous reader. Canelo’s not as natural as Duran was at making opponents miss and pay, but he’s one of the best of this era, and I think this skillset will be on display tomorrow.

Unlike that fight in 1984 the smaller man is the consensus favourite here, based on his résumé. As he deserves, but just as we were reminded with the Lopez-Lomachenko upset, that doesn’t mean the naturally bigger underdog isn’t a threat.

For what it’s worth I think this is going to be a close, quality fight in which the left stick (hook & jab) will play a big role. I agree.

People have also mentioned the short notice Smith had but I feel he’s going to arrive fresh and pumped. He’s hot and cold fighter, and he’s coming off a “cold” fight (vs. John Ryder), so I expect him to be 100% dialed in for the highest profile opponent of his career (he better be).

Canelo, meanwhile, has now been fighting professionally for half of his adult life and this will be a big test for someone with so many miles on the clock. That experience though. Canelo’s got more experience than any active fighter his age. It’s not even close. As long as he’s injury free, he’s going to a hard man to beat. (Actually, even if when is injured he’s a hard man to beat, just ask Liam Smith.)

 

SMITH BEATS CANELO

Hi Doug,

I am really excited for this weekend’s super middle weight showdown. No one can pick holes in Canelo for seeking out this fight. He is taking on “the man” in the super middle weight division who is naturally far bigger than him and in or very close to his peak. If he wins as most expect he will there is nothing to give him but credit.

So how do you see it going and do you give Smith a decent chance? Could the 15-year career, 57 fights and size difference catch up with Canelo all at the wrong time? He’s had a couple of full on wars with GGG, at some point it all has to take its toll. Carl Froch has been talking of seeing Canelo slipping in his last few fights, have you seen this at all? I thought Kovalev was ahead at the time of the stoppage but was just really running out of gas. I don’t see Smith running out of gas but is a peak Smith as technically proficient or does he hit as hard as a slightly over the hill Kovalev? I think he is, and he does and with his engine he will keep his power right through the fight.

I am going for it – Smith wins. It all lines up for him on the night and he narrowly gets the win over a slightly jaded outsized Canelo. One thing’s for sure Joe Gallagher will have left no stone unturned in preparation albeit in only 4/5 weeks of proper camp. Look forward to your views as ever. – Steffan, UK

Gallagher, The Ring’s 2015 Trainer of the Year, has had his eye on Canelo for years (at least since Liam fought the Mexican star in 2016) so there’s no doubt in my mind that’s he’d got a good game plan for Callum. However, Eddy Reynoso, The Ring 2019 Trainer of the Year, does his homework on all of Canelo’s potential foes and I think they’ve been looking at the 168-pound division for a long a time, so there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re ready for the defending champ.

I am really excited for this weekend’s super middle weight showdown. You should be. As you clearly realize this isn’t a “gimme” for Canelo. He hasn’t fought since last November, he’s recently had legal distractions, and he’s taking on the consensus top-rated super middleweight, according to The Ring, ESPN.com, The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and BoxRec.com.

No one can pick holes in Canelo for seeking out this fight. Well, no one with any common sense, but there are some real dimwits out there. Whatever. The #salty will be #salty and the stupid will be stupid. If they’re mad that Canelo’s last three fights have been against a top-three middleweight, a top-three light heavyweight, and THE top super middleweight, that’s their problem.

He is taking on “the man” in the super middleweight division who is naturally far bigger than him and in or very close to his peak. I think both men are still in their athletic primes.

If he wins as most expect he will there is nothing to give him but credit. You would think, right?

So how do you see it going and do you give Smith a decent chance? I give Smith a shot, but I see it as 65-35 in Canelo’s favor, and I think he’ll either win a competitive decision or wear Smith down to a late stoppage.

Could the 15-year career, 57 fights and size difference catch up with Canelo all at the wrong time? It happens in boxing, but I don’t think we’ll see that tomorrow. I don’t think the wear and tear on Canelo’s body is what will Smith his chance to pull the upset. Smith’s awkward stance, high-guard (with elbows in) and ability to box a disciplined fight from a distance is what will give Canelo problems. Smith is good at controlling distance and letting his shots go from range, so he could force Canelo to lunge forward in order to land his power shots, which would open the star up for big counter punches. However, I do think Canelo is prepared for Smith’s height and reach, having sparred with 19-year-old super middleweight prospect Diego Pacheco (6-foot-4, 78-inch reach) and Cuban heavyweight Frank Sanchez, and I also think his superior hand speed will be a factor in the fight (along with his jab, block-and-counter ability, and his body attack).

He’s had a couple of full on wars with GGG, at some point it all has to take its toll. Yeah, but I don’t think we’ll see that tomorrow or in 2021. Canelo’s got a lot of fights, but he didn’t have much of an amateur career and he didn’t begin to fight elite boxers until 2013. Plus, he’s been on a two-fights-a-year schedule since 2012 and doesn’t party too much, so he should be well preserved.

Carl Froch has been talking of seeing Canelo slipping in his last few fights, have you seen this at all? No, I thought he boxed and fought the fight of his career with the GGG rematch and looked very sharp vs. Fielding and Jacobs. He seemed a bit stiff and slower than usual vs. Kovalev, but I chalked that up to the extra weight he was carrying for that fight (he weighed-in at 174½).

Canelo finally catches up with Kovalev. Photo by Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

I thought Kovalev was ahead at the time of the stoppage but was just really running out of gas. Kovalev’s evasive tactics were also a factor in Canelo not looking as quick and sharp as usual. Canelo is at his best when his opponent brings the fight to him. But he’s gotten a lot better at walking down stick and movers since dealing with Erislandy Lara back in 2014.

I don’t see Smith running out of gas but is a peak Smith as technically proficient or does he hit as hard as a slightly over the hill Kovalev? I think Kovalev’s hands are naturally heavier than Smith’s but Smith’s legs and reflexes are way better than the current version of Kovalev’s are. I also think Smith’s technique is sharper than Kovalev’s and that (with the sturdier legs and better reflexes) translates to more impact on his punches. Of course, nailing Canelo with clean shots is easier said than done.

I think he is, and he does and with his engine he will keep his power right through the fight. We’ll see. I think Canelo will too.

 

 

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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