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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Canelo Alvarez, Gennadiy Golovkin, Carlos Gongora)

Canelo's near shutout of Callum Smith (promoted by Matchroom Boxing and streamed live on DAZN) was his first bout as free agent. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.
21
Dec

THE COMPLETE FIGHTER

Hi Dougie,

That was a truly special performance from Canelo. Most thought he would win but to do so in such a convincing fashion was a huge statement.

Skill, speed, defense, offence and power were all on show and, damn, what a show. It really wouldn’t have mattered if Smith had had a full twelve weeks to prepare.



Many elite fighters are good at all things but specifically excel in a couple of areas. Is there an area where Canelo doesn’t excel? Is he now at a stage where he could be called a complete fighter?

The strength he has at 168 is frightening really. Smith, however, looks to have lost all of his power at the weight. The apparent bicep detachment can’t have helped but curiously he pointed to abrasions on his arm during the post-fight interview… Here goes… did Canelo punch his muscle off? Not something you ask every day.

A word on my man GGG who looked really impressive albeit against limited opposition. The time with Jonathon Banks is paying off and the old dog might even be learning some new tricks.

Now for that legacy fight with Canelo… it’ll need to take place in a bunker if it’s at 168.

MM:

Last night’s Canelo v Joe Calzaghe circa Lacy

Thanks for another great year of mailbags. Merry Christmas. – Chris R, UK

No. 19 is in the books, Chris.

I’ll go with Calzaghe by split decision in a hotly contested chess match.

Like most of the fighters in the mythical rankings, Canelo is indeed a complete fighter, but unlike many of his pound-for-pound peers – Naoya Inoue, Terence Crawford, Aleksandr Usyk, Errol Spence, Teofimo Lopez, Josh Taylor – the Mexican superstar has already compiled a hall-of-fame worthy resume. And unlike the active elite veterans who are headed to the hall of fame – Manny Pacquiao, Roman Gonzalez, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Gennadiy Golovkin – Canelo, 30, is still in his athletic prime. (The P4P player still in his prime with the most elite experience, next to Canelo, is fellow Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada, but “El Gallo” – who is also 30, which is older for a sub-bantamweight than it is for middleweight – might be the “other side” of his peak.)

Canelo has earned quite a collection of world titles in various weight classes. Photo by Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

So, Canelo’s got the physical prowess to put that hall-of-fame level experience into action as he needs it during a fight. There’s almost no situation in the ring that he hasn’t experienced by now or can’t adjust to on the fly. On top of that, he’s smart, a student of the game (who keeps learning in the gym, and fight by fight), and he’s veteran of mega-events, so he’s always relaxed and confident when he takes center stage. He’s going to be a very hard man to beat for any of the remaining 160-168-pound standouts that he hasn’t already defeated.

That was a truly special performance from Canelo. Most thought he would win but to do so in such a convincing fashion was a huge statement. It surprised me even though, like the majority of fans and media, I picked Canelo to win by decision or late stoppage. I thought Smith would be a lot harder on Canelo, but the towering defending 168-pound champ got bossed around the ring by 5-foot-8 former 154-pound champ. I agree that it was a statement, one that was big enough to win over a lot of Canelo’s critics, many of whom are now saying that he deserves to be No. 1 in the pound-for-pound rankings.

Skill, speed, defense, offense and power were all on show and, damn, what a show. It really wouldn’t have mattered if Smith had had a full twelve weeks to prepare. I don’t understand the big deal some made about the length of Smith’s camp to prepare for Canelo. Didn’t Canelo have exactly the same amount of time to prepare for Smith? Neither champ has to worry about a 9-to-5 gig. Boxing is their full-time job regardless if they’ve got a fight scheduled. Canelo remained in training after the Cinco De Mayo Billy Joe Saunders fight was scratched due to the pandemic. Smith’s name had been mentioned as a potential Canelo opponent before and after that fight cancellation. He should have been in the gym since the start of summer with nothing but the redhead on his mind.

Many elite fighters are good at all things but specifically excel in a couple of areas. Is there an area where Canelo doesn’t excel? He doesn’t have the fastest feet and he doesn’t cut the ring off as well as a prime Julio Cesar Chavez or GGG, but other than that, he’s the total package.

Bernard Hopkins under the watchful eye of Bouie Fisher.

Is he now at a stage where he could be called a complete fighter? The first time I heard that term “complete fighter” was from the late Bouie Fisher. The subject of our conversation was, of course, Bernard Hopkins. It was early 2001, before Hopkins took part in Don King’s middleweight tournament on HBO. Fisher told me that complete fighters are very rare in this era and that Hopkins was “almost there.” I told him that Hopkins showed me everything in his first bout vs. the dangerous Antwun Echols (December 1999). Fisher said it takes at least 10 years to develop a complete fighter, and that’s only if a knowledgeable trainer has a very special student that is willing to dedicate himself to his craft for that amount of time and beyond. I think Canelo is that kind of fighter and Eddy Reynoso is an aficionado of boxing and its history just like Fisher was. It’s taken more than 10 years, but Eddy’s star fighter has arrived.

The strength he has at 168 is frightening really. He has to cut weight to make 160 at this stage of his career, which impacts his strength down the stretch of tough fights (as we saw vs. GGG), and he’s too heavy at 175, his speed and reflexes slow down a bit (as we saw vs. Kovalev). But super middleweight seems like the perfect weight class for him. He retains his speed and strength at 168.

Smith, however, looks to have lost all of his power at the weight. With his frame, now fighting into his 30s, it would be mad for him to stay at 168. Light heavyweight beckons.

The apparent bicep detachment can’t have helped but curiously he pointed to abrasions on his arm during the post-fight interview… Here goes… did Canelo punch his muscle off? Not something you ask every day. That’s because few fighters from this generation target the arms of their opponents. But, yes, I do think Canelo caused that injury with an intentional punch. Check out this RingTV Instagram post:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by The Bible Of Boxing (@ringtv)

A word on my man GGG who looked really impressive albeit against limited opposition. The time with Jonathon Banks is paying off and the old dog might even be learning some new tricks. I thought Golvokin’s technique was sharper than it looked in during his first two bouts with Banks (vs. Steve Rolls and Sergiy Derevyanchenko), and his defense and punch selection was savvier than it’s been in years. It looks like the third camp was the charm for the fighter and trainer to click and gel.

 

GGG, CANELO, MYTHICAL MATCHUPS

Greetings Dougie,

First, I hope you and all your loved ones have a great holiday season, capping off this most unusual year.

Second, a few thoughts on the fights this weekend:

  • Was great to see GGG back in the ring after a long layoff. Despite the four knockdowns, I thought it was evident he has lost some steam.
  • The DAZN crew was doing their best to use his performance as a primer for a third fight with Canelo, and I gotta say I have no interest in that at this point. Sadly, I think the money on both sides outweighs my personal interests.
  • Incredible performance by Canelo and kudos to Callum Smith for staying on his feet for 12 rounds even though it quickly became clear he didn’t have the power to bother Canelo. Not much to say other than that. Just an incredibly impressive performance by Alvarez.
  • I’d love to see Canelo move back up to Light Heavy. I think there are a few fighters there that have the power necessary to give him a great fight. Not sure I see that at mid or super mid. But does Canelo-Beterbiev out enough butts in seats to justify the risk for Canelo?

Third, a few MMs to cap things off:

Julian Jackson vs. Jaime Munguia at 154

King Kostya vs. Bud at 140

Chico vs. Teofimo at 135

Give me the Hawk in a wildly entertaining, albeit short, fight via devastating KO. Kostya in a close but unanimous decision vs Bud. Chico via championship round KO.

Happy Holidays. – John

Happy holidays to you too, John, and to all of the mailbag readers.

I agree with your first two mythical matchup picks, but as much as I adore the late Diego Corrales, I think Lopez has the athleticism, ring IQ and power to keep him at bay for 12 rounds and win a competitive decision.

Gennadiy Golovkin-Kamil Szeremeta. Photo by Melina Pizano/Matchroom

Was great to see GGG back in the ring after a long layoff. Despite the four knockdowns, I thought it was evident he has lost some steam. Hey, recapturing your form is one thing, recapturing your youth is quite another (especially if you’re a clean athlete). GGG is 38. He’ll be 39 in April. He had a long amateur career and he’s been in some tough pro fights. It is what it is.

The DAZN crew was doing their best to use his performance as a primer for a third fight with Canelo, and I gotta say I have no interest in that at this point. Sadly, I think the money on both sides outweighs my personal interests. We’ll see. If No. 3 happens, it needs to happen in 2021, otherwise I’m gonna be sick of hearing about it, just like the Spence-Crawford matchup. At this point, I can take it or leave it.

Incredible performance by Canelo and kudos to Callum Smith for staying on his feet for 12 rounds even though it quickly became clear he didn’t have the power to bother Canelo. Not much to say other than that. It was one of the best performances of 2020, up there with Fury’s stoppage of Wilder, Lopez outpointing Lomachenko, and my man Chocolatito breaking down Kal Yafai.

I’d love to see Canelo move back up to Light Heavy. I think he would, but only for the right fight.

I think there are a few fighters there that have the power necessary to give him a great fight. Sure, Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol are both beasts. I’d rather them fight each other first. It would be for the vacant Ring Magazine 175-pound title, which could serve as bait for Canelo, who is into making history. I don’t think there’s ever been a four-division Ring champion.

But does Canelo-Beterbiev out enough butts in seats to justify the risk for Canelo? Canelo vs. anybody is going to do well, but to justify the serious danger that Beterbiev presents, I think it would have to be a bona fide mega-fight. Right now, Beterbiev just isn’t that B-side. And, sadly, through no fault of his own, he’s not been able to build on the momentum created by his 2019 victory over Oleksandr Gvozdyk. A showdown with Bivol could rekindle that fire.

 

OUTCLASSED BUT TOUGH AS NAILS

What on earth kept Szermeta and Callum Smith upright? Szermeta kept getting up from brutal shots, much respect to that guy, that being said I don’t wanna see my favorite fighter near Canelo, his upper body movement makes it almost impossible to hit him cleanly and he returns laser like counterpunches… I much rather see GGG fight Charlo as he would be stupid enough to stand in front of GGG an try to bang it out, and with that world class jab an power I can see GGG gettin a late round knockout…. What are your thoughts Dougie? – JD from the O

I would slightly favor GGG in a showdown with Jermall, but I don’t think Charlo would do anything “stupid” against the former unified champ. I think Charlo gained valuable experience going 24 rounds with Matt Korobov and Derevyanchenko, and I think he exhibited excellent boxing strategy vs. Derev. The Houston native would attempt to do the same vs. Golovkin, but I think GGG’s jab and greater strength would make him a much tougher nut to crack than SD.

What on earth kept Szermeta and Callum Smith upright? Genetics and a lot of pride.

Szermeta kept getting up from brutal shots, much respect to that guy, that being said I don’t wanna see my favorite fighter near Canelo, his upper body movement makes it almost impossible to hit him cleanly and he returns laser like counterpunches… BetOnline listed Golovkin at +200 (a 2-to-1 underdog) vs. Canelo following the weekend’s fights, and I agree with those odds. Having said that, I think GGG still gives Canelo his toughest fight at 160 pounds. At 168, I give Canelo even more of an edge, but I get the feeling that Golovkin will always be a difficult opponent for him.

 

2020’S GRAND FINALE

Hey Doug,

Season’s Greetings to you and all your colleagues at The Ring. After a terrible year for the world in general and a majorly disrupted year for all sports including boxing, it has been good to see some of the biggest stars in our sport doing what they do best in the last few weeks of the year.

GGG looked good in beating down a tough but overmatched mandatory contender and after all the contract complications of the last few months, Canelo got back in the ring and impressed in winning The Ring 168lb championship belt.

I was surprised with the criticism that Mundo received for his performance this weekend. Speaking on DAZN, Sergio Mora and others questioned whether Smith had actually come to win. I felt those comments were an insult and a liberty coming from people who had never fought at the level Smith was competing at. I felt that given the short notice of the match, nobody could complain about Smith’s effort. The first six rounds, bar the fourth, were all very close with Smith certainly trying to catch Canelo with many of his trademark jabs, straight rights, left hooks and uppercuts. The fact that he was not able to put much of a dent on the advancing Mexican is more a testament to Canelo’s elite defensive skills and chin, rather than any lack of ambition from the now former champion.

For Canelo’s part, he fought an excellent fight against a much bigger and rangier champion. I feel that the 168lb division suits him and he is stronger than ever at this weight. I have recognised Alvarez as one of boxing’s P4P elite since his matches with GGG but, due to the narrow margins of some of his wins, I was never quite ready to proclaim him number 1. However, with the quality of his opposition over the last few years, Loma’s recent defeat and Crawford’s uninspiring challengers, nobody in my mind deserves this position more. Over to you Monster Inuoe!

My only small criticism of Canelo is his reluctance to finally settle the score with his old nemesis GGG. Like most others, I thought GGG won their first fight and found the rematch too close to call. Don’t get me wrong, I would make Canelo the favourite if the were to meet now as he is in his prime, whereas Golovkin has receded slightly at the age of 38. I would also expect GGG to have to come up to 168 giving Canelo the size advantage that GGG previously enjoyed. There are often many reasons why fights are difficult to make, but let’s be honest in this case if Canelo wanted this fight it would happen next. If it doesn’t happen soon, then it becomes pointless.

Other than that match, I would be interested in Canelo vs Billy Joe Saunders due to BJS offering something style wise that no other contender does. I don’t think it is fair for people to demand that Alvarez drag his 5’8” frame back up to 175 to prove himself there and I don’t think Caleb Plant has done enough yet to jump the queue. Who would you like to see the future HoFamer challenged by?

Mythical matchups:

 

Canelo vs Eubank at 168

Pryor vs Crawford at 140

Azumah Nelson vs Tank at 130

Regards. – Jeremy, UK

Your mythical matchups:

Canelo vs Eubank at 168 – Canelo by majority decision in an interesting tit-for-tat chess match that features sporadic bursts of power from both iron-chinned super middleweights

Pryor vs Crawford at 140 – The Hawk just edges Bud on sheer volume and relentless aggression in a classic skillful war

Azumah Nelson vs Tank at 130 – The Professor takes the gutsy young gun to school, wins a competitive but clear UD.

I was surprised with the criticism that Mundo received for his performance this weekend. No criticism aimed at a losing fighter from fans, commentators or, sadly, fellow boxers – regardless of how disrespectful or ridiculous it is – surprises me anymore.

I felt that given the short notice of the match, nobody could complain about Smith’s effort. I think most fans that complained about Smith’s effort were really just hoping he would stand his ground more and take more risks. If a Great Dane picks a fight with a Terrier and gets more than it bargained for, nobody’s going to feel sorry for the big dog. They’re just going to admire the “big fight” in the little dog.

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

The first six rounds, bar the fourth, were all very close with Smith certainly trying to catch Canelo with many of his trademark jabs, straight rights, left hooks and uppercuts. You and I saw a different fight. I thought Smith was making an effort, letting his hands go in spots, but I thought he clearly lost the next five rounds after winning the opening round by outworking Canelo. I didn’t think Rounds 2-6 were “very close.”

The fact that he was not able to put much of a dent on the advancing Mexican is more a testament to Canelo’s elite defensive skills and chin, rather than any lack of ambition from the now former champion. That’s good point.

I have recognised Alvarez as one of boxing’s P4P elite since his matches with GGG but, due to the narrow margins of some of his wins, I was never quite ready to proclaim him number 1. #Salty!

However, with the quality of his opposition over the last few years, Loma’s recent defeat and Crawford’s uninspiring challengers, nobody in my mind deserves this position more. Over to you Monster Inuoe! Indeed, Naoya Inoue is the only elite boxer in position (No. 2 in Ring’s P4P) to unseat Canelo. If The Monster achieves his mission of unifying all four major belts in the bantamweight division before Alvarez’s reaches his goal of unifying all of the major the super middleweight titles, I could see the Ring Ratings Panel debating his move into the No. 1 spot (depending on how dominate he is). If Crawford and Spence fought each other the winner of that showdown would have an excellent case for being No. 1, but it doesn’t seem like we’re close to getting that dream fight.

My only small criticism of Canelo is his reluctance to finally settle the score with his old nemesis GGG. It’s obvious they hate each other. Golovkin wants to express his hate in the form of heavy punches upside Canelo’s head. Canelo expresses his hate by denying GGG that opportunity (and massive payday). Like I’ve stated earlier in this column, I won’t mind Canelo-GGG III if it happens next year, but if it doesn’t I don’t care about the matchup anymore. And I won’t hold it against Canelo as long as he continues to face the best fighters of whatever division he chooses to campaign in.

Other than that match, I would be interested in Canelo vs Billy Joe Saunders due to BJS offering something style wise that no other contender does. I’m really not into Canelo fighting stick-and-movers. I want to see him in action fights. I was hoping Smith would bring the heat and deliver that on Saturday. It didn’t happen, but I’m keeping hope alive as Jesse Jackson used to say. BJS can be a pesky foe for Canelo, no doubt about it, the dude can box his ass off, but he has no hope of making for an entertaining fight or of getting a decision against the biggest star in the sport, who just happens to be one of its best all-around fighters.

I don’t think it is fair for people to demand that Alvarez drag his 5’8” frame back up to 175 to prove himself there and I don’t think Caleb Plant has done enough yet to jump the queue. And yet you have goof balls claiming that Canelo is “ducking” Plant and demanding that he challenge Beterbiev.

Who would you like to see the future HoFamer challenged by? Jermall Charlo at 160 (or some kind of catchweight, say 164) and David Benavidez at 168 (or a few pounds over the super middleweight division limit if the Arizonan has outgrown the division).

 

CANELO AND GGG

What’s up Doug hope all’s well,

Not Canelo’s biggest fan but there’s no denying his quality. I don’t know if anyone outside light heavys beat him, glad he wants to unify against plant, etc. because as much as I love GGG I can’t see him beating Canelo now.

I honestly think the layoff for GGG was blessing in disguise he looked refreshed and sharp and the new strength and condition coach and nutritionist had him in the best shape I’ve ever seen him even at 38! Also he seems to be listening to Banks not loading up as much and throwing varying combos

How do these fights play out?

GGG vs Charlo

GGG vs Andrade

Canelo vs Andrade/Charlo

Canelo vs Beterbiev/Bivol/Gvozdyk

Cheers Dougie. – David, Dublin

Golovkin outpoints Andrade in a controversial fight, maybe split nod, and earns a close UD over Charlo (with the help of an early knockdown) in a fight-of-the-year candidate.

Canelo stops both Andrade and Charlo late (if the fights are at 168 pounds; he clearly outpoints him if they fight at 160), outpoints Beterbiev and Bivol (you heard right!) and stops Gvozdyk late (if The Nail were to come out of retirement).

 

CANELO’S CARDIO

Hi Doug,

Man, what is up with Canelo’s cardio? I think he has found his ideal weight class at 168. He ain’t Qawi but boy he is closest thing to him I have seen in a long time. He just doesn’t get tired these days. That is something his opponents used to count on and now they don’t even have that. Have you noticed, ever since Mayweather fight people have been assuming that outfighting is the best way to beat him but I am not sure anymore. I think he has become quite comfortable fighting back to back fighters on front foot. I think, he is not comfortable when you push him back. What do you think?

Who do you want to see him fight? Regards. – Saurabh

David Benavidez (left) is draped with belts after his ninth round knockout of Anthony Dirrell. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Fox Sports/PictureGroup)

David Benavidez (left) is draped with belts after his ninth round knockout of Anthony Dirrell. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Fox Sports/PictureGroup)

I agree with your theory, so the guy I want to see Canelo face the most is former two-time WBC 168-pound titleholder David Benavidez. He’s the one big guy (apart from Beterbiev) that would actually fight like the bigger, stronger man. And he’s not just big, he’s got fast hands, power, and a reliable chin. I like his busy, aggressive style and his take-no-prisoners mentality.

Regarding your Canelo-Dwight Muhammad Qawi comparison, I’d never thought of the two as being similar in any way, but I see what you’re getting at. Qawi had way walking down taller, rangier opponents and gradually breaking them down while displaying uncanny defensive skills. I think Qawi is more of a classic pressure fighter while Canelo is more of a stalker, and the Camden Buzzsaw earned his nickname with a high-volume attack, while Canelo is more economical with his offense, but they’re alike in their calculating approach to the sport. It’s hard to believe that Qawi, a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champ who’s in the IBHOF, is a little over one inch SHORTER than Canelo.

 

CANELO ATG?

Over the last few years there has been talk about whether Mayweather or Pacquiao are all-time greats.  This will still be much debated.  But after watching Canelo dismantle Smith, his defense seems to continue to improve… I wonder as May & Pac can be in that conversation how can Canelo be denied?

I am a big GGG fan but I don’t think this weekend’s results favour GGG in a third match.  What do you think? Thank as always for your invaluable insights. – Mike

I’d favor Canelo to win a third bout with Golovkin but I believe it would be another competitive fight. GGG is one of the few fighters who can outjab Canelo.

I think Canelo’s already done enough to merit hall of fame induction. I don’t think he’s an all-time great, but he’s headed in the right direction, and at 30, he’s got time to build a truly great legacy.

 

KING NELO

Alright, at this point, let’s just go for 5 and get Breidis. It honestly doesn’t seem that far-fetched. –Zeus, from God’s Country aka Texas.

Hey, Smith might have technically been a cruiserweight when he stepped into the ring on Saturday, but it wouldn’t be a good idea for Canelo to challenge the Ring cruiserweight champ.

 

GO GONGORA!

Carlos Góngora vs Ali Akhmedov may be the fight of the year! It’s always interesting when you can be instantly proud of a person you’ve never met or have never even heard of before- and it’s rare in boxing. Góngora, at 31 years old, took full advantage of an unexpected opportunity he’s been training and waiting for since he was a child- and he did it with calm confidence and surgical skill. Veni, vidi, vici!

Moreover, the way he conducted himself after the win was all class. Superb! – Dennis, El Centro, CA

Gongora takes it to Akhmedov. Photo by Melina Pizano/Matchroom

Gongora was sensational. The was one of the better 12-round bouts I watched live during 2020, and I also think it’s an Upset of the Year candidate (Akhmedov, who had been in with solid competition, was an 8-to-1 favorite). I stated on Twitter that Gongora reminded me for former light heavyweight titleholder/contender Gabriel Campillo, a skillful but gutsy southpaw from Spain who could weather early rounds storms and rally hard down the stretch of tough fights (see his battles with Beibut Shumenov and Tavoris Cloud). Gongora has that kind of heart and savvy, but he’s more economical with his offense and he punches harder than Campillo did. I think we’ve got a new player in the super middleweight division.

 

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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