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Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (the lightweight division, Kazuto Ioka)

Farrell thinks boxing has potential if the young fighters and the fans can be re-educated on losses being part of the sport.
08
Jan

LIGHTWEIGHT EXCITEMENT

Happy New Year Doug,

It’s been a while since I can remember when there were so many talented, yet young fighters in the same weight class as the lightweight division right now. Put any one of Devin Haney, Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia or Tank Davis in with each other and I’m inviting people over for a party (safely soon, fingers crossed). Please tell me I’m not wasting my time looking forward to these matchups and none of them happen.  Please give us fight fans some hope that we don’t waste our time following a dumb sport. Please tell me boxing is not going to mess this up. – Gordon

Hey Gordon, Happy New Year to you. I’m not going to lie to you (and you’ve been around long enough to tell if I’m not keeping it 100), the sport WILL NOT cooperate on making ALL of these fights in a timely fashion and the timing isn’t right for them all to happen at lightweight (as Lopez will be headed to junior welterweight soon).



But I do think we’ll get one, maybe two, matchups between the Fab Four within the next 12-18 months (hopefully sooner rather than later). The most in-demand showdown is probably Davis vs. Garcia (given their popularity), but despite what the young bucks are putting out there on social media, their advisers likely want this rivalry to “marinate” in 2021 while Tank continues to build his PPV brand and Ryan continues to develop (and their promoters figure out how to make the fight while appeasing their network/platform partners).

My hunch is that we’ll see Haney vs. Garcia before we see any of the other matchups between the lightweight young guns. They both fight on the same side of the street (DAZN) and Garcia is the mandatory challenger for Haney’s WBC belt. Then again, Sir Eddie and Oscar don’t always see eye to eye and De La Hoya stated that “Every champion out there needs Ryan Garcia… not the other way around” immediately after the 22-year-old stopped Luke Campbell. So, who knows? Maybe we won’t get that fight right away.

Teofimo Lopez, to his credit, has said he’s willing to fight his lightweight rivals before his imminent move to the 140-pound division, but during a recent interview on Dan Canobbio’s Inside Boxing Live podcast, he added that he didn’t think Floyd Mayweather would allow Davis to face him and he expects Haney to outprice himself (although he added that he would “press” Haney to fight him).

“We’ve got three fights (at lightweight),” Lopez said during the interview. “(IBF/WBO mandatory George) Kambosos, and if that don’t work, Garcia (and) Haney… and if none of those guys want to participate in this type of fight then we’ll have to move to 140.”

Canobbio said the other lightweight standouts are headed to 140, too.

“We are,” Lopez agreed. “I say in 2-3 years we’ll all be at the same weight, comfortable, and make these fights happen.”

So, there you have it. Lopez’s dad called himself Nostradamus prior to his son’s upset over Vasiliy Lomachenko, and I think Teofimo’s also got the precognitive gift. We’ll be lucky if we get Garcia-Haney this year. We’ll be Blessed if we get Davis-Garcia by the second quarter of 2022. I think most of these potential round-robin fights will happen in 2023 at junior welterweight.

 

OUTDOOR BOXING CARDS

Hey Dougie,

This year is starting off good. I know we have a couple of weeks with no fights besides some on Facebook. I had some questions. Obviously, with Texas open is Golden Boy still going to try and do some of those scenic venue fights? I kind of liked his ideas. I know his haters often dismiss him for his past, but damn I wanted to see a real Fight Island or a brawl in a downtown arena like Matchroom did months back. I know a couple of places in Pomona where they can have them like the old horse track on the roof of the Fox theater or in the drag strip. The Midway in San Diego would be awesome. I’m sure there are better places but, I get that all the promoters are going to go where the money is at and where they can get fans.

Is the Mayweather era finally over? Are the best going to start fighting the best?

I know there are fighters still following the Green print (Tank) but is Boxing going to get better? Who wins in the battle of the Spider-Men? I’m talking about Diego Pacheco Vs Sébastien Fundora?

My last question what’s the word on the new boxing game eSports Boxing Club? I heard The Ring Magazine was a part of it.

Well, take care Dougie and hopefully this pandemic ends soon. – Joey, Pomona

Amen to that, Joey.

You heard right about The Ring Magazine championship belt (and maybe our rankings) being part of the in-development eSports Boxing Club. The latest word on the anticipated game is that the development studio, Steel City Interactive, postponed their original beta-launch target period of late 2020 to sometime (perhaps the spring) of this year. Here’s the official announcement that was posted on social media in mid-December:

Visit the official website for the game for updates on its growing roster of licensed boxers, developing graphics/effects/traits, and the eventual launch date.

Regarding outdoor fight cards, I think we’ll see them in states that allow limited crowds at boxing events (right now that’s Texas and Florida) as the weather warms up. I think Golden Boy is into the concept (as Matchroom obviously is). In August 2019, Golden Boy put on a Thursday Night Fights show outside in front of the Pasadena City Hall and the show made for a festive evening of fisticuffs. In prior years, GBP has put on outdoor cards in the plaza area in front of the T-Mobile Arena the night before Canelo-Khan and in the street between Staples Center and L.A. LIVE on St. Patrick’s Day. De La Hoya has recently said that he likes doing outdoor shows, so I think we can expect one or two this year. Question is, will any take place in California given the state’s current COVID-19 restrictions. Who knows? Maybe not until late summer or autumn.

Is the Mayweather era finally over? No. He inspired a generation of boxer-businessmen (and he’s got a PPV exhibition coming up vs. Logan Paul).

Are the best going to start fighting the best? Only the best who have the courage to risk a loss and the balls to stand-up to their promoters/networks/fan bases (if their promoters, networks and/or fans are status quo b__ches).

I know there are fighters still following the Green print (Tank) but is Boxing going to get better? Most are going to follow the Green print once they start making a lot of green. The exceptions will be sub-lightweights and women.

Who wins in the battle of the Spider-Men? I’m talking about Diego Pacheco Vs Sébastien Fundora? That’s a tough call. Fundora is knocking on the door of a Ring ranking at 154 pounds, but Pacheco, a still-green 19-year-old with only 10 pro bouts, is a super middleweight who can crack. I think I’d favor Fundora by decision in a 10-round bout, due to his experience (and solid whiskers). In a four-or-six-round bout, I’d lean toward Pacheco and his aggression and edge in power and physical strength.

 

135-POUND LANDSCAPE

Hey Dougie,

Wishing you continued success & looking forward to what Ring has to offer in 2021. Great performance by Garcia shaking off the cobwebs in R2 & stamping his arrival last weekend.

How do you see Tank navigating the landscape @ 130/135 this year?  Tank/Garcia would be a banger & they’ve been chirping at each other for a while–do you see this fight happening in your 2021 crystal ball?

If Tank/Garcia doesn’t pan out, do you think maybe we could see Tank vs either Colbert or GRJ in 2021? Those 3 could combine for some interesting fights given their aligning advisor/network ties. Sign me up for any combination of those 3 mixing it up.

Lastly, who would you pick to win in an end of year fight between the Kelly/Avenesyan winner vs Yeleussinov? – DJ

I like Kelly and I have a lot of respect for Avenesyan, but my money would be on Yeleussinov to win a close UD against either welterweight fringe contender.

Wishing you continued success & looking forward to what Ring has to offer in 2021. Thank you, we’ve got some very special issues and big announcements coming throughout the year as we countdown to 100 years of covering boxing.

Great performance by Garcia shaking off the cobwebs in R2 & stamping his arrival last weekend. Some fans were mad that the Ring Ratings Panel voted Garcia to No. 2 in the magazine’s lightweight rankings, but when the No. 5 contender KOs No. 4 and No. 3 is coming off a KO loss and the previous No. 2 has yet to defeat a Ring-rated lightweight it should be viewed as an earned advancement.

How do you see Tank navigating the landscape @ 130/135 this year? I think he’s going to remain at 130 pounds for as long as he can. I think he’s faster and more explosive at that weight. I can see him defending his WBA 130-pound title against gutsy Xavier Martinez on Showtime and then going for a bigger name, someone like Abner Mares or Gary Russell Jr., in a Showtime PPV main event.

Tank/Garcia would be a banger & they’ve been chirping at each other for a while–do you see this fight happening in your 2021 crystal ball? I don’t, unfortunately, but I’d love for the fighters and their promoters to prove me wrong.

If Tank/Garcia doesn’t pan out, do you think maybe we could see Tank vs either Colbert or GRJ in 2021? I think those bouts are possible this year. Davis-Russell is a major event in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area and Davis-Colbert would do well in the NYC/Brooklyn area. Obviously, COVID-19 restrictions would need to lift in those jurisdictions for those events to take place, so we’re probably talking about the second half of 2021.

Those 3 could combine for some interesting fights given their aligning advisor/network ties. Sign me up for any combination of those 3 mixing it up. Sign me up as well. Russell and Chris Colbert are excellent boxers and will test Davis’ skills and ring IQ, while Russell’s experience gives him an edge vs. either young gun.

 

IOKA DESERVES HIS P4P RANKING

Doug hey,

Been awhile since I wrote. I was so pleased to see Kazuto Ioka make the Ring’s p4p I want to express my support. The fight with Nietes was razor close, he could have won it — full credit to the aging Nietes for holding him off.  But I feel Ioka has made adjustments to his strategy since, mainly vis adding some bang to his always super-accurate punching, and generally working into the 115 weight.

Stopping both Palicte and Tanaka since the Nietes loss testify to the power, as well as having great stamina, an iron will (that’s exhausting to opponents to be confronted by), and a really solid set of whiskers.

That run, including outpointing Cintrón, puts Ioka above Beterbiev, Fury, or either Charlo, the next closest contenders for p4p status on my ledger. Potential clashes for Ioka with Sor Rungvisai, Estrada, and Roman Gonzalez are awesome to contemplate and shouldn’t be hard to get made I hope.

I’m curious how you think the current versions of these fighters fare against one another, and I’m stoked that we’ll have much more information to go on after March 13th, fingers crossed it all holds together. Thanks for keeping the mailbag real + fun and, here’s to a pugilistic 2021 where disagreements get settled in the ring. Cheers. – Alec

Hear, hear, Alec.

The Estrada-Gonzalez rematch is the fight I’m looking forward to the most during this first quarter of the year. I think Ring/WBC champ Juan Francisco Estrada has earned the right to be considered the favorite in the eight-years-in-the-making showdown, but I’m always gonna ride with my man Chocolatito. I think he’s a great fighter and the great ones beat the odds. I think Ioka gives both Estrada and Gonzalez hell, but I would favor both to narrowly outpoint the Japanese star (in excellent fights). On a good night, Sor Rungvisai can beat them all, provided he hasn’t hit the proverbial wall with making 115 pounds or in terms of the wear and tear on his body. I have a hunch that he peaked in 2017-2018. Regardless, junior bantamweight is arguably the deepest in boxing.

Kazuto Ioka (right) found success against Jeyvier Cintron when he got inside his taller opponent’s reach. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

I was so pleased to see Kazuto Ioka make the Ring’s p4p I want to express my support. Go for it and give yourself 25 Boxing Hipster points while you’re at it!

The fight with Nietes was razor close, he could have won it — full credit to the aging Nietes for holding him off. I thought Ioka won that fight (and, yes, I gave myself 50 Boxing Hipster points for scoring seven rounds the Osaka native).

But I feel Ioka has made adjustments to his strategy since, mainly vis adding some bang to his always super-accurate punching, and generally working into the 115 weight. Ioka is a brilliant natural talent and a dedicated student of boxing craft, plus he’s got a great (and underrated) trainer in Ismael Salas. It’s not surprising that he’s still adding tools to his arsenal.

Stopping both Palicte and Tanaka since the Nietes loss testify to the power, as well as having great stamina, an iron will (that’s exhausting to opponents to be confronted by), and a really solid set of whiskers. I chalk much of his success (especially the victories over young guns like Cintron and Tanaka) to his battle-tested experience. He won his first world title (the WBA 105-pound strap) in his seventh pro bout (vs. 35-0-1 Oleydong Sithsamerchai) and continued to face quality strawweight and junior flyweight opposition before his first pro loss to Amnat Ruenroeng (via split nod) in his first bid for a flyweight title in 2014. His 105- and 108-pound opponents include future Ring flyweight champ and three-division beltholder Akria Yaegashi (who he outpointed in a WBA/WBC strawweight unification bout) and future IBF junior flyweight titleholder Felix Alvarado.

Japanese boxing legend-in-the-making Kazuto Ioka. Photo by TLAROCK

That run, including outpointing Cintrón, puts Ioka above Beterbiev, Fury, or either Charlo, the next closest contenders for p4p status on my ledger. I agree. McWilliams Arroyo, Nietes, Palicte and Tanaka is running the proverbial gauntlet. Ioka has earned his spot among the elite junior bantamweights and the elite boxers in the pound-for-pound rankings. Hell, his quality of opposition and title reigns in four weight classes makes him a borderline hall of famer, definitely ballot worthy; all he needs to clinch my vote is a victory against one of the Big Three (Gallo, Chocolatito or the Rat King).

Potential clashes for Ioka with Sor Rungvisai, Estrada, and Roman Gonzalez are awesome to contemplate and shouldn’t be hard to get made I hope. They’ll get made, unlike the marquee matchups at lightweight, welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight. The top dogs at junior bantamweight are fearless and legacy focused.

 

 

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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