Dougie’s Monday mailbag (3 Kings rematches, Crawford’s P4P case, Canelo vs. the modern 168-lb. greats)
WHAT IF? 1980s AMERICAN SUPERSTAR REMATCHES
I was pondering the other day great fights in history that were almost made or were scheduled to be made but never came into fruition. The 1980s came into mind involving matchups between Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns that were close to occurring, was expected to happen but never did or were just great fights that would have been intriguing to see how it would have played out.
Four matchups between the three that come to mind are:
Leonard vs Hearns rematch at 147 in 1982 (before Leonard retired due to the detached retina).
Could things have gone differently for Hearns? Would Leonard get off to a much better, faster start? Would the second superfight top the first one?
Leonard (the version that defeated Ayub Kalule in 1981) vs Hearns at 154.
Many experts rank Hearns as the best junior middleweight fighter ever but does he get past Leonard at 154?
Leonard (the version that beat Hagler) vs Hearns at 160?
My thinking would be the best middleweight version of Tommy (probably the one who faced Hagler) would be a solid favorite over that version of Leonard, who was still formidable but past his best at 160.
Hagler vs Hearns rematch at 160 in 1986.
I read that there was talk of a rematch happening in November 1986 but when Leonard came out of retirement later in the year, Hagler turned all his attention to securing that fight. If they would have had a rematch, I’m curious if Hearns would have taken a different approach against Hagler and tried to box more, keep his distance, stick-and-move and fight at a more slower pace. Or maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference and the undisputed middleweight champion would be too much for him? Given the fact that Hagler was gradually showing signs of decline after their fight in 1985, makes me believe Hearns had a great shot in the rematch.
What’s your thoughts on these fights if they would have happened and who wins them? – James, Atlanta, GA
I might be biased but I think Leonard would have stopped Hearns again in the late rounds of a welterweight rematch (and maybe this time he doesn’t have to rally from behind on the scorecards). I’d favor Hearns to outpoint Leonard in close and entertaining fights at 154 and 160 pounds. I like Hagler over Hearns by a late (maybe come-from-behind) stoppage in a middleweight rematch.
Leonard vs Hearns rematch at 147 in 1982 (before Leonard retired due to the detached retina). My hunch is that Leonard would’ve be better prepared for Hearns’ reach, speed and boxing ability, but also more confident in his ability to hurt the Hitman, in their return bout.
Could things have gone differently for Hearns? Not at welterweight. That’s just my humble opinion.
Would Leonard get off to a much better, faster start? I think so.
Would the second superfight top the first one? No. I don’t think it would be as dramatic, which doesn’t mean it would’ve been another awesome welterweight showdown. The bar was set almost impossibly high with their epic first encounter.
Leonard (the version that defeated Ayub Kalule in 1981) vs Hearns at 154. I think the junior middleweight version of Hearns had better legs and more punch resistance. That little “extra,” plus the hunch that 154 pounds is an “awkward”/“uncomfortable” weight for Leonard, is all Hearns needs to pull ahead of his rival – on points in a hotly contested distance fight.
Many experts rank Hearns as the best junior middleweight fighter ever but does he get past Leonard at 154? I’m one of those “experts,” and as much as I love Sugar Ray, I don’t think he gets the job done vs. the Motor City Cobra above 147 pounds.
Leonard (the version that beat Hagler) vs Hearns at 160? I think the best middleweight version of Hearns outpoints the best middleweight version of Leonard. The faded 168-pound version of Hearns dropped Ray twice during their 1989 rematch and he should’ve received the official nod instead of a controversial draw.
Hagler vs Hearns rematch at 160 in 1986. Hagler was slowing down by this time, plus his war with John Mugabi took a lot out of him, so I think Hearns would definitely get off to a good start if he boxed a disciplined fight. However, Hagler’s pressure and animosity, plus Hearns’ natural/puncher’s inclination to slug it out, would eventually draw the taller, rangier boxer into the kind of extended exchanges that would give the defending champ the edge by the late rounds. I think Hagler stops him late (especially if the fight was scheduled for 15 rounds).
I read that there was talk of a rematch happening in November 1986 but when Leonard came out of retirement later in the year, Hagler turned all his attention to securing that fight. You’re right about there being talk of a rematch (Hearns was in the co-featured bout – vs. James Shuler – to Hagler’s defense against Mugabi in March 1986 in order to set it up), but you’re wrong about Hagler turning all his attention to Leonard when the superstar came out of retirement. According to Bob Arum, Hagler, who was ready to retire after the Mugabi bout, had to be talked into fighting Leonard (he was bitter toward the Sugar Man for teasing him with a superfight earlier in the decade and then retiring).
IS CRAWFORD REALLY TOP P4P PLAYER?
Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy New Year! My first time contacting you, so I thought a more formal salutation would be appropriate.
Looking at The Ring Pound-for-Pound ratings, I would like to comment specifically on Terrence Crawford. He is currently ranked third on the list and general consensus places him in the top 3 pound for pound fighters.
I feel that a significant factor in placing him in the top P4P tier is his past performances mostly at lightweight and junior welterweight. He has been campaigning roughly 2½ years at welterweight and has perhaps fought a top 10 ranked welterweight once (I recall that Egidijus Kavaliauskas may have been ranked 10th at the time they fought).
My question is: if Terrence doesn’t fight and beat a top ten ranked (preferably a top 5 ranked) welterweight in 2021, should he still be ranked as one of the elite fighters in the sport? Sincerely. – Louis Discepola
Good question (and thanks for finally writing in). I think if Crawford goes another year without fighting a respected/consensus ranked welterweight, he could drop a spot or two in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings. But it depends on what the fighters ranked behind him – such as Usyk, Spence and Lopez – do. If Usyk doesn’t get a shot at Anthony Joshua or fight a legit heavyweight contender, his No. 4 place (right behind No. 3-rated Crawford) could be in jeopardy. If Spence faces another legit welterweight titleholder or contender (be it a big showdown with Pacquiao, a rematch with Porter, a grudgematch with Thurman or even defense against Ugas) and beats them convincingly, he could leapfrog both Usyk and Crawford.
Of course, the best scenario would be for Crawford and Spence to finally get it on, but we already know that’s a longshot for 2021 (even if Bud bolts from Top Rank by the fall).
I feel that a significant factor in placing him in the top P4P tier is his past performances mostly at lightweight and junior welterweight. That’s certainly part of the equation, but I’ve heard members of the Ring Ratings Panel, who until recently felt that Crawford deserved to be in the No. 1 spot, state that it’s the Nebraska native’s dominance against a variety of styles, as well as his versatility, that makes him worthy of being the P4P King. They pointed to Canelo’s struggles with GGG and Inoue’s hard-fought victory over Donaire as reasons why Crawford, who’s never come close to losing, should be at the helm of the mythical rankings.
He has been campaigning roughly 2½ years at welterweight and has perhaps fought a top 10 ranked welterweight once (I recall that Egidijus Kavaliauskas may have been ranked 10th at the time they fought). Crawford has faced two Ring-rated fighters – Horn and Kavaliauskas – in his five welterweight bouts, and those two were rated between No. 6-10. If he can’t get the big unification showdown with Spence, he needs to fight a Thurman, Porter, Ugas, Taylor, Ramirez or Prograis ASAP.
Happy New Year. Hopefully 2021 is a better one for all of us but, as a fight fan, I feel pretty content about what I got to see in 2020.
I would love you to follow up a bit on the excellent question recently from AndyT about The Ring belt and, by extension, the “crazy” belts awarded by the governing bodies.
Just what do you see the true purpose of the governing bodies being? Give us your honest take on what goes on behind the scenes. For me, they offer regulation and ranking. They also sanction fights and award trinkets that help to sell those fights. If that puts a few more pounds in the kitty and generates interest in the sport and opportunities for fighters, then they are a good thing. If, however, they get in the way of fights being made then I think we would all agree that they have lost sight of the bigger picture. The biggest crime is those fighters ranked highly within a governing body who then never get the shot at the title that this ranking should mandate (Dillian – I mean you).
The Ring belt means a lot to fight fans and, I am sure, to the few boxers who manage to wear it in their career. Getting rid of the other belts however would feel like biting the hand that feeds. They are around to stay but an honest conversation amongst the alphabet bodies to rationalise the situation would be refreshing.
Keep fighting the good fight. Stay safe.
One Mythical Matchup for the road:
Froch vs Canelo at 168
Cheers. – Ryan
That’s a tough mythical matchup to figure out. I’m going to go with Canelo by decision in most jurisdictions (everywhere in North America), save for major cities in England (London, Manchester, Nottingham, of course). It’s a hotly contested, VERY close fight, and extremely entertaining.
Just what do you see the true purpose of the governing bodies being? Give us your honest take on what goes on behind the scenes. They’re businesses. Don’t be fooled by words like “association,” “council,” “federation” or “organization.” They exist to make money, and they do. But that’s OK. They cost the fighters and the promoters money, but they also help bring money to fighters and promotions. They help bring status to televised fight cards, which is what networks want from promoters; it’s part of why they pay out a license fee. So promoters will pay for the travel and lodging of sanctioning body officials and fighters willingly give up a percentage of their purses (or their managers or promoters will sometimes pay for the “sanction”). Most fighter’s contracts contain significant pay increases for when they fight for and win world titles.
For me, they offer regulation and ranking. They also sanction fights and award trinkets that help to sell those fights. They do that. I’m not anti-sanctioning organization. I don’t view them a threat to The Ring championship (in fact, they the benchmarks of a fighter’s journey to our world titles) or a total scourge on boxing. They have rules that help the sport. I recognize that. The WBC has a bunch of helpful regulations, but the Clean Boxing Program is their Crown Jewel. I know it’s not perfect but hats off to them and to VADA for at least addressing the subject of advanced PED testing. And hats off to the IBF for their second day weigh-ins. I wish the sanctioning organization rankings were better and I wish that more of their mandatories were truly worthy. It drives me crazy when a great matchup (and title unification/Ring Magazine championship) like Beterbiev vs. Bivol is held up because the IBF’s No. 1 contender is some average dude like Meng Fanlong. GTFOH.
If that puts a few more pounds in the kitty and generates interest in the sport and opportunities for fighters, then they are a good thing. Former 1980s middleweight contender Doug DeWitt once said about the WBO, which was belittled by the boxing media and fans at the time, “Say what you want about the WBO, but I went from making $10,000 per fight to $100,000 as the WBO champ.” (I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the O.D. — Original Dougie’s — point).
If, however, they get in the way of fights being made then I think we would all agree that they have lost sight of the bigger picture. They’ve been doing that since I was a kid. I liked it when the significant bouts were made despite their mandatory demands – Hearns vs. Duran, Toney vs. McCallum, Hamed vs. Vazquez – but I’d also be frustrated when one of the elite fighters had to vacate (or be stripped of) his title in order for what WAS SUPPOSED TO BE a title unification showdown to happen (in these cases it was the WBA belt that had to be moved aside).
The biggest crime is those fighters ranked highly within a governing body who then never get the shot at the title that this ranking should mandate (Dillian – I mean you). Yeah, and keep in mind that the mandatory challenger had to pay a sanctioning fee to take part in a “title elimination bout” or to hold an “interim,” “silver,” “gold” or regular belt, which was supposed to lead to a match with the holder of the “real” world title of that particular sanctioning organization.
The Ring belt means a lot to fight fans and, I am sure, to the few boxers who manage to wear it in their career. Some appreciate it more than others, but I imagine that they all like the fact that we don’t charge them sanctioning fees or impose unworthy title challenges upon them. Before I was Editor-In-Chief, even before I had anything to do with the magazine, I recognized The Ring Champ as the REAL champ.
Getting rid of the other belts however would feel like biting the hand that feeds. I don’t want to do that. I think it’s special when a fighter can unify three or all four major world titles (WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO). Being “undisputed” in the four-belt era is a special distinction that I recognize and celebrate. However, I understand where Eddie Hearn is coming from when he proclaims that he won’t allow the WBO or their mandatory challenger, Aleksandr Usyk, to jack them for millions. (Consider this: the big four usually take 3% of a fighter’s purse. 3% of $1 million is $30,000. So, do Google Joshua’s purses and do the math. The Adonis was guaranteed £46 million ($60 million) for his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. Think about the combined sanctioning fee for the IBF, WBA and WBO belts he holds for those fights (I don’t know what the IBO charges).
So, I get where Sir Eddie is coming from when he says he wants Anthony Joshua to fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship vs. Tyson Fury, but would rather dump all of the alphabet belts than get held up by the WBO. The winner of Fury-Joshua is THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD whether or not the alphabet bodies sanction the bout.
They are around to stay but an honest conversation amongst the alphabet bodies to rationalise the situation would be refreshing. I agree. And I’m here for that conversation – with them, the fans and the boxing industry.
CANELO VS. THE SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT GODS
Hi. Long time reader etc, etc. Genuinely think you’re great except when you’re not? (P.S., You’re always great!) Obviously hope you and your family are amazing. Anyway….
Just got DAZN. So I watched the fight. Then had to see what I got for £1.99. So just watched the Canelo vs Smith effort. I didn’t think Smith was soooo bad. So that SMW deal. How does it go? I’ve got Joe Calzaghe using his good hands to beat Canelo off him and using his broken hands to do the same. Froch vs Canelo? Hmm starting to believe in Canelo. But Froch had something. Ward vs Canelo? Which god wins? And would Canelo get bored of punching Henry Wharton?
PS Whose chin broke first: Canelo or Eubank?
Thanks. – Thomas
I think both Canelo’s and Eubank’s chins hold out in that particular mythical matchup, and though the Mexican star is an economical puncher, I think he’d outwork Eubank Sr. to a close UD. He would beat the breaks off of Wharton but he wouldn’t stop the game Yorkshire man.
As I stated earlier in this mailbag column, I think Canelo would do enough to narrowly outpoint The Cobra anywhere outside of England. I know Froch is a major f__king badass, but he struggled with Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor and Mikkel Kessler, and while those three are bigger men and better athletes than Canelo, they aren’t as complete a fighter as the four-division titleholder.
I think Calzaghe and Ward would outpoint their future fellow hall of famer in competitive fights.