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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Keeping it real with the lightweights, Kovalev and Lomachenko)

When (and at what weight) will these young guns start to mix it up?
18
Jan

BOXING REALISM

Hi, I hope you’re well.

I prefer to be a boxing idealist, but sometimes it pays to be a realist. The future is bright, but not at 135 lbs.

Credit to all the fighters involved in the new era at 135 for making the necessary noises about wanting to face each other, in particular Teofimo Lopez who on one hand is open about 135 being difficult to make and his time is limited there but is willing to face Haney should the Kambosos fight not happen.

If we take a more realistic view of the next few years, we should perhaps expect these big fights to happen at 140 and maybe even eventually 147. Haney and Garcia both have big frames and will no doubt follow Lopez to 140 and beyond before long. Davis will have to produce a performance akin to Duran vs Moore or Barkley to join them, but I certainly won’t rule it out with his obvious punching power.

Whether Taylor, Ramirez and Prograis move up to 147 or not; with a reasonable bit of foresight and some willingness from the darkside (promoters), boxing could potentially see a generation at 140 packed with talent. Lopez, Haney, Garcia, Davis, joined by Mario Barrios and if they continue to develop of fulfill their potential, Elvis Rodriguez, Dalton Smith, Verdejo (clearly weight drained in his last fight & in need moving up) – that’s a good crop of fighters in any era (apologies if I’ve missed anyone).

Kind regards. – Jaime

Don’t forget about Jose Zepeda, Arnold Barboza, Batyrzhan Jukembayev and Shohjahon Ergashev when you talk about 140-pound players, Jaime. And keep in mind that former beltholders Viktor Postol and Ivan Baranchyk remain dangerous tests for junior welterweight up-and-comers.

We’re all excited about the prospect of a high-profile lightweight round robin, but I agree with you that we should probably hold our enthusiasm for a long-running series of marquee matchups in the 140-pound division, which hopefully kicks off this year with an undisputed championship showdown between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez.

E-Rod air guitar rockin’ out after one of his five KOs scored in 2020. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

It think Elvis Rodriguez will earn his place in The Ring’s top 10 (with the aforementioned 140-pound players) this year. I thought E-Rod was a legit 2020 Prospect of the Year candidate.

I’m not so sure about Felix Verdejo at any weight. But the junior welterweight division is already deep, and it will gain more depth and star power when Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia eventually step up in weight. I think that happens by 2022.

Haney and Garcia both have big frames and will no doubt follow Lopez to 140 and beyond before long. Yep, Lopez will venture up first (maybe by the end of this year), probably followed by Haney (who’s only making 135 due to youth and scientifically approached SNAC camps). Garcia, who’s got the best frame for 140 pounds, will likely follow those two. But I don’t think we’ll be waiting very long.

Davis will have to produce a performance akin to Duran vs Moore or Barkley to join them, but I certainly won’t rule it out with his obvious punching power. I won’t count him out, but my hunch is that Davis hits his ceiling at 135 pounds, which is fine. Maybe he can rule that division one day.

 

DON’T COUNT LOMA OUT

Hey Doug,

Full respect on your objectivity in a world of subjectivity. I read your column regularly, often disagree but, for the most part, we see eye to eye. (The times we don’t, eg. Saul Alvarez – I’ll chalk that up to my cognitive dissonance.) Regardless, I’m just reaching out because I, like many others, enjoy reading your viewpoint and the ensuing dialogue with the mailbaggers.

However, WRT Loma vs. Lopez, you mentioned you expect Lopez to be the conqueror in the hypothetical rematch. I’m a big Loma fan and he clearly lost their initial engagement IMO. It seems like you implied a mental advantage for Lopez though should they meet up again.  Perhaps I’m wrong but it sounds like Lopez isn’t willing to give Loma the chance to redeem. If I read and interpreted your response correctly, I must disagree with you and your implication. I believe Loma learned enough in their first fight to adjust more readily.

Do you think this re-match will happen? Let the cards fall where they may and may we see this rematch come to fruition. I look forward to any thoughts you can share. Blessings, my man – Stone

Thanks for the kind words about me and this long-running column (and for the Blessings, I need ’em!), Stone.

I doubt the rematch happens. Lopez knows he’s only got one or two fights left at 135, and he’d rather fight new blood than the old lion. Plus, Lopez and his father are likely turned off by Lomachenko’s salty sore loser rhetoric following the showdown. They might want to deny the Ukrainian legend a big payday out of spite. Having said that, if there’s more money in fighting Lomachenko again than fighting George Kambosos in Australia or Devin Haney in a WBC-inspired grudge match (let’s say Dubai offers up $25-30 million for Loma and Lopez to split), I think Team #Takeover would go for the rematch.

WRT Loma vs. Lopez, you mentioned you expect Lopez to be the conqueror in the hypothetical rematch. I do expect Lopez to repeat his victory if a rematch can be made but please take my words with a grain of salt (not #saltiness). I thought Lomachenko would have too much experience for Lopez to overpower, overcome or outpoint. That opinion, which was shared by most of my fellow media members (and the oddsmakers), didn’t age well did it?

I’m a big Loma fan and he clearly lost their initial engagement IMO. I thought it was a clear loss, but a close fight. However, I understood the opinions of those who believed that Lopez dominated. I scored it 7 rounds to 5 for Lopez, who won six of the first seven rounds and took the final round big to clinch the game-changing victory on my card. I scored Rounds 2 and 11 for Lomachenko, but I noted that they were close/swing rounds that could have gone to Lopez. Had I gone with Lopez in those rounds (which I easily could have), my final tally changes from 115-113 to 117-111.

Would Lopez let his hands go like this earlier in a rematch with Loma? Would Loma risk getting hit like this earlier if they fought again? Hmmmmm…..

It seems like you implied a mental advantage for Lopez though should they meet up again. That’s correct. Lopez was obviously confident of his abilities and game plan going into the fight, but he’d never shared the ring with a boxer of Lomachenko’s ability, experience and heart, so he played it safe for the most part. To my view, he was thinking about the late rounds and was concerned about expending too much energy early in the bout. Now that he’s gone 12 rounds with a legend and he knows he’s able to summon a rally in the final stanza, I think he would be a little more active and take a few more chances, which could produce the KO (or at least a knockdown) that he was hoping to score in their first bout. Now, on the flip side, maybe a more aggressive version of Lopez plays into the veteran’s hands. But I think Lopez is too smart and savvy to be reckless vs. a boxer of Loma’s stature.

Perhaps I’m wrong but it sounds like Lopez isn’t willing to give Loma the chance to redeem. That’s what I’m hearing, but like I stated earlier, money talks louder than Lomachenko’s post-fight excuses and accusations.

If I read and interpreted your response correctly, I must disagree with you and your implication. Hey, that’s OK! Everybody does it. In fact, it’s welcome. I respect any opinion that is backed up with knowledge and facts.

I believe Loma learned enough in their first fight to adjust more readily. That’s a good point. As much I expect Lopez to adjust now that he’s been 12 rounds with Loma, I’ve got to assume that the master boxer has a better handle on what precocious young Teofimo brings to the ring. Maybe the veteran will take more chances early, press even harder down the stretch. My only question for Loma (and his loyal supporters) is, at this stage of his career, can he make it to (and through) a major clash injury free?

 

KOVALEV & THE HOF CRITERIA

Afternoon Dougie,

Quiet weekend for the sport so I wanted to clear up my final 2021 prediction from Friday. I didn’t mean that Uysk would lose his WBO title fight after Joshua vacates by knockout (although Park, Joyce or Ruiz would be tough fights), I meant that Joshua would vacate the WBO to fight Tyson Fury, which is a fight Joshua will lose by late stoppage.

Apologise if this wasn’t clearer.

I had a thought after the Friday mailbag where someone mentioned Sergey Kovalev’s HOF potential. You said that Kovalev has slim to no chance to get in (and slim left town) given an intense dislike of Kovalev in the U.S. Boxing scene.

I’m not going to argue that Kovalev hasn’t made very poor decisions during his time (not commenting on the recent VADA violation until we know more about it) but if we know that certain voters will ignore Kovalev purely out of dislike, how highly should we rank HOF when ranking ATG status?

I know that there are plenty of HOF voters (including yourself) that will be as impartial and fair as can be expected when voting for HOF entries, but I think it would be unjust for Kovalev to miss out on the honour given that certain people just don’t like him.

MM:

Kovalev that fought Hopkins vs Calzaghe that fought Hopkins

Kovalev vs Tarver (prime vs prime)

Thank you again for including my emails in the mailbag, always a pleasure to read the response. – Euan, Dunfermline, Scotland

It’s my pleasure to answer these emails, Euan.

Your mythical matchups:

Kovalev that fought Hopkins vs Calzaghe that fought Hopkins – Calzaghe by close, maybe controversial decision

Kovalev vs Tarver (prime vs prime) – Tarver by close decision

I had a thought after the Friday mailbag where someone mentioned Sergey Kovalev’s HOF potential. You said that Kovalev has slim to no chance to get in (and slim left town) given an intense dislike of Kovalev in the U.S. Boxing scene. The fact that most U.S. boxing media dislikes Kovalev is just part of that opinion. The other part, which I didn’t make clear enough, is that he’s a borderline hall of famer, accomplished enough to get on the ballot, yes, but not enough to merit automatic induction.

I’m not going to argue that Kovalev hasn’t made very poor decisions during his time (not commenting on the recent VADA violation until we know more about it) but if we know that certain voters will ignore Kovalev purely out of dislike, how highly should we rank HOF when ranking ATG status? It’s always a good idea to look into the merits of those have been inducted – most are beyond reproach, but some can be scrutinized – and also to understand that there are more than a few HOF-worthy fighters that haven’t been inducted. (Also, understand that a fighter can be a hall of famer without having faced a fellow HOF-inducted fighter. Khaosai Galaxy, Brian Mitchell, Jeff Chandler and Orlando Canizales are all in the IBHOF but there are not HOFers on their resumes. However, they each had long, quality title reigns that merited their induction. Kovalez’s three-year title reign – from 2013-2016 – is strong but not as long or distinguished as theirs.)

James Toney is definitely worthy of the hall of fame, but he wasn’t a first-ballot inductee.

I know that there are plenty of HOF voters (including yourself) that will be as impartial and fair as can be expected when voting for HOF entries, but I think it would be unjust for Kovalev to miss out on the honour given that certain people just don’t like him. Like I said, that’s one factor that will likely keep him out. His recent positive PED test will be another. James Toney, who’s got a resume that borders on ATG status, was recently passed over for first-ballot induction (Andre Ward, who’s ledger is impressive but not as decorated as Toney’s, got in ahead of ole Lights Out). Some voters cited his positive PED tests as a reason they held back on giving him a checkmark, but you have to be a naïve MF to think his surly (sometimes anti-media) personality didn’t play a part. Hey, being liked and admired helps folks get ahead in all walks of life. It is what it is, as James is fond of saying. (For the record, I voted for Toney, who chewed me out on a few occasions during the 2000s.) But here’s the thing, Toney WILL eventually get it. His resume’s too deep for any haters to keep him out. Had Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Wladimir Klitschko not been on the same ballot, he (and Miguel Cotto, who was also skipped over by the voters – but not by me) would have been inducted.

Kovalev’s resume is very good. An argument can be made for his induction, but one can also put forth a solid argument that he’s not quite worthy. He had an excellent three-year title run that included Ring-rated contenders, such as Nathan Cleverly, Jean Pascal (twice) and Isaac Chilemba. On his way up the rankings, he beat tough gatekeepers, such as former beltholder Gabriel Campillo and veteran Darnell Boone. And, at his peak, he annihilated serviceable fringe contenders, such as Ismayl Sillah and Najib Mohammedi. And he showed some character in coming back from losses to regain the WBO version of the title twice (vs. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and the highly ranked Eleider Alvarez in their rematch).

Sergey Kovalev’s career peak was arguably vs. recent hall of fame inductee Bernard Hopkins.

Also, helping his case for the IBHOF is that he’s faced two current inductees (Bernard Hopkins and Andre Ward), plus a dude who will no doubt be a first-ballot inductee one day (Canelo). He dominated B-Hop (which unified three major world titles) and many believe (myself included) that he deserved the nod in the first bout vs. Ward. However, we can’t ignore that Hopkins was a couple months shy of his 50th birthday or that many observers believed the razor-thin UD loss to Ward was legit.

Had Kovalev been able to secure that unification clash with WBC/Ring champ Adonis Stevenson and he wins that fight, plus gets the nod vs. Ward, my guess is that despite his polarizing personality and all the drama in his life, he’d be considered a lock for the IBHOF. But that’s a “What If?” for Uatu The Watcher to ponder.

Quiet weekend for the sport so I wanted to clear up my final 2021 prediction from Friday. I didn’t mean that Uysk would lose his WBO title fight after Joshua vacates by knockout (although Parker, Joyce or Ruiz would be tough fights), I meant that Joshua would vacate the WBO to fight Tyson Fury, which is a fight Joshua will lose by late stoppage.

Apologise if this wasn’t clearer. No apology needed, Euan. I just hope we get the opportunity to witness whether your prediction is correct or incorrect.

 

 

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 or Dougie’s Periscope every Sunday.

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