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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (The Ring title, junior featherweights, mythical matchups)

Marciano would establish himself as one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time. Photo courtesy of Bettmann
25
Jan

TO BELT OR NOT TO BELT

Hi Dougie,

I hope you and yours are keeping well?

Recent news that Josh Warrington (now with Matchroom) has vacated his IBF belt took me a little by surprise considering how much he treasured it. Obviously, a mandatory rematch with Kid Galahad is not what he (or anyone who watched the first one) wants.



It seems that he has his eyes set firmly on The Ring magazine belt which he could potentially win against Gary Russell or Xu Can? I applaud the decision as I rate the Ring Belt above all others (if it was good enough for Rocky & Apollo eh?).

What’s interesting though is that he’s not the first of Eddie’s stars to recently flirt with this idea. Not long ago rumour was AJ would chuck all the marbles out if it would secure his fight with Fury with possibly only The Ring belt on the line.

Is this the start of a new trend where belts are won but cast aside more readily for the fights that matter? Is Eddie onto something?

I’ll be pleased to see Josh back in the ring soon anyway (before a big summer scrap).

MM Josh Warrington v Érik Morales.

Thanks. – Chris R, UK

El Terrible via hard-fought, close UD in a very entertaining scrap.

Warrington returns to the ring on February 13 (vs. Mauricio Lara) in a non-title bout. I hope he’s able to get GRJ or Xu Can in the ring by late summer. Ring titles and sanctioning body belts aside, those are just damn good 126-pound matchups.

Josh Warrington fires a left at the elusive and frustrating Kid Galahad.

Recent news that Josh Warrington (now with Matchroom) has vacated his IBF belt took me a little by surprise considering how much he treasured it. Obviously, a mandatory rematch with Kid Galahad is not what he (or anyone who watched the first one) wants. Yeah, nothing against Kid Galahad, the Sheffield man is Ring’s No. 4-rated featherweight and deserving of that position, but I don’t care to see him and Warrington dance again. I want fresh (potentially explosive) matchups in the 126-pound division (which has that potential). Word is, KG is eying a four-bout deal with the PBC. Good luck to him. Maybe he can get that Russell fight that Warrington says he wants. Maybe he can pit his skill and savvy vs. Leo Santa Cruz’s pressure and volume-punching if the veteran drops back down to featherweight. I just don’t want to see KG vs. Rey Vargas. Ugh.

It seems that he has his eyes set firmly on The Ring magazine belt which he could potentially win against Gary Russell or Xu Can? I think the showdown with Xu is more likely (they had a deal in place to get it on prior to the pandemic), but if Russell wants that smoke the vacant Ring Magazine title would automatically be on the line (Warrington and GRJ are the Nos. 1 and 2 featherweights).

I applaud the decision as I rate the Ring Belt above all others (if it was good enough for Rocky & Apollo eh?). It’s a rare, special, hard-earned designation with a century of boxing history behind it. And it’s great to see fighters revel in that history and glory as Tyson Fury and Teofimo Lopez did last year, but equally satisfying to hear that others, like Warrington, covet Ring champion status.  

What’s interesting though is that he’s not the first of Eddie’s stars to recently flirt with this idea. Not long ago rumour was AJ would chuck all the marbles out if it would secure his fight with Fury with possibly only The Ring belt on the line. The WBC title would also be attached to that super showdown if Joshua dropped his WBO, WBA and IBF straps. I can’t envision Fury dropping the iconic green belt for any reason.

Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales pose for a photo during an L.A. press conference for their anticipated rematch. The vacant Ring Magazine featherweight title was on the line. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Is this the start of a new trend where belts are won but cast aside more readily for the fights that matter? Is Eddie onto something? Time will tell. It happened a few times during the 2000s (after a decade-long hiatus, The Ring’s championship policy was reinstated by EIC Nigel Collins in 2002). Prior to the return of the Ring titles, featherweight star Naseem Hamed dropped his WBO title (after 15 defenses and partially unifying it with the IBF and WBC belts at different points during his reign) and then faced Marco Antonio Barrera with his “lineal” championship status on the line in their anticipated clash in 2001. Barrera took Naz to school and when he took on WBC beltholder Erik Morales (41-0 at the time) in their 2002 rematch, the vacant Ring featherweight title was on the line. Barrera outpointed his rival and either didn’t accept the WBC belt or quickly abdicated it (if I correctly recall, he or his management were beefing with the Mexico City based organization at the time). So, Barrera’s subsequent championship bouts vs. Johnny Tapia, Kevin Kelley and Manny Pacquiao from November 2002 to November 2003 only had The Ring title on the line. Also, when Pacquiao made his one-bout pitstop at junior welterweight vs. Ricky Hatton in 2009, only Ricky’s Ring title was on the line (unless you recognize the IBO belt).

 

JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHTS

Hi Doug,

I hope you and your family are well. I want to ask about your opinion on the 122 lb class in terms of its entertainment and depth, and how it stacks up right now compared to other golden eras. For whatever reason (speed and workrate of the lower classes, punching power of the higher), it seems like it makes for some real fun wars. I wanted to get my predictions in for the fights tonight. I see Fulton and Pasillas winning clear decisions, although I imagine Aleem is gonna give the latter some real problems over the first half of the fight. How do you see it? If both make it through, hopefully PBC will give us the gift of matching those two against each other (really, any matchups between the 4 is more than fine by me)!

Obviously, MJ is top dog in the division, but if everyone (Roman, Crazy A, Figueroa, the 3 Japanese fighters in The Ring top 10, all the other talent in and outside Ring’s top 10 of this stacked weight class) were to fight each other, who do you think comes out on top? I got my money on Fulton, much respect to a guy who has already taken on and beaten guys like Josh Greer, Adam Lopez (who’s had a similar approach to matching himself against top prospects and contenders), and Arnold Khegai before even getting a title shot. Talk about forging yourself in the fire. Prospects fighting other prospects, that’s my favourite kinda fight.

MMs: Inoue (once he’s finished up at 118) v Fulton at 122

Fulton v Oscar Larios

Fulton v Israel Vazquez

Fulton v Kennedy McKinney

Best. – Jon (Toronto)

No disrespect to Fulton, I think he’s earned his place among the top three or four junior featherweights in the world with his performance against Angelo Leo, but he’s just stepped into the world-class ranks. As talented, dedicated, skilled and gritty as he is, I’ve got to go with the trio of former champs (each of whom is borderline HOF worthy) by decision in competitive fights.

I want to ask about your opinion on the 122 lb class in terms of its entertainment and depth, and how it stacks up right now compared to other golden eras. Junior featherweight is pretty deep right now. It’s deep and diverse in terms of talent and styles and think there are a lot of really good matchups that can be made between the top fighters (as you noted). I don’t think the 122-pound division is as loaded as some of the others (junior bantamweight, welterweight, junior middleweight, junior flyweight, bantamweight) but most of its top 10 are young and hungry fighters, which hopefully leads to more contenders and titleholder clashing.

Kennedy McKinney, a 1988 Olympic gold medalist, was a major player at 122 pounds where he tangled with Barrera, Junior Jones, Vuyani Bungu and Welcome Ncita during the ’90s. Photo from The Ring archive

How does today’s junior featherweight division stack up to previous eras? I think it compares well to most, although I’d definitely rate the line-ups we had from the mid-to-late 1990s and the mid-to-late 2000s a lot higher. From 1995-2000 the division was home to Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Kennedy McKinney, Junior Jones, Vuyani Bungu, Daniel Zaragoza, Welcome Ncita, Orlando Canizalez and Hector-Acero Sanchez. The highlight for me during this great period was the 1996 Barrera-McKinney war, which kicked off HBO’s legendary Boxing After Dark series in style; but the era culminated with the unforgettable showdown between Morales and Barrera in 2000, which kicked off one of the all-time great trilogies/rivalries. From 2005-2008 the division was home to Israel Vazquez, Rafael Marquez, Oscar Larios, JuanMa Lopez, Celestino Caballero, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Ricardo Cordoba, Somsak Sithchatchawal and Mahyar Monshipour. This era’s highlight has to be the unbelievable Monshipour-Sithchatchawal clash in 2006 (please watch this fight on YouTube if you’ve never seen it), and it obviously climaxed with the year-long Vazquez-Marquez trilogy from 2007-2008. (Morales-Barrera I, Sith-Monshipour and Vazquez-Marquez II and III were all Ring Magazine Fights of the Year.)

Obviously, MJ is top dog in the division, but if everyone (Roman, Crazy A, Figueroa, the 3 Japanese fighters in The Ring top 10, all the other talent in and outside Ring’s top 10 of this stacked weight class) were to fight each other, who do you think comes out on top? I have no idea. They’ve got to fight the fights. I think there are a lot of close matchups in this division. MJ barely beat Roman (in fact, I thought the Uzbekistan talent was a little bit lucky to get the nod). Both guys have wrinkles to their game that Leo, who gave Fulton a tough fight (at least for the first half of the bout), lacks.

I got my money on Fulton, much respect to a guy who has already taken on and beaten guys like Josh Greer, Adam Lopez (who’s had a similar approach to matching himself against top prospects and contenders), and Arnold Khegai before even getting a title shot. Talk about forging yourself in the fire. That experience aided him well on Saturday night. I hope Fulton gets the opportunity to prove you right. Credit to Showtime and the PBC for setting up a potential round robin at 122 pounds.

 

2021 POSSIBILITIES

Hey Dougie,

Greetings! Hope you and your family are well. Few observations and then a few MMs that I’d love to read your thoughts on.

First, how likely do you see a rematch between Teofimo and Loma? Do you think there is any truth to Loma’s claim he wasn’t 100% in the first fight or was he more likely, pulling a Manny (after he fought Money)?

Second, do you think Oscar will make good on his wishes to return to boxing or is he just missing the spotlight as a fighter? I know it’s usually hard for fighters to stay retired, but he hasn’t fought in over 12 years! He can’t need the money so it must be something else. I wish him the best regardless and hope he doesn’t get hurt.

Mythical matchups:

Laila Ali vs. Claressa Shields

Anne Wolfe vs. Claressa Shields

Ricardo Lopez vs. Roman Gonzalez at 105 lbs.

Carlos Monzon vs. Marvelous Marvin Hagler

Teofimo Lopez vs. Alexis Arguello at 135 lbs.

Canelo Alvarez vs. Roy Jones Jr. At 168 lbs.

Thanks Dougie. Keep up the good work as always. – Pedro Rodriguez, Wisconsin

Thanks for sharing, Pedro.

Your Mythical Matchups:

Laila Ali vs. Claressa ShieldsShields by decision in a competitive boxing match.

Anne Wolfe vs. Claressa ShieldsShields by decision in a great fight. (No disrespect to the recent International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees, they were formidable and dominant champs in their day, but they didn’t have the extensive international-level amateur background that Shields brings to the ring. I think Claressa’s ring generalship and strong will would see her through to victory, but the superior punching power and physical strength – as well as equally strong wills – of the O.G. queens would make for competitive bouts.)

Ricardo Lopez vs. Roman Gonzalez at 105 lbs.Finito by decision in a great fight.

Carlos Monzon vs. Marvelous Marvin HaglerMonzon by decision (especially a 15-rounder) in a great fight.

Teofimo Lopez vs. Alexis Arguello at 135 lbs.Arguello by decision in a great fight.

Canelo Alvarez vs. Roy Jones Jr. At 168 lbs.Jones by decision in a great fight.

First, how likely do you see a rematch between Teofimo and Loma? I’ve been asked this a lot lately. I guess there is some curiosity (maybe even some demand?) in a return bout. Anyway, I favor the young gun by decision.

Do you think there is any truth to Loma’s claim he wasn’t 100% in the first fight or was he more likely, pulling a Manny (after he fought Money)? Yeah, the dude had an operation on his shoulder just a few days after the Lopez fight, just as Pacquiao had surgery on his torn rotator cuff immediately following the loss to Mayweather. They were both telling the truth. Still, I don’t care much for Loma’s sour grapes.

Second, do you think Oscar will make good on his wishes to return to boxing or is he just missing the spotlight as a fighter? I have no idea, but he looks like he’s been working out.

I know it’s usually hard for fighters to stay retired, but he hasn’t fought in over 12 years! Hey, Tyson hadn’t fought in 15 years.

He can’t need the money so it must be something else. I wish him the best regardless and hope he doesn’t get hurt. Same here. If he does what Tyson did (face a naturally smaller retired former champ – say, Ricky Hatton or Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. – in an eight-round exhibition with 2-minute rounds), he’ll be fine (and part of a huge PPV event).

 

MYTHICAL MATCHUPS

Hello Mr. Fischer,

I’ve got some mythical matchups for fun. Hopefully, none of them offends, you’ve forgot more about boxing than I know. *bows*

Eubank Jr vs Munguia this year.

Henry Armstrong vs Roberto Duran

Hagler vs Monzon

Chris Eubank vs Bernard Hopkins

Nigel Benn vs James Toney

Tyson vs Bowe in 92, no jail for Mike and no Holyfield for Riddick

Sonny Liston vs Evander Holyfield

Liston vs Joe Louis

Liston vs Mike Tyson

Primo Carnera vs Nikolai Valuev

A 6 foot 6, 230 pound Chocolatito vs Anthony Joshua

Dr. Dre vs RZA

Parliament vs Funkadelic

Kubrick vs Spielberg

Thanks – William

Nothing offensive about these (including the non-boxing pop culture). MMs are supposed to be fun. Thanks for the praise.

Eubank Jr vs Munguia this yearEubank by decision in a fun scrap

Henry Armstrong vs Roberto DuranDuran by decision in all-time great fights (at lightweight and welterweight)

Hagler vs MonzonMonzon by decision (I get asked this one a lot)

Chris Eubank vs Bernard HopkinsB-Hop by decision in a bizarre-but-enthralling scrap that is equal parts ugly, tactical, and dramatic (the pre-fight promotion might be more entertaining, tho)

Nigel Benn vs James ToneyToney by late stoppage in thrilling battles (at middleweight and super middleweight)

Tyson vs Bowe in 92, no jail for Mike and no Holyfield for RiddickTyson by mid-to-late stoppage (after some dramatic, wobbly moments early… I think Iron Mike would get in Big Daddy’s head without trying)

Sonny Liston vs Evander HolyfieldListon by late stoppage in a war

Liston vs Joe LouisListon by decision (if the judges are honest and able to resist giving the American hero the benefit of every doubt)

Liston vs Mike TysonListon by mid-to-late stoppage

Primo Carnera vs Nikolai Valuev – Carnera by decision

A 6 foot 6, 230 pound Chocolatito vs Anthony JoshuaThe King by mid-rounds KO

Dr. Dre vs RZAAw, come on man, you should KNOW the RZA takes this by decision or late stoppage (the Wu-Tang master studied under a Shaolin Temple monk and he’s the Man with the Iron Fists!)

Parliament vs FunkadelicHow would this be settled? WWF-style Royal Rumble? Anyway, it’s a draw (they’re basically the same George Clinton-fronted band)

Kubrick vs SpielbergStan the Man by mid-to-late KO! Kubrick knows boxing, dude, you should Google search his beautiful B&W photos and early films on the sport from the late 1940s/early 1950s if you’re unaware of the great director’s connection to the Sweet and Savage Science.

 

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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