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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Estrada-Gonzalez 2, junior bantamweight, George Foreman)

08
Mar

CHOCOLATITO VS. ESTRADA II

Hey Dougie!

Man, am I excited for Chocolatito and Gallito.

This is going to be a good fight, guaranteed. It’s one of those fights that even though it might seem like it expired a long time ago, will still produce a great result based on their styles and of course the resurgence of Roman. I believe Chocolatito has a very good chance of pulling out the upset. I also feel that the Sor Rungvisai fights might have been the result of him just going against a bigger, stronger opponent that he just couldn’t handle and hey, as did many, I thought he pulled it out in the first fight even though it was close. I was there live for the rematch and I really thought he was done as an elite fighter after that brutal KO.



I’m picking Chocolatito to win by close split decision, both coming up from the canvas in a barnburner.

Now, what are the best fights that you remember that were made past their alleged best moment? I immediately think Holyfield-Tyson. Any others come to mind? Thanks Dougie. – Juan Valverde

The 1989 rematch between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns is the gold standard for my generation.

It happened NINE years after (and three weight classes heavier than) their epic welterweight showdown. Most of the sports writers (and even the hardcore boxing magazine columnists) were down on this matchup when it was announced. Leonard had looked vulnerable and undersized vs. light heavyweight beltholder Donny LaLonde, who decked him despite sweating down to 168 pounds, in his previous bout. Pundits questioned his post-Hagler desire and his effectiveness at the heavier weights.

Hearns, who had been KTFO by Iran Barkley and taken to hell and back vs. James Kinchen, was considered shot. More than a few fight scribes called for his retirement following the majority decision over Kinchen, who dropped him in the fourth round of their super middleweight bout. Adding to the bad press was Hearns’ family drama. His younger brother Henry murdered his girlfriend at a party held at Thomas’ house just two nights before the fight.

Leonard had no business fighting anyone above 160 pounds but he was a heavy favorite, if memory serves. So, of course, Tommy got in his ass and made the most of his opportunity to avenge his 1981 loss. As I’m sure you know, Leonard was dropped twice but rallied hard in the championship rounds, almost having his arch rival out on his feet in the 12th.

Man, am I excited for Chocolatito and Gallito. Any self-described boxing fan that isn’t ultra-hyped for Estrada-Gonzalez II needs to quit the Sweet Science and start watching UFC cards with my buddy Steve Kim and Mario Lopez.

Estrada (right) and Gonzalez went to war in fight one.

This is going to be a good fight, guaranteed. This is going to be a GREAT fight, guaranteed. Both veterans have hall-of-fame resumes. Estrada, whose rematch stoppage of Carlos Cuadras was one of the best fights of 2020, is still on top of his game and in the pound-for-pound rankings of The Ring, ESPN.com and the TBRB. Gonzalez earned Ring’s 2020 Comeback of the Year award by stopping unbeaten Kal Yafai for the WBA title and defending the 115-pound trinket vs. Israel Gonzalez. They’ve got elite-level experience, skills and warrior spirit. These little dudes are the closest we have to monster talents of past eras like Salvador Sanchez and Aaron Pryor. Fighters like that only make for epic battles when they share the ring.

I believe Chocolatito has a very good chance of pulling out the upset. Me too. And I heard good things about his camp in Coachella with head coach Marcos Caballero.

I also feel that the Sor Rungvisai fights might have been the result of him just going against a bigger, stronger opponent that he just couldn’t handle and hey, as did many, I thought he pulled it out in the first fight even though it was close. I thought he won the first bout, but there’s no denying that Sor Rungvisai put him through hell. However, no disrespect to the Thai tank, but I think there were other factors in Gonzalez’s struggle. I think he’d begun to suffer from physical burn out a few fights BEFORE the first go-around with Sor Rungvisai, and I know that he’d lost some of his spirit following the sudden death of his trainer Arnulfo Obando prior to that mandatory showdown. The break he took following the Sor Rungvisai rematch and after the comeback KO of Moises Fuentes was good for him, and the pairing with Caballero is an essential part of his “resurrection.”

I was there live for the rematch and I really thought he was done as an elite fighter after that brutal KO. Me too, but a true King will always return.

I’m picking Chocolatito to win by close split decision, both coming up from the canvas in a barnburner. You KNOW I’m gonna ride or die with Roman. I think he wins a close but clear UD in a great fight.

 

THE MOST EXCITING WEIGHT CLASS

Hi Doug,

I hope you and your Family are well.

We are 1 Week away from a loaded Fight Night in Dallas with 3 Ring belts on the line. I can’t remember the last time this was the case.

And if Fury vs Joshua doesn’t happen later this year the Main Event Chocolatito vs El Gallo 2 is a serious contender to be the Fight of the Year.

I love the Super Flyweight (Junior Bantamweight) Class because it is loaded like the Welterweight but unlike the Spences and Crawfords of this world they don’t avoid each other and are willing to fight anybody.

It already starts on Friday with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai keeping busy to retain his form. I hope he can get out of Thailand soon to be in the mix to fight the other Top 10 members. He didn’t look as sharp lately. I hope he still has enough gas in the tank to challenge anybody who will be the Champ of the Class at the end of the year.

Off course, I can’t wait to see Estrada vs Gonzalez 2. Who do you have in this Fight?

I know you love Chocolatito but El Gallo always comes back stronger for the second time against an opponent (Rungvisai, Sanchez, Cuadras) so I have to go with the current Ring Champ.

Normally, you would think after such a major event the dust would settle a little but boy is this weight class loaded.

We have 2 potential Hall of Famers (Chocolatito for sure but I also think if he wins El Gallo gets the call too) then we have an excellent Ioka who could easily be the weight class Champ in another division.

Pretty Boy Ancajas also can beat anybody at super fly, and we also have Kosei Tanaka who has to lick his wounds to come back strong, and now El Rey Martinez wants to join the dance too?

Holy cow Doug! I have to think back a long time to find another weight class that loaded, which weight class was that good in the past? Exciting times ahead, Doug. – Andy

For the little guys, Andy. I wish I could say the same for boxing’s traditional glamor divisions – welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight. But I’m grateful for Estrada-Gonzalez II, Josh Taylor-Jose Ramirez, and a Mexican superstar who wants to fight more than twice a year. We’ll see if the Powers That Be can get Fury-Joshua done this year. I’ve given up on the standouts of the welterweight division, but I’ve got hope for Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Jaron Ennis reigniting the weight class.

Which weight class in the past was as good at the current 115-pound division? Almost all of them if you go back 25-30 years.

I hope you and your Family are well. We’re better than well, Andy, we’re SWELL. Thanks for asking.

We are 1 Week away from a loaded Fight Night in Dallas with 3 Ring belts on the line. I can’t remember the last time this was the case. 2003, Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Don King Productions and HBO PPV brought us diehard boxing junkies Ricardo Mayorga vs. Cory Spinks (for the Ring welterweight championship), Bernard Hopkins vs. William Joppy (for the Ring middleweight championship) and Rosendo Alvarez vs. Victor Burgos (for the Ring junior flyweight championship).

And if Fury vs Joshua doesn’t happen later this year the Main Event Chocolatito vs El Gallo 2 is a serious contender to be the Fight of the Year. Even if Fury-Joshua is made this year, Estrada-Gonzalez II is going to be a Fight of the Year candidate. Hopefully, they both be candidates, but I won’t guarantee fireworks with the giants.

Juan Francisco Estrada became the first fighter to ever stop Carlos Cuadras. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

I love the Super Flyweight (Junior Bantamweight) Class because it is loaded like the Welterweight but unlike the Spences and Crawfords of this world they don’t avoid each other and are willing to fight anybody. Check it out: Since moving to the 115-pound division, Estrada has fought Carlos Cuadras (twice) and Sor Rungvisai (twice); Gonzalez has faced Cuadras, Sor Rungvisai (twice) and Kal Yafai; Ioka had boldly taken on (in succession) McWilliams Arroyo, Donnie Nietes, Aston Palicte, Jeyvier Cintron and Tanaka. Sor Rungvisai, who has been a junior bantamweight for most of his career, has battled Cuadras, Gonzalez (twice) Estrada (twice), Jose Salgado and Yota Sato (both Ring-rated at the time). When Cuadras (who, as you can see, has damn near fought EVERYBODY) is No. 10 in The Ring’s rankings, you know it’s a badass division.

It already starts on Friday with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai keeping busy to retain his form. All Hail the Rat King. He’s still Ring’s No. 1-rated junior bantamweight.

I hope he can get out of Thailand soon to be in the mix to fight the other Top 10 members. I think he’s in line to face the Estrada-Gonzalez winner (if the WBC has anything to say about it).

He didn’t look as sharp lately. Sor Rungvisai has been in some wars; and he’s got to put his body through hell to make 115 pounds. It’s possible that he could be suffering the same level of burnout now that Gonzalez was dealing with when they shared the ring in 2017.

I can’t wait to see Estrada vs Gonzalez 2. Who do you have in this Fight? Gonzalez on points, but Estrada deserves to be the odds favorite. Whatever happens, I’ve got nothing but respect and admiration for both veterans.

I know you love Chocolatito but El Gallo always comes back stronger for the second time against an opponent (Rungvisai, Sanchez, Cuadras) so I have to go with the current Ring Champ. I totally respect that pick; Estrada is an elite boxer. However, I think Sor Rungvisai helped him out a bit in the rematch by inexplicably boxing from an orthodox stance for the first eight or nine rounds; and he showed signs of wear and tear/slowing down in the Dewayne Beamon and the Cuadras rematch.

Normally, you would think after such a major event the dust would settle a little but boy is this weight class loaded. Sor Rungvisai and Ioka are aiming for the winner, and Ancajas, Joshua Franco, Andrew Moloney and Cintron are waiting in the wings for their shots at glory.

We have 2 potential Hall of Famers (Chocolatito for sure but I also think if he wins El Gallo gets the call too) then we have an excellent Ioka who could easily be the weight class Champ in another division. Ioka also has a hall of fame resume.

Pretty Boy Ancajas also can beat anybody at super fly… He’s a long-reigning beltholder but it remains to be seen how well he’d fare vs. the champs and legit contenders of the division.

… and we also have Kosei Tanaka who has to lick his wounds to come back strong, and now El Rey Martinez wants to join the dance too? Martinez would be a welcome addition to the division. Tanaka remains a beast and handful for any of the top dogs.

 

BOXING AND LEGAL REFORM

Hey Doug,

Hope you’re well. Big fan, and first-time writer. As someone who’s been following the sport for a while, it’s clear that boxing has a lot of problems. Issues like ridiculous rankings/undeserving mandatories (like we saw with Yildirim), short-sighted matchmaking (take your pick), bad judging and lack of uniformity with regards to drug testing/fighter licensing (I remember that farce with JCC JR. last year, where they were able to switch his fight to Arizona) are as prevalent as ever. It seems to me like these problems might be helped by a centralized body running the sport, similar to the UFC (or any other sport for that matter). That way, fighters could be told who to fight, and would be adequately punished for skirting the rules, and endangering their fellow fighters. Fans would get better matchups, and fighters would be safer.

In your opinion, what are the main obstacles towards something of this nature happening?

On a related note, I’m aware that there have been efforts to put forth legislation and clean up the sport. The Professional Boxing Safety Act and the Ali Act were introduced many years ago, while John McCain also spearheaded a number of efforts to introduce similar regulation. As far as I know, these efforts were unsuccessful, and not much has come about from the above acts. Perhaps you could shed some light as to why?

Sorry if I’m being a Negative Nancy over here. There’s plenty of stuff to get excited about too. Valdez-Berchelt was dope (was legitimately scared for Berchelt at the end though), and I’m psyched for Choco-Estrada 2.

There’s a ton of young talent in boxing right now, and if the sport can get its act together, maybe it won’t go to waste (I’m skeptical). Thanks. – Nathaniel, Toronto

You should be skeptical, Nate. The sport is more divided than it has ever been, and world-class fighters seem more content to fight infrequently without challenging themselves than ever before. I’m not a negative person. This is simply my observation after following the sport closely since the late 1980s and covering it as media since the late 1990s.  

It seems to me like these problems might be helped by a centralized body running the sport, similar to the UFC (or any other sport for that matter). Yeah, I agree, but who would be the Dana White or Roger Goodell or Adam Silver?

That way, fighters could be told who to fight, and would be adequately punished for skirting the rules, and endangering their fellow fighters. Fans would get better matchups, and fighters would be safer.

In your opinion, what are the main obstacles towards something of this nature happening? The obvious answer is getting all of the major promoters to work together or form some sort of league, but I think they’ll go wherever the money is, and the most successful and powerful companies have exclusive partnerships with well-funded networks/platforms. So, I’m thinking the formation of a boxing league or unified association would have to start with the networks; they’d either have to come together (let’s say ESPN, Showtime, FOX and DAZN for starters) and workout a shared schedule and shared pay-per-view platform for the mega-events or one of them would need to go all-in on boxing and commit a billion+ per year to make it worth everyone’s while to cooperate.

I’m aware that there have been efforts to put forth legislation and clean up the sport. The Professional Boxing Safety Act and the Ali Act were introduced many years ago, while John McCain also spearheaded a number of efforts to introduce similar regulation. As far as I know, these efforts were unsuccessful, and not much has come about from the above acts. Perhaps you could shed some light as to why? Yeah, it’s real simple, the U.S. government (and the rest of the world) has WAY bigger concerns to deal with than professional boxing.

 

GEORGE FOREMAN

Hi Doug,

Trust you and your family are well. Thanks again for the mailbag, it’s always enjoyable and makes me feel I’m roughly up to date with the world of boxing.

I just watched a very enjoyable documentary on Sky Sports on George Foreman. I’m not sure if you can get hold of it but I highly recommend it if you can. I wondered if you could add a little perspective and context to it. The young Foreman looked like one of the most ferocious punchers I’ve ever watched, I literally found myself flinching as I watched some of his early stoppages and shoot outs. The one with Ron Lyle was incredible. Where would you rank that version of Foreman historically as a puncher?

On his 2nd run at the title he fought a fairly long line of nobodies or so they said. How poor was that run of opposition and was that his choice to slowly get himself back in shape or was it the fact that he had to re-earn his position. I feel a heavyweight of similar stature making a comeback today would only have to have a couple of bouts before they got a crack at the title.

How good was Moorer when they fought, was the version of Holyfield he beat near Holyfield’s best? Would Moorer have lived with our current titleholders.

Lastly what version of Foreman was better and how would that version fair against today’s heavyweights. I only really give Fury a chance against the best Foreman.

Apologies for all the questions but it’s been a fairly slow weekend and Foreman intrigues me. I met him once. He was ringside for Naz v Bungu at Earls Court London. I leaned over and got him to sign my program, for what it’s worth he was bloody miserable but I since learnt he doesn’t like signing items gratis?!

(ps mm Calzaghe v Canelo at Super mw)

Many thanks in advance. – Steffan, U.K.

I’ll go with Calzaghe on points, maybe a majority decision.

Foreman (right) stops Lyle in five. Photo/ THE RING

The young Foreman looked like one of the most ferocious punchers I’ve ever watched, I literally found myself flinching as I watched some of his early stoppages and shoot outs. The one with Ron Lyle was incredible. Where would you rank that version of Foreman historically as a puncher? I think he’s top 10 or 15 all time, in terms of punching prowess. He didn’t score a lot of one-hitter-quitters like prime Joe Louis (one of his idols), but he had incredibly heavy hands, he just broke men down, whacking away at their heads and torsos like a roided-up lumberjack chopping down trees. I think prime Sonny Liston (another of his idols) and Earnie Shavers had heavier hands, but Foreman’s right up there with them. The haymakers of the 1970s-version of Foreman inflicted the same degree of physical trauma that Max Baer and Rocky Marciano’s punches did in previous decades. However, I think Louis, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson and Jack Dempsey were harder punchers than Foreman. They had better speed, torque and accuracy with their power punches. Lennox Lewis, Razor Ruddock and the Klitschko bros. possessed power on par with young Foreman, too (arguably a little better).

Foreman (left) goes after Adilson Rodrigues. Photo from The Ring archive

On his 2nd run at the title he fought a fairly long line of nobodies or so they said. Actually, his level of opposition prior to challenging Evander Holyfield in 1991 wasn’t much worse than the string of ham-and-eggers he fought on his way to his first shot at the title (vs. Frazier in 1973). Big George was 37-0 (34 KOs) when he challenged Smokin’ Joe and only two of those 37 victims were Ring-rated fighters (Gregorio Peralta, who took him the 10-round distance, and George Chuvalo – both fought in 1970). He didn’t face any Ring-rated fighters during his rebuilding period prior to the Holyfield showdown, but Bert Cooper and Gerry Cooney – both of whom were taken out in two rounds – could punch, and Adilson Rodriguez, who he also blasted in two rounds, was a serviceable fringe contender. Between Holyfield and his title-regaining effort vs. Moorer, Foreman faced two world-class hitters (Alex Stewart and Tommy Morrison) and a teak-tough gatekeeper in Pierre Coetzer.

How poor was that run of opposition and was that his choice to slowly get himself back in shape or was it the fact that he had to re-earn his position. If Foreman could have challenged Mike Tyson after a couple of tune-ups he would have, but Don King was not interested in risking his cash cow against the Blast From The Past. However, Big George also recognized the value in barnstorming the country vs. club fighters and retreads. He worked on his craft (which did improve in time) and he orchestrated a grassroots PR campaign that drastically increased his marketability. Hey, it eventually worked out for him, and I’m not just talking about the two title shots and becoming the oldest heavyweight champ in history; I’m talking about landing the George Foreman Grill endorsement deal.

I feel a heavyweight of similar stature making a comeback today would only have to have a couple of bouts before they got a crack at the title. True.

How good was Moorer when they fought, was the version of Holyfield he beat near Holyfield’s best? Moorer was a hell of a boxer, a rare heavyweight southpaw who had been developed by the great Emanuel Steward. I think Moorer’s jab is underrated; arguably one of the best among heavyweights. And, yeah, the version of Holyfield that Foreman took on was in his prime. And Holyfield is an all-time great.

Would Moorer have lived with our current titleholders. Probably not, because he’s small by modern standards and did not possess a world-class chin. Remember, Double M began his career at light heavyweight. Having said that, he was a better boxer/technician/combo-puncher than anyone you see today.

Lastly what version of Foreman was better and how would that version fair against today’s heavyweights. I think it evens out. The 1970s version was more of an offensive threat and somebody that knew how to intimidate his opponents. Only the prime versions of Liston and Tyson were more intimidating than young Foreman. The late 1980s/early 1990s version was sturdier/much heavier (between the high 240s and 260s), had better stamina and technique, and an improved jab. I think he defended better than the young version. The only problem was that he was much slower (of hand and foot), downright plodding.

I only really give Fury a chance against the best Foreman. You might be right about that.

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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 (almost) every Sunday.

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