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Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (prima donnas, belts, ringwalk music, the G-Man)

Was the Prima Donna torch passed from Cotto to Canelo when they fought in 2015?
23
Apr

FIGHTER ATTITUDE, BELTS GALORE, FIGHT NIGHT CUISINE

How’s life, Doug?

I don’t know about anyone else but I find that a fighter’s attitude heavily influences whom I root for to win a fight. I rooted for Canelo when he was an up and comer up until he defeated Cotto. Canelo became a real Prima Donna at that point and I rooted against him for years. Until recently, Canelo had a “titles are meaningless” attitude. Enter Eddie Hearn. Instead of being like Oscar, whispering, “You’re special, the rules don’t apply to you!” into his ear, Canelo is now hearing, “Mate, belts matter to the fans. Trust me, you want them all.” And suddenly, he’s mowing down everyone without taking the calculated risk strategy. Canelo is just flat out stepping up, kicking ass, and taking names. And I can’t get enough of it. Props to Taylor, Charlo, Canelo, and AJ for making strides toward becoming undisputed champs. And apologies to any unifying champs I didn’t mention. (Not sure if Inoue is belt hunting or if he’s happy where he is.)

The issue of so many world titles has been addressed by many before me but all the same, what gives? We have two sanctioning bodies that have a single belt at the world level, IBF and IBO. I realize that the IBO strap is seen as a minor title but I’ll point out that AJ is very proud of his IBO belt and I hope other champions will showcase theirs as well. It’s sad for the IBF to stand alone amongst the big four as having any self-respect left. What will it take for the IBO to become recognized as a major title by The Ring?



As an aside on belts, I understand the need for minor belts as measuring sticks. If you could reorganize the belt system any way you see fit, how many minor belts would there be and at what level would you want them?

What’s your take on the best food for fight night? Do you have a go-to selection? Is there something you favor above all others but maybe don’t partake because of expense? Does your selection change depending on if you’re watching alone or with a group?

And finally, what’s your dream card for the end of the year? It’s a miracle and the fight gods have deemed that fighters from all promoters are free to face one another. All fighters are inspired to greatness and want the challenge that will most significantly enhance their legacies.

Well done on your appearances on the “making of” videos on DAZN. Hope you get paid for those gigs. – Chris from the Ozarks

It’s so awesome to get a Mailbag email from somebody from the Ozarks, the region of the country where I came of age (Springfield, Missouri, 1980-88 – the Reagan years!). I swear, I don’t even care if you were wearing a MAGA hat as you penned it. You’re my Branson Brother!

Anyway, thanks for the kind words about my appearances on the “The Making Of…” Anthony Joshua and GGG docu-series. But what are you talking about getting paid? I pay THEM! I wouldn’t even ask for a credit on my DAZN subscription, my fellow Ozark Mountain Daredevil.

It’s an honor just to be around all those charming, sophisticated British filmmakers. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to parlay our familiarity into a production assistant position once I retire from doing this (whatever this is).

Cotto paid his dues in the ring. He had a right to play the prima-donna role late in his career. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

I rooted for Canelo when he was an up and comer up until he defeated Cotto. Canelo became a real Prima Donna at that point and I rooted against him for years. That’s fair. But it’s also fair when boxers – especially those as popular and successful as Canelo – become prima donnas. Cotto had become a major prima donna by the time Canelo faced him. The stoic Puerto Rican wasn’t always like that. He was a “fighter’s fighter” from his pro debut through his first two title reigns. The Caguas native smashed all comers. He wanted all the smoke, as the cool kids like to say (probably like you did in the bathrooms back in high school, my Hillbilly Hellion friend). But at some point between the brutal battle of attrition with Antonio Margarito and the 12th-round stoppage to Manny Pacquiao (and definitely after the back-to-back decision losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout), Cotto asked himself: “Why am I killing myself for blood-sucking managers, promoters, networks and sanctioning bodies? Am I really willing to die for these fickle, fair-weather, f__k-face fans?” I think it’s clear that Gennadiy Golovkin has hit that stage of his career. He’s like “Y’all can kiss this Kazakh azz.”

Until recently, Canelo had a “titles are meaningless” attitude. He is one of the very few fighters who can do just fine without the belts. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that Canelo viewed them as meaningless, even though he dumped the WBC title rather than be forced to fight GGG in 2016. He unified the WBC and WBA 154-pound belts in 2013; he won the WBO junior middleweight strap during his Ring Magazine middleweight reign. And he fought GGG in 2017 when Kazakh Thunder held the WBA, WBC and IBF titles. He won the WBA and WBC 160-pound belts when he outpointed GGG in their 2018 rematch and then he added the IBF strap to his collection by outpointing Danny Jacobs in 2019. One doesn’t fight for that many belts if he believes that “titles are meaningless” (trust me, with the purses Canelo’s making, that’s A LOT of money in sanctioning fees).

Enter Eddie Hearn. Instead of being like Oscar, whispering, “You’re special, the rules don’t apply to you!” into his ear, Canelo is now hearing, “Mate, belts matter to the fans. Trust me, you want them all.” And suddenly, he’s mowing down everyone without taking the calculated risk strategy. Canelo is just flat out stepping up, kicking ass, and taking names. And I can’t get enough of it. I’m glad you’re enthusiastic about Canelo’s march to unifying the 168-pound titles, but I’m not sure that I buy your narrative that he’s doing it because it’s what Hearn wants. (It is what Hearn wants; but I think it’s always been a goal of Team Canelo.) But whatever, you might be right. Maybe Oscar was holding him back and trying to get him to be a prima donna. (I disagree… despite being a mega-star, The Golden Boy took lots of risks during his fighting days… it seems like he encourages his fighters to do the same.) Whatever. It’s cool to see that Sir Eddie’s charm has gotten to you as much as those erudite “The Making Of…” documentarians have enchanted me. Bless those Brits!

Props to Taylor, Charlo, Canelo, and AJ for making strides toward becoming undisputed champs. And apologies to any unifying champs I didn’t mention. (Not sure if Inoue is belt hunting or if he’s happy where he is.) Junior welterweights Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez are daring to be great on May 22. I think Inoue will at least try to add the WBC title to his bantamweight belt collection. Three of the Five Kings of the 115-pound division – Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez and Kazuto Ioka – have all said that they want to unify the deep weight class.

The issue of so many world titles has been addressed by many before me but all the same, what gives? Networks want to bill their boxing broadcasts as being headlined by “Championships,” especially if they’re shelling out a big licensing fee. Promoters need TV money to operate on the world level. Boxers want the belts because of the prestige and what they represent, as well as the significantly increased purses once they hold a world title. That’s what gives. The belts cost money (to the fighters and promoters) but they also bring in money.

We have two sanctioning bodies that have a single belt at the world level, IBF and IBO. I realize that the IBO strap is seen as a minor title but I’ll point out that AJ is very proud of his IBO belt and I hope other champions will showcase theirs as well. Hall of famers Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko also cherished their IBO titles, as did future HOFers Roy Jones Jr. and GGG. I’m sure there are other notable IBO titlehodlers who feel the same way.

It’s sad for the IBF to stand alone amongst the big four as having any self-respect left. They still drive me crazy with their rankings and their mandatories (and their penchant for their stripping belt from unified titleholders).

What will it take for the IBO to become recognized as a major title by The Ring? They’re gonna have to start advertising in the pages of Ring Magazine, my fellow Show-Me State Games champ.

As an aside on belts, I understand the need for minor belts as measuring sticks. If you could reorganize the belt system any way you see fit, how many minor belts would there be and at what level would you want them? Obviously, I’d get rid of secondary titles and honorary/ornamental belts (franchise, emeritus, diamond, gold, silver, etc.) and the only an interim title would be at stake is when the reigning beltholder has an injury or sickness that prevents him or her from defending it in a reasonable timeframe. The only minor belts I’d allow would be national titles and in some instances continental belts. For example: the USBA belt, which only ranks those who reside in the continental U.S., and the NABF title, which includes the countries and regions of North America (U.S., Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, etc.). So, an English fighter would aim for a British title and then a European belt before going for one of the four world titles. The ultimate goal, of course, is to unify world titles and take on the best of one’s division in order to fight for a Ring Magazine belt. When you win The Ring title, you’re THE champ of your division.

What’s your take on the best food for fight night? Do you have a go-to selection? Popcorn if I’m watching on TV alone and I want to pay close attention, take notes or score the bouts. Any other finger food, even pizza, can be distracting. But if I’m watching with a group in a festive environment, I love pizza, submarine sandwiches, chicken/Buffalo wings, beer, cocktails, chips and dip.

And finally, what’s your dream card for the end of the year? It’s a miracle and the fight gods have deemed that fighters from all promoters are free to face one another. All fighters are inspired to greatness and want the challenge that will most significantly enhance their legacies. Estrada-Gonzalez 3! They don’t need the fight gods to inspire them to greatness. They’ve always sought it out. And even the gods sit their asses down and humbly watch when Chocolatito and El Gallo share the ring. Co-mains: Spence vs. Crawford and Canelo vs. Benavidez. The undercard: Golovkin vs. Charlo, Beterbiev vs. Bivol, Ortiz vs. Boots, and Berlanga vs. Bek the Bully. Venue: AT&T Stadium. Broadcast: RingTV PPV. Commentators: Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and Roy Jones Jr.

 

RINGWALK MUSIC

There have been some epic ring walks and accompanying music. But I’m curious if there have been some ring walks and music that had you scratching your head… I remember when Lomachenko beat Crolla. Crolla came out to “Hotel California”, which is a very odd choice if you listen close to the lyrics. What are some music choices for ring walks that made you say, “Uh… What?” – Gregory

Probably when Bernard Hopkins walked out to a customized version of Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” for the 2010 rematch with Roy Jones Jr. (which, let’s face it, 17 years after the first bout, never should have happened). The 45-year-old B-Hop had some really old buddy of his, who accompanied his walk, sing it live (with middle-aged R&B backup singers in the ring). It wasn’t bad; in fact, it was kind of touching but also more than just a little weird, which kind of fit that surreal night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.  

“Hotel California” seemed like an appropriate song for Crolla given that the underdog challenger had traveled from England to Los Angeles; even the creepy lyrics made sense because he knew he was in over his head and would be drowned by Loma’s talent. Because the fight took place at Staples Center, it reminded me of whenever Vitali Klitschko would fight at the DTLA venue (I was ringside, as I was for Loma-Crolla, for all of Dr. Iron Fist’s stirring appearances: vs. Lennox Lewis, the late Corrie Sanders and Chris Arreola.) I though it was pretty cool when Vitali walked into that song. It was different.

Generally speaking, though, I like it when boxer’s walk out to upbeat, energetic music. Shout out to the late DMX. His music was practically the soundtrack to U.S. boxing in the late 1990s/early 2000s, especially among African-American boxers. Hip-hop fits well with boxing, even some of the older, cornier stuff; I loved it when members of the 1988 U.S. Olympic squad (even a few from the ’84 team, like Pernell Whitaker) would walk out to “I’ve Got The Power” by Snap! But I like heavy metal/hard rock the best, in part because it’s rare. Kelly Pavlik used to always walk out to Korn’s “Here To Stay,” and I think the heavy cords were perfect for his heavy handed seek-and-destroy style/mentality. (Vergil Ortiz Jr., who can punch like Pavlik and jam on the guitar, should walk out to the ring to that song one day.) I even liked it when Chris Eubank Sr. walked out to “(Simply) The Best.” Hey, he really believed he was. I also thought Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” was an appropriate song for up-and-comers or first-title title challengers back in the day (Riddick Bowe’s walk-in to the first Holyfield fight comes to mind).

The only genres of music that don’t seem to fit with boxing are classical, country and gospel, but I’m sure the right fighters could make it work. I’ll tolerate Roman Gonzalez’s sappy Spanish gospel ballads because he’s THE KING!

 

FORGOTTEN WARRIOR: THE G-MAN

Hey Doug,

Hope you are well, I’m a big fan of the mailbags. I wish we could get a mid-week mailbag as well, but I know you have a lot of commitments at The Ring.

A boxer that doesn’t get mentioned much in the mailbag or among boxing folks in general is Gerald McClellan. I’m a big fan of his and was wondering if you have any G-Man anecdotes or if you covered any of his fights?

Any rumblings on when and who Pacman will fight next? Do you believe he’ll win?

A few mythical matchups:

Pacquiao vs Henry Armstrong

G-Man vs Roberto Duran

G-Man vs Roy Jones

G-Man vs Andre Ward aka he who can do no wrong

Pacquiao vs Paul Williams

Kind regards. – Barno, London

Thanks for the kind words about the Mailbag, Barno.

Your Mythical Matchups:

Pacquiao vs Henry ArmstrongArmstrong by late stoppage at 126, by close UD at 135 (in a great fight) and by razor-thin MD at 147 (also an epic scrap).

G-Man vs Roberto DuranMcClellan would likely hurt and stop any middleweight version of Duran that wasn’t 100%, but I believe the dialed-in versions that showed up for Marvin Hagler in 1983 and beat Iran Barkley in 1989 would outclass the G-Man over 12 rounds.

G-Man vs Roy JonesMcClellan had a real puncher’s chance in this dream match (which could have happened), but Jones was just as powerful as the Kronk grad at 160 pounds but also quicker, more dynamic and elusive. I think the Pensacola native would have stung McClellan early and then played it fast and safe (as he did with B-Hop) en route to a competitive UD.

G-Man vs Andre Ward aka he who can do no wrongHey, you said it yourself. McClellan would clip the 160-pound prospect version of Ward, but the champion version who won the Super Six 168-pound tournament would boldly tie-up/rough-up the Detroit KO artist on the inside and carefully outbox him from the outside to a comfortable UD.

Pacquiao vs Paul WilliamsP-Will by close UD. What a weird matchup that would be due to their statures.

A boxer that doesn’t get mentioned much in the mailbag or among boxing folks in general is Gerald McClellan. I’m glad you brought him up because I came across this tweet from the official Twitter account, @GeraldGmanBoxer, run by his sister Lisa a few hours prior to compiling this Mailbag:

How heart-warming is that? So good to see the O.G. of the Kronk gym remain in touch with McClellan. By the way, if you really feel like McClellan gets overlooked, don’t just talk about it in Mailbag emails, make a donation to his Gofundme. He needs your support now a lot more than he did during his fighting days.   

Gerald McClellan vs. Julian Jackson.

I’m a big fan of his and was wondering if you have any G-Man anecdotes or if you covered any of his fights? I did not cover any of his fights. McClellan is before my time as a boxing writer. But I followed his career with great interest. I was the most diehard fan you’d ever meet during the early 1990s. G-Man won the WBC title (from fellow KO artist Julian Jackson) on May 8, 1993 (while I was still a grad student at Columbia in NYC). I was excited about his potential because I’d read that he’d defeated Roy Jones in the amateurs, and Jones Jr. picked up the IBF title a couple weeks after McClellan won his belt. The middleweight division had crazy potential at this time. Reggie Johnson was the WBA titleholder, and the top contenders of the division included Julian Jackson, Bernard Hopkins, John David Jackson, Lamar “Kidfire” Parks and Thomas “Ice-T” Tate. But Jones-McClellan was not meant to be, and tragically, neither was a long fruitful career for the G-Man.

I got to know John David Jackson and some other folks who used to train around McClellan during his fighting days, and they’ve told me some stories, so I do have a few anecdotes, but I won’t share them in any detail in this forum because it’s ugly. Let’s just say that McClellan had a mean and sadistic side that came out with some of his sparring sessions and with his pet Pit Bulls.

Any rumblings on when and who Pacman will fight next? No idea, and to be honest, out of sight out of mind.

Do you believe he’ll win? Sure, as long as he doesn’t fight Crawford.

 

 

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 IG or Doug’s YouTube channel every Sunday.

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