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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Emanuel Navarrete, the Charlos, Billy Joe Saunders, back issues)

Emanuel Navarrete has earned fans and respect with his recent victories at featherweight.
26
Apr

EMANUEL NAVARRETE

In a week where you will have a lot of action to review and preview; I just wanted to send a quick note to highlight one of boxing’s most likeable champions and a fighter who should be shown to youngsters as an example of how to conduct yourself.

In an era of YouTube celebrity boxing and boxers at the top with huge teams surrounding them, Emanuel Navarrete goes about his business with a small family team, is confident but doesn’t talk trash and fights regularly – 8 title fights in the last 2 years (the 6 month layoff he has just come off is the longest between fights of his entire career). It should also be noted his willingness to travel, the latest defense was in his opponent’s – Christopher Diaz’s – home town.

Unheralded and the opponent when he broke through against Isaac Dogboe 2 years ago, he is unconventional and an awkward genius.

Call me old school, but he is an example of how a fighter should conduct himself. Not the large and often controversial circuses that surround many top level fighters these days – which unfortunately many youngsters from this generation revere.

The footage of him sharing a beer with his beaten opponent, Diaz, post fight at the weekend was refreshing.

The future… Shakur Stevenson has been mentioned, which perhaps suggests Top Rank’s lack of a plan for Stevenson (no longer at featherweight).

Personally, I’d like to see Rey Vargas, Mexico vs. Mexico, which should have happened at 122. All the best. – Jaime

I’ve been slow to appreciate Navarrete. When he burst on the scene with those two victories against Dogboe, I thought his performances had more to do with the overrated (and undersized) Ghanaian’s technical/foundational shortcomings than with his own ability. And while I admired his old-school activity (five defenses of the WBO 122-pound title in less than a year), I wasn’t that impressed with the level of his competition.

Ruben Villa could not offset Emanuel Navarrete’s reach, volume or power (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

That changed with his move to the featherweight division. Ruben Villa, a well-schooled southpaw, was a U.S. amateur standout (who split four bouts with Shakur Stevenson) and was an unbeaten (18-0) prospect/contender when he took on Navarrete for the vacant WBO title. Diaz is a gutsy, hardnosed, battle-tested fringe contender as well a good athlete and skilled boxer. Navarrete was just too much both featherweights. He’s the real deal at 126. I doubted him a little bit going into the Villa fight. I picked him to beat Diaz, but I thought he’d do it with sheer volume and aggression, and I was only half right about that because Navarrete exhibited a lot of craft and versatile ring generalship. He’s not a simple punching machine. He controls distance (those long arms help him do this) and tempo, knows when to pour it on and when to take his foot off the gas pedal. His underrated skills are supported by impeccable conditioning, world-class durability and very heavy hands.

Navarrete is not going to be easy to beat, but I can’t wait to see him share the ring with elite featherweights because he makes for entertaining fights. The fact that he’s a down-to-earth, respectful human being makes him easier to root for.

Call me old school, but he is an example of how a fighter should conduct himself. I agree, but let’s also keep it real: the jerks are part of boxing’s overall personality, and it would get a little dull if every fighter were as pleasant outside of the ring as Navarrete.

The footage of him sharing a beer with his beaten opponent, Diaz, post fight at the weekend was refreshing. That was nice. Diaz earned that beer and his paycheck and the fans he made with his courageous effort. I’d love to see him back in the ring vs. Villa or another hungry contender like Joet Gonzalez or Mark Magsayo.

Stevenson vs. Kahn-Clary. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

The future… Shakur Stevenson has been mentioned, which perhaps suggests Top Rank’s lack of a plan for Stevenson (no longer at featherweight). Nah, they got a plan for Stevenson and it’s at 130 pounds where he’s fought his last two bouts and will vie for the WBO “interim” title on June 12. The ultra-talented Newark native should take care of biz vs. Jeremiah Nakathila, which will put him in line to face the winner of the proposed Jamel Herring-Oscar Valdez showdown.

Personally, I’d like to see Rey Vargas, Mexico vs. Mexico, which should have happened at 122. Yuck. That has “ugly” and “non-confrontational” (if Vargas gets his way) written all over it. Give me Navarrete vs. fellow big, rangy volume-puncher Xu Can. We all know about the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry (we witnessed it on Saturday). The hardcore heads clamor for Mexico vs. Japan. Let’s make Mexico vs. China a thing.

 

EL VAQUERO

Hey Doug,

Is Navartete more gangster or boxer?

All the best. – MM

Neither. He’s better than that. Homie is 100% (“puro”) ranchero. His fighting moniker, Vaquero, means “cowboy.” And from my experience, those types are tougher than gangsters and too much for boxers.

 

THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND

Hi Dougie,

Hope you are well, I’m a huge fan of the weekly mailbags!

Quick question, wondering what you make of the seemingly odd pairing of Ruiz training with Canelo and BJS training with Tyson Fury for upcoming fights?

What can Super Middleweights and Heavyweights gain from sparring/training with each other?

Maybe a better question is what can sparring/training do FOR them?

There’s an old saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” It’s s an ancient proverb which suggests that two parties can or should work together against a common enemy.

The earliest recorded use of this expression can be traced back to India in a work titled “Arthashastra” authored by Kautilya, published 3rd century BCE.

History has taught us that enemies can sometimes forge interesting relationships.

In the battle for global supremacy, the US and Russia have utilized this tactic.

1979 the US government provided military assistance to Mujahideen rebels which were the opposition to then USSR in an effort to thwart victory in Afghanistan.

In a game of one upmanship, under the reign of Vladimir Putin, Russia has provided military thorns in US endeavors in Syria, Iran, & North Korea.

In the battle for Boxing’s #1 International Star are Canelo and Fury using surrogates to help them achieve their ultimate objective of Global Domination? – Sammy D., Brooklyn, NYC

Thanks for the political history lesson Professor Sammy.

However, I don’t think it gets that deep with Canelo or Fury. Both athletes are secure with their accomplishments and stature within the sport (although neither is complacent). They’re not in competition with each other.  

Fury shares a longstanding friendship and cultural background with Saunders and they’re both gearing up for career-defining fights in Las Vegas, so they’re helping each other out. It’s more about moral support than anything else.

Eddy and Canelo with some of their hard-earned boxing hardware (and I’m not talking about that can of Tecate).

With Canelo, it’s all about his relationship with Eddy Reynoso. He’s wanted Eddy to be recognized as an elite trainer for many years and now that his longtime trainer and friend is finally getting some shine along with new talent to his stable, he wants to help out as much as possible. Once Ruiz hired Reynoso as his head trainer, the former unified heavyweight titleholder became an official member of Team Canelo, which means Alvarez is going to share his experience and knowledge as much as he can (just as he has with Oscar Valdez and Ryan Garcia).

What you make of the seemingly odd pairing of Ruiz training with Canelo and BJS training with Tyson Fury for upcoming fights? Not much.

What can Super Middleweights and Heavyweights gain from sparring/training with each other? Maybe a better question is what can sparring/training do FOR them? Fair question. Just so you know, it’s not uncommon. I used to see it all the time back when I trained regularly at L.A. Boxing Club. In training, the more disciplined (and successful/accomplished) boxers (Fury and Canelo) can inspire the lesser-dedicated fighters (Saunders and Ruiz) to work harder with better focus, and seeing their friends/teammates improve adds to their own motivation. In sparring, the super middleweights share the ring with a bigger, stronger, tougher man who will force them to rely on their technique, ring generalship and wits; while the big men can work on their defense and reaction timing against fighters who are WAY faster and busier than the average heavyweight.

 

SHOWTIME SUMMER SCHEDULE & THE CHARLOS

Hi Dougie,

Hope you are well and keeping up with an exciting schedule.

I know I’m a little late to the punch on this story, but I was pleased with the fights on the Showtime press release. It includes some real crackers like Donaire v Oubaali, Casimero vs Rigondeaux and Davis vs Barrios. However, what struck me was the difference in caliber between the two Charlo opponents. Jermell is chasing glory against a talented Castaño in an undisputed clash, whereas Jermall is fighting some guy I’ve never heard of who’s best win was against a WELL past his prime James Kirkland.

I don’t understand this at all, both the Charlos seemed to pick up real momentum after good wins back in September, and whilst Jermell wants to keep that momentum up, Jermall is squandering it against a no name opponent. Is this due to a stagnant middleweight division, where the champions seem a million miles from making unification bouts, or is Jermall being protected?

Maybe I should see the bright side more and be happy that one Charlo seems willing to risk his record in dangerous fights. Thanks for the mailbag, yours and Breadman’s always keep me informed. Tommy. – Leeds, UK

Thank you for the kind words, Tommy. Breadman is the best. I’m glad you’re enjoying both mailbags while you can. I’m getting old, so one day it’s just going to be The Daily Bread.

I think it’s always best to look on the bright side, especially with an already marginalized and chronically fractured sport like boxing. Showtime and the PBC have done an incredible job in making nine main events from May 15 to September 11. The June 19 main event (Charlo-Montiel) leaves a lot to be desired, but maybe they’ll make a kick-ass co-feature or undercard bout to support it. Regardless, that’s one stinker out of eight solid-to-badass machups. Along with the intriguing fights you mentioned, there’s also Nery-Figueroa (May 15), which should be a slugfest, and the winner is slated to take on the excellent Stephen Fulton (on Sept. 11). And then, of course, we’ve got Charlo-Castano, a terrific style clash (dynamic boxer-puncher vs. rock-chinned buck strong pressure fighter) that just happens to be for all the marbles at 154. And it’s NOT PPV. So, yeah, I think fans should mostly be positive about Showtimes summer special.

Montiel (left) battles Hugo Centeno to a split-draw in 2019. Photo by Jhay Oh Otamias

Jermell is chasing glory against a talented Castaño in an undisputed clash, whereas Jermall is fighting some guy I’ve never heard of who’s best win was against a WELL past his prime James Kirkland. Yeah, it’s quite a contrast and I really don’t get it. I know the PBC (and probably Charlo) isn’t interested in WBO beltholder Demetrius Andrade who is on the Eddie Hearn/DAZN side of the street, and Gennadiy Golovkin (who is also on that side) is clearly just running the clock out on a HOF career and gives no Fs what anybody thinks, but there had to be a better choice available than Juan Macias Montiel. As you pointed out, his claim to fame (and a ridiculous, undeserving No. 4 WBC ranking) is smashing the beyond shopworn remains of Kirkland. His last loss was in 2017, a second-round KO to Jaime Munguia when current middleweight contender was an unknown prospect – and that fight was at WELTERWEIGHT! I get it. Munguia – the WBC’s No. 1 contender – was probably already scheduled to fight in April when Charlo-Montiel was made, and he’s in that DAZN bunch, but damn, how about a different WBC-rated middleweight. Esquiva Falcao is No. 6. The Brazilian isn’t that special but he would bring enough to the table – Olympic medalist, undefeated recored (28-0, 20 KOs), awkward southpaw style – to make the matchup interesting, and there would be SOME value to Charlo beating him. Beating Montiel has no value. And it kills the argument that some of Charlo’s ardent supporters make about him being the best middleweight and avoided by stars like Canelo and GGG. As talented and exciting as ’Mall is, his 160-pound resume is rather thin. Since moving up from 154 after blasting Julian Williams (December 2016), he’s faced one Ring-rated middleweight (Sergey Derevyanchenko) in six bouts. And apart from Derevyanchenko, the only other respected 160 pounder he’s fought was an inactive Matvey Korobov (who gave him a tough time on short notice). Montiel isn’t Ring/TBRB/ESPN.com rated or respected.

I don’t understand this at all, both the Charlos seemed to pick up real momentum after good wins back in September, and whilst Jermell wants to keep that momentum up, Jermall is squandering it against a no name opponent. Is this due to a stagnant middleweight division, where the champions seem a million miles from making unification bouts, or is Jermall being protected? If he’s being protected, he shouldn’t be. There’s no reason for that. He’s a badass. He’s got talent, skill, experience and durability, and he’s at his peak (30 years old, 31 pro bouts). The PBC should feel confident rolling the dice with him. But, yes, the middleweight division is a tad shallow and it’s among the most fractured/divided in terms of promotional/platform affiliations. However, all that means is that he and his people need to get creative, such as looking for unaffiliated “names” in the 168-pound division. Gabe Rosado, who ’Mell beat back in 2014, is a reliable gatekeeper who knows how to promote a fight. He looked solid in a close fight with Danny Jacobs in his most recent bout. I think a matchup like would also receive criticism from the hardcores, but it would make more sense than Montiel because Team Charlo could say that he’s getting his feet wet at super middleweight in preparation for future showdowns in that division.

 

NERVES AND BACK ISSUES

Hey Dougie,

Trust you and the family are staying safe.

Quick question Dougie, do you get nervous before fights when your fave fighters are on the bill?

Also, how can I get as many editions as available of The Ring magazine from Bert Sugar’s time as Editor & Publisher? Cheers bro. – Gbenga X-Adebija, Lagos, Nigeria

I’d tell ya to go to the Ring Shop on this website, but we’ve sold out all of our issues from the 1970s and ’80s except for the January and February 1988 issues. Sugar and EIC Randy Gordon were at the helm of Ring Magazine from 1979 to 1985. One day, all of these issues will be available on a sweet digital platform that you can easily access from this site or an app, but until then – and if you’re hardcore collector (and I know you are) who wants the hard copy – I think eBay is your best bet. Just type in “Ring Magazine” and the year (“1979,” 1980,” etc.) and vintage copies will pop up, usually ranging in price from around $6 to $25.  Some folks sell bundles of Ring mags. I saw one featuring 14 issues from 1977-’79 for around $55. I saw the same deal for a bundle of issues from 1980-’89. There’s the full year of 1980 going for $90, and 56 mags from the ’80s for $149. If you browse long enough, I think you’ll be able to find most of the issues during the Sugar/Gordon run.

“Chocolatito” gave as good as he got during an unforgettable rematch. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Do you get nervous before fights when your fave fighters are on the bill? As young fan, all the time. I was that way with Ali, Leonard, even the early days of Mike Tyson. But less so in my adulthood, and even less frequently as a member of the media. But I’m a fan at heart, so I occasional get emotionally invested in a fighter, but only very special competitors/individuals like Chocolatito. I was a nervous wreck prior to his rematch with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, his comeback title shot vs. Kal Yafai, and his recent unification rematch showdown with Juan Francisco Estrada. As you know, there were different results with all of those tough assignments, but that’s the beauty of boxing, you just don’t know what’s going to happen, so you’re on the roller coaster ride with your faves. I was definitely on it with Roman Gonzalez when was annihilated, when he rose from the ashes and when he was dissed by the official judges. I’m bummed when he loses, I’m elated when he wins, but my admiration only grows and I’m going to ride or die with the KING until he hangs up his gloves. If I’m lucky – heck, if we’re ALL fortunate because we’re not worthy of Chocolatito – somebody else will emerge who is so special that we can divest our feelings from his fights.   

 

QUICK QUESTION RE: BILLY JOE SAUNDERS

Hi Doug,

Quick question. Has Saunders ever been knockdown (either professional or amateur)? I think Canelo wins this one but won’t be able to put Saunders out.

Thanks! – Louis

I also think Saunders can go the distance with Canelo. As far as I know he’s never been dropped as a pro, and he’s been on my radar since 2013. I have no idea if he was ever floored during his amateur career (but I know he was a good amateur boxer).

 

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 Doug’s IG Live every Sunday.

 

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