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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Taylor-Ramirez, Donaire-Oubaali, Canelo’s opposition)

The BRAWL for it ALL at 140 pounds goes down on Saturday!
17
May

UNIFICATIONS

Hi Dougie –

Really ready for Ramirez v Taylor. I see a KO but not sure by who. I’d be surprised if it’s not a fire fight. I actually referred it to a few casual friends as I’m sure it will deliver. Hypothetically, if there’s a clear-cut winner what would you like to see for the victor? Challenge a Crawford, a defense against a Prograis type or something else?

With potential full unifications: Fury v Joshua, Canelo v Plant, Charlo v Castano my hope is that the WWs & MWs will feel pressured to unify with each other. I would be very interested to see the response from Charlo & Andrade if Canelo says he’d only sign a contract to fight the winner of the two.

Lastly, how do you see Oubaali v Donaire playing out?

Take care & have a great week. – Jamaal, Louisiana

Will do, Jamaal. Thank you for checking in.

Oubaali-Donaire is a quality showdown. It pits The Ring’s No. 1 bantamweight, future hall of famer Nonito Donaire, vs. the No. 2-rated 118 pounder, unbeaten defending WBC titleholder Nordine Oubaali. Donaire is the most naturally gifted and experienced bantamweight on the planet, and the biggest (having proven himself vs. top junior featherweights and featherweights); but, unlike the Filipino Flash, Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) had an extensive, decorated amateur career, and has far less wear and tear on his body. The French-Moroccan is a strong, durable technician with the kind of style that can push an aging fighter off the proverbial cliff.

Dougie’s heart is with Nonito Donaire (seen here giving The Mosnter hell) when the four-division champ challenges WBC bantamweight beltholder Nordine Oubaali.

Having said that, I’m picking Donaire to win this one. Why? It’s a heart pick. Donaire’s earned that Roman-Gonzalez-KING status in my opinion. The truth is that I have no idea what he’s got left after that 2019 Fight-of-the-Year war with Ring Magazine champion Naoya Inoue. Just like I had no idea if Chocolatito was still world-class prior to his challenge to then-unbeaten WBA 115-pound beltholder Kal Yafai early last year. But I HAD to pick Gonzalez and hope he could regain his mojo during the fight. Same deal with Gonzalez’s showdown with Ring champ Juan Francisco Estrada. I knew that El Gallo was younger, more preserved and was still considered “elite,” whereas Chocolatito hadn’t been in the pound-for-pound rankings since 2017, but given the Nicaraguan’s history and how much I love the little king, I couldn’t go against him even though my head told me Estrada deserved to be the favorite. (I still feel that my heart was right about Gonzalez in that epic rematch, too bad two out of the three official judges didn’t see what most of us saw that night.)

Anyway, Donaire’s got Gonzalez-level heart and experience, as well as a versatile boxer-puncher style. Plus, he’s trained by the great Ken Adams, one of my all-time favorite people in boxing (so you know I’m gonna be rooting for the four-division titleholder just for that). Unless he gets old overnight, the 20-year veteran is gonna be a handful for Oubaali.   

Taylor displays his Ring, IBF and WBA 140-pound titles as he hoists the WBSS Muhammad Ali trophy aloft.

Really ready for Ramirez v Taylor. Man, I’ve BEEN ready for this one: A clash for undisputed champion status between the two best junior welterweights in the game. They’ve got equal experience/accomplishments and aggressive boxing styles. Josh is the versatile boxer-puncher. Jose is the volume-punching pressure fighter. Both are in their prime and supremely confident. And why wouldn’t they be? Ramirez won his two world titles in his opponent’s home regions. Taylor won the World Boxing Super Series tournament, which earned him The Ring Magazine championship. Between the two, they’ve pretty much cleaned out the division.

I see a KO but not sure by who. I see a distance fight (and a darn good one). Both have proven chins and durability. The only way I figure we’ll get a stoppage is via a perfect body shot or from a concentrated body attack over the course of the first half or three-fourths of the battle.

I’d be surprised if it’s not a fire fight. I’d be shocked s__tless, as my mother used to say.

I actually referred it to a few casual friends as I’m sure it will deliver. Good man! On those rare occasions with boxing gets it right, we’ve got to let the general audience know. (Let’s just hope boxing gets it right with the officiating and the official scorecards if the bout does go the distance like I think it will.)

Jose Ramirez takes it to Viktor Postol. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Hypothetically, if there’s a clear-cut winner what would you like to see for the victor? My hunch is that there won’t be a clear-cut winner if it goes to the scorecards. They’re too evenly matched, and while their styles should mesh for a quality fight, their ring identities/talents are different in a way that will split even hardcore fans on who deserves the official nod. Those who favor straight-forward aggression will say Ramirez edged it, those who lean toward clean punching and ring generalship will nudge it in Taylor’s favor. So, if it winds up being a disputed, razor-thin split or majority decision, I’m going to want to see an immediate rematch.

Challenge a Crawford, a defense against a Prograis type or something else? If there’s a clear winner, I’d like to see him defend the undisputed championship at least once, and if Prograis can make 140, I can’t think of a more deserving challenger (or a better matchup at junior welterweight). And, to be honest, even though I know Bud is in dire need of a quality challenger, I think I’d rather see the Taylor-Ramirez winner stick around at 140 and take on the best of the lightweight division, namely Teofimo Lopez, than immediately jump to 147. (By the way, if Prograis CAN’T make 140 anymore, he’s a perfect candidate for Crawford.)

With potential full unifications: Fury v Joshua, Canelo v Plant, Charlo v Castano my hope is that the WWs & MWs will feel pressured to unify with each other. We’ll see. So far, the top welters and middleweights have greed, pride and the fractured and dysfunctional business of boxing to get in the way of what the loyal fans have wanted to see for YEARS.

I would be very interested to see the response from Charlo & Andrade if Canelo says he’d only sign a contract to fight the winner of the two. That’s a good idea, but it would ultimately be a waste of time.

 

CANELO’S OPPOSITION

Hi Dougie,

I write as a Canelo convert. His improvement over the years has been amazing to watch.

Quick question about level of opposition:

Early in his career he had fights against Trout & Lara which he won by narrow margins, but some felt he lost, as well as the clear loss to Mayweather.

How does his SMW opposition (or Plant) compare to Trout and Lara?

Were he fighting someone of their equivalent skill, talent, etc. at SMW tomorrow, and considering all his improvement, would he run through them as he has done with the competition at SMW so far? Kind regards. – Steven

Canelo was 22 years old when he took on fellow unbeaten 154-pound titleholder Austin Trout in 2013.

I don’t think he’d “run through them,” as you put it, but I think he’d beat them CLEARLY. He’s at his peak right now, 7 to 8 years older than when he took on Trout, Mayweather and Lara, and in that time he’s evolved into a legit four-division titleholder (Ring champ in three of the divisions). He’s added the scalps of future hall of famers Miguel Cotto and Gennadiy Golovkin to his resume, along with top-rated veterans Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev. He’s replaced Mayweather as the highest paid boxer, the P4P King, and No. 1 attraction in the sport. He just drew 70,000+ (the U.S. indoor record for boxing) vs. a guy named Billy Joe during the tail-end of a freaking pandemic for Christ’s Sake. Canelo’s ‘El Hombre.’ His confidence is sky high, and so are his skills and ring generalship. He’s WAY more complete than he was in 2013 and 2014. Pity the #Salty Bastards who can’t see that.  

Early in his career he had fights against Trout & Lara which he won by narrow margins, but some felt he lost, as well as the clear loss to Mayweather. Even if he lost all three bouts, those 36 rounds of experience still puts him WAY ahead of the top middleweights and super middleweights. (Seriously! Let’s say Canelo also lost the first bout vs. GGG, I could care less if his record was currently 54-4-1 instead of 56-1-2 – it still beats the hell out of Charlo’s 31-0, Andrade’s 30-0, Plant’s 21-0 and Benavidez’s 24-0). When Canelo was getting a quality professional education vs. that trio in 2013 and 2014, Plant and Benavidez were four-round fighters, they’d just turned pro; Charlo’s best opponents during that period were gatekeepers Antwone Smith and Lenny Bottai; Andrade had won his first world title with a split decision over Vanes Martirosyan. Canelo is only 30 (three years younger than Boo Boo) but he’s heads and shoulders ahead of the 160-168-pound pack in terms of experience (with the exception of GGG, who’s getting long in the tooth).

Canelo digs a body shot to Lara during their 2014 showdown. Photo by Josh Hedges / Getty Images

How does his SMW opposition (or Plant) compare to Trout and Lara? I think the version of Lara that Canelo faced in 2014 is more talented than anyone Canelo can face right now in the 168-pound division. The Cuban southpaw’s amateur experience, natural ability and skillset was on a higher level than what Callum Smith and BJ Saunders offered Canelo (and what Plant can offer, should that fight get made this year). But I believe Trout, who was as tough and game as any fighter I’ve ever had the privilege of covering, was on an equal level to fellow mobile southpaws Saunders and Plant. In fact, I think Plant is a little sharper with his technique and more athletic.

 

CANELO VS. WARD

Hi Dougie,

Love how Canelo stalks, and waits patiently, and even if he’s not ‘winning’ the fight he always looks like he knows he’s going to win.

Peak Canelo vs. Peak Ward at super middle – who wins?

Who has the better career at this point? If not Canelo what does he need to do to outstrip Ward?

Shame they didn’t fight – would be fascinating. Cheers. – Ed

Andre Ward and Canelo Alvarez have the hardware to prove their dominance in the sport.

Canelo-Ward is an interesting Mythical Matchup, but they never could have fought in real life, they were separated by too much weight while both were still active. Ward was inactive from November 2013 to June 2015 due to injuries and a protracted legal dispute with his promoter, and when he returned to the ring he did so as a light heavyweight, a division he remained in 2016-2017 (he retired after his rematch with Sergey Kovalev in June 2017). Canelo had just moved up to middleweight in November 2015, when he outpointed Miguel Cotto, but he was fighting at 154-155 (much to the chagrin of the #Salty Society) until he took on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in May 2017 (when he weighed in at 164).

Who’s had the better career at this point? I gotta go with Canelo even though he’s still got another three or four years of his prime ahead of him.

Canelo is a four-division titleholder/three-division Ring champion. He’s faced two hall of famers, Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather Jr., and two future hall of famers (in my opinion, and I’ve received the IBHOF’s ballots for more than 20 years, so I think I know what I’m talking about), Cotto and Gennadiy Golovkin. He’s also faced two borderline hall of famers in Kovalev and Erislandy Lara.

Ward is a two-division Ring champion. He’s faced one future hall of famer (in my opinion), Carl Froch. He’s faced three borderline hall of famers (in my opinion): Kovalev, Chad Dawson and Mikkel Kessler.

I think Canelo’s got the edge.

Love how Canelo stalks, and waits patiently, and even if he’s not ‘winning’ the fight he always looks like he knows he’s going to win. Larry Merchant calls it “ring command.”

Peak Canelo vs. Peak Ward at super middle – who wins? I gotta go with Ward, the naturally bigger, more athletic technician, who can stick and move as well as Lara or Saunders, but can also get down and dirty in the trenches unlike anyone Canelo has ever faced. Ward by close UD or MD (even in Las Vegas).

 

BULKING UP, SCORING, FAIR COUNTRIES

Dougie,

Long time reader – first time writer.

A few quick questions for you: under what circumstances would you recommend to a fighter – who comfortably makes weight – to bulk up and compete at a heavier weight class? Apart from Chris Byrd, are there other examples of fighters who had more success bulking up?

Regarding the endless scoring controversies, do you think that judges get the optimal visual perspective of a fight from the positions they occupy? Would it be better, instead, to judge a fight while watching it on a 65-inch TV (with the sound off?)? In other words, do fans at home get a more accurate view of the fight than the judges? Given that scoring is subjective, can judges be trained? What else can be done to improve judge’s performance in your opinion?

Would you agree that Japan today is the most-fair country for a foreign fighter to compete? If you had to fight abroad, at your opponent’s backyard, could you attempt ranking your top 3 country choices, based only on where you could hope to find the most even playing field?

Lastly, how do you think Teofimo Lopez vs George Kambosos is going to go?

Many thanks for letting us try to pick apart your boxing brain every Monday and Friday. Please keep it up! – Sakis, Athens, Greece.

I will, Sakis, at least for a few more years. Thanks for the kind words and for finally writing into the Mailbag. Don’t be a stranger!

Teofimo Lopez vs. George Kambosos Jr.

Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr.

I think Lopez is going to take care of business vs. Kambosos, unless the unified/Ring champ hits the wall in making 135 pounds. If Lopez is healthy, his blend of talent, athleticism and skill will be too much for the game Australian. I expect Lopez to chop Kambosos down to a mid-to-late rounds stoppage, but Kambosos will make it interesting.

Under what circumstances would you recommend to a fighter – who comfortably makes weight – to bulk up and compete at a heavier weight class? I wouldn’t; unless there were no quality opponents in his or her natural weight class, and there were several worthy (and marketable) adversaries in the heavier weight classes.

Apart from Chris Byrd, are there other examples of fighters who had more success bulking up? Byrd didn’t really “bulk up.” He just didn’t fight in what should have been his natural weight class, cruiserweight (which was 190 pounds at the time), or boil himself down to light heavyweight. When Chris turned pro there was absolutely ZERO interest for cruiserweights among promoters and networks in the U.S. So, he fought as a small heavyweight, which was not an easy decision or path given the amount of physical damage he incurred during his career, as you’ll read about in the next issue of The Ring. Anyway, fighters who had more success bulking up include Michael Spinks, Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker (although, Sweet Pea really didn’t put on muscle, he just gained weight, same deal with James Toney), Roy Jones Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao.

Regarding the endless scoring controversies, do you think that judges get the optimal visual perspective of a fight from the positions they occupy? Optimal? No. but they generally have a better view from their ring apron perches than the fans inside the venue; and they see things from their perspective that the TV cameras do not always catch.

Would it be better, instead, to judge a fight while watching it on a 65-inch TV (with the sound off?)? No, not in my opinion. Sound is an integral part of human perception, it works in conjunction with sight, and eliminating it detracts from the impact of the punches. And if the judges are watching the fight on a monitor, they’re essentially watching a TV production of the fight, not the actual fight.

In other words, do fans at home get a more accurate view of the fight than the judges? The fans at home get more perspectives and camera angles of the fight, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re seeing more than the judges, who are often right under the action. Also, you have to remember that all of those perspectives and angles what we see on TV are decided by a person viewing multiple screens inside a production truck (the producer and/or director of the broadcast). So, what are we at home really seeing? Who’s version of the fight are we witnessing? Food for thought, eh?

Given that scoring is subjective, can judges be trained? Of course! Professional judges should never stop learning. There needs to be constant mentoring by veteran officials and multiple seminars hosted by the athletic commissions every year.

What else can be done to improve judge’s performance in your opinion? I think judges (as well as referees and commission inspectors) ALL need to spend more time in real, professional boxing gyms, observing and talking to the trainers, cutmen, cornermen, and, of course, the fighters. I also think we need to encourage more former boxers to get involved in officiating, especially judging. Back in the day, it was fairly common for pro judges to be former pro fighters, who have insight into what’s transpiring in the ring that non-fighters are always going to miss. Everybody and his mother agrees that Jo Jo Guerra’s 118-110 for Sugar Ray Leonard in the Hagler-Leonard superfight was beyond ridiculous, and a legion of hardcore fans agree with the one scorecard that had Marvelous Marvin winning. Well, it was Lou Filippo, a former lightweight pro during the 1940s and ’50s, who had the 115-113 for Hagler. It’s rare to see former pro boxers judge major bouts these days. I say we bring ’em back! And we have ALL pro judges watch this clip of ‘Hey Harold!’ before each assignment:

Would you agree that Japan today is the most-fair country for a foreign fighter to compete? I do agree. We’re 16 years removed from Los Angeles native Jose Navarro getting the s__t-end of the stick with a SD loss to WBC 115-pound titleholder Katsushige Kawashima, and in that time frame I’ve seen many foreign boxers win legitimately close decisions in Japan against Japanese fighters, including South African Hekkie Budler’s WBA-IBF 108-pound unification/Ring championship-winning UD (via three 114-113 scores) over Ryoichi Taguchi in 2018. When the wildly popular Koki Kameda won a legitimately close split decision over Venezuelan Juan Landaeta in 2006, the Japanese public was outraged and vehemently voiced their opinion that the foreign fighter deserved the nod to network, promoter and Japan Boxing Commission.

If you had to fight abroad, at your opponent’s backyard, could you attempt ranking your top 3 country choices, based only on where you could hope to find the most even playing field? Japan, South Africa, and America. (Canada is a close runner up to No. 3.)

 

LAST MAILBAG WAS ON FIRE

Hey Doug:

It opened with Bitchitis and ended with that note to Mayweather’s Nut-huggers where you called them “sweet little bitches” – it was, in the immortal words of Charlie Runkle, “brilliant, pure unadulterated brilliance”!

I trust all’s well with the family. I don’t write often, but I read every word of the mailbag: my Monday/Friday morning prayer. – Antonio

Thank you for the well wishes and appreciation, Antonio. I aim to engage, inform and entertain.

 

THE FORGOTTEN JOURNEYMEN

Hey Doug,

The Ring’s Best I Faced has long been one of my all-time favorite features. I often found myself flipping to it first to see what fighter was featured and his opinions on opponents.

However, it is/was always with known boxing greats whose opinions I suspect are sometimes shaded by factors related to their fame/ego, friendships and unreconciled animosities. Why not hunt down some of the journeyman warriors who faced many of the best fighters of their era and get their opinion? Portland, Oregon’s Curtis Ramsey would be a great start. Guy fought Rodolfo Gonzalez, Andy Ganigan, Donald Curry, John “The Beast” Mugabi, Tony Ayala, Nino La Rocco and Animal Fletcher (and others). I would love to hear his thoughts and insights. I’m sure you and your team can think of many others.

These guys often went through hell in the ring but kept coming back for more and probably have little to show for it in retirement. This could be a small way for The Ring to pay some tribute to the rank-and-file ring-soldiers who wouldn’t normally be recognized for much. My guess is they would love to get a call from The Ring to get their opinions. Also, as a possible side-benefit to your publication, what unknown great stories could be lurking out there related to either their post-career lives or untold stories from their boxing careers? – AJ in Wisconsin

In the words of the immortal Gomez Addas, AJ, “That’s a capital idea!”

I love it, although I would upgrade the subject from rank journeymen to bona-fide gatekeepers, the kind of hardnosed veterans who took on the best, always provided “professional resistance,” as my cohort Steve Kim would say, and would occasionally spring the upset special.

Jesus Soto Karass slugs it out with Andre Berto.

I’d be happy to kick it off by interviewing one of my favorite gatekeepers, Jesus Soto Karass (slated to comeback vs. Marco Antonio Barrera next month), who faced several world titleholders during his entertaining career, including Keith Thurman, Devon Alexander, Marcos Maidana, Andre Berto (who he beat) and a faded Vince Phillips (who he also beat). JSK was also in several barnburners, including slugfests with Maidana, Yoshihiro Kamegai (first bout), Mike Jones (first bout), David Estrada, Carson Jones, Euri Gonzalez and “The Rooster” Neeco Macias (in his last bout, which he won). He was must-see TV on English and Spanish-language networks.

We could follow up with the “Godfather of Gatekeepers,” Darnell “Deezol” Boone, Gabe Rosado and Dereck Chisora.

 

 

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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