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Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Taylor-Ramirez, Fury-Joshua, Fury-Wilder 3, Joshua-Usyk)

The stare down before the brawl for it all at 140 pounds in Las Vegas! Photo / @TRboxing
21
May

JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHT SUPREMACY

What’s good Doug?

I’m really excited for this weekend’s unification. I’m going to put my two cents on record with Ramirez via TKO. I’m thinking JT is going to run into some adversity that is gonna end it early in a barn burner. What’s your final call?

The Drunken Master – Do you think Emmanuel Augustus or other dynamic gatekeepers, like Darnell Boone, etc., deserve a place in the HOF? Personally I think I there should be a way to include them.



Enjoy the fights this weekend! – Alan

The Drunken Master in action. Photo by Ed Mulholland

I love gatekeepers. Those are my favorite fighters and many of them, including Augustus and Boone, are very cool and engaging human beings. Do they deserve a place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame? No. Canastota is for the all-time greats and the most accomplished boxers of a given era. But I do believe that gatekeepers should be more respected (and even celebrated) by fans, media, promoters (shoutout to my fellow Taurus Lou DiBella – and happy recent birthday to the big guy – for getting behind Augustus back in the day) and, most importantly, the networks.

I’m really excited for this weekend’s unification. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be someone who writes the Mailbag. This one is for the real hardcore fans.

I’m going to put my two cents on record with Ramirez via TKO. Fair enough. It’s an even matchup. Somebody’s gotta prevail, and if it’s by stoppage (hopefully not premature) it will remove a lot of anxiety about the official judges getting it right. I think it will be a hotly contested distance fight.

I’m thinking JT is going to run into some adversity that is gonna end it early in a barn burner. I would SHOCKED if Ramirez were able to stop Taylor early. The Scotsman is not one to fold under adversity. He’s just as battle-tested as the Mexican American, even though Ramirez has nine more professional bouts under his belt, and he’s shown a sturdy chin and tough body in those hard fights. The 24 rounds Taylor went with Ivan Baranchyk and Regis Prograis should have answered any and all questions about his heart, will and durability.

What’s your final call? I favor Taylor by close UD or MD.

 

TAYLOR-RAMIREZ

Greetings, Doug,

Haven’t “mailbaged” for some time, but the Taylor-Ramirez bout is right around the corner, so I thought I’d drop some notes.

I liked, that recent Ring’s “Fight Picks” on this fight were pretty competitive and not as one-sided (in Taylor’s favour), as various polls and forum discussions across the Internet are. Bookies are having it a bit wide for my liking, too. But hey, maybe they know something I don’t know. But this is a competitive fight in my estimation, until proven otherwise.

Going back to “Fight Picks” – lots of interesting thoughts in favour of both competitors. Though, I didn’t see anyone raise the point of Taylor’s corner situation. Particularly, the trainer aspect. I really do believe that Shane McGuigan was a perfect fit for Taylor. From preparing a sound strategy for a specific opponent to assessing the fight situation and giving wise, timely instructions in the corner – McGuigan was beyond remarkable and, in my opinion, he made Taylor the fighter he is today. I do think Ben Davison is a talented young trainer, but it remains to be seen how good of a match him and Taylor will be. Josh was raising his game with each fight under McGuigan. I’m curious, if he continues to do as well with Davison. What’s your assessment of the trainer situation? Do you think it’s a major factor here?

As of the fight itself, I do think Taylor has more dimensions to his game and I see, why he’s favoured. But he can be dragged into a war, he’s quite hittable. And as one of my friends, a fellow Ukrainian boxing correspondent, mentioned – Ramirez is good at imposing his style on his opponent. And his own boxing ability is a bit underrated, I think. I’m very intrigued by what’s gonna happen this Saturday. Who are you picking and how?

Also, Fury-Joshua-Wilder situation is a hot topic these days. While I don’t really want to dwell into the whole thing, I still find myself interested in a possibility of Joshua-Usyk fight this summer (even if Fury-Joshua is a fight we all want). I admit, I’m not overly optimistic on Usyk’s chances against the Big Two of HW division. I’d still like to see how he does against likes of Joyce and Parker first. But let’s say AJ-Usyk happens next – how do you rate Usyk’s chances to unseat Joshua?

Best regards from Ukraine. – Edward

Usyk is live dog against Joshua, but I favor the unified titleholder in the battle of Olympic champs. He’s not just the naturally larger/heavier man, he’s a sharp puncher (especially with his jab), he can move well for a big man, and he’s got decent hand speed. However, Joshua’s never faced a heavyweight with Usyk’s skills, creativity, and mobility. The Ukrainian star is not a physical threat but he can certainly be frustrating. We’ll see if AJ can patiently and confidently stalk a stick-and-moving southpaw and land damaging punches the way Canelo recently did with Billy Joe Saunders. He might, but it remains to be seen. Joshua is a 70-30 favorite in my view and likely to win a decision.

Josh Taylor during a media workout at McGuigans Gym ahead of his WBSS Final against Regis Prograis at the O2 Arena on 26th October 2019. 9th October 2019 Picture By Mark Robinson.

Taylor during a media workout at McGuigan’s Gym ahead of his WBSS Final against Regis Prograis. Photo by Mark Robinson.

I really do believe that Shane McGuigan was a perfect fit for Taylor. They had an excellent run together. Taylor professional foundation was forged by McGuigan and tough matchmaking. Despite only having 17 pro bouts, Davison has a complete or near-complete fighter to work with. Let’s see what the up-and-coming trainer can add to Taylor’s game and how good of a cornerman he can be during a tough fight.

I do think Ben Davison is a talented young trainer, but it remains to be seen how good of a match him and Taylor will be. Josh was raising his game with each fight under McGuigan. True. He was also put in with increasingly formidable opposition, so it was sink or swim.

I’m curious if he continues to do as well with Davison. I’m not as familiar with Davison as I am with the more accomplished McGuigan, but he seems to have a strong rapport with his fighters. He connects with them and brings out their confidence (not that men like BJ Saunders, Tyson Fury and Taylor need any help in that area). The bottom line is that they trust him.

What’s your assessment of the trainer situation? Davison has shown to be a good motivator in camp, a strong strategist, and a calming presence during the fight. My hunch is that he’ll do just fine with Taylor. But the fighters have to fight the fights.

Do you think it’s a major factor here? Ask me after Saturday.

Josh Taylor isn’t the Ring, IBF and WBA 140-pound champ by accident. Photo / @TRboxing

As of the fight itself, I do think Taylor has more dimensions to his game and I see, why he’s favoured. He’s not just more versatile, he’s the faster man – of hand AND foot – and he’s got a lot of snap on his punches. He also knows how to roughhouse in the trenches.

But he can be dragged into a war, he’s quite hittable. The exact same thing can be said about Ramirez.

And as one of my friends, a fellow Ukrainian boxing correspondent, mentioned – Ramirez is good at imposing his style on his opponent. He is, but Taylor is good at ADAPTING to his opponent, especially aggressive ones.

And his own boxing ability is a bit underrated, I think. I agree. Ramirez is not a one-dimensional come-forward fighter. He’s awkwardly crafty until he sees his opening, then he pounces and lets the leather fly.

I’m very intrigued by what’s gonna happen this Saturday. You wouldn’t be a real boxing fan if you weren’t.

Who are you picking and how? Taylor by close decision. I think he’ll control the distance early on, battle it out on the inside with Ramirez in spots during the middle rounds (which should feature some choice body shots from both men), and then hold on and run out the clock a bit down the stretch when I expect Taylor to fade a bit and Ramirez to come on strong. But I think Taylor will have built up too much of a lead on the scorecards over the first half of the bout for Ramirez to take it.

 

UNDISPUTED

Peace Doug,

Happy 2021 (haven’t written in a few mins). Hope and trust you and your family are all doing well.

I’m taking relentless pressure over spite on Saturday night. Sick matchup!

Later brutha. – Regi Woodard

It’s badass matchup for sure, Regi.

Jose Ramirez won his WBC and WBO 140-pound titles in his opponents home regions. Photo / @TRboxing

You might be right, but I don’t think Ramirez will be a non-stop pressure fighter vs. Taylor, who’s got more to offer than spite (although he’s got plenty of that). I think Ramirez will have to respect Taylor’s speed and pop in the early rounds, he could charge into a debilitating body shot or uppercut if he tries to swarm the Scotsman early. And even if he tries to emulate prime Julio Cesar Chavez, A) he doesn’t cut the ring off as well as El Gran Campeon, and B) Taylor’s lateral movement will neutralize the pressure to a degree.

But if you’re right and Ramirez sets a torrid pace from the onset, and Taylor isn’t able to hurt him, the pressure will eventually take a toll on the visiting champion, probably a little after the halfway points. That’s when the fight will really begin.

 

HEAVYWEIGHT BULLS__T!

Hi Doug,

Hope you the family and team are doing well.

MM: Tyson Fury Vs Anthony Joshua???

Well, it might as well be a MM the way things are going.

How about this?

Chuck all the alphabet belts in the bin.

Then fight for the Ring Magazine title. One belt for the recognised champion.

How did arbitration conclude Wilder is entitled to a rematch when they couldn’t d make one within the agreed 1 year?

I’m remembering back to the ODH and Mayweather situation.

Also why did Fury sign an AJ fight knowing his prior obligation?

All smoke and mirrors to hype up the Fury Vs AJ fight?

A ploy from Team Fury all along to stuff AJ and Hearn?

Considering the money involved I think realistically if Wilder enforced a rematch the WBC belt will be dropped from the Fury Vs AJ fight. I’m sure that then leads to Wilder suing everyone.

What do you make of it all?

Keep up the good work! – Tabraze, London U.K.

Will do, Tabraze. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

What do I make of all this heavyweight chaos? I just shrug my shoulders and say “that’s boxing.” We’ll get an undisputed junior welterweight and junior middleweight champion this year, we might get an undisputed super middleweight champ in 2021, but we’re not getting a showdown for the undisputed heavyweight championship. Maybe in 2022. Maybe. But if it doesn’t happen following these contracted return bouts and sanctioning body mandatories, I will lose interest as I have with the prospect of getting an undisputed welterweight champion.

How about this?

Chuck all the alphabet belts in the bin. Oh my! Perish the thought!

Then fight for the Ring Magazine title. One belt for the recognised champion. It makes sense to me. I’m all for it. Here’s the problem: The networks, promoters, managers and fighters (despite what they all say) are not for it. Come to think of it, a lot of fans and media aren’t for it.

How did arbitration conclude Wilder is entitled to a rematch when they couldn’t d make one within the agreed 1 year? I’m not a lawyer and I’m not privy to the details of this case (nor do a I give s__t), but I’m pretty sure the pandemic had something to do with that.

I’m remembering back to the ODH and Mayweather situation. Yeah, totally different scenario. There were plans to put on a Mayweather-De La Hoya rematch in 2008, but Floyd “retired” that summer and wouldn’t announce his “un-retirement” until the following summer.  

Also why did Fury sign an AJ fight knowing his prior obligation? Wishful thinking? Wanting to make a fortune and secure his legacy?

All smoke and mirrors to hype up the Fury Vs AJ fight? I doubt it. How many fans are “hyped” about the fight right now?

A ploy from Team Fury all along to stuff AJ and Hearn? Dude, I know boxing is an extremely frustrating and disappointing sport to follow, especially during this era, but don’t let it make you crazy.

 

FURY-WILDER 3

I don’t know about you, Dougie, but this news about the standoff between Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua has left a bitter taste in my mouth. Just when I thought we were going to get an undisputed showdown at heavyweight, the other shoe dropped. An arbitrator ruled Fury has to face Wilder before Joshua. Maybe Wilder could comeback (he does have that one-hitter quitter in his right hand), but I personally have more interest in Fury-Joshua than Fury-Wilder 3. If I were Wilder, I’d take step-aside money and then try to face whoever wins between Joshua and Fury. That way, he gets a payday and a chance at all four belts instead of just one (and the Ring title).

On the other hand, perhaps opportunity can be salvaged from this train wreck. There were clouds hanging over the Fury-Joshua showdown before all this. In addition to Wilder, Usyk was knocking on AJ’s door for a showdown. Maybe if Fury fights Wilder, Joshua can fight Usyk. Then, the winners of those bouts face off for a winner-take-all fight. It’s so simple… that I also know there’s no way it’s gonna happen. But I can dream can’t I? – Gregory

Sure you can, Greg, and I think that’s the likely scenario – IF Fury and Joshua prevail, which is not a guarantee (although I believe both big men will be solid favorites among the odds makers).

Hey, I’m not super excited about Fury-Wilder 3, but I’ll take it. It’s not a BAD matchup. It’s the Ring/WBC heavyweight champion vs. The Ring’s No. 2 contender. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get a shootout this time instead of a bludgeoning. And Joshua-Usyk is fascinating style mesh on paper. It’s not going to be Norton-Holmes or Holyfield-Bowe, but it could be a compelling contest.

And if Fury and Joshua can’t get past these hurdles maybe they weren’t worthy of fighting for the undisputed championship in the first place.

I don’t know about you, Dougie, but this news about the standoff between Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I gotta be honest, I’m disappointed and inconvenienced (because we were hoping to make the next Ring Magazine a Fury-Joshua preview issue), but I’m not bitter. I’m too cynical about the boxing business to care that much. If they can’t make the fight, f__ ’em. There are other fighters and significant matchups for me to focus on.

An arbitrator ruled Fury has to face Wilder before Joshua. Maybe Wilder could comeback (he does have that one-hitter quitter in his right hand), but I personally have more interest in Fury-Joshua than Fury-Wilder 3. Same here. I’ve seen Fury vs. Wilder. I haven’t seen Fury vs. Joshua.

If I were Wilder, I’d take step-aside money and then try to face whoever wins between Joshua and Fury. You seem like a reasonable guy.

That way, he gets a payday and a chance at all four belts instead of just one (and the Ring title). Makes sense to me and you, but we’re not fighters. We’re not a proud former heavyweight titleholder with an axe to grind with the man who dethroned him.

 

FURY-JOSHUA DEBACLE

Hey Doug,

Hope everything’s well. I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am that the heavyweight unification is being blocked by Deontay Wilder and the PBC, yet I can’t blame them for doing what they’re doing and don’t feel any sympathy towards the parties involved. They had plenty of time to get this settled and still decided to wait until the last minute for this. We also have Olexander Usyk trying to exercise his right as the mandatory WBO challenger which in my opinion is also bogus. He’s had like what, 3 or 4 fights as a heavyweight, not looked impressive and still thinks he deserves this? Nah man, this is just wrong. But hey, it is what it is, the WBO does have him as number 1 and well, the rules are the rules I guess.

Look, in my opinion, and I’m no manager, I would love to see the Joshua-Fury winner face Wilder, and I would also like to see Deontay have at least one fight with his new trainer to build his confidence back. I do want to see him fight for the title again, I think he has a legitimate chance with that kind of power against both men. People are easy to dismiss fighters just because of one fight, but what they forget is that the most memorable moments in boxing, or at least some of the best, came from guys coming back from losses or winning as a huge underdog. Just remember Ali vs Foreman, Holyfield vs Tyson, Foreman vs Moorer.  All these heavyweight fights I just mentioned, featured guys that were coming off fights that made them look old, a shell of what they used to be or bad losses. Yet, they came into these fights and changed history forever.

That is boxing, that’s why we love the sport. So yeah, while my brain says Wilder is not coming back from that terrible loss to Fury, my heart also tells me that I can’t ignore history and we need things to unfold in front of us and let them happen.  As for Usyk, well, I like him, but I just can’t get excited by any fight that involves him vs any of these three right now….yet.

This weekend’s fight is a phenomenal one, a unification for all the marbles, what we always want as boxing fans. Even though I think technically Josh Taylor seems to be the logical choice to win this fight, I think Jose Ramirez has the intangibles on his side, I think his desire to win and huge heart are things that a lot of people are underrating. His will to win will get him through those deficiencies and I’m picking him to out hustle Taylor in a great fight.

Man, I’m very excited for this fight and can’t wait to see what happens. I also think that any European coming to America has to overcome the fact that they’re not in their home continent. We see it time and time again and only a few manage to get over this. I’m sure that will play into the fight. In the end, it’s not only technical ability that matters, but mental strength and I think that is where Jose Ramirez excels.

Thanks Doug. – Juan Valverde, Chula Vista

We’ll see, Juan. I think Taylor is every bit as tenacious and mentally strong as Ramirez. And, as I brought up in a previous response, I think Taylor brings more to the table than just better technique and boxing acumen, he’s got faster hands and quicker/more nimble feet, which enable him to control distance and get the better of most inside exchanges. Taylor’s also a rough, tough customer. And I think he knows that he’s no longer in Scotland. I don’t think he’s looking to coast in any of the rounds, nor does he think he’ll the get the benefit of the doubt in close rounds. He’s talking like he’s ready to rumble, which is exactly what I want to hear.

I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am that the heavyweight unification is being blocked by Deontay Wilder and the PBC, yet I can’t blame them for doing what they’re doing and don’t feel any sympathy towards the parties involved. Hey, the PBC is just doing right by their fighter. It may not turn out to be the best move for Wilder’s career or well-being, but it’s what he wants and was contractually empowered to demand.

They had plenty of time to get this settled and still decided to wait until the last minute for this. I’m just gonna blame the pandemic… and greed… and ego.

We also have Olexander Usyk trying to exercise his right as the mandatory WBO challenger which in my opinion is also bogus. Interesting spelling of Usyk’s first name, but I like it!

He’s had like what, 3 or 4 fights as a heavyweight, not looked impressive and still thinks he deserves this? Usyk has had two heavyweight bouts. TWO. The WBO installed him as their No. 1 heavyweight contender before his debut at the heavyweight weight.

Nah man, this is just wrong. But hey, it is what it is, the WBO does have him as number 1 and well, the rules are the rules I guess. Stupid rules make for a stupid sport.

Look, in my opinion, and I’m no manager, I would love to see the Joshua-Fury winner face Wilder, and I would also like to see Deontay have at least one fight with his new trainer to build his confidence back. Maybe Wilder’s team/advisors view a tune-up as too risky. What if he hasn’t psychologically recovered from his first loss? What if he unravels against a mid-level nobody? That’s potentially $100 million flushed down the toilet. I don’t blame them for going for the gusto. If he loses to Fury at least it will be a huge stage for a lot of money, and they can just say that Tyson has his number and move on. But Andy Ruiz or Charles Martin, or worse, an unknown cat that was supposed to lay down, sparks Wilder. It’s over.

I do want to see him fight for the title again, I think he has a legitimate chance with that kind of power against both men. I don’t know, man, at this state vs. Fury, he’s gotta get lucky.

People are easy to dismiss fighters just because of one fight, but what they forget is that the most memorable moments in boxing, or at least some of the best, came from guys coming back from losses or winning as a huge underdog. That’s true, and Wilder should get his opportunity vs. his conqueror if that’s what he wants.

Just remember Ali vs Foreman, Holyfield vs Tyson, Foreman vs Moorer. All these heavyweight fights I just mentioned, featured guys that were coming off fights that made them look old, a shell of what they used to be or bad losses. Yeah, but these guys are ATGs, and they were FAR more skilled and complete fighters than Wilder.

That is boxing, that’s why we love the sport. So yeah, while my brain says Wilder is not coming back from that terrible loss to Fury, my heart also tells me that I can’t ignore history and we need things to unfold in front of us and let them happen. I don’t think history is on Wilder’s side, but it doesn’t matter. He wants the fight, and it looks like he’s going to get it.

As for Usyk, well, I like him, but I just can’t get excited by any fight that involves him vs any of these three right now….yet. I don’t think Usyk should be the mandatory challenger for the WBO (or any major heavyweight belt) but he’s talented, skilled and gutsy enough that I think he can make it interesting against any big man, including the Big 3.

 

OVERSIMPLIFYING THE SHOWDOWN?

Afternoon Dougie,

Good to read the mailbag and see you respond to people saying that all is good.

Since I’m allowed to be in my best friend’s flat this Saturday, I will likely be worse for wear Sunday morning and you’re unlikely to hear from me about the events of this weekend so gonna get the question in now.

I’ve made my fandom and respect for Taylor very clear multiple times that I’ve written in and made my prediction clear.

I have been looking at their past fights and trying to find comparable points in their resumes.

Ramirez is a fairly standard Orthodox pressure fighter. We all know the skills and determination that he brings. The best comparison I could find to him on Taylor’s record is Ivan B. I was in the audience for that fight and while it was physically demanding, I didn’t think Taylor was ever actually out of the driver’s seat in that one. (On a side note, anyone that gets the chance to see The Monster go to work, jump on it.)

Taylor is the modern-day boxer/puncher with the emphasis on puncher (comfortable taking the fight at any range but loves a scrap). The best comparison I could find to him on Ramirez’s record is Jose Zepada. That’s a fight we all know Ramirez struggled in (I had it a draw).

This is why I favour Taylor (beyond my very obvious fandom). He handled a fighter somewhat comparable to Ramirez much better than Ramirez handled a fighter comparable to Taylor.

Do you think I’m oversimplifying this? Also how do you think these guys do at 147 against the Ring Top 5?

If my boy loses Saturday, please be gentle. Thanks again. – Euan, Dunfermline Scotland

I think both Taylor and Ramirez could give the current welterweight top five (Spence, Crawford, Pacquiao, Thurman and Porter) good fights. I don’t think I’d favor either to win if they challenged one of those guys in their 147-pound debut, but I know they’d have their moments vs. all of them. Maybe they’d catch Pacquiao on the right day, when the Senator finally gets “old overnight,” or they outhustle the inactive Thurman. It’s not inconceivable.

I don’t think you’re oversimplifying the Taylor-Ramirez matchup, but you should understand that styles make fights, and while Baranchyk is kind of like Ramirez in terms of sheer aggression and will, they really don’t fight the same way, and the same thing can be said about Taylor and Zepeda.

Taylor tees off on Baranchyk. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

If you’re a Taylor booster, you can say he’s proven to be able to deal with aggressive fighters who look to break down their opposition, and you can surmise that Ramirez struggles with boxers. You can say that Taylor is a better boxer than Postol or Zepeda and will therefore outbox Ramirez, but the truth is that the Taylor-Ramirez matchup is different from the Ramirez-Postol/Zepeda matchups. Taylor is busier and more aggressive than Postol and he’s more confident than the version of Zepeda that Ramirez beat, but these attributes could work against him vs. the California. We’ll just have to see.

Personally, I don’t think Taylor wins the fight by putting on a boxing clinic. I think he’s going to adapt to what Ramirez gives him, which will probably mean that he’s going to stick and move at times, go to work on the inside in spots, go on the hunt for stretches, and maybe play keep-away at some point (probably late in the fight). He’ll do what he and Davison feel needs to be done to win. Ramirez will do the same. It’s going to make for a hell of fight and I think your countryman will prevail, but I’m going to be satisfied no matter who wins.

 

 

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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