Sunday, October 24, 2021  |

News

Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Vergil Ortiz Jr., Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nico Ali Walsh)

Ortiz thrilled fans as much as Rigo frustrated them this past Saturday. Photo by Stacey M. Snyder / Golden Boy Promotions
16
Aug

RUNNING RIGO = PAINT DRYING

Dougie,

Part of me hopes you were too busy to watch possibly the worst bantamweight title fight ever, but if you weren’t:

1)  Is this the worst you’ve endured at this weight class?

2)  I know 10/10 is discouraged in scoring, but how could you not score most of the rounds that way?

3)  Would you ever promote a guy after such a performance?

Final thoughts, at one point the commentators compared Rigondeaux to Pernell Whitaker. I was taken aback, because while Whitaker was definitely a “cutie,” I don’t ever remember him outright running. His defensive mastery was best displayed at close quarters.

The only positive I have is Rigondeaux was in incredible shape. However, in a very busy boxing weekend I’m sorry I wasted my time on this fight. I hope he hangs the gloves up after rewatching this nonsense. Peace. – Scott

That ain’t happenin’, Scott. But he’s going to be a very hard sell going forward (at least on U.S. television).

I missed watching the main events of the DAZN, ESPN and Showtime broadcasts live due to the Thompson Boxing Card I worked with pals Rich Marotta, Steve Kim and Jessica Rosales. I didn’t get home (to Inglewood) from Corona until after 11 p.m., so I chose to watch playbacks of only two of the three (before I finally took my weary butt to bed). I went with Ortiz-Kavaliauskas and Casimero-Rigondeaux. Four rounds into the “Rigo Invitational Track Meet” (shout out to Al Bernstein for that gem), I was wishing I went with Franco-Moloney III. But I finish what I start, so I stuck it out, and man, I was ready to fall into a damn coma after 12 rounds of the dreariest, weirdest s__t-show I’ve seen in a high-profile main event since Hopkins-Jones II.

I was part of the broadcast booth for that surreal rematch between B-Hop and RJ, so my heart went out to Showtime’s commentators. They did not have an easy night, especially Steve Farhood, who had to score a non-fight. When you get slippery defensive whiz who refuses to let his hands go vs. a guy who’s essentially hand-cuffed by his opponent’s lateral movement, what do you have? What do you call a matchup between a boxer who WON’T punch and a fighter who CAN’T land? You can’t call it fight. Whatever it was, it certainly didn’t belong at the “War Grounds” in Carson, California.

I gave up scoring the fight after the sixth or seventh round (when Rigo chose to ignore trainer Ronnie Shields’ pleading and got back on his bike). I think Farhood had it right with a 114-114 draw. Neither bantamweight deserved a “W.” Instead of scoring the fight, I jotted down two pages of quips in my notepad, including:

“Rigo is not my cup of tea.”

“I feel bad for Ronnie. He has to BEG his fighter to throw a jab. Why?”

“Donaire smashes Casimero.”

“There will never be a Donaire-Rigo rematch, or Rigo vs. any name opponent, after this s__t show.”

“Inoue nukes both of them.”

“How dare they desecrate the ‘War Grounds!’”

“Casimero keeps retching in his corner between rounds. This stinkfest makes me want to retch.”

1)  Is this the worst you’ve endured at this weight class? By far.

2)  I know 10/10 is discouraged in scoring, but how could you not score most of the rounds that way? 0-0 rounds make more sense.

3)  Would you ever promote a guy after such a performance? Hell-to-the-F__K-to-the-NO!

Final thoughts, at one point the commentators compared Rigondeaux to Pernell Whitaker. UGH!

Even during his fleet-footed lightweight days, Whitaker dazzled opponents (including the great Azumah Nelson) with his busy, educated jab. Photo / Ring Magazine via Getty Images

I was taken aback, because while Whitaker was definitely a “cutie,” I don’t ever remember him outright running. He moved a lot during his lightweight reign (which corrupt judges used as a reason to rob him of a deserved victory in his first go-around with Jose Luis Ramirez), but he worked his jab overtime. He never stopped with that right-hand stick. I’m sure Shields, who worked with most of Main Event’s elite stable of 1984 Olympic stars, including Sweet Pea, had a young Whitaker in mind when he begged Rigo to at least work his jab while on the move. The thing is, the older and heavier Whitaker got, the less he moved. He stood his ground often as a welterweight champ (and during his one-off at junior middleweight vs. the dangerous Julio Cesar Vasquez). And Pea had more than just a jab or counter left, he would let body-head combinations go when in close contact with his opponents.

His defensive mastery was best displayed at close quarters. Agreed.

 

VIRGIL AND RIGO

Hello Dougie,

Well, we saw the polar opposites last night. Me and my brother-in-law are becoming big Vergil Ortiz fans. Every time he fights, we make sure we don’t miss it and he didn’t disappoint.

Yes, some people are going to call him an exposed boxer, but let’s be real, a lot of fighters go through a tough test where their whiskers get tested. I remember clearly when Narciso Valenzuela dropped Oscar de la Hoya and Jose Miguel Cotto hurt Canelo in the first round (both). Everybody was shocked, but it turned out to be just that, a wake-up call, a learning experience.

If Vergil didn’t have a fight like the one he had vs. Mean Machine, he would never experience this kind of situation and never be properly prepared if that would happen against a guy like Spence or Crawford. Remember Fernando Vargas when he fought Trinidad? If I’m not mistaken, that was the first time he was hurt in his career and it was probably the worst time to learn how to deal with that kind of adversity, because he lost.

In this case, I’m thinking Vergil will learn and adjust, you could almost see it happen in real time. I was very impressed with Kavaliauskas, he also adjusted, throwing a jab to the body and throwing some good combinations that would discourage any young kid. He showed he’s a tough gate keeper that will test anybody who dares face him. I liked the fight and it brought the excitement we were looking for, on the other hand……

Guillermo Rigondeaux. Look, I’ve never been a fan of the Cuban, and yes, he is extremely talented, but to be fair, he doesn’t use all his tools and that’s what frustrates most of us fans. You could see it every single round, if he just threw a few more punches, he would’ve easily won this fight. He would run and run and run and throw nothing! I was like, what are you doing!!?? You have him there, throw a jab, a right cross, a hook and move. Yes, that’s your style, yes, whatever, I don’t have to watch it if I don’t want to, but man, you’re sabotaging yourself! At some points I’ve kinda felt sorry for him but yesterday during the interview, he is sounding salty, pissed and defiant. He just said, this is who I am, and I don’t care.  Well, if you don’t care, the judges and nobody else will. You certainly didn’t deserve to win this fight because you never wanted to win it; at least Casimero wanted it, looked for it, and yes, he missed a lot, but he tried and that’s why he won. (BTW, I didn’t even score it)

Great job with the new The Ring issue, love it! You know Chavez is my man as much as Leonard is your guy. He’s the fighter that made me a fan. Thanks again Doug. – Juan Valverde, Chula Vista

Purchase this special issue via The Ring Shop.

You are most welcome, Juan. You’re the type of fan we had in mind when we started laying the groundwork for our latest Special Issue months ago. It’s very satisfying seeing it in print and witnessing the reaction of Chavez fans after all the planning, meetings, coordinating with Team JCC and cover artist Richard Slone, assigning, editing, proofing, etc.

Me and my brother-in-law are becoming big Vergil Ortiz fans. Every time he fights, we make sure we don’t miss it and he didn’t disappoint. Ortiz delivers. It’s funny you bring up Fernando Vargas. Vergil reminds me of a prime Feroz in terms of his technique, power, aggression, confidence, hunger, and passion for battle (as well as the consecutive knockouts he’s scored); however, the Texas native is more emotionally settled than the sometimes-volatile Vargas.

Yes, some people are going to call him an exposed boxer, but let’s be real, a lot of fighters go through a tough test where their whiskers get tested. Even the boxers that purists laud as defensive wizards or technical geniuses – from Whitaker to Floyd Mayweather Jr. to Bernard Hopkins to Andre Ward – suffered knockdowns (see Pea vs. Roger Mayweather and Rafael Williams; B-Hop vs. Segundo Mercado; Dre vs. Darnell Boone) and wobbly moments (see Pretty Boy vs. Chop Chop Corley) prior to establishing themselves as the pound-for-pound kings. So, yeah, if an offense-minded power-punching up-and-comer faces an offense-minded power-punching veteran you’d figure boxing fans would EXPECT the younger, lesser-experienced fighter to get caught a few times. If there are yutzes out there criticizing Ortiz’s performance because he was wobbled in Round 2, I think it’s best to pay them no mind.

I remember clearly when Narciso Valenzuela dropped Oscar de la Hoya and Jose Miguel Cotto hurt Canelo in the first round (both). Everybody was shocked, but it turned out to be just that, a wake-up call, a learning experience. Yep, and it should be noted that Oscar was in his 11th pro bout vs. Valenzuela and Canelo was still a teenager (19) when he faced Cotto. De La Hoya would get dropped again (vs. Giorgio Campenella in his 13th bout) and momentarily rocked (vs. John Avila) before proving to have one of the more reliable chins in boxing during his prime years. I don’t think Canelo has been visibly rocked since the Cotto bout.  

In this case, I’m thinking Vergil will learn and adjust, you could almost see it happen in real time. Yes, he’s that kind of fighter.

I was very impressed with Kavaliauskas, he also adjusted, throwing a jab to the body, and throwing some good combinations that would discourage any young kid. Mean Machine can fight AND box. He’s still a threat to any welterweight willing to face him.

He showed he’s a tough gate keeper that will test anybody who dares face him. I think Kavaliauskas and two of his former opponents – David Avanesyan (who he stopped in 2018) and Ray Robinson (who held him to a draw in 2019) – are the best gate keepers of the 147-pound division (and I state this with the utmost respect). I’d love to see Mean Machine (or Avanesyan or Robinson) vs. Jaron Ennis, Eimantas Stanionis and/or Rashidi Ellis.

Guillermo Rigondeaux. Look, I’ve never been a fan of the Cuban, and yes, he is extremely talented, but to be fair, he doesn’t use all his tools and that’s what frustrates most of us fans. I graduated from frustration to ambivalence years ago. I think it was the stinker vs. Drian Francisco – an opponent who was propped up to make him look good on the Cotto-Canelo PPV undercard in late 2015 – that made me vow not waste too much time complaining about or defending Rigo, especially to hardcore fans. The Cuban has a legion of haters and a cult of defenders. Both groups go off the rails when he fights.

You could see it every single round, if he just threw a few more punches, he would’ve easily won this fight. No doubt about it. He arguably could have won it “Invitational Track Meet”-style with two different judges.

He would run and run and run and throw nothing! I was like, what are you doing!!?? You and Ronnie Shields.

Yes, that’s your style, yes, whatever, I don’t have to watch it if I don’t want to, but man, you’re sabotaging yourself! You can say that, and there’s no doubt that his career could have been way more successful if he cared to be entertaining (and had better career guidance/support), but the truth is that he’s accomplished a lot in just 23 pro bouts and he’s made a good living.

At some points I’ve kinda felt sorry for him but yesterday during the interview, he is sounding salty, pissed, and defiant. He is salty, pissed, and defiant. Part of me admires that. I still feel sorry for him. He’s an ultra-talented dude with no real place in the business of professional boxing.

He just said, this is who I am, and I don’t care. I think he cares. It’s just too late for him to change. It was too late 12 years ago when he turned pro. Maybe if he was able to defect and turn pro following his first gold medal showing at the 2000 Olympic Games, things would have been different.

Well, if you don’t care, the judges and nobody else will. True.

You certainly didn’t deserve to win this fight because you never wanted to win it; at least Casimero wanted it, looked for it, and yes, he missed a lot, but he tried and that’s why he won. (BTW, I didn’t even score it) I didn’t either, but I could plainly see that Casimero was hapless. I’m not giving him much credit for that effort. Merely stalking forward without letting your hands go isn’t the same thing as “trying” or even “wanting” to win. Not in my book, anyway. You were mad at Rigo for not working his jab… well, I was miffed that neither fighter could maintain the most basic punch. Casimero won, but I don’t think he deserves a pat on the back.

 

NICO ALI WALSH

Dougie,

It was very cool watching Ali’s grandson make his professional debut. Seeing him in those iconic white Everlast trunks while hearing chants of “Ali” from the crowd was something all boxing fans could appreciate. I know a lot of people are hung up on the level of his opposition, but fighters have started their careers off against worse. Given the amount of attention that was on him, I thought Nico handled himself very well and didn’t shy away from the moment. With a very limited amount of amateur experience, what are your expectations for him as we watch his career play out? – Evan

I don’t have any expectations. He’s the grandson of the most famous boxer (one of the most famous human beings) ever, so it’s only natural that he’d turn pro to some fanfare, but he wasn’t an Olympian or even a national amateur champ, so he’s going to be as much of a work-in-progress as a promising club-level fighter (perhaps more so).

Nico Ali Walsh looked solid during his pro debut vs. Jordan Weeks. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

However, I think he’s got the potential to improve. I’ve only seen a little over a minute and a half of him in action, but I can tell that Nico’s got ability – solid balance, decent timing and reflexes, good judge of distance, and fluid hands. He’s young (21), so time is on his side. Most importantly, he’s got a world-class team around him – trainer SugarHill Steward and Top Rank promoting him and guiding his career. They’ll teach him and move him appropriately.

Over the next 12-24 months, Walsh will need to strengthen his body, build his stamina, and learn professional technique – settling down on his feet/punches, tucking his chin, etc. – as he gains experience and confidence. You and I will both be watching with interest, Evan.

 

 

VICTOR ORTIZ JR.

Dear Mr. Fischer,

Since I don’t follow you on Twitter, I am kind of disappointed finding no mailbag on Monday or Friday. Can you please give us an absence-note on the days without a mailbag?

Vergil Ortiz. He resembles the young GGG in my opinion. Calm, friendly and confident. Underrated defense. World-class jab. Heavy hands to the body. And the sense of when to go for the kill. I like the way he walks away from his victims after the knock-out. And the answer to the question if he would be ready for Crawford was simply world-class: “Yes Sir.” No additional explanation necessary.  It is a pity that Covid-restrictions kept me from going to the US to see that fight live.

How do you see the future of Ortiz? How do you rate him compared to the young guns like Teofimo Lopez, Tank Davis, Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia and who ever I forgot? Best from Germany. – Matthias

I think Ortiz is right up there with that group of budding stars in terms of talent and potential (as is fellow young welterweight threat Jaron Ennis). In terms of accomplishments/current status, he’s behind Lopez and Davis, but the quality of his opposition is comparable to a major beltholder like Haney.

Ortiz will likely advance to No. 8, 7 or 6 in The Ring’s 147-pound rankings. By this time next year, I expect him to be in the top 5, if not top 3.

Since I don’t follow you on Twitter, I am kind of disappointed finding no mailbag on Monday or Friday. Can you please give us an absence-note on the days without a mailbag? Sure, just follow me on Twitter (@dougiefischer) and ask me mid-week or the day before the Mailbags (Thursday and Sunday) if I plan to publish the column. I’ll let you (and everyone else who follows me) know if I’ve got enough emails (or the right emails) to post that on week/day.

Ortiz exhibited “GGG form” as he broke down the Mean Machine. Photo / Stacey M. Snyder / Golden Boy Promotions

Vergil Ortiz. He resembles the young GGG in my opinion. Calm, friendly and confident. Underrated defense. World-class jab. Heavy hands to the body. And the sense of when to go for the kill. I agree that Ortiz shares those traits with the prime version of Golovkin, even though their styles are a little different to my eye. Golovkin, who was older than Ortiz is now when he turned pro, was more composed when he got caught by a good shot and more settled down and methodical in his search-and-destroy tactics. That’s a maturity that Ortiz will soon have, though, the 23-year-old is precocious.

I like the way he walks away from his victims after the knock-out. He’s a cool dude outside of the ring and a cold MF inside of it. My kind of fighter.

And the answer to the question if he would be ready for Crawford was simply world-class: “Yes Sir.” No additional explanation necessary. It is a pity that Covid-restrictions kept me from going to the U.S. to see that fight live. I’m sure there will be several more opportunities for you to see young Vergil – vs. bigger name opponents and headlining much bigger events – in the coming months and years. And I hope to see you at one of those cards.

 

 

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.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Douglass Fischer (@dougiefischer)

GET THE LATEST ISSUE AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE) or Subscribe

Latest Issue Cover