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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Lara-Warrington 2, PED punishment, Boxing What If… ?)

The Lara-Warrington rematch was just starting to get interesting when an accidental clash of heads ended it after the second round. Photo / @MatchroomBoxing
06
Sep

LARA-WARRINGTON 2: THE LETDOWN IN LEEDS

Hi Doug,

Hope you, the family and team are keeping well.

Such a shame about the main event.

Let’s be honest, even with my rose-tinted Brit glasses on, Josh Warrington lost handily last time out. I felt the odds were stacked against him as well as the pressure to win, in his hometown also.

I thought both started well. Warrington’s more defensive strategy was a good move, but he was also sharp, quick and had success, as did Lara. Was shaping up to be a good even battle. I know we hardly got two rounds but what did you make of what you saw? The right decision to call it off, it was a horrendous cut.

Should they have a third? Warrington wanted it straight away, however Eddie suggests “other opinions”? I suppose Mauricio Lara’s injury will take a while to heal, so maybe Warrington can get out on the Dillian Whyte card at the end of October? Who would you put him in with in the meantime assuming a third fight with Lara can be agreed? Kid Galahad rematch, who now has a belt of his own? Or a move up in weight?

Do you think we’ll get Warrington/Lara 3? Should Lara look elsewhere?

Conner Benn got exactly what he needed. Rounds. Even if the opponent was negative it’s rounds in the bank. Right, before Benn starts calling out AB, Khan etc why is he not targeting Josh Kelly? I like Benn and he’s a massively improved fighter, but is he being protected? AB and Khan are big money fights for Benn against faded inactive fighters who, let’s be honest would have destroyed Benn at a similar point in their carriers. I think Kelly would also do the same today to Benn. Thoughts?

Also, who why not target David Avanesyan again a more meaningful fight than AB or Khan.

Katie Taylor did what Katie Taylor does. She still needs to fight the urge to stand and trade and rather use the brilliant movement and skill she has. Jessica McCaskill was on the DAZN show. She is also very improved over the last couple of years. That’s a rematch of love to see. How do you see that going? And at what weight should it happen?

On a side note, we’ll done to Jessica McCaskill for coming over. Her boxing insights are really good, and she promotes herself very well.

Hughes Vs Straffon was an entertaining scrap. Hughes now asking Eddie Hearn to line up Devin Haney. What do you think?

Finally, we’re getting Herring Vs Stevenson. That’s a brilliant matchup IMHO. Stevenson has continued to impress me and who doesn’t like Jamel Herring? I don’t think it’s a given Stevenson is going to win, as many predict, but I get why he’s the favourite. Herring’s recent form has got to give him confidence. I don’t think the age different is a factor, but experience hmmmmm maybe.

How are you calling it?

MM:

Hatton Vs Micky Ward

Hatton Vs Gatti

Calzaghe Vs Toney

Cap Vs Wonder Woman

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

Solid Mythical Matchups (although I’ve been asked all of these multiple times in the past, except for the comic book one): I’ll go with peak-Ricky (2004-2005) over Ward via late stoppage and Gatti on points (both bouts are brutal, bloody wars), Calzaghe narrowly (maybe controversially) over Toney on points and Wonder Woman by mid-rounds KO (assuming Cap is without his shield in the ring).

It’s a bit too early for a prediction on the Herring-Stevenson fight, but like you, I envision a hotly contested chess match. Shakur has the edges in youth and speed; Jamel’s got the obvious edge in experience. Both are master technicians. We know Herring’s got heart and character. We don’t know about Stevenson’s ticker yet, and we don’t know if Herring can test his fellow U.S. Olympian’s mettle, but I’m sure that the defending titleholder can give the challenger looks that none of the Newark native’s previous 16 pro opponents could provide. Maybe it’s a heart pick because I admire Herring so much, but right now I’m leaning toward Jamel in a squeaker (and mind you, I haven’t spent time looking at their recent fights or analyzing the matchup). However, I wonder if the official judges will “allow” the veteran to win a legitimately close bout.   

Let’s be honest, even with my rose-tinted Brit glasses on, Josh Warrington lost handily last time out. You couldn’t “un-see” that ass-kicking if you were Stevie Wonder.

I felt the odds were stacked against him as well as the pressure to win, in his hometown also. Kudos to Warrington for going straight into a rematch and dealing with all the doubts and pressure that came with that ballsy move.

I thought both started well. Warrington’s more defensive strategy was a good move, but he was also sharp, quick and had success, as did Lara. I thought Warrington won both rounds clearly, but I could see that Lara was warming up and beginning to let his heavy hands go in the final minute of Round 2. (However, even our friend Stevie could see that the headbutt that opened that huge gash above Lara’s left eye had severely rattled the Mexican banger. Had the cut not ended the fight between rounds, I’m thinking it would have taken a couple rounds for Lara to clear the cobwebs and get his full mojo going.)

Was shaping up to be a good even battle. It really was. For me, the fight would not begin in earnest until Lara landed a flush shot to Warrington’s jaw. However, it was clear that Warrington entered the return bout with a lot of respect for Lara’s power and would be careful not to stand and exchange too much or for too long.

I know we hardly got two rounds but what did you make of what you saw? I thought Warrington was sharp and in control for six minutes, but it seemed like Lara was still a threat and had yet to get into his rhythm. I was looking forward to the middle and late rounds.

The right decision to call it off, it was a horrendous cut. It was indeed and I have no problem with the stoppage, but I feel obligated to note that Joseph Diaz Jr. suffered an equally gruesome cut in the same place and in the same round during his title bout vs. Tevin Farmer and not only was the bout was allowed to continue, but “JoJo” stuck to his game plan for the next 10 rounds and won the darn fight.

Should they have a third? I think so. It’s a good matchup, and if my Twitter TL is any indication, most fans think Warrington can’t beat Lara. I’d love to see the Leeds Warrior make those Negative Nellies eat their words.

Warrington wanted it straight away, however Eddie suggests “other opinions”? That’s his job as a promoter.

I suppose Mauricio Lara’s injury will take a while to heal, so maybe Warrington can get out on the Dillian Whyte card at the end of October? Who would you put him in with in the meantime assuming a third fight with Lara can be agreed? It all depends. They could go for a solid domestic- or Euro-level matchup at 130 pounds and give Zelfa Barrett (a flashy stick-and-move southpaw from Manchester, as well as a fellow Matchroom fighter) or someone like Michael Magnesi (an undefeated IBO beltholder from Italy who’s tough and strong but also a bit plodding) a shot. However, those could be dangerous fights (not unlike Lara was earlier this year). Maybe the way to go (if he really wants to return on that October card) is to target a seemingly shopworn veteran like Jayson Velez or Mickey Roman.

Kid Galahad rematch, who now has a belt of his own? I think Kid Galahad is all wrong for Warrington, stylistically speaking, the new IBF beltholder proved that in their first match (and I think he’s better now than he was then). If he wants his interim bout to be at featherweight, I guess he could target somebody like Gavin McDonnell.

Or a move up in weight? I could be wrong about this, but Warrington doesn’t seem to have any trouble making 126. However, testing the waters at the world level of the 130-pound division is intriguing if the right matchups can be made. I’d love to see how he would do vs. WBA beltholder Roger Gutierrez (and yes, I can recognize the Venezuelan now that Tank has abdicated his “super” title). Gutierrez being a Golden Boy fighter means he’s already got a relationship with DAZN, which should make things easier to negotiate.

Do you think we’ll get Warrington/Lara 3? Yes, I do, and I think they’ll put it back at Headingley Stadium, where they assembled 20,000 fans on Saturday.

Should Lara look elsewhere? Only if he can get a title shot.

Conner Benn got exactly what he needed. Rounds. Even if the opponent was negative it’s rounds in the bank. Conor needs experience like all up-and-comers, but I hope his 10 rounds with Granados let him (and his handlers) know that he needs to seriously work on the set-up of his offense, as well as his punch and speed variation. He can’t just throw the same fast ball over and over again, especially against legit contenders (if he ever reaches that stage of development).

Right, before Benn starts calling out AB, Khan etc why is he not targeting Josh Kelly? Maybe he doesn’t to take on Kelly until “The Pretty Boy” gets a comeback win or two under his belt. Maybe he just thinks Kelly sucks.

I like Benn and he’s a massively improved fighter, but is he being protected? If wasn’t prior to the Granados fight, he should be going forward.

AB and Khan are big money fights for Benn against faded inactive fighters who, let’s be honest would have destroyed Benn at a similar point in their carriers. True, but now they’re shopworn, and if they aren’t going to face each other, Benn may as well try to lure one of them into a high-profile (big money) fight.

I think Kelly would also do the same today to Benn. Thoughts? Kelly has the style and athleticism to frustrate Benn in the early rounds, maybe into the middle rounds, but I don’t the TPB has the foundation or technique to avoid getting cracked down the stretch if Benn is able to keep the pressure on him. I think it’s an even matchup.

Also, who why not target David Avanesyan again a more meaningful fight than AB or Khan. S__t! Because Avanesyan is a mean mother f__ker! That’s a dangerous fight, bro. That Armenian-Russian vet will hit him back – with gusto.

Katie Taylor did what Katie Taylor does. She still needs to fight the urge to stand and trade and rather use the brilliant movement and skill she has. According to Boxing Twitter, Taylor’s real record is 15-2-2, but I think she legit won all of her close fights (yes, including the first bout with Delfine Persoon) and she deserves the No. 1 Women’s P4P ranking The Ring has bestowed upon her. Having said that, I get the feeling that she’s past her peak and has plateaued as a fighter. I don’t think she should waste any more time with the Jennifer Hanses of women’s boxing (no disrespect to the former featherweight beltholder, who is a solid boxer). Katie needs to make the big fights – whether it’s a lightweight defense vs. Amanda Serrano or stepping up in weight to challenge McCaskill in a rematch – NOW while she can still let her hands go.

Jessica McCaskill was on the DAZN show. She is also very improved over the last couple of years. Indeed, she wouldn’t be a Ring champ right now if she hadn’t improved.

That’s a rematch I’d love to see. How do you see that going? And at what weight should it happen? They could do a catchweight (140-143 or so) but I’d prefer it to be a true welterweight fight. Regardless, I think it would be an excellent fight, more competitive than their first go-around (which was competitive, but Taylor controlled the distance with her lateral movement and had the quicker, flashier combos). Taylor, as you noted, is standing and trading more these days; McCaskill is more experienced now, and stronger having been in the heavier weight classes longer. There would be more action in the rematch. Taylor is still faster and busier, but McCaskill is awkward, heavy handed and very confident.

On a side note, we’ll done to Jessica McCaskill for coming over. Her boxing insights are really good, and she promotes herself very well. She’s smart AND a RING CHAMP!

Hughes Vs Straffon was an entertaining scrap. Hughes now asking Eddie Hearn to line up Devin Haney. What do you think? Why not? WTF else does Haney got going on?

 

DRUGS & RANKINGS

Hey Dougie,

Will The Ring stop ranking fighters that test positive for banned substances? That might be a small way to do something about it. Thanks. – Joe

The Ring currently drops fighters from its rankings when they are suspended by the governing sanctioning body or athletic commission for testing positive for banned substances before a fight, or if they test positive for a performance-enhancing drug AFTER competing in a match. However, sometimes fighters who test positive for banned substances are allowed to fight (as Dillian Whyte was prior to his bout against Oscar Rivas in 2019 and Oscar Valdez has been cleared to fight on Sept. 10), or they find loopholes (as Billy Joe Saunders did) and they have remained in our rankings. It should be noted that UKAD’s mishandling of certain cases (Whyte’s and Tyson Fury’s from back in 2015) staved off the Editorial Board/Ratings Panel from making timely decisions on their rankings. (And to be honest, I’m not sure why we didn’t drop Saunders back in 2018, when his positive VADA test cancelled his October 2018 showdown with Demetrius Andrade in Boston. Maybe it’s because he was not formally “suspended” by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission, which denied his application for a boxing license after the positive test. Or maybe it’s because he abdicated his WBO title prior to the sanctioning body making a decision to strip him of their belt.)

Whether it is right or wrong for us to take our cues from boxing’s sometimes sketchy regulatory bodies is something that the Ratings Panel is discussing and debating right now in the aftermath of Valdez’s positive test and subsequent clearance to fight from the WBC and the Pascua Yaqui Indian Tribe Commission in Arizona.  

 

BOXING ‘WHAT IFs’

Every sport has a big “what if” scenario fans like to debate over. For baseball, 1994 season aborted the strike is a big one. For basketball, Len Bias is a HUGE what if. Football… what if the Bills won any of the four Super Bowls? I don’t know, I’m not as big on football…

So my question for you, what do you believe is one of boxing’s biggest what if’s? If you have more than one, feel free to rank them!

P.S.: Some mythical matchups for you:

Tony Canzoneri vs Carlos Ortiz @135

Felix Trinidad vs Barney Ross @147

John L. Sullivan vs Jim Jeffries (going back quite a ways, humor me)

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Henry Armstrong @135

Jack Johnson vs George Foreman

Tyson Fury vs Larry Holmes

Miguel Cotto vs Thomas Hearns @154

Sam Langford vs James Toney @168

Ricardo Lopez vs Roman Gonzalez @108

Thanks. – Gregory K.

Your Mythical Matchups:

Tony Canzoneri vs Carlos Ortiz @135Ortiz by decision

Felix Trinidad vs Barney Ross @147Trinidad by decision

John L. Sullivan vs Jim JeffriesJeffries by decision

Julio Cesar Chavez vs Henry Armstrong @135Armstrong by close decision (great fight)

Jack Johnson vs George ForemanJohnson by late stoppage (if you’re talking about the 1970s version of Big George)

Tyson Fury vs Larry HolmesHolmes by decision

Miguel Cotto vs Thomas Hearns @154Hitman by mid-rounds KO

Sam Langford vs James Toney @168Toney by close decision

Ricardo Lopez vs Roman Gonzalez @108Chocolatito by close decision

How good was Cerdan? Dougie thinks the Algeria-born French icon was great.

What do you believe is one of boxing’s biggest what if’s? If you have more than one, feel free to rank them! What if Marcel Cerdan had not injured his shoulder (in the opening round) during his middleweight title defense against Jake LaMotta, and what if he won their 1949 showdown? What if he hadn’t died in a plane crash prior to the rematch and had won the return bout? I bring this up because I think the Algeria-born French idol would have been a much-tougher stylistic matchup for Sugar Ray Robinson than the familiar Bronx Bull. I’m not saying the all-time great couldn’t have defeated Cerdan had they clashed at middleweight in 1950 or 1951, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Cerdan defend the title against Ray. What if Cerdan beat Robinson? Would Robinson return to welterweight? Would they fight a two-, three-, four-bout series at middleweight? Would Cerdan become a star in America?

What if… Tyson and Holyfield fought on Nov. 8, 1991? Photo from The Ring archive

What if Mike Tyson was not convicted of rape and sentenced to jail time in early 1992? What if Tyson had been active in 1992, 1993 and 1994? Would he have still lost to Evander Holyfield had they fought in late 1991 (as originally planned) or in 1992? Who else would he have fought during those years? Riddick Bowe? Lennox Lewis? Ray Mercer? Michael Moorer? Tommy Morrison? George Foreman?

Here’s a good one, I think Uatu The Watcher would rank this What If scenario No. 1: What if HBO and Showtime never got involved in bigtime boxing and world-class matchups and title bouts remained on the three major U.S. networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) throughout the 1980s and 1990s? What if the top American talent from the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympic teams (from Holyfield and Pernell Whitaker to Roy Jones Jr. and Riddick Bowe to Oscar De La Hoya) fought exclusively on free TV during their rise to prominence and during their prime championship years? What if Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Michael Nunn were fighting on prime-time network TV during the late 1980s? How mainstream would boxing be by the late 1990s, when Floyd Mayweather Jr., Fernando Vargas, and Shane Mosley join the world-class ranks? How much bigger would major pay-per-view bouts be by the late-90s and 2000s?  

 

FULTON, VALDEZ, VADA, AND THE WBC

Good morning Dougie,

Long time no write. First of thank you again for continuing to post the mailbag whenever possible, it’s the best part of Ring online content.

First, I want to ask you about a potential matchup with Stephen Fulton (provided he gets past Figueroa, which I think I favour him to do) and Akhmadaliev. Fulton and MJA are two of the most underrated fighters in boxing and I think it’d be a great clash. Who do you think wins the upcoming unification and who would win the potential future clash?

Would also like your opinion on the response of the WBC to a positive test from Oscar Valdez? To me, their response makes a complete mockery of their supposed “clean testing program” given that they are supposed to follow VADA guidelines and VADA ban the use of phentermine. I’m sure you’re aware of their reasons to not suspend Valdez and anyone who isn’t can easily find it but their response should make it clear that beneath the air of “professionalism” they (like all sanctioning bodies) are a toxic, insufferable cowboy company who need to be purged. Thoughts?

Really did want to make this a more positive email but it is what it is

MM:

The King vs Fighting Harada @ 115

Thanks again. – Euan, Dunfermline, Scotland

You know I love me some Chocolatito, but vs. Fighting Harada at 115 pounds, I gotta go with the Japanese Great by close decision in an incredible, highly skilled slugfest. At 108 pounds or flyweight, I might give Gonzalez the edge, but at junior bantamweight, where Roman slowed down a bit, the edge belongs to the former bantamweight champ who owns two close nods over the great Eder Jofre. Harada is one of the few fighters that could match Roman’s punch output (with proper technique), and the naturally bigger man (who could comfortably fight at featherweight) probably had the edge in speed, too.

Stephen Fulton is The Ring’s No. 3-rated junior featherweight. Photo by Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

First, I want to ask you about a potential matchup with Stephen Fulton (provided he gets past Figueroa, which I think I favour him to do) and Akhmadaliev. Fulton and MJA are two of the most underrated fighters in boxing and I think it’d be a great clash. I agree. Their potential clash (provided Fulton defeated Figgy) could be for the vacant Ring 122-pound title, and the winner would certainly be worthy of that honor.

Who do you think wins the upcoming unification and who would win the potential future clash? I’m gonna ride with Cool Boy Steph, I think he outpoints both badasses.

Would also like your opinion on the response of the WBC to a positive test from Oscar Valdez? I’m not going to pretend that I’m surprised that a sanctioning body went against its own rules. It happens all the time.

To me, their response makes a complete mockery of their supposed “clean testing program” given that they are supposed to follow VADA guidelines and VADA ban the use of phentermine. VADA is there to test the fighters and let the fighters and their handlers/the promoters and commissions know what is in their system (down to the picogram). VADA is not regulatory body. It’s not a branch of government, not part of the promotion or the sanctioning of world title bouts. It doesn’t hand down punishments or even suggest suspensions. It’s a very stringent testing organization that has a mission to promote effective anti-doping methods and to educate the fighters, the industry and the public on health and safety measures. The WBC isn’t obligated to “act” on VADA’s findings. I know this pisses off fans (all of whom should put some funds where their outraged mouths are and donate to VADA), who then trash the WBC. But they should remember that the WBC is the ONLY sanctioning body that is putting forth any funds toward VADA testing or making any effort to educate boxers on the harm of using PEDs.

I’m sure you’re aware of their reasons to not suspend Valdez and anyone who isn’t can easily find it but their response should make it clear that beneath the air of “professionalism” they (like all sanctioning bodies) are a toxic, insufferable cowboy company who need to be purged. Thoughts? The sanctioning bodies are here to stay. The networks want them, the promoters want them, and the fighters want them. They are part of the business of boxing, so they aren’t going anywhere. Fans who are truly outraged by Valdez’s positive test (and not just throwing social media shade at him because he’s part of Team Reynoso and they’ve got hard-ons for Eddy and Canelo) should protest the Sept. 10 show by boycotting it. They can make their voices heard by not watching the ESPN broadcast. If they subscribe to ESPN+, they should unsubscribe, at least for one month, and they should donate their $7 to VADA if they truly care about proper drug testing in boxing.   

 

DOUG, YOU MAD BASTARD!

Will you pull the finger out and get to writing a mailbag please… There’s a small part of me that feels guilty if I don’t read the mailbag on a Monday or Friday. Get it together! – Ray K.

Well, today won’t be a guilty day for you, Ray. We’ll see how you (and I) feel on Friday.

 

TTT

Dear Mr. Fischer,

Quick question: what happened to Todd the Terminator?

He was a regular contributor to the mailbag when I first started reading, but at some point over the years he stopped writing in.

I always enjoyed his direct, yet typically informed, takes on the weeks action.

Regards. – Matt from Nottingham, UK

Wow. That Mailbag moniker is a blast from the past, Matt. I have no idea what happened to that wild fan. I hope he’s still alive and doing well. Maybe his interest in boxing waned? Maybe he got sick of the Mailbag? Who knows? If he’s still alive and still into boxing, I hope he checks in sometime between now and The Ring’s 100th birthday. Come to think of it, I hope Fleetwood from St. Louis does the same.

 

 

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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