Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Is ‘The Feel’ P4P No. 1? More Usyk-AJ feedback, Usyk vs. the 1990s heavyweights)
I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk, and I just wanted to put in a word for his standing in the Ring Ratings —
He turns pro late in 2013 after 350 amateur fights. In 2015 he takes the WBO title off then undefeated Krzystof Glowacki, in Poland. Comes stateside, TKO’s Thabisco Mchunu, and hands Michael Hunter his only defeat. Proceeds to Germany and TKO’s Marco Huck in Berlin. Heads over to Latvia next beats Mairis Briedis in his hometown of Riga, picking up the WBC title. Carries directly on to Russia and comprehensively beats Murat Gassiev in Moscow, acquiring the rest of the Cruiserweight belts + The Ring Title. TKO’s Tony Bellew, in London, on his way out of a five-year run at Cruiserweight. Moves to heavyweight; things stall a little with injuries and Covid but, three years on — eight years and one week from turning pro — he’s the unified Heavyweight champ, having once again won it in his opponent’s hometown.
I’m thinking, right now: that’s the best claim for P4P #1 there is out there. It’s at least equal to Canelo, but really the competition has been consistently stronger and with no controversy re: doping, nor arguable decisions. Inoue has a very strong claim, but his competition has not been quite at that level consistently yet either. Crawford and Josh Taylor could both make strong claims if they went on to beat significant competition at Welterweight — but they haven’t yet. That leaves Usyk at the top of the pile. I don’t think he can beat Fury, but who knows, Wilder might — and I think Usyk beats Wilder 10 times out of 10 times.
I also want to add, Anthony Joshua is a brave man, a class act, and a hell of a boxer, and he can come again. People disrespecting him are showing their lack of class. Just my thoughts of the evening. I hope the mailbag makes it through! Cheers. – Alec
You made it, Alec. Thanks for sharing.
No doubt anyone disrespecting Joshua is a cretin. It’s OK to criticize his tactics vs. Usyk, or even to doubt his future, but to put him down for dropping a decision to a boxer as talented, skilled and battle tested as Usyk just shows a gross level of ignorance and clownishness. Be sure to tell the Joshua haters that I said they suck.
In case you missed it, check out this week’s Ring Ratings Update, which chronicles the Ratings Panel debate on Usyk’s pound-for-pound placement. Panelist Michael Montero made the same case you did for the new unified heavyweight titleholder to unseat Canelo atop the mythical rankings, but while his fellow panelists agreed with most (if not all) of his points, the majority still believe the four-division champ from Guadalajara deserves to be No. 1.
Personally, I’m fine with Canelo, Usyk and Inoue being Nos. 1-3, and I’d be perfectly cool with an Usyk, Canelo and Inoue, or an Inoue, Canelo and Usyk, or an Inoue, Usyk and Canelo combination.
I don’t think any of them has a clear edge over the other in terms of pound-for-pound level accomplishments. Inoue’s rise from junior flyweight phenom to bantamweight king is just as impressive as Usyk’s cruiserweight and heavyweight runs to my eyes. Inoue beat his first Ring-rated contender (Ryoichi Taguchi) in his fourth pro bout. (Taguchi went on to a lengthy WBA title reign that ended with unified WBA/IBF belts plus The Ring championship.) Inoue won his first world title (at 108 pounds) in his sixth pro bout, he leapfrogged flyweight, and won his second world title at 115 pounds, blasting out Omar Narvaez in two rounds to assume Ring’s No. 1 rating at junior bantamweight. Narvaez had never been stopped in 46 pro bouts and had only lost to a prime Nonito Donaire before meeting The Monster. In less than 21 pro bouts, Inoue won a third title in a third weight class, unified WBA/IBF bantamweight belts, plus the Ring championship, and won the World Boxing Super Series tournament with Ring’s 2019 Fight of the Year against Donaire, a future first-ballot hall of famer, who remains Ring’s No. 1 in the division.
Hardcore fans love to piss on Canelo almost as much as the diehards of the late 1990s/early 2000s used to hate on Oscar De La Hoya, but Ginger King is a four-division titleholder, who’s held Ring championships in three weight classes (154, 160 and 168). Since losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr., he’s faced the No. 1-rated junior middleweight (Lara), won the Ring/WBC/lineal middleweight title (vs. Cotto), and his two-bout series with unified titleholder Gennadiy Golovkin, who was No. 1 in Ring’s P4P rankings at the time, is the most entertaining, hotly contested and highest-level 24 rounds between elite middleweights since James Toney and Mike McCallum battled in 1991 and 1992. Since 2019, Canelo has defeated consensus (Ring/ESPN/TBRB) top-five fighters at middleweight (Jacobs), light heavyweight (Kovalev) and super middleweight (Smith and Saunders). He joined Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and McCallum as the only former 154-pound champs to unseat a light heavyweight titleholder when he knocked out Kovalev. That’s legendary company and no active middleweight/super middleweight is doing it like Canelo, who is on his way to becoming the first undisputed 168-pound champ in the three- or four-belt eras.
Box a fighter and fight a boxer is the old adage.
The problem for Joshua is that he is neither a boxer nor a fighter. He is big and strong and that has been enough to take him so far, but I have always felt that he is was an average champion in an average age of heavyweights. Strip him down to any other weight division where boxing skills are more necessary, and he would never be world champion. Yours. – Neil
I think you can say that of any of the so-called elite heavyweights, with the exception being Oleksandr Usyk.
I wouldn’t say that Joshua is neither a boxer nor a fighter just because he tried to outbox Usyk and didn’t measure up. I view AJ as a boxer-puncher/technician. One of his biggest strengths, which is being a thinker, bit him in the ass vs. Usyk. He’s like a coffeehouse checkers champ vs. chess grandmaster when it comes to matching skill and wits with Usyk.
A little less thinking and little more aggression (with a focused body attack) can go a long way in the rematch.
ALL HAIL THE NEW HEAVYWEIGHT KING
Hope you the family and team are keeping safe and well.
All hail the new heavyweight king Oleksandr Usyk.
There’s been a lot of debate about what went wrong for AJ, but I think we need to acknowledge and admire what Olexsandr Usyk got right. To pull off a punch perfect performance, at that pace, keeping the concentration while in there with a stronger much heavier man who could potentially close the show at any point. He also handled pressure and the event brilliantly.
What next. So, as I understand it Usyk is contractually obliged to give AJ an immediate rematch. However, in an IFL interview last week Frank Warren stated he expected the WBO to order a defence against the new number 1 Joe Joyce. So will we have a situation where AJ and Usyk could be fighting without a belt?
Where do we now put Usyk in the heavyweight rankings. IMHO definitely above AJ and Wilder. Now if we compare resumes, it could be argued in AJ he’s beaten a heavyweight with a much deeper resume than Furry?
If Usyk can win a rematch I’d love to see him face the Fury/Wilder winner. How do you think he’d get on with either of them?
Where do we now put Usyk in the P4P rankings? To do what he’s done up at the heavier weight classes deserves maximum respect. Although I love Canelo, I’d say there a strong argument for the top spot. Thoughts?
So, to AJ. I can’t believe he tried to box the boxer. He seemed to struggle to figure Usyk out which led to hesitation and being gun shy with the right hand. Also listening to the AJ’s corner mid fight, they didn’t seem to give him a sense of urgency or recognise the plan wasn’t working. Questions of Rob McCracken have been raised. Also, AJ didn’t seem to recognise trying to box was the wrong thing to do based on the post-fight press conference. Considering Derek Chisora is now in his team I’d say he needs to look at how Derek fought and see what he could adapt.
Do you think AJ can pull off a win in the rematch?
Should he take an immediate rematch? Maybe let the Usyk/Joyce fight happen, have an interim fight yourself and then get it back in with Usyk?
Maximum credit to AJ for taking the fight in the first place. I’d love to see the rematch, AJ/Wilder and AJ/Fury fights. Hope these fights get made. What would Wilder and Fury have learnt from the AJ loss, and should they take any confidence in it? IMHP I still feel AJ should beat Wilder and Fruy. They are different styles which suit AJ better I believe.
Regarding the undercard Okolie stopped a mismatched opponent. Do you think he’s ready to step up to Briedis or Makabu? I appreciate his physical attributes, but as AJ demonstrated they won’t always help against a smarter and quicker small opponent.
Smith’s stoppage of Castillo was chilling to watch. Glad to hear Castillo is well and safe. Who would you put him in with next at 175? Buatsi, Arthur or Yard could be good domestic matchups?
What was the ref for Campbell-Hatton fight watching? Was good to see stadium events in the U.K. again. Did you manage to make it over? Keep up the good work. – Tabraze, London, U.K.
Thanks, Tabraze. I watched the event on my living room TV via DAZN. Props to Sir Eddie and his mighty Matchroom armada, they did 70,000 in Texas with Canelo-Saunders and nearly 70,000 in London with Joshua-Usyk this year. Stadium events remind the general public that every now and then boxing can be a major professional sport attraction.
Marcus MCDonnell only had eyes for Campbell.
There’s been a lot of debate about what went wrong for AJ, but I think we need to acknowledge and admire what Oleksandr Usyk got right. Usyk got everything right. That was the Boxing Clinic of the Year, so far (or as you Brits would say “Masterclass of the Year.”)
To pull off a punch perfect performance, at that pace, keeping the concentration while in there with a stronger much heavier man who could potentially close the show at any point. He also handled pressure and the event brilliantly. That was not a huge surprise. The pleasant surprise was that the three official judges handled the pressure and event professionally.
In an IFL interview last week Frank Warren stated he expected the WBO to order a defence against the new number 1 Joe Joyce. So, will we have a situation where AJ and Usyk could be fighting without a belt? Maybe. So what if the WBO belt wasn’t on the line in Usyk-Joshua II. Would that make the fight any less of an event or any less significant to the majority of the sporting public? I don’t think so.
Where do we now put Usyk in the heavyweight rankings. IMHO definitely above AJ and Wilder. Ring Magazine has him at No. 1, under only Ring champ Tyson Fury.
Now if we compare resumes, it could be argued in AJ he’s beaten a heavyweight with a much deeper resume than Furry? It can certainly be argued that Joshua has a stronger resume than Fury, but that doesn’t mean that he’s more accomplished than the Gypsy King, who has won the big ones when he’s needed to.
If Usyk can win a rematch I’d love to see him face the Fury/Wilder winner. How do you think he’d get on with either of them? I think Fury would maul him to a points win and I believe he’d take Wilder to school for 12 rounds.
Where do we now put Usyk in the P4P rankings? Ring Magazine has him at No. 2.
To do what he’s done up at the heavier weight classes deserves maximum respect. Although I love Canelo, I’d say there a strong argument for the top spot. Thoughts? There’s definitely an argument to made on Usyk’s behalf, but Canelo’s got one of the deepest resumes among active boxers and he’s looked like a P4P Boss in recent bouts.
Do you think AJ can pull off a win in the rematch? Yes, I do. I know I’m the minority with this opinion (but if he does it, everyone will claim to have known that AJ could do it).
Should he take an immediate rematch? Maybe let the Usyk/Joyce fight happen, have an interim fight yourself and then get it back in with Usyk? Joshua doesn’t f__k with interim fights. I admire that.
Maximum credit to AJ for taking the fight in the first place. Yes Sir!
I’d love to see the rematch, AJ/Wilder and AJ/Fury fights. We all would, regardless of what happens in the Usyk rematch.
What would Wilder and Fury have learnt from the AJ loss, and should they take any confidence in it? Not really, not unless they believe they can perfectly emulate Usyk, and I don’t see why they would try to fight like a 6-foot-3 southpaw stick-and-mover.
IMHP I still feel AJ should beat Wilder and Fruy. They are different styles which suit AJ better I believe. You might be right about that, but they gotta fight the fights.
Regarding the undercard, Okolie stopped a mismatched opponent. That’s an understatement.
Do you think he’s ready to step up to Briedis or Makabu? Yes, I do.
I appreciate his physical attributes, but as AJ demonstrated they won’t always help against a smarter and quicker small opponent. True, and Okolie would probably deserve to be a slight underdog in those bouts, but we won’t know if he can impose his style and stature upon the battle-tested veterans until they share the ring.
Smith’s stoppage of Castillo was chilling to watch. Glad to hear Castillo is well and safe. Indeed. I’m thinking light heavyweight is a lot healthier for Callum than super middleweight. (Not so healthy for his opponents.)
Who would you put him in with next at 175? Buatsi, Arthur or Yard could be good domestic matchups? Yes, but if I were managing him, I’d see where the sanctioning bodies rank him at 175 and I’d aim for Joe Smith Jr. if the WBO placed him high enough. I’d only face Buatsi or Arthur if a victory would guarantee a shot at Artur Beterbiev.
I enjoyed the fight last night but found Joshua’s tactics strange. I like the old cliche that you box a puncher & punch a boxer. With that in mind it didn’t make sense to me that AJ seemed determined to prove that he could match Usyk in a skill contest. He should have fought to his strengths more & used his physical advantages – although I know that is easier said than done. Looking ahead to the inevitable rematch I don’t like AJ’s chances. Not only was he outboxed but he was nearly stopped late & more worryingly wobbled early. What chance do you give AJ of avenging this defeat? Do you think AJ will let his hands go more in the rematch – more combinations, uppercuts, left hooks, etc., even if it leaves him open to counters? I hope so. Thanks. – Darryl, Sheffield, England
I hope so, too, Darryl, it will make for a more dramatic fight and give AJ his best shot at beating Usyk.
I don’t think we’re going to see Joshua try to imitate Joe Frazier or Mike Tyson with mad pressure and power-combo bad intentions. But maybe we’ll see his version of George Foreman (young or old) where he’s committed to his jab and calmly cutting the ring off, and only lets the power shots go when he’s in range.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ‘THE FEEL’?
Hope things are well!
Firstly, I’m sure you will be getting a bunch of these regarding the fight this weekend with Joshua and Usyk. However here are some thoughts, Usyk’s performance was phenomenal. What shocked me was how he was able to take Joshua’s punches, his skill and movement were not a surprise but being able to sit almost in the pocket all night then outbox and ultimately out muscle Joshua was kinda weird to see. I can see Joshua winning a rematch, but I do think we have found his level now. What do you see happening next? Does Usyk want to hang around for years to come? Or does he take his foot off the gas and retire after a few fights? What’s your take on the immediate rematch? I think Joshua obviously is the underdog, but he now knows what not to do. Maybe that gives him more of edge now?
Also wanted to know if you can tell me what’s happening with Gonzalez, is there an Estrada rematch happening? Aside from those guys anything coming up that I should keep my eye out for? Absolutely loved Berchelt vs Valdez earlier in the year and only caught onto it from the mailbags so wondering if anything is on the radar?
I do really enjoy watching Canelo but I’ve kinda had my fill of watching him take on people who aren’t quite at his level. Who’s out there for him beyond Plant? We looking at Benavidez? I’d like to see it but not quite what I’m after. Guess you can’t have it all! Cheers. – Seth
Yeah, we’re looking at Canelo vs. David Benavidez if the P4P King becomes undisputed super middleweight champ by beating Plant, but let’s give Caleb some respect and see what he can do on Nov. 6. I don’t think he’s just going to hand that IBF belt over to Canelo, but let’s see what happens. They gotta fight the fights.
If Canelo beats Plant, beyond Benavidez (which I think would make for a thriller), there’s the winner of Golovkin-Murata if he’s willing to step up to super middleweight (and I think both are), Jermall Charlo (at 168), and Dmitry Bivol (at 168 or 175).
Does Usyk want to hang around for years to come? Or does he take his foot off the gas and retire after a few fights? I don’t see him sticking around for too long because I think he can accomplish all that can be accomplished with just a few fights – the rematch with Joshua and a showdown for undisputed supremacy vs. the Fury-Wilder winner. If were to win those fights, I think we’d see a rematch with the Fury-Wilder winner, maybe a defense of the undisputed crown vs. Joe Joyce, and then he’d retire and wait for his inevitable first-ballot IBHOF induction.
What’s your take on the immediate rematch? It’s Usyk’s fight to lose but I won’t count out Joshua.
I think Joshua obviously is the underdog, but he now knows what not to do. Maybe that gives him more of edge now? I don’t know about that giving him an “edge,” but it will definitely motivate him throughout his preparation and hopefully lead to different tactics on fight night.
Also wanted to know if you can tell me what’s happening with Gonzalez, is there an Estrada rematch happening? Yeah, word is that the King contracted COVID-19, so he’s gotta recover and restart his camp, which would push that Bout No. 3 (a rubbermatch I’m looking forward to FAR MORE than Fury-Wilder 3) to November or December.
Aside from those guys anything coming up that I should keep my eye out for? I’m sure you’re aware of Crawford-Porter going down on Nov. 20, but you may not know about Navarrete-Gonzalez (WBO featherweight title bout, Oct. 15, on ESPN+), Bermudez-Rodriguez (junior flyweights, Oct. 16, DAZN), Munguia-Rosado (Middleweights, Nov. 13, DAZN) and Fulton-Figueroa (WBO/WBC junior featherweight unification, Nov. 27, Showtime).
USYK VS. THE HEAVYWEIGHTS OF THE NINETIES
I hope you are well.
I set my alarm for 7am (very rare on a Sunday morning for me) to watch the Usyk-Joshua fight. Being tired I almost hit the snooze button and went back to sleep, but I am very glad I didn’t!
I was very impressed with how Usyk not only out boxed AJ, but backed him up and hurt him. For those questioning why Joshua didn’t walk him down and impose his size, I think the answer is he felt the power of those left hands very early. Not bad from a man who supposedly couldn’t punch.
Just when Joshua looked to be getting back into the fight, Usyk took over again and then battered him down the stretch. I saw a few people claiming the 12th was cut short by about 5 seconds, possibly saving AJ from a TKO. Did you notice this?
Usyk is one of those rare fighters that would have excelled in the 15 round days. His work rate and conditioning were next level. I think he beats any heavyweight other than Fury, who is probably too big. I’d love to see him slap the s%&t out of Wilder.
As for Joshua, I think it’s obvious now what he is. A good fighter, marketable and well promoted. But nothing more. Getting beat up in his hometown by a cruiserweight, will be difficult to come back from. His body language after the fight made me wonder if his heart is still in this wonderful yet brutal sport.
Finally had Usyk had come along in the 90s, how would he fare against:
Thanks mate. – Regards, Will
I think Joshua still has many years and many big fights to take part in even if turns out that Usyk has his number. I’d still want to see Joshua vs. Fury, Wilder, Joyce, Whyte (rematch) and Dubois (when Double D is seasoned enough), and I don’t think I’m alone in that opinion, all of those bouts are stadium fights in the UK.
How would Usyk fare vs. the best heavyweights of the 1990s? Good question. Despite the size of the average modern heavyweight, I think Usyk would have a much tougher time with the smaller ’90s bunch.
Holyfield – Real Deal (205-210-pound early ’90s version) by close, maybe majority decision (tremendous fight fought at a middleweight pace throughout)
Lewis – Lennox by close decision in a tactical battle decided by a mid-rounds knockdown (or two).
Bowe – Usyk by close, maybe majority decision in a frustrating night for the Big Daddy, who comes close to being DQ’d when lands low blows and hits after the bell during the late rounds
Moorer – Usyk by close UD in a hotly contested battle of smart, quick-fisted southpaws… the Ukrainian’s footwork and lateral movement is the difference
Mercer – Usyk survives some wobbly moments late in the fight to score a competitive but clear-cut UD
Tyson – It might be a different story with the Kevin Rooney-trained mid-to-1988 version of Iron Mike, but I think Usyk would’ve been all wrong for the ’90s version; “The Feel” by UD
Foreman – Usyk by UD. (Don’t get mad at me… if Tommy Morrison can do it, you know damn well Usyk can)
Ibeabuchi – Usyk would have to be more on-point vs. Ike than he was for Joshua, but I think he would be and he’d improve on Chris Byrd’s performance just by being more mobile (and staying off the ropes); Uysk by close UD, maybe MD.
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.
GET THE LATEST ISSUE AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE)