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Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Fury-Wilder 3, the heavyweights, boxing’s levels)

Photos by Scott Kirkland/ Fox Sports
08
Oct

RINGTV’S FURY-WILDER 3 PREDICTIONS

Dear Doug,

As always best wishes to you and your family. Pleased to report that I am recovering very rapidly from heart surgery last week!

I noted with interest your experts’ 19-1 prediction of Fury over Wilder. I share that expectation. But the last two times you called for similar predictions, Valdez-Berchelt and Usyk-Joshua, you had similar margins in favor of the eventual loser.



Does this suggest that I should be betting on Wilder?

Best. – Leslie Gerber, Woodstock, NY

Hey, it wouldn’t hurt to put a C-note or two on the Bronze Bomber. He’s had time to heal physically and emotionally, I’m sure he’s put quality work in with new head trainer Malik Scott, who’s got a very sharp boxing mind, and his back is against the wall – it’s do or die tomorrow night. So, maybe he gets it done.

The RingTV Fight Picks are not “my” picks, it’s an assembly of boxing heads compiled by intrepid writer-reporter Anson Wainwright. I don’t always agree with the majority, and as you’ve pointed out, sometimes the majority is wrong. I should point out that Jolene Mizzone, underrated matchmaker for Main Events, is seldom wrong (especially when she’s part of the RingTV Fight Picks). So, if you got a “feeling” about Wilder landing the sure shot, like 75% of my Twitter TL it seems, or if you think Anson’s Fight Picks are a jinx for the overwhelming favorite, maybe you should put more than a few C-notes on Wilder.

But as much as I respect Jolene’s opinion, I’m going with the majority, which means I think Wilder has a “puncher’s chance,” but I realize all that means is that he’s got to get lucky or Fury has to do something really stupid, and Tyson is a lot of things, but he is not stupid. An Old Timer once told me: “Smart wins fights.” The “underdogs” in the Berchelt-Valdez and Joshua-Usyk matchups were the smart fighters, the superior boxers. Keep that in mind.  

I favor Fury by late stoppage or decision. Hopefully, we get a good fight.   

 

WHAT IF?

Hello Dougie,

Thanks for all your work at Ring Magazine and for the occasional mailbag which has become even more enjoyable to read. It is totally understandable that you can’t put one out every Monday and Friday if there aren’t any decent emails for you to respond to, and if there’s no decent boxing going on.

I am not a big fan of Wilder, even though I’m American, and I am a big fan of Tyson Fury. I think Fury’s personality is great for boxing. I also think Fury is a much, much better boxer than Wilder, as do most boxing fans. I did not want to see this third fight between them. I would rather have seen them fight other top heavyweights instead of each other again.

However, what if Wilder KOs Fury this time around? I know experts are overwhelmingly picking Fury to win, perhaps even by KO again. But lately the expert picks have been all wrong. I watched a little of the last press conference between Wilder and Fury, and to me, Wilder seemed much more confident and sure of himself than Fury did. This may just have been Fury working hard to promote the fight, but Wilder seemed very chill and confident. So it made me wonder if Wilder just might have a chance. And if he does KO Fury, should there be a 4th fight? I didn’t want the 3rd one, but if Wilder wins it by KO, then a 4th fight becomes very interesting.

What are your thoughts? Thanks again, and hope all is well with you and your family. – Karl

Thanks for the kind words and well wishes, Karl.

I ended my response to the previous email, saying I hope we get a good fight on Saturday. Allow me to amend that to “a good fight, but not so good that it merits a fourth bout.” I don’t care who wins or how good, dramatic, or controversial the fight might be, I DO NOT WANT a fourth bout between Fury and Wilder. I’m tired of the matchup, I’m bored with the excuses/conspiracy theories/s__talk between the fighters, and most of all, I’m sick of the hardcore fans bases of BOTH heavyweights. So far, the action Fury-Wilder matchup has produced in the ring has not been good enough to make up for the endless bulls__t between their bouts. Even if they put on a classic in Bout No. 3, I’ll pass on Bout No. 4. I want the winner of Fury-Wilder 3 to face Oleksandr Usyk (or the winner of Usyk-Joshua II). The loser can face the winner of Whyte-Wallin for the right to face the winner of the undisputed championship. And all the rest of players in the heavyweight division – from Joe Joyce to Andy Ruiz Jr. to Michael Hunter and Joseph Parker – need to fight each other. Period. I want new matchups. I’m sick of contractual rematches stagnating the so-called glamor division. There needs to be time limits on those or clauses that allow for interim bouts to be made if an immediate rematch isn’t possible right away.

 

WHO’S JOSHUA BEAT?

Mr. Dougie,

There’s been a lot of talk recently about AJ not possessing the ring resume that we’ve been told that he has. Please set the record straight and talk about all the top boxers that AJ has beaten. Okay, so a pre-PED Whyte is supposed to be impressive, but he lost to a soon-to-be retired Povetkin. Who else that wasn’t 40 and soon-to-be-retired?

Best – Wimpston Churchfill

Hey man, what can I tell you? Heavyweights mature a lot slower than the lighter-weight classes, so there’s going to be a lot more legit contenders in their mid-to-late 30s than in other divisions. Case in point, Deontay Wilder is 35. Oleksandr Usyk will be 35 in January. Tyson Fury is relatively “young” at 33.

Joshua (left) and Parker weigh in. Photo by Lawrence Lustig/ Matchroom Boxing

The only Ring-rated heavyweight under 30, is Joseph Parker, who is 29. Joshua faced and beat Parker when the New Zealander was undefeated (24-0), No. 3 in The Ring’s rankings, and 26 years old (I think). Andy Ruiz was 29 and 30 when Joshua faced him in back-to-back bouts in 2019. Yeah, the late-sub was unrated when he upset AJ in the British star’s U.S. debut, but he was No. 3 entering their rematch. Povetkin was also No. 3 at the time he challenged Joshua (in 2018). AJ faced five other heavyweights who were Ring-rated at the time, including Usyk, and one who would be highly rated later, Whyte.

 

THE LEVELS IN BOXING

Hi Dougie:

I listened to you on The Last Round (podcast) and you said someone was a country-level fighter or something like that. You used it a couple times. You also said someone moved back down to a “project” category.

I’ve heard you make arguments on someone being a Hall-of-Famer vs. an All-Time Great.

Can you give a definition of your levels of a boxer that you have in your head and put them in order (e.g. a prospect is above a project) and give some examples of fighters you’d assign to those categories?

Please add whatever I’m missing, but I remember seeing or hearing from you: country level or country fighter, project, prospect, gatekeeper, HOF, ATG, contender, journeyman, club fighter, belt-holder/champion (different levels here?).

Thanks! – MrBenJen

Thanks for listening to that podcast, MBJ. I think the term I used was “domestic level,” which means the fighter is among the best of his or her country and not (yet) world class.

The levels, as I see them, from the bottom to the top in boxing, go like this:

Club fighters, who are basically extreme hobbyists. They’re four- and six-round level part-time fighters who turn pro for a few years for the thrill of it. It’s not a career.  

Blair Cobbs nails Steve Villalobos with right hand during their thrilling slugfest. Photo by Tom Hogan

Then we’ve got Projects. Sometimes a club-level fighter can have potential. Maybe he or she had a solid amateur background, but not enough or good enough to get the backing of a major manager or promoter right out the gate. However, they’re young, dedicated, entertaining, etc., and show enough promise in their early pro career to get a manager or promoter to take them on and try to develop them as a “project.” An example is Blair Cobbs, the still-developing but entertaining welterweight personality who caught the eye of Golden Boy promotions after he upset a couple undefeated fighters on their club series a few years ago. In his last bout, “The Flair” stopped savvy veteran Brad Solomon, who was a step up from the likes of Ferninand Kerobyan, Robert Redmond and Estevan Villalobos.

Journeymen are a mix of experienced club fighters (no-hopers who didn’t know when to quit and have become professional “opponents” that pad records) and the projects who don’t advance to any reputable rankings but are competent enough to go rounds with rated (or soon-to-be-rated) fighters. However, they seldom win.

Spoilers are journeymen who are competent and crafty enough to win a fight they were supposed to lose every now and then.

Gatekeepers are a step above spoilers because they make a habit of beating the odds/media favorites and are often sought out by promoters or networks to “test” young up-and-comers or see of an aging veteran still has “it.” Sometimes they’re just tough cookies with underrated craft like my all-time favorites Darnell Boone and Jesus Soto-Karass. Or they are aging former contenders/title challengers who still have the drive to mix it up with the best, like Dereck Chisora is currently doing in the heavyweight division.

Prospects are young fighters that most fans and insiders recognize as future contenders, if not world titleholders. They either have impressive amateur credentials or uncommon talent (or both). They’ve got backing from the get-go. If they’re legit prospects and not just hype, they get past the gatekeepers in impressive fashion.

Conor Benn. Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing

Domestic-level fighters are either young up-and-comers who have advanced past prospect status to be ranked among the best of their nations, or they are fading former standouts who are no longer world-class. For example, Adrien Broner is not among Ring Magazine’s junior welterweight or welterweight top 10, but he might be a top-10 U.S. welterweight or 140 pounder. Conor Benn is not in Ring’s welterweight rankings, but he’s among the top 10 UK welters (arguably the top five).   

Fringe contenders are just outside legitimate world rankings. They don’t make Ring Magazine’s, ESPN.com’s or TBRB’s top 10, but they’re probably somewhere between 11-15, and they often hold continental titles like the European championship or the NABF/NABO/NABA belts. An example is David Avanesyan, the European champ who probably one win away from cracking Ring’s rankings.

Contenders are world-class fighters, legitimately among the top 10 of their weight class, which in the view of Ring Magazine includes world titleholders.

Junior welterweight champ Josh Taylor holds every recognized belt at 140 pounds. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank via Getty Images

Champions. Ring champs = real champs in my view. Sometimes a unified titleholder who is denied a shot at the Ring or lineal champ can be viewed by the public as the real champ (or “a” real champ). This was the case with GGG from 2015-2017. It might become the case with Usyk if he beats Joshua again and the winner of Fury-Wilder 3 does not face him in a timely fashion.  

Elite fighters are the best of the best, the ultra-talents and super-accomplished boxers who are in everybody’s mythical pound-for-pound rankings, the Canelos, Usyks, Inoues, Crawfords and Taylors of the boxing world.

I’ve heard you make arguments on someone being a Hall-of-Famer vs. an All-Time Great. Hall of famers are badasses like Carlos Palomino, who upset WBC welterweight champ John Stracey as an unrated fighter (in England) in 1976 and made seven defenses over the next two years, including Ring-rated contenders Armando Muniz (twice in classic 15-round confrontations), Davey “Boy” Green, Everaldo Azevedo and Jose Palacios. All-time greats are once-in-a-lifetime talents like Wilfred Benitez, who outpointed Palomino to win his second world title in a second weight class at the age of 20 in January 1979, and Roberto Duran, the former lightweight king who outclassed Palomino over 10 rounds five months later.

 

 

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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