Monday, December 06, 2021  |

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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Shakur Stevenson, Top 5 Ukrainian boxers, regional titles)

Stevenson was too fast, too sharp and too strong for Herring to handle, but can he hang with the lightweight Young Guns? Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank
25
Oct

SHAKUR STEVENSON IS NOT BORING

Dougie,

I’m as close to caught up on my Ring Magazines as I ever get and let me commend you and your team! Outstanding from the covers to content. The Pandemic has allowed for those great Special Issues, and I loved them all. Here’s an idea…what do you think about an issue covering some of the nearly championship level guys. Guys who make the best be even better, but never quite get over.

My take on the Bridgerweight Division is and will always be…unnecessary at best and tax on fighters at worst. However, if it produces fights like last Friday, then how can a diehard fan complain? Do you think that the “title” brought the dog out more or was it just a stylistically pleasing matchup? Do you see this division as anything more than a continental belt as far as a potential steppingstone? Will it last and is Oscar Rivas worthy of a Ring strap because he’s undisputed?

Speaking of stylistically pleasing matches: I did not expect Herring and Stevenson to mesh well. Did they? I’m not sure they did, but I don’t think you could call it boring. I’ve noticed Shakur stepping up his offense more lately and still retaining that incredible defense. I believe his confidence (which was never lacking) has grown with his strength. Seriously, Herring showed some chin to never go jelly legged. Herring is large for the division though, so I’m thinking others will fall under the onslaught. Thoughts? The stoppage was fine in my books. Usually, I hate a championship fight ending like that, but Herring was retreating and didn’t seem to have any answer to slow the young stud down. Frankly, it was hard to give him a round and that’s saying something, because Shakur definitely rested in the 8th or 9th (I can’t recall which). It was complete dominance of a very good fighter.

The questions: How high can Shakur climb with that frame? He still looks huge at 130 and his skills scream competitive all the way to 147. Is 154 or 160 doable?

Next opponent not named Valdez? I can’t see him losing to anybody at 130, Lomachenko would be a very fun match. It might be more chess than some will like, but both men seem able to sit in the pocket (like Sweet Pea!).

Boring? When you dominate like Stevenson did but fail to put a guy out some “fans” might call you boring. To me, he didn’t run, he clearly threw with bad intent and that’s pretty entertaining in my book. Will Stevenson have to lose to be appreciated? I think some fans will be waiting a long time to appreciate him if that’s the case. Good day and keep up the great work! – Scott

I don’t think Stevenson was boring at all vs. Jamel Herring. The fight lacked drama because it was so one-sided, but we can’t blame either fighter for that. Herring tried his best, and even had his moments in Rounds 5 and 8, but Stevenson is just on another level. I scored every round for Stevenson.

I don’t think the new WBO 130-pound titleholder has to lose to be appreciated by most fans (the rational ones). He just needs to seek out the best possible opposition, which he did with Herring, but he was still a 10-1 odds favorite in some places. But eventually he’ll be matched with rivals who are viewed as even money, and if the fights are more competitive, the masses will be satisfied. If he continues to win, most will jump on the bandwagon.

I’m as close to caught up on my Ring Magazines as I ever get and let me commend you and your team! Outstanding from the covers to content. Thank you!

The Pandemic has allowed for those great Special Issues, and I loved them all. Wait until you read the Felix Trinidad Special Issue. TITO! TITO! TITO!

Here’s an idea…what do you think about an issue covering some of the nearly championship level guys. Guys who make the best be even better, but never quite get over. It sounds more like a meaty article than an entire special issue, but who knows? If the magazine continues beyond its 100th birthday and we continue to produce special issues, maybe we’ll get around to this subject. Jerry Quarry, who was unfairly described as a “Great White Hope” during the Herring-Stevenson broadcast, comes to mind, as does a fighter I got to cover during my early days as a boxing writer, Oba Carr.

My take on the Bridgerweight Division is and will always be…unnecessary at best and tax on fighters at worst. To be honest, I’m not really paying attention to it.

However, if it produces fights like last Friday, then how can a diehard fan complain? Good point. Rivas and Rozicki went at it for 12 rounds. Entertainment is all that matters. The cruiserweight division was crapped on for years, but it gradually attracted talented fighters and delivered quality fights and was eventually accepted by hardcore fans (more so in Europe). I’m not thrilled about the WBC’s name for the weight class or the addition of another division, but if Rivas were to defend his green belt against someone like Michael Hunter, who generally fights under the Bridgerweight limit, I would be into that matchup. If Murat Gassiev decided to make that weight and aim for Rivas’ title, I’d be into that matchup. If Ring magazine cruiserweight champ Mairis Briedis were to toss his name and rep into the Bridgerweight hat, I’d watch his campaign with interest.

Do you think that the “title” brought the dog out more or was it just a stylistically pleasing matchup? It was a good matchup of styles, two compact, muscular bulls.

Do you see this division as anything more than a continental belt as far as a potential steppingstone? My guess is that anyone who dominates at the weight class will eventually try to challenge the heavyweight champ. Evander Holyfield put the cruiserweight division on the map for American fans, but he was never going to be satisfied with being the best 190-pound fighter in the world. I don’t think any bigman worth his salt will be satisfied with being the best 220ish-pound fighter in the world.

Will it last and is Oscar Rivas worthy of a Ring strap because he’s undisputed? I have no idea if Bridgerweight will last. I’ll tune into any good matchup in any weight class, but I’m not paying attention or making a big deal about any sanctioning organization’s effort to add new a division. I hadn’t thought about Rivas being “undisputed,” but I guess he is because there is no other Bridgerweight “champ” out there. However, he’s a heavyweight in the eyes of the other sanctioning bodies, as well as The Ring, and it’s debatable if he’s worthy of the No. 9 ranking he currently holds. The Ring Ratings Panel is currently discussing replacing him for a heavyweight more deserving of a Ring ranking.

Speaking of stylistically pleasing matches: I did not expect Herring and Stevenson to mesh well. Did they? I’m not sure they did, but I don’t think you could call it boring. It was not a good style matchup, and I didn’t expect it to be. My only hope was that it would be a competitive or compelling match. It wasn’t competitive but it was compelling due to Stevenson’s excellence and Herring’s grit.

I’ve noticed Shakur stepping up his offense more lately and still retaining that incredible defense. That’s what boxing is: Hitting and not getting hit in return.

I believe his confidence (which was never lacking) has grown with his strength. I’d call him “cocky” or overconfident, but he’s backs his swagger up in the ring, so it’s just a matter of him knowing how good he is. The way he handled Joet Gonzalez made me a believer.

Seriously, Herring showed some chin to never go jelly legged. Herring is large for the division though, so I’m thinking others will fall under the onslaught. Thoughts? Herring is big for the division, but he’s 36. Maybe sweating down to 130 pounds at this stage of his career detracted from his physical strength. Also, he’s not a power hitter or pressure fighter or a volume puncher. Stevenson is a very special talent, but let’s not declare him an unbeatable pound-for-pound player based on dominant wins against just two credible opponents (Gonzalez and Herring).

The questions: How high can Shakur climb with that frame? I think lightweight is given. He’ll likely be stronger and more powerful at 135 pounds, but still retain his speed and reflexes, which makes him a problem for everyone in that division. With his skills, he could definitely compete at 140 pounds, but I think there will be diminishing returns (athletically speaking) as he rises above 135.

He still looks huge at 130 and his skills scream competitive all the way to 147. Is 154 or 160 doable? Welterweight might be doable, but no, I don’t seem him competing with world-class junior middleweights and middleweights one day.

Chris Colbert enjoyed a strong victory after stopping Jaime Arboleda (Photo by Amanda Westcott/Showtime).

Chris Colbert has his hand raised after stopping Jaime Arboleda (Photo by Amanda Westcott/Showtime).

Next opponent not named Valdez? I’ve already put this out there on my Twitter account, but the junior lightweight showdown I want to see is Stevenson vs. Chris Colbert. I think “Prime Time” has the youth, intelligence, athleticism, skills and confidence to compete with Stevenson, plus a healthy dose of Brooklyn grit. I think he’d do a lot better on the inside against Stevenson than Herring did, and I believe that’s the key to beating the New Jersey standout. It won’t happen anytime soon due to boxing politics, but it’s a matchup worth waiting for.

I can’t see him losing to anybody at 130, Lomachenko would be a very fun match. It might be more chess than some will like, but both men seem able to sit in the pocket (like Sweet Pea!). Loma wouldn’t fight Shakur at 130. It would be at 135, where I think Stevenson has some legit challenges in fellow young guns Teofimo Lopez (whose quick-twitch reflexes, counterpunching prowess and power would be very dangerous) and Devin Haney.

 

UKRAINIAN KINGS

Hi Dougie,

What’s your top 5 Ukrainian fighters all-time? – Regards, Steven

  1. Vasiliy Lomachenko
  2. Oleksandr Usyk
  3. Wladimir Klitschko
  4. Vitali Klitschko
  5. Louis “Kid” Kaplan (You’re probably not familiar with this guy, but he was born in Kiev in 1901, moved to Connecticut when he was kid, found boxing, turned pro in his teens, and won the featherweight title in 1925. Kaplan was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame posthumously in 2003. He notched 109 wins during his 15-year pro career, including victories over fellow hall of famers Billy Petrolle, Battling Battalino and Sammy Mandell.)

 

REGIONAL BELTS

Hey Dougie, hope you are doing well!

I had a general question about the importance and prestige of regional titles. I never really understood why the regional titles, such as the NABO or NABF titles, are not really valued among fans or even some boxing media. I am a huge fan of Asian boxing, and it seems like they hold regional belts like the OPBF title or the JBC title in fairly high regard. Even in Europe, the British and Commonwealth titles seem to have a lot of hype around them. In the US at least, fans seem to not care about the regional titles that signifies a boxer is the best in North America. Do these titles deserve the amount of devaluation among fans, or is it misguided underrating? I’m sure in an age of belts among belts, the discussion of the value of minor titles may be laughed upon, but I figure for boxers who may not have that top tier promotion behind them, these smaller belts provide them a good steppingstone towards bigger and better fights.

Mythical Match-Ups:
David Tua vs Andy Ruiz

Terence Crawford vs Zab Judah at 147

Maidana vs Hatton at 147

David Haye vs Oleksander Usyk at Cruiserweight

Thanks. – Carter

I’ll go with Tua by UD (in a great fight), Crawford by close UD or MD, Maidana by UD (in a fun, bloody scrap) and Usyk by late stoppage. 

Ken Norton won the NABF heavyweight title by upsetting Muhammad Ali in San Diego in March 1973. (Photo: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)

I never really understood why the regional titles, such as the NABO or NABF titles, are not really valued among fans or even some boxing media. They used to be valued a lot more. Hardcore boxing fans knew when a fighter won the NABF, USBA or NABO belt they were either close to being world class or already at that level, and a shot at a world title was coming soon. The American/Americas regional titles were often featured on TV in the 1970s and ’80s and the most talented and popular fighters held those belts either on their way to the world title or in-between championship reigns. Muhammad Ali probably popularized the NABF title during his campaign to regain the heavyweight crown after losing his comeback bid to unseat Joe Frazier in 1971. Ali won the NABF title by beating stablemate and hometown pal Jimmy Ellis (in his first bout after the Frazier loss) and defended it against Buster Mathis, George Chuvalo, Jerry Quarry (rematch), Floyd Patterson (rematch) and Bob Foster. He lost and regained it vs. Ken Norton in 1973 and defended it against Frazier in their 1974 rematch. That’s a lot of exposure for the NABF. Sugar Ray Leonard won the NABF welterweight title against Pete Ranzany and defended it against Andy Price in the two fights prior to his title shot against Wilfred Benitez (all three in 1979). Donald Curry won the NABF welterweight title by beating Bruce Finch and unified it with the USBA belt with a split nod over Marlon Starling (both bouts in 1982). Curry and Starling would meet again in a world title bout less than two years later. Juan Manuel Marquez had a lengthy reign as NABO featherweight titleholder (in part because the WBO champ, Naseem Hamed, wasn’t in a hurry to defend against him) during the late ’90s. He won the NABF/USBA titles by making poor Robbie Peden puke his guts out in 2002 before he finally got a second shot at a featherweight world title. Back in the ’90s, I had a boxing trainer named Kevin Morgan who proudly told anyone who would listen than he once held the USBA welterweight title (which Starling took from him via first-round KO). I think these days there’s less prestige with the North American/regional titles because there are just too many damn belts, but also because the world-class or potential world-level talent is more spread out around the world than it used to be in the glamor divisions. So, winning an NABF these days doesn’t automatically mean that the holder is ready for a world title.

OPBF welterweight title action with Riku Nagahama and Kudura Kaneko (right) from last February in Tokyo. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

I am a huge fan of Asian boxing, and it seems like they hold regional belts like the OPBF title or the JBC title in fairly high regard. They’ve got a very structured system in Japan, where the winners of the national title soon fight for the OPBF and the winners of the OPBF belt are soon (if not immediately) rated with the world sanctioning bodies (especially the WBC, which the OPBF helped to form back in the early 1960s).

Even in Europe, the British and Commonwealth titles seem to have a lot of hype around them. Again, there’s a better boxing infrastructure in the UK and other parts of Europe than what we currently have here in the U.S.

In the US at least, fans seem to not care about the regional titles that signifies a boxer is the best in North America. American fans have been inundated with too many belts for too long. The titles have lost their meaning to the casual fans.

Do these titles deserve the amount of devaluation among fans, or is it misguided underrating? I think the rankings of the U.S. and North American titles have been watered down in recent decades, so I wouldn’t say their devaluation is misguided. If the fighters who hold those belts don’t go out and kick ass and entertain and impress fans the way Ali, Leonard, Curry and Marquez did in previous decades, why should fans pay attention to them?

I’m sure in an age of belts among belts, the discussion of the value of minor titles may be laughed upon, but I figure for boxers who may not have that top tier promotion behind them, these smaller belts provide them a good steppingstone towards bigger and better fights. Hey, the belts matter to fighters, managers, promoters, and most importantly, the networks. So, they’ve got value, just not so much with the fans.

 

BAM RODRIGUEZ

Hi Doug,

Everyone’s discussing Mikey Garcia loss last weekend. I must say I was highly impressed with Jesse “Bam Bam” Rodriguez. At just 21 great fundamentals. As a smaller fighter he won’t get the attention he deserves. Do you see him as a future star or becoming a p4p type talent? – RM

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez nails Janiel Rivera. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

I don’t know if Rodriguez (just one “Bam” by the way) is destined to be a star or a pound-for-pound player, but I think he’s a future world titleholder with the potential to be a unified champ at junior flyweight and flyweight. He’s already The Ring’s No. 5-rated junior flyweight (and he’ll likely move up a notch or two this week). There’s a reason Bam was signed to Teiken (promotional) and Robert Garcia (managerial) when he was just 17 years old. The southpaw from San Antonio has a very bright future.

 

 

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.