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Dougie’s Monday Mailbag (Devin Haney and the lightweights, Inoue-Donaire 2)

Devin Haney celebrates after defeating George Kambosos Jr. for the undisputed lightweight championship. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
06
Jun

THE NEW UNDISPUTED LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMP

G’day Doug,

Not a particularly entertaining fight, but Devin Haney did better than I expected. I give him more credit now for his (mostly) footwork, which perplexed George Kambosos, who did not seem to have a plan B. Haney kept to his game plan and boxed from the outside, while tying Kambosos up on the inside. I honestly thought that Kambosos would ‘go for it’ in the championship rounds after it was clear that he couldn’t outbox Haney toe to toe. I’m happy to see that Haney wasn’t ripped off on the judges’ scorecards. I had it 117-111.

I see shades of Sugar Ray Leonard in Haney’s style. What do you think? Where do you see both fighters going from here?



Come on Crawford vs Spence. That is the fight I really want to see this year. I see Crawford retiring undefeated.

Kostya Tszyu v Tank Davis?

Edwin Valero v Loma?

Usyk v Holyfield?

Jeff, Australia

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the International Mailbag Community, Jeff. I’ll give you my picks on your Mythical Matchups before I respond to your Kambosos-Haney thoughts and questions.

Kostya Tszyu v Tank Davis?Tszyu by mid-round KO 

Edwin Valero v Loma?Valero by late TKO (or corner retirement)

Usyk v Holyfield?Holyfield by SD 12/close UD 15

I give (Devin Haney) more credit now for his (mostly) footwork, which perplexed George Kambosos, who did not seem to have a plan B. If Kambosos and his corner had a Plan B (and I think they did), let’s give credit to Haney for KEEPING him stuck in Plan A.

Haney keeps Kambosos at the end of his jab. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Haney kept to his game plan and boxed from the outside, while tying Kambosos up on the inside. Yup, jab + feints + head/upper-body movement + right hands + lateral movement + clinching in close = total ring command (tempo and distance) and handcuffs on Kambosos.

I honestly thought that Kambosos would ‘go for it’ in the championship rounds after it was clear that he couldn’t outbox Haney toe to toe. Me too. But he was discouraged. Kambosos couldn’t get under Haney’s skin the way he had with Teofimo Lopez during the build up to the fight, and by the end of fight week it seemed to me that he was the one who was under mental duress (stress and pressure that he put on himself, I might add). Like Canelo halfway through his bout with Bivol, Kambosos was out of ideas by Rounds 6 or 7. He still had his fighting spirit but he wasn’t sharing the ring with a boxer willing (or dumb enough) to go toe to toe with him. By the final rounds, it was clear that his emotions were down and he was reserved to the fact that he was going to lose on this day. 

I’m happy to see that Haney wasn’t ripped off on the judges’ scorecards. I had it 117-111. Me too. I was fine with the official scores of 118-110 (which is probably the most accurate) and 116-112 (which are giving Kambosos the benefit of the doubt but not as egregious as some fans and media are making them out to be).

I see shades of Sugar Ray Leonard in Haney’s style. What do you think? Geez! That’s HIGH praise. I don’t think Haney is as complete a fighter (yet) as Leonard was at 23, and he’s certainly not as aggressive and motivated to score the KO when it presents itself. But he’s got the focus and the Ring IQ. I think Haney is more like the mature version of Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Money May, not the Pretty Boy, which is also high praise, but more appropriate given Haney’s style). 

Where do you see both fighters going from here? The sky is the limit for Haney. He could be groomed into a star with the help of ESPN’s exposure and Top Rank’s world-class stable of lightweight and junior welterweights (all potential opponents).

Kambosos, on the other hand, has definitely hit his ceiling, but I still consider him to be a legit lightweight contender and I think he makes for good matchups vs. most of the 135-pound fighters in The Ring’s top 10. 

I’d love to see Haney defend the undisputed championship against the former holder of the unified titles, Vasiliy Lomachenko (which is a makeable fight); while Kambosos attempts to get his groove back battling a high-profile contender, such as the Garcia-Fortuna winner, JoJo Diaz Jr. or Isaac Cruz. However, we both know Haney is contractually obligated to face Kambosos in a rematch and your proud countryman wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Come on Crawford vs Spence. That is the fight I really want to see this year. Fingers crossed it gets made for October.

I see Crawford retiring undefeated. Me too.

 

INOUE-DONARIE 2

Nothing is ever going to be easy for Inoue with Donaire… as Nonito is the old master that has aged like a fine wine. But Inoue, is indeed The Monster, and I think without his eye-socket and nose imperiled this time around he should have both the legs and fists and clarity of form and sight to even slay the mighty and allegedly long of tooth Filipino Flash himself this time around… that would be a fitting passing of the torch… but like all things boxing, you should be prepared for the idea that anything can happen in this often hard to peg sport, and with this fight even more so…

It’s a tough one for me to call, as Donaire doesn’t appear to be the ‘going into the twilight of his career softly type’—no, he’ll be hell-bent on left-hooking a monster out of functionality….

But I’m sticking with my gut feeling that either The Monster or some guy named Artur Asilbekovich Beterbiev is boxing’s top of the food chain predator… and by the next few weeks, I think we’ll know for sure. – Daniel

The month of June is off to a fast start and it gets better with the upcoming Inoue-Donaire rematch and the Beterbiev-Smith showdown on the 18th. I’m loving all of these title unification fights. 

I agree with your gut feeling. I think Inoue further unifies the bantamweight titles with a repeat victory over Donaire, but I don’t think it will be an easy night for the Japanese pound-for-pound star. The Filipino Flash remains a threat, amazingly at the age of 39, and he deserves his due respect as the No. 1-rated bantamweight behind the true champion, Inoue. 

Naoya Inoue (left) and Nonito Donaire are ready to go at it again. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Inoue is indeed The Monster, and I think without his eye-socket and nose imperiled this time around he should have both the legs and fists and clarity of form and sight to even slay the mighty and allegedly long of tooth Filipino Flash himself this time around… I’m envisioning a mid-to-late round stoppage for Inoue. He hasn’t forgotten about the damage Donaire’s fists caused in 2019, so I think he’ll be a little more careful and respectful in the early rounds than he was the first time around (when he thought he could blitz the future hall of famer). I think the right counterpunches at the right time, plus a concentrated body attack, should earn Inoue the statement victory he’s looking for, but as you stated…

Donaire doesn’t appear to be the ‘going into the twilight of his career softly type’—no, he’ll be hell-bent on left-hooking a monster out of functionality. If he’s smart (and he is, although sometimes his heart gets the best of him), he’ll establish his jab and work his underrated right hand (a key weapon in the first bout) in tandem with his trademark hook. Whatever style or game plan Donaire brings to the ring, he’s going to be formidable and Inoue is going to have to earn his victory.

 

THE LIGHTWEIGHT DIVISION

Hi Dougie,

It’s been a while but I hope you are well.

In the past 2 years we have had Lomachenko, Teofimo, Kambosos and Haney unify belts in the lightweight division. Whilst Haney is now undisputed champion, there are still questions to answer because I’m intrigued to see him in matches with Tank, Loma, Teo, Garcia and Shakur.

I like how Haney switched promoters and took a risk to go to Australia and take on Kambosos and he deserves plenty of credit for his performance.

My question to you is, who do you think will ultimately become the fighter that defines this era from that crop of talent? Kind regards. – Anish Parekh

Shakur Stevenson is the new Ring Magazine junior lightweight champion. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

I believe (along with most boxing fans/writers/pundits/insiders) that Shakur Stevenson will ultimately prove to be the king of the lightweights, just as he is currently The Man of the 130-pound division, and has the highest pound-for-pound “upside.” The only thing that will cut his 130-pound reign short is a move to the 135-pound division and the only thing that would cut his lightweight reign short would be a move to the 140-pound division.

In the past 2 years we have had Lomachenko, Teofimo, Kambosos and Haney unify belts in the lightweight division. The 135-pound championship has been a real hot potato. Let’s see how Haney’s stable head and able hands handle the heat that comes with the crown.

Whilst Haney is now undisputed champion, there are still questions to answer because I’m intrigued to see him in matches with Tank, Loma, Teo, Garcia and Shakur. Yeah, there are still questions – as one would expect there to be of a 23-year-old phenom who only started fighting legitimate contenders last year – but Haney is answering them with each bout. Although he outclassed Kambosos over 12 rounds without getting rocked or buzzed, I still wonder about his chin against a legitimate 135-pound hitter. Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez and Ryan Garcia would provide Haney with the true litmus test in this department. Each contender also possesses underrated craft and counterpunching ability that helps them score many of their highlight-reel KOs. Lomachenko obviously presents a challenge to Haney’s Ring IQ and fighting spirit, as the more mature and battle-tested former champ usually comes on very strong down the stretch of his fights. And, of course, the biggest eventual challenge for Haney is Stevenson, who can match him in talent, youth, athleticism, intelligence, technique, skill and desire. 

I like how Haney switched promoters and took a risk to go to Australia and take on Kambosos and he deserves plenty of credit for his performance. Yes he does.

 

THOUGHTS ON KAMBOSOS-HANEY, BOXING “FLURRIES”

Hey Dougie,

I hope you and your family are well. So I live and work in Saudi, which means I have to wake up early to catch the fights. This has the effect of making me very selective with the fights I watch. I’ll be honest Doug, I had never seen a Devin Haney fight. I would read the reports and the impression I got was that Devin is extremely talented, feather fisted, and could be hurt. So when I saw he was going to fight the ferocious Aussie I was intrigued. Didn’t get the drama I thought was on offer, but he made me a fan. He boxed a perfect fight and, outside splitting the first two rounds with Kambosos, I thought he pitched a shutout.

I don’t think he’ll be entertaining, but he’ll give anyone who fights him fits. Don’t need to see the rematch, would love to see Haney against Loma or even Teo (though he definitely needs a top 10 win to earn another crack).

Props also to Kambosos, who was outclassed but unlike some others in the division (ahem ahem) had some class outside the ring.

To borrow from Steve Kim, wanted to get your flurries on the following:

  • The AJ and Garcia pairing, I personally think he needed a Sugar Hill or even an Abel Sanchez, what do you think?
  • Michael Conlan vs Marriaga, never thought I’d be excited to see Conlan fight but his last performance was too much fun, how do you think it plays out?
  • Assuming Kambosos doesn’t invoke the rematch clause, who would you match him with? I think he should fight Jojo Diaz next, I think it’s a winnable fight for both guys and the winner is maximum 1 fight away from a title shot (if Kambosos wins there might actually be some demand for a rematch with Devin else he can fight Teo).
  • Who do you think is the best (and worst) promoter in the game right now? Top Rank is great at developing talent but hates working with others, Matchroom puts its fighters in a great position for a payday but then they fade away, Golden Boy is surviving but hasn’t thrived in a minute, and TGB puts on an ok show but the PBC-verse is worse than Top Rank.

Keep up the great work with the mailbag and the magazine, the last two issues were especially well done, it was great to see the love you guys gave the ladies for their gladiatorial performance. Sorry I was long winded like always. Thanks Doug! Regards. – Abed

No worries, Abed. Thanks for kind words for the mailbag and magazine and thanks for sharing your thoughts (and flurries) with us. 

I don’t think (Haney will) be entertaining, but he’ll give anyone who fights him fits. I agree. I also think he can be in entertaining fights if he’s matched with a smart puncher, such as Tank Davis, or hard nosed pressure fighter like Isaac Cruz or William Zepeda.

Will former champ Lomachenko get a shot at new champ Haney? Photo by Matt Tucker

Don’t need to see the rematch, would love to see Haney against Loma or even Teo (though he definitely needs a top 10 win to earn another crack). The showdown with Lomachenko is the fight to be made next if there’s no rematch and it’s up to Top Rank and ESPN to deliver. I think the Lopez grudge match can marinate until Haney rises to the 140-pound division (where Teo is headed next).

Props also to Kambosos, who was outclassed but unlike some others in the division (ahem ahem) had some class outside the ring. Kambo is a real one, that’s for sure. He’s a welcome addition to the loaded lightweight division. 

To borrow from Steve Kim, wanted to get your flurries on the following:

  • The AJ and Garcia pairing, I personally think he needed a Sugar Hill or even an Abel Sanchez, what do you think? I think SugarHill would have been perfect. Sanchez is a good choice but he’s semi-retired and not one to put up with, ahem, “Divalicious” superstars. Robert Garcia is a good choice if Joshua wants to box aggressively and apply smart pressure against the Ukrainian P4P King. Garcia will have AJ ready to rumble. 
  • Michael Conlan vs Marriaga, never thought I’d be excited to see Conlan fight but his last performance was too much fun, how do you think it plays out? I think Conlan boxes the s__t out of the shopworn Colombian veteran, unless he’s suffering residual effects (mental or physical) from his brutal KO loss to Leigh Wood.
  • Assuming Kambosos doesn’t invoke the rematch clause, who would you match him with? I think he should fight Jojo Diaz next, I think it’s a winnable fight for both guys and the winner is maximum 1 fight away from a title shot (if Kambosos wins there might actually be some demand for a rematch with Devin else he can fight Teo). Sign me up for Kambosos vs. JoJo Diaz, Tank, the Garcia-Fortuna winner or Pitbull Cruz. Those are all big promotions and a win over either would make him a mandatory challenger for one or more of the sanctioning bodies.   
  • Who do you think is the best (and worst) promoter in the game right now? Top Rank is great at developing talent but hates working with others, Matchroom puts its fighters in a great position for a payday but then they fade away, Golden Boy is surviving but hasn’t thrived in a minute, and TGB puts on an ok show but the PBC-verse is worse than Top Rank. I don’t think there’s a clear leader among the major promoters. They all have strengths and weaknesses (which you have noted). I think Top Rank signs the best talent and has the most powerful broadcast partner. Matchroom has the largest and most diverse stable and puts on the most shows in the most locations/countries. Golden Boy has the best matchmaking and the best undercard fights. And TGB does a great job with the help of Showtime when PBC fighters in stacked divisions are willing to face each other (as we’ve recently seen at junior middleweight, welterweight and junior featherweight).

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]boxingmailbag.com. 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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