Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

MAILBAG COMMENTS

Dougie,
I read your mailbag comments and from the sound of it, it makes me ask, “Well, why the h*ll should Pac ever fight again?” If he is that great that nobody can hold his jockstrap and everyone he gets in the ring with is going to be a one-sided beating that nobody wants to see, we should all just force him to retire!

We (sportswriters mainly) are telling him, if you can't make Floyd Mayweather come out of hiding to fight you, you are no longer allowed to fight? I'm being a little facetious with you here, but all of these sports writers are giving Pacquiao the business, but what the f__k would the “great” Juan Manuel Marquez that everyone is b__ching and moaning for Manny to fight do but get KTFO!? Come on…

The man obviously loves what he does and we (sportswriters mainly) criticize fighters for fighting once a year. This man is staying active. He wants to fight. He wants to fight Mayweather. He can't make the man fight and he is staying active and sharp in the event he does fight Mayweather he will be primed for war. Not sure how you can fault that?

I get your point about Mosley, but it's not like Pac had an obvious guy he is ducking to fight Mosley. It's not like Mayweather is there demanding a fight and Pac is fighting a b__ch. There is nobody else for him to currently fight. Now there may be people available after the new year after certain fights happen, but who is currently available that is better? As you recall, I would have rather seen him f__k Andre Berto (the less accomplished Jermain Taylor, HBO's lovechild fighting bums) up, but anyway…

Happy New Years! — JCB

Thanks, JCB. I hope your New Year is happier sounding than this email. LOL.

But I understand your frustration with the boxing media. We do nothing but rave about Pacquiao for years, comparing his accomplishments to those of Henry Armstrong, likening his physical prowess and ever-improving technique to some kind of super-combination of Willie Pep and Sugar Ray Robinson. We smooch Freddie Roach’s ass non-stop and hang on his words as though he were the living embodiment of every past great trainer from Jack “Chappie” Blackburn to Eddie Futch.

Then Pacquiao decides to go with promoter Bob Arum’s plan of fighting Shane Mosley and we suddenly drop the Filipino dynamo like a hot potato. We’re disappointed in him and his whole team. We’re “outraged” and “disgusted” by the very thought of the fight with Mosley.

I admit that boxing writers and hardcore fans often come off as a bunch of flighty, over-excitable blowhards, but I also think that Pacquiao, Roach and Arum expected — or should have known — that they would get the mostly negative reaction they received when the Mosley fight was announced.

Both Arum and Roach stated on record their belief that Mosley was basically a spent bullet numerous times during the past year, obviously before the 39-year-old vet “became available” (once separated from Golden Boy Promotions and advisor Judd Burstein) as Pacquiao’s next opponent. These two have been in the fight game a very long time and had to have known that their damning comments about Mosley would be tossed back in their faces by the same media members they made them to.

And I know that Pacquiao is a living legend in the Philippines and basically lives in his own world, but he’s not as clueless as he often portrays. I think he knows the difference between fighting an aging veteran who hasn’t looked good in recent fights and accepting the challenge of a young gun with a perceived chance of beating him (or at least of being competitive).

As I stated in my response to the opening email in Friday’s mailbag, the backlash to Pacquiao-Mosley is mostly due to with the perception of the bout’s competitiveness (or lack of it). Mosley is no longer perceived as a threat by the majority of boxing observers.

You might think he’s got a realistic shot, but you’re in the minority if you do. You and I both think Berto would be totally annihilated if he fought Pacquiao, but there are probably a lot of fans and boxing writers who give the undefeated young titleholder more of a shot to beat Pacquiao than they give Mosley. For that reason alone, Team Pacquiao should have gone with Berto as their first opponent for 2011.

However, Arum, who has forgotten more about the boxing business than I’ll ever learn, believes that he can put on a bigger and more lucrative event with Mosley as an opponent. The old man is probably correct.

(I believe a third fight with Marquez could be promoted into a bigger event than a fight with Mosley, but I agree with you that the 37-year-old lightweight champ would be KTFO in a welterweight bout with Pacquiao).

Still, that doesn’t mean I have to like Arum’s choice of opponent or act as though I’m excited about what‘s going down on May 7th.

For the record, I think Pacquiao’s got the right to fight whoever he wants, including Mosley. And I think the old man’s got a shot. Hell, if Antonio Margarito’s slow sleestak-stalking ass can catch and hurt the little badass, you know Mosley can.

But I think it’s a very slim shot. I just don’t care about this fight and I will gladly write about other, more-meaningful (in my opinion) matchups in the weeks leading up to the event.

The only fight involving Pacquiao that I can really get excited about is the Mayweather showdown. I’m obviously not alone this opinion.

I think the collective frustration from the failure of the Mayweather mega-fight being made that was gradually built-up throughout 2010 is the other reason so many boxing people have reacted negatively to Pacquiao-Mosley.

I agree that we can’t be mad at Pacquiao for Mayweather’s unwillingness and/or unavailability to fight, but I don’t believe the Filipino icon wants that showdown as badly as you think he does. He’s repeatedly stated on record that he’s satisfied with his career/legacy and he that doesn’t need a fight with Mayweather. To be honest, after all the bulls__t and grandstanding of 2010, I don’t think either fighter is that anxious to get into the ring with the other, which is why both Mayweather and Pacquiao have fallen a few notches in my view. As I’ve said before (and will continue to state until they agree to fight each other or retire), neither is in the same league as Pernell Whitaker or Julio Cesar Chavez, never mind the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns.

I’m going to delete any email that favorably mentions Pacquiao or Mayweather in the same sentence with Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, or Willie Pep.

SAM'S YEAR-END AWARDS

What's up Dougie, it’s that time of the year for everyone to hand out those end of the year awards. I read the polls posted on Ringtv.com and can’t complain too much, but I do have a couple changes to make:

FIGHTER OF THE YEAR: SERGIO MARTINEZ. He had about as good a year as you can have, highlighted by the knockout of the year.

FIGHT OF THE YEAR: I’m going with HUMBERTO SOTO vs. URBANO ANTILLION. Antillion's relentless pressure against Soto's accurate counterpunching created a clash of styles that had me on the edge of my seat every round. Just because this great battle wasn’t on HBO doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It was a great fight, with a lot at stake for both men.

ROUND OF THE YEAR: Round 6 of AGBEKO vs. PEREZ. Simply put a seasaw round that showed each fighters strengths and weeknesses.

TRAINER OF THE YEAR: THE GUY IN THE BIG PRADA SUNGLASSES who trains SERGIO MARTINEZ, he did a tremendous job against Pavlik and had Sergio in great position to land that lightning bolt from nowhere. He's had a great year!

PROSPECT OF THE YEAR: I’m going with my boy ELOY PEREZ. Is it a homer pick? Maybe but hey his stats don’t lie. His opposition was a combined 81-17-4. He fought guys not made to order for him, examples Sanchez Leon (on steriods) who stood almost 6-feet tall, he beat fellow prospect (at the time 14-1) David Rodela, and Dominic Salcido (who had never lost at 130 lbs before — all three were tall lanky boxers, not short squat brawlers). His one KO came against a guy who had never been stopped before. He defended his NABO title twice and His WBC USNBC title once and signed with power promoter Golden Boy promotions.

What do you think of the list?

Looking forward to the inter-changeable battles at 140 and 118. Take any top guy against each other and it has potential for a great match just something for fans like Kirk to look forward to. Take care. — Sam Garcia

The potential junior welterweight and bantamweight round robins that kick off in January and February and will hopefully continue throughout 2011 are the main fights that occupy my mind, not Pacquiao-Mosley or whatever might happen in the ring should Mayweather beat his latest rap in court.

Your end-of-the-year award list is a solid one, as I would expect from a lifelong fan and boxing insider.

I agree 100 percent with your pick of Fighter of the Year. Honestly, only hardcore Pacquiao fans would disagree with Sergio Martinez landing this honor. Pacquiao dominated a top-five welterweight contender and beat up a rugged former beltholder for an unprecedented eighth title in an eighth weight class, but Margarito was unranked (by THE RING), coming off a so-so performance after a more than a year’s inactivity following his thrashing at the hands of Mosley, and the belt they fought for was a vacant trinket that the WBC basically put on sale.

Martinez beat the linear middleweight champ in impressive, dramatic fashion (getting up from a knockdown and rallying down the stretch) and then nearly decapitated Williams, a dude that many American boxing writers ranked No. 3 on their pound-for-pound lists. He was definitely the man in 2010.

I think Soto-Antillon is as good a pick for Fight of the Year as any. It was the perfect matchup between young underrated veteran beltholder vs. hungry younger challenger that produced a scintillating mix of styles — Soto, the versatile technician, pitted his busy combination punching and footwork against the constant pressure and body attack from my man Antillon. It was beautiful in its brutality. It was an honor to witness Soto’s craftsmanship live and it moving to be in the presence of Antillon’s courage.

I believe there were three or four fights that were worthy of this year’s honor and I’m sticking with Marquez-Katsidis. I thought the exchanges between champion and challenger were more intense than those between Soto and Antillon (mainly because Katsidis threw more than one shot at a time) and the fight had the added drama of an aging veteran getting up and battling back from a hard knockdown.

I have no problem with anyone who picked Segura-Calderon or Escalante-Roman.

Trainer of the Year should be Gabriel Sarmiento (he has a name, Sam). He did masterful job with Martinez and he did a very good job with Lucas Matthysse (who almost beat Zab Judah in New Jersey). Freddie Roach did a fine job with Pacquiao, Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (who looked pretty good thrashing John Duddy after training oh, about three weeks at Wild Card), but I think Sarmiento’s fighters were in with bigger threats than Roach’s boys, so the Scott Summers of the boxing world gets the nod from this comic book nerd.

Your pick for Prospect of the Year is biased as all hell. (For those who don’t know, Sam assists his father Max Garcia, who co-trains Eloy Perez with Dean Familton). However, you’re not out line for mentioning him as one of the more accomplished prospects of 2010. Perez had an excellent year as you recapped. I was especially impressed by his 10-round barnburner with Rodela (a fight that all hardcore heads would have been buzzing about had it been televised) and his fifth-round KO of Derrick Campos on Telefutura, but my choice of prospect of the year is between Mikey Garcia or David Lemieux. The 23-year-old featherweight from Oxnard, Calif. and the 22-year-old middleweight from Montreal were just as busy and impressive as Perez but they beat more-accomplished opposition. Garcia’s last two fights were against battle-tested fringe contenders Cornelius Lock and Olivier Lontchi (and he stopped both). Lemieux needed less than a round to ice a former title challenger (Elvin Ayala) who held Sergio Mora to a draw. The Canadian’s power is real and he’s got decent technique to back it up.

If I have to pick one, I’ll go with Garcia (but don’t tell Bob Arum or anyone from Top Rank; I want them to keep thinking I’m a “hater”). The young man is a patient, complete fighter who is on the cusp of real contender-hood (did I just make up a word? Ah, so what, you know what I‘m saying).

If anyone’s wondering why didn’t mention the much-Ballyhooed Saul Alvarez, it’s real simple: “Canelo” finished the year as RING-ranked contender (at 154 pounds).

Happy New Year to you and your wonderful family, Sam. I’ll see you at the fights, especially Eloy’s. I’m looking forward to watching him develop into a contender along with Garcia, Lemieux, Ismayl Sillakh, and Erislandy Lara.

KLITSCHKO VS. HAYE

Doug… OK, I can be accused of completely overanalyzing these words… “The sides seem to be serious about a long-awaited showdown, according to reports, but we’ll believe it when we see it.” I think more accurately, HAYE'S side NOW seems serious after banking a big pay day against Harrison. The Klitschkos have been serious about Haye and made a GENEROUS offer to him long ago. Haye has done little to nothing to improve his standing as a serious threat to the real HWT crown since he beat Valuev. He's essentially played “best manager” and maximized his purse earnings with the Harrison fight. His run as a HWT can't even be characterized as busy, let alone ambitious. He's done more talking than fighting. He deserves some credit for KO'ing the aged Ruiz, whose spoiled many title runs in the past, but no one would mistake him for being among the top 7 or 8 hwt's at the time they fought….he's shop worn and he was 3 – 3 leading up to Haye….he couldn't get past Valuev or Chagaev who are 8 & 5 in The Ring ratings respectively. Ruiz is no longer in the top 10.

The Klitschko's were serious from the moment Haye opened his mouth and proved it with the offers they made. They've ducked no one during their title runs. They deserve credit for doing so. It's clear that Haye has been the one whose been carefully nurturing his positioning through a PR campaign, not to be mistaken with doing it in the ring. He's now positioned himself to cash out by waging a PR campaign, that's what he's done.

Happy New Year Doug… keep up the good work! — HG in SC

Haye has milked his status as a heavyweight titleholder and a marketable challenger for either Klitschko brother for all it’s worth, and as much as I hate to admit it, I think if a bout agreement is reached this year the brash Brit will get a bigger piece of the pie and a better deal than he was offered when he was supposed to fight Wladimir last year.

So you’re absolutely right, Haye is a pretty good manager, and while his “title” reign is nothing to write home about the 30-year-old boxer-puncher is not a bad heavyweight, either.

I’ve been critical of Haye in the past and I don’t care for all the s__ttalk and disrespect he’s directed toward the K-Brothers, but I’m not going to be a revisionist writer and say he sucks.

I thought Valuev was going to expose him as a blown-up cruiserweight who has technical flaws, stamina problems and a less-than-world-class chin. I predicted a late stoppage for the 7-foot, 300-pound behemoth. I was wrong. Haye boxed as well as a man his size could against a monstrous boxer with underrated technique and stamina. He proved me wrong and I gave (and will continue to give) him credit for that performance.

The title defense against Ruiz was impressive, too, in my eyes. Yes, the aging Quietman had been inactive and was 3-3 going into the fight with Haye, but those three losses consisted of two close decisions to Valuev (one of them was a majority nod) and split-decision to Chagaev, all of which took place in Germany. Haye was the first fighter to stop Ruiz since David Tua (way back in 1996). So I gotta give the man his props on that.

And one unexpected side effects of Haye’s negative campaign against the Klitschkos was a bump up in respect for the giant Ukrainian gentlemen among fans in both the UK and the US. Many hardcore heads who were completely bored with the Klitschkos got behind the heavyweight rulers after Haye dissed them and then pulled out of fights with both. I think Haye’s seeming unwillingness to fight them added to their reps. At some point last year, it seemed liked everyone, even folks who hate the K-Bros, accepted them as the best in their division and many folks (myself included) added them to their pound-for-pound lists.

Anyway, I hope Haye fights one of the Klitschkos this year and works that magical mouth of his to hype the fight up. It’s been too long since there’s been a heavyweight fight on tap worth talking about.

MARTINEZ VS. TBD, COTTO-MAYORGA

Dougie,
I recently read an article concerning HBO and Top Rank being at a cross-roads concerning Miguel Cotto's next fight. I have several questions.

Just wondering, what's going on with HBO and the Cotto-Mayorga fight? I take it as the network’s beginning to take the fans side within the current matchmaking environment. If Arum says “f-” us, at least HBO understands the fans drive the industry.

I'm a huge Cotto fan (he's my favorite fighter), but I have absolutely no interest in paying for this fight. What do you make of Arum insinuating it may effect future Pacquiao’s fights? Is this just Big Bob BS? Can Pacquiao find any other home? I don't see any way Arum takes the hint and starts putting on quality fights for our hard earned PPV dollars but I could be wrong. It seems obvious to me this is a stepping stone to a rematch between Cotto and Margarito. Does Bob really expect us to fork over money for this? Any chance for a co-feature?

Finally, if Sergio Martinez chooses to fight Andy Lee (I hope not but who knows?) whose corner will Emanuel Steward be in? — Joe, Columbus, Ohio

Steward will be in Lee’s corner if his Irish middleweight prospect gets a title shot. Whose else’s corner would he be in?

I have mixed feelings about HBO’s decision to go with a Sergio Martinez fight over a Miguel Cotto fight. On one hand, I think Martinez has proven to be one of the best and most exciting fighters on the planet with his last three fights (all televised by HBO). I think Martinez delivered compelling fights with his fight of the year candidate first bout vs. Williams, his gutsy middleweight title winning effort over Kelly Pavlik and his breathtaking KO of the Year against P-Will in their rematch. So I can understand the network wanting to showcase the champ’s next fight, which happens to fall on the same date that Arum’s Cotto fight in Las Vegas was scheduled for.

However, I think Arum has a point about all the terrific fights that Cotto has given the network over the years. The Puerto Rican star has been a staple of HBO’s boxing programming but not necessarily exclusive to the network. Cotto’s fight with Paul Malignaggi was a Top Rank PPV and his welterweight title-winning fight against Carlos Quintana was on Showtime.

HBO went with the Antonio Tarver-Bernard Hopkins PPV on the night of Cotto-Malignaggi (and Tarver-Hopkins did more buys than Top Rank’s event in NYC — and for the record, I thought Arum had the better show). I can’t recall if HBO did a show the same night as Cotto-Quintana (Margarito-Clottey was the co-feature), I don’t think so.

Anyway, I think the original fight Arum proposed to HBO (Cotto vs. Vanes Martirosyan) was worth buying (especially at the price Arum claims he offered the network). I don’t think Cotto-Mayorga is worth buying at any price. Arum can do that one on his own, which he will. However, Martinez vs. Lee or his WBC mandatory (Sebastian Zbik) isn’t very compelling TV (although I’ll watch with interest if Lee gets the shot — I thought he was a very talented up-and-comer at one point). I can understand Arum’s rancor over the subject.

The best card for HBO and the fans would have been Martinez vs. Cotto (at a 155-pound catchweight for the middleweight title) and Martirosyan vs. Mayorga in the co-featured bout in the big room of Madison Square Garden (on the regular network, not PPV). I’m dreaming, of course, but hey, someone’s gotta think positive. DiBella tried to make Martinez-Cotto but Arum simply didn’t want to play ball. If the old man wants to continue to only match his stars against fighters from his own stable (or unattached guys such as Mosley) he’s going to have to get used to being turned down by HBO and Showtime (unless the fight is a gem such as the Montiel-Donaire showdown, which HBO happily purchased).

Will HBO’s decision to run with Martinez instead of Cotto on March 12 cause Arum to take his superstar, Manny Pacquiao, elsewhere? I doubt it. Arum might take Cotto and some of his other standouts, such as Juan Manuel Lopez and Brandon Rios, to Showtime out of spite, but when it comes to the Pac-monster he has to appreciate the production costs and marketing muscle HBO contributes to the Filipino hero’s PPV events.

Then again, Arum has gotten to that stage of his life where he’s more than happy to tell anyone to “go f__k themselves.” He’s been known to cut his nose off to spite his face. Remember when he pulled the first Chavez-De La Hoya fight off PPV and only offered it in closed-circuit locations to “teach all the cable box thieves a lesson” back in 1996? All he did was cost himself millions. But the old man has a temper and he’s a little bit crazy, so maybe he is willing to do Pacquiao-Mosley himself or offer it to Showtime.

We’ll see what happens. I know a lot of hardcore fans live and breath inner-industry beefs (Top Rank vs. GBP or HBO, Arum vs. Al Haymon or anyone who happens to piss him off on a given day), but I could care less what Arum does with his fighters in response to HBO’s March 12 choice.

Actually, I’d be kind of happy if Bob pulls Manny away from HBO for this next fight. I don’t even want to see commercials for a Pacquiao-Mosley 24/7. And if Arum takes most of his top fighters to Showtime maybe fans will be treated to good scraps that HBO wasn’t aware of (Soto vs. Rios) or showdowns that wouldn’t have happened if he kept his crew at HBO (the Montiel-Donaire winner vs. the Agbeko-Mares winner, Bute vs. Pavlik).

EDWIN VALERO

Hi Doug,
I'm a long time reader and while reading a lot of boxing articles reflecting on the past year recently I couldn't help thinking again about the sad demise of Edwin Valero. Like many fans I first learned about him through your writing on Maxboxing.com and followed his career as closely as possible until the end.

The tragedy hit me hard because not only was he one of my favorite boxers but I've struggled with addiction throughout my life and also lost my mother to suicide when I was 9. It was difficult to reconcile how someone I admired could do such a thing but once the details started to come out it was apparent that he was very sick. Getting sober would have only been the beginning for him as he had other deeply rooted issues and was violent to the core. Probably why he was so successful in the ring.

Anyway, I made this video at the time and always wanted to share it with you because of your connection. I think it's obvious that the video is not a tribute as he doesn't deserve one. It's just my emotional response to what happened.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XpK-q4Z4-M

Best. — Gary

It’s a well-done video, Gary. (Good choice of music.) Thanks for sharing it with me and the mailbag readers. The images of Valero’s family crying over his coffin and his arrest in Venezuela are difficult to look at but they remind me of the awful emptiness I felt for weeks after learning of his murder of his wife and his subsequent suicide. It’s good to remember because I buried the feelings at the time of his death.

My wife’s sister had passed away from cancer one week before Valero’s fatal meltdown (in fact I was in Ohio for her memorial with my family when I received the texts from Rudy Hernandez informing me of both horrible incidents), so I couldn’t mope around my house in response to the death of an insane wife-murdering fighter but I can’t lie to you — I was devastated, even though I wasn’t fully aware of it and did not admit it at the time.

I knew Valero was a loaded mess of a human being (though not as sick as he turned out to be) but I had hope that he would work through and grow out of his many problems and believed that if he did so, his wayward and sometimes wild personality would be one the elements of the crossover stardom I thought was within his grasp. Regardless of Valero’s sometimes polarizing personality and politics, I had no doubt that he would attract fans with his fighting style just as I had NO DOUBT that he would beat anybody he faced in the ring between 130 and 140 pounds.

What really sucks is that he seemed SO DAMND CLOSE to finally breaking through to boxing’s mainstream after going through all his various trials and tribulations — being medically suspended in the U.S. as a 12-0 prospect, sitting out an entire year, going on his “world tour” in search of a major promoter while extending his first-round KO streak to a then-world record, winning his first major title in a macho-freakin’ barnburner with fellow psychopath Vicente Mosquera, signing with the venerable Mr. Honda’s Teiken Promotions and relocating to Japan, getting his license reinstated in Texas and signing with Top Rank, beating Antonio Pitalua in spectacular fashion for his second major title in a second weight class, and finally, defending that 135-pound belt with an impressive TKO of Antonio DeMarco on Showtime.

It just wasn’t meant to be.

And you’re absolutely right, Gary, had Valero somehow conquered the demons of his addiction and tortured childhood it would have been just the start of his taking control of his inner-fight. Who knows? Perhaps it would have been too much for him to keep it together outside of the ropes while unleashing the beast inside of the ring. And as you noted, maybe his sickness and violent core was the reason he was so successful in the ring.

We’ll never know and it saddens me almost as much as the way he went out.

I doubt I’ll ever come across a talent and personality quite as dynamic and shrouded as Valero but I believe that every New Year brings hope and I look forward to covering the next generation of potential stars as closely as I did the troubled Venezuelan KO artist.

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