Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

GIVE THESE BRITS CREDIT

Alright Doug,
Thought I'd call on a quiet weekend, you know, just before Timothy Bradley does one on Devon Alexander. I mean really, can you see another outcome than hopefully Amir Khan vs Bradley at the end of this summer? I hope it happens, so the British public can get over their racism and see Amir for the warrior he is (and I'm not Muslim). Your boy Michael Rosenthal, I hope, is a visionary in terms of Amir.

Anyway, as I said before I think Nathan Cleverly is the business. He's had a couple of tough fights at home but chin-wise and skill-wise it’s time to step up. Kell Brook takes out Mike Jones in 8 rounds and maybe beats Andre Berto, just maybe. He’s from the Prince Naseem stable so here's hoping he can go far. Perhaps I'm a little too confident for my Brit friends, but Carl Froch really deserves credit.

I know you guys aren't huge fans but it turns out neither are we… He gets no exposure on UK TV. Why? Fans should love him, he fights the best, you pick against him every fight (with good reason!!), and he still wins.

Give the man the credit. Anyway, sleep well Doug, and look at James DeGale if no-one else does… — Craig, UK

I’ve taken more than a few looks at DeGale, Brook, Cleverly, and other British prospects/contenders who have emerged over the past two years, and I’m fairly high on every one of them. (Google or Yahoo! the name of the British fighter and my name with the word “mailbag” and you’ll be able to find my comments on each over the past 12-18 months.)

I, along with THE RING, consider Cleverly to be a top-10 light heavyweight contender. He's about to step up his competiton in 2011 (if you consider beltholder Juergen Braehmer to be a “step up” — as I do). I think he'll beat the German veteran to win his first major title and join the elite mix of 175-pound young guns (Dawson, Pascal, Cloud, Shumenov, Campillo, etc.).

I view Brook as a welterweight fringe contender (just outside the top 10). He’s obviously naturally gifted and extremely seasoned for a fighter his age (24). The knock on Brook in past years was that he broke some fundamental rules and could be somewhat loose with his technique, but he looked sharp and very poised in stopping normally durable Philip Kotey in his last bout. I think he’s ready to challenge the top welterweights, such as Berto, in 2011, and I would not count him out in that fight. (I don’t know if he would stop Mike Jones but I would also favor him to beat the Philly product.)

Here’s what I had to say about your boy “Chunky” in my recent article on the sport’s “advanced” prospects to watch in 2011:

JAMES DeGALE
Weight class: super middleweight
Age: 24
Record: 9-0 (7)
The skinny: British-superstar-in-the-making has less than 10 fights but already is taking part in scheduled 12-round bouts, in which his natural talent and experience from his decorated amateur career (he won gold at the 2008 Olympic Games) enabled the Londoner to defeat more-seasoned pro opposition. DeGale scored four knockouts over solid opponents in 2010, including a ninth-round stoppage of fringe contender Paul Smith on Dec. 11, which earned him the British title.
Strengths: International amateur experience, confidence, fluid switch-hitting style, exceptional athletic ability, bright personality, promoted by Frank Warren.
Weaknesses: Sometimes tries too hard to be flashy, neglects jab, leaves hands down, often attempts to avoid punches by bobbing and crouching in front of his opponents. (There’s no need for a boxer as tall and rangy as DeGale to try to imitate Pernell Whitaker’s famous defensive style.)
What’s next? A defense of his British title in the first quarter of 2011, then a bid for the European title. Domestic showdown with fellow prospect and Commonwealth champ George Groves would be huge in the UK.

Regarding Froch, I must admit that I’ve written him off in the past (I was fairly certain that Americans Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell would beat him on natural talent alone), but I’ve become a fan of “the Cobra” during the Super Six tournament and his entertaining appearances on Showtime’s excellent Fight Camp 360 series. I picked Mikkel Kessler to beat him, but I figured it would be a competitive fight (which it certainly was), and I didn’t count him out (as many boxing writers did) in the Arthur Abraham fight. In fact, my official prediction for that fight was a draw. Froch, of course, exceeded my expectations. That’s one of the many things I like about him. Perhaps UK television executives will come around on Froch after the Super Six is done with.

Don’t count Alexander out in the Bradley showdown, Craig. That’s an even fight and Alexander has the slight edge in speed, technique and power.

Your boy Khan might be faced with fighting the St. Louis native by the end of the year.

Rosenthal is a prophet concerning Khan, but I think THE RING‘s No. 2-rated junior welterweight would have his hands full with either American (just as they will have their hands full with him).

RIDE THE LIGHTNING

Doug,
Didn't realize you had such fine metal-taste. Have to disagree with 'Fight Fire With Fire' as your fictional ring entrance though….”The Call Of Ktulhu” would be epic, don't you agree? — Tom G.

I was a huge Metallica fan in the 1980s. I thought …And Justice For All, their final LP of the decade of my adolescence, was a masterpiece. The instrumentals were usually my favorite tracks on their albums (such as “Orion” on Master of Puppets — which is more “epic” than “The Call of Ktulhu,” in my not-so-humble opinion — and “To Live is to Die” on AJFA), however, those songs were usually long compositions that started slow and gradually built to the grand metal crescendos the group was known for.

I imagine (and believe me that’s all I can do when it comes to actual fighting) that if I were a pro boxer who wanted to get into a violent mindset for what I knew would be a hard fight against a guy I didn’t like, I would want to walk out to an intense, fast-paced song with aggressive lyrics, hence my choice of “Fight Fire with Fire.”

I often envision vicious infighting (with lots of body work) along the ropes between two bloodied combatants whenever I hear the “thrashy” guitar riffs of that song.

PACQUIAO-COTTO IS COMING

What's up Doug?
Throw it in Yankee Stadium, spin the impact of Emanuel Steward on Miguel Cotto, and Manny Pacquiao-Cotto II is as good as done. To me the only real hitch is whether PBF comes back this year. If he doesn't, I think this is it. I know the weight and the possibility of Antonio Margarito beating Cotto could trip up the fight, but Cotto would definitely come down to 147 for the massive payday and opportunity and I would have to think Cotto will be a comfortable favorite against Margs.

What do you think about the possibility and the fight itself? To me, it's garbage. At that point, it will be like the 4th of five fights for Pacquiao that he has been at least a 4-1 favorite. In fairness to Pacquiao, who is there to fight if he doesn't go back up in weight? I think I would be more interested to watch Cotto-Pacquiao 2 than Pacquiao-Berto. Of course, Marquez-Pacquaio III at somewhere under 140 is what I think everyone wants to see, but that isn't happening.

Anyways, keep up the good work. Always enjoy your articles and The Ring itself. — Brandon

Thanks Brandon.

You’re probably correct in assuming that Pacquiao-Cotto II is part of Bob Arum’s long-term master plan for the Filipino superhero, but what’s the point in talking about that possible matchup now?

For starters, it’s not a matchup that most fans are clamoring for. I won’t go so far as to call it “garbage” because I have so much respect for both Cotto and Pacquiao, but I’m certain a rematch between the future hall of famers will be received with as much criticism as Pacquiao’s fight with Mosley. And, of course, there’s the fact that the Pac-monster has to get by Mosley and Cotto has to beat Mayorga, and then perhaps Margarito, before the path is clear for their rematch.

And while I favor the Pac-monster over the “old man” in May and I believe Cotto has a little bit more left in the tank than both Mayorga and Margarito — and should have the skill and technique to win those two bouts — who knows what will happen when they actually step into the ring with each other? This is boxing. Three-to-1 and 4-to-1 underdogs routinely pull off upsets in our crazy sport.

I won’t drop dead from shock if Mosley cracks Pacquiao with a fight-ending body shot and makes an entire nation shriek and cry in horror. I won’t be terribly surprised if Mayorga lands a fight-changing arcing overhand right above Cotto’s left hand, directly to the Puerto Rican star’s “soft” temple, causing those questionable legs to go and giving the Nicaraguan badass an opportunity to finish the favorite. And despite the beating Margarito took against Pacquiao and the general notion (mostly among boxing writers who never liked the Tijuana brawler) that he loaded his gloves in their first match, I don’t think anyone will be surprised if the Mexican tough guy grinds Cotto down to another late stoppage.

So I could talk about the likelihood and merits of Pacquiao-Cotto II right now, but honestly, what’s the point? I’d rather discuss and debate the world-class even-money matchups that have already been made for 2011, such as Bradley-Alexander, Fernando Montiel-Nonito Donaire, Joseph Agbeko-Abner Mares, and Carl Froch-Glen Johnson.

TONEY-MCALLUM I

Oh, my God, a Toney-McCallum I reference!!!! That (along with Etienne-Clay Bey) is one of my all-time “forgotten” classics. I remember watching it live on TVKO, with Len Berman doing the blow-by-blow, Joe Goossen doing color, and that notorious curmudgeon Michael Katz doing the unofficial scoring. I saw Toney get the narrow win, but again, I've been a Toney fan since he decapitated Michael Nunn in the cornfields of Davenport, Iowa, so I might have been biased. I find myself going back to that fight over and over. Keep up the great work!!. — Carlos, San Juan, Puerto Rico

I haven’t watched the fight since the USA network broadcast it a few weeks after the live TVKO (later HBO PPV) took place, but I had Toney winning a close but clear unanimous decision. I was a “Lights Out” fan, but I had more respect for McCallum, and I was rooting for the under-appreciated veteran. However, while McCallum’s consistent jab allowed him to outwork the young version of Toney, I thought the still-developing champ landed the harder, more effective blows (mainly well-timed right hands) over the second half of the bout to clinch the victory. I was fine with the draw verdict because I thought McCallum deserved the benefit of the doubt. However, even a draw against “the Body Snatcher” was a victory in my mind. Those 12 rounds were Toney’s proving ground in one young fan’s opinion. From that point on — even though he often disappointed me with sub-par performances due to poor eating/training habits — I gave Toney the same amount of respect I’d given to McCallum going into that first fight.

I remember the broadcast well, and I thought Berman and Goossen did a great job. They worked well together. Katz’s occasional input wasn’t bad, but apart from disagreeing with his scorecard, the fact that he literally muttered his commentary under his breath throughout broadcast got on my nerves. But that was OK, too. Katz’s ability to get under my skin was what made him one of my favorite boxing writers dating back to the first column I ever read of his (in an early-1980s edition of THE RING, which I bet I still have somewhere).

JOAN GUZMAN

Dear Doug,
My lord, what a waste.

Since Joan Guzman’s unanimous decision win over Humberto Soto in 2007:

2008: Failed to make weight v. Nate Campbell; had a win over… Ameth Diaz!
2009: 1 fight–the BS “draw” v. Ali Funeka.
2010: Came in 9 pounds overweight for the Funeka rematch that he won; then fights Jason friggin' Davis, comes in 4.5 pounds overweight for that and tests positive for a banned substance, likely resulting in a 9-month suspension.

I really thought this guy would be a real threat to Manny Pacquiao or Juan Manuel Marquez after that Soto fight. Just goes to show that talent alone is never enough… Take care. — Patrick

Very true. Talent alone is NEVER enough to ascend to boxing’s truly elite level.

No matter how naturally gifted a boxer is he still must be dedicated to the sport and receive proper guidance in the gym in order to continually advance his game. Guzman, who is arguably the best amateur boxer ever produced by the Dominican Republic, had a terrific foundation, natural gifts (not just athleticism but the ability to relax in the ring and to deal with adversity), and solid instruction from various pro trainers (Don House and Floyd Mayweather Sr., among others). However, he did not stay in the gym or watch his weight between fights. Many of his camps were geared more towards boiling him down from 170 pounds to the junior lightweight or featherweight limits instead of preparing him for his opponent. Imagine how good he would have looked in some of his higher profile bouts had he reported to camp at a reasonable weight. He would have been scary.

Of course, his talent was scary enough for some fighters and their promoters. Part of his inactivity had to do with not being able to get the top dogs of his various weight classes (he campaigned at 122, 126, 130 and 135 pounds) in the ring with him. He couldn’t get fights even when he was the mandatory challenger, as he was for then-WBO featherweight beltholder Scott Harrison (another waste of talent who couldn’t keep his weight down or keep himself in check between fights).

Looking at Guzman’s record on Boxrec.com, I can’t help but notice that he fought at featherweight and junior lightweight between the title bouts of his junior featherweight reign (2002-2005). Like Pacquiao, he was probably literally starving himself to make 122 pounds. Instead of wasting time trying to get him the WBO belt at 126 pounds I think his management should have guided him directly to a 130-pound title or jumped him to the lightweight division in 2005. He probably would have had a better shot at getting Marquez or the PaMan in the ring had he already established his name at junior lightweight and lightweight between 2006-2008.

And you know what? Whether or not Guzman got the big fights he wanted at 130 and 135 pounds, I would have gone after the standouts at 140 pounds the moment he began to struggle to make the lightweight limit. The junior welterweight division gained three new belt holders in 2008 — Timothy Bradley (WBC), Andreas Kotelnik (WBA) and Kendall Holt (WBO) — all of whom were young/un-established/hungry enough to face anyone with a name, even an undefeated defensive wizard from the DR who was coming up in weight.

Anyway, I’m saying all of this now. Everyone is an expert boxing manager when dealing in hindsight, eh?


Doug Fischer can be contacted at dougiefischer@yahoo.com

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