Hey folks. The mailbag is back, and no, it was never in jeopardy of being discontinued as some regular readers hypothesized earlier this week. (And by the way, I appreciate those who emailed me with their concern. Seriously. True fight fans like you are the reason I’ve maintained this column for more than 10 years.)
I’m sorry I skipped both the Friday and Monday mailbags but a hectic travel schedule (taking a Thursday redeye to the Midwest with my 7-year-old daughter), limited laptop and internet service while I was in Ohio for the Relay for Life and numerous flight delays on Sunday (I wasn’t expecting a tornado to blow through Minneapolis), prevented me from pounding at least one of ‘em out.
Before I get to all your emails on Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Jones I want to send out a big thanks to the boxing people who made a donation to my wife’s Relay for Life team and a special gracias to Rachel from Nike Sportswear for donating a new pair of Free TR shoes to Your Truly, which actually made all the walking enjoyable.
WHAT SHOULD HOPKINS DO NEXT?
I hope you had a nice birthday. Just writing in to say that Bernard Hopkins still looks like a surgeon in there controlling the fight. That was exciting. Who would you go with when/if he fights Chad Dawson and Lucian Bute? Do you think he should retire instead?
Speaking of retirement can you tell Roy Jones Jr. that he's going to die if he doesn't retire now. He's a nice guy and I'd hate to see him permanently hurt.
I know you're picking Wladimir Klitschko over David Haye but do you give Haye more than a legitimate puncher’s chance? Also I'm not particularly satisfied with the third Pacquiao vs. Marquez fight but I don't think it's a disaster and JMM will take the worst beating ever, like one writer wrote. Do you? JMM should just come in at 138 or so and give and give up 10 pounds. I don't think he'll win but I'm not worried for him. Any thoughts? — Peace, Adam, L.A.
I have as much respect and admiration for JM Marquez as I do for B-Hop. I consider both men to be great fighters (and you know I don’t throw that word around). However, it’s clear to me that Marquez, who will be 38 by the time he gets into the ring with Pacquiao in November, is already pushing his body to the limit by fighting at lightweight. He’s the reigning 135-pound champ because of his experience, skill, technique and incredible heart, but he doesn’t have the speed and reflexes at lightweight that he had at 126 and 130 pounds (the weight classes where his two competitive bouts with Pacquiao took place). That’s why fighters who aren’t really in his class, such as Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis, have been able to catch him, move him and even hurt him.
Even if he fights Pacquiao at 137 or 138 pounds, he’s in for a punishing fight. If Katsidis can drop and hurt Marquez, I don’t want to think about what Pacquiao’s best punch will do to him. Pac’s got real welterweight power. Just ask Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley.
So, I agree with Michael Rosenthal on this one. I think Marquez vs. Pacquiao is a great matchup but not above 140 pounds. Pacquiao has too many advantages if he’s allowed to come in as heavy as 144 pounds.
I think Haye has a better-than-average puncher’s chance of beating Klitschko. I don’t envision Haye out-boxing the RING champ or even wearing him down to a late stoppage. I think his best chance at victory is to hurt Klistchko early and finish the bigger man by the middle rounds. Can that happen? Yes it can. Do I think it will? No I don’t.
I think the best option for both Hopkins and Jones is to retire. Both men have career options outside of boxing and neither has anything to prove. However, I know better than to tell or suggest to either man that it’s time to hang up the gloves. They’re just too proud, and they don’t want to hear s__t from some nerdy looking boxing writer who’s never fought a single round of professional boxing.
I think all of B-Hop’s future fights are going to be closely contested. The Dawson fight will be especially difficult for Hopkins because of the younger man’s speed, busy jab and footwork. However, Dawson isn’t the sturdiest world-ranked light heavyweight and he’s there for the right hand, which Hopkins obviously still has (as Jean Pascal learned). I see that as a toss-up fight. I would slightly favor Hopkins over Bute provided he can protect himself from the Canadian’s body attack.
My birthday basically consisted of a lot of walking around a track in sticky Ohio heat and humidity but I was with my family and around a lot of good people, so I feel blessed.
BERNARD AND ROY
Hi Doug, how are you doing?
It was a historical night on Saturday but I also felt that it was a bit
ironic as well. While Bernard made a history in Pascal's backyard in Canada, his old rival was brutally knocked out in his opponent's backyard in Russia. While so many people surrounding Bernard to congratulate him after the fight, Roy was on the canvas surrounded by his people looking in concerned about his health.
I'm a long time Bernard fan and obviously rooting for him on Saturday night against Pascal. I was happy he won the fight but I was a bit concerned about Bernard. The reason was those two shots (right hand) he took from Pascal in forth and final round. I've never seen him hurt before and it was clear that he was hurt. Although he didn't go down and shook it off, I felt like his body is definitely not what it was before. He went down twice in their first fight which was also a bit of shocking because I'd never seen him dropped.
In the post-fight interview, he said that he'll keep fighting and will fight Dawson and Bute. I know those two guys are not known as punchers but they do have better technical skills than Pascal and they can land well timed punches. I know Bernard's experience will handle and keep himself out of danger but you never know.
As Roy has been experiencing, age will make the body a bit softer and more fragile. I really hope that Bernard doesn't find out in a hard way.
Keep up the good work! (I miss your So Cal Notebook…) — Naoki, Reno, NV
The Southern California Notebook (or Gym Notes as I’ve been calling it on RingTV.com) returned this week with an inside look at Saul Alvarez’s tough camp in Big Bear, Calif., where he’s been sparring with a badass I’ve been hearing about for months (Gennady Golovkin). How’s that for service!
Jones is done. He had a little more in his legs and slightly better reflexes against Lebedev than we saw during his awful rematch with Hopkins because he fought at cruiserweight (and didn’t have to dry out to make weight) but the man just can’t take a hard shot.
Hopkins obviously isn’t done yet, but he needs to wind his all-time great career up soon. He still takes a good, flush shot, but not nearly as well as he used to. He’s getting dropped, rocked or wobbled by the kind of punches (legal and foul) that he used to shrug off.
We’ll see how he handles the fast, straight shots that Dawson and Bute can deliver. Who knows? Maybe the way Pascal looped and arced his punches contributed to the adverse effect they had on Hopkins (by landing, for the most part, around his ears, and on the side or to the back of the head). Or maybe he’ll get taken out cold once a world-class fighter with speed and power connects with a clean shot to chops. We might find out soon. I just hope B-Hop doesn’t go out like Jones did last Saturday.
HOPKINS ON THE LB.-4-LB. LIST
I think Ward is rated ahead of B-Hop (by THE RING and other publications/writers; he‘s No. 5 on the Yahoo! Sports P4P poll believe it or not) for a number of reasons (none of which I agree with). He’s undefeated, he’s fast and he’s won his last four bouts by near shutout.
It doesn’t seem to matter that Mikkel Kessler is the only top-five caliber super middleweight Ward has faced. And it doesn’t seem to matter than the only two blemishes on Nard’s record in the past five-plus years is a split decision loss to Joe Calzaghe, a bona fide future hall of famer who beat Kessler, and a controversial draw to Pascal in their first fight.
I don’t think it’s fair, but that’s the way it is. Many fans and writers don’t factor in accomplishments or quality of opposition when they rank fighters in a pound for pound sense. They just try to imagine who would beat who if weight wasn’t a factor and a lot of these folks (most of whom have never boxed or even been taught the basics) are intoxicated by boxers with quick hands, especially cautious dudes they’ve never seen lose. In their minds, these guys can’t lose.
Trust me when I tell you that many of my press row peers sincerely believe that Ward is unbeatable. Time will tell.
We all know what time has told about Hopkins, though. That he’s great regardless of mythical P4P rankings.
THE ALL-TIME GREAT B-HOP
What can you say, the man is amazing! At age 46, a boxer without a big punch, that is unheard of. This guy’s competition in his 40s is unheard of. He’s fighting young undefeated lions and legitimate champions WAY past his prime, at a percentage of himself he is still kicking ass! I mean he was walking Pascal down, he wasn’t f___ing around in there, he wanted the knockout. Give Pascal credit for not going to sleep, but other than that, he ran out of gas after the 4th round just as advertised. B-Hop got f___ed out of two knockdowns (in Canada, big shock) and a million rabbit punches behind the head (and Pascal NEVER got warned). I mean they were flagrant and intentional and HARD. B-Hop just sucked it up and knew he had to walk through that s__t to be champion. Had B-Hop gone down on those same shots they DEFINITELY would have called it. I thought B-Hop might get the KO and I was jumping up and down excited. I have a lot of respect for Bernard, just a hard working, gritty, grizzled veteran doing his f___ing thing. I think he is too much man for Dawson at this point, Dawson has had too many cooks in the kitchen with 8 trainers. He might go to sleep and he doesn’t hit as hard as Pascal, plus B-Hop does well with lefties.
RJJ needs to f___ing retire, what the f__k is going through his mind? I knew from the moment the fight was announced the result, just didn’t know the round. I am really shocked that he didn’t get whiplash or a broken neck the way his head snapped around like a bobble head doll. This KO was brutal. It is a damn shame. He has gotten to the point where you try to rank who had the most brutal KO of Jones. Was it this one, Johnson or Tarver? I think this one. The way he was slumped over KO but still upright and took those blows. Why did he refuse to test himself in his prime, but wants to continue LONG after he should stop? Why in the f__k does his corner keep letting him fight? They should have long ago told him you MUST hang them up. — JCB
Hopefully this is the loss that either forces Jones to wake up and face the reality that he doesn’t have it anymore, or it’s the big scare that forces the people around him to demand that he quit.
I can always tell how excited or passionate you are about a fighter or fight by the number of F-bombs you drop in your emails (LOL). Judging from this one, I can gather that watching two of your favorite fighters of the past 20 years rise so high and fall so low this past weekend was an emotional roller coaster for you. That’s boxing, though. We live and die with our heroes (even our former heroes).
Did you know that I’ve never watched Muhammad Ali’s losses to Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick, or Sugar Ray Leonard’s losses to Terry Norris and Hector Camacho? Even after all these years I can’t tolerate more than a few minutes of those sad bouts.
I’m glad to hear that Hopkins got you so fired up during his fight, despite the poor refereeing (hey, at least the judges got it right). I think B-Hop owed the fans a couple of entertaining fights after some of his boxing/mugging clinics of the past.
I don’t know if he’s the lock against Dawson that you think he is, but I sure as hell won’t count the old man out.
SMOGER ALMOST GETS RJJ KILLED
I have always usually been a fan of Steve Smoger, I think he is a fight fan's referee. But what the hell was he thinking letting Roy Jones take that last punch from Lebedev, when he was clearly out on his feet at least two punches prior to that? And it's not like he didn't have time to step in before that last punch landed! That was a horribly brutal addition to a fight that had already ended brutally. Should he receive some kind of suspension for that? It was appalling refereeing on his part. — Ed from UK
I received just as many emails from fans who were outraged by the Jones stoppage as I did emails from those who were awed by the Hopkins victory.
I’m just speculating here but I think three things contributed to Smoger’s bad call: he was caught up in the emotion of Jones (who I’m sure he respects and admires) almost making it to the final bell (and a moral victory), fooled by the former star remaining upright after his lights were turned off, and he was in bad position.
I don’t think Smoger should be suspended. He knows he made a mistake. I’m sure he’s extremely serious about his refereeing and I’m certain he’ll be extra careful not to allow something like that to happen again.