Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

MARES VS. DONAIRE

What’s up Dougie,

Abner Mares looked spectacular against Eric Morel. He seems to be getting better and better with each fight. So my question to you is how do you see a Mares-Nonito Donaire fight panning out? I see a Pacquiao-Morales I all over again. Speaking of Donaire, where has he been? What do you think, Dougie? – Miguel, LBC

Donaire’s mug hasn’t been on any milk cartons, Miguel. He fought in February (beat Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. to win the vacant WBO 122-pound title, remember?) My guess is that he’s in training for ring return on July 14 (probably against former 115-pound beltholder Cristian Mijares, who has won nine in a row).

If Donaire beats Mijares (or whoever he winds up fighting) and Mares wins his next fight, I’m sure fans – especial those of Mexican and Filipino descent – will clamor for those two to meet in a partial unification bout in 2013.

If you would have asked me who wins this matchup one year ago, I would have said Donaire before you finished your sentence. However, things have changed. For starters Donaire is no longer fighting at 118 pounds – where I thought he was unbeatable (something close to the way Roy Jones Jr. was at 168 pounds). I’m not sure if the move to 122 pounds was a good one for him.

And Mares, as you stated, has improved with each outing. He’s gone from battling his heart out just to draw or barely scrape by (in controversial fashion) against grizzled bantie vets to finding the right mix of pressure fighting and aggressive boxing to decisively outpoint tough, battle tested guys like Joseph Agbeko and Morel. Now Mares is battle tested, and he’s got youth on his side.

Mares doesn’t have Donaire’s size, speed or natural talent, but he’s a more complete fighter and he might be mentally stronger. Having said that, I can see why you believe their eventual showdown could play out like Morales-Pacquiao I (where technique and tenacity trumped talent). We can only hope they show the caliber of heart and skill that El Terrible and PacMan did in their classic first bout.

Personally, I don’t think their styles mesh in quite the same way as Morales-Pacquiao. But we won’t know for sure until they duke it out in the ring. Let’s hope it happens.

MAYWEATHER SPEAKING OUT ON HBO

Did you see the Floyd Mayweather: speaking out program on HBO?

If so, what did you think of the interview? – Gopal

I thought most of it was crap. What Mayweather had to say about his father and family background was somewhat compelling but I’m not buying his “persecuted antihero” act.

Michael Eric Dyson is a respected sociologist, academic and author but he can’t carry Bryant Gumbel’s jockstrap when it comes to interviewing skills and journalistic integrity. Dyson came off as straight-up nut-hugger.

I don’t blame Dyson for Mayweather’s typical delusional drivel, but I expected him to at least ask the egomaniac follow-up questions after he put himself in the same sentence as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali during some of his answers.

I don’t understand why Dyson – who has written more than one book on Dr. King, as well as a book entitled “Why I Love Black Women” – couldn’t have just said, “Hang on, Floyd. Why did you bring up Martin Luther King Jr.’s name when I asked you about your pending jail sentence?

“You are aware that King did time for his involvement in non-violent protests during the civil rights movement, while you are going to jail for violence toward the mother of your children, arent’ you? And this most recent case isn’t the first time you’ve been charged with domestic violence, is it? What do you have in common with King apart from being a black man?”

Mayweather’s responses to one or two follow up questionss of that nature would’ve made for more interesting TV than anything we heard on Speaking Out or have currently seen on 24/7.

WANING INTEREST

Hey Doug,

I’ve been a hardcore boxing fan since 1997, but in the last few years I’ve found my interest waning a bit. I still get Showtime and HBO strictly for boxing, still watch all the major cards and PPV’s, but I am just not as excited by it all, and I think, at least for me, one of the big problems is there are very few compelling elite fighters. I was recently trying to come up with a list of five fights that I would really look forward to if they were made, and here is what I came up with (I am only including fights that are realistic as it relates to weight class.)

1. Marquez vs. Khan (I think this would be an interesting 50/50 fight.)

2. Pacman vs. Mayweather (Although time has eroded what was once a dream match, this is still one of the more compelling matchups out there.)

3. Pacman vs. Zab Judah (I can’t really explain why this one sounds compelling to me, but it does.)

4. Mayweather vs. Martinez

5. Ward vs. Bute

These are the 5 best I could come up with, and I don’t find them all that exciting. I know there have been some exciting fights over the last couple of years, but for the most part, I like a good mix of exciting fights and significant fights, and lately, it seems like the only entertaining fights aren’t really significant to the landscape of the sport (I loved Juanma vs. Salido II but I’m not really excited by any prospective matchups for either them in the future.) Do you have any similar feelings about the current state of the sport or am I just one of these old codgers pining for the “good old days?” Thanks. – Sean, Los Angeles, CA

I think your waning interest points to one of the biggest problems of the sport – something that’s way more damaging than the “heinous” sanctioning organizations and the lack of coverage in the mainstream media, in my opinion – elite fighters don’t fight enough these days.

The so-called best of the best fighting once or twice a year simply isn’t enough to hold the interest self-described hardcore fans like yourself, let alone the casual observers the sport needs in order to grow and prosper.

You say that your first year as a hardcore fan was 1997. Well, that year the biggest star in the sport, and THE RING’s pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter, Oscar De La Hoya fought FIVE times.

The Golden Boy defended his 140-pound title against respected lightweight beltholder Miguel Angel Gonzalez (41-0 at the time) in a small PPV show for the Mexican/hardcore fans at the start of the year, then he won the welterweight title against Pernell Whitaker in a bona-fide super fight that garnered mainstream coverage in the spring, then had a stay busy ticker seller against David Kamau in Texas (and televised live on HBO) that summer, another high-profile PPV show against Hector Camacho in the fall, and finally closed out ’97 with a credible title defense against Wilfredo Rivera in December.

Oscar wasn’t the only young star who kept a busy schedule in ‘97. De La Hoya’s future blockbuster PPV opponents Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas and Floyd Mayweather also made their presence felt that year. Sugar Shane fought four times in ’97 (the year he won his first title) and five times in ’98 (all title defenses, all by knockout, which earned him Fighter of the Year honors from the BWAA). Vargas fought nine times in ’97; six times in ’98 (the year he won his first title). Mayweather, who was a member of the ’96 U.S. Olympic Squad along with El Feroz, fought 10 times in ’97; seven in ’98 (when he won his first title and earned RING Fighter of the Year honors).

It wasn’t just U.S. standouts keeping busy. British featherweight star Prince Naseem Hamed fought five times in ’97 (all title bouts, beginning and ending the year with knockouts of respected American veterans Tom Johnson and Kevin Kelley).

These young guns took up the slack for the older stars that had slowed down. Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones Jr. and Julio Cesar Chavez only fought twice each in ’97. De La Hoya, Mosley, Vargas, Mayweather and Hamed represented the next wave. I bet you became a diehard fan of at least one of the Fab Five by the start of the 2000s and you probably watched the others with interest because you couldn’t help but keep track of them and their career trajectory due to their activity. Every time you turned around one of them was fighting on TV.

The problem we have now is that both old AND YOUNG elites are relatively inactive. Look at THE RING’s pound-for-pound list: it’s comprised of fighters who average one or two bouts a year.  

That’s just not going to allow the sport to expand, whether these elite fighters fight each other or not.

Of the matchups you mentioned, I’d definitely be into Bute-Ward, Mayweather-Martinez, and of course Mayweather-Pacquiao (but I refuse to talk or debate about it after 2012).

I’ll pass on Marquez-Khan and Pacquiao-Judah. But hey, I’d love it if Khan and Judah fought five times next year.

HELLO FROM BELFAST

Hey Dougie,
Cliched I know; but long time reader first time writer.

I’ll keep it short and sweet…
1) Not all entertaining fights involve top level fighters. The 6 round barn burner in which Anthony Crolla lost his British lightweight title to Derry Matthews this weekend is testament to that. Fights like this keep fans interested in the sport. I say it with a heavy heart but I have been finding it hard to remain enthusiastic about the sport with all the alphabet titles, dodgy decisions and mega fights that don’t happen. It really makes it a difficult sport to advertise to my friends and expect them to engage in conversation about.

2) I’m really psyched to be going to my first big fight next month: Froch vs. Bute in Nottingham. We all know Carl isn’t an all-time great but the guy has balls and consistently takes on the best toe to toe. How do you see this one going? I hear Bute is heavy-handed but I can’t see The Cobra being stopped, though since I’m British I’m probably biased. Bute wins on points I reckon, though I will be over the moon if Froch can pull off the upset.

3) I’m a big Mayweather fan (though not quite on the scale that you would bestow the title of “nut-hugger” upon). My heart tells me he can handle Cotto, but my head says Miguel’s big left hook could be Money’s Kryptonite. Again, your prediction?

Kind Regards. – Steve McD, Belfast

Thank you for finally writing in, Steve. Don’t be a stranger going forward. I’ll answer your questions in the order you presented them:

1) I agree 100 percent that the best fights often do not involve elite or even world-class boxers. Sometimes two national-class fighters can put on a fight of the year candidate. Sometimes green prospects, rank journeymen and even club fighters can deliver as much entertainment as a brisk championship bout.

On the same Friday Night Fights broadcast headlined by Michael Katsidis on April 13, two club fighters without a single pro victory between them – Cameron Krael and Tylor Larsen – put on a very entertaining four-round scrap. I was rooting for Krael because I’d called one of his fights, an equally entertaining draw with Luis Mora, on a Fight Night Club broadcast last December. Krael won a hard-fought decision against Larsen and I wasn’t surprised to read tweets from fellow hardcore fans congratulating the kid and buzzing about the action they had witnessed. Guys like Krael aren’t going to be fighting for world titles in the future, but they can still move fans with their will power and courage. It’s why I’m glad there are boxing programs like FNF that sometimes showcase the preliminary bouts.

I haven’t seen the Matthews-Crolla upset but I’m going to look for it online.

2) I’m in the minority, but I think Froch will give Bute all he can handle in a competitive 12-round bout. Sometimes tenacity can overwhelm talent. I’d say will can beat skill, but Froch is not unskilled. I think he’ll box cautiously early on, figure out a way to neutralize Bute’s lateral movement and southpaw stance by the middle rounds and then press the Romanian hard down the stretch. I don’t know who wins, but I slightly favor Froch by close decision. (There’s something to be said about home turf advantage.)

3) Miguel Cotto is a 154-pound lump of Kryptonite for all boxers – Mayweather included. It’s not just his hook that poisons defensive-minded stylists; it’s his jab, underrated footwork, body work and poise. I’m the opposite of you: my head says Mayweather, while my heart says Cotto. My head is right more often than my heart, so I’ll stick with my pick of Mayweather by decision. And kudos again to Floyd for fighting Cotto at 154 pounds.

 

 

 Email Dougie at dfischer@ringtv.com. Follow him on Twiter @dougiefischer

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