Fantastic week all round I would have to say Dougie!
Just back from a nice holiday in Spain and I find that Ireland’s Olympic boxing team is going to win at least 3 medals in the boxing (looks like Katie Taylor is nailed on for the gold, John Joe Nevin and Michael Conlon have to get past a couple of Cubans first so that might be tricky) and then I read on RingTV.com today that Nonito Donaire is penciled in to fight Toshiaki Nishioka and Brandon Rios is going up against Mike Alvarado! That for me is going to be the pay per view of the year!
I was reading your Monday mail bag about past fights (Sweet Pea vs Chavez) and it sparked some memories of some classic early 90’s fights! My favorite being Mike McCallum vs Steve Collins. McCallum in my opinion was one of the best around in the late 80’s early 90’s and I often think its a pity he didnt get a chance to prove himself against the big four in the 80’s. What are you opinions on him? Did he get dodged until he reached his 30s? Cheers. – Leo
McCallum was dodged by the stars of the divisions he occupied until his LATE 30s. The Body Snatcher was still world-class and very dangerous in his mid-30s. I don’t think up-and-comers viewed him as “stepping stone” until after his rematch loss to James Toney, when he stepped up to the light heavyweight division – and he still shocked a couple young guns, including Randall Yonker and Jeff Harding, who he beat for the WBC 175-pound title.
McCallum never got the fights he wanted (showdowns with the Big Four – Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler), but he accomplished more than enough to earn the respect of hardcore fans, boxing writers and historians. The proof of that was his hall of fame induction, just five years after his final pro bout.
I remember the McCallum-Collins fight well. It took place in Boston when I was living there (during a college internship with the Boston Globe) in February of 1990. I got the chance to interview McCallum last July for a “Best I’ve Faced” feature and the former three-division titleholder told me that Collins had the best chin of anyone he ever fought.
I could tell he had a lot of respect for the “Celtic Warrior,” who learned from his spirited 12-round loss and eventually represented Ireland as a world champ.
Who knows? Maybe Ireland is about to gain a few more pro boxing heroes from the London Olympics. Your gold-medal girl Katie Taylor, already a four-time amateur world champ, is only 26. She’s still young enough to have a fruitful pro career if she wants one.
We’ll see how flyweight Michael Conlan, the youngest on the men’s team at 20, bantamweight John Joe Nevin, 23, and light flyweight Paddy Barnes, the 25-year-old team vet, fare in their semifinal bouts today. They’re all in tough (Barnes faces a rematch with 2008 gold medalist Shiming Zou) but they made it to the medal rounds of the Games and should be commended for that.
And regarding the Donaire-Nishioka/Rios-Alvarado card on Oct. 13, anyone who doesn’t share your excitement for this show isn’t a hardcore fan.
EVANDER HOLYFIELD – WOW!
Up until Lee Groves Olympic piece I had never seen footage of Evander Holyfields “throat” shot that got him DQ’d in 1984. After viewing it these words came to mind: WOW.
It is a clean cut punch to the jaw. I mean, the “decisions” that have been bad are horrible, but this, my goodness, I’m not sure it gets worse than that. – Mike
The Real Deal definitely got a raw deal in ’84 Olympics, although the bad call sure didn’t hurt his professional career. Anton Josipović, the light heavyweight gold medal winner in the Los Angeles Games, did not fare well as a pro.
Josipović was an excellent amateur boxer but I wonder if he would have withstood Holyfield’s raw power that was backed by very good technique and athleticism. I don’t think he would have. Young Holyfield, who reportedly scored 76 stoppages in 160 amateur victories, was an absolute monster at 178 pounds.
A fascinating mythical amateur matchup is Holyfield vs. 1976 light heavyweight gold medalist Leon Spinks, who was also a powerhouse in the 178-pound division.
Hopefully, we’ll see a reemergence of amateur badasses when the Olympic Games does away with the abysmal “computerized” scoring system and headgear starting with the 2016 Games in Rio.
OCT. 13, KING ARTHUR
First off, despite having anticipated some big events in recent years, I can’t remember looking forward to a bill as much as Nishioka v Donaire/Rios v Alvarado. What a double header! Bob Arum has stayed true to his word to deliver Nonito the big fights and I can see him getting a very hard fought UD against Nishioka, who looked slick and impressive when I saw him outclass a game Rendall Munroe. Bam-Bam v Alva has slugfest written all over it. I’m fancying Rios to balloon up to 160 lbs by fight night and stop him inside 8 rounds in an all-out war. What do you reckon on these fights?
Providing Donaire wins, what do you reckon next – Arce, Rigondeaux, Mares, a move up in weight?
Also, I wanted to hear what you have to think about the Stieglitz v Abraham showdown for the WBO strap. I fancy putting a few cheeky quid on Abraham as what I’ve seen of Stieglitz has been a bit uninspiring, but I’m not convinced Arthur truly poses as much of a threat as he once did. Do I back him all the way or save my money for a rainy day? Have a good one. – Omar
I’d put my money on Abraham, who has always performed well when fighting at home – and I expect him to shine against an opponent who has had trouble with tough pressure fighters and was once KO’d by a heavy handed stalker (Librado Andrade) – but I don’t know if you want to take my advice. I’m one of those geniuses who thought King Arthur would win the Super Six tournament.
What do I reckon about Donaire-Nishioka and Rios-Alvarado? I’m just as excited as you are about this show (kudos to the fighters, their managers, Mr. Arum and HBO for making it happen). I believe we’ll be treated to very competitive fights and I think the better-known favorites (Donaire and Rios) can definitely lose.
Donaire-Nishioka will likely be a high-intensity chess match between two experienced, athletically gifted boxer-punchers. Donaire has a slight edge in athleticism; Nishioka has a slight edge in fundamentals. Both veterans have been in with the best.
Rios-Alvarado should be a brutal battle of attrition that features technically sound in-fighting and expert body attacks as well as the expected macho head hunting. Rios may balloon to 160 pounds by fight night but so might Alvarado, who is naturally bigger than Bam Bam.
I don’t have a favorite in either contest as of now. I’m just looking forward to watching the matchups.
If Donaire wins I hope his next opponent is either Mares or Rigondeaux because those are significant fights, matchups worthy of THE RING 122-pound title being on the line.
Having said that, I don’t think Arce (who I give little chance of competing with Donaire) is a poor choice of opponent given the Filipino Flash’s last two opponents. I think he’s due a “soft” match if he gets by Nishioka. And Arce is a great choice because of his entertaining style, personality and popularity. Donaire will draw more fans in Southern California with Arce than he would with Mares or Rigondeaux.
I don’t think Donaire can move up to featherweight before fighting Mares or Rigondeaux. Hardcore fight fans won’t let him!
TITO VS. THE TORNADO
1) Prime Trinidad vs prime Margarito. A friend of mine whose opinion I respect thinks that Tito would go through Margarito like a hot knife through butter, but I disagree. I don’t know if Margs would win, but I think his chin, work rate, non-stop pressure and will would make it interesting.
2) Aaron Pryor vs Chavez. I can’t call this one, but if I were pressed I’d probably go with Pryor. He just seemed nearly unbeatable when he was on.
Thanks. – John in K-Town
These are great mythical matchups (ones I’m sure I’ve answered before, but I have no problem doing so again).
The first one pits boxing’s modern versions of the irresistible force and the immovable object against each other. I usually side with the immovable object in this paradox (in boxing and physics), but in this case I’m going with the irresistible force, which you know is Tito.
I agree with you that the prime version of The TJ Tornado’s chin could hold out enough to make for a very tough fight on the Puerto Rican icon, but Trinidad was such a big and powerful welterweight who punched with such unnerving accuracy and I can’t see Margz surviving to the final bell. The Mexican mauler would literally walk into Tito’s combinations, which was suicide at 147 pounds.
Don’t forget, Tito had trouble with boxers who move and/or jab. Margarito wasn’t a boxer, he only moved in one direction (forward) and he didn’t possess a very good jab. Trinidad, though flat-footed and somewhat methodical, had a good sharp jab and could utilize lateral movement when he needed to. I like Tito by late TKO in a good but generally one-sided fight.
The second mythical matchup would have been a hotly contested battle from beginning to end. It matches two bona-fide hall of famers, who many historians consider to be among the best junior welterweights of all time. Chavez is arguably the most accomplished 140-pounder ever. In his prime Pryor certainly looked unbeatable at 140 pounds. Who wins in a head-to-head matchup? I’m going to go with The Hawk. Pryor’s two-fisted aggression would have played into Chavez’s iron chin, vaunted body attack and underrated technique (and made for early fireworks), but I think his otherworldly fight pace and workrate would have given him a points lead going into the middle rounds.
I would expect Chavez to step it up over the second half of the fight, but Pryor’s amazing stamina, savvy upper-body movement and herky jerky style would have enabled him to survive the Mexican idol’s customary late-rounds surge. Pryor by close decision.
THE GOOD, THE BAGG & THE UGLY
As always I enjoy your mailbag. So here’s a rundown on the good, the “Bagg” (just read on) and the ugly.
The Good. I really enjoy this feedback between you and the readers. You really know how to put things in proper perspective which some writers don’t seem to know how to do. Some of these conversations are really deep and thought-provoking while others are just plain funny. Your jokes had me nearly pissing myself a few times. Another sharp, witty guy is that Fleetwood fellow. He really gets to the point and he has that razor-sharp wit. He reminds me of Bill Dettloff in that sense. Where is Fleetwood hiding now anyways? He used to be one of your regulars but he hasn’t written in three weeks.
I also enjoy reading your myth-matches. And speaking of which, I have one for you when this is done with.
The Bagg. I guess it’s only fitting that every mailbag should have its Jim Bagg as well. As most of us recall, Bagg was this goof-ball of an insult-comedian/sports-writer who constantly ripped fighters and everyone else involved all the while taking shots at readers that didn’t agree with him. Fans either loved him or hated him. And who among your regulars fits this description? Definitely Todd The Terminator. Both Bagg and Triple T are extremely sarcastic and very provocative with some of the stuff they come up with. I myself found Bagg really funny at times and really annoying at other times. Todd? Same thing. And while Todd might be our Jim Bagg wannabe at least he doesn’t address himself in third person like The Bagg-Man constantly did. I don’t mind this third person stuff in comic books but don’t you find it dumb when real people do it.
The Ugly. That would be the language of some of your regulars and irregulars for that matter. I too wouldn’t want my kids (oldest is seven) reading some of the comments that some of these clowns come up with. Again Todd fits this category but he’s not the only one. I don’t mind a few f-bombs here and there but would it hurt some of these characters to get their points across without writing twenty F-bombs per sentence and making these constant and detailed references to someone’s ass or private parts. Actually, that was another thing I liked about Fleetwood. He knew how to be funny without the F-bombs and vulgarity.
Now with that out of the way here’s my myth-match of the week. An all-Mexican clash between Jose Luis Lopez and Antonio Margarito. Who wins? Or how about the same Lopez versus Pipino Cuevas. Okay so that’s two but Cuevas-Lopez would be like the irresistible force colliding with the immovable object. Who would be standing at the end?
Thanks Dougie. – Phil
Thanks for your thoughts on the mailbag, Phil. I’m pleased that you included reader feedback among The Good. This column belongs as much to the contributing readers as it does to me and our discourse is what it’s all about.
Fleetwood is among my favorite regular contributors. I appreciate how he gets right to the point and is able to convey deep opinions in just a few sentences.
I’m glad to hear that others appreciate his sharp wit (and that he can express himself without cursing). It’s high praise indeed to compare him with Mr. Dettloff. I’m not sure where he’s been lately. Maybe he’s been shacking up with Valerie Crosbie (inside joke).
You aren’t the only mailbag reader who enjoys Todd The Terminator’s relentless feedback but is also sometimes annoyed by his raw and vulgar nature. Again, it’s high praise to compare him to the Jim Bagg character created by one of the former RING magazine staffers. I wasn’t a huge fan of Bagg’s monthly musings, but he made me laugh on occasion and that shouldn’t be dismissed. Although he isn’t a journalist or a polished writer, I appreciate our own Triple T more than the Baggmeister because he is what he is – a hopelessly passionate hardcore boxing fan.
He’s a real guy. His real name is Todd (I know his last name) and he lives in Canada. He has a real family and he really drives them crazy with his love for boxing.
I know he drives some readers crazy in an “Ugly” way because of the foul language he sometimes uses. And I understand that gratuitous cursing in every other email posted in this column is not a good thing. I’ll try to clean up my language as much as I’m truly comfortable with and I’ll try not to post emails that have an unnecessary amount of four-letter words and/or offensive slurs and references.
But I’m not going to pretend that professional boxing is a G- or PG-rated sport that appeals to mainstream children and teenagers, because it isn’t. (And if it was, I don’t think I’d have had the same fascination for it.) Boxing is raw and chaotic. That’s why it’s so entertaining and so annoying at the same time – kind of like an email from our good buddy Todd The Terminator (who I promise will return in the Monday mailbag).
Thanks for the mythical matchups. I’m loving the ones with Margarito. Are you guys missing him already? I thought everybody despised “The Cheater.” Anyway, I think Lopez-Margarito would have been a classic toe-to-toe slugfest. I favor Lopez by decision or late TKO. “Maestrito” was just as big, strong and durable as Margz, but he had better technique and better one-punch power. I think he was the more talented fighter overall. Having said that, I don’t think he’d have an easy time with Margarito, who was more disciplined and probably more determined in a dog fight.
I gotta go with Cuevas over Margarito, too. The prime Cuevas, the guy who made 10 welterweight title defenses before running into Tommy Hearns, was a devastating puncher. I know Margarito could take a hell of a shot but I don’t think he ever fought anyone who could crack like Cuevas.
Wow. It probably seems like I don’t think much of Margarito. (Do you think his fans are going to start calling me a “hater” or the Spanish equivalent to that silly term?)
For what it’s worth I think Margarito would have kicked Floyd Mayweather’s ass had they fought in 2006.
Email Dougie at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer