SUMMER TIME BLUES
I feel like I’m going crazy this month with the little boxing action going on this month. Friday Night Fights is the only boxing I can really look forward to. September couldn’t come any faster. Your thoughts? – Phillip
I’ve actually enjoyed the slow period. It’s given me some much-needed time to spend with family, reconnect with old friends, and to celebrate important personal events such as my wife’s birthday (Aug. 12) and our 15th wedding anniversary (Aug. 16).
It’s also kind of cool when the Friday Night Fights and Solo Boxeo main events, as well as the bouts that come on Telemundo, Fox Sports Net/Fox Deportes and TV Azteca, receive more attention than usual from the boxing world because there isn’t a big HBO or Showtime card to buzz about.
I have a lot of fun Tweeting during the FNF and FSN broadcasts.
Anyway, I think we all need to rest up for the month of September, which is packed with competitive world-class fights. You tell me: who wins Golovkin-Proska, Sturm-Geale, Ward-Dawson, DeMarco-Molina, Bailey-Alexander, Matthysse-Olusegun, Gonzalez-De Leon, Maidana-Soto Karass, Campillo-Kovalev, and Burns-Mitchell?
By the time you research each one of those matchups enough to make an educated pick it will probably be Aug. 31.
DONAIRE-NISHIOKA, MARES, P4P RANKINGS
Long time no see! Hello once again from Japan! Haven’t written to you in a long time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep reading your mailbags twice a week. Big fan. Still have a lot to learn though.
Everyone on this side of the world is going nuts about Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka. Both fighters have a lot of fans here. I personally think that Donaire will win, but he’s gotta stay away from Nishioka’s left – the left that put Jhonny Gonzalez down as if he were in his own grave. (Yes, the same Jhonny Gonzalez who is beating the crap out of the featherweight division). Same goes for Nishioka, though! I read that the WBC Diamond belt is on the line. Assuming Donaire wins, doesn’t that belt jeopardize a matchup between him and Mares?
Also if the current P4P list wasn’t limited to only 10. Where would you rate:
1) Canelo Alvarez
2) Adrien Broner
3) Yuriorkis Gamboa
Roughly above who, below who and why?
Thanks again Dougie! – Lightning Kikuta
Thanks for writing, Kikuta. We’re pretty excited about Donaire-Nishioka on this side of the world, too. It’s truly an elite junior featherweight matchup, which is why the vacant RING 122-pound is on the line. The WBC is putting its stamp of approval on the fight (and taking the opportunity to make some sanctioning-fee dough) by declaring the winner their “Diamond” champ. Hey, it’s all good. The more belts the merrier.
I don’t see how the Donaire-Nishioka winner holding the WBC Diamond title would deter Mares from challenging him (unless the WBC has some bizarre rule that says their “regular” champ can’t fight their “Diamond man” – which wouldn’t shock me, to be honest).
Mares is a real prize fighter. Apart from money and respect, he wants any and every belt out there. He will happily add THE RING, WBO, IBF, and WBC Diamond titles to the WBC 122-pound strap he already owns.
If THE RING’s Pound For Pound ratings extended past 10 spots I think Gamboa would rank somewhere between 11-15. I’m not sure Canelo or The Problem would rank in the top 20 (well, not on MY list, anyway). The two 22-year-old young guns are special but they still haven’t accomplished enough to merit “elite status,” in my opinion.
Alvarez has accomplished more than Broner having racked up four title defenses and dominating the former titleholders he’s faced (Baldomir, Ndou, Cintron and Mosley). Broner, who has a decided edge in talent and athleticism, didn’t perform all that well against the one former beltholder he’s faced (Daniel Ponce de Leon). And he only defended his 130-pound belt once (vs. Eloy Perez) before he lost it on the scales prior to facing Vicente Escobedo.
Gamboa has the boxing talent, ultra-athleticism, maturity and the necessary accomplishments (having won two major belts and dominating three consecutive veteran titleholders/former beltholders) that we normally associate with the pound-for-pound elite.
However, it’s going on one year since he last fought (his one-sided TD over DeLeon last September). Gamby’s gotta get his career back on track asap.
Regardless of what the Cuban does from here on out, he doesn’t have the upside of Canelo or Broner – both of whom can be developed into bona-fide stars if they (and their handlers) make the right moves.
For more on their star potential (as well as three other likely candidates, including Donaire) check out my feature story on the subject in the upcoming November issue of THE RING.
Compulsive commenter, first time writer. I wanted to ask your opinion about the P4P lists, and the changes you think we might see over the next 8 weeks. Right now, Pac and Money are clearly the best 2 in the world, and deserve their ratings (though we can and do argue about which order). However, both are out of signature opponents against which to test themselves, and both are probably slightly behind what they were a few years back when Pac chopped down Cotto and Mayweather taught Hatton a lesson.
Meanwhile, the guys at 3, 4 and 5 are starting to make a serious case for themselves. Sergio Martinez has looked nothing but awesome since the Kelly Pavlik fight, and if he beats Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will have another major signature win to go with a win over P4P P-Will, undisputed middleweight champ Pavlik, and unbeaten Sergei Dzinziruk. Donaire has wins over an unbeaten Vic Darchinyan, an unbeaten Omar Narvaez, a P4P Fernando Montiel, and highly ranked fighters at 112,115, 118 and 122 (Marquez, Sidorenko, Vasquez Jr, Mthlane, Mathebula). If he beats Toshiaki Nishioka he will be clearly the man at 122, having already been in other weight classes. Andre Ward is undefeated, and has looked pretty unbeatable in taking apart Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Bika, Edison Miranda and Allan Greene, and is now in against the proper champ at 175.
So, assuming (and it’s a big assumption I know) that all three guys win – do you think any has done enough for the P4P number 1 slot, and if not, what else would they have to do? Would Martinez still have to beat Dmitry Pirog, the winner of Golovkin-Proska or Geale-Sturm? Would Donaire have to beat Mares, Moreno, Rigondeaux or do some damage at 126 as well? Would Ward have to go to 175 and do the business there against Cleverly, Pascal or Cloud?
The way I see it, if these guys win, they will have won the biggest fights there are for them to win, and largely won them in style. For the first time in 5 years, I’d have others in front of the big 2. Which one (or more) I don’t know (it would probably depend on performance in the upcoming fight), but it has to happen sometime, and I think the time might be nearing. Do you think it’s time, and either way, when the time comes, who do you think is the next P4P number one?
Thanks. – Nick, London, UK
I have no idea who the next pound-for-pound king will be but, like you, I think his time is coming sooner rather than later. I agree that Pacquiao and Mayweather have lost a step (or two) over the past year. I also agree that they’ve run out of quality, notable opponents (aside from each other – and that fight is not the super-mega-ultra-event that it would have been had they fought in 2010 or 2011).
Of the three boxers you mentioned (THE RING Nos. 3-5), I think Ward would advance the most if he wins his showdown with Chad Dawson on Sept. 8. Beating the reigning light heavyweight champ after cleaning out most of the 168-pound division should move him from No. 5 right up behind Floyd and Manny. I think an argument can be made for Ward being No. 1 if he absolutely dominates or destroys Dawson. That’s a really BIG “if”.
If Donaire dominates Nishioka (another big “if”), he’ll probably be recognized as the best junior featherweight in the sport but a significant portion of hardcore fandom (some of whom are on THE RING’s Editorial Board and Ratings Panel) will still want to see him “prove” himself against (largely unproven) Guillermo Rigondeaux. And those same know-it-alls are either unaware or unimpressed by what Donaire did at the lighter weights (which is unfair because Darchinyan was on most P4P lists when Nonito nearly decapitated him).
If Martinez beats up on Chavez I think a lot of fans and media (including those who predict that Junior will win the fight) will say the veteran southpaw did what he was supposed to do. I don’t think THE RING’s middleweight champ will get the credit he deserves (but I hope I’m wrong about that).
My gut tells me that Martinez, Donaire and Ward will have to win their next fight in impressive fashion and then have at least one more major victory over an elite opponent in order to overtake the sport’s Dynamic Duo. (They will also need Pacquiao and Mayweather to continue to their gradual slide.)
Donaire has more potential to do that than Ward or Martinez because he has more high-level dance partners, including Rigondeaux, Mares and Anselmo Moreno (especially if Chemito rises in weight to challenge Mares on Oct. 13).
If Ward dominates Dawson, who is there for him at 168 or 175 who can take it to the next level and make for a “super bout”?
Martinez will have no shortage of worthy challengers for his RING and WBC titles (as you listed in your email) but who among those tough 160 pounders is well known and respected in the U.S.? Sturm might have a bit of a rep among hardcore fans. If he legitimately beats Geale I can see Martinez accepting his challenge if the Germany based vet is willing to come to the States.
I think Golovkin can be developed into a fan favorite over here but it’s going to take some time. And at age 37, time is not on Martinez’s side.
What’s good Dougie,
Like most other boxing fans, I’m really looking forward to the Donaire-Nishioka, Rios-Alvarado doubleheader, but the way this year has played out, I almost expect the fights to be cancelled due to an injury, steroids, money, or a fighter getting sucked into another dimension. I really hope I’m wrong. – Amp in Miami
I hope you’re wrong, too, but I understand your trepidation. We’re in an age where performance enhancing drugs and overzealous “conditioning coaches” permeate the sport, fighters routinely overtrain, and the so-called “elite” boxers only fight twice a year. Never mind unexpected wormholes to other dimensions, boxers need to worry about everything they put into their bodies, how many of the crazy exercises some of these “fitness gurus” come up with, and having the spar 15 rounds every other day of camp to make up for their inactivity.
Among the many unfortunate results of the New Age is that our top fighters often injure themselves in training. Another is the proliferation of lawyers (attached to the fighters and affiliated with the major networks) and advisers who complicate the sport and manipulate and maneuver certain boxers out of contracts and fights.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this doesn’t happen in any of the anticipated matchups scheduled for September and October, but I’ll put money on at least one of those fights being cancelled or postponed.
Regarding the Olympics, I agree with your sentiment 100 percent. Medals are nice but they don’t guarantee pro success nor are they are an indication of how much talent/ability a fighter has.
Fernando Vargas, one of the more successful fighters of the late ’90s/2000s, did not medal in the 1996 Olympics. Still, he had a better career than his U.S. teammate David Reid, who won a gold medal in those Games.
Miguel Cotto was eliminated in the first round of the 2000 Olympics, but the Puerto Rican star stopped Muhammad Abdullaev, the gold medal winner in his weight class (light welterweight) in those Games, when they fought as pros. Cotto’s pro career was infinitely better than Abdullaev’s or that of silver medalist Ricardo Williams, of the U.S.
Cotto’s Puerto Rican teammate Ivan Calderon was also eliminated in the first round of the 2000 Games, but he had a far superior pro career than the gold medal winner in his weight class (light flyweight), Brahim Asloum. Brian Viloria, who also failed to medal in the light fly division of those Games, has also had a better pro career than Asloum (who I should note did win a major title as a pro).
You get my point, Abner Mares (Mexico, 2004) didn’t get out of the first round of the Olympics but so far he’s done more as a pro than two-time gold medalist and fellow 122-pound beltholder Guillermo Rigondeaux.
I don’t know if any of the guys from the 2012 U.S. Olympic team will be as good as the fighters I mentioned but I saw potential in lightweight Jose Ramirez, who I’ve seen spar with world-class boxers at the Wild Card Boxing Club and Robert Garcia’s gym in Oxnard, Calif. He seems to have a style and mentality that is better suited for the pro game than the amateurs.
I also believe that bantamweight Joseph Diaz Jr. (who would fight at 122 as a pro), middleweight Terrell Gausha (who I thought was robbed) and welterweight Errol Spence have the necessary talent and styles to excel as professionals.