BEST VS. THE BEST – NOW
I watched Kubrat Pulev against Alexander Ustinov and subsequently thought – I’d genuinely like to see how this guy got on against Wladimir Klitschko. Which is a rare thought, let’s be honest! But it got me thinking, what are THE best fights in EVERY division, RIGHT now? Well, here’s what I think:
Let’s get Little Bro in with Pulev at Heavyweight, Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk are the two top guys at Cruiserweight at the moment. There’s a little bit of doubt surrounding Chad Dawson right now, so let’s get Tavoris Cloud and Nathan Cleverly in there – young guys, unifying belts, AWESOME!
Super middleweight is tricky, because Andre Ward is in a league of his own and due to the Super Six a lot of the top guys have already danced with him. Andre Dirrell against Edwin Rodriguez (provided Dirrell gets his act together) could determine the next guy to challenge Ward.
Martinez has earned the right to pursue super fights e.g. Ward & Mayweather, so let’s determine the no.1 Middleweight contender matching up Daniel Geale and Gennady Golovkin. Like Sergio Martinez, Mayweather/Cotto/Bradley/Paquiao and Marquez all deserve to pursue mega fights so let’s do Saul Alvarez/ErislandyLara at 154, Devon Alexander/Rob Guerrero at 147 and Lucas Matthysse/Brandon Rios at 140. (Garcia is just keeping the seat warm until one of these guys comes for him!)
Antonio DeMarco and Adrien Broner is pretty hot stuff at Lightweight but I’d say the winner of that against Ricky Burns is really where it’s at! An all-Japanese/unification bout at 130 between Takashi Uchiyama and Takahiro Ao would be exciting. Orlando Salido-Celestino Caballero at Featherweight, please.
We’re very lucky to be having two incredible 122lb fights already happening in a couple weeks time, Nonito Donaire vs. Toshiaki Nishioka and Abner Mares vs. Anselmo Moreno, so obviously as far as the best possible match-up goes, the winners of those two fights meeting each other would be very exciting, but outside of those four guys Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Jorge Arce would be a fire and ice affair!
Joseph Agbeko seems like the Bantamweight gate-keeper to me, so let’s stick him in with either Shinsuke Yamanaka or Koki Kameda to determine the divisions kingpin – since Moreno is about to move up. Let’s see Tepparith Kokietgym and Yota Sato unify at Junior-Bantamweight. Again, with the best match-up actually happening at Flyweight (Brian Viloria vs. Tyson Marquez) the next best option is Moruti Mthalane vs. Milan Melindo in my opinion. I want Roman Gonzalez vs. Donnie Nietes and a new Ring Champion now – this one not happening is actually starting to get a little annoying! Kaz Ioka seems to be the Minimumweight man right now, so let’s see him get it on with Denver Cuello.
What are your thoughts Doug? Agree? Disagree? Also, of the guys I mentioned, who have undeniably earned the right to look for super fights? Who would you match up out of them? Would you still look for Mayweather/Pacquiao or would you prefer Mayweather-Martinez now? Be very interested to hear your thoughts on all these matters.
Much love, keep up the good work. Regards. – Callum (England)
Thanks Callum. Of the fighters you mentioned I think Sergio Martinez deserves a legit super fight the most. So, I guess I’d rather see Mayweather-Martinez than Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Sign me up for Ioka-Cuello at 105 pounds, Gonzalez-Nietes at 108 (and yes indeed the vacant RING title would be on the line for that one), Mthalane-Melindo at flyweight (and I want to see the Viloria-Marquez winner challenge Toshi Igarashi for the RING’s 112-pound belt), and Singwancha-Sato at 115 (to hell with Omar Narvaez).
At bantamweight, I’d rather see Leo Santa Cruz battle Agbeko. I think that matchup is more likely to happen (since you and I both know that Yamanaka and Kameda ain’t leavin’ Japan) and I think it’s a better fight.
I agree that Donaire-Nishioka and Mares-Moreno are the two best matchups that can be made at junior featherweight (and yes, that statement is a big F-U to Rigondeaux fans).
I’m pretty sure I’d rather see Salido vs. Mikey Garcia than Caballero at 126 pounds.
HBO just announced that DeMarco-Broner is done for Nov. 17. Is it the best matchup that can be made at 135? In terms of action, maybe. But it’s not a fight between the two best 135 pounders. Broner is still unproven at lightweight (although I favor him to win the DeMarco showdown). The winner of that fight vs. Burns could give us a RING lightweight champ. (However, I should note that I think Miguel Vazquez is the best 135-pound fighter out there, though not by much.)
Tell me where I can buy tickets for Matthysse-Rios.
I’d rather see Bradley vs. Kell Brook or Paul Malignaggi than Alexander-Guerrero at welterweight.
Canelo vs. Cotto is the fight I want to see at 154 pounds.
Sign me up for Geale-Golovkin, Dirrell-Rodriguez and Cloud-Cleverly.
I’d rather see Hernandez defend his RING cruiserweight title against Marco Huck than Wlodarczyk.
Pulov vs. Wladdy K.? Why not? The undefeated Bulgarian showed us that he can grind down a giant with his last two fights (11th-round TKOs of Alex Ustinov and Dimitrenko), maybe he can put up a decent fight against the most talented giant since Lennox Lewis.
Pulov vs. Alexander Povetkin and David Haye are also heavyweight fights I’d like to see.
Hey Dougie, big boxing fan from Montreal here! First time writing, love the mailbag!
Let’s start with Antonin Décarie. This kid has always been in the shadow of Bute, Pascal, Diaconu, Lemieux, Alcine and Stevenson here in Montreal… Good thing for him he got a little limelight this Saturday on HBO. And what a great performance he put out! Near perfection. 66% connect on power shots, great footwork and he finished it in spectacular manner with the KO of the night! His corner did a great job too. Now we all know Perez wasn’t a “great” opponent, but still, DiBella said he was one of his best prospects. He was undefeated plus he’s a tall southpaw so he could’ve been a problem for Décarie. Well, he wasn’t.
Now with this win, Décarie is attached to DiBella for 3 fights and DiBella manages Randall Bailey and Robert Guerrero if I’m not mistaken… Maybe he gets a shot at one of them soon! How do you like his chances against them, I’m curious?
Second thing: Edwin Rodriguez. Being a Jean Pascal fan I was surprised to hear DiBella trying to push his fighter into a clash with him. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m not sure Rodriguez is ready for such a big step up. If I was in his entourage, I would suggest a B fighter first, such as Rubio, Periban, Stieglitz, Bika, Groves or Balzsay… Then maybe a B+ like Dirrell or Pavlik or Pascal but he needs to step up first… Jason Escalera isn’t the kind of fighter that can make him progress. Who do you see him fighting next? He already turned down Adonis Stevenson who did better than him against Pryor Jr. and probably will against Don Goerge… Personally, being from Montréal, I’d like to see him come over and face Stevenson!
BTW Dougie, keep an eye on Keven Bizier, who is another good welterweight coming up from Quebec City. I think he would’ve also destroyed Perez yesterday! Great boxing in Quebec nowadays! Keep up the good work! – Frank Boileau
I’ll keep an eye and ear out for Bizier, Frank. If he’s as good as Decarie I’m sure he’s worth watching.
I think DiBella and company tossed out Pascal’s name just in case they can’t make a meaningful 168-pound fight for Rodriguez. I can tell they would much rather E-Rod to face Kelly Pavlik, which makes sense. If you’re going for a former champ before pushing for a title shot, why not go with the former 160-pound champ over the more athletic former 175-pound champ? When Bill Emes interviewed Rodriguez immediately after the Escalera fight and asked him who’s next, E-Rod only brought up the super middleweight division. He said the 168-pound weight class is so deep there’s no reason to call anyone out. When pressed he mentioned Pavlik and Arthur Abraham. The only time he spoke of Pascal was when a member of the press brought up your boy.
DiBella promotes Bailey. He does not promote Guerrero. I like Decarie’s chances against Bailey (who has to get by Devon Alexander on Oct. 20 before we can really talk about a potential match with Decarie). I think The Ghost would be more difficult for Decarie, in terms of style, but I wouldn’t count the Montreal native out in that matchup. Bottom line: I want to see Decarie fight on U.S. TV as soon as possible. He’s got skill, heart, personality and, as you noted, he knows when to close the show. What’s not to like about him?
KHAN VS. MOLINA
In all seriousness I expect Khan to get back on the horse and be in tough like he normally does after a few training camps with Hunter.
What are the technical and strategic adjustments you expect to see Hunter try to impart to Khan?
As an aside I’m enjoying the expanded Ratings stat package in The Ring. Who is coming up with the analysis? It would be interesting to see a compilation of the average number of pro and amateur bouts and average pro ko’s per division in a future issue.
Might be time to retire the “Old School 8″ though. Peace. – Ad Rock, Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Don’t hate on the Old School 8.
The expanded Ratings stat package is the brain child of RING editor Michael Rosenthal. He comes up with the analysis subjects with research help from contributing editor Brian Harty and Yours Truly.
I’ll give you the technical/strategic adjustments I expect Hunter to bring to Khan’s game in the form of three constant suggestions I heard the 2011 Trainer of the Year give his fighters during a sparring session I observed at one of his gyms earlier this year: “Take your time,” “don’t rush anything,” and “let me see you think.”
In other words, I think Hunter will get Khan to settle down and box more. Hunter doesn’t want his fighters to waste punches (or punch without reason or try to force knockouts before their time). He doesn’t want his fighters to make any unnecessary moves or movements so he’s going to challenge Khan to use his head more than his athleticism. We’ll see how it works out.
Even though he’s not facing the junior middleweight Molina (come on, dude, did you really think Khan was going to step up to 154 pounds?), I think the “California Molina” is a respectable opponent for a fighter who has lost back-to-back fights, has only fought twice in the last 12 months, has just switched trainers and is coming off a brutal knockout.
Let’s revisit this matchup when the fight gets closer.
CARL & RICKY
I do think Burns can handle Broner. I’m not saying that he will beat Broner if they ever fight but I believe he has the skill and style to compete with the talented upstart. I have the utmost respect for Antonio DeMarco but I think both Burns and Miguel Vazquez would present sterner tests for Broner.
Frampton would indeed be well received in the U.S. I hope that is in the long-range plans of the McGuigans.
Can you imagine how awesome Frampton vs. Abner Mares or Leo Santa Cruz would be?
SUGAR RAY LEONARD/PPV
I’ve read the great book “Sorcery at Ceasars” about the Marvin Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard fight. Leonard was a great champion, but had also a dark side, with all his drug problems and the beating of her wife Juanita. Do you think that in our Internet era, Sugar Ray would have been more criticized?
I’m also always asking myself what would have been the PPV numbers of fights like Leonard-Hagler, Duran-Leonard 1&2, Hearns-Hagler now with the 24/7 series, the HBO Face-Off and all these marketing campaigns? Do you think these legendary fights could have reached 2 Millions PPV numbers? Or even more?
Thanks for your work Doug, why don’t you try to write a boxing book please? Take care!!!! – Carlos
Do boxing books sell?
As for your “What If?” question regarding the pay-per-view numbers the classic round robin between boxing’s Four Kings would have garnered, I think it all depends on which era you’re talking about.
If you’re talking about the 1980s – when those bouts actually took place – I don’t think they would have done as well as you would expect on PPV (if such a system existed in that decade). Fans were not used to paying to watch a live fight on TV. If they were willing to pay to watch a live boxing match on a screen they expected to see it on a movie screen via closed circuit.
If you meant how would Leonard, Hagler, Hearns and Duran – great fighters who fought numerous times on network TV – would do on PPV if they were fighting in THIS era, I think their fights against anyone would draw 1-2 million pay-per-view buys. Their fights against each other would easily do 5-6 million pay-per-view buys in my opinion.
For all we know, Mayweather-Pacquiao could (or could have) brought in 4-5 million pay-per-view buys. Imagine if Floyd and Manny had fought on network television as much as Leonard did.
What sets Leonard, Hagler, Hearns and Duran above Mayweather and Pacquiao in my opinion is the same thing that guarantees that they would have been huge PPV stars in this era – they were willing to fight each other and give the public/boxing fans everywhere what they wanted.
They were also more talented and complete fighters than fans are used to seeing these days.
But beyond their tremendous ring ability, the Big Four had personalities that attracted sports fans who were not hardcore boxing heads. Leonard, who appealed to the opposite sex, was the bright “boy next door” outside of the ring who turned into an insatiable warrior inside of it. Duran was fierce and charismatic; a hero in Latin America, a celebrated anti-hero in the U.S . Hearns was a shy and humble “Mr. Excitement” who possessed what seemed like supernatural power. Hagler was a hardnosed, non-nonsense professional who appealed to working-class Americans.
I think any 24/7 or Face-Off-style “fight-hype” program that they were involved in would have made for must-see TV.
I definitely think Leonard would have been criticized more (and more harshly) had the internet been around during his dark days.
It’s just completely amazing how Floyd Mayweather ignorantly claims to fight on his terms. To be honest after the Ricky Hatton fight I became a fan. But since then, little by little, I was let down. Mayweather fans got let down also. Having the champ’s back is getting harder and harder to do. Let’s go look to his opposite, Manny Pacquiao. How many times has he been in a fight he could lose? How many times has Mayweather been in that situation? It blows my mind as another fall out of negotiations seems to be on the horizon. Over money again!
Frankly, I don’t care anymore, which is why I’ve got to say: “Floyd you made your money, made your tin legacy which is highly debatable, now RETIRE! Get out of our lives!” As the sport’s biggest attraction I can’t believe we hang onto the words of a guy who is so spoiled with an ego the size of Texas. I’ve given up on this guy. I don’t even tell anyone the fight’s going to happen anymore. I’d rather not waste my breath on a person who only cares about himself. – Wesley
‘Bout time, Wesley.
If Mayweather, who only fights once a year, isn’t planning on fighting Sergio Martinez in 2013 I hope he’s seriously contemplating retirement.
And you should know how I feel about Mayweather-Pacquiao. If it ain’t happening this year (and we all know it ain’t), I refuse to talk about it in 2013. And I mean that. If news leaks out that the management of both fighters are once again in negotiation, I will still refuse to discuss or comment on it. If Michael Koncz or Leonard Ellerbe tell the media that the fight is 99 percent done, I still won’t utter the words “Mayweather-Pacquiao.” Hell, if Al Haymon breaks his media silence and posts a video on YouTube or conducts a live stream on Ustream.tv stating that the fight will happen, I will still refrain from talking about Mayweather and the Filipino hero.
I won’t talk about that damn “super fight” until it’s finalized. That means everyone involved announces that the fight has been made and it has a set date, a site, and a network. And even then I won’t talk about it until AFTER the kick-off press conference.
I’ll keep this short but sweet. Do you think there is anyone around Edwin Valero’s weight class that you think would have beat him? I had the same feeling about Valero as I did about Andre Ward (although they have or in Valero’s case had totally different fighting styles.) The first fight I seen of Wards was his 2009 bout against Edison Miranda. The feeling was that there will not be a fighter out there who could beat this guy. The fact Valero died so early made it a certainty that we lost many action packed bouts and left the door wide open for critics to say that he never fought any elite competition. Is there any elite competition that you think would of beat Valero anywhere around his weight division and if so how?
Also, do you think had his mental frame of mind were to be more stable and he continued to fight that he would have been a HOFer? Also, do you think his autograph will ever be worth anything in the future considering how he died and that he never had a chance to fight any of the big names in the sport? Or do you think that all depends on how well DeMarco does in his career? This is my first time writing to your mailbag but I’ve been reading for awhile and know I’ll get an honest and educated answer. Thanks, much. – Phil
Well, you’ll get an honest answer from me, Phil. I don’t know about educated…
Anyone who’s followed me over the years knows that I thought Valero was going to a super star. I thought he had the potential to be this generation’s Roberto Duran. Obviously he fell way short. But while he was alive – even during his wayward years without a real trainer and during his many bouts of drama and drug use – I thought he had the talent, heart and power to overwhelm any world-class fighter in the junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.
That doesn’t mean I thought he was unbeatable. I think Pacquiao certainly had the ability to beat Valero at any weight. I believe Tim Bradley had the ability to best “my son” at 140 pounds. I also suspected that Joan Guzman had a style that could pose problems for Valero at 130 pounds.
However, had any of those fights been made, I would have picked Valero to win – by knockout (of course). So, that should answer your question about his hall of fame potential. If he beat Pacquiao, Bradley and Guzman along with his other accomplishments I think he would get at least some HOF consideration.
But as it is, he’s a big “Could-Have-Been,” like former heavyweight contender Ike Ibeabuchi. Fans will always wonder how good the crazy Nigerian could have been had his mind been right. Could he have been champ? Could he have been great? The potential was there, but we’ll never know.
I’m not a collector of boxing memorabilia, so I have no idea if Valero’s signature is worth anything. Maybe it is due to his underground hype and because it’s probably rare. Or maybe it isn’t because he didn’t accomplish enough to be considered a truly special fighter, and he really wasn’t very popular or known outside of Venezuela and hardcore fans.
You might want to shoot an email to RingTV.com’s resident historian, Lee Groves, who collects signed photos, magazines and gloves as well as fight tapes/DVDs. Maybe he can answer this question. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Dougie at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer