Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Monday mailbag

ABNER MARES

What’s up Dougie,

I was as Staples Center and witnessed a great freakin’ card. These are my thoughts:

1. I’m very happy for Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo. That one punch KO has to be candidate for knock out of the year! I got emotional myself knowing what he’s been through and being the son of Mexican immigrants myself. Do you think he’s ready for a rematch with Kirkland or a high profile fight with Canelo? He was clearly the most popular fighter of the night and a fight against the red head would sell Staples out.

2. Leo Santa Cruz is a beast and so is Victor Zaleta! My goodness, how much abuse can a guy take? How do you see a Santa Cruz-Mares fight play out? Which brings me to my next point:

3. Abner Mares is a world-class fighter and should be recognized as such. He has beaten fighters who bring different styles to the table. Tonight he literally sprinted after Anselmo Moreno across the ring. Mares is the real deal. I was nervous about him taking on Nonito Donaire, but now I think he could take him. Mares has a good chin, can box, and can mix it up when he has to. There were times in the fight when he drew Moreno in and beat him to the punch. He kept his lead foot outside of Moreno (a southpaw) and scored at will. I think Mares is more than ready for Donaire and it’s the fight all of us hard core boxing fans want to see! What do you think, Dougie?

Miguel, LBC

Thanks for your thoughts, Miguel. I’ll respond to them in order:

1) Angulo’s left-hook KO of Raul Casarez is definitely a Knockout of the Year candidate. I don’t think it will win the year-end award but it has added significance because of Angulo’s background coming into the Showtime-televised bout. Given Angulo’s layoff and the manner in which he lost his last fight I thought “Perro” would have to take a few rounds to knock off ring rust and settle his jitters, but I guess “El Tigre’s” come-forward style played right into the former 154-pound contender’s heavy hands. A showdown with Saul Alvarez would definitely pack Staples Center, and I’m sure the folks at Golden Boy Promotions are thinking about that potential matchup. However, it’s too soon to even think about a rematch with James Kirkland. Angulo needs rounds and more time to gel with his newtrainer, Virgil Hunter. My guess is after two more tune-up fights, Angulo will be ready to face a real threat (maybe Kirkland, maybe a tricky cat like Carlos Molina) and if he wins that match, I’m sure he’ll be in the running to face “Canelo.”

2) Santa Cruz is indeed a monster, but if he were to fight Mares in his next fight I would heavily favor the WBC 122-pound beltholder to beat the 24-year-old pressure fighter. Santa Cruz will test anyone at 118 and 122 pounds with his style, but he is still learning and he could use some improvement on the defensive side of his game. Despite the frightening beatdown “Teremoto” put on Zaleta, the little guy was able to nail him enough to mark up his face.

3) I agree that Mares is the real deal. And it’s nice to see that some fans recognize the tactical and technical aspects of his victory over Moreno. It seems like 25 percent of Twitter Nation believe he just ran out of his corner and “mugged” Moreno with nothing more than a bag full of “dirty tricks” and low blows. Hey, he did mug Moreno in spots. I’m not going to deny that. Hell, I think he HAD to do that to an extent, but he was also able to jab, counter punch and use angles to set up legit power shots against the master southpaw boxer at certain times during the fight, which impressed me. I think Mares is as ready as he will ever be to face Donaire and I think if that fight is promoted right it could be the most lucrative and high-profile 122-pound championship bout in history. 

QUICK THOUGHTS

What up Dougie!! I haven’t written to the mailbag in a while so I’ll keep it short.

So I don’t think it’s a question IF Abner Mares belongs in the top 10 Pound for Pound, but how high up? His ascension up the ranks has been just as difficult and impressive as Andre Ward’s in my opinion. What are your thoughts? At what spot does he make his debut?

So Vanes Martirosyan and Erislandy Lara are the guys we should be watching and rooting for at 154 instead of Canelo? Really? There is absolutely nothing special about either fighter and if the rematch does take place I will have zero interest in watching them do it again. I’d rather see Canelo street fight a 105-lb fighter than watch those guys fight again, oh wait… anywho, for every knock on Canelo at least he is charismatic and always makes for exciting fights, always!

Finally, I want your opinion on the following. Which is the better promotional company judging by fighters, fights, events, treatment of fighters etc… right now, GBP, Top Rank or TMT? Haha JK

Which is the better network judging by announcers, fights, quality of production, promotion/marketing, etc… right now, Showtime or HBO?

It was a great night of fights, keep up the great work! – Adrian “Dre” Milwaukee, WI

Thanks Dre.

I know this going to sound overly diplomatic – hey, you’re talking to a guy who scored all three Pacquiao-Marquez bouts a draw – but I don’t think either network or U.S. promotional company is “better” than the other.

Each has its strengths and weaknesses. HBO has two bona-fide hall of famers on their boxing broadcasts (Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley – and for more than a decade the network featured the great Emanuel Steward). I think Max Kellerman has come into his own commentator and I know I’m in the minority bigtime with this next opinion but I like Roy Jones Jr.’s commentary. I think Jones provides excellent insight when he keeps his comments to the action that is playing out in the ring. I think HBO’s production value is second to none.

Showtime also has a bona-fide hall of famer with Al Bernstein and I love the way the network as been mixing up the boxing commentating teams with an interesting rotation of Brian Kenny (serving as program host), Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood (working the Showtime Extreme broadcasts), Mauro Renalto and different fighters, including Paul Malignaggi, hall-of-famer Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson and Raul Marquez. I think Showtime has featured slightly better fights on average than HBO this year and they’ve given fans “more” with their triple- and quadrupleheaders and SHO Extreme-televised undercard bouts.

Top Rank has two bona-fide hall of famers at its helm – CEO Bob Arum and head matchmaker Bruce Trampler – so it’s no surprise given their decades of experience that they develop fighters and stage big events better than any other U.S. promotional company.

However, I think Golden Boy – which finally has a few homegrown champs to call its own with Mares, Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner – is getting better at developing prospects into world-class fighters. GBP is also willing to match their “stars” with difficult or dangerous opponents (in or out of their stable) than Top Rank and I think De La Hoya’s company puts together better undercards to their major events than Arum’s outfit.

I hear ya on Martirosyan-Lara. I tried to watch their HBO-televised fight after I got home from covering the Mares-Moreno show and it literally put me to sleep. As talented, skilled and proud as Lara and Martirosyan are, they just don’t make for compelling fights unless they are in with second-tier fighters or guys who can’t take a punch. When they are in with a guy who can take their power or someone on their level (such as when Lara fought Carlos Molina, when Martirosyan fought Joe Greene, or against each other on Saturday), they stink out the joint.

Now I can already hear Twitter Nation groan. “F___ you, Doug! You’re just hating on them because you don’t want to see them beat you’re Golden Boss’s favorite fighter, the overrated Canelo.”  

Hey, Alvarez may indeed be a bit overrated, but you can’t deny that the red head sells tickets, does good TV ratings and generally makes for entertaining fights. And before you claim that Alvarez is scared of Martirosyan or Lara, let me remind you boxing geniuses that Vanes went life and death with Kasim Ouma and had to get up off the canvas to beat Saul Roman. Molina held Lara to a draw (and if I had to pick a winner in that fight it would be the crafty Chicagoan).

If Alvarez performed the way Martirosyan and Lara against those SAME fighters you Tweet-Freaks would have already written him off as a bust.

Regarding Mares and the pound-for-pound top 10, let me say up front that I don’t care at all for the mythical rankings. MaxBoxing’s Steve Kim is absolutely right that pound-for-pound pontification is just mental masturbation, and I’ll take that sentiment a step forward and declare that debating with others over where an active fighter should be “mythically” rated” is akin to a “circle jerk” of opinions.

I think you have a point about Mares’ “ascension up the ranks” being “just as difficult and impressive” as Ward’s, however, I must point out that the super middleweight champ unified titles in his weight class and completely dominatedhis opposition. Mares has faced a gauntlet of bantamweight badasses, but he usually has to struggle hard in order to prevail.

I think Mares is fine in the No. 10 spot of THE RING’s pound-for-pound ratings that Moreno currently occupies.

LOW-BLOW MARES

I am sick of “Low Blow” Mares’ antics. Yes, he won the fight, but continuously fights dirty in every one of his fights. How about he fights without a Golden Boy ref and actually gets points deducted for once?

I firmly believe the following referees are on the Golden Boy payroll:

- Russell Mora

- David Mendoza

- Ray Corona

- all of the Caiz family

- I’m sure there are more and I just haven’t caught on yet

I know refs are selected by the commissions, but it’s too much of a coincidence that these refs always end up reffing big GBP fights and always make every call in favor of the GBP fighter.

BTW, I don’t think any other promoters are particularly clean, but it seems the GBP bulls__t stinks the most. – anonymzb

I don’t know what to tell ya, “anonymzb” (nice name). I’m not going to say that Mares isn’t a rough little S.O.B. once the bell rings. He’s a mean and ruthless fighter when he has to be (like pretty much everyone who is enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame). But he’s not the blatant rule breaker that you and too many fans claim he is. He’s not “little Andre Golota.” If the “Foul Pole” had a fraction of Mares’ courage and ability to adapt he would have beat Riddick Bowe and would have at least won one major heavyweight title. 

If you think Mares is just a “low-blow” specialist I don’t think you know as much about boxing as you believe you do.

And if you really think Golden Boy has officials on payroll, you’re just a crackpot. Has Mares benefitted from awful officiating? Yes he has – primarily in two fights (the first bout with Agbeko and the Moreno bout — I don’t think Caiz Jr. should have docked Moreno a point in round 11 and I believe Dr. James Jen Kin’s scorecard was a joke). But don’t act like Mares is always being protected or that bad calls/scorecards are the only reason he’s won those fights. Mares is a badass. If you can’t see that you’re either blind or extremely biased.

I thought Mares got the s__t-end of the stick after his first title bout against Yonnhy Perez (which ended in a majority draw — I thought he won eight rounds). I didn’t hear anyone claim that those judges were on the payrolls of Gary Shaw and Thompson Boxing (who co-promoted Perez). In fact, I seldom hear talk like that when a Golden Boy fighter is the victim of questionable or poor officiating and/or judging against a fighter who is promoted by someone else. Lucas Matthysse’s “losses” to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander were just examples of “hometown” decisions, according to all you hardcore heads out there, not the result Main Events or Don King “payroll judges.” Lara’s “loss” to Paul Williams was the result of incompetent judges, not Goossen Tutor payroll judges.

Amir Khan did his share of bellyaching about bad officiating (along with GBP) after his loss to Lamont Peterson, and he was rightfully chided by hardcore fans and boxing media for his sour grapes, but I think if Peterson had dropped a close decision to Khan the British star would have had to hear about how the ref and judges were “paid off” to protect him by crazy fans like you.

Grow up, dude. If you want hate Mares and GBP, by all means go for it and give it all you’ve got. But please spare me your narrow-minded analysis of the fighter and your inane and insane conspiracy allegations toward his promoter.

If you think they’re the bad guys you claim they are, just help beat the drums for a Mares-Donaire showdown. I can’t think of a better way to stick it to GBP than for their first homegrown titleholder to lose to a Bob Arum-promoted fighter (one they unsuccessfully tried to sign and who happens to hold the 122-pound title of the magazine they own).

Of course, if Mares wins that fight prepare to be even more miserable than you already are.

NATHAN CLEVERLY

Hi Doug, been a while since I emailed but have been reading every week. Hope all is well with you and the family.

Just a quick one – in your report you mentioned Nathan Cleverly “did not outclass the South Dakota native the way fans expect a world-class beltholder to handle an unranked fighter.”

My question is, which of the current 175-lb belt holders would have done a better job and in what way?

World class beltholder handling an unranked fighter means one thing to me: early rounds KO!

I don’t rate Cleverly that highly but I reckon most guys would be in for a long night with Hawk. Keep up the good work! – Cogs, Belfast

Thanks for reading the mailbag and for writing in, Cogs. Let me state up front that I like Cleverly as a fighter. I think he’s talented and entertaining and I believe that he can make for some very good fights at 175 pounds.

I know that he chose to engage with Hawk to make for a good fight and his high-volume attack eventually wore down the tough late-sub, however, stopping Hawk does not equal “outclassing” the proud Sioux fighter. To me “outclassing” a fighter mean you dominate him without getting hit too much in return, and Hawk was able to “put hands” on Cleverly – mainly jabs and straight rights (sometimes even lead rights) – with regularity.

I think RING/WBC champ Chad Dawson would have gotten Hawk outta there in or around the same round as Cleverly without getting tagged as much.

The other beltholdes, Tavoris Cloud and Beibut Shumenov, probably would have ate some punches from Hawk before grinding him down in similar fashion. But I think Cloud, the IBF titleholder, would have stopped Hawk sooner than Cleverly. I’m not so sure about Shumenov. He’s just as strong as Cleverly or Cloud but his style is so unorthodox it’s hard to tell how much he’d get hit by a tough but basic fighter like Hawk, or if he’d score a stoppage.

Thing is, most boxing writers and publications rate Cleverly above Shumenov. I think they might be on the same level.

There are a few light heavies that THE RING rates below Cleverly, including former titleholder Gabriel Campillo (who should be ahead of the Welshman) and Isaac Chilemba, who would have put hands on Hawk without getting nailed much in return.

CARMEN BASILIO

I was wondering if you’d share your opinion of Carmen Basilio, who died on November 7 (the one-year anniversary of the death of Joe Frazier).

I’ll get the ball rolling by saying that I think he’s disgracefully underrated. Both welterweight and middleweight champ, he’s particularly significant in the history of the latter division. OK, maybe not among the all-time top 10, but certainly among the top 15 (I have him at number 11). And among the best of his time, which boasted such luminaries as Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta.

Jeez, Basilio participated in five consecutive Ring Magazine Fights of the Year (from 1955 to 1959), a Round of the Year (round two of his 1953 bout with Kid Gavilan), and was the publication’s Fighter of the Year for 1957. And no wonder, for that was the year he took the middleweight title from the great Sugar Ray.

What’s your assessment? Thanks. – Clarence, NYC

I think Basilio is among the truly great fighters of the 20th Century and one of the 10 best welterweights of all time. Although he split two great fights with Robinson and gave the G.O.A.T sheer hell during those 30 rounds, I don’t consider Basilio to be a great middleweight. He had the right style and mentality to deal with the 37-year-old version of Robinson (who was still a monster) but he fell short against the top middleweights of the late ‘50s/early ‘60s that he faced (Gene Fullmer and Paul Pender). He beat Art Aragon, Gaspar Ortega and Don Jordan at middleweight, but those three were blown-up welterweights, which is what Basilio was.

In fact, he weighed 153 pounds (a pound under the junior middleweight limit) for both of his fights with Robinson.

I don’t place Basilio in the class or era of Robinson or LaMotta. Those two were in their primes in the 1940s. Basilio didn’t develop into a world-class fighter until the mid-1950s. Robinson and LaMotta also defeated more hall of famers than Basilio did. However, Basilio was just as entertaining as those to ATGs, perhaps even more so. We may never see a fighter win five consecutive RING magazine Fight of the Year awards.

But let’s forget about awards, titles and rankings for a minute. Basilio was beyond all that. He personified a fighting spirit that transcends boxing and sports.

At the start of my first semester at Columbia’s graduate school of journalism I cut out picture of Basilio from one of my RING mags. It was a shot of his grim face (with his left eye grotesquely swollen shut) and sinewy upper body just after the Robinson rematch ended. I always figured it was taken before the decision was announced. Anyway, I taped it to a wall near my work desk and looked at it for inspiration during those many long, sleepless nights when I sat there and wondered if I had what it took to finish the demanding graduate program.

To me, that picture was all about overcoming obstacles. Physically speaking, Basilio – who stood 5-foot-6½ (if that) and had a modest 67-inch wingspan – had no business fighting at middleweight, let alone challenging Robinson for the championship. But he did. He believed in himself and his will beat Sugar Ray’s skill in that first fight. It didn’t matter to me that he lost the rematch. He gave it his all against a bona-fide legend who had every physical advantage for 15 rounds (11 of which was fought with one eye). How could I give any less of an effort with my studies and assignments?

I got to interview Basilio at a media meet-and-greet prior to the World Boxing Hall of Fame’s 1998 or ‘99 induction ceremony in Los Angeles. He was friendly, down to earth, honest and sharp as a tack. We talked about his fights with Fullmer (who was also there), Kid Gavilan, Tony DeMarco, Billy Graham, Johnny Saxton and Aragon. I was in heaven, but also too much awe to tell him about the picture I posted up in my Columbia dorm room. However, I did tell him that he was one of my favorite fighters.   

He smiled and then said “Hey, look over there” as he pointed over my right shoulder. When I turned my head, my chin was tapped by the fist of an all-time great. I got nailed by a playful left hook from Carmen Basilio. “Gotcha,” he said. It got no better than that. And they don’t come any better than Basilio.

DEMARCO-BRONER

Hey Doug,

I’m a long time reader but I don’t think I’ve ever written in (not sure). I appreciate the consistency of the mailbags. I know when I’m taking that Monday morning #2 I’ll have excellent reading material. Keep it up!


1. Many people online are pumped about Adrien Broner vs Antonio DeMarco and think it will be competitive…. I won’t be surprised if it looks similar to Floyd vs Arturo. Maybe people just wanna see Broner lose, which I definitely can understand.
2. I booked myself I trip from CT to Vegas assuming there’s gonna be a big fight on Cinco De Mayo 2013 in Vegas. Any inside scoop on who it might be if there is gonna be a fight like usual?? It’s refundable of course. I really hoping for Canelo vs Cotto or Mayweather. I noticed there is gonna be the “box fan expo” on May 4th in Vegas – you think it’ll be big or a flop?
3. How does one get into covering the fight game? I’d love to do something like that but I’m sure it’s hard to make it to where I can pay the bills. What did you do?

Mike from CT

Thanks for finally writing, Mike. And thanks for the props. I can’t think of a better compliment than someone reading my mailbag while taking a nice, healthy dump. (Some of my most enjoyable reading occurs in the bathroom.)

I’ll respond to your questions in order:

1) I’m looking forward to DeMarco-Broner, but like you, I think it might be a showcase for the talented former 130-pound beltholder. I don’t think it will be as one-sided as Mayweather-Gatti, but I think DeMarco will have a difficult time with Broner’s size, speed, power and style. If Broner blows DeMarco out I think that victory will be more significant than all of his previous wins combined. The only fighter who has outclassed DeMarco is the late Edwin Valero. Jorge Linares was beating him handily during the first part of their fight, but El Nino De Oro wasn’t able to hurt or discourage DeMarco, who did a good job chopping the odds favorite down the stretch.

2) I don’t know anything about the boxing fan expo (other than it might take place at Mandalay Bay, which is one of my favorite hotels on the strip), but my guess is that Saul Alvarez will be taking on Mayweather or Cotto (should the Puerto Rican beat Austin Trout on Dec. 1) on Cinco De Mayo weekend. If either fight is made, I plan to cover it, so look for me.

3) “How does one get into covering the fight game?” It’s real simple these days, just open up a Twitter account! LOL. Seriously, don’t just Tweet about the sport, write about it if you’re serious about covering boxing. Start with your own blog or try to become a regular contributor to one of the established boxing blog sites. Cut your teeth that way until you’re able to write for one of the major websites and get media credentials to cover live boxing cards in Connecticut. Visit the gyms in your area when you can, especially when world-class fighters are training there. Learn all you can about the craft, history and business of the sport. Learn who the “players” are in today’s game (if you don’t already know). It takes time, especially if you want to be paid for what you do. I taught journalism part-time at junior colleges in my area while starting up HouseofBoxing.com and freelancing for THE RING, Latino Boxing magazine, fight programs and local sports publications during the mid-to-late 1990s. Boxing writing did not become a full-time gig for me until 2000.

 

 

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

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