TOP 5 QUESTIONS
Omar Chavez (Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.’s other son) fought a few weeks ago, and he brought his fat brother, Julio Jr., into the ring with him (see the picture attached). It got me thinking about what could have been with Chavez Jr. if he NEEDED boxing and took advantage of his natural gifts (size/strength/chin) and resources (father/promoter/trainers/fan base) the way maybe Mikey Garcia has or Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It also reminded me of a question I wanted to ask you: Who are your top 5 boxers who never fulfilled their potential and squandered their abilities?
And who are your top 5 boxers who were limited in every physical way but overcame their deficiencies to become better than they should have been? Thanks for the time! – Jose from San Diego, CA
This might surprise you, but I would include “Fat Julio” on my list of limited boxers who became better than they should have been.
I saw him fight numerous times when he was a teen and during his early 20s on Top Rank undercards (I even did the color commentary for his first Latin Fury pay-per-view show vs. Ray Sanchez III in December of 2006) and I thought he was just a step above being a “Mexican Butterbean.” I thought he was merely an attraction because of his name and solid-but-never-to-be world-class boxing ability.
I never thought a guy who dropped rounds to Sanchez and Jose Celaya (before his clear weight advantage overwhelmed them), struggled with Luciano Cuello, needed a gift decision to get by Matt Vanda (in their first bout) and who looked like day-old dogs__t against Billy Lyell would go on to be the first Mexican to win a major middleweight title – let alone make a few defenses, develop into a legit contender and engage in a big PPV showdown with the real champ (Sergio Martinez).
Chavez is a boxing enigma – an underachiever who somehow overachieved.
The other four on that list would be former WBC bantamweight titleholder and perennial contender Victor Rabanales, former unified 135-pound titleholder Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz, former IBF lightweight beltholder Rafael Ruelas, and former heavyweight title challenger Calvin “the Tap-Dancing Banker” Brock (that’s my nickname for the 2000 U.S. Olympian, not his).
Before I give you my top 5 boxers who squandered their abilities/never fulfilled their potential (and mind you, I’m just including fighters I’ve seen and/or covered), I want to give you some food for thought by pointing out that there are a number of future first-ballot hall of famers who I believe could have been better than they were (maybe even “great”) had they either been more dedicated or had better/more consistent coaching – including James Toney, Shane Mosley, and Oscar De La Hoya. There are many high-profile former titleholders who could have been much better than they were, including Tony Tubbs, Diego Corrales and Edwin Valero.
Anyway, here’s my top 5 “wasted/unfulfilled talents”: Lionel Butler (heavyweight), Larry Mosley (junior welterweight/welterweight), Francisco Bojado (junior lightweight/lightweight – he should have never fought above 135 pounds), Hector Camacho Jr. (junior welterweight – should have never fought above 140 pounds) and Marshal Martinez (junior welterweight/welterweight).
MAILBAG RESPONSE TO PRESENT VS. PAST
Just read your response, and that is why I like your mailbag. Your responses are well written and cover the entire argument. I got to admit there was some shock factor in there, just to get a response (I truly to believe Wladimir Klitchko wins though, he’s just too huge)
Keep it up, and don’t skip mailbags like you do sometimes. – Jordan
Thanks for writing to the mailbag, Jordan, and please do so again. I welcome all opinions, so I hope I didn’t come off as too much of a crusty old a__hole.
I’ll try not to skip any more mailbag days. (Sometimes I think I need some of those new vitamin supplements today’s boxer’s take – LOL!)
Regarding your belief that Wladdy K. beats the Brown Bomber, keep in mind that Klitschko was stopped by Lamon Brewster and was dropped (and struggled with) DaVarryl Williamson, neither of whom were giant, modern-sized heavyweights.
Even limited Calvin Brock, who was also small by today’s standards, was able to get inside and land punches to Wladdy’s chin. If the Tap-Dacing Banker – a modest athlete with merely solid fundamentals (and not much power) – was able to stand in there and jab with Klitschko (and occasionally get off with both hands) for six and half rounds, I’m sorry Jordan, but Joe Louis would have put Baby Bro down with his JAB before finishing him cold with a classic three-to-four punch power combination.
NOBODY that Klitschko has faced was as poised, deadly accurate and hard-punching as Louis.
WAY TO KICK ASS!
I pray you and your family are doing well. I just read your rebuttal to the person in your mailbag who tried to say today’s fighters are superior to fighters of the past. You gave the greatest responses ever. I’ve been using them all the time when people say dumb s___ like that. You are the Ray Robinson of boxing media. God bless you and keep up the great work. – Allen
I’m not even worthy of being called the Marlon “Moochie” Starlin of boxing media, but thank you for your kind praise and blessings.
PRESENT VS. PAST
Just wanted to thank you for your appropriate schooling of Jordan in the “Present vs. Past” section of the Friday Mailbag.
“Mikey Garcia and Abner Mares blast Willie Pep?” I had to re-read it a couple of times just to make sure I was seeing correctly. Nothing against Mares or Garcia, they are quality fighters, but neither one of them would have been able to lay a glove on Pep, the greatest defensive fighter of all time.
There’s really not much comparison between fighters of the past and today in terms of experience. Willie Pep fought 241 fights. Fritzie Zivic fought 230 fights. Tommy Loughran fought 172 times. Ray Robinson fought 202 times, sometimes several times a month. The list goes on and on.
The dedication and conditioning of these fighters was unreal. They weren’t taking months off at a time. And training? Rocky Marciano ran 10 miles a day. When he wasn’t in camp he’d walk 20. He trained on a 200-pound heavy bag. He never lost a professional fight.
To anyone that wants to educate themselves on the history of boxing, and what the sport used to be like when it was the most popular sport in America along with baseball, I recommend “In This Corner” by Peter Heller. Good read, and it gives a good gauge on how much the sport has changed in the last 100 years.
“Mares blasts Pep”… please.
Thanks. – Craig
I chuckle whenever I read that. You know that Mares is a local favorite of mine (someone I’ve covered closely, respected and believed in since he turned pro), but he was extended by Anselmo Moreno (and won a decision but not by the wide margin on the official scorecards). How’s he gonna “blast” Will ‘o the Wisp?
Nobody blasts a prime Pep. He was only stopped six times in those 241 bouts – three of those stoppage losses were to fellow great Sandy Saddler, the other three occurred late in his career. And it should be noted that all of those stoppage losses occurred after he suffered serious (thought-to-be career-ending) injuries in a 1947 plane accident.
It’s not just the crazy activity that made the Golden Agers great, it was quality of their opposition. Pep faced (and defeated) many top contenders of his day, all of whom were terrific boxers, such as Paddy DeMarco, Sal Bartolo, Lulu Costantino, Jackie Wilson, Phil Terranova, and Humberto Sierra, as well as fellow greats like Saddler, Manuel Ortiz, Sammy Angott and Chalky Wright.
Mares, who has no problem facing top fighters, would have been right at home in Pep’s and Robinson’s era. I wish he and Mikey Garcia were able to be one-fourth as active as those old timers.
I agree that “In This Corner…! Forty Two World Champions Tell Their Stories” by Peter Heller is a great book for young boxing fans to read in order to learn Who’s Who in boxing history and to gain appreciation for the standouts of the past.
I would also recommend “The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science” by Mike Silver and “The Boxing Register,” which is the official record book of the International Boxing Hall of Fame (currently in its fifth edition), by James B. Roberts and Alexander G. Skutt.
SERGIO VS. FLOYD
What do you think is next for Sergio Martinez? That knee injury sounds pretty bad, but if there’s an athlete whose conditioning and athleticism would allow him to return – even at his advanced age – it’s Maravilla.
I was saying a few years ago already that I was so over the hope of a Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight, and that the fight I really wanted to see was Floyd vs. Sergio. If it ever does happen – although I doubt it will – they are two fighters whose geezerness could be irrelevant, given their remarkable athletic gifts.
And one more thing about that fight: I think that Money would have a decent chance if they did the fight at 160. My points about Sergio’s superlative athleticism and conditioning notwithstanding, I think that Floyd could find himself fighting a slower, less elusive Martinez. While I think that Floyd would be able to evade Sergio sufficiently, I think that Sergio, especially with those hands down near his waist, would be there for the hitting. While I’m not a Floyd guy – I’m a huge Maravilla fan – it would be hard to dismiss such a victory over a middleweight –even a small middleweight – of Sergio’s caliber. It wouldn’t be Leonard vs. Hagler, but, hey, you can’t have everything.
Speaking of slick fighters, did you read Jack Cavanaugh’s biography of Gene Tunney? Man, what a fabulous book about a great fighter and interesting guy. Sports writing is an under-appreciated art, and I think that especially applies to boxing writers. But I digress…
Anyway, regarding Tunney, how do you think he would have fared against later, bigger, stronger heavyweights like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, and the Klitschko brothers? It seems like his defensive skills and general slickness would have given any of them problems, even if he lacked their punching power. Not to say he would have beaten any of them – his lesser size and power would have been a problem that likely would have hurt him. Still, he beat Dempsey twice, and he was an all-time badass.
One more thing – a small story I’d like to share. I was at the Golovkin-Rosado and Salido-Garcia fights at the Garden a few months back. Who was sitting across the aisle from me but Lucian Bute (for the record, I was not ringside, but in relatively modest seats.) Anyway, let me tell you that a classier guy you will not find. He took the time to pose for pictures with every fan who asked – and believe me, there were a lot of them. Just a gracious, humble gentleman. It made me a huge fan. I felt that needed to be put out there for your readers.
Keep up the good work, my friend. I look forward to the mailbag every Monday and Friday, as well as your pieces in the newsstand edition of THE RING. Like I said, it’s an under-appreciated art form. – David, Queens, NY
Thanks for the kind words, David, and thanks for finally writing in to the mailbag.
I’ve never met Bute, but he always seemed like a genuinely nice person from the interviews I’ve seen. Martinez, Golovkin and Garcia are also like that. I’m not as familiar with Salido and Rosado, but I’m pretty sure their cool guys, as well. Most boxers are. You’ll find that out with the more live boxing shows you attend.
Tunney had a style to give any fellow boxer fits because of his high ring IQ and his lateral movement. Even sluggers had to respect Tunney because of his underrated grit and durability. His only loss was a bloody and brutal decision loss to the great Harry Greb in a light heavyweight bout. (Greb used a variety of dirty pro tricks to break Tunney’s nose and lacerate his face during the 15-round bout.) However, despite the horrible beating he took, Tunney pushed for the rematch and beat Greb (regaining the U.S. light heavyweight title). He fought Greb twice more in 10-round No Decision bouts.
I think a younger Dempsey would have been able to take Tunney out, so my guess is that prime versions of Frazier and Tyson would have cut the ring off on him and taken him out by the middle rounds, but I believe he would have gone the distance with the other all-time great heavyweights you mentioned – he might have outpointed or even stopped Big George late (if the young version ran out of gas).
I’ll be sure to check out Jack Cavanaugh’s biography on The Fighting Marine.
I agree with you, even when Pacquiao was still on his amazing win-streak and run as a welterweight, I was more intrigued by the prospect of Mayweather stepping up in weight and challenging THE RING middleweight champ than I was with a showdown with the Filipino icon.
For me it was more about Mayweather’s legacy than the style matchup. Mayweather and his fans say he’s an all-time great. I think the word “great” gets tossed around too much. They way I see it, there’s only so much room on Mount Olympus.
If a fighter of this era wants to claim he that he belongs among the Boxing Pantheon (or if his fans and the media wish to do so for him) then I believe that fighter must at the very least equal what the all-time greats before him accomplished or attempted.
Mayweather is a super-talented lighter-weight boxer who went up in weight and made his name as a welterweight. The boxers who occupy my personal Mount Olympus who also did that – and they include Henry Armstrong, Kid Gavilan, Jose Napoles and Roberto Duran – all challenged for the middleweight title.
They were not always successful (Armstrong fought Ceferino Garcia to a draw, Gavilan dropped a decision to Carl Olson, Napoles was stopped by Carlos Monzon, and Duran suffered a points loss to Marvin Hagler in his first shot at the title) but they all TRIED. They all dared to do it.
I want to see if Mayweather dares. I agree that he could trouble Martinez with his sharp shooting, especially the fast fading version we’ve seen recently. However, it would be interesting to see how Mayweather deals with a smart athlete who moves and works (and jabs) as much as Martinez does. It would also be interesting to see if Mayweather’s punches could earn the respect of Martinez, who is used to being hit by much bigger opponents.
Who knows? Maybe – if Mayweather gets by Canelo and Martinez wins his comeback bout next year – this dream fight can still happen. There’s still the matter of competing networks (Maravilla is an HBO player; Mayweather, as you know, is now Mr. Showtime) to work out, but I imagine that Martinez’s team would prefer a “Money mega-fight” to a rematch with Chavez Jr. and eventual showdown with GGG.
DON’T KNOCK THE OLD BREED
I don’t know wtf the kid Jordan was smoking Dougie Fresh, but he was on some mighty good shat…. He must not realize that we are in the microwave era. Everything born from ‘85 to Present is watered down. Back then Food was more natural, Water was cleaner, Air was cleaner, There wasn’t any shortcuts… As we say on the streets the new breed don’t respect the game, they cut corners and have a sense of entitlement instead of bringing ass to whoop ass… Soon as they face adversity, they fold… Our Breed we buckle down and get it in and go out on the shield if need be… You get more respect for that than being a bish and fold like paper. There are only a very select few who are special and their special becomes really average to those of the past… I can’t believe what I read… Ask Jordan what year he was born in and I rest my case…. Happy Friday Doug!!!
I had to post this email because it made me laugh out loud (and yes, I purposely spelled that out, just to be Old School).
I don’t know if Jordan was born on or after 1985, but I’m pretty sure he’s a lot younger than you and I are.
However, I should note that I’m not one of the Old Breed that “buckles down,” “gets it in” and “goes out on his shield if need be.” I’m fairly certain that I’d bitch out and fold like the next guy if I was ever tossed into the prize ring, but that’s exactly why I have so much respect for the professional boxers of past decades.
ALVARADO DESERVES BETTER
It looks like, though, he’s getting pressured hard to take low money on a Ruslan Provodnikov fight. After giving us at least three fight of the year candidates, and taking on a lot of vicious punchers, in damaging fights. He’s literally (yes, in the literal sense) leaving a bit of his IQ behind with each of these fights. To the extent anyone ever pays their dues in boxing, he’s done it. Now they’re putting him in against another Godzilla (one I expect to KO him, as he’s a harder puncher and better boxer than Rios ever was), and seemingly playing tightwad again. The guy deserves to get a payday, especially if we’re going to put him in with another monster. Win or lose, he’s leaving more behind against Provodnikov. – Todd
I agree that Alvarado has paid dues. Anyone who fights Breidis Prescott, Mauricio Herrera and “Bam Bam” Rios (twice) in back-to-back fights – all of which produced action for the fans and punishment for himself – deserves to have either an easy fight or a big payday.
My guess is that Alvarado and his team want to go for the money, which means they can’t get a softie on a basic cable. They have to fight yet another badass on HBO. Enter Provodnikov (a true badass but I don’t think he’s a better boxer than Rios and I doubt he’ll stop Alvarado).
I don’t know how much money Alvarado wants for the fight but I hope he gets paid well, and I hope the Russian is well compensated, too, because there’s no way that matchup won’t produce a brutal battle of attrition. (And seriously, how many more ring battles can these two give us? If they fight each other they may not have anything left to give after the bout.)
Bob Arum is going to sit down with Alvarado today and try to resolve the money issue with the bout, according to our very own Lem Satterfield.
We’ll see what happens.
Email Dougie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer