Doug Fischer

Dougie’s Friday mailbag

WARRIOR KINGS

To KO King Fischer:

Dude, I know we don’t always see eye to eye regarding our opinions. Still, hear me out if you can. No crass sarcasm from me this time. Just your typical musings from a typical semi-fat lazy bastard who thinks he knows it all – this time about Knockout Kings, past and present.

1. I’m not sure myself whether to call Jesus Soto Karass a gatekeeper or upgrade him to contender status. He certainly was “The KO King” when he left-hooked Andre Berto into a stupor. But he was also crowned really good by last year’s “KO King,” Marcos Maidana, and before that, lost to guys we barely heard of. But I still think Soto Karass might still kick the asses of the Guerreros and Maliginaggis of the division or at least give them hell. Let’s just say he’s the baddest, toughest gatekeeper in the business and leave it at that!

2. BERTO MUST GO!!! Pardon my French but he’s getting too f___ed up to fight on! I respect the fact that this insane dude is so determined to go out on his shield that he’ll drag himself towards his opponent on his nose providing he’ll still have one but this is getting crazy! I was never a big fan of the guy but I certainly don’t to want see him end up like Greg Page.

3. Keith Thurman is certainly no Ray Leonard but he’s no Berto either! He’s upgrading his level of competition and is still able to convincingly get the job done. A couple more fights and this freaky-looking dude should be in the top five! Yeah I know that Berto was once in the top 5 but “the Thurmanator” will stay there longer.

4. Some advice to another of last year’s “KO Kings,” Saul Alvarez. I know you stated in several of your ol’ bags that Canelo is more boxer than puncher. I’m not arguing there. But there’s no way he’s going to outbox Floyd Mayweather. If Saul’s going to win he’s gotta go all Mexican on Floyd’s ass and pressure him from start to finish and really pound the body! If Canelo makes it a boxing match Floyd will make it a long night for him. And for everyone else watching.

That does it for me dude! – Captain Ron

Thanks for your thoughts on the KO Kings, Cap. Don’t worry, there are no hard feelings about not seeing eye-to-eye with me in the past. These are just boxing opinions. Most of us can agree to disagree (although I must take exception to your describing my little brother Keith as a “freaky-looking dude”).

I’ll respond to your points in order:

1) Soto Karass is not a contender in my opinion but I agree that he’s the “baddest, toughest gatekeeper in the business.” That’s why he was the featured fighter in my recent article listing reliable gatekeepers in each weight class. Win or lose, I always enjoy watching him fight.

2) I won’t demand that Berto retire – as many boxing writer peers, hardcore fans and boxing industry folks have this past week – but I think he needs to be watched closely whenever he next steps into the ring. Even before he hurt his right shoulder, he was taking a lot of clean punches to the head and body. However, I want to note that there seems to be a double standard with people’s opinions on Berto’s ring safety. We’re all high as hell on Soto Karass, and why not? He’s a feel-good story. However, the 30-year-old Mexican veteran takes as much (if not more) punishment in his fights as Berto does, but nobody has written that he needs to hang up the gloves. Why is that? Soto Karass has been in more ring wars than Berto; and he’s been stopped twice.

3) I’m an unabashed fan of “the Thurmanator” (and, by the way, if that nickname catches on, I want full credit for coining it). I like the steady upgrade in his opposition and I’m impressed with the manner Thurman has handled these “step ups” in competition. He’s developing nicely and I agree that he should have a lengthy stay at the top of the 147-pound division once he gets there. I’m really looking forward to watching Thurman (who now holds the WBA’s “interim” title) vs. full-WBA beltholder Adrien Broner and (the WBA’s No. 1 contender) Marcos Maidana (or the winner of Broner-Maidana if that fight is made this year).

4) A naturally bigger/stronger fighter doesn’t have to outbox a smaller boxer in order to outpoint him. All he has to do is land clean shots and hurt the little guy. If Canelo stuns, wobbles or drops Mayweather in any round, the official judges are going to score that round for him, even if Floyd ouboxes him before and after he gets caught. I think Canelo, a student of the game who sets up his power punches and camouflages his shots well, can connect with enough effective blows during the fight to threaten Mayweather on the scorecards.

BRONER VS. MATTHYSSE OR THURMAN

What great fights on Showtime 7-27-13….real fights….!

Everyone’s talking about the Mayweather-Canelo upcoming match, but allow me a couple yawns as I state it simply…. It’ll be just another Mayweather waltzing exhibit he wins by unanimous decision. They both win a big paycheck….!

A fight I’m waiting for: Broner vs. Lucas Matthysse. Broner must reply to the fans demands now that he made his “Let the fans decide”…! If not Matthysse, then the only other choice is Keith Thurman. Thurman’s only problem is, when he steps up to championship level fighters, Thurman backs away from fighting… and prefers caution and starts boxing from the outside. Nonetheless, these three guys are all action…. just the opposite of Mayweather’s philosophy, the 3 F’s: Flight From Fight. – Luke

Mayweather doesn’t run from fights. He moves and he definitely works his defense (usually while counter punching) but that’s not the same thing as “flight.” Neither is what Thurman does when he’s in tough. Yeah, he moved on Jan Zaveck and Diego Chaves, but he also stopped to land hard punches to the body and heads of those two aggressive opponents in every round. Zaveck was tough enough to take Thurman’s bombs for 12 rounds. Most fighters won’t be.

I’m not sure that Broner can take the best shots of Thurman or Matthysse, which is why those are compelling bouts. I think we’ll be treated to Broner vs. another bomber, Marcos Maidana, later this year. If Broner beats Maidana, and I favor him in that fight, I’m willing to bet that we’ll see “The Problem” in the ring with either Thurman or Matthysse next year. And I think Broner will be competitive with both punchers. I don’t know if he’ll beat them but I think he’s got the speed, power and ring generalship to hang in there with both guys.

Regarding Sept. 14, don’t underestimate “Carrot Top.”

Regarding July 27, there’s more to come. Golden Boy and Showtime will definitely make “Knockout Kings” into a series.

FRAUDS

How’s it going Doug? First, I want to say that Virgil Hunter is not a Trainer of the Year caliber trainer. Maybe he just needs to stop dumpster diving and picking up other people’s trash but he only has ONE true champ in his stable and watching paint dry is more exciting than an Andre Ward fight. Alfredo Angulo never improved his defense and could not get out of the way of Erislandy Lara’s right hand and then just quit. Amir Khan, same thing, no improvement and barely survived against Julio Diaz. And, Andre Berto, AGAIN, there was no improvement as we all witnessed.

There was a thought going through my mind over the weekend leading up to and following the Berto-Soto Karass bout, and I was glad to read during your Monday mailbag that you felt the same way about one thing. Andre Berto has a huge heart and is a warrior, so he has nothing to be ashamed of following Saturday’s loss, but I agree with you that he was coddled by HBO when he was walking through subpar opponents. He was never elite, nor will he ever be an elite boxer as HBO wanted us to believe, but he bought the hype. Other folks did, too.

I know he fought on Showtime but HBO has been lying to us the last few years, as a result, they haven’t had great must-see cards in 2013, except for Rios-Alvarado II. Bradley-Provodnikov was amazing but NO ONE expected that bout to be a Fight of the Year candidate when the fight was made so that doesn’t count. The list continues after Berto. Although, Khan has fought some real quality opposition, I never believed him to be an elite fighter but HBO really made a lot noise about him. Khan has some huge balls and never quits but he is not elite. Maybe not even great… just good.

Then, HBO crowned Adrien Broner the next King of Boxing and the heir to Money May, but all the while facing B-level fighters. We all knew that pot head Jesus Chavez Jr. was a fraud, but HBO and Bob Arum simply wanted to make as much money as they could using his father’s name. Again, he has some skills, but he will never be great.

I know you are high on GGG, and maybe you’re right about this guy, but forgive me if I’m a bit leery of the product HBO is selling. Everyone wants to point to Matthew Macklin as proof of GGG’s prowess because Macklin was in tough with Martinez but people forget that Martinez is not a true middleweight and still KO’s bigger men. What HBO should do is make nice with GBP and match GGG with Kid Chocolate instead of more tomato cans. The smartest thing HBO has done recently is refuse put the atrocious Guillermo Rigondeaux back on television. If they could just keep Biogenesis Gamboa off the air, too, that would be great. I need PEDs just watch their fights. Anyhow, Berto shouldn’t feel bad, he’s warrior but he simply believed the hype.

Thanks Doug… keep up the good work. – Hugo

Kinda harsh, bro (your new nickname is Harsh Hugo, or ‘Double H’ if you prefer).

I agree that HBO hypes up way too many fighters as “elite” (the latest example being lightweight Terence Crawford), but the network gets help from the media and a lot of fans (including the hardcore set). I’ve read Crawford described as an “elite lightweight” even though the Omaha native has yet to beat a single 135-pound contender.

However, HBO isn’t only focused on the so-called elite – Rigo really is elite and they’re not interested – the network also wants attractions. That’s why they were so into Chavez (and Canelo and Broner when HBO dealt with GBP). They hope that GGG can be built into an attraction. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Boxing can’t thrive without fighters who put butts in the seats and draw big TV ratings.

(I agree that HBO was dead wrong about the star potential of Berto and Gamboa. In both cases the executives who wanted them on the network were enamored with their speed and power, but failed to notice that they didn’t sell tickets and they weren’t as skillful as they were advertised.)

It would be great if HBO resumed their relationship with GBP and it would be swell if Showtime did business with Top Rank, and that might happen in the near future, but for now I think both subscription cable networks (HBO and Showtime) are doing fine with their exclusive boxing content providers. Showtime/GBP knocked it out of the park with Mayweather-Canelo/Garcia-Matthysse on Sept. 14 – “The One” will be as big as PPV event can get – and HBO/Top Rank proved that they intend to showcase more Fight of the Year candidates by making Pacquiao-Rios and Alvarado-Provodikov.

That’s really what we should concern ourselves with: great fights, not great fighters.

“Knockout Kings II” proved that we don’t need “elite boxers” to have a great night of boxing.

Be concerned about the Fight of the Year, not the Trainer of the Year. The Trainer of the Year is seldom the best trainer in boxing. The Trainer of the Year award almost always goes to the trainer with the biggest name fighters. If all or most of a trainers “name fighters” win in a given year, that dude will win the Trainer of the Year award.

Here’s how I see it: the best trainers are the ones who can teach the basics and improve their fighters. I think Virgil Hunter does that. Some of the fighters he’s improved haven’t fought on TV or in any high-profile bouts, so he doesn’t get any credit for that work. But he’s been in the sport for a very long time and he knows what he’s doing. I don’t just look at whether a fighter wins or loses. Mike Dallas lost his first fight with Hunter in his corner (a poor decision to Mauricio Herrera) but I thought he showed improvement during that bout. Dallas looked very good in two subsequent victories with Hunter (including a shutout of Miguel Gonzalez, who’s on a bit of a streak now). Then he was KO’d by Matthysse. That doesn’t mean Hunter’s a bad trainer. It means Matthysse is a killer-puncher and Dallas got caught. It’s boxing. It happens. (It’s not like Dallas lost to a bum.) I think Hunter has done well with Karim Mayfield. There are others, but you’ve never heard of them, so I’m not going to bring them up.

Anyway, I think it’s too early to say that Hunter hasn’t improved Berto, Angulo or Khan. He’s only had three bouts with Angulo (one was a first-round KO). He’s only had two with Khan. The Soto Karass fight was his first with Berto. Did you really expect to see a completely different version of Berto? Hunter’s a boxing trainer, not a wizard.

He can’t undo all of Berto’s technical flaws with one camp. He can’t give Khan a world-class chin. And he can’t make Angulo a finesse fighter. But I’ll say this about Angulo: I thought the dude had NO CHANCE against Lara. I thought that was the worst possible opponent for “El Perro,” but he was competitive throughout the fight and he almost had the Cuban lefty.

Just because he ultimately lost the fight doesn’t mean he had a poor performance. I was impressed with Angulo and I was impressed with Berto’s ability to compete with one good arm down the stretch of his loss to Soto Karass.

GOONS R US

Hey Doug!

Got a kick out of your Bernard Hopkins-Batman comparisons in your last mailbag! Here’s a question for ya! Who best compares to Conan the Barbarian? As you recall Mr. Conan is this half-naked, muscle-bound mother__ing goon in these hairy boxer-shorts who would chop up some poor bastard just for simply looking at him funny!

Altogether the dude was probably the toughest and baddest anti-hero to hit both the pulp-fiction and comic book pages before Wolverine came along! Including Wolverine actually!

So who is boxing’s equivilent to the Happy Cimmerian? I would say Brandon Rios. There’s nothing subtle about Brandon. He’s just one really fired-up bastard who once that bell rings is tearing into you like you asked him if you could s__t in his big-mouth or something like that! I strongly agree that Manny Pacquiao is definitely not in for an easy night when he faces this guy. Especially if they take it out in the trenches! We all know what a master of trench-warfare Brandon is!

On a side note do you know what sport most resembles comic books? Even more than boxing? Ice hockey! Think about it. We have these extremely fit, big guys armored up and clad in these really colorful uniforms. We have both good guys and bad guys! They all wear either masks or helmets.

And most of all we get these heavily-muscled, nearly superhuman goons pounding the living f__k out of each other and therefore giving the fan-boys that kind of golden violence that puts asses in the seats. Much like boxing of course.

So screw pro-wrestling and the UFC! When there’s no boxing available, hockey is the combat-sport to watch! – Triple T

Spoken like a true Canadian. Spoken well enough to actually make me want to check out an NHL game. Well done.

I agree that Conan the Barbarian was a pulp fiction/comic book anti-hero before Wolvie, and I also agree that Rios is a good boxing match for the sword-wielding conqueror. Conan is a blood-and-guts warrior but he’s skilled with his sword and close hand-to-hand combat. Rios relishes trench warfare and he’s among the best infighters in boxing.

And, of course, Rios is strong as an ox and about as articulate as one. Conan isn’t the most eloquent of fantasy characters. I can hear Rios saying “the hell with you!” to Conan’s ancient deity, Crom, just like Schwartzenegger did in the 1982 film (only “Bam Bam” would add a few F-bombs for good measure).

Come to think of it, I like the sound of “Brandon the Barbarian” better than Bam Bam (which has always made me think of Barney Rubble’s kid).

DURAN DISSES MAYWEATHER

Hey Doug,

Big, big fan! In a Roberto Duran interview I read recently, he said that Mayweather would be “just another guy” in his era. Considering that you never believed that Floyd could beat any of the Fabulous Four in their prime, do you think he would have at least cracked the P4P list in that era? And by just being “another guy,” which fighter in that era would he have been at the same level with?

Do you think Andre Ward would have been considered elite in their era?

Tough loss for Berto! How about a Berto/Josesito Lopez scrap? Who do you think is in better shape of the two? These two could always be good gatekeepers, especially to those moving up from 140. Same goes for Malignaggi.

I have never missed your mailbag since I started reading it, even when I’m on vacation. And it’s the ONLY thing I look forward to on Monday mornings. – Chip, NJ

Thanks for the very kind words, Chip. It really means a lot.

Wow. I hadn’t thought about a Berto-Lopez fight but I can’t envision it not being a crowd-pleasing battle. That’s not what either fighter needs in his next bout, but if Berto can win one or two bouts without going life and death; and if Lopez can do the same, I think that’s a made-for TV fight (maybe the headliner to a future “Knockout Kings” show). I don’t think either fighter has an edge with his conditioning, but I do think both guys have slipped from fringe contenders to gatekeeper status.

I don’t think Ward would have been an elite middleweight during the 1980s but I think he would have been a top super middleweight, perhaps even a unified champion. The 168-pound division was created in 1984 and the first titleholders – Murray Sutherland and Chong Pal Park – were good and tough, but I think Ward could beat them. Ray Leonard was the first WBC 168-pound beltholder but he was too small to compete at that weight. Ward would’ve given Ray fits at super middleweight. Tommy Hearns, who held the WBO belt and should have earned Ray’s WBC title in their rematch, would have been dangerous for Ward.

I don’t know about Mayweather being “pound-for-pound” in Duran’s era. The Pound for Pound list wasn’t talked up then the way it is now. I have no idea who was in the P4P top 10 in the 1970s and ‘80s (and I don’t care enough to go and dig up my old RING and Boxing Illustrated mags to see).

I do know this: Mayweather is smart and skilled and tough enough to have competed in any era. That doesn’t mean he would have been THE best, or “elite” (damn, fans are obsessed with that word), but he would have been considered world class, in my opinion, and he probably would have held titles in one or two weight classes.

So, yeah, I agree with Duran. He would have been “just another guy” back then but he would have been one of the really good guys.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I think Golden boy is trying to setup a fight between Mayweather (if he beats Canelo, which I think he well bc of Canelo being too fatigued in the later rounds bc of the extra weigh he had to lose) vs. Kell Brook or Khan – whichever one takes the belt from Alexander.

I also agree with Duran that Mayweather would of been just another guy back in the day. He still would of been a champion but not undefeated. But being a champion meant way more then than it does now, but there’s no way he would of pick up the belts at 135 or 147 as easy as he did back in 2001or 2002. (It wasn’t easy even then against Jose Luis Castillo.) Mayweather is my favorite fighter, btw, so is Victor Ortiz. I’m also from Garden City, Kansas. I now live in West Texas, same town as Thomas Villa fought Matagwa in a FOTY candidate.
 

What have you heard from Ortiz? I know he might fight Alfonso Gomez but please don’t tell me he’s gonna waste his prime acting?

Thank you for posting my last email!! Hope you reply to this one. – Ramiro

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ramiro.

Ortiz is not about to hang up his gloves for Hollywood just yet. How old is he? 26? 27? He’s young! He’s got a new trainer (Danny Smith), he’s been working out and he says he’s got a lot of fighting to do (and titles to win). There are talks about Ortiz facing Gomez in the fall, but it’s just talk for now. However, Ortiz does plan to fight before the year is out.

I agree that Mayweather could have held world titles in Duran’s era (which, as a world-class fighter, was the 1970s and ‘80s), and I agree that he wouldn’t have been undefeated.

Duran won the WBA lightweight title from Ken Buchanan in 1972 and held the title until ’78. Mayweather wouldn’t have beat Duran at lightweight and Buchanan would have given him fits with his style. However, the WBC belt was held by Mando Ramos, Chango Carmona, Ishimatsu “Guts” Suzuki and Esteban DeJesus from ’72 to ’78, when Duran unified the two major belts with his rubber match KO of DeJesus (the only man to beat Duran at 135 pounds).

Ramos at his best beats Mayweather in my opinion. However, Ramos was a party animal and drug user, and thus, wasn’t always at his best. If he wasn’t 100%, Mayweather would have beat him. I think Floyd outboxes Carmona and Suzuki (though both underrated former lightweight titleholders would have given him a good fight), but I think DeJesus (arguably THE most underrated lightweight/140 pounder of the 1970s) would have defeated Mayweather.

Duran jumped to welterweight for a brief but brilliant stay from 1979-’80. That was the peak of the modern Golden Age of the 147-pound division. The titleholders were: Carlos Palomino (who Duran beat in a non-title bout), Pipino Cuevas, Wilfred Benitez, Leonard (who split two bouts with Duran) and Thomas Hearns.

I can see Mayweather outboxing Cuevas if he fought a near-perfect fight (one mistake and it would be curtains for Floyd). I can also see Mayweather outboxing Palomino, but it would be a very close (and grueling) fight. If Floyd thinks Castillo gave him hell for 12 rounds at lightweight, he would have thought Palomino was the devil in a welterweight 15 rounder. But I’ll give Floyd the benefit of the doubt.

I can’t envision Mayweather beating Duran, Leonard or Hearns at 147 pounds.

From 1981 to ’89, Duran fought at junior middleweight and middleweight with varying success. I honestly don’t know how Mayweather would have fared against the best 154 and 160 pounders of the 1980s. He’s had two bouts at junior middleweight vs. somewhat faded vets who were not natural 154 pounders and he’s shown no interesting in fighting at 160 pounds now, so there’s no reason to wonder how he would have done against Marvin Hagler, Leonard, Frank Tate, Michael Nunn, Iran Barkley and Mike McCallum.

I’ll save my opinion on how Mayweather would have done against the best 154 pounders of the ‘80s until after he fights Canelo.

 

 

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

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